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05/05/2015

Black and white: Mad about monochrome

Have you ever noticed how, as if by magic, as soon as the sun comes out, the shops are flooded with clean, serene and – most importantly – white clothing. It’s easy to understand why white is an easy sell for summer. Whether it’s crisp, starched cottons or more bohemian lace there’s something apt about a brightly shining sun and even brighter whites.

 

But for those who are more crumpled than crisp, or extremely prone to spilling and staining, white can be just too much of a commitment.

 

All is not lost however, as monochrome is a perfect compromise, offering as it does the freshness of white with the safety and security of the infinitely more forgiving black.

 

 

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This season there’s plenty of monochrome to choose from. Stripes are the simplest place to start, and probably in your wardrobe in one version or another already. Gingham is a big trend this summer, in various colours, but don’t discount oversize checks, as seen at Sportmax, which have a pleasingly retro sensibility while still being modern enough to pass muster.

 

Those who would normally shy away from full-on patterns and prints might find that the simplicity of black and white makes such graphic looks far less scary. Sticking to the straight and narrow with linear patterns is a safe way to approach this – a basic Breton top in black and white even safer. But seeking out softer, more organic shapes is a step worth taking. That’s especially true of the delightfully dotty Dalmatian-print pieces that are the fruit of a collaboration between & Other Stories and Vans. If you’re still not sold on patterns, fret not, as black accents and trims provide a high-contrast take that adds the perfect hint of polish.

 

There’s an inherent formality that makes monochrome perfect for work, but don’t relegate it to the nine to five entirely – this summer’s sporty motifs are perfect for having fun in the sun. Still think black and white is boring? Bah, humbug!

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01/05/2015

9 Marie Antoinette Inspired Fashion And Beauty Trends That Are Totally Killing It Today

As someone who has a love for history and famous historical figures, I am constantly influenced by the styles, tastes, and fashions of the past. One of my favorite sartorial influences has always been Marie Antoinette inspired fashion, though. So it is to my absolute delight that I can report that many things arguably inspired by Marie Antoinette (even if just Sofia Coppola’s film adaptation) are in style today.

 

Marie Antoinette is perceived in many ways, but to me she’ll always be the youthful, kind-hearted queen who was a huge victim of tradition and circumstance, as portrayed in Antonia Fraser’s biography Marie Antoinette: The Journey. Born in Austria, the young Marie Antoinette moved to Versailles and became the Dauphine of France at the very early age of 15. Having been thrown into a foreign court filled with intricate, complicated rules of etiquette and an extremely high value on fashion, the young queen had to submerge herself into the French culture and way of life to truly become one of them (if she was ever going to be respected as their queen).

 

And submerge herself she did, spending lavishly on gowns, jewels, furniture, and all sorts of luxurious, expensive items fit only for the royalty of France. Marie Antoinette represents the epitome of beauty, luxury, and grandeur when it comes to style and fashion, and there have been many books, plays, operas, and films inspired by her.

 

One of the things Sofia Coppola’s film captures in particular comes down to the representation of the taste, style, and fashion made ever-so-popular by Marie herself. So let’s take a look at nine fashionable things inspired by the queen bee that are in style as we speak:

 

 

Photo: www.sheindressau.com

 

1. Big Hair

 

As the saying goes, the bigger the hair, the closer you are to god. In Marie Antoinette’s case, no woman was closer to godliness than she was, as not only the Queen of France (anointed by god, duh) but also has the country’s leader in fashionable hairstyles.

 

To have one’s hair curled, powdered, and then made huge and grand by the help of expensive wigs was all the rage, and having big hair became a symbol of status and ultimately style. It makes sense, then, that Marie Antoinette’s personal hairstylist, Leonard, was also one of her closest friends and intimates. Today, having big, bouncy curly hair is something many of us don and desire, whether it’s in the form of long, luscious mermaid hair, or short, sassy bobs — the bigger, the better.

 

2. Pastel Hair

 

Pastel colored hair has been all the rage for the past few years, but these lovely locks were made popular first by the French court of Marie Antoinette. It was very fashionable for royals and aristocrats to dye or powder their hair (and more commonly, their wigs) to make it appear a more fashionable color. “Strawberry blonde” was a popular color to have one’s hair at this time, which would result in a pastel-peach-like color on fair hair and powdered wigs. Today, the love of pastel-colored hair continues.

 

3. Flower Crowns

 

Way before Lana Del Rey, flower crowns and hair accessories were made popular by Marie Antoinette, who would decorate her grand, extravagant hairdos with not only flowers, but also feathers, fake birds, pearls, lace, diamonds, boats, and other such toys. Having flowers in one’s hair was incredibly fashionable at the French court of Marie Antoinette, and today we remain inspired by the style and walk around everywhere with flowers in our hair.

 

4. Beauty Marks

 

In the extravagant court of Marie Antoinette, the French courtiers enjoyed a little fashionable playfulness by the way of artificial beauty marks. Both sexes would stick on mouches (French for “flies”) in the shapes of hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades (cards were an extremely popular past-time during this epoch), as well as other obscure shapes on their faces. Today, artificial beauty marks are also quite popular (especially with women who enjoy playing with makeup) and are often donned in the form of a drawn-on heart or a stick-on rhinestone.

 

5. Floral Print

 

Marie Antoinette loved nature, and her tastes were very much inspired by it. One of her favorite things was flowers, and not only did she love to have flowers surrounding her or wearing them in her hair, but she also loved to have tapestries and furniture covered with flowers, too. Flowers were embroidered onto chairs and furniture, and floral fabric covered the walls. Today, we also love things that come in a floral print, including: wallpaper, bedding, clothing, furniture, teacups, etc. If it’s floral print, chances are we love it.

 

6. Boho Fashion

 

Although Marie Antoinette ruled the world of luxurious, elegant French fashion, there were times when she craved nature and simplicity. Thus, the “Petit Trianon” was gifted to Marie Antoinette by her husband, King Louis XVI, as a retreat away from the confines of etiquette and expectation at Versailles.

 

Here, Marie Antoinette had a fake peasant village (including cottages and livestock) created for her, where she could pretend to live the life of a peasant. In true bohemian fashion, she wore simple, looser-fitting flowing white gowns and tended to wear her hair natural, rather than done up in all its regular pomp and glory.

 

Today, bohemian fashion remains one of the most popular styles for summer, and still takes a page from the the Book-of-Boho influences and inspiration of Marie Antoinette.

 

7. Glamorous Heels

 

In Marie Antoinette’s day, both women and men wore heels. It was quite fashionable (and normal) for a courtier’s shoes to be lavishly decorated with sensuous fabrics, ribbons, lace, bows, and jewels.

 

Heels became extremely popular in France with King Louis XIV, and no one at court was allowed to have heels “higher than the king.” On top of this, all of the nobles wore shoes with red soles (which is perhaps where Christian Louboutin gets his influence). Today, glamorous heels continue to be of the utmost importance in fashion, desired and displayed with the same pomp and extravagance as the French court of Marie Antoinette.

 

8. Ornate Furniture

 

Versailles. You really don’t get more lavish, gorgeous, or ornate than the famous French palace last inhabited by Marie Antoinette. Every chair, every vase, every table was so intricately carved, painted, and gilded, it takes one’s breath away at every glance — almost overwhelmingly so.

 

Today, we take a little from the style of Versailles by the way of having an ornate piece of furniture or two in our homes — usually in the style of an ornate couch, chandelier, or more commonly, an ornate mirror.

 

9. Lush Baths

 

Marie Antoinette loved to bathe, and took baths quite frequently. One of the things she loved was to have flower petals, lemon, milk, and perfumes poured into her bath to scent her skin as she soaked. Today, we continue to love and indulge in luxurious, sensuous baths, most often with the help of the amazing bath bombs from Lush Cosmetics.

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27/04/2015

At White House Correspondents’ Dinner, A Red Carpet Where Celebrities Are the Arm Candy

It may not have been the Oscars or the Grammys, but last night’sWhite House Correspondents Dinner, often referred to as nerd prom, had its own red carpet. Though instead of E!, viewers had to make do with C-Span and Bloomberg TV, with political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann doing their best Ryan Seacrest and Guiliana Rancic imitations.

 

The duo gamely took on their roles, though the conversations could be awkward, with questions about drones and the upcoming presidential campaign alternating with the obligatory “who are you wearing?”

 

Of the two, Mr. Halperin seemed the most comfortable in his role of would-be Fashion Police panelist, telling the actress Laverne Cox (wearing Ines Di Santo) that he liked her Marchesa bag, and sharing with Ronan Farrow, who wore Dior, and Al Roker, in J. Crew, that he was dressed in Armani. “He lives in my building,” he added somewhat awkwardly.

 

 

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Mr. Heilemann seemed impressed by the shimmering gold Lanvin gown worn by Martha Stewart, but was stumped when Hannah David, a Sports Illustrated model, told him she was wearing Georges Chakra. “Is he famous?” Mr. Heilemann asked.

 

The Hollywood contingent acquitted itself well. The dresses on parade would not have been out of place at any Oscars telecast: Fancy, pretty, appropriate to the point of dull. Cecily Strong, the Saturday Night Live performer who hosted the evening, wore a purple floral gown by J. Mendel. Lucy Liu chose a beautifully beaded Naeem Khan. Jane Fonda’s sequined black column by Donna Karan came closest, with its cat-suit-like liquidity, to offering a whiff of something stronger.

 

But here, for a change, the celebrities are the arm candy, and the journalists and politicians, the stars. And for their star turns they dressed with stiff good taste if not aplomb. When asked the red-carpet question by Mr. Halperin, Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio had to check. (The answer: Brooks Brothers, bought by his wife.) The biggest decision most men had to make was whether to take their black tuxes with notch or peak lapels. Some (Paul Pelosi, President Obama) jazzed it up with a rakish hint of pocket square. A few brave outliers (Joe Scarborough, Matt Bai) switched out the bowtie for a long tie. Few had the daring of the former mayor of New York Michael R. Bloomberg, in a resplendent lilac bowtie – but, then, bravery may be a billionaire’s privilege.

 

The women were a bit freer, with fewer of the much-reviled Beltway pantsuits in evidence than on an average day in the Capitol. The designer Zac Posen made a custom beaded gown for Michelle Obama at her seat at the table of honor (and roasting). Even Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the house, had thrown a long, flapperish strand of pearls over her dress. When Susan Rice arrived in modish Valentino (from the label’s dotty fall 2014 collection), Mr. Heilemann and Clyde Frazier, a guest talking head, were equal parts befuddlement and admiration.

 

“It’s very creative, I like it,” Mr. Frazier said. “It’s your own design?”

 

It was not, but it was enough to make her, in Mr. Heilemann’s opinion, a fashion icon.

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