Christian Dior Fall Winter 2013

I am completely in love with some of the classic elements that appear on the Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2013 catwalk!  Raf Simons added cigarette pants; three-quarter length coat sleeves worn with long gloves; cinched-in high-waistlines; a hint at the peplum, and full skirts among other things.  I’m a sucker for vintage-inspired style and this is it at its best!

My favourite dress in the collection is this gorgeous salmon pink gown with sheer skirt and fitted bodice that absolutely leapt off the runway in contrast to the rest of the colour palette in the line.  I particularly like the juxtaposition (big word, I know!) of the high-necked, long-sleeved top and the sheer skirt.  Beautiful!

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What do you think about the Christian Dior Fall/Winter collection?

Transgender Models

A highly debated topic perhaps since For Your Eyes Only Bond Girl Caroline (Tula) Cossey made headlines in the 1980’s when she was outed for being a transgender model and actress, the press has stirred it up again recently since the formerly-male Jenna Talackova competed in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant. I’m curious how people really feel about transgender models now.

Former Bond Girl & Playboy model, Caroline Tula Cossey

Are we worried about the sex of the person who is advertising clothing?  Does it matter that a beautiful man looks fantastic promoting women’s fashion – or that the person used to be a man?  And what about the latest headlines about the transgender model competing in Miss Universe Canada Pageant?  Is it inappropriate or ground-breaking?

Model Lea T (second from right) in Givenchy 2010 ad campaign.

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Transsexual Isis King fronts American Apparel’s Gay Pride campaign

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Male model Andre Pejic walks the catwalk in a Rosa Clara wedding gown

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Jenna Talackova competed in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant in May 2012

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These models are beautiful, there’s no doubt.  Is it wrong that they appear on magazine covers and in advertising?  Would it be less of a problem for society to accept them if we didn’t know they used to be men?  What do you think?

LWD – The Little White Dress (& the little white room)

Almost all of us have that go-to LBD in our closet.  And if we don’t, we should.  There’s no denying it’s a wardrobe staple and can make the best companion to even the most last-minute invitation.  But recently, the LWD has been appearing at events and on red carpets. It’s so fresh and sophisticated that its got to last. And there’s no better dress for the summer.  Below some great LWD options.

Little White Dress

Victoria’s Secret aptly names this the Date Dress.  Perfect for date night, with a bit of sexy and a lot of classic.  This could easily be dressed up with silver or gold accessories and heels, or dressed down with flats and leather accessories.

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Angelina Jolie works the little white dress above.  Again, it’s sophisticated and classic.  Add a blazer and take this dress to the office.

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I love how this LWD is punched up with vibrant orange jacket, belt and scarf.  The neutral bag and shoes keep it from feeling too matchy-matchy.

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This is such a flirty crocheted lace LWD.  I like that it has long sleeves with the short skirt, so it highlights those leggy assets!

The LWD accessorised

I thought I’d share my virgin run on polyvore (above) of my set for the LWD and accessories.  Of course I incorporated one of Earth, Wind and Style’s gorgeous handbags too!  What do you think?
Of course, fashion can be translated into interiors and I’ve long been a fan of white interiors.  There’s something so serene and relaxed about them.  

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The Barcelona Chair (pictured above) reminds me of a well made suit.  It’s timeless and uncomplicated, yet paired with the right accessories, like this zebra print carpet and the bold black and white artwork, it becomes sophisticated and chic just as a suit you wear to the office would benefit from good accessorising.

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Isn’t this throw and lace pillows reminiscent of the lace LWD posted earlier?  This is a great example of how to bring your own personal style into your interior.  Looking for items for your home that correlate to those in your wardrobe (or vice versa) is an easy way to try to extrapolate your style from one to the other.

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Creating an engaging space centred around one colour can be challenging.  There must be elements of interest, which allow the eye to rest rather than continually seek the space for something to take its attention.  With a single colour in the room, texture and lighting become even more important than usual.  Texture can be brought in through contrasting finishes, such as ceramics and roughly finished furnishings, furs (or faux furs), wool, leather, reclaimed wood, etc.  The room above is successful because of the contrast between the rustic headboard, the glamourous chandelier and the fine cotton bedding, which in combination are a surprise to the eye.

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Again in the above living area, the contrast between tailored furnishings and textured finishes add interest and depth to the space.

So, if you haven’t already will you invest in an LWD?  What about living with an all white interior?  Is it something you would do?

Thinking Outside the Jewellery Box

I love to organise. I love to be organised. My brain appreciates the calm that comes from knowing things are in their place, but jewellery always seems like a difficult thing to sort and house.

I tend to shy away from typical storage solutions for my jewellery. I do have one traditional Chinese-style jewellery box, but most of my other jewellery is stored in less classic containers. I like to work vintage into my decor, so I use a couple of old leather collar boxes to keep my chunky necklaces and beads. And a Japanese Bento Box is home to some other pieces (this is a 2-for-the-price-of-1 storage solution, as the Bento Box comes apart, so the dividing tray can be used in a drawer and the box for another purpose). And I like the hit of red when I open it up to see my ‘jewels’.

But I’ve been on the lookout for other ideas for practical ways to organise my personal adornments. Below are some of my most interesting finds:

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Bracelets are particularly difficult to find storage for since they come in so many different shapes and sizes, so both of the above ideas caught my eye; the first using a beer bottle (a perfect excuse to crack a corona tonight!) and the second utilising a paper towel holder to stack and display the bracelets.

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The above is one of my favourite jewellery storage ideas and such a great use of mismatched tea cups and saucers that may have been floating around the family for a few generations. It’s storage and family keepsake in one.

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By now we’ve all seen the picture frame idea for hanging jewellery, but I like the retro metallic background in this one above. It adds a bit of glam to the vignette and will bring some depth into any corner you might locate it. The cake stand is a good use of space and also adds a bit of charm to this jewellery nook with its contrasting metallic finish.

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I love this happy little space (above) on so many levels, but the necklace display along the curtain rail is so unique and could easily be accomplished with some doweling and hooks and would look fantastic in a walk in closet!

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This idea is so simple and could be incorporated in many forms. There are a few pieces out there using vintage drawer pulls, but you could also use coat hooks installed on any wall with a bit of space and hang your necklaces from them.

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This is also a really pretty idea for hanging jewellery and can be incorporated into any small space. Select your fabric background to match your decor. Very chic.

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Again I’m loving this unique idea of making a jewellery tree out of driftwood. I especially love the contrast of the driftwood with the jewellery.

So, hopefully a few ideas to perk up your jewellery storage. Which ones are your favourites? Will you apply any of these ideas?

The Hot Topic of Photo Retouching

Magazines and advertisers who are retouching photos of their models to such a degree that they don’t look natural is a hot topic in the media right now and I’m really pleased to see that people are finally taking notice of the ridiculously unobtainable standards that these businesses are setting.

A year ago, several of the L’Oreal company’s brands had advertisements banned in the UK for retouching photos beyond an ‘acceptable level’.  Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts appear in two of these ads, and the question is why the Lancome and Maybelline executives found it necessary to photoshop these already beautiful women to create images that are completely unrealistic.  We are left to hope we can be this flawless if we purchase their products, which is quite impossible.

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Perhaps it is the blatant faults in photo enhancement, such as models missing fingers and heads and other rather obvious body parts that has really forced this topic to the forefront (just google photoshop mistakes and you’ll get over a million hits). Whatever the reason for its making headlines, I think it’s a good thing that it is continuously brought to the attention of the public – particularly for the women who are trying desperately to live up to these  ideals.

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This month, Eva Longoria appeared on the cover of Italian Amica magazine looking more like her Desperate Housewives co-star Terry Hatcher than herself!  You have to wonder what the editor was thinking letting this cover go to press with such an (apparently) well known face on the cover.  She’s far more beautiful in her actual photo (left), yet she didn’t escape the editing process.

I know a lot of women who have struggled for part of their lives – sometimes the better portion of their lives – with body image.  It’s not surprising when you consider the unrealistic images we are confronted with on a daily basis in magazines, online and in advertising.  Madonna is in her 50’s.  She’s supposed to have a few lines around her face. Don’t we expect that after the life she – of all people – has lived?!

How us women got to the point of trying to attain perfection, I’m not sure, but airbrushing and photo enhancement have been around since the late 1800’s – back in the day when women were forcing their bodies into corsets and girdles to create the perfect silhouette – and have almost certainly helped push us into trying to achieve these ideals.

 

Audrey Hepburn airbrushed

 

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Above is a promotional photograph of Audrey Hepburn for Breakfast at Tiffany’s from the 1960’s and it’s recently released marked version showing where the editor thought Audrey needed a little added beauty.  I’m amazed this editing was considered and put into action on a star who, in my mind, was quite gorgeous enough in the original photo!

But there has been some backlash and several celebrities, such as Cate Blanchett, have been making a point against all of this retouching.  Take a look at Cate’s untouched photo on the cover of Intelligent Life.  She is an undeniably beautiful women who has made a name for herself partly because of her beauty.  It’s so nice to see a representation of her at 42 years of age looking natural and, well, 42!

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A fourteen year old girl, Julia Bluhm, from Maine in the US recently caught the attention of the media as she organised a protest at the entrance to Seventeen Magazine in New York to state her objection to their use of photographs that are airbrushed.  Her protest was in support of the idea that these images may result in low-self esteem issues amongst her peers.  She’s on the right track, but we need more people – adults and teens – to make it known that we want to see true representations of models in the magazines we read and in the ads we are exposed to.

It would be great if more celebrities stood up and, like Cate Blanchett, insisted on photo shoots without heavy editing. But it is truly up to magazine editors and advertisers to change the way they think and the way they represent models and celebrities, which lead the general population towards aspirations of impossible beauty.

What do you think about the photoshopping controversy?

Do you Wash and Wear?

Wow! I had a feeling when I embarked on this subject that I would be a bit surprised, but never did I consider how horrified I would be…

The subject: Washing your clothes directly after purchase.

As I have previously confessed, I’m a teensy bit of a germ-a-phobe. I’m one of those people who washes her hands constantly, keeps a pump bottle of antibacterial hand-sanitizer in her car, tries not to touch bathroom door handles, and well, the list goes on and on… (ok, so a bit more than a teensy germ-a-phobe, I admit). I thought I had considered everything which may be germ-infested which could leave me at risk of germ invasion. Not so.

I suppose I blocked the arena of freshly purchased clothes because they usually look so clean and crisp. Well, I’ve opened Pandoras’ box now and it turns out Pandora is a bit of a dirty girl. Never again will I purchase an article of clothing and wear it without washing it first.

In my reading, I discovered that retail sales people witnessed a multitude of scary things emerging from the clothing boxes as they unpacked new items; bugs a-plenty, rodent excrement, and yes, even whole dead rodents! I read that some items are treated with chemicals to prevent mould developing during transit from point of origin until we slip that garment on next to our bare, clean, germ- and chemical- absorbent skin.

Then there is the fact that the clothes are very likely handled by an abundance of people as well: fabric manufacturers, seamstresses, packers, customs inspectors and shop people. How do we know these people wash their hands after going to the bathroom? And of course these garments may be tried on by numerous people – or even returned to the clothing store after wearing. Let’s be honest, it must happen a lot – before we end up with them in our own closets. There is no way of knowing if any of these people would be clean and washed when they went shopping and tried on that same hip pair of jeans we just bought!

In addition when you consider the unsafe conditions that factory employees must work in in countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Honduras (which is a whole other subject), where a lot of clothing going into the North American market is produced, it’s not a huge leap to suppose that cleanliness is not top of mind for factory managers – or its clients. These are hot countries as well with plenty of labour perspiration, I would bet. Do you think that many of these facilities would be kept clean? I wouldn’t think it would be a top priority for managers who are under pressure to meet unrealistic output targets.

In fact, a couple of years ago Good Morning America did a story about how clean – or dirty – new clothes are, collecting samples from several unnamed popular retailers. Enlisting the help of a microbiologist, they discovered that there were all kinds of human bacteria on brand new clothing including “respiratory secretions, skin flora, and some fecal flora”, as well as “vaginal organisms”! The microbiologist said some articles of clothing were “grossly contaminated”. And what’s interesting is that the cleanliness factor of the clothing didn’t change if purchased at a high-end or a low-end retailer. My skin is officially crawling!

So, with all this new information in my hygienic little brain, I’m thinking about that new top I just bought and hung straight up in my closet all ready to wear…

What do you do right after you buy new clothes? Are you a buy-it-and-wear-it type or a germ-a-phobe like me?

Safari Style

It is entirely true what they say about Africa getting under your skin and getting into your blood.

I was lucky enough while living in South Africa for 5 years to be able to explore some of the southern part of the continent and enjoy a number of safaris during that time.  Each was an amazing experience and on the return from a few of these trips, my husband and I said to each other, ‘ok, I think we’ve checked the safari box now’.  But a couple of months later we would be talking about our next plan to get ‘back to the bush,’ as the locals call it. We could never get enough!

There is something magical about going on safari.  The whole experience from watching those incredible animals – most often up close – in their own environment to the beautifully comfortable tented-camp accommodation to the outdoor lantern-lit evening meals served fireside in the boma that makes it such a romantic adventure.  And a very civilized G&T at sundown out of the back of a landrover could convince any sceptic that this is living!

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So given my love for the bush, I suppose it’s not surprising that I have a soft spot for safari-inspired style both in interiors and fashion.  It seems to have such staying power with its classic prints, neutral hues and casual sophistication. Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Michael Kors, Nicole Miller and others have all come out with hits of safari in their catwalks over the last several years.  Below are some examples of how to incorporate this look into either your wardrobe or your home.

Animal print is a definitive safari style print, which can be added to an outfit through accessories or worn from head to toe as your personality allows. Pair it with strappy sandals or boots and a chunky piece of jewellery and you have the look.

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These khaki pants combined with a menswear-inspired shirt, leather accessories and beaded jewellery screams safari.

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Blending into the environment is key when on safari so as not to arouse attention from hungry carnivorous animals, hence the use of many neutral hues reminiscent of the African Savannah.

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The khaki clothing above paired with a hat, sunglasses and a sizeable bag all come together to create a good safari look.

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Belted dresses and clothing with lots of pockets and accessorised with gold jewellery is also quintessential safari.

Earth, Wind & Style has a collection of game skin handbags that will coordinate beautifully with safari style (in fact one of our handbags is almost identical to the one that appeared in Michael Kors’ safari-inspired spring/summer 2012 collection!).

Safari lodge interiors, like fashion, tend towards utilising neutrals as a basis for their design.  Most lodges are inclined to blend into the environment in which they are located. With the use of natural elements, such as rattan, wood and sisal it is easy to bring a sophisticated bush influence into the home.  Layer in textures like cow hide rugs or ottomans, woven hemp or raffia fabrics such as bakuba, and baskets to up the African element.  A bowl of ostrich eggs, a grouping of porcupine quills or some oversized seed pods will also add authenticity to your scheme if you can get your hands on them.

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Lanterns are used generously at safari lodges, which definitely adds to the drama and romance of these venues.

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The carved tables above, zebra ottoman and cowrie shell basket all lean toward this style.

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If you have used a lot of wood in your design, you can soften the look by bringing in throw rugs and mosquito netting, which is almost always found around beds in the bush and definitely adds a touch of romance.  But what could be more romantic than sleeping under the stars as above?

I think I feel another safari plan coming on…

What do you think about safari style?  Do you already wear some of these elements or do you have some incorporated into your home?  What are your favourite pieces?