Jourdan Dunn breaks rank and calls Victoria’s Secret ‘BS’

Forget smug sunrise yoga shots and cloying inspirational quotes. Occasionally, models are truth-tellers on social media – or Jourdan Dunn is, at least.

Having previously tweeted about Dior in less-than-glowing terms – the fashion equivalent of a cardinal openly dissing the pope – last night the model dared to break the omerta surrounding the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, describing the upcoming celebration of taut abs and frilly knickers as ‘BS.’

“Feeling so much better about not doing BS … sorry I mean VS now that Rihanna isn’t doing it also,” she tweeted, at once revealing that she would not be appearing in next week’s pants display and reacting to news that Rihanna’s planned performance had been cancelled. The tweet was quickly deleted; clearly it was too beautiful for this world.

Jourdan Dunn on the Victoria’s Secret catwalk in 2014.

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Dunn’s declaration stood out like a bra in a wet T-shirt competition because the rest of the fashion industry – and the media – is currently gripped in Victoria’s Secret fever. Every year, the show is greeted with a flurry of headlines, but the unfettered exhilaration in the preamble to this year’s show has been particularly excessive.

Last week, the internet went into meltdown when reality TV star, social media powerhouse and model Gigi Hadid’s successful Victoria’s Secret audition was posted online by the brand, a video that combined the “journey” of X Factor with the image of a woman in her underpants. Hadid’s delighted response was described by one fashion site as “the most heartwarming thing you’ll see all day.” Yesterday, the similarly social media friendly Kendall Jenner announced she was on board for the show: “The best birthday present EVER! always been one of my biggest dreams.”

The fashion media has embraced hype, with near-constant reports ranging from analysis of the models who have made the cut to detailed reports on how the wings are made. Fashion’s acceptance of the show is odd; there are few clothes to be seen on stage and its Las Vegas aesthetic – all rhinestones and angel wings – does not seem to aspire to good taste.

What gives the show its industry kudos is its use of the world’s most famous models – Gisele, Miranda Kerr, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – who in their part love Victoria’s Secret because acceptance attests that they have the most fabulous bodies in the business, and they get a shedload of global exposure for their time.

It seems unlikely that Dunn, who first appeared in a Victoria’s Secret show in 2012, spoke out for either aesthetic or feminist reasons. As with everything involving Victoria’s Secret – whose fashion shows are the most expensive ever staged – it’s likely to be about the bottom line: rumours have been swirling that many models have been jumping ship this year because they’re not pleased with the pay.

But with the similarly flesh-centric Pirelli Calendar embracing a zeitgeisty feminist theme this year, featuring women from Yoko Ono to Amy Schumer, mainly wearing clothes, these are testing times for companies who trade on pictures of women in their pants.

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One of Fashion’s Biggest Problems

Underage Models, One of Fashion’s Biggest Problems, Is Finally Getting Tackled by Congress

It’s no secret that when it comes to fashion, beauty and youth reign supreme. Our societal fixation on looking youthful, evidenced by a $114 billion anti-aging industry, can’t be uncoupled from the young-looking faces staring back at us from magazines and billboards.

The unspoken problem, however, is how young those youthful faces really are. The fashion industry has long scouted models in their young teens, a problematic practice that only periodically comes under scrutiny.

Now, a bill introduced to Congress aims to address problems facing young adults, especially teen girls, employed by the fashion industry. The Child Performers Protection Act 2015 will add provisions to the current Fair Labor Standards Act to regulate the working hours and compensation for young performers, according to a statement from Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), who proposed the bill. Specific restrictions would be based off the age of the child models and actors who would also be provided cash wages.

For models, the compensation is incredibly important, given the industry norm to pay models in “trade,” aka clothing. The proposed bill also provides a route for models to pursue allegations of sexual misconduct.

Underage Models, One of Fashion's Biggest Problems, Is Finally Getting Tackled by Congress

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“Working as a child model or actor can be an incredible opportunity and lead to success for a lifetime,” Meng said in the statement. “However, the work can come with much risk. … Although there are a patchwork of disparate state laws, these regulations offer inconsistent protections. That’s why we need a national standard.”

The real problem with fashion’s youth obsession: There’s been an ongoing debate in fashion regarding the appropriate age for models to pose for ad campaigns or editorial spreads, or walk in runway shows. The issue came to the forefront a few years ago, after a flurry of incidents of teen models posing in overly sexualized ways, working long hours or not being sufficiently compensated.

The debate resurfaced recently when 16-year-old Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of actor Johnny Depp, became the latest muse to Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, starring in the brand’s eyewear campaign and walking the runway.

Even more controversial this year was the casting of 14-year-old Sofia Mechetner in Christian Dior’s Couture Fall 2015 show, in which she wore a see-through dress, her breasts peeking out underneath.

It’s an uphill battle to regulate the work conditions for young models, not to mention standardize the age requirements. Models often work with no clear start and end times, which makes it difficult to monitor whether they’re being overworked.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America has issued guidelines for designers considering hiring young models, but the organization can’t legally enforce any of its suggestions, particularly for the countless retail companies across the country that aren’t CFDA members. Even with the best of intentions, young models slip through. The council’s president, designer Diane von Furstenberg, suffered a blunder when she herself accidentally cast a 15-year-old model to walk in her show.

Legally, modeling regulations and working conditions vary by state, as the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman points out. In 2013, the state of New York made progress by passing a bill to designate fashion models under 18 as child performers, affording them those labor protections.

Proponents of stricter oversight say young fashion models are often treated like adults, even though they don’t have the maturity to navigate the industry themselves.

“Models really are uniquely vulnerable, and I think people take for granted that in traditional employment relationships, there is some measure of protection that simply isn’t there or at least isn’t being recognized or enforced in our industry,” Sara Ziff, a former teen model who founded the Model Alliance, told CNN.

Time will tell if the congressional bill makes it to a vote. It’s currently awaiting further action with the committee on Education and the Work Force.

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Odour and sweat proof dress pant

Odour and sweat proof dress pant

Have you ever biked to work only to sweat in your lovely dress pants? Is it a struggle to choose between comfort and style when you’re getting dressed in the morning?

Well, one local company is hoping to change that.

Vancouver-based Dish and Duer created pants made of a proprietary fabric called Nature 2X which is a blend of Tencel made from Eucalyptus trees. When combined with polyester, spandex or cotton, they feel like sweatpants but look like dress pants.

“The whole company sprang from a very selfish desire of mine. I ride my bike to work – if I have an important meeting, I still want to ride my bike and I can’t find anything to wear,” co-founder of Dish and Duer Gary Lenett told Vancity Buzz.

DishN2X_Kickstarter

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“I wasn’t going to wear athletic stuff into a meeting, so we started with what we called the most technologically advanced jean ever and now we’re following up with what we’re calling our ‘no-sweat pant.’”

By “no-sweat pant,” Lenett means they absorb sweat like no other, kill bacteria, dry quickly and remain soft and comfortable regardless of the activity. They have slim fit options for cyclists and the pants have large pockets for carrying smartphones, as well as a seat gusset built in.

The company has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get these magical pants into production. The company is asking for $20,000 to facilitate production.

“The reason we’re turning to Kickstarter is to ensure people know we’ve got the pant for every activity. These funds will then support both our production plans and expansion plans. Currently, our denim line is available in the Vancouver flagship store, online and at select retailers across North America,” said Dish and Duer Creative Director Steven Sal Debus.

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Wisdom-tested wedding tips and inspirations

The LookBook and Inquirer Lifestyle launched last Thursday “I Do! An Insider’s Guide for Brides,” a slim but useful volume designed to help engaged couples lessen, if not totally eliminate stress, while planning their dream wedding.

Written by Carmencita Sioson, Stefanie Cabal Rostoll and Ronna Capili Bonifacio, the 171-page book is full of beautiful images and useful, practical tips from real brides and top wedding-industry practitioners such as wedding planner Rita Neri.

The book’s launch at the Peninsula Manila’s upper lobby coincided with the formal launching of Bulgari’s line of engagement rings and wedding bands.

As the book’s major sponsor, Bulgari set up a display area featuring its growing collection of engagement rings, wedding bands and various timepieces and jewelry as gift items. It has become a popular practice these days among Filipino couples to give each other gifts on their wedding day.

A chapter in the book is devoted to models wearing iconic jewelry pieces from Bulgari and wedding gowns by designers Randy Ortiz, Lulu Tan Gan, Rhett Eala, J.C. Buendia and Ivarluski Aseron.

Organizers also staged a one-night exhibit of bridal gowns worn by real brides featured in the book—Kelly Misa Fernandez, Isabel Roces Trebol, Kristel Yulo Diaz, Bianca Gonzalez Intal, Cybill Gayatin Guynn, Pam Huang Hernandez, Bea Soriano Dee and Beatrice Tantoco Reyes.

“Before this book came out, I don’t think we even had a comprehensive, locally produced wedding guide,” said Bonifacio.

Real brides

What makes it different from articles and tips in wedding magazines is the selection of real brides and their unique stories and personal experiences.

“Since it’s a handy, reader-friendly guide consisting of 12 chapters, including a directory, couples don’t have to buy different bridal magazines to get plenty of useful and current information,” said Sioson.

If certain inspirations and ideas provided by real brides aren’t exactly applicable to some couples because of budget and time constraints, every pair, especially the woman, is sure to benefit from their “top tips.”

“Relax,” Diaz, who married Marco Diaz in Tuscany, says in the book. “Being happy with your groom is more important than the minute details of your wedding, which you should delegate to your planners and suppliers. Things will all work out if you let them.”

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Fernandez, who married Carlos Antonio Fernandez at the St. Pancratius Chapel (aka Paco Park), reminded couples to be “smart” with their money.

Realistic budget

“Decide on a realistic budget,” she says. “Don’t blow all your money on your wedding. Remember, you also have to think of your life together after the wedding. You want to start comfortably and not worry about money. Set the date and the rest will follow.”

Guynn, daughter of designer Arcy Gayatin, has a short and sweet reminder to couples based on her own experience while she and then fiancé Kevin Guynn were planning their Cebu wedding: “Regardless of what’s trendy and trending, your wedding should reflect who you are.”

Apart from chapters featuring destination weddings, wedding baubles, including Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary love affair with Bulgari, and his-and-hers gift ideas, the book also devotes chapters meant for the bride like pampering and hair and skincare to help her look her best on the big day.

Leading makeup artists such as Bobby Carlos, Mayesa delos Santos and Paolo Maranan likewise share tips and tricks of the trade on how to achieve various looks—from sun-kissed glow to effortlessly radiant, classic and romantic—with the right makeup and styling.

Minimizing stress

Two of the best ways to minimize stress and make planning a shared, enjoyable experience for the couple are to plan ahead and prioritize, according to the book. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

So there’s a bridal calendar, which doubles as a checklist of various things and concerns the couple should attend to as they start preparing a year ahead.

“We’ve also put together stories of what makes a wedding successful from insiders and industry veterans themselves like Rita Neri and events stylists Robert Blancaflor and Moss Manila,” said Rostoll.

Sioson and Rostoll also wrote “Help! I’m a Shoe Addict!,” The LOOKBook and Inquirer Lifestyle’s first hardbound title launched earlier this year.

Having been brides themselves, Bonifacio and Rostoll drew from their experiences and the real and immediate concerns they had to deal with while planning their weddings.

While she has yet to march down the aisle, Sioson has had ample first-hand experience in planning weddings, as she helped plan elder brother Patrick Sioson’s recent wedding to Jebeth Lejarde.

The authors’ collective experiences are reflected in the book in terms of the importance, length and priority they put on each topic. They also shared personal advice on how to make a difficult and time-consuming process like planning almost effortless and joyful.

“Focus on what you get at the end of the day,” said Bonifacio, who experienced rain, of all days, on her wedding day in Tagaytay. “When you wake up, you’re single. When you go to sleep later that day, you already have a husband. No matter what happens on the wedding day, it’s the union that’s supposed to last forever. That’s what is important.”

On a more practical note, she reminded couples to set a realistic budget and stick to it. All your grand plans would amount to nothing if you don’t have the right budget. And don’t forget to share the “fun.”

“We both wanted our families to have fun on our wedding day,” said Rostoll, who married her Spanish beau in Barcelona. “As the day nears, couples will be swamped with too many options and possibilities. But like in a business, they should be decisive once they’ve set their minds on something.”

Bonifacio reminded couples, especially when they’re in doubt about their decisions, always to “go back to the why. Why are we doing this?”

Sioson added: “At the end of the day, no matter what others would say, and they would always have an opinion, you do it for yourself. What’s really important is what happens to you as a couple after.”

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how Uniqlo became our favourite shop

From Carine Roitfeld to Heat Tech: how Uniqlo became our favourite shop

The Japanese for cheap is yasui. Speaking to customers at the largest branch of Uniqlo in Japan, this word pops up a lot. “It’s cheap and the quality is good, but the style is so-so,” a fashionable young man in thick-rimmed glasses tells me. “I buy my underwear here, but Uniqlo’s main purpose is not fashion.”

I am wandering around the 12 multicoloured floors of the flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo’s answer to Regent Street, to find out what shoppers really think of their home-grown clothing giant. Fast Retailing, the company behind Uniqlo, aims to overtake Zara, H&M and Gap by 2020 to become the most profitable clothes retailer on the planet. Many customers are tourists, here for the Disney hoodies, souvenir T-shirts and a better range than in most of the 798 international stores – almost six times as many as there were five years ago.

To supplement its range of basics, Uniqlo has been cleverly tapping the talent of high-profile designers to create more fashion-led collections. In 2009 it employed the services of Jil Sander, whose +J collections were such a huge success they reissued them last year. In March 2014 they brought in the grande dame of French style Inès de La Fressange, followed this autumn by the ex-Hermès designer Christophe Lemaire. And a new collaboration by ex-editor of French Vogue Carine Roitfeld goes on sale this week.

Ex-Hermès designer Christophe Lemaire with Sarah-Linh Tran.

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Her designs are not at all what the shoppers in Ginza might expect. They exude Roitfeld’s own Parisian chic: fitted pencil skirts, faux leather and leopard print. “I started from the idea of clothes that I would want to wear myself,” she says, “and developed this into clothes that anyone would want to wear. Uniqlo doesn’t take me as a designer; they just take me as a stylist and a woman. Mr Yanai [founder of Uniqlo and Japan’s richest man] thinks the same way: valuing simplicity, ease and speed of getting dressed in the morning.”

Like H&M, whose equally coveted Balmain collection arrives on 5 November, Uniqlo has recognised the seductive effect of French fashion powerhouses to draw people through the doors and raise its profile internationally. But unlike H&M, which is unashamedly led by catwalk trends, Uniqlo’s take on affordable style has always been focused on well-cut basics, hi-tech underwear and functional items such as its signature puffa jackets.

In recent years Uniqlo has recruited some big names to head up its creative team: Naoki Takizawa, previously creative director at Issey Miyake, as well as Nigo, founder of cult streetwear brand A Bathing Ape, and American creative advertising executive John C Jay. “Uniqlo is completely different from 20 years ago. It has become more fashionable,” says Yoshihiro Kunii, head of production at Uniqlo. “Originally we had very low prices and so-so quality. We want people in Japan to have the same [positive] image of Uniqlo as in the UK, but unfortunately they still think of Uniqlo’s history as a discounter.”

Internationally Uniqlo is doing well – its revenues rose by almost 46% in 2015, with big gains in China and Korea. However it has decided to slow down expansion in the US due to poor sales – another wobble in its sometimes-shaky rapid globalisation. Uniqlo’s first international store opened in 2001 in London, which was chosen for the challenge of its competitive retail market, says Kunii. Twenty-one stores across the UK followed, but “failed completely” Yanai said at the time, and most shut after only a few years.

In 2007 the brand decided to try again, and now there are 10 Uniqlo stores in the UK – in London, Kingston and Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. Uniqlo failed to make a profit in Europe last year, which it put down to refurbishment of the flagship Oxford Street store. But Kunii is optimistic about the future: “We want to be successful in London, then move to the next big city.”

One range that Uniqlo hopes will help it to do this – and another reason why some still associate it with pants, vests and socks – is HeatTech. Uniqlo teamed up with Toray, a Japanese chemistry company that also makes carbonfibre for planes and anti-infection suits for hospitals, to develop a special heat-absorbing material and since 2003 has used it to sell warm undies in futuristic vacuum packs. This autumn the HeatTech line has been expanded to include jeans for men and jumpers for women, as well as thin ribbed tops that can be worn either under or over other and chic thermals designed with Princesse tam.tam, a French lingerie brand also owned by Fast Retailing.

The partnership between Uniqlo and Toray may suit the brand’s image as Japanese innovators, but how well does science fit with its new haute-couture approach? I was invited on a tour of the Toray research factory near Kyoto, where we are shown how four different super-thin synthetic fibres are produced, combined and then rigorously tested before being sent overseas to be spun into clothes.

After peering at some industrial machines, we are shown into the Technorama, described as an “almighty environment-simulation lab” which we are told can recreate the conditions of the North Pole or the Sahara. Thankfully they have set the lab to a reasonable 10C. An infrared camera points at a model walking on a treadmill in a puffa jacket who stops, unsmiling, and unzips to reveal his T-shirted torso, which glows warm on the screen.

In the tour group’s blue caps and shoe covers, I feel very far from the front row of a Parisian catwalk. However it is this combination of style and science that Uniqlo believes makes it truly unique and hopes will win over the world with the fashion of the future. As Yuki Katsuta, the senior vice president of research and design, puts it: “We don’t want to make a border between Uniqlo and our collaborations. The design process and philosophy is exactly the same.”

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The Duchess of Cambridge and Sartorial Diplomacy

The Duchess of Cambridge and Sartorial Diplomacy

Michelle Obama is not the only first lady who has become adept at using fashion as a form of subtle sartorial outreach to foreign leaders.

On Tuesday night in London at the Palace state dinner in honor of President Xi Jinping of China, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (the British first lady in waiting), demonstrated her own ability to employ dress as a form of diplomacy, wearing a gown by the British designer Jenny Packham — in a bright shade of red, the Chinese national color. She also wore a tiara lent by the palace and known as the Lotus Flower or Papyrus tiara.

It was a quietly clever country-bridging choice and gave shape to the words of her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, who noted the dinner was celebrating the “ties between our two countries.”

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If it also called to mind the red Alexander McQueen dress Mrs. Obama had worn to her first China state dinner in 2011 — the one that caused an outcry because of her choice of a non-American designer — it avoided the same brand misstep, promoting a British name.

Indeed, the duchess has worn Ms. Packham on numerous occasions; along with Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, she may be Catherine’s most-worn brand.

The duchess wore Jenny Packham, for example, for the public introduction of both of her children, Princess Charlotte and Prince George, when she left the hospital after their births; she wore Jenny Packham (for the third time) to the gala dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during her New York visit with Prince William last year; and she wore Jenny Packham to the ARK Gala in 2011, the first time she and Prince William appeared as a royal couple. That’s the dress her doppelgänger is also wearing in Madame Tussauds.

Ms. Packham is one of those designers who tend to fly under the fashion radar — she has never won a British Fashion Award for red-carpet designer, for example, or its predecessor category, Glamour — though she is probably one of the most-worn British names on the red carpet, by the likes of Helen Mirren and Taylor Swift.

Her clothes are simply very pretty, and pretty flattering, without being very demanding or statement-making, a trait that often gets them dismissed as boring by the style set, but that makes them ideal for the public figure trying to tread the line between message and mass appeal without making any waves.

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Taylor Swift flaunts her trim pins

Blooming beautiful! Taylor Swift flaunts her trim pins and décolletage in a plunging Elie Saab gown for Vogue Australia shoot

Taylor Swift proves she’s the ultimate fashionista while posing for the latest issue of Vogue Australia.

The 25-year-old singing sensation, who is set to bring her 1989 tour Down Under in November, stuns in an array of beautiful floral designs, while managing to flash just enough flesh to set hearts racing.

In one frame the Shake It Off hitmaker is seen flaunting her model figure in a flowing black Elie Saab Haute Couture dress, the floor length number featuring a plunging neckline revealing a hint of her lace trim white bra.

Taylor’s dress, imprinted with pink, purple and green blooms, also showcases her slim arms and petite upper frame.

Leaning against a window sill, the blonde stunner has her left foot resting on a nearby chair while her right leg is crossed.

Completing her look with a gold chain and silver rings, the barefoot beauty stares into the camera and effortlessly exudes elegance.Squad goals: Taylor (pictured centre) has the most insane, celebrity-and-supermodel-laden friendship group, including Lorde (far right), the band Haim and supermodel Karlie Kloss
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She also wows for the camera in a sheer blue Schiaparelli Haute Couture dress, the very outfit she sports for the cover of the fashion glossy.

The gown’s plunging neckline reveals an eyeful of a soft pink bra underneath, while the singer sits in a position that exposes her bare leg.

Her blonde hair is darker than usual, with a choppy ’80s cut that flicks out to the side.

In the accompanying interview with the magazine, the squad leader reveals she counts her blessings daily, saying: ‘The public could change their minds about me tomorrow.’

‘Things are good right now but I’m never going to be stupid, foolish or ignorant enough to think I have control over the public.

‘All I can control is making good music,’ she mused in the issue.

The Grammy Award-winner has legions of impassioned fans – affectionately known as ‘Swifties’ – and the most insane, celebrity-and-supermodel-laden friendship group imaginable.

Of course, she had to start somewhere, but the problem is that the talented Bad Blood singer makes it look so incredibly easy.

Bursting onto the scene in 2006 as a country music artist, the American songwriter’s evolution through the infamously volatile music industry is nothing short of remarkable.

Her third single, Our song, from her debut self-titled album made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a Number One song on the Hot Country Songs chart.

But since shooting into the pop music spotlight with her second album Fearless, in 2008, the songwriter is still refreshingly down-to-earth about how quickly it could all disappear.

‘I am so lucky that people seem to like me right now but in no way, shape or form, is that a permanent thing,’ she said.

‘I think being aware of that is what keeps you on the game.’

The 1989 World Tour will have taken the pop star to 85 show dates between the months of May and December this year when it wraps up in Australia on December 12.

‘Then I’ll feel like I’ll need to give people a breather,’ the twice-awarded Billboard Woman of the Year joked.

Accompanying her on the monstrous tour is Melbourne-born pop/folk heartthrob, James Keogh, aka Vance Joy, who this year has been nominated for seven Australian Record Industry Association – ARIA – awards.

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