Face masks are becoming an increasingly frequent sight across the country, with more and more people using them in an effort to protect themselves and others from the spread of Covid-19.
And while medical-grade masks remain hard to get hold of, plenty of fashion brands have started to manufacture trend-led versions that adequately protect the wearer without eating into the critical supply of PPE materials needed for exposed key workers. Most benefit charities too, supporting those left most vulnerable by the coronavirus crisis.
That said, there’s nothing to stop you from making your own, even if you don’t have any sewing skills to speak of. In fact, a face mask is one of the easiest crafting projects there is, and it won’t take long to whip up something that looks good.
Is it safe though? “No home-made mask is as safe as a medically certified mask, but it is better than not wearing one at all,” says British fashion designer Isabel Manns, who is now selling face masks made from surplus fabric (£10, isabelmanns.com) alongside her printed dresses, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the NHS. “My masks have a gap at the back where you can place a piece of filter fabric which will make it more protective,” she adds.
Manns also has a video tutorial on her Instagram Stories for anyone who wants to make their own. With her help, plus a little trial and error on my part, this fool-proof guide contains everything you need to know to make a fashion-friendly face mask…
You will need:
A piece of fabric that is at least 21.5cm x 40.5cm
2 pieces of elastic, each 17.5cm long
A few pins
A sewing machine
First, choose your fabric. It can be anything, from an old scarf to a shirt that no longer fits – as long as you can cut a 21.5cm x 40.5cm piece from it. “Cotton is good as it’s easier to sew and wash,” says Manns. “I am using some silk fabrics which are lovely and soft, but it can be a bit slippery to sew if you are not experienced.” Bright prints look spectacular, while others prefer slogans or designer logos (consider repurposing a logo-emblazoned shoe dust bag).
Fold the fabric in half, with the undecorated or reverse of the fabric facing outwards (inside-out, effectively). Use a couple of pins to mark out a 5cm gap in the middle of the side parallel to the fold.
Sew along that open edge, but leave the 5cm gap between the pins unstitched.
Turn your mask the right way out, so that you can see the colourful side of the fabric. Now sew each side of the seam allowance flat – this is the 0.5cm or so of excess fabric created by your seam – it isn’t essential but it will look neater and prevent that seam from fraying.
Turn your mask inside-out again and arrange the fabric so that the filter slot is in the middle and the open seams are at the side.
Now you can pin the ends of your elastic ear hooks into place, with one fixed between the two layers of fabric at the top and bottom corners on the left, and the other mirroring it on the right.
Stitch those two side seams closed, then turn the mask the right way out by pulling the fabric through the filter hole.
Finally you’re ready to make your pleats, which will make the mask more comfortable and flexible to wear. Use three pins on each vertical side to mark four equal sections – this is where your pleats will be.
Then, one by one, create 1cm folds (all facing the same way), and use the pins to fix the pleats in place at either end. Manns suggests ironing to help keep the pleats in place: “It makes it easier to sew,” she says.
Now stitch along those side seams to fix the pleats in place. And that’s it – your mask is ready to use.
Unless you’ve seen, as I’m afraid I have, more episodes of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix docummercial, The Goop Lab, than could be good for your “wellness” – so that’ll be one episode, then – you may be unaware of the work of professional cold-water plunger Wim Hof.
Hof, who is Dutch (clearly), is the inventor of the Wim Hof Method, a series of deep-breathing exercises that, combined with his relentless promotion of the apparent health benefits of ice bathing, have brought him fame, of the online variety. More pertinently to this column, Hof is a Man in Shorts. I have trawled the outer reaches of Google Images and I can find no photo in which he is wearing trousers.
Hof may be unaware that, among menswear aficionados, the Man in Shorts is a recognised type. Take the feted photographer Juergen Teller. Teller does wear trousers on occasion, though he always looks happier in shorts, most often of the tight satin variety one associates with mulleted footballers of the 1980s. Teller is an example of the subspecies Fashion Man in Shorts. Others include Pharrell Williams, the pop savant, who is widely considered a style icon even though – perhaps because? – he quite often looks like a plonker. Williams has been seen in public wearing shorts with a dinner jacket. It’s not a look I would necessarily endorse.
But as the days warm up, a chap might consider taking a page from the Hof/Teller/Williams playbook, and putting on a pair of shorts. And even though, in our current predicament, the only one likely to have to gaze upon his knobbly knees is the dog, I still urge caution.
There’s a scene in The Sopranos in which Carmine Lupertazzi, boss of the New York mob, is talking with his New Jersey counterpart, Tony Soprano.
Carmine: “John said he went to a cook-out at your house?” Tony: “Yeah?” Carmine: “A don doesn’t wear shorts.” The late AA Gill agreed. “It is impossible to be taken seriously in shorts,” he wrote. “Shorts are silly. Men in shorts are silly men.”
Shorts are a bit silly. But on certain occasion – a “cook-out” in the sun, say – I’m with Tony: I think they’re fine. I have two pairs, from Orlebar Brown and Oliver Spencer. They are navy, tailored. They finish a couple of inches above the knee. I wear them on very hot days, with a long-sleeved shirt – otherwise the effect is scout leader, or professional cold-water plunger. And as Wim Hof could tell you, there’s only room for one of those.
Telecommuter-core – the new, angst-ridden fashion trend nobody asked for – is sweeping the globe, and taking once-niche fashion questions to the mainstream. Mainly: is it really possible to dress “from the top up” only for a conference call, as many have speculated on social media?
If Ron Burgundy taught us anything it is that the newsreader look – suit jacket paired with boxer shorts beneath the desk – is a fool’s errand. The poster for Anchorman demonstrates the shortcomings of the style, as have a raft of embarrassed real-life news anchors in their underpants.
There are better ways to compromise between the morale-boosting properties of workwear and the need to be comfortable. The garment you need is a smart pair of tracksuit bottoms. Ignore what Karl Lagerfeld said (“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat”) and look to social media, where these soft elasticated waists appear to be holding us together.
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These are fashion people, of course – they can get away with irony and performative slovenliness in the name of creativity and quirk. But even in much more formal jobs, a discreet, comfortable, hole-free pair of tracksuit bottoms will be a balm – the soft, familiar fabric a cocoon against the news. Pangaia’s soft, recycled tracksuits, made with environmentally friendly dyes, are fashion’s gold standard right now, but for most of us this is a shop-your-own-wardrobe situation. Luxe jogging bottoms were very on trend circa 2014 – if you bought a pair then, now is the time to find them. Pair with a smart jumper or a spritz of perfume and you will be pulled together, but comfy, sartorially at least. Fashion even has a reassuringly aspirational name for it , as though we are hanging out at home out of choice: loungewear.
The Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards is known for showcasing some of the most daring looks of the season, and this year’s show at the Eko Hotels in Lagos was no different.
In celebration of groundbreaking achievements in TV and Film, the stars dared to make an impact with fashion on the red carpet, it seemed everyone got the go hard or go home memo. Ghanaian actress Nana Akua Addo cemented herself early on as one of the best-dressed stars of the night, after arriving on the red carpet in a stunning sculptural organza Gaurav Gupta dress that emphasized her curves.
Also among this year’s best-dressed was Adesua Etomi-Wellington, who opted for a custom nude Tope FnR embroidered gown and nude heels, Ebuka Obi Uchendu, who wore a classic white suit with a ’70s style ruffled tuxedo shirt before changing to a grey three-piece suit, and Sola Sobowale who brought the drama in Anjy Lumunee Couture.
Here, see the best jewel embellished, sequin-adorned, floor-length and downright chicest ensembles from the AMVCA7.
The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here!
With the 7th edition of one of the most anticipated awards show in Africa, Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) happening now at the Eko Hotel Convention Center, all the celebrities are bringing their A-game to the red carpet and serving us some major looks.
In the world of wedding dresses, trends move at a seemingly glacial pace. However, each year, the new bridal collections do offer up fresh ideas, and timely style nuances for brides-to-be to consider.
Going into a new decade though, the shift in bridal styles is set to be more noticeable than before. As well as updates on now-classic silhouettes and ‘reinventions’ of ways to wear lace, there are broader movements to keep in mind. Eco-friendly dresses and modest nuptials are jostling with huge Instagram weddings, requiring multiple outfits and curated wedding wardrobes. Improved high street collections suit some, while there is also a rise in women looking to add personal touches to their gown.
Here are 9 key trends that you should have on your radar, before buying a wedding dress in 2020…
Clean white satin
Like fondant icing, there was an abundance of dresses made from thicker, pure white cady and crepe materials at the New York bridal shows. Viktor and Rolf’s autumn 2020 collection sculpted the material into giant bows and folded rosettes, all of which looked fresh, modern and utterly edible.
The new roaring ‘20s
The start of the 2020s has seen many bridal designers looking back to the 1920s for inspiration. Seed-beading in statement, feathery patterns was a key feature in several collections, including the much-anticipated new collaboration between Pronovias and supermodel Ashley Graham, which is available in sizes sizes 0 to 34 and designed to suit all body types, a landmark move for the bridal industry.
All over lace
Lace coverage has grown again this season, in full-length sleeves and high necklines. Monique Lhuillier and Mira Zwillinger led with the aesthetic, sticking with timeless micro-floral patterns rather than large motifs.
The bridal cape
British bridal designer Jenny Packham included several capes in her 2020 collection. From neck-tie chiffon overlays to a more structured floor length crepe cape which seemed to directly reference Gwyneth Paltrow at the Oscars in 2012, she had options to pair with every kind of wedding dress.
The Duchess’s final flurry of looks as a senior royal were carefully considered and laden with meaning
If anyone still thought that attempting to glean meaning from the fashion choices made by royals was a futile exercise, then may I present exhibit A: the Duchess of Sussex’s Goodbye Royal Life wardrobe, a tour de force display which delivered glorious visual impact with oodles of clever, more subtle messaging across seven high octane looks, stretching from Thursday’s studied exercise in ‘quietly leaving the hotel’ glamour to Monday’s Commonwealth Service show of peacockery. There was to be no going gently into that good Canada life for Meghan. Instead, that Emilia Wickstead cape ensured that she effectively looked like she was actually flying off.
With its frequent flashes of vibrant colour, many long time Meghan watchers were fascinated that the duchess had ‘left it till now’ to fully embrace the Queen’s philosophy that she must be seen to be believed and wear the kind of eye-catching hues which the rest of us may find de trop. The duchess is usually more of a neutrals kind of woman, best known for her love of beige, navy and black – something she reminded us of in the Alex Eagle camel coat which she wore leaving a lunch at the Goring on Thursday afternoon.
Meghan understands plainer colours read as more modern, more Fashion, but in the end she simply couldn’t win against the proof that bright works in pictures destined for front pages and Instagram feeds. In fact, one of the best images ever taken on Harry and Meghan came on Thursday evening when Getty’s Samir Hussein captured the couple in coordinated bright blues, smiling in the rain.
Meghan’s shots of turquoise (Victoria Beckham), optic white (Topshop and Roland Mouret), red (Safiyaa) and green (Emilia Wickstead) made for several of these history-book-worthy photo opportunities, they had a ‘head held high’ kind of pride about them and, if we’re really reading into this (and we are) you might note the particular significance of the colours.
There was blue, white and red, the hues of both the UK’s and the US’s flags, and then green which any amateur colour specialist will tell you denotes new beginnings, hope and nature, so the ideal shade to pick when you’re completing your final engagement as an official senior royal and will soon be tearing off the outfit to change into your flight clothes with a hike in a Canadian forest a not-so-distant prospect. Green for go, was the traffic light analogy made by my colleague Emily Cronin. Harry’s suit had even been lined to match.
Beneath all those optimistic colours, there were hints if not of nostalgia then to high points of Meghan’s brief time as a fully signed-up member of The Firm. She accessorised the green Emilia Wickstead with a Gabriela Hearst ‘Demi’ green satin handbag (£1695) which she first carried for her one and only visit to Sussex, the county of which she is, of course, duchess. If the Sussexes have previously been criticism for giving short shrift to their namesake place, then this was a nice recall.
Even more powerful was the red Safiyaa gown which Meghan wore for the Mountbatten Festival of Music on Saturday evening, the last time we expect to see Prince Harry wearing his officer’s mess dress as Captain General of the Royal Marines. Not only did the duchess’s demi-couture gown coordinate impeccably with her husband’s uniform but it also recalled the ‘Fiji blue’ look by the same brand that she wore for a state dinner on the island during the couple’s tour of the Southern Hemisphere in 2018. Good will was at a high then, with the world eager to catch a glimpse of Meghan’s burgeoning bump in the silhouette-skimming design.
Meghan’s choices of designers were significant, too. Having attracted so much criticism that she was failing to support British brands with her wardrobe in the past, this was a showcase for UK labels of all ilks, from world famous names to small female-founded businesses. Almost all of the pieces she wore were by women – Victoria Beckham, Safiyaa (created by Daniela Karnuts) and Emilia Wickstead catered to the major moments. For a visit to the Southbank Theatre, she went off-piste with a high-low message, opting for a £29 blouse by high street behemoth Topshop and a £595 pencil skirt courtesy of her old friend Roland Mouret.
Visiting Robert Clack Upper School in Essex to mark International Women’s Day, Meghan looked more low key but still imbued her outfit with meaningful touches, wearing items by three labels founded by British women. There was the frayed-edge jacket, an invention of Clare Hornby, founder of Me + Em which seeks to create pieces which work extra hard for women’s lives by being adaptable and multi-functional – she makes trenchcoats which become jackets and long trousers which become cropped ones. Meghan carried a handbag by Rejina Pyo, the Seoul-born designer who shows at London Fashion Week and is loved for her practical yet offbeat-chic designs.
Finally, the duchess eschewed her usual preference for Manolo Blahnik and Aquazurra in favour of striding out in heels by Jennifer Chamandi, a Lebanese-British footwear designer who has patented her signature ‘needlepoint’ stiletto which features a small hole at the top of the heel to pass a strap through. ‘I’m so honoured that the Duchess of Sussex chose to wear my shoes,’ Chamandi says. ‘As an independent brand entering my 4th year in business it’s wonderful to have the support of The Duchess. I’m a busy working mother of young children, so comfort, elegance and simplicity are at the heart of my designs and I strive to create shoes that will make women feel inspired and empowered in all that they do.’ Sentiments which will surely chime with Meghan who told the school’s pupils that ‘you have a voice and you certainly have the right to speak up for what is right.’
Less obvious but nevertheless fascinating were Meghan’s forays in jewellery-signalling. Some of her blingtastic offerings were purely a statement of regal splendour, like a £9,500 diamond bracelet by Jessica McCormack, but others seemed like twinkly little messages; Sophie Lis’s £280 ‘Love’ pendant, worn for the National Theatre visit, uses diamonds, rubies and inscription to spell out the message ‘For, you see, each day I love you more, today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow’ a line from Rosemonde Gerard’s ‘The Eternal Song’. Translation: ‘I’ll love you even more Harry, when we’re finally free’.
For the Dagenham school visit, Meghan accessorised with Edge of Ember’s £125 Kismet Charm necklace which symbolises a ‘double dose’ of good fortune in the form of a four leaf clover and number 7, inspired by vintage Asian coins.
The Sussexes’ flurry of farewell engagements could have been a damp squib, but instead they opted to go out on a high and show us what we’ll be missing while also setting the tone for their next chapter. I, for one, will miss the refreshing modernity Meghan brought to royal dressing and the moments of drama. However, I suspect there’s plenty more where that came from as we look forward to seeing how they navigate post-royal life.
Meghan’s top five royal style moments
The Givenchy wedding dress, May 2018
The caped Givenchy shift, worn for her first engagement with the Queen in Cheshire, June 2018
‘Fiji Blue’ Safiyaa gown, October 2018
Oscar de la Renta ‘Birds’ dress at the Australian Geographic SSociety Awards, October 2018
Black velvet Givenchy at the Fashion Awards, December 2018
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Kim Kardashian West and Lady Gaga are fans of the natural, vegan material with fetishistic associations. Now it’s dominating catwalks and popular culture.
In stark relief to the face masks being donned at Paris fashion week in the wake of coronavirus, Kim Kardashian West showed up to her husband Kanye West’s show in a mustard-coloured latex bodysuit. The outfit, from Balmain, was typical Kardashian: body con and striking for social media.
Latex has dominated the runways and pop culture this season. Lady Gaga’s new video shows her in a Power Ranger pink latex two-piece. At Saint Laurent, latex leggings were paired with boxy suit jackets, while photos of inflatable latex trousers – likened to Aladdin’s pants – from the London College of Fashion graduate Harikrishnan, went viral on social media. He says he chose the fabric because “it is quite a statement. It comes with embedded fetish imagery … Most people haven’t experienced it and would often associate latex to costumes and hypersexuality.”
For Prof David Tyler, from Manchester Fashion Institute, latex’s ability to shock is simple: “It is its ability to be a second skin and reveal shape,” he says. The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe caused outrage after featuring latex bodysuits in his work – his 1978 Joe/Rubberman, for example, features a man in a latex outfit, lying on his back, possibly sleeping, in a Renaissance-esque pose.
Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Versace and Gareth Pugh have also riffed on latex’s associations with subcultures and decadence.
And yet, despite its synthetic and futuristic appearance, latex is actually a vegan and organic substance, derived from tree sap. This is one of the reasons why the vegan designer Stella McCartney has used the fabric in place of leather in her footwear.
When worn best, the oppositional qualities between the natural world and artificial fetishwear – are displayed to full effect. Think of Lady Gaga meeting the Queen in in a red puffed-sleeved latex dress and Beyoncé walking the Met Gala red carpet in 2016 in a soft pink, floral, Atsuko Kudo X Givenchy latex dress. Madonna wore it in her “S&M Hollywood Squares” video in 1994 as a way of silencing those who had slut-shamed her for the Sex Book and Erotica. It was a deliberate nod to the subversive and shocking nature of latex – and the sexual freedom it evokes. “Good design evinces an aesthetic response,” says Tyler.
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This is exactly what latex does: disrupts sartorial norms and creates controversy. And now, thanks to the Paris runways and Kim Kardashian West, it is an insurgent fabric once again.
After 22 years together, I discovered my partner has been having sex with someone else. A text message describing the “intense pleasure” experienced last time they met, was mistakenly sent to me rather than her. Sex now inhabits the majority of my waking thoughts – imagining him with her, and desiring sex between him and me.
The fall 2020 shows in London have come to a close. Here, our daily recaps and the most memorable moments from the runways, as captured by T’s photographers
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Monday, Feb. 17
Riccardo Tisci closed London Fashion Week with his most personal collection for Burberry to date, aptly titled “Memories.” The show was held at the Olympia exhibition hall in West London, and the Venezuelan musician Alejandro Ghersi, better known as Arca, and the French sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque played renditions of Franz Schubert and Philip Glass songs on two grand pianos situated on the mirrored runway.
The clothing was inspired by Tisci’s formative years in London, where he studied fashion in the ’90s: He presented numerous clashing iterations of Burberry’s signature nova check pattern; paired evening dresses with Wellington boots; and deconstructed English rugby shirts and puffer jackets. But the Italian designer also invoked his time spent in India — he started his own label there in 2004 and regularly returns to the country for inspiration — with artful draping and touches of madras print.
Christopher Kane is not a designer who shies away from investigating taboos in his work, finding inspiration in the 1972 sex manual “The Joy of Sex” and others’ private fetishes in previous collections.
For his latest offering, he turned to the original sin, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Models traversed the runway to Dick James’s 1957 version of the song “Garden of Eden” and several sported tops featuring an illustration of Adam and Eve framed by a triangle. Kane played with the three-sided shape, repeating it as a pattern across coats and sheathes, and allowing it to dictate cutouts of pieces’ overall forms.
“The triangle is the strongest shape in nature,” Kane explained backstage, “and it also resembles the Eye of God, which has the cultish feel I always go for.” And, as ever, his exploration of eroticism was front and center: He incorporated lacy, lingerie-like sections into dresses and skirts, and showed knitwear with plenty of peekaboo slashes.
The night before his namesake fall 2020 show, Jonathan Anderson posted a cryptic message on his Instagram with seven rules on how to enter a room. (No. 2: “Do Power Poses Before Entering the Room.” No. 7: “Enter With a Smile.”) One way to make an entrance, by any measure, would be to wear any of the voluminous coats with oversize collars that went down the JW Anderson runway.
He also created bulbous gowns from bouncing Lurex, a testament to his mastery of proportions. A pair of sheaths paid tribute to a Guinness beer commercial that Anderson recalled watching as a child; draped in folds around the body like a crushed can, the dresses bore the slogan “Brewers of Distinction.”
A forthcoming exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery that focuses on the British society photographer Cecil Beaton provided the source material for Erdem’s latest show, which was held at the institution. The designer Erdem Moralioglu was particularly inspired by Beaton’s portraits of the 1920s London’s high society party set, Bright Young Things, who counted the socialite Stephen Tennant among its ranks and would go on to inspire Evelyn Waugh’s 1930 best seller, “Vile Bodies.”
The era’s louche decadence filtered into a collection that featured details like skirts with tiered ruffles, dresses embellished with strings of pearls and feathered headpieces. In his youth, Beaton would photograph himself and his sisters dressed up in tinfoil and bedsheets — a fact that so charmed Moralioglu, he embroidered dresses with flowers made out of foil and plastic.
Sunday, Feb. 16
Nearly three years after Tommy Hilfiger first showed at London Fashion Week, the designer’s traveling immersive fashion show titled #TommyNow arrived in the capital (following stops in Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Shanghai).
The occasion was the release of a clothing collaboration with the British racing driver Lewis Hamilton and the Grammy-winning musician Gabriella Wilson, better known as H.E.R. Held at the Tate Modern — and featuring a choir that performed consummately British hits like the Arctic Monkeys’
“I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” — the show opened with Naomi Campbell and featured a diverse cast that mixed supermodels such as Karen Elson and Erin O’Connor with newer faces like Halima Aden and Winnie Harlow. The gender-neutral collection included plenty of sportswear, preppy motifs and, in a first for the brand, low-impact denim washes and recycled fabrics, part of Hilfiger’s stated mission to operate more sustainably.
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The starting point for Simone Rocha’s fall 2020 collection was “Riders to the Sea,” the Irish playwright John Millington Synge’s 1904 one-act play about a woman dealing with death in her family, set in the Aran Islands. Backstage, Rocha said she wanted her show to reflect the play’s themes: “birth, communion, baptism, catastrophe, death, the idea of love, and to bring it full circle back to the beginning.”
The garments were heavily tactile — delicate tulle was contrasted with heavier brocade fabrics, thick Aran knits and macramé detailing, and it was all tied together by layers of oyster-colored satin — reflective of Rocha’s desire for the collection to feel “visceral and of this earth.”
Her dark and romantic vision of femininity reached its apotheosis in the final look: What appeared to be a bride clad in an ivory satin gown and a Chantilly lace veil was in fact meant to reference the funeral at the end of Synge’s play. Rocha imagined it in white, as all-black was “too ominous.”
Victoria Beckham is celebrated for dressing a certain kind of chic sophisticate, but, this season, she mounted what she called a gentle rebellion, and played with the codes of her eponymous brand. Among the roomy outercoats and immaculately tailored suits were new propositions, like culottes and knee-skimming tweed skirts worn over thigh-high boots and a variety of pieces in lumberjack checks; Beckham also worked in offbeat details, such as belt buckles made from silver skeleton hands. She attributed the shift in direction to the carefree spirit of the ’60s, and said that she had photos of icons like Penelope Tree and Marisa Berenson tacked to her mood board for inspiration.
Saturday, Feb. 15
Richard Quinn, whose brand is just over two years old, ambitiously took over the Royal Horticultural Hall in South London, where the set designer Derek Hardie Martin created a flower-adorned façade that welcomed guests to the “House of Quinn.” For the opening three looks, models were covered from head to toe in crystals and pearls — with the back of one jacket reading “God Save the Quinn” — an homage to “Pearly Kings and Queens,” a working-class tradition in London of wearing garments adorned with pearl buttons that dates back to the 19th century.
This ornate troika set the tone for the rest of the collection, which explored the tension between couture shapes and techniques, and something much more subversive and kinky. One model wore a zippered leather trench coat and a spiked leather mask, for example, and subtler pieces, like a floral-print cocktail dress, were paired with opera gloves and leggings made from black latex. Quinn also introduced men’s wear (a recurring theme at this season’s shows in London) with a handful of wasp-waisted and super-flared suits.
For her fall 2020 collection, Molly Goddard staged a candlelit dinner party in a Methodist Church in central London. In doing so, she reminded attendees of the delicious mise-en-scènes of her early presentations, explaining backstage that she “wanted people to have a nice time and for it to be as laid-back as possible.”
She showed her most expansive collection yet: In addition to her signature frothy layers of tulle and shirred, smocked and ruched fabrics, for the first time she included a series of men’s wear looks — knitted Fair Isle sweaters, checked suiting and collared shirts — a request from her partner, Tom Shickle.
Autobiographical elements abounded; the designer, who distributed a photograph of herself at age 3 with her father rather than traditional show notes, said the offhand pairing of crochet dresses over trousers reflected her own style and that of her friends.
Rue Bennett, the wayward teen played by Zendaya in HBO’s critically acclaimed show “Euphoria,” was the muse for Marques’Almeida’s fall 2020 collection. Marta Marques said that she and her co-designer, Paulo Almeida, had recently started to stream the series in order “to try and understand youth and what they face and how they express themselves.”
She added: “It finally clicked that what we have been doing is mixing random influences and appropriating them in a completely carefree way. It was an incredibly liberating way to work.” That translated to a jumble of references — including utilitarian detailing, cheongsams, ’50s cocoon coats, ’80s puff sleeve tops and ’70s knits — and the pairing of different textures, as tie-dyed and hand-painted fabrics clashed with acid-washed denim and neon fake fur.
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Friday, Feb. 14
The young English designer Matty Bovan brought a boisterous jolt of energy to the opening day of London Fashion Week with his most conceptual collection to date. Backstage, Bovan talked of wanting to challenge himself this season “by exploring the negative spaces around the body.”
His distorted silhouettes — for which tops and skirts appeared to be gathered at points by gigantic knitting needles — recalled the Comme des Garçons doyenne Rei Kawakubo’s experiments in creating volume, but when worn with inventive headpieces made by the milliner Stephen Jones (several featured pairs of shimmery curtains that parted in midair above the models’ hair), the looks came, undoubtedly, from Bovan’s clever and punky mind.
Elsewhere, he turned Swarovski crystals into appliqués, added fringe made from salvaged plastic to coats and incorporated Liberty prints and upcycled Fiorucci denim, showcasing both his deep love of craft and his interest in sustainability.
“There are some designers that don’t do well,’’ added the rapper, flashing a grill made from emerald-cut diamonds covering top and bottom teeth. Others, however, come out on top.
Asked to name some, the Migos member (who was born Quavious Marshall) handily reeled off his list: “Prada, Off-White, Rick Owens, Undercover,’’ he said. “They all had good pieces, great pieces you want to own.’’
Like advance scouts, Quavo and his fellow musician, Takeoff (Kirshnik Khari Ball), had been enjoying their status as favored guests as they tracked a men’s wear circuit that has lately changed almost beyond recognition.
As recently as five years ago, men’s wear was fashion’s sleepy minor leagues. You barely had to wait in line to get into most shows, let alone battle your way past mobs of fans screaming for rappers, ballers or Robert Pattinson.
Now the scenes outside shows — like those in Paris for Louis Vuitton or Dior Men, held in temporary structures set up inside the Tuileries Garden or on the Place de la Concorde — could have been lifted straight from “The Day of the Locust.’’
What was notable was not merely the spectacle of screaming bystanders at V.I.P. drop-offs mobbing the limos depositing K-pop sensations or musicians like the Colombian reggaeton star J. Balvin but that the composition of the crowds tracked broader demographic shifts the industry has shown itself eager to exploit.
The days of #fashionsowhite, in other words, are numbered. You can see it the streets outside the shows but just as notably on the runways, where often the clothes themselves are less memorable than the fact that they are being displayed on models who in the past, if they were cast at all, were stereotyped as “exotics.’’
In 1964, when the designer Emilio Pucci cast two black models for a fashion show in a gilded salon of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, journalists questioned whether the gesture had been an act of courage, a scandal or a novelty.
Contrast dated observations like those with the clear and decisive statement that the designer Kim Jones made with his authoritative Dior Men show on Friday. An opening look is considered in the industry a designer’s concept statement. Here it was a billowing swing coat of pearl gray moiré taffeta with a rumpled rosette at the collar, worn over a turtleneck and pinstripe trousers and accessorized by a white velvet opera glove and a single pearl earring. The person wearing it was the elegant young Angolan model Guibu Bunga.
Consider that a writer for the Business of Fashion site declared last week on Instagram that the breakout runway star of the season was the Senegalese model Malick Bodian. Add to that the fact that when Nicholas Daley, an award-winning young British designer of mixed race, mounted a fashion week presentation early this month at a cavernous club in north London, he cast the show exclusively with people from what he called “his community.’’ Not one appeared to be Caucasian.
The designer Olivier Rousteing told a group of journalists before the Balmain show on Friday, “I think I can deliver messages that are beyond business or beyond fashion.’’ Balmain’s desert-themed “Sheikh of Araby’’ theatrics appeared to be as much Vegas spectacle as anything seen before on the runways of Paris.
Recently Mr. Rousteing, who was adopted in childhood by a white couple from Bordeaux, France, discovered the origins of his birth parents, and now describes himself as “Half Ethiopian, half Somalian and 100 percent French. Add to that the multicultural global citizenship conferred on him by an Instagram following of 5.8 million and you can see the power he has to upend the definition of inclusivity. The once yearly appearance of a black face on a fashion magazine cover (usually in February, a graveyard month for print publications) won’t pass muster now that the people whom fashion historically excluded are increasingly calling the shots.
“That script has already been flipped,’’ the designer Telfar Clemens said before the show he staged earlier this month as part of the Pitti Uomo men’s wear fair in Florence. Mr. Clemens meant the breakdown of hegemonies that pigeonholed people by sexuality, race or gender.
At shows like the opulent one Mr. Clemens staged inside a palazzo on the banks of the Arno — a posse of his New York friends had been flown in at Pitti’s expense for a night of eating and dancing and celebrating, at the conclusion of which models stomped across a littered banquet table — the point seemed to be the erosion of arbitrary boundaries of all kinds.
An emailed statement from Rei Kawakubo, the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus designer, described her antic rush of a show on Friday as “color resistance — fighting back with color.’’ She meant the vibrant strident clashing animal prints, tartans, stripes and checks worn by models who were sent caroming around the space, mosh pit style. It was a joyful thought from a most serious designer and, like many of her gnomic statements, open to personal interpretation.
Fighting back with color can also be read as an endorsement of embracing the whole human dispersion, the best imaginable thing that could happen within fashion and outside it. That the process is underway can be gauged by the fact that the creative director of a powerhouse multinational like Dior Men can now pay overt homage to figures once judged marginal or even less. The Dior show, in homage to the jewelry designer and gender provocateur Judy Blame, felt like an augury of a broader liberation as welcome as it was overdue.
When the American designer Heron Preston filled his front row on Thursday with friends from across the social/sexual/racial spectrum and talked about things coming apart and being reassembled in better ways, you could tell he meant more than camouflage-patterned jacquards or the cleverly reworked polyamide Gore-Tex workwear that has brought him success.
In a Nina Simone interview quote sampled on the soundtrack of Mr. Preston’s show, the singer spoke passionately of black power and black pride. “To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world,’’ Ms. Simone said, adding that her goal had never been to persuade the white world of a black superiority she considered self-evident but to encourage people of color to be “aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there, and just to bring it out.’’ Apply that thought to every historically oppressed group and you can start to see a future.
There’s only one problem as the growing clothing rental market inches toward offering men’s wear: Guys may not buy in.
A little more than a decade ago, a pair of Harvard Business School students founded Rent the Runway, a platform for renting special-occasion evening wear that has since expanded to all kinds of wear: leopard-print blazers, bright red ski pants, Swarovski crystal necklaces and leather fanny packs.
By the spring of 2019, the company was valued at $1 billion and had spawned multiple competitors.
But Rent the Runway has never carried men’s wear. Despite the popularity of renting, there are no companies of its size that offer men’s apparel. Because aside from prom or wedding tuxedos, men do not rent — for now, at least.
Why don’t men rent? Are they fearful that borrowed clothing carries the unsanitary residue of other men? Do they dread the logistical planning required to return a pair of cuff links? Or is it just that their renting options are so few and little known that they didn’t know theycould?
The New York Times asked a dozen stylish men across the United States (and one abroad) about their attitude toward renting clothes. Nearly all were dubious, and not because of hygiene or laziness.
Through their explanations, they provided a window into how fashion-aware men think about clothes in 2020. Their stated values — individuality, ownership and longevity — were at odds with the ever-rotating closet pushed by the rental market.
Still, leaders and new players in that market are plotting expansions into men’s wear, each on slightly different paths. Whether men know it — or want it — the race to make them rent is about to begin.
The Post-‘Metrosexual’ Moment
Sometime around 2007, it became easier for men to talk about their appreciation for clothing, according to Volker Ketteniss, the director of men’s wear at the trend forecasting firm WGSN. Marketers began pushing a more “technical approach” to shopping for men, he said, placing the idea of heritage brands and craftsmanship front and center.
“This became a guy’s way of being into fashion,” Mr. Ketteniss said. “The same way you could be into cars, stereos and other gadgets.” (Before that time, men who liked clothes were more often called “metrosexuals.”)
Their interest often starts with flashy accessories, like sneakers and watches. That’s how it worked for Ty King, a shoe enthusiast in Nashville.
“Especially early on, with shoes, you didn’t want the shoe that other people were wearing,” said Mr. King, a 43-year-old music and sportswear writer known online as John Gotty.
In mid-December, when Nike released the new Air Jordan 11, Mr. King decided to skip the drop. Too many people were lining up for the $220 red-and-black retro sneakers.
“Even if I did buy them, I’m probably not going to wear them for a year or two,” he said. By then, he expects everyone else will have moved on.
Mr. King’s individualist attitude extends to renting clothes, which he said he would never do. Through years of digging and researching, he has developed his own “strong sense of style.”
“I truly know what I feel works best for me,” he said.
Mr. King fears that renting will lead to herd mentality, and he’s not alone.
“How much of truly being stylish or expressing oneself with clothing is going to be left?” said George Lewis Jr., the 36-year-old Angeleno who makes music as Twin Shadow.
Mr. Lewis said he was familiar with the concept of renting clothes, and he knows women who rent clothes, but that he personally thinks the concept is strange.
Mr. Ketteniss of WGSN has a theory about men’s skepticism toward renting: Women are accustomed to the idea because they have been swapping clothes with their friends since they were teenagers.
This pastime never really caught on with men. And the women’s wear market has always grown at a faster pace than men’s wear. Why would the renting phenomenon be any different?
Pride in Ownership
On Instagram, under the handle ThePacMan82, Phil Cohen has amassed 770,000 followers, with posts that show a neat collection of clothing and accessories, styled as if for an advertisement.
Though Mr. Cohen appears on lists of prominent fashion influencers, he prefers to leave himself out of the pictures. The spotlight belongs to the clothes themselves.
In an interview Mr. Cohen, 37, expressed pride in his clothing and the work it took to obtain it. He said that renting a nice pair of boots or a hard-to-find jacket may thwart the proper way of things, which for him is a four-step process: Man wants garment. Man saves up for garment. Man purchases garment. Man wears garment.
“I like the idea that you save up and buy something that then becomes part of your life, part of your wardrobe,” he said. “I think that there’s a genuine sort of appreciation for the product when you’ve put yourself into it.”
Several men agreed. A few said that being outed as a rental customer may be embarrassing. It would be as if they were pretending to have more money than they did.
Jason Ryan Lee, a 38-year-old editor at the black celebrity gossip website Bossip, said renting feels almost like cheating.
“I would hate to walk out in a rental and get all kinds of compliments and in my mind be like, ‘This is cool, but this isn’t mine,’” he said. “‘Now I feel like an impostor of some kind. I’m not as cool as people think I am. This $2,000 jacket, I just rented for $35.’”
Through clothing, people project their wealth, status and work ethic. For men, being caught in clothes they don’t own could threaten those projections, and their masculinity.
Mary Blair-Loy, a sociology professor at the University of California, San Diego and the founding director of the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions, said that men often still see themselves as breadwinners. Owning their belongings helps support that image.
“Ownership is a sign and a signal of wealth and status and success in a precarious capitalist competitive world,” she said.
A Double Standard
There is also less pressure on men to own extensive wardrobes. At work, they are less likely to be scrutinized for wearing the same outfit every day. And they take pride in wearing their clothes for a long time.
Dylan Walker, a 20-year-old welding student who lives in Georgia, said that he owns about 10 pairs of cowboy boots and would never think about renting an additional pair.
“Boots last for a really long time,” he said. “One pair of boots for six years. When I buy clothes, I’m buying them for the long haul.”
Stanton Coville, a 29-year-old software developer in Ohio, said that he takes a utilitarian approach to his clothing, to the point that he calculates the cost-per-wear of individual pieces. After wearing a $300 pair of Japanese jeans for four years, its cost was justified, he said. His wife makes fun of him, but he has had to get the jeans repaired only once.
Gert Jonkers, the 53-year-old editor in chief of Fantastic Manand a publisher of The Gentlewoman, spoke of the double standard women face when they repeat outfits. For women, it’s thought to be a faux pas. For men, it’s unremarkable.
Women also have a harder time getting away with informality, he said; they are more liable to be judged for ignoring fashion trends.
“Last night I was wearing a Missoni jumper I’ve had for 10 years, and people were saying ‘Oh, wow, I love that jumper,’” Mr. Jonkers said. “Nobody notices that it’s from fall or winter 2008. It just really doesn’t matter.”
Pride in ownership and longevity combine to create sentimental value. Mr. Lewis said that he appreciated the way personal possessions become “weathered by the energy of your household, or physically weathered by you wearing it.”
Of the white jeans he was wearing during an interview for this article, he said: “I love them and hate them, because two days after wearing them I have to wash them to make them fit the right way, and every time I wash them they get a little bit worse, and my mom overbleached them so they’re looking slightly pink now.”
“But it’s important to me because these have a story to them,” he added.
Thinking About Men
Major rental companies nevertheless look at men as an untapped market, even if they’re not quite sure how to go about tapping it.
Nuuly, a Rent the Runway competitor founded in 2019, is “actively looking” at expanding into men’s apparel, said Sky Pollard, the head of product.
Owned by URBN, the parent company of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, Nuuly is “talking to customers and trying to figure out a program that would work for them,” Ms. Pollard said. “We really see no reason to believe that they wouldn’t respond to it and love it as much as our women customers.”
Rent the Runway said it has also been thinking about men for a long time, albeit less urgently. The company believes men want variety in their closet, but it is still determining the best way to introduce men’s wear.
For example, should it advertise to men directly or target existing female members who buy clothes for the men in their lives?
Either way, Rent the Runway could give style-conscious men what it has already given to women: the ability to cycle through trendy clothes at a reasonable cost (its cheapest plan is four pieces for $89 per month), without resorting to lower-quality, questionably sourced fast fashion destined for a landfill.
Unlike other men interviewed, Khalid El Khatib, 34, was enthusiastic about the idea of renting. Ever since Mr. El Khatib, a marketing and communications professional in New York, learned about Rent the Runway from his two sisters, he has wished he had access to something like it.
A few years ago, when he went to Cuba on vacation, he brought a brand-new Reiss floral button-down shirt.
“I never wore it again,” he said. “I bought it for Cuba, I wore it in Cuba, and then I retired it.” He appreciates fashion, but he isn’t attached to owning pieces no one else owns, or owning them for a long time.
In November, a New York start-up began experimenting with renting men’s wear to a list of 50 family members and friends. The company, Seasons, was founded by Regy Perlera and Luc Succés, who were also behind an app that allowed users to text each other Drake lyrics.
In an interview, Mr. Perlera said that “men are very ownership oriented.” But, he said, “the concept of ownership is changing drastically and very quickly. We used to think that we needed cars, and now we have Lyft and Uber and Car2Go. We used to need homes, and now we have Airbnb.”
Mr. Perlera hopes to make fashion more available to people for whom the cost has traditionally been prohibitive. The Seasons website says it has inventory from Yeezy, Off-White and Gucci.
But at the moment, it plans for its cheapest subscription package to be $155 per month, which lets the renter get three pieces.
Mr. Perlera said he has been studying Rent the Runway’s successes and missteps. When asked if he was concerned that these lessons may not apply to men, he said that the Seasons inventory is actually not particularly gendered, despite the language on its website: “A members only rental subscription service for menswear & streetwear.”
“It’s really a category of fashion that really doesn’t have gender boundaries,” he said.
Amid the lush green of the English countryside, a set of new neutral tones, including animal prints, made their entrance for fall. Leopard print — or a combination of its constituent black and khaki — pairs best with bold magenta, red and cobalt blue. See more.
When unexpectedly layered under boxy suiting, the humble leather miniskirt can have a transformative effect, allowing its wearer to play with different identities. Here, the look is rendered in bold colors with button-ups, blazers and conservative mules. The perfect holiday attire? We think so. See more.
The designer Jonathan Anderson’s work at Loewe, the Spanish heritage brand to which he was appointed creative director in 2013, and at his eponymous brand JW Anderson, has redefined the “uneasy place” traditional craft occupies in fashion. “His clothes are subversive because they suggest that craft ought not exist in the service of fashion but that fashion should exist to support craft,” Nancy Hass writes. “Under his hand, the wearer becomes a vehicle, one meant to display what the human hand can do.” Read more.
For spring, men’s fashion embraced some traditionally feminine elements — including ruffles, lace and florals. The Athens, Georgia-based photographer Mark Steinmetz, whose images frequently depict daily life in the South, and the stylist Jay Massacret showcased these details alongside soft, easy tailoring on the streets of New Orleans. See more.
In the spring, form met function on the rain-soaked streets of London, where the photographer Johnny Dufort and the stylist Jane How captured new renderings of classic Savile Row tailoring — jumpsuits, trench coats, double-breasted suits and sharply pleated trousers — in a homage to the district’s precision and eccentricity. (They offered some sartorial tips on staying dry, too.)
New knitwear offered an antidote to the doldrums that often accompany autumn’s shortening days and plummeting temperatures. The photographer Clara Balzary and the stylist Sasha Kelly turned their eyes to grunge-inspired sweaters, a perennial staple, updated this season in rich, warm hues of orange, pink and yellow. See more.
Subtly subversive and slightly decadent, fall fashion wove together the best of traditional men’s and women’s wear to craft a look that defied gender conventions. The photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and stylist Olivier Rizzo make a strong case for ruffled cuffs and collars, paper-thin transparent blouses and corsetry as new, indispensable elements of classic suiting. See more.
For the Nov. 17 Travel issue, T received dispatches from Milos, Greece, the Aland Islands of Finland, the taro fields of Hawaii and Japan. Meanwhile, the photographer Viviane Sassen and stylist Vanessa Reid set off for Sweden — there, they took cues from the natural landscape, presenting animal prints, botanical patterns and camo colors on the shores of the Stora Gla lake. See more.
It’s got a scientific name and a heavenly silkiness – but is the material that is showing up everywhere, from catwalks to your wardrobe, really as sustainable as we are led to believe?
irst produced commercially in Mobile, Alabama almost 30 years ago, lyocell is currently enjoying a lot of attention as a plant-based fibre used for clothing. Both luxury and high street labels are investing in the buttery-soft textile: Swiss loungewear brand Hanro recently released a shirt made of 100% lyocell, London label Mother of Pearl uses it and Zara, Mango and H&M have also placed their bets on it. Selfridges calls it a “miracle fabric”. So what exactly is it, and is it really that good?
How is lyocell made?
It all starts with wood. Mostly, it’s eucalyptus, though oak and birch will also do. After being harvested, the wood is cut into penny-sized pieces and ground into a pulp, dissolved by the chemical amine oxide. What remains is raw cellulose – a sticky, viscous liquid. The mixture is pushed through spinnerets, and bright, white lyocell fibres emerge, which, after washing and drying, are ready to be spun into yarn and eventually woven into fabric.
What does it feel and look like?
Lyocell can have many different textures, but the basic fabric is soft to the touch. It is hypoallergenic and doesn’t cling. Lyocell is also 50% more absorbent than cotton, which means it’s often used for activewear. “That softness, the friendliness for the skin, but also the moisture management are really the three key advantages that lyocell brings versus a lot of other alternatives,” says Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer of Lenzing AG, an Austria-based company that produces a large part of the lyocell worldwide and has been at the forefront of the fibre’s innovation.
There’s a big but, though. “So the material has potential, very good potential. But who is producing it?” asks Professor Susanne Sweet, research manager for the Sweden-based Mistra Future Fashion programme. “One of the major impacts in production is the energy use and the climate impact. So if you produce it in countries where they use fossil fuels or coal or something, it is going to be really bad. It’s understanding the system – it’s not just the material,” she cautions. This means that when buying lyocell, it’s worth checking if it can be tracked all the way back to the source.
Lyocell, Tencel, Newcell, Excel – what’s with all the names?
Lyocell is the generic, widely used name for the textile, but it’s not the only term you will see in your clothes labels. The “cel” comes from it being a cellulosic fibre. Tencel is the brand of lyocell sold by Lenzing AG, which was invented by the textile company Courtauld in Britain – the “ten” stands for tenacity. The futuristic Newcell was one of the earlier variants of the textile, and the unfortunately named Excel is lyocell manufactured by textile company Birla.
What is lyocell used for?
In fashion, “100% Lyocell” labels mostly grace athleisure and wardrobe staples made to last. Amy Powney of London label Mother of Pearl, known for her focus on sustainable and whimsical designs, likes using it for casual dresses, shirts and summer basics, because, she says, it’s perfect to “just sort of roll up and put in your suitcase”.
Can it replace materials such as cotton and viscose?
Hanro CEO Stephan Hohmann sees it like this: “Tencel will replace viscose certainly in the future. Cotton, however, still strongly stands for most consumers for a natural material and its superior wearing comfort.” Powney prefers it to cotton and, she says, citing the easily creasing nature and larger environmental impact of viscose: “We want to use lyocell as much as we possibly can instead of viscose.”
“The growth of it will be much more in blending with other fibres,” says Van de Kerkhof. Lyocell can blend well with cotton, polyester and even silk, which adds properties like shine that it doesn’t have on its own.”
“It can, to a certain degree, replace cotton,” says Sweet, adding that “cotton is a wonderful material, but it has a huge environmental impact”.
Is lyocell susceptible to greenwashing?
“Yes, of course,” says Sweet, underlining the importance of transparency when it comes to where and how the lyocell is manufactured. “I think for a lot of brands it’s quite an easy box to tick,” agrees Powney, “because the world is changing, and because customers are demanding more and brands knowing that they have to change, I think it’s just such a go-to solution.”
How did a hairstyle that once signified “off to the garage for some milk” become a fashion phenomenon? Because that’s where we are at with the high bun – or topknot – a hairstyle that is popping up everywhere.
The ’do is fast becoming a red-carpet staple, seen on stars from Jennifer Lopez to Katy Perry to Rihanna. At the People’s Choice awards on Sunday, Zendaya wore an unstructured version, while her 16-year-old Euphoria co-star Storm Reid wore a towering bun topped with a star-shaped pin. Last month, when the British women’s team competed at the World Artistic Gymnastics championships in Stuttgart, all six wore the hairstyle.
Like its embarrassing cousin, the man bun, it has developed vague wellnessy connotations. It’s the style of choice for Hollywood types doing yoga or posting sweaty but flattering post-gym pictures. For such an easy style, there are countless online tutorials on how to achieve it, such as the one on motherandbaby.co.uk, which promises a “no-wash topknot for busy mornings”.
On the catwalk, the style projects an effortless vibe. Last year, 77 of the 81 Chanel models at one show wore a bun, which the hairstylist Sam McKnight said was “inspired by the models themselves – when they grab their hair after a show and shove it up in a messy topknot tied with elastic”. In September, at London fashion week, Victoria Beckham took her bow in hard-working designer mode, wearing a messy topknot; the tonsorial equivalent of rolling her sleeves up.Advertisement
Ursula Stephen – Zendaya’s hairdresser and the mastermind of many red-carpet topknots – described it as “one of those Coachella kind of things. Kind of like no-makeup makeup.”
Some of the topknot’s biggest proponents are those who live their private moments in public. On Instagram, it is perfect for casually hanging out in the bath while telling your followers how great your new shampoo is with the tagline: #ad #sponcontent. The Kardashians are big fans, obviously.
And, really, it is internet hair. Unlike the ballerina bun, or the chignon at the nape of the neck, it is fully visible from the front. Marni Senofonte – a one-woman social-media trend machine who is best known as “Beyoncé’s Instagram stylist” – wears a 3in-high topknot. Her hair is instantly recognisable, the smartphone era equivalent of Anna Wintour’s bob.
The topknot also, of course, has a deep significance in many religions, including Sikhism and Buddhism. Indeed, when you delve into the history of the topknot, it is difficult to interpret its western rise as anything but a borrowing – subconsciously or otherwise – from eastern cultures.
This is most clearly demonstrated by the version seen on celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus, or off-duty models doing chakrasanas on Instagram. In kundalini yoga, wearing a knot on top of the head, for energetic effect, is part of the practice. Photographs of celebrity fans, including Russell Brand, wearing topknots while meditating, may well have seeped into the western zeitgeist. Like the man bun, which tends to be worn a little lower down the crown, this version of the topknot seems to bring with it a hazy sense of enlightenment and urban creativity. It’s popular in Hollywood.Advertisement
For Susie Lau, a fashion writer and street-style star who has been wearing her topknot for about a decade, adopting the style did not feel hugely groundbreaking because in Japan and Hong Kong, where she has family and frequently travels, “it feels less of a style statement and more like an everyday hairstyle”. Lau points out that the hairstyle looks similar to that worn by men in China during the Ming dynasty.
Yet in the UK, it was not really fashionable until fairly recently, according to Rachael Gibson who runs an Instagram account dedicated to the history of hair. Historically, western up-dos, such as the apollo knot of the 1800s, were intricate and extravagant, a straight-up sign of “conspicuous consumption”, indicating their wearer as “lady of leisure”. On the contrary, she says, the modern topknot ties into a different modern aspiration – the “dread of the salon blow-dry – people wanting to move away from looking ‘done’”.
Topknots are particularly popular among teenage girls and women in their early 20s. The hairdresser Charlotte Mensah agrees that the buns are getting higher. “It’s such a thing. My daughter, who is 18, loves wearing her hair like that. All her friends at uni do.”
For young fans the inspiration might be Zoella, the YouTube star who has very long, very thick hair, and whose “How to: Messy Bun” tutorial has been viewed more than 12m times. Or it could be the Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague, whose bun is “a celeb in its own right” according to Cosmopolitan.
A tutorial posted by Hague in the summer underlined the class issues inherent in the topknot. Without expensive extensions to twist into a luxuriant bun, some fans claimed that the slick-sided ’do made them “look like Miss Trunchbull”.
Gibson warns against classifying the style as democratic. “It is always clean, thick hair, artfully done on Instagram. You wonder if people would have a different opinion if they saw a normal working-class woman wearing a topknot. If I put my hair up like that with no makeup on to take the bins out, people are not going to say: ‘She looks incredible.’”
For some hair types, though, it is genuinely easy – and cheap – to achieve. Lau, for one, advocates it for difficult weather. “I remember the first time I did it. I was in Stockholm in the winter and it was snowing really hard and super windy – it was more a practical thing.” Mensah says it can save women a lot of time. It works well on hair that is “lived in”, perhaps because it hasn’t been washed for a couple of days. “The knottier and more mussed the hair the better.” For afro hair, it is “a great look for second- or third-day twist out”.
Stephen even believes it gives “an instant facelift”. No wonder it is popular. It is likely to stay that way, too, because its silhouette so perfectly suits the lens of a front-facing camera. Because, in 2019, if you can’t see your bun on social media, did it even happen?
You’re probably not totally clear on this whole “Michael Kors now owns Versace” thing. Yes, the most successful all-American brand in the current market is now the proud owner of one of the most preeminent names in Italian fashion. It’s mind-bending, truly. But Versace is still Versace. Let me explain.
After rumors of the acquisition, Michael Kors Holdings officially confirmed its purchase of Versace for $2.12 billion. In its acquisition of the brand, Michael Kors Holdings will now officially be named Capri Holdings. As BAZAAR.com reported earlier today, “The Versace family will become shareholders of Capri Holdings Limited, with Donatella keeping her role as creative director of the fashion house. Capri Holdings, formerly Michael Kors Holdings, now has three major fashion houses under its portfolio: Michael Kors Collection, Jimmy Choo, and Versace.
Michael Kors Holdings acquired Jimmy Choo last year, setting itself apart from other fashion conglomerates that tend to grow in scale and revenue strictly via licenses, diffusion lines, and the acquisition of more mass-market labels. John D. Idol, CEO of Michael Kors Holdings Limited, said in a release: “The acquisition of Versace is an important milestone for our group…We believe that the strength of the Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo brands, and the acquisition of Versace, position us to deliver multiple years of revenue and earnings growth.”
Here’s where the confusion lies. Fans of the iconic Italian brand, which became beloved stateside when Gianni Versace moved into the Versace Mansion and changed the face of American style in the late ’80s and ’90s, are terrified of what’s to come due to Kors’ influence on the brand. Michael Kors is known for easy, breezy, American style–not the sexy, risk-taking, ultra-luxe Italian allure upon which Versace is based. Furthermore, Kors’ success is based upon his licensing and diffusion brands, like Michael Michael Kors, as well as his fragrance, timepieces, and accessories partnerships. It seems fans are worried this kind of market saturation could be next for Versace, which currenly only has one sister line, Versus Versace, to its name.
But similar to Jimmy Choo’s agreement with Kors Holdings, Donatella Versace will continue to remain at the helm of her namesake brand, leading the brand’s creative vision. Said Versace of the news, “This is a very exciting moment for Versace. It has been more than 20 years since I took over the company along with my brother Santo and daughter Allegra. I am proud that Versace remains very strong in both fashion and modern culture. Versace is not only synonymous with its iconic and unmistakable style, but with being inclusive and embracing of diversity, as well as empowering people to express themselves. Santo, Allegra and I recognize that this next step will allow Versace to reach its full potential.”
Understandably, this means that scaling the Versace name into new avenues of revenue is a possibility–but that likely won’t include mass-retailers in the way Kors has expanded his ever-growing empire—at least not immediately. It seems that Kors, now Capri Holdings Limited, is eager to expand predominantly into the luxury space, and much will be revealed when details of the acquisition are finalized and released.
While Donatella’s loyal fanbase might not be as welcome to change, she certainly seems to be excited for what the future may bring under Idol and the Capri’s collaboration and leadership. “We believe that being part of this group is essential to Versace’s long-term success,” Donatella said. “My passion has never been stronger. This is the perfect time for our company, which puts creativity and innovation at the core of all of its actions, to grow.”
Beauty is being redefined — this is something on which most of us can agree. The era of the white, thin, Eurocentric model as the only embodiment of glamour is gone. The runways have embraced diversity of skin, shape and age. But for one group they still lag behind: people with disabilities.
Now a new book, “Portrait Positive,” featuring images of 16 women with facial disfigurements by the British photographer Rankin, is aiming to change that. The book’s creator, Stephen Bell, managing director of the events company Epitome Celebrations, describes himself as having a “visible difference”: When he was born, four fingers on his right hand were fused together. To increase independence and mobility, his index finger was surgically separated in childhood. Yet he reached adolescence without visible role models or an understanding of his disability, he said, feeling isolated, insecure and unsure of what he could be and do.
By chance, 10 years ago Mr. Bell, now 39, came across images online of people who looked just like him, and via the warrens of the internet discovered he had been born with a condition called syndactyly: joined digits that can result in webbing of the skin. It is the second most common congenital hand condition and occurs in around one in every 1,000 births, yet neither Mr. Bell’s parents nor his doctors provided him with the label or language to describe what had happened.
The idea for “Portrait Positive” was born two years ago when Mr. Bell approached the London-based designer Steven Tai with the idea of using fashion as a framework to raise questions about codes of appearance. Mr. Tai was keen to participate, because he had “always believed in the acceptance and celebration of one’s insecurities,” Mr. Tai said, and hoped that “this project not only opens up the standards of beauty, but also lets these women know that they are beautiful.”
The book will raise funds for Changing Faces, a British-based charity that supports and represents children, young people and adults who have a visible difference to the face, hands or body, whether present from birth or caused by accident, injury, illness or medical episode. The project will also exists outside of the book format; Brenda, Chloe and Raiché, three women who had their portraits taken by Rankin, walked in Mr. Tai’s London Fashion Week presentation.
The fashion industry has a difficult history with disability. It has rarely considered people with disabilities to be valuable consumers (despite the fact there are estimated one billion worldwide), while simultaneously exploiting the objects and devices associated with the disabled.
A Steven Klein cover of Interview magazine, for example, had Kylie Jenner photographed in a gold wheelchair. Helmut Newton famously photographed Nadja Auermann modeling stilettos, leg braces, canes and a prop wheelchair.
There have, however, been moments that suggested change. Aimee Mullins, a double-amputee model, appeared on the Alexander McQueen catwalk in the spring 1999 show; Mama Cax, an amputee, modeled on the runway for Chromat recently at New York Fashion Week (and was featured in Teen Vogue’s current disability-focused series); and Olay’s new #FaceAnything campaign features the model Jillian Mercado, who has a disability. “Portrait Positive” is part of this continuum.
But it goes only so far. The question now is whether this moment can gather enough momentum to become the norm. Carly Findlay, a writer, speaker and activist from Australia, challenges thinking about what it is like to have a visibly different appearance. Ms. Findlay has ichthyosisform erythroderma, a condition that affects the skin, leaving it red and sometimes scaly. Recently, she organized and ran Access to Fashion, a disability-focused event at Melbourne Fashion Week. “The community aspect was wondrous,” she said, “everyone coming together to celebrate disability pride.”
Yet she does not want the event to be held again next year, at least not in its current format. She wants access and inclusion to be embedded in fashion, as opposed to isolated as “other,” the way it is (even with the best intentions) in “Portrait Positive.”
“I hope that ‘Portrait Positive’ really does change the way beauty is perceived, but why aren’t women with facial differences included in a mainstream book?” Ms. Findlay asked. “Why can’t beauty just be — why does facial difference have to be radical?”
Other activists agree, saying that the next challenge is to ensure that those with disabilities are not just used to provoke empathy and inspiration in an image, but are also in the rooms where decisions are made, and changes can occur that will reach and impact millions.
Sinéad Burke, an activist, academic and contributing editor to British Vogue, was born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.
A version of this article appeared The New York Times website with thte title: The Limits of Fashion’s Inclusivity
This autumn, looking as if you have a deep understanding of Bauhaus and brutalism is only a pair of heels away.
There is a phrase popping up as frequently as oligarchs’ penthouses on the London skyline. The expression “dressing like an architect” has become the ultimate fashion compliment. People who wear Prada, or Marni, or Issey Miyake are often said to dress like architects. So, too, are those who wear structural shift dresses from Cos.
There are Mumsnet threads devoted to the art of architect dressing: “You need to decide on a ‘look’ and then rigidly stick to it, no matter what life throws at you. Lots of black, structure and red lipstick. Hair is either bobbed or short with a quiff,” advises one post. New York magazine suggests that the look is merely a Maison Margiela draped blouse away. For inspiration, visit the How to Dress Like an Architect board on Pinterest, which has almost 186,000 followers, and is a sea of black, white, camel and grey.
This autumn, the high street is embracing a trend for architect-appropriate shoes with structural heels. Zara has sleek, black mules with heels the shape of a protractor, while M&S will, from the end of September, have slingbacks with bulbous heels reminiscent of wooden pillars. Topshop has a range of shoes and boots with heels that look a bit like the Berlin television tower, while Asos has shoes and boots that balance on futurist silver spheres.
If these do not satisfy your urge to look as though you have a deep understanding of 3D modelling software, going full architect is easier than ever. According to the Guardian’s architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, you don’t even have to wear neutral colours. “With the resurgence of postmodernism, there has also been a rise of very brightly coloured clothes among architects,” he says. “One young partnership, Space Popular, dress in amazing rainbow shades; their appearance has become a big part of their reputation.”
Although many brands favoured by architects are expensive (Wainwright mentions Margaret Howell and Studio Nicholson), no shop is more relevant than Cos, he says. While popular culture might suggest that all architects are super-rich, in reality, most are not very well paid. “Instead, there is a lot of ingenuity in the way they buy clothes,” says Wainwright. “These are often cleverly layered garments that you might not look at twice from a distance, then you realise have interesting textures. Materials are something architects obsess over in their jobs, and they dress the way they design.”
Dressing like an architect means dressing mindfully. The influential Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas keeps his phone in his sock, says Wainwright. He reaches down to his ankle every time he gets a call, such is his dedication to maintaining the line of his trousers.
Coco Chanel said: “Fashion is architecture – it is a matter of proportions.” Dressing like an architect, on the other hand, seems to be a matter of mastering all the small details at once.
Cover photo: Mules (top to bottom): £69.99, Zara; £69, Topshop; £65, M&S. Cos clothes: culottes, £59; top with rib sleeves, £55; poplin shirt, £59. Composite: Guardian design team
There are already 2m of these posts, which showcase new outfits. The ‘snap and send back’ culture is risky, warns activist Caryn Franklin.
Almost one in 10 people say they buy clothes online just to post an image on social media, before sending them back immediately for a refund; among those aged 35 to 44, this rises to nearly one in five.
Barclaycard, which commissioned the new research, says this trend to “snap and send back” is on the rise, in part thanks to the hashtag “outfit of the day” (#OOTD). Here, Instagrammers upload a picture of themselves to showcase what they are wearing – in a bedroom, on a beach or on the streets – and the hugely popular hashtag has more than 2m posts.
What does this tell us about ourselves and our clothes? For Caryn Franklin, fashion commentator and an activist for sustainable fashion, the answer is: nothing good.
Fashion at its best, she says, gives us the chance to explore and create our identity, to figure out who we want to be. She has seen this from early in her career when she worked as a personal stylist: “I saw beautiful miracles at the mirror, as ordinary women witnessed their indisputable magnificence. Clothes are firmly embedded in our emotional experience of ourselves. We dream of who we wish to be and feel better connected to that person through the garment we inhabit.”
In the age of Instagram, identity has become a brand, and jumping on the high-speed buy-and-return bandwagon has created “an instant, disposable self”, she says. “My clothes are like longstanding loyal friends. They make me feel joyous, brave, excited. Does buying, Instagramming and returning an entire
outfit in a day provide us with any but the most superficial feelings?”
Franklin remembers a pre-digital fashion experience that involved yearning for that longed-for dress or coat or pair of shoes, saving up and finally making the trip to the shops before rushing back to enjoy the new purchase.
“The experience of buying, bonding with the newly acquired item and returning home for the subsequent styling session would signal the beginning of yet another fulfilling relationship. All this, without cameras.” Now, she says, the OOTD hashtag, among others, has encouraged “a combination of the heady alchemy of narcissism and dysfunctional consumption”.
This is symptomatic of our problematic relationship with fast fashion, she says, and has implications for the environment and the economy, as well as for our souls. It is not sustainable. In what she calls “a transparent illustration of the reduced value of their mass produced product,” having secured higher and higher sales, online retailers may now be panicking athigh-level returns. She says: “The fashion industry has lost its currency. Some might say our industry deserves no mercy, having been accused of so many wrongs akin to eating its own young. Now fashion is eating itself.”
This story was originally published on The Guardian, UK. Cover photo is from Fashion Boom on Instagram
Four African countries, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana and Zambia have confirmed their participation in the African Fashion carnival, scheduled for Lagos on June 3 and June 4.
The Chief Executive Officer of the African Fashion Week, Ronke Ademiluyi, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Lagos on Wednesday.
She said that top models and designers from the four countries would be joining their Nigerian counterparts to showcase the best in contemporary African fashion.
The carnival is billed for the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
Ms. Ademiluyi, who has been promoting the show yearly since 2014 in Lagos and London, said that the designers would showcase their skills alongside 52 top Nigerian fashion makers.
According to her, the event is meant to promote African cultural values, to make African fashion outputs competitive in the international arena.
“Leading African designers, who have featured in fashion shows in Morocco, Senegal and London, will add colour to the show, using colourful African prints to create shapes and quality garments.
“The catwalk will showcase African designers’ global cultural experiences and their rich heritage, which will be the highpoint of the two-day show.’’
“The Cameroonian designer, Alexander II Akande, aims to redefine the public perception of African fashion, challenging established ideas with the use of African fabrics such as Ankara.
“The designer from Zambia, Africawala, bridges western and African fashion, local arts and crafts, joining efforts with the Ghanaian designer, Nipo Skin, to display traditional fabrics in African styles.
Ademiluyi said the decision to use the National Theatre was to bring the creativity of African fashion to the culture pantheon as represented by the National Theatre.
“The National Theatre in Lagos is where Africa’s culture was showcased in all its grandeur 40 years ago.
“That was the very place that Nigeria hosted World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77), if we do not appreciate what we have, nobody will blow our trumpet for us.”
She said the Africa Fashion Week, which commenced in 2014 in Lagos and London had provided a platform for fashion and cultural enterprises to project the diversity of Africa’s rich heritage.