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Fashion


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Guys 'n' Ties


Time to put on the Ritz? You may think bow ties are for fashion daredevils only – but think again, gentlemen, and don’t get your brain in a knot. A bow tie expert helps show you the ropes

Guys 'n' Ties


Time to put on the Ritz? You may think bow ties are for fashion daredevils only – but think again, gentlemen, and don’t get your brain in a knot. A bow tie expert helps show you the ropes

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Guys ’n’ Ties 

February 24, 2017 / by M. O. 

Historically, bow ties were worn by surgeons and architects because, unlike neckties, they didn’t drop into their work. Long cherished by all sorts of dandies such as Oscar Wilde, Fred Astaire and the Duke of Windsor, bow ties have
suffered from unfair stereotypes for many decades. “It’s often considered to be a daunting fashion accessory, but it’s not,” says Mickaël-François Loir, the Frenchman who created acclaimed handmade bow tie brand Le Loir en Papillon five years ago. “If it’s mandatory for a dinner at the White House, a bow tie is also appropriate for casual wear. I never go out without one, even to fetch croissants.”

Tie it yourself

There are three basic kinds of bow ties: self-tied, pre-tied and clip-on. “Please forget about the childish clip-on ones; they are a fashion faux pas,” says Loir. “And to be honest, I’m not fond of pre-tied ones, either. They deny you the pleasure of tying your knot in a personal way.” You may find a plethora of online tutorials explaining how to properly tie your bow tie, but have no fear and keep it simple – a shoelace knot does the job effectively. Still, there’s one hard and fast rule to remember: the width of the knot must not exceed the width of your eyes.

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Night and day

White tie is required for the most formal of gatherings, while many an elegant evening requires black tie instead. For your daily elegant routine, however, ditch the etiquette and showcase your personal style. Dare to don a coloured bow tie made of a unique fabric – burgundy wool is perfect with a tweed jacket for a stroll in the countryside, while blue striped linen is a nice pick for a sunny walk along the seashore. And ladies, you don’t need to be left out of the loop. Why not get inspired by the quirky guise of Marlene Dietrich and steal your man’s favourite bow tie from time to time? 

Images: Marine Orlova (Mickaël-François Loir (upper left) with friends); Le Loir en Papillon (bow ties)

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Little Nouvelle Vague


Heating up worldwide stages, Sucre d’Orge is a leading light in the new wave of burlesque performers – and she’s a whole lot more

Little Nouvelle Vague


Heating up worldwide stages, Sucre d’Orge is a leading light in the new wave of burlesque performers – and she’s a whole lot more

Lifestyle > Fashion


Spreading her angelic wings

Spreading her angelic wings

 

Little Nouvelle Vague

February 3, 2017 / by China Daily

The seductive wave of a traditional fan barely hides the exotic curves that loom behind it. A delicate shake of the tail feather sets hearts aflutter, with bird-like movements that are only equalled in their fluidity by their sensuality. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself loosening your collar as you immerse yourself in the steamy world of Sucre d’Orge, the burlesque performer who’s taken Paris by storm.

Walking into d’Orge’s house in the 18th arrondissement of Paris is akin to stepping into a time machine – her apartment has an unmistakably retro, art deco feel. Adorned with period furniture from the flea markets and vintage photographs of burlesque performers, it creates an atmosphere that perfectly matches her onstage persona. The reality is no less evocative, either, as Mademoiselle d’Orge emerges, clad in a flowing ’20s gown.

“I’ve been a dancer since my childhood – classical, Argentinian,” explains d’Orge, as she delicately sips tea in her boudoir. “And I’ve always liked to discover new dance forms.” The form she’s specifically referring to isn’t new, but it’s enjoyed a rebirth in recent years. Burlesque dancing, in existence since the popular theatre of the 17th and 18th centuries, is currently having its moment – and d’Orge (whose name means “Candy Cane”) has been riding the wave of enthusiasm, bringing her evocative and playful style to audiences in Paris, Shanghai, New York, Milan and London. 

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Flaunting her feathers as Marie Antoinette

Flaunting her feathers as Marie Antoinette

Portrait of a lady

Portrait of a lady

The Indian tale of Radha and Krishna in love

The Indian tale of Radha and Krishna in love

Burlesque, unlike striptease, doesn’t involve total nudity – only partial – and tends to be highly theatrical in its delivery. It was this aesthetic allure that first aroused d’Orge’s curiosity. “One night, I was at a dance class and as I left, I saw these girls who were beautifully made up and dressed in gorgeous costumes,” she recalls. “I asked what class they were going to and they told me it was burlesque.” 

Like many burlesque performers today, d’Orge went to one class and was instantly hooked. “There are a lot of girls who love this; they love to dance, to laugh, to dream,” she says. “There are a lot of girls who want to learn it after seeing a show – not to perform, but to develop their femininity.” 

While striptease for a mostly male audience may have been characteristic of burlesque in its boom years, d’Orge says today’s audiences are increasingly composed of women. “Burlesque can send a message, poetic or artistic, to an audience that today is two-thirds female.”

Her essential accessories, including Serge Lutens perfume

Her essential accessories, including Serge Lutens perfume

To appease her numerous admirers, d’Orge has crafted an intricate, alluring and entertaining portfolio of performances that range from Marie Antoinette to a mechanical wind-up doll, and from a Bollywood dancer to an Egyptian queen. The fan has become her signature accessory, but anyone who sees her emote under (and alongside) the plumage of ostrich feathers can’t fail to be swayed by the panache of her chic performance. 

Whether you call it high art or seduction supreme, neo-burlesque has enjoyed a fantastic revival. The fashion world may have much to do with its spirited resurgence. For one, French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, with his trademark red-soled stilettos, is a big fan of cabaret and brought in filmmaker David Lynch for a fetish-style shoot, on which Louboutin chose girls from the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris to wear his vertiginous heels.

Among a gaggle of performers, Mademoiselle d’Orge stands out as a glamorous presence indeed. All her corsets are made by top Parisian designer François Tamarin through his brand, Les Corsets de Paris, while her outfits are created by specialised costumiers. She works with renowned choreographer Larry Vickers (who frequently collaborated with actress Shirley MacLaine), although D’Orge does much of her own choreography for her routines. D’Orge even makes the occasional appearance at David Lynch’s semi-private nightclub in Paris, Silencio, which is modelled on a similar club he has on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. 

Sucre d’Orge’s cute retro flat

Sucre d’Orge’s cute retro flat

It’s natural to draws parallels with her famous counterpart, American burlesque performer Dita Von Teese, but d’Orge says their acts are very different, since she focuses on the dance itself. “Dita moves, she strips, she takes off her things – it’s an art, but there is no dance choreography,” explains d’Orge. Compared to the 1950s pin-up inspirations of most modern American burlesque, French burlesque tends to draw from a broader variety of intellectual and historical references.

Neo-burlesque’s success lies in its small-scale, under-the-radar intimacy that subliminally echoes a lifestyle culture so overly luxuried by labelled brands, that individuality and the experiential nature of recreation have taken hold among a new niche group. After all, what’s not to like: glamorous performances, couture costumes, haute theatre and a touch of good old-fashioned bespoke.

Beyond the dance, d’Orge is a true Renaissance woman. She studied commerce at the renowned ESSEC Business School in Paris, is a Chinese speaker who learned Putonghua in Beijing for two years, is a talented photographer and self-professed “Leica lover” – and she’s learning the lute. Really, is there anything this burlesque beauty can’t do?


 A lobby card from 1898 for a burlesque show in the US starring the Bon Ton Burlesquers

 A lobby card from 1898 for a burlesque show in the US starring the Bon Ton Burlesquers

Burlesque Brouhaha

Dating back several centuries, the burlesque tradition has seen numerous transformations throughout the years. Stemming from the Italian word burla, meaning “mock or make a joke of”, burlesque was originally intended as a brief comedic break in the commedia dell’arte (“comedy of craft”), an Italian form of entertainment that had become prevalent across Europe by the late 16th century. 

During the height of the Victorian era, burlesque dancing reached its peak of popularity in London theatres. It mocked well-known shows such as Shakespeare plays, as well as popular ballets and operas, by using music, dance and classical performance to comedic effect. In 1868, the British Blondes troupe introduced Victorian burlesque to the US, shocking audiences by wearing tights on stage in New York. The sexy element soon became an essential component, as the striptease appeared in shows across the US and France; the earliest instance of nudity in burlesque was also performed in this era, as a woman removed her clothes while “looking for a flea”. 

This stripping-focused style of burlesque became a popular art form in the 20 th century, though this type of adult entertainment eventually fell out of favour in the 1970s. However, in the 1990s, a new kind of “neo-burlesque” movement appeared, inspired by the nostalgic glamour of the old days and with a focus on the art of the tease rather than the nudity.

Images: Linda Bujoli (Le Carmen); Tom Hagemeyer (wings); Le SLM Show (portrait of a lady); Stella Polaris (flat); Weemove (Marie Antoinette); Serge Lutens (perfume); Soazig Le Bozec (Radha & Krishna); Library of Congress, © 1898 by H.C. Miner Litho. Co., NY (Bon Ton Burlesquers)

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Choos Your Own Adventure


Jimmy Choo introduces the art of customisation with diamonds, Swarovski crystals, pearls and furry pom-poms

Choos Your Own Adventure


Jimmy Choo introduces the art of customisation with diamonds, Swarovski crystals, pearls and furry pom-poms

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Choos Your Own Adventure

February 3, 2017

Customisation is a continuing trend in fashion as more and more brands invite clients to express their individuality through their unique designs. A longstanding favourite among Hollywood’s elite, Jimmy Choo has launched a new capsule collection that allows fans to choose their shoes and the decorations. 

“I was thinking about that giddy delight you see in children when they choose from a tray of sweets,” explains Sandra Choi, Jimmy Choo’s creative director. “I wanted there to be a sense of showmanship and an irresistible boldness throughout the cruise season. Designing and creativity are my passions, and I wanted to give our clients the chance to share this wonderful experience.”

In the newly launched 2017 collection, the iconic shoe brand puts forth a plethora of styles, including the open-toed Max, the round-toed Macy and Dundee, and the open-toed Keely mule in silk satin. With its rich colours, embellishments and fine fabrics, the collection is pure enchantment for every shoe lover.

What makes it truly special is that you can add extra glamour to your pair through a menu of beautifully designed decorations, including diamonds, Swarovski crystals, pearls and furry pom-poms. Your style tells people who you are, so your personalised Jimmy Choos can also speak for you – get ready to put your best foot forward.

Images: Jimmy Choo

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Stocking Style


Making a comeback on the runways, pantyhose was a fashion necessity throughout much of the 20th century

Stocking Style


Making a comeback on the runways, pantyhose was a fashion necessity throughout much of the 20th century

Lifestyle > Fashion


During the Second World War, there was a nylon shortage; here, a woman stands on a stool while a man carefully paints on her stockings

During the Second World War, there was a nylon shortage; here, a woman stands on a stool while a man carefully paints on her stockings

Stocking Style

February 3, 2017 / by China Daily

When the spring/summer 2017 runways said “yes” to pantyhose with open-toed shoes, it was viewed as yet another example of an old-turned-new trend – hosiery is certainly no longer atop most women’s wish lists when it comes to fashion. But for much of the 20th century, it was an essential staple of a polished woman’s daily wardrobe. 

Pantyhose’s famous predecessors were stockings, which reached up to the thigh and generally needed to be supported by a garter; these tights first became popular among men before women started to wear them in the 18th century. As a new style emerged in tandem with the change in women’s social status in the 1920s, shorter skirts came into fashion, paired with stockinged legs – a trendy look of the day was a woman rolling her stockings down just below the knee and dusting rouge on the kneecaps. The enduring “fishnets” were introduced in the ’30s; brands such as France’s Gerbe, the UK’s Charnos and Italy’s Levante prospered during that period and continue to be at the forefront of hosiery style today. 

In 1938, the invention of nylon in the United States revolutionised the industry. Initially used for toothbrushes, after nylon was introduced as a fabric at the 1939 New York World's Fair, nylon stockings became widely popular. Women swarmed stores to purchase the hosiery and four million pairs were sold in the first few days of their release. However, the Second World War meant that nylon was soon in short supply, as the fabric was sent to the battlefield in the form of tents and parachutes. 

However, nothing can stop women from pursuing beauty. If they couldn’t buy nylon stockings, someone figured out that they could paint them on. Leg cosmetics created a fashion storm during wartime, allowing women to do make-up from their toes to their thighs, thus achieving the illusion of real stockings. Liquids, lotions, creams and sticks were all used to mimic a noticeable sheen.

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Numerous brands got on board with “canned hosiery”, including Frances Denney (with Leg Make-Up Film), Revlon (Leg Silk), Helena Rubinstein (Leg Stick) and Harriet Hubbard Ayer (Stocking Lotion). There were even leg make-up bars, where women could purchase the cosmetics or get advice on how to apply them to their legs. Following the end of the war, though, nylon stockings were restocked on shelves and endless lines reappeared outside the hosiery shops. 

There was only one problem – without squeezing into garters, there was no other way to hold the stockings up in the ’50s. Among numerous patents filed, the waist-to-toe leg garment, which we now know as pantyhose, was invented by a man in 1959 who created it at the request of his then-pregnant wife, who found it difficult to manage her stockings and garter belt over her expanding belly. 

But pantyhose didn’t truly burst onto the fashion scene until the miniskirt craze of the ’60s. Around the same time, tights were being produced by British manufacturer Aristoc and expanded in popularity after the invention of spandex, a synthetic fibre that allows leg garments to stretch. Another important innovation in 1977 came courtesy of an unusual source: Julie Newmar, the original Catwoman actress in the 1960s Batman TV series. She’s credited with patenting a special type designed to accentuate a woman’s behind – the “derriere-shaping” pantyhose. In 1977, Newmar famously explained to People magazine: “They make your derriere look like an apple instead of a ham sandwich.”

In the ’80s and early ’90s, hosiery came in a wide range of colours, patterns and fabrics, and became the defining feature of a professional woman’s daily style. However, as office dress codes became more casual, many women abandoned pantyhose and embraced the freedom of bare legs. 

Fashion always goes in cycles, so it’s not surprising that the spotlight has shifted back to pantyhose again in recent years – it’s been seen on everyone from Hollywood stars to Her Royal Highness. In the last century, hosiery was not just an important part of a woman’s wardrobe, but also a statement of a proper lifestyle.

Prada collection with patterned tights, AW/16

Prada collection with patterned tights, AW/16

Images: Getty Images; Prada

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Giambattista Valli


The spring/summer 2017 collection delivers sophisticated and sexy in equal parts

Giambattista Valli


The spring/summer 2017 collection delivers sophisticated and sexy in equal parts

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Giambattista Valli

February 3, 2017 / by China Daily

The silhouette of the Italian designer’s eponymous label is well suited for any style-savvy woman. By making use of floral motifs and lacy black bras, Valli showcases the high art of bedroom finery in his spring/summer 2017 ready-to-wear collection. But it’s more than just a sexy style. From high-neck tops and striped polished trousers to flowery skirts, Giambattista Valli makes the case for both the office and the weekend, bringing out the sophisticated essence of femininity – it’s no wonder famed human rights attorney Amal Clooney loves to wear this brand.

Images: Giambattista Valli

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Agnona


Truman Capote’s stylish inner circle is transposed onto the woman of today

Agnona


Truman Capote’s stylish inner circle is transposed onto the woman of today

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Agnona

February 3, 2017 / by China Daily

Inspired by Truman Capote’s “philosophy of perfection” and his inner circle of “swans” – including Slim Keith, Gloria Vanderbilt and Babe Paley – creative director Simon Holloway interprets beauty through fine fabrics including fil coupé silk, blue lace and denim-effect crêpe cotton. The spring/summer 2017 ready-to-wear collection from the Milanese brand (Ermenegildo Zegna’s women’s counterpart) tells an intimate story of sensuality. As Holloway recently explained to Forbes, “It’s for a ‘swan’ of today.”

Images: Agnona

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Flair in the Air


For flight attendants, even the sky hasn’t been the limit when it comes to fashion trends

Flair in the Air


For flight attendants, even the sky hasn’t been the limit when it comes to fashion trends

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Flair in the Air

December 9, 2016 / by China Daily

Image above: Taking to the skies with United Airlines flight attendants, 1939

The “Original Eight” flight attendants at Boeing Air Transport, 1930

From nurse-inspired looks to stylishly professional cabin crew outfits, attire in the sky has changed significantly over the years. Unlike other uniforms, which often share a similar palette, the looks for flight attendants vary quite a bit. 

Wherever you look, you’re bound to see all the colours of the rainbow. Take the bold orange outfits of Russian carrier Aeroflot; the sky-blue of Korean Airlines; the blazing-hot red of Virgin Atlantic, designed by Vivienne Westwood; the Singapore Girl’s traditional sarong kebaya for Singapore Airlines by Pierre Balmain; the striking stripes of Australian national airline Qantas; the classic blue-and-red scheme of Air France; or the red cape option for Colombian national carrier Avianca Airlines. 

Today you can spot each airline’s flight attendants from afar, but the uniforms originally signified nurses on board. In 1930, 25-year-old pilot and registered nurse Ellen Church appealed to the executives of Boeing Air Transport to hire women in the skies, who could help take care of passengers and calm their fears. Church and seven other women were hired by the airline. Known as the “Original Eight”, they dressed in dark blue suits with a cape and cap. Later, the “sky nurse” attire gave way to a lighter, more cheerful look, with a short-sleeved dress in white and a wool jacket in navy. 

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In the 1950s post-war era, the “jet set” rose to prominence in the US as airlines targeted wealthy passengers. Flight attendant style also kept pace, as famous designers came on board to create the uniforms. Prior to being named exclusive couturier to Jacqueline Kennedy when she was First Lady of the United States, Oleg Cassini designed the uniforms for Trans World Airlines (TWA) in the 1950s.

But Hollywood glamour really took to the skies in the mid-1960s. William Travilla, best known for dressing Marilyn Monroe, designed United Airlines uniforms from 1965 to 1968. Famously, the now-defunct US airline Braniff also brought Emilio Pucci on in 1965 to design the vibrant Gemini IV collection – and the looks only got wilder. The following year, Emilio Pucci presented the Supersonic Derby outfits to Braniff, featuring nylon jersey uniforms covered in Central American art motifs, paired with green boots and a bowler hat.

Things weren’t only happening in America, of course. In 1962, Christian Dior brought appealing haute couture to Air France; in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the airline enlisted Balenciaga. Further east, Japanese couturier Hanae Mori, who began designing the uniforms for Japan Air in 1967, designed a one-piece miniskirt uniform in 1970 that raised hemlines – and eyebrows.

The playful vibe seemed to come to an end in the 1980s, when boxy power suits became the norm. Today, uniforms have shifted towards the hyper-professional with a touch of glamour. But, like all things fashion, they continue to evolve. Perhaps one day soon, those playfully bold designs of the ’60s and ’70s will make a comeback.

If you’re a fan of these lovely looks, check out the exhibition Fashion in Flight: A History of Airline Uniform Design, held at the SFO Museum in San Francisco International Airport until January 8.

The red-hot uniforms currently in vogue at Virgin Atlantic

Today’s striking Air France uniform by Christian Lacroix

From left to right: Qantas uniform by Yves Saint Laurent, 1986; United Airlines uniform by Stan Herman, 1976; Trans World Airlines uniform by Oleg Cassini, 1955; United Airlines uniform by Jean Louis, 1968

Images: SFO Museum; Air France; Virgin Atlantic

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Puppy Love


Pamper your pooch with the finest canine experiences and trends

Puppy Love


Pamper your pooch with the finest canine experiences and trends

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Puppy Love

October 28, 2016 / by Chris Campbell

For the ultimate shopping experience when you’re seeking that special gift for a loved one, there’s no city better than Hong Kong. Looking to buy a cute little silver pendant encrusted with Swarovski crystals? A pearl necklace? A day at the spa with aromatherapy massage and a mud wrap? A session with a hairstylist who specialises in the hottest new looks from Japan? Some sturdy boots for walking on rocky ground? Designer rainwear for those stormy days? A cooling mat to stretch out on when the floor is too hot? Yes, Hong Kong has it all for your beloved pet dog. 

The love affair between humans and dogs goes back a long way. Scientists estimate that they first lived together around 15,000 years ago, and there is evidence that our ancient ancestors and their dogs were often buried side by side. Fantasy grooming became all the rage in France during the reign of Louis XVI in the 18th century, when poodles on the streets of Paris were clipped into decorative shapes to reflect the flamboyant style of the French court. Marie-Antoinette was a renowned dog lover – although it’s not known if she let her favourite papillon, Coco, eat cake.

Today, the cutting-edge trends in dog grooming primarily come from Japan. Angelia Leung of Hong Kong’s Hot Tails Salon recently trained in Tokyo; the shop offers a seemingly endless variety of styles that feature in the grooming magazines she brought back from her trip.

“In Japan, there is more attention to detail and there are so many styles; it’s crazy,” says Leung. “They make the hair curly with rollers or use colour highlights. They like the cut that makes the dog look like a teddy bear, the round ‘ball’ head look or the ‘up ear’ that makes the dog look like they are wearing headphones.” But it doesn't stop there. She adds, “They even give their dogs dreadlocks, which nobody wants to do here.”

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Once your pooch has that killer new Japanese look, it’s time to add some bling. Philip Bell, the owner of Wagtrade Designs, which specialises in luxury dog blankets and dog jewellery, explains how it works. “It all fits around the neck,” he says, holding up a freshwater pearl necklace that is one of the company’s top-end products. “The idea is that you are trying to make the dog look good – but you have to look at dog safety as well, so no ankle bracelets or pierced earrings.” Wagtrade’s biggest international markets are the United States and the glitzy resorts along the French Riviera – Monaco, Nice and Cannes – where, he says, “there is a big dog culture and people spend money on their pets.”

Once your pet pooch is groomed and bejewelled, there’s no reason to stop there. If you want the cool look, a pair of 100%-UV-resistant Doggles will stylishly shade their eyes from the sun, a session of dog yoga will be good for their spiritual well-being, and a ride in a dog stroller will take the strain off those four legs at the end of a long day of walking.

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Want to celebrate those memorable moments? Numerous specialist pet shops organise doggie birthday parties (called “barkdays”) and weddings (“puptials”). Hong Kong’s Wow Pet Shop has a smart reception hall for dog celebrations of all kinds – even providing wedding gowns and a mini-limousine for the big day when the happy couple tie the knot and the proud groom is invited to “lick the bride”.

And when the time comes to say goodbye, there are specialised funeral parlours where you can bid farewell. You can even have your doggie’s ashes encased in a stylish charm bracelet as a permanent keepsake. One such business in the US is aptly named Final Paws.

It might all seem over the top to non-dog-lovers, but the bond between human beings and their pets is particularly strong, as trainer Jonathan Klein explains from his office in Los Angeles. “Dogs have the keenest ability to read humans and read their body language,” he says. “They have had thousands of years of training to become close companions as well as working animals. I’ve seen a lot of people experience their first pet dog and the reaction is ‘Wow! I never knew that a dog could be a companion and a friend – and someone I would pour my heart out to.’”

Klein recently worked as an adviser for a TV shoot at a luxury pet store in LA, which boasted a champagne room for high-end customers. “This is where you buy a US$2,000 dog coat,” he recalls. “There are racks of clothes, crystal jewellery, fur – or, perhaps, make that faux fur. It was like being in Neiman Marcus.”

Putting the bling and all the other luxuries aside, what would really make a dog happy if you wanted to spoil him? “Dogs appreciate interaction with humans, whether it is retrieving or finding something that is hidden, or learning behaviour like giving paw,” he says. “Anything that you can teach the dog that lets them interact with you in a positive way is definitely the best treat.”

Images: Edmond Tang; Louise Weng; Getty Images

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