Charlotte Olympia collaborates with Agent Provocateur

hermes-birkin-bagsAs far as collaborations go the pairing of shoe designer Charlotte Olympia and lingerie label Agent Provocateur is a match made in fashion heaven.

Both labels are known for their distinctly retro take on contemporary styles and it’s no surprise that this new collection is more of the same.

Inspired by the glory days of Hollywood glamour, the capsule collection is made up of three lingerie sets, and of course three shoe styles.

The iconic Charlotte’s Web is incorporated into luxury French embroidery on the lingerie, finished with spider jewels, whilst the Purrfect Knickers feature the iconic Charlotte Olympia kitty.

“I love the playful and seductive allure Agent Provocateur evokes, which complements our shared visions and feminine brand sensibilities. It was a pleasure to design my first lingerie collection with Sarah [Shotton – Creative Director of Agent Provocateur]; we both wanted to create a beautiful and timleess collection that champions the signature design features of the two brands.” Explains Charlotte Olympia Dellal, Creative Director and CEO of Charlotte Olympia.
This isn’t the first collaboration between the two brands, back in 2012 on a collection of shoes, but this is Olympia’s first foray into lingerie.

The capsule collection will be available to buy from January 18th at Charlotte Olympia and Agent Provocateur stores as well as online at

Why we’re obsessed with anything-but-black boots

asos-largeThe stylish ladies of Instagram might just have the answer to our wintry wardrobe woes: the snazzy ankle boot.

Pre-Christmas embellished flats and glitzy pumps offset 80 per cent of our outfits. January hit, however, and we resorted back to our failsafe black ankle boots. They might pair well with everything, but they do little to boost our mood.

Look then to the following Instagram stars from Copenhagen, Milan, London and New York, who are proudly brandishing booties with real personality. Here’s how to wear them…

Keep everything else pared down
Let those boots take centre stage by sticking to block black and navy tones elsewhere, like Pandora Sykes. A leather jacket with prominent hardware or stacking jewellery will soften the look, while matching your bag to your boots will also make the colour pop.

Let your socks show
Leaving a gap between one’s ankle boot and trouser quickly became one of last year’s micro street style trends. Advocates of this look can let their socks show for an added point of interest, as demonstrated by Danish blogger Pernille Teisbaek.

Follow your animal instinct
We’re suckers for a leopard print boot, just like Milanese blogger Tamu McPherson. Add to your weekend denim uniform to give it a real kick. Don’t worry that it tips the rest of your outfit’s colour scheme off kilter, the look is supposed to be eclectic and fun.

Play with proportions
An oversized knit, midi skirt and ankle boots are currently the go-to uniform of many fashion editors. A chunky woolen jumper keeps you warm enough to embrace a bare leg, and no one need know how thick your socks are inside your booties. Try mixing metallics and greys, like Charlotte Groeneveld.

Kendall Jenner is the new face of Mango

047ba164-8693-4028-8815-c419f090fa14Kendall Jenner is the most in demand model of the moment appearing in countless ad campaigns, fashion shows and magazine editorials. Now the 20-year-old has just added another major new contract to her burgeoning portfolio as the new face of Mango.

Jenner follows in the footsteps of Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and Miranda Kerr all of whom have fronted the Spanish giant’s campaigns previously.

The American supermodel was hospitalised for exhaustion last year, but she seems to be fully recovered and back in business, showcasing Mango’s new line Tribal Spirit, which is one of four trends represented by the high-street store.

This is one of the brand’s first moves toward their recently-announced strategy based on a faster fashion concept, with the launch of a a different campaign every month, featuring a trend “with a face that best defines it.”

In this case Kendall Jenner represents “the ethnic-inspired trend for February”.

The collection features “the combination of printed fabrics and suede enlivens the natural character of a regular trend during the summer season.”

“An explosion of earth tones, with colours such as mustard, browns, camel and sand are combined with an abundance of accessories to produce outfits of a tribal and free-spirited influence.”

Jenner said: “I am delighted to have been chosen to present the Tribal Spirit part of the collection. I love wearing the designs, fabrics and shapes – they really speak of the allure of nature which I know this collection was inspired by.”

Birkin Bags Are Worth More Than Gold

fashionThe Hermès Birkin handbag is the most exclusive purse in the world—and if you can somehow get your hands on one, it turns out it’s not a bad way to spend your money. A new study finds that purchasing a Birkin bag is a less risky investment than buying gold or entering the stock market.

To be clear, the study was conducted by Baghunter, a website that sells luxury handbags, so it’s obviously not coming from an unbiased source. But it’s still a fascinating look at the Birkin’s constantly high demand in a world full of fickle shoppers.

Researchers compared the S&P 500, gold and Birkin bags to see how their value changed over the past 35 years. The stock market had a return of a nominal average of 11.66 percent, with a real return average of 8.65 percent; gold had an average annual return of 1.9 percent, with a real return average of -1.5%. And those numbers assume that you don’t buy or sell within that 35-year time period.

Birkin bags, on the other hand, increased in value by 14.2 percent over the same time period. Gold and stocks can be volatile, increasing and decreasing in value all the time, but the Birkin bag only became more and more valuable over the time period. The value really shot up in 2001, when it increased in value by 25%, but every year has shown an uptick. And just last year, a Birkin bag was sold at auction for a record price of $223,000.

Why is the bag so valuable? Because it’s scarce. There’s a years-long waiting list for a new Birkin, and that has led to a booming resale market. Fortune reports that you can get them repaired for life, which means you can pass it down to children and grandchildren—or you could just sell it on eBay for as much as six figures.

Plus, despite a sluggish economy over the last decade, the highest of the high end is doing just fine. “There is a difference between luxury and ultra-luxury,” Baghunter founder Evelyn Fox told Luxury Daily. “While the luxury market suffers during worse economic times, the ultra-luxury market is impervious to economic factors that can affect other industries such as high-street retail and stock markets.”

Flocks of Peacocks Descend on Florence

fashion_collectionFLORENCE, Italy — Neither the high winds that diverted flights past Florence’s airport to nearby regional cities like Bologna or Pisa, nor security jitters that led to undercover patrols and sniffer dogs policing the streets near major monuments deterred the flocks of peacocks who descended on this city this week for the huge men’s wear fair Pitti Uomo.

“We’re really quite surprised, to be honest, how many people came,” Raffaello Napoleone, the fair’s director, said of an estimated 30,000 visitors.

While exhibitor numbers have climbed steeply over the past several years — 1,219 labels are now represented here, close to 50 percent of them international — geopolitics have a way of wreaking havoc on commercial expectations. In recent years, the ruble collapsed and the Russians stayed home; then the renminbi fell into a ditch, taking with it the free-spending Chinese and the global markets. It turns out people have had more important concerns than whether to trade in their jeggings for palazzo pants.

Yet the mobs strutting along walkways threaded through a maze of pavilions, tents and pop-ups crammed inside the 16th-century Fortezza da Basso were so dense that it felt like wandering into a tube-sock sale at a street fair rather than a multibillion-dollar trade event, among the most important in the business.

Because many exhibitors have already gone into production with merchandise displayed here, Pitti Uomo serves as a commercial bellwether. Designers mounting runway presentations in Milan, Paris and New York over the next four weeks are in that sense disadvantaged, as the core of their design messages may, in many cases, have been rolled out already at Pitti in a mainstream commercial form.


The Pitti display from Roy Roger’s, the Italian-owned brand, includes a capsule collection by Scott Schuman, the Sartorialist blogger. Credit Chris Warde-Jones for The New York Times
In terms of trends, all indicators suggest trousers are about to widen and waistlines will migrate north. “My girlfriend asked me if I’d had breakfast this morning,” said Scott Schuman, the Sartorialist blogger and a newly minted designer, whose capsule collection for the Italian-owned Roy Roger’s label opened here on Wednesday.

“I said: ‘Are you kidding? I have to wear those jeans today,’ ” Mr. Schuman added, referring to high-waisted denims from his new line.

Fabrics, if not Mr. Schuman, will be putting on weight in the near future. The hefty woolens that granddad wore are making a comeback. Blue serge may be next. “There is this return to those traditional weaves that disappeared when the superlight woolens came along,” said Guido Vergani, a representative of the Italian shirt makers Dudalina and managing director of AD56, a noted Milanese haberdashery. Textile powerhouses like Ermenegildo Zegna have taken note.

Under the direction of the unassuming Mr. Napoleone, Pitti Uomo has stolen a march on other fashion capitals as an incubator of style. Street photographers all know it as a place both to spot trends in the making and to mark for death those whose time is up. “There’s only one true dandy per country per century,” Umberto Angeloni, chief executive officer of Caruso, said, pronouncing doom on the sillies still seen slouching around here dressed up like Oscar Wilde. “There has to be something under your hat besides your hair.”

It hardly matters that the dandies seen in flocks here (dandies are evidently herd animals) have failed to heed Mr. Angeloni’s message. They remain out in force in their snug, taut trousers of Prince of Wales check, cuffed well above the ankle; hourglass jackets in Highland tweeds; pocket squares erupting from breast pockets; monk-strap shoes in strenuously distressed finishes; and felt fedoras, sometimes with a pheasant feather tucked into the band. “It all looks a bit heavy,” said Nick Sullivan, men’s fashion director of Esquire.

Fat Is Still a Taboo

fashion4kidsRosy-cheeked and curvy, Madame de St.-Maurice smiles complacently on visitors to the 80WSE Gallery at New York University. The subject of a late-18th-century portrait by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, she flaunts multiple chins, her fleshy arms and bosom becomingly veiled in a demi-sheer frock.

When the original canvas was exhibited, “it was praised for its truthfulness,” said Tracy Jenkins, the curatorial director of “Beyond Measure: Fashion and the Plus-Size Woman,” the new student exhibition showcasing the work. Sure the sitter was chubby. So what?

Flash-forward a couple of centuries, and Madame would as likely have been skewered, her frame regarded as an aesthetic, and perhaps even a moral, affront to polite society.

That assumption is at the heart of this small but affecting exhibition, one that encompasses photographs, mannequins, video and advertising imagery. Organized by graduate students in the costume studies program at N.Y.U.’s Steinhardt School, the show, which runs though Feb. 3, goes some way toward demonstrating that fat shaming, with roots burrowing deep into the 19th century, was, and remains, a freighted issue.

Portrayed in the popular postcards and ads of the late 19th and early 20th century as grotesque, unseemly and out of control, women of size are represented in the gallery by Nettie the Fat Girl, a sideshow attraction shown in an early-20th-century photograph as a bulbous, childlike creature, her tutu and inflated thighs all but bearing her aloft.

Today that image wouldn’t fly, supplanted, in the popular media at least, by “full figured” role models, among them the defiantly outsize performers Beth Ditto and Melissa McCarthy, Adele and the aggressively curvy Tess Holliday, touted on the cover of People last spring as the first size-22 supermodel.

A tentative acceptance of full-figured models that dates from the early 1990s is highlighted in the exhibition by the emergence of Stella Ellis, known as the first large-size model, a divalike figure who strode Jean Paul Gaultier’s runway in 1992 and was featured in his ad campaign, billowy bosom exposed, hair piled high like an opera star’s.

Advertising campaign feels like a brave choice

style-qlookThat’s worth remarking on – especially at a time when houses are anxiously looking backwards, trying to entrench themselves in generations-old traditions of European luxury. Nostalgia is an easy sell, after all – far easier than this tough, techy stuff. Vuitton has more than its fair share of history – there’s an exhibition ongoing at the Grand Palais in Paris that charts the history and development of the label since its establishment in 1854. Ghesquière has done his fair share of delving into the company’s archives; he has even popularised a bag that’s a downsized version of a Vuitton trunk. I guess now he feels it’s time to move on to somewhere new.

Ultimately, that’s what I find refreshing and noteworthy about these images, especially in the context of Louis Vuitton. They feel new, exciting, even a little unsettling – it’s all a bit sci-fi, a bit AI, to have computer-generated images modelling our fashion. For all the creative backup of Ghesquière’s influences and inspriations, this advertising campaign feels like a brave choice. In fact, perhaps this is a brave choice because of that creative backup, because these images tie so perfectly to the rather abstract concept of Ghesquière’s Vuitton collection, as opposed to, say, just sticking a disconnected but instantly recognisable celebrity in the clothes – or, more likely, behind the handbag. There’s a synergy to the creative and commercial here that’s quite exceptional.

It remains to be seen if it will pan out across advertising campaigns internationally, or if this is an interesting but ultimately pointless aesthetic cul-de-sac, a precursor to a more conventional approach when the actual advertising hits magazines and billboards. I hope not.

Autoimmune problem that requires using more expensive cleaning products

originalMy boyfriend and I live together. We split the cost of food and household goods 50-50. Recently, I was found to have an autoimmune problem that requires using more expensive cleaning products. My boyfriend was upset about splitting the cost. Living alone, he said, he would not use them. (He doesn’t complain that I do all the cleaning.) Still, I proposed a 75-25 split, and he accepted. Now I feel bitter. We’re only talking $20 a month, but it feels as if he doesn’t appreciate my labor or sympathize with my condition. But I have to honor the compromise I suggested, right?

Melissa, New York

“If it’s got to be clean,” as the old TV spot went, “it’s got to be Tide.” But tides, as we know, ebb and flow, the same way that imbalances can in our relationships. You’ve got to raise this with your boyfriend. Sadly, honest communication is required (even when a swift kick seems more gratifying).

You couldn’t know in advance how the new division of expenses would make you feel. You were just taking a stab at a solution. But before you speak up, decide what you care about. I bet those few extra bucks for detergent are not the real problem. If that’s so, don’t base your argument on shekels. If you want your beau to be more sensitive to your health issue, start there. Or maybe you would like a fairer division of labor or a little more appreciation — or all three.

Once you’ve pinpointed your goal, go to your boyfriend in a measured way. (No pent-up bitterness allowed. Remember, it was your suggestion.) Start with, “Honey, I’m not feeling great about our grand compromise on cleaning products.” Then explain why. With luck, he hadn’t thought this through. But if he remains unmoved after hearing your concerns — as well as benefiting from free cleaning service and the likelihood that he eats way more than you — he is telling you who he is. Listen.

A Fare to Remember

I attended the funeral of a friend’s father. For religious reasons, it was held one day after his death. I bought my train ticket (for the four-hour trip) the night before. I am in my late 20s. I have a job and plenty of vacation time. It was no burden to attend, and I wanted to show my support. But this week, I received a check from my friend’s mother, with a note saying it was for transportation expenses. I am surprised by this and unsure what to do.


Cash the check. If your friend’s mother left out how touched she was by your loving show of support, it’s because she is grieving. Don’t make her think about the check again. Even though you are definitely an adult, you are still a kid to her. (And a mensch in my book. Many of us would have cooked up an excuse not to board that train.)

Avoid the Stares

When I take my baby on the subway, I carry her on my chest in a baby carrier. If I sit, she becomes fussy. But as long as I stand and bounce her, she is happy. This also gives me some much-needed exercise. But when the train is crowded, people who have not heard me refuse kind offers of seats look at the people seated around me as if they are jerks. Today, a woman aggressively shamed everyone on board, though many had offered their seats. Do I have to sit down to avoid this?

At long last, a plausible reading of the R.E.M. lyrics: “Stand in the place where you live. Now face north. Think about direction. Wonder why you haven’t before.” This one boils down to eye contact, Lilly. Avoid it.

In my experience of carrying babies onto subways (and coincidentally, also preferring to stand), I find that turning away from the center of the car — toward the windows and formerly ubiquitous Dr. Zizmor ads — does the trick. Fellow riders are less likely to insist you sit if they don’t notice your bundle of joy, or if your pleasant gaze does not make them feel guilty about retaining their seats. But what a nice problem: people being too thoughtful.

Final Fantasy’s Lightning is the star of Louis Vuitton

Fashion-And-Modern-YouthThe festive period is a rare moment of respite in fashion’s relentless schedule: the only comparable time is August, when many European factories traditionally down tools, thus preventing the pinrest of the industry from doing much at all. Nevertheless, this week, Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière decided to (unofficially) unveil the world-famous, internationally recognised star of his spring/summer 2016 advertising campaign, via a short video and series of posts to his personal Instagram account. A sneak preview.

So what? It’s hardly unique – indeed, it’s become commonplace for fashion houses to “leak” high-profile campaigns such as this. Why should I – or, more importantly, you – be interested in Louis Vuitton’s?

How about the fact that said star is a clump of pixels, named Lightning – a character from the Final Fantasy computer game series? Haven’t heard that one before, have you?

On the one hand, it’s a reasonable choice. Lightning is wildly popular: voted best-liked female Final Fantasy character in a 2013 poll by the game’s developers, Square Enix, and in 2011 she came first in a Microsoft poll to determine the most popular character of the Final Fantasy XIII game. She’s kind of the computer game equivalent of Michelle Williams, another Vuitton campaign star. And Lightning’s fan base is especially massive in Japan, an important market for Louis Vuitton and the second-largest luxury market in the world, according to the consulting firm Bain & Company’s oft-quoted 2015 worldwide report.

But Lightning is, nevertheless, a computer game character. Which makes this campaign quite remarkable. It’s the first time I can think of that a fictional entity has fronted a major fashion house’s advertising campaign in place of a living, breathing model. And it also runs counter to fashion’s current fad for unretouched, warts-and-all realism – CR Fashion Book was the most recent, proudly boasting of its autumn/winter 2015 cover story that featured Lady Gaga, but no Photoshop.

Although unusual, the choice makes sense for Vuitton creatively. Ghesquière’s spring/summer collection was inspired by Japanese anime and the digiscapes of Minecraft, Final Fantasy and Second Life. To me, there was also a touch of Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider to Ghesquière’s patched combat trousers and ferocious metal-studded leather accessories, brandished like weapons by the models – but Lara Croft seems like a different world, a world that needed Angelina Jolie to bring her into three dimensions. Vuitton and Lightning need nothing of the sort: they enlisted the help of video-game artist, designer and director Tetsuya Normura (the main character designer of the latest Final Fantasy instalment) to bring her to “life”. And she does indeed wield those tasselled and logoed Vuitton handbags like cudgels.

The images are accompanied by a short video featuring Lightning in the opening look of Ghesquière’s show, originally worn by model Fernanda Ly – whose trademark pink hair, in retrospect, bears a striking resemblance to Lightning’s own. The brand’s bold choice for its Christmas windows (all 436 of them) was a “digital girl”, a glistening chrome mannequin that looks like a cross between the shiny-helmeted get-ups of the Daft Punk musicians and a tree bauble. Vuitton is forward-thinking.

Jennifer Lawrence Is a Darling of Dior

fashion4uWhen she’s not jet-skiing with Amy Schumer, discussing her lady lumps, or taking on equal pay in Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence, a self-professed workaholic, is likely to be found on the red carpet swathed in Dior. Ms. Lawrence, 25, was just nominated for an Oscar for her role in “Joy” and is in contention for her roles in that movie and in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday. She was signed to a lucrative deal by the French luxury brand in 2012 and has, to some red carpet commentators’ lament, been a proper mannequin since.

But a style seems to be emerging. “She’s definitely coming into her own; you can see that with her starting to talk about politics in interviews and discussing things that mean something to her personally,” said Hillary Kerr, a founder of the website “That all comes together, too, in style, because it’s part of owning who you are and realizing that the way you dress communicates something about you.”

Working with her longtime stylists Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson, protégées of Rachel Zoe who struck out on their own in March and took a plum roster of celebrities with them, Ms. Lawrence, who was born in Louisville, Ky., has been more daring in the last year. (Ms. Lincoln and Ms. Johnson declined to comment.) Gone are the fairy-tale gowns that might double as bedsheets. Rather, “she experiments; she’s never boring,” Ms. Kerr said. Though Ms. Lawrence prefers plunging necklines, such as a sweet long slip dress by Dior in the palest yellow that she wore to the “Joy” New York premiere in December, and a ruffled black Ralph Lauren gown she donned for the “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” premiere in Madrid, she occasionally tries a more demure cut. The scarlet Dior creation Ms. Lawrence wore to the Golden Globes would be considered nearly conservative were it not for strategic slivers of exposed abs. Months earlier, she chose you-know-who for a “Mockingjay 2” screening in Los Angeles. The high sheer netting might have read ice-skating matron had it not been for her “fresh textured hair and bright lip,” Ms. Kerr said.

The actress has been trying edgier gowns. “It helps that her looks can go from all-American to elegant to exotic,” Ms. Kerr said. For the “Mockingjay” premiere in London, she picked a dramatically cut print Dior gown decorated with chains. “This isn’t a silhouette or style I’ve seen on her before,” Ms. Kerr said. “She’s trying something new, whereas her contemporaries are wearing strapless mermaid dresses with Veronica Lake waves.”

But perhaps her best recent look was a lingerie-like Schiaparelli couture confection worn to the “Mockingjay” premiere in New York, featuring a full skirt and sheer bodice layered over a bra. Paired with wine-colored lips and layered necklaces, the dress had a kind of witchy magic. “Jennifer is definitely worth watching,” Ms. Kerr said