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Fashion


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Pet-a-Porter


From Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette to Cara Delevingne’s rabbit Cecil, celebrity companions you need to know

Pet-a-Porter


From Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette to Cara Delevingne’s rabbit Cecil, celebrity companions you need to know

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Pet-a-Porter

October 28, 2016 / by Emily Zhang

Karl Lagerfeld and his beloved cat, Choupette Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld and his beloved cat, Choupette Lagerfeld

Lady Gaga and her French bulldog, Asia

Lady Gaga and her French bulldog, Asia

They say that animals and children are the most difficult to work with on-camera – but these fashionista pets are clearly throwing that mantra out the window. No matter if it’s for a street shoot, a magazine cover, a product image or even on the runway, you’re bound to see their adorable faces somewhere these days. A few of these furry creatures have skyrocketed in social media circles and live a ridiculously glamorous lifestyle – they’re the fashion world’s It pets.

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Neville Jacobs and his owner, Marc Jacobs

Neville Jacobs and his owner, Marc Jacobs

If you know of only one, it’s probably that white Birman cat, Choupette Lagerfeld. The pet and muse of renowned designer Karl Lagerfeld, her bio reads on her Instagram account (which has 88,000 followers): “I’m Daddy Karl Lagerfeld’s spoiled Chanel pussy, whose maids pamper her every need.” This couture kitty has her own bodyguard, personal medical consultant, personal chef and two maids at her service. She also has her own iPad and travels in a private jet, with possessions packed in her custom-made Louis Vuitton and Goyard trunks. 

For Choupette, a fabulous life has gone much further. She has a book about her luxurious lifestyle; she inspired Karl to launch the Monster Choupette collection; she has her own make-up collaboration with Shu Uemura, called Shupette; she has modelled for German car brand Opel; and she has appeared on the cover of numerous fashion magazines in true A-list star mode.

If Choupette is the first It pet, then Neville Jacobs is the latest star. The four-year-old bull terrier is the beloved dog of Marc Jacobs and has nearly 200,000 followers on Instagram. Aside from his good taste and broad fashion sense on Instagram, he’s posed with supermodels such as Christy Turlington and Kendall Jenner, and has “worked” as a guest editor of Love magazine as well as a brand ambassador. Another celebrity dog living a fabulous life is Lady Gaga’s Asia. The adorable French bulldog wears luxurious pearls, travels in private jets, carries an Hermès bag and even drinks dog wine. She frequently accompanies Lady Gaga to big events and joined a fashion campaign for Coach.

Cara Delevingne and her rabbit, Cecil

Cara Delevingne and her rabbit, Cecil

It’s not all cats and dogs, of course. British supermodel Edie Campbell’s horse Dolly made her fashion debut with her owner in Lanvin’s autumn/winter 2014 campaign. Supermodel Cara Delevingne’s bunny rabbit Cecil is also a new power in the fashion world; she visited Mulberry’s headquarters, wears Chanel jewellery, works with Cara and has taken photos with every celebrity you could think of.

These pets might get famous because of their family connections, but there are many stars that work on their own. Among them is “number-one dog model” Bodhi – a five-year-old Shiba Inu dog who was an ambassador of Salvatore Ferragamo and Coach; he’s got his own website and Instagram as well as two full-time agents. And there’s Toast, the toothless dog who starred in eyewear extraordinaire Karen Walker’s summer 2015 campaign because of her good spirit, confidence and style. It’s not all smiles, though – take fashion icon Grumpy Cat, the four-year-old feline who became internet-famous for her “grumpy” facial expression; it soon developed into a lucrative career in the advertising, film and media industries. 

Pets are not only our loyal companions and cuties at home; they’re also a rising force in the contemporary fashion scene.

Toast stars in a Karen Walker summer 2015 sunglasses ad campaign

Toast stars in a Karen Walker summer 2015 sunglasses ad campaign

Meet supermodel Bodhi, a Shiba Inu

Meet supermodel Bodhi, a Shiba Inu

Neville wears a fashionable scarf

Neville wears a fashionable scarf

Images: Instagram: @MenswearDog; @Choupettesdiary; @NevilleJacobs; @Missasiakinney; @Cecildelevingne; Karen Walker

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Arresting Looks


To protect and serve – and look good? Explore the street-patrolling style icons and the top designers who’ve dressed them

Arresting Looks


To protect and serve – and look good? Explore the street-patrolling style icons and the top designers who’ve dressed them

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Arresting Looks

September 30, 2016 / by Zhang Mengyi

Around the world, most police officers can be easily identified by their official uniforms. But while their outfits convey a unified message of power and authority, the styles and colours certainly vary from place to place. 

One of the major turning points in the apparel of police officers was in 1829, when the London Metropolitan Police developed a paramilitary-style uniform for its “Bobbies” (the nickname for British police officers). To distinguish themselves from the British army in red and white, the London police decided to make the uniform dark blue. Later, other countries followed suit and the style was widely adopted around the world. In London today, police officers are dressed smartly in an open-necked tunic with a white collared shirt underneath. 

Times have changed outfits, too. After the 1997 handover in Hong Kong, the police force’s iconic green uniforms were redesigned in blue by local firm G2000 in 2001 – the full outfit comprises staples including the navy blue jacket, as well as light blue and white shirts. In the US, powder-blue shirts with navy trousers were abandoned by the New York City Police Department in the mid-1990s for a look The New York Times described as “less Mr Goodwrench, more Terminator 2” – dark blue shirts with matching cargo trousers were used to present a tougher look. 

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Across Europe, many top fashion designers have created uniforms for police organisations. Paris has two national police forces in graceful blue uniforms: the Police Nationale and the Gendarmerie Nationale. Prominent designer Pierre Balmain created an American-esque uniform with a military-style peaked cap for France’s Police Nationale in 1985.

The Italian Carabinieri (the national gendarmerie of Italy, policing both military and civilian populations) have different types of uniforms, such as black apparel with a red stripe on the trousers and a dark blue one with silver braid around the collar and cuffs. Rumour has it that some of the designs came from top Italian fashion houses Valentino and Giorgio Armani.

The Russian police have also worked with top designers, though not always to success. Renowned fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin created a dark blue look with red trimming on the sleeves, pockets and lapels in 2010. Unfortunately, the good-looking outfits turned out to be a disaster – they just couldn’t stand up to Russia’s cold temperatures and ripped apart very quickly.

The majority of police uniforms are produced in darker hues such as blue, black, brown, green and grey. There’s a psychological reason – these colours are associated with security, power and strength. But there are certainly exceptions. For example, the North-West Mounted Police of Canada wear a uniform including a red jacket, dark trousers and high-top riding boots.

The uniform functions like other clothes – as an extension of who you are, revealing your social status and influencing the way people perceive you. For the police, functionality always comes before fashion. But looking at some of these charming cops, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that a routine patrol could easily be turned into a fashion runway.

Images: Getty Images; China Daily; internet

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Tailored Approach


Mark Frost, design director of Gieves & Hawkes, on his experience thus far with the heritage brand, the perception of the bespoke tailoring tradition and the inspiration behind the autumn/winter 2016 collection

Tailored Approach


Mark Frost, design director of Gieves & Hawkes, on his experience thus far with the heritage brand, the perception of the bespoke tailoring tradition and the inspiration behind the autumn/winter 2016 collection

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Tailored Approach

September 30, 2016 / by China Daily

Mark Frost

Mark Frost

What sparked your interest in fashion?

I’ve always been excited to wear things that were a bit different from other people. It took me a little while to realise that it could evolve into fashion design, rather than just having my own sense of style. I’d always been interested in music and film when I was a kid, and the styles of people in that world always intrigued me. I think that’s where my interest in fashion came from.

How did the story between you and Gieves & Hawkes begin?

Before Gieves & Hawkes, I was with Hackett and Tom Ford. Hackett is very British and Tom is inspired by British styling. It seemed a great opportunity to work for one of the most famous brands on Savile Row – so about four years ago I started at Gieves & Hawkes, with lots happening and lots of change. It’s really exciting to be able to build on a brand that has so much heritage, but is able to make something fresh and new.

You were appointed as design director in April. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

I think the biggest challenge is to understand the different marketplaces where we feature. Obviously China is our biggest market. Being a British heritage brand, though, our challenge is probably to translate British-feeling products into those that are suitable for marketplaces in the rest of the world.

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In 2010, Prince William wore a dark navy suit by Gieves & Hawkes for his engagement announcement

In 2010, Prince William wore a dark navy suit by Gieves & Hawkes for his engagement announcement

Gieves & Hawkes has a very long history. How do you aim to modernise the brand while staying true to its rich heritage?

I think it’s about understanding customers’ needs – the way we live now is evolving constantly. So it’s about taking the things we’ve always done well and translating that into products that feel more relevant for today’s consumers. Part of it is being confident and sticking to what you do best – that will never go out of style.

How do you plan to translate the products and help people understand the history?

Well, understanding the heritage is one thing. We can try to create dreams and paint pictures to express our own heritage. But translating the product is a different question entirely. For example, we use lots of heavyweight dry-handle cloth, which tailors very nicely. But I think it doesn’t translate very well for markets here [in Asia] because the weather is a bit warmer. It’s just not in the mindset of customers. So it’s about accepting the fact that we create a British-inspired look, and use cloth or techniques to fit what we think will help the customers feel like they’re part of the British heritage world while maintaining the functionality.

Can you tell us about the autumn/winter 2016 collection?

As a brand, we really try to communicate our British heritage – and we need to make sure it’s modern and relevant for customers globally. This collection is based on the idea of country walking in the UK. It has a kind of traditional country feeling, but brings luxury and elegance. The idea is that if you’re in a cold climate, when you’re walking, you’re going to feel warm and comfortable.

Behind the scenes of a photo shoot for the brand’s autumn/winter 2016

Behind the scenes of a photo shoot for the brands autumn/winter 2016

Who is the Gieves & Hawkes man?

I think the ideal Gieves & Hawkes men are confident, elegant and sophisticated. For me, confidence is really a big part of everything we do.

What do you think about the bespoke tradition in today’s world, where trends and the way we live is always undergoing significant change?

Bespoke is something I’m very passionate about. When you’re actually on Savile Row, you feel the history as you walk along the street – you feel that romance of bespoke tailoring. I think it still holds importance with regards to the traditions of producing any garments, whether factory-made or handmade. I think bespoke always has a customer base. There are a lot of clients who are very much in love with the process and some who are new to it, who want to experience the best and get something personal.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?

I always try to maintain a broad spectrum of references. Maybe the one thing I’m enjoying at the moment is people who feel like they have their own real sense of style, who aren’t frightened to express themselves in a way that may feel more exaggerated than styles they had tried in the past.

The map room and library in No. 1 Savile Row, 1900 as drawn by Edward Whymper

The map room and library in No. 1 Savile Row, 1900 as drawn by Edward Whymper

What’s your personal style when you’re not working? Do you wear jeans?

I like to keep it simple. Sometimes I don’t mind being a little bold and unexpected, but I’m always in tailored trousers. I’ve recently stopped wearing jeans. I used to wear jeans when I was a bit younger, but now I’m able to experiment with tailoring a bit more and am enjoying the ability to wear it in different ways.

What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?

Relaxed, confident and inquisitive.

If you could dress any man, who would it be?

I think Gieves & Hawkes have been very lucky to dress a lot of famous people over the years. Obviously we have our royal connections, which are very important to us. In the modern market, maybe it’d be someone like Eddie Redmayne, the young British actor who won the Oscar.

What would you select for him?

I would definitely choose a suit – a more elaborate, bold suit, or something a little more eccentric and British, because he is a very British character.

Images: Gieves & Hawkes

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Joseph Abboud


In a tribute to American craftsmanship and tailoring, the critical darling put forth a classic collection

Joseph Abboud


In a tribute to American craftsmanship and tailoring, the critical darling put forth a classic collection

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Joseph Abboud

September 30, 2016 / by China Daily

Certainly not trying to force any of-the-moment fashion trends, Lebanese-American fashion designer Joseph Abboud’s autumn collection paid homage to American craftsmanship and tailoring. With his bespoke layered scarves, he used the traditional hues of grey and brown to elaborate on classic men’s patterns, including pinstripes, tweeds and embellished paisleys. The collection reflected the brand’s signature rugged dandyism, combined with a delicate balance of textures and motifs.

Images: Joseph Abboud

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KTZ


Top London brand takes it to the streets with an array of sportswear-influenced looks

KTZ


Top London brand takes it to the streets with an array of sportswear-influenced looks

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

KTZ

September 30, 2016 / by China Daily

The renowned London-based high-street brand KTZ always brings a touch of couture to its offerings. This time around, it featured everything sporty in its stylish men’s ready-to-wear collection for autumn 2016. The silhouette of baseball-style tour jackets came in a versatile array of reflections, speaking volumes about Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski’s boyhood inspiration. Elements including preppy stripes, brushed wool and laced panels all helped reinforce the baseball aesthetic. Beyond the diamond, leather coats with slogans made reference to the world of motor racing. All the sportswear features brought a vibe that was equal parts chic and intimidating.

Images: KTZ

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Make Your Mark


Customisation creates a fun handbag with a look that’s uniquely yours

Make Your Mark


Customisation creates a fun handbag with a look that’s uniquely yours

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Make Your Mark

August 26, 2016 / by Zhang Mengyi

With the rise of leisure travel in 19th-century Europe, luggage personalisation became a popular way to mark ownership via a series of names, initials, numbers or stripes. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Burberry pioneered this craft and continue to carry on the tradition today. For the younger generation of luxury consumers in China, however, the art of personalisation is just starting to take off.

“Luxury customisation has just started in China,” says Liu Yuchen, the founder of Beijing-based design studio Yunzhu, which focuses on customising luxury bags. “A good economic environment, solid sales results and the maturity of customers’ understanding of the essence of luxury has driven many brands to start customising their products here.” 

Liu worked at Louis Vuitton for five years as an artisan for the brand’s customisation service. When luxury sales in China started to decline, he saw an opportunity to start his own company. With the encouragement of his boss, he opened Yunzhu with a business partner.

As China’s consumer market is being reshaped by younger, more sophisticated shoppers, luxury goods are increasingly seen as a source of enjoyment, rather than a flashy symbol of wealth and status. In terms of customisation, global luxury giants tend to take more cautious steps than start-ups – considering the potential costs of hiring a local design team and the risks of conveying the wrong brand message. “At Louis Vuitton, it’s limited to the more traditional customisation styles, such as initials and stripes,” says Liu.

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By making use of new-media channels, Liu says he has attracted more than 10,000 potential customers since last year. “My former company introduced some customers to me, but most of them came from social media.” With each piece of work taking about seven to 15 working days, Liu’s customisation projects vary widely, from cartoon images and personal portraits to art paintings. “The most important thing is to have a good base of knowledge about the different types of bag materials,” he says.

Instead of a design that Liu’s team suggests, some of his customers bring their own ideas – and sometimes they’re just a bit too wild. “A customer once asked us to paint a traditional Chinese double-dragon play bead on his black Louis Vuitton Keepall Bandoulière,” Liu recalls. “I’m familiar with that design, but it doesn’t work for the bag’s style.”

Customisation appears to be a global phenomenon, too. Boyarde Messenger is another in-demand artist who has made headlines for her hand-painted luxury bags, gaining her clients from all around the world, and Kim Kardashian showed off a pricey Hermès bag with her daughter’s painting on it. As more and more consumers want to showcase their individuality on their bags, it seems that imagination is the only limit.

Images: Yunzhu Design Studio

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Free to Be Me


Flapper girls led the march to liberty in the frenzy of the 1920s

Free to Be Me


Flapper girls led the march to liberty in the frenzy of the 1920s

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Free to Be Me

August 26, 2016 / by Zoé Manset

Actress Joan Crawford in 1924

Actress Joan Crawford in 1924

Josephine Baker in her “banana costume”

Josephine Baker in her “banana costume”

The onset of war in Europe (1914-18) a century ago was a landmark moment in women’s history. With men going off to fight, more than one million women began working for the first time and gained new responsibilities. Society began transforming and, in the war’s aftermath, the social codes changed. So, too, did attitudes and behaviour, along with new modes of dressing and style. 

Women in the West wanted to live and enjoy life as dancers, actresses, writers, party girls, thinkers and even models. Whether it was through their intellectual emancipation or their shockingly loud attitude, they had a shared goal. Women began to enjoy the pleasures offered by a man-made society, which had been created solely for men’s delight. 

Paris was the epicentre for much of this evolution. By the early 1920s, artists, aesthetes and socialites flourished, and female cultural influencers shaped the growing trends. Common to all was the need to affirm their individuality through different means – the most obvious one being style.

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Dancing flapper girls

Dancing flapper girls

With her sparkle and talent, Josephine Baker offered her own interpretation of feminine identity to the eyes of bewildered crowds – by performing practically nude on the stage of a famous Parisian cabaret. The flippancy of her extravagant costumes made her the first widely recognised black performer in the Western world. By choosing to reveal parts of her body and covering the rest in sequins and glitter, she opened the door to a new wave of entertainment – and, specifically, to women’s control of this form.

Above the intellectual and artistic liberation triggered by the works and ideas of strong-willed women, social emancipation was central to the fashion of the roaring twenties.

Dancing on tables, riding on taxi roofs or indulging in endless night follies were among the things that caused writer F Scott Fitzgerald to call his wife, Zelda, “the first flapper”. The famous silhouette of the flapper – her low-waisted knee-length dress hanging loosely as she nonchalantly smokes a cigarette, with the beads, sequins and feather fringes of her top intertwining in the most gracious manner – was the result of this quest for women’s independence. Though expressed through different means, these needs for liberation and emancipation all had in common an unconventional and even revolutionary approach to femininity and fashion, which remains iconic today.

Dramatically yet interestingly opposed to today’s feminist standards, the flappers chose to redefine femininity – and thereby eroticism. Instead of putting the focus on their breasts or overall body shape, an act that had always been associated with beauty as it was perceived by men, they opted for a slender and lithe silhouette that revealed their arms and legs. By adopting a rather androgynous allure – a look called “garçonne” that was adopted by Coco Chanel – they took ownership of specific masculine characteristics, which then enabled them to find their own legitimacy in enjoying the most basic pleasures of life.

Next time we sucumb to the delight of sipping a softly coloured cocktail in a comfortably fitting dress, let us not forget the memory of our fierce flappers.

Images: Getty Images

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 Gertrude Stein and her life partner, Alice B Toklas, walking their dog

 Gertrude Stein and her life partner, Alice B Toklas, walking their dog

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How Sweet it Is


Innovative and environmentally friendly, the pineapple leaf-based Piñatex is set to change the world of textiles

How Sweet it Is


Innovative and environmentally friendly, the pineapple leaf-based Piñatex is set to change the world of textiles

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

How Sweet it Is

August 26, 2016

The global fast-fashion industry has long been criticised for its high levels of waste, as trends change every season. Naturally, sustainability in design has come to the fore. Numerous entrepreneurs have been hunting for versatile, innovative textiles that can provide a necessary alternative to traditional materials. One such person is Spanish designer Carmen Hijosa,
who uses fibres made of pineapple leaves to create Piñatex, an environmentally friendly material.

The idea for Piñatex was inspired by the barong tagalog – a traditional shirt long considered the national dress of the Philippines, which is woven with fibres of pineapple leaves. After working in the traditional leather industry for many years, Hijosa decided to set out to create a sustainable natural textile. In 2013, at the age of 63, she founded Ananas Anam to introduce her game-changing product to the broader fashion industry. 

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“We can make shoes, we can make bags. We can make chairs, sofas. It can be panelling. Eventually, it can be made into the interiors of cars, even linings,” said Hijosa in an interview with The Guardian. Today, Piñatex has gained rising popularity among many big-name brands, including Puma and Camper. 

Piñatex Original comes in charcoal, natural and brown hues, while the newest offering from Ananas Anam is Piñatex Oro, which currently comes in gold and aims to expand into other metallics. They all look like real leather and are even better in terms of eco-friendliness; the fibres are the by-products of the pineapple harvest, which means they don’t require extra land, water or fertiliser. 

Will Piñatex eventually challenge the current textile market? According to Ananas Anam’s website, one of the brand’s aims is “to bring onto the market a new and sustainable textile that can fill the gap between leather and petroleum-based textiles, and that is good value for money.” Only time will tell, but we get the feeling it’s just a matter of time before Piñatex brings its sweet touch to fashionistas the world over.

Images: Ananas Anam

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Growing Up Fast


For the children, fashion isn’t just about functionality or comfort – playfulness sometimes leads the way, too

Growing Up Fast


For the children, fashion isn’t just about functionality or comfort – playfulness sometimes leads the way, too

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Growing Up Fast

August 26, 2016

Fendi Kids (AW16/17)

Fendi Kids (AW16/17)

Style isn’t just for mum and dad anymore – this season, you can let your child’s fashion streak run wild, too. Danish brand Popupshop’s unisex collection comes to life with nature-inspired prints including wild animals and fruit, while Belgium’s Bellerose Kids uses customised denim with teddy fur in a variety of ways. Italy’s Hitch-Hiker showcases a versatile wardrobe with a blend of natural, military and urban chic, and Fendi Kids features colourful and playful prints that elaborate on a fun, modern look. Another brand from Italy, Maëlie, emphasises a metropolitan style for urban-dwelling girls, while Australia’s Munsterkids adheres to the rules of street style. Years later, when you’re flipping through photo albums together, your children will thank you for your stylish influence.

Images: Fendi Kids, Hitch-Hiker, Maëlie, Popupshop, Bellerose Kids, Munsterkids

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New Czarina


Telling the unique stories of her native land on runways around the world, Russian couture queen Ulyana Sergeenko truly puts Moscow in motion. A front-row fixture, she emerged from a crowded pack of avid fashionistas (dubbed the “Czarinas”) to become one of the country’s leading designers. Taking inspiration from bygone eras and intriguing figures from Russia’s rich history, she launched her eponymous label in 2011, which shows regularly at Haute Couture Week in Paris.

New Czarina


Telling the unique stories of her native land on runways around the world, Russian couture queen Ulyana Sergeenko truly puts Moscow in motion. A front-row fixture, she emerged from a crowded pack of avid fashionistas (dubbed the “Czarinas”) to become one of the country’s leading designers. Taking inspiration from bygone eras and intriguing figures from Russia’s rich history, she launched her eponymous label in 2011, which shows regularly at Haute Couture Week in Paris.

Lifestyle > Fashion


New Czarina

August 26, 2016 / by Natacha Riva

 

What’s the inspiration behind your new collection?

The New Couture collection was devoted to the youth of our parents.

How would you describe today’s Russian women?

Independent and strong; they will fascinate you…

Favourite Russian designer? 

Vika Gazinskaya. She is very talented, her work is always interesting and original. 

Favourite fashion store in the world? 

I love doing shopping in Moscow and TSUM department store on Petrovska Street is one of my favourite places here.  

The Russian artist whose work you’d most like to use/appropriate for one of your collections? 

Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov, who worked during the 19th century, and Soviet illustrator Yuriy Vasnetsov.

Favourite holiday destination? 

I love to spend my holidays at the Pellicano Hotel in Tuscany.  

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Most challenging step during creating your collection?

The most difficult are the last few days before the show when we have to complete everything and then present the collection.

Which beauty staples are you never without? 

I can’t do without powder and lipstick. 

What was the last music you downloaded?

Pt2. by Kanye West.

Your favourite Apps? 

Instagram.

If you could time-travel, which period would you choose? 

I would go back to my childhood which I have spent in Ust’-Kamenogorsk city in Kazakhstan. 

Who’s your style icon?

I was influenced by style of my grandmother and mum. During the Soviet period women had to embellish themselves, relying only on their own skills – women were able to sew and embroider.  My mum and grandmother always looked very elegant despite a deficit of items
and resources. 

How do you unwind? 

With my kids we organize home disco-parties!

Your favourite novel? 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Anna’s image is the most exact description of woman’s character in literature for me.

Your favourite novel?

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Anna’s image is the most exact description of woman’s character in literature for me.

Cover: Ulyana Sergeenko AW16/17 Couture collection / Images: Ulyana Sergeenko; Victor Boyko; Yana Davydova; Getty Images

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Bond, Le Bond


Special agent 007 may be British, but his savoir faire is all French

Bond, Le Bond


Special agent 007 may be British, but his savoir faire is all French

Lifestyle > Fashion


 

Bond, Le Bond

June 24, 2016 / by Charles Oliver

Whether it’s in the books or the movies, British secret agent James Bond is no stranger to France. In A View to a Kill, he scales the Eiffel Tower, then visits the villain Hugo Drax in the majestic Château de Chantilly; the opening of Thunderball is set at the Château d’Anet near Dreux; he’s on the beach in the south of France in Diamonds are Forever. Numerous Bond girls have been French, including Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only), Sophie Marceau as Elektra King (The World is Not Enough), Eva Green as Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale) and Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann (Spectre).

In fact, in the very first scene we ever see Bond on screen, in 1962’s Dr. No, he’s sitting at a gaming table playing a French card game. Chemin de fer was the original version of baccarat when introduced to France; Bond plays the game in Dr. No, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, GoldenEye and Casino Royale.

Behind the wheel, Bond drives the iconic French Citroën 2CV in For Your Eyes Only, in a car chase after his own vehicle, a Lotus Esprit Turbo, explodes. Bond and Melina are later pursued by evil henchmen in Peugeot 504s over hairpin roads, then through an olive orchard and a village. He’s also followed by villains in a 2CV on the drive from the Hotel Splendide to the beach in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In From Russia with Love, Spectre assassin Donald “Red” Grant steals a Citroën 11 Légère and follows Bond through Istanbul. And in Casino Royale, the evil Le Chiffre makes his escape in a Citroën Traction Avant, hotly pursued by Bond’s more traditional Bentley. 

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Then there’s the commercialisation, the products, the lifestyle – a love of gourmandise and libation that’s equally shared by Bond and the villains he pursues. “Maybe I misjudged Stromberg,” says Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me. “Any man who drinks Dom Pérignon ’52 can’t be all bad.” But 007’s certainly not brand-loyal. In From Russia with Love, he’s drinking Taittinger. When Bond has a late dinner with Vesper Lynd in the novel Casino Royale, he asks for a bottle of Taittinger ’45, only for the sommelier to suggest “Blanc de Blancs Brut 1943 – the same mark without equal.” Bond agrees and tells Lynd that Taittinger, although not that well-known, “is probably the finest champagne in the world.” 

That might be, but by Moonraker he’s calling it “only a fad of mine” and is back on the Dom Pérignon. There’s also the glorious fight scene in Dr. No between the villain and Bond; the agent threatens to break a bottle of champagne and Dr. No says, “That’s a Dom Pérignon ’55; it would be a pity to break it.” (Bond says he prefers the ’53.) Despite all the bravado, his most-drunk champagne is Bollinger, which writer Ian Fleming first references in Diamonds are Forever when Tiffany Case sends a quarter-bottle to Bond’s cabin on the Queen Elizabeth. 

France occupies a privileged place among the usual allies of James Bond and MI6 – it represents the pathway to the rest of the European continent and stands for ideological values that complement those of the United Kingdom, which together make up a century of European enlightenment. Bond’s lifestyle even contains a cultural binary opposition between England and France, in a preface to contemporary globalisation. Bond may be inseparable from M, MI6 and Her Majesty (albeit on his own terms), but 007’s appreciation of food and sex is closer to French than English culture. 

Consider the very first instalment of Casino Royale, which not only takes place in an imaginary French resort but includes French in the text. “Mais n’enculons pas des mouche,” 007 tells the barman while advising him that vodka made with grain is better than with potatoes. The barman grins. “That’s a vulgar way of saying ‘We won’t split hairs’,” explains Bond. The expression is certainly vulgar (it directly translates as “Let’s not copulate with flies”) but denotes a surprisingly accurate grasp of French slang for one of Her Majesty’s subjects, let alone a government employee. It’s no accident that Casino Royale has four French chapter headings: L’Ennemi Écoute; Rouge et Noir, La Vie en Rose and Fruit Défendu. 

It seems especially appropriate then, that until September, the main hall of La Villette in Paris – a former slaughterhouse built in the 1860s and now a cultural centre in the 19th arrondissement – welcomes the exhibition 50 Years of Bond Style, which presents more than 500 original objects for a fantastical exploration of the most famous spy’s world. The exhibition, a collaboration between film production company Eon Productions and the Barbican in London, is a multisensory experience, immersing audiences in the creation and the development of Bond style over the last half-century. 

Highlights include gadgets and weapons made for Bond and his notorious adversaries by special-effects experts John Stears and Chris Corbould – from Scaramanga’s golden pistol (The Man with the Golden Gun) to Bond’s attaché case (From Russia with Love) – along with artwork for sets and storyboards by production designers Ken Adam, Peter Lamont and Syd Cain, as well as costume designs by Bumble Dawson, Donfeld, Julie Harris, Lindy Hemming, Emma Porteous and Jany Temime.

Of course, men’s fashion has been heavily influenced by Bond as well. The exhibition features the work of Hollywood costume designers and major fashion forces including Giorgio Armani, Brioni, Tom Ford, Hubert de Givenchy, Frida Giannini, Miuccia Prada, Anthony Sinclair, Philip Treacy, Emanuel Ungaro and Donatella Versace, to name a few. See the white tuxedo of Roger Moore from Octopussy and the spacesuits of Moonraker, as well as a host of items from the recent Spectre – including Lucia’s corset as worn by Monica Bellucci, Q’s smart-blood gadget, and a colourful array of props and costumes from the Day of the Dead opening sequence. These pieces have only been shown in Mexico, where they joined the exhibition; it has been touring the world since it opened at the Barbican in 2012.

Culturally, geopolitically, semiotically, socially and manneristically, it’s extraordinary how much 007 feels at home in contemporary France. La vie est Bond! (jamesbond007-exposition-paris.fr)

Images: © James Bond 007 l’exposition - Photo David Merle; Getty Images; Harry Myers/REX/Shutterstock; Daniel Craig picture: Casino Royale © 2006 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved; Elektra King in ski outfit The World Is Not Enough © 1999 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved; Scaramanga's Golden Gun. Copyright Notice - © 1974 Danjaq, LLC and United Artsts Corporation. All rights reserved.

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