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26/03/2015

Toronto Fashion Week: When celebrity meets style

When Academy Award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow told the Canadian designers behind the Montreal-based Mackage label that they made "the absolute best leather pants," it wasn't quite the equivalent of getting a Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) Award. But it was close.

"It was incredibly flattering to hear her say that and to see her wearing our clothes," says Elisa Dahan, the co-creative director of the label along with partner Eran Elfassy.

The designers, known for their slick down jackets and leather outerwear met with the star in Los Angeles to launch a fall capsule collection for Paltrow's websiteGoop.

Whatever you might think of the star's "lifestyle" website (she insists with much public skepticism that she is a "common woman" after all), celebrity moves product.

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Mackage showcases its fall 2015 collection on March 25 at World MasterCard Fashion Week at David Picaut Square in Toronto. The designers didn't have trouble with inspiration for their show since this was one of the coldest Canadian winters on record.

"It will be visually what you were feeling this winter with all that snow and ice," says Elfassy. "And of course, there will be glamour."

"Suits" star Meghan Markle — famous for her character's Zac Posen pencil skirts — is expected to attend the Mackage show.

And they are not alone. Other Canadian designers are eager to invited celebrity fans to sit in their front rows.

In Canada, the star system isn't so entrenched. This is not Paris Fashion Week, so no one expects "Zoolander" stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson to pop up on the runway as they did earlier this month at Valentino.

At Toronto fashion week, City TV reporters have been touted by some public relations folks as "celebrities" as have former Toronto Argonauts and CBC radio hosts.

But as the venue gets bigger, so do the stars. A runway show is about theatre. And the audience is an integral part of that experience, providing a validation of the worth of the designer through their celebrity.

So far this week, along with the fashion flag bearing socialites Suzanne Rogers and Sylvia Mantella, designers captured the attention of: "One Big Happy" sitcom star Elisha Cuthbert at Soia & Kyo; "Orphan Black" star Amanda Brugel at Kania; musician FeFe Dobson at Rudsak and "Rookie Blue" star Rachael Ancheril at Farley Chatto's show.

CBC's "Strange Empire" star, the talented Cara Gee is the definitive "It Girl" with the most scheduled appearances at shows from Pink Tartan, to Klaxon Howl, Malorie Urbanovitch, Stephan Caras and Mikael D.

"Growing up in Bobcaygeon … watching fashion on television, it was my favourite thing. I could really escape into that world," Gee said at the Pink Tartan show. "Fashion is an art form that is really valuable and important and I really respect what these people do to make it come alive."

She discovered designer Caitlin Power at Toronto fashion week and wore her dramatic, low plunging red dress to the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. Gee is also a fan of Toronto-based 3rd Floor Studio which specialized in Canadian designs.

With the media attention on celebrities, getting your work associated with the right star is key. Fashion is about exposure. It's no surprise that Vivienne Westwood hat-sporting musician Pharrell Williams will receive the CFDA Fashion icon of the year award in June.

Perhaps the best made-in-Canada example of the power of celebrity is when Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wore her Canadian-made navy blue Smythe blazer like a uniform during her visit in 2011, launching the small company into the celebrity-sphere.

Still, if you are a small Canadian firm playing in the same space as a giant luxury firm such as LVMH, it doesn't hurt to level the playing field by having your clothes associated with celebrity.

Mackage, with relatively little promotion, have been at the forefront. More recently, Madonna was photographed in Switzerland on vacation wearing a Mackage fur collared jacket. Halle Berry, Blake Lively and Eva Mendes have been seen in Mackage as well.

Dahan will sometimes turn on the television and be reminded that the brand has become a small part of pop culture. Recently, "Law & Order SVU" star Markiska Hargitay wore one of her jackets.

"I'm a huge fan of 'Law & Order' so it was great to see that she was wearing it on the show," says Dahan. "We still get really excited when we see someone in one of our creations. It's a real affirmation."

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08:23 Publié dans Mode | Tags : celebrity | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

17/03/2015

Tokyo Fashion Week

Tokyo Fashion Week opened Monday on a floral, fairy tale-inspired note, as a popular brand from Thailand turned the catwalk into a labyrinth strewn with petals.

 

Organisers of the line-up chose Thai label Sretsis - “sisters” written backwards - for the opening display in the trendy Shibuya district, in a bid to underline Tokyo’s leading position in the Asian fashion scene.

 

With whimsical chiffon dresses, a fox-shaped hoodie-shawl and hand-crocheted fruit earrings, creative director Pim Sukhahuta told reporters after the show that she wanted to create “treasurable, not trendy, but timeless pieces”. “It’s my own imagined labyrinth,” she said of her Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, which is filled with “flowers, fruits, strawberries, grapes and strange monsters that are also friendly”.

 

 

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The show heavily featured a large-scale “fantasy labyrinth” print on silk chiffon and a German-made wool-blend that looks like fur and is used in Steiff teddy bears.

 

“I like something young and cute and playful but at the same time with a more sophisticated sense,” she said, summing up the idea as “fairytales for grown-ups”.

 

Sukhahuta began designing clothes for her sisters, who are also involved in the Sretsis label, which launched in 2002. It is the first of 52 brands exhibiting at Tokyo this week, six of which are from outside Japan.

 

Akiko Shinoda, director of international affairs at Japan Fashion Week Organisation, said each brand featuring on the runway would be “completely different - there’s no one theme or concept”.

 

Tokyo Fashion Week is largely seen as a launchpad for edgy young designers, not yet attracting the big names seen at Milan, Paris, London and New York.

 

Established Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe and Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garcons, all show their collections in Paris.

 

Shinoda said Tokyo maintained its position at the helm of Asian fashion thanks to its strong street style, which is “edgy and punk”, but she warned that other regional centres were catching up.

 

“The Thai government has invested so much in fashion,” she told AFP, calling for more “incubation programmes” to develop new Japanese talent. “At the moment Tokyo is number one, but we have to keep up the effort.”

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09:24 Publié dans Mode | Tags : runway | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

12/03/2015

Could Cate Blanchett's 'Cinderella' be overshadowed

When Disney recently began unveiling merchandise for its new live-action Cinderella, the usual girls' dolls and dresses were joined by princess-worthy fare tailored to a notably different market: adult women.

 

A $US599.95 ($790) "I Have Arrived" Cinderella-collection crystal necklace on the home-shopping network HSN. A $US75 pair of "Cinderella and Prince Charming" champagne flutes. Even a $US4595 pair of "glass slippers," designed by luxury fashion brand Jimmy Choo for boutiques in New York, Paris and Milan.

 

For Disney's third princess-themed mega-film in two years, the traditionally kid-centric media juggernaut and its licensees are making a big play for women's spending, hoping "modern-day princesses" will spring for fairy-tale wear not for their daughters or little sisters, but for themselves.

 

Days before the movie's Friday mass premiere, that bet is already paying off. A Cinderella-themed makeup line by Estee Lauder's M.A.C. Cosmetics, promoted on a Disney fashion blog with a style called the "Stepmother look: Madam will do," sold out within hours of its online debut last month, with some items reappearing on eBay for more than four times the retail price.

 

For Disney, the Cinderella onslaught represents a risky bet on a behind-the-times tale of a hapless servant girl saved by magic and a benevolent prince, in a country calling more than ever for strong female leads. The mega studio is turning away from the blueprint of newer films such as Frozen, its $1.2 billion-grossing blockbuster, that showcased a fearless princess and became one of its biggest successes at the box office and beyond.

 

Wicked: Cate Blanchett attends the premiere of her new film

 

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But faced with striking a tricky balance between modern calls for gender equality and the princess nostalgia of women's youth, Disney's merchandising has aimed squarely at the latter, gambling on the professional woman who, amid doing it all, doesn't mind a detour through fantasyland.

 

"Our target consumer is female, age 35 to 55, which is what Disney was looking for," said Gigi Ganatra Duff, a spokeswoman for HSN, which plans to run a 24-hour live event and two primetime specials to promote its Cinderella collection. "Our girl is sophisticated; she's fashionable. She doesn't want it to scream 'Cinderella.' She wants it to scream the essence of 'Cinderella': Fairy tale, dreamy, beautiful."

 

The movie's producers, in line with the marketers of Disney's world-spanning merchandise operation, have promised in its new take of the 1950 animated film a more contemporary, independent heroine (though just as stunning, in crystal-studded heels and an iridescent blue-silk gown).

 

"You see a really strong woman by herself and a young man coming together," actor Richard Madden, who plays Prince Charming, said at the film's Berlin premiere, "rather than a kind of more sexist view from the older animation."

 

To underline that, Cinderella offerings cater to the not-so-young princess-at-heart in a wayFrozen never was able to capitalise on. The online Disney store features a $US199.95 fine-china tea set and a $US600 14-karat-gold charm. Kohl's is selling $US60 organza women's dresses and sequined sweaters through a collection with Lauren Conrad, the 29-year-old former Laguna Beach star.

 

There are the usual youth-aimed wares, like Cinderella-themed prom dresses selling for $350 to $800, but many products stretch far beyond teens' reach. HSN's Cinderella collection features a $US169.95 "Enchanted Castle" crystal pin, a $US350 pair of crystal-encrusted lace-up sneakers and leather jackets with "the baroque styles of a contemporary princess."

 

Perhaps the most indulgent come from Disney's partnership with nine upscale designers asked to unveil shoes paired to the "glass slippers" theme, each affixed with Swarovski crystals and selling for between $US795 and $US4595. A Saks Fifth Avenue spokesperson said its New York and Beverly Hills stores started taking special orders for the shoes last week, though they will also go on sale in emporiums in London, Moscow, Tokyo and Dubai.

 

The most successful so far has been M.A.C.'s limited-run lineup of lipsticks, eye shadows and glitters, launched to breathless followings by style magazines and fashion bloggers, some of whom were crushed when they quickly sold out. Teary posts on social media and heated bidding wars followed: On eBay, bidders brought one auction of a four-pack of $US16 lipglasses and lipsticks up to $US132.50.

 

Before the make-up's in-store debut last week, lines formed at the doors of M.A.C.'s standalone shops in Portland, Ore.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and a suburb outside Los Angeles, where the line stretched more than 120 people long. In Jacksonville, the head of the line took a selfie while wearing a tiara in front of a window sign that said "Viva glam."

 

Karen Monterichard, 39, a beauty blogger in California, said the makeup had "driven people super, super crazy," even though, as she noted on her blog, "it's not going to be something most people will be able to wear to the Monday morning meeting at work." The appeal for elements like its "Stroke of Midnight" eye shadow, she added, came not just from its promises of fantasy glam but its hints of a dark side, marketed to "women who can appreciate the nuance, the edge."

 

Locally, Oroton have designed two limited edition crystal purses in collaboration with the film, which stars, "Our Cate Blanchett". The Cinderella Crystal clutch and and the Fairy Godmother Crystal clutch are hand crafted with over 2600 hand set Swarovski crystals and lined in 100 per cent silk. Only 40 pieces of each style have been produced and will go on sale in selected boutiques on Friday before the local premiere on Sunday.

 

To reach women, Disney has expanded its cross-promotional efforts far beyond their typically youthful clientele. In an episode last month of "The Bachelor," the reality show in which women compete over a husband, one Cinderella-themed date included a royal ball, fairy godmothers and a promotional clip of the new film. There was a special Cinderella-themed "afternoon tea" at London Fashion Week, and the film was also plugged recently by the closest thing to American reality-TV royalty, the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

 

Disney's princess-as-woman push, analysts said, has been fueled by lingering concerns thatFrozen, which thoroughly conquered toy-store shelves, perhaps didn't go far enough.

 

The highest-grossing animated movie in history, it became Disney's 11th franchise to drive more than $1 billion in retail sales a year, but analysts said sold-out storefronts and conservative merchandising lines ended up costing Disney and its licensees an untold gold mine in potential sales.

 

That was without accounting for the dollars from adult women wanting to shop for themselves. The grown-up items for Frozen, as Disney's online store show, are far from adventurous: The most expensive are an iPhone case and an Olaf tote bag, which sell for less than $US40.

 

"Frozen was important not only because of its enormous box office success, but also because it opened new consumer categories that we expect Disney to take advantage of," said Laura Martin, a senior analyst at Needham & Co. That includes apparel, accessories and makeup targeting not just "a 13-year-old aspiring to be a 17-year-old," but young and not-so-young adults alike.

 

Disney's appeals to women could pay dividends at the box office. Women have made up a bigger share of filmgoers than men every year since 2009, industry data show, though movies that tell stories centered around women remain exceedingly rare. (Rarer still: Movies that pass the Bechdel test, which measures whether the story features at least two women who talk with each other about things that don't involve men. The classic Cinderella passes.)

 

But a successful Cinderella merchandising gambit won't just help Disney with one movie. Women who go out to buy Cinderella stuff for themselves could end up grabbing Frozen gifts, as well.

 

And Big Mouse, with its Broadway musicals, theme parks and cruise line, boasts plenty of ways on which it can expand its empire. Robin Diedrich, a senior consumer analyst at Edward Jones, said, "Focusing Cinderella on these glamour and makeup ideas, maybe that's something they eventually can do with other brands as well."

 

But perhaps the longest-lasting benefit to Disney's hyper-profitable princess machine is much subtler than that, said Rebecca Hains, an associate professor at Salem State University and author of "The Princess Problem."

 

"The more closely intertwined women's adult identities become with Disney princesses," Hains said, "the harder it's going to be when they're parents to have a critical distance, to maybe think they shouldn't just deck their daughter's whole room with princess stuff, but other stuff, too."

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11:11 Publié dans Mode | Tags : style | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)