Category Archives: Life & Style

5 Reasons why Azzedine Alaïa exhibition at London’s Design Museum is a must see

Six months after passing away, Maison Alaïa has decided to celebrate the legacy of Turkish haute couture designer Azzedine Alaïa.
The exhibition, running from 10th of May to 7th of October 2018 at the Design Museum in London, is Alaïa’s temple.
It showcases the couturier most recent works, including a gown modelled by Naomi Campbell during the very last show of Alaïa, held in Paris in July 2017.

Here, it is what you can expect…

1.You get to see Alaïa obsession for perfectionism up close
“Azzedine would not release any design unless he was satisfied with it, so there are no deconstructed pieces on show here, only the finished works,” Mark Wilson, long time friend of the couturier, explains to Vogue.
Renowned for working like a sculptor, Azzedine would take care of every step of a garment production. From the fitting on the model to cutting the patterns and polish details of outfits before the show, Azzedine would do everything himself, which is quite unusual for a designer in modern era.
There is no need to deconstruct his famous one-shoulder leather dress to appreciate the creation, you will be able to value the piece in all its details right at the entrance of the exhibition.

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Campbell during the last Azzedine runaway

2.You get to see pieces worn by Alaïa muses
Among the 60 pieces collection, you will get to see creations worn by supermodels of the like of Naomi Campbell and Grace Jones and singer Tina Turner. What they have worn has now become iconic and distinctive sign of the designer style.
As Wilson explains to Vogue, when Azzedine passed away they were 90% done with the preparation of the exhibition and the designer ensured there was a balanced theme throughout the showcasing. He included a series of famous bandage dresses, versions of the flamenco dress that are embroidered in metallics, and pieces that show use of rivets or exotic skins.

3.You get to appreciate Alaïa knowledge of good presentation
Before passing away, Azzedine recut every piece to adapt it to the mannequins. He was aware of the elongated figure which would have made his creations look much more impressive, knowing the relevance of a great silhouettes.

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Famous Maison Alaïa flamenco dress

4.You get to see how Alaïa empowered women through fashion
More than once throughout his career, Azzedine affirmed his main obsession was to make women look good and comfortable in their clothes, which were supposed to be uniquely designed to fit women with different bodies and features.
At the exhibition, you will be able to check out how all the dress can be re-adjusted to ensure the owner feels special in it.

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Azzedine Alaïa with model Frederique 1989

5.You get the notion of timeless fashion
Maison Alaïa pieces might have been created 30 years ago or tomorrow. They are timeless and you cannot put a date on them. Indeed, as explained by Wilson to Vogue, the unicity of Azzedine work was that he did not follow a theme throughout the season, but he would follow his own style and inspiration, often working on the same piece to reach his ideal of perfection.
To prove Maison Alaïa is still very much love by the public, last year in June, they opened up, a boutique in New Bond Street, London.

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Interior designs at Maison Alaïa, New Bond Street, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘most unlucky production in screen history’ will premiere at Cannes film festival

Former Monty Python member and London director Terry Gilliam was discharged from hospital after suffering a minor stroke and the day before a French court ruled on a long-standing rights battle affecting the world premiere of his new film.

The judge ordered that “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” could go ahead as the closing gala of the Cannes Film Festival on 19 May.

The film, which has been in the making since 1989 and has a reputation as one of the most unlucky production in screen history, has been the subject of a distribution rights disagreement.

Gilliam began filming in 1998, with Jean Rochefort as Quixote and Johnny Depp playing Toby Grisoni. However, the shooting had to stop after Rochefort became ill.

In addition, riddled with financial difficulties and insurance problems, filming couldn’t continue.
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The director tried to restart the picture on several occasions, with the likes of Jack O’Connell, Ewan McGregor, John Hurt, Michael Palin and Robert Duvall. But due to mounted delays and funding falling through, production was halted.

In 2015, Amazon signed on to distribute the film. However, following the allegations against Roy Price, the man who approved the deal, in the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal, the company decided to drop U.S. distribution of the film.

Amazon has been reviewing the types of movies it makes and distributes in his absence.

Last month, producer Paulo Branco launched a legal challenge to stop the screening of “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”, claiming that his company Alfama Films owns the right.

However, the court ruled in Gilliam’s favour, dismissing Branco’s attempt to stop the premiere.


According to The Guardian, before the court ruling came through, the festival said it would back Terry Gilliam and planned to proceed with the premiere.

The journey of Valentino Garavani

In 1974 London saw a Valentino store arrive into the city. To this day Valentino stores carrying luxurious designs can be found living amongst the streets of Mayfair and Chelsea. Today, the man who founded it all, Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, turns 86.

Over the course of his life Valentino’s name has become synonymous with glamour and elegance. Creating couture dresses and red-carpet ready gowns, his designs allowed him to count the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn as part of his impressive clientele.

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A Valentino dress worn by Audrey Hepburn

But Valentino’s road to fame was not a short one. Although he decided he wanted to design women’s dresses at nine-years old, his first step in pursuing fashion came at the age of 17. He left his birthplace of northern Italy to travel to Paris, France, where he would study at École des Beaux-Arts and the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture.

Still in Paris, he went on to work as an apprentice for Jean Dessès. His time at Jean Dessès is thought to be where Valentino’s style really started to come together in his many sketches that showcase visions of pleats and animal prints.

Five years later, Valentino left Jean Dessès and joined a small fashion house where he worked alongside his friend Guy Laroche. But it wasn’t long before Valentino decided to return back to his roots. Circa 1960 he returned to Italy; not only did he meet his meet his soon-to-be business and personal-partner Giancarlo Giammetti then, but he set up a fashion house in Rome.

Spending time in Paris before his business endeavour meant Parisienne glamour effortlessly flowed through Valentino’s creations. When he showed his first couture collection in Florence in 1962, he immediately grabbed the attention of fashion critics worldwide.

Here Valentino began to grow his long-list of famous clients. A notable moment in his career was when Elizabeth Taylor asked him for a dress that she could wear to the premier of Spartacus. But Valentino credits his real breakthrough to Jackie Kennedy for creating a “Valentino boom”. Jackie commissioned Valentino to design her mourning dresses for the year following John F. Kennedy’s assassination and when she re-married to Aristotle Onassis, she wore a white Valentino gown.

Along with being widely-recognised for dressing the social elite, a signature of Valentino was his “V” logo that was first shown in a 1966 collection. This particular range of clothes was all-white, but another signature of Valentino is his use of a specific shade of red. Valentino decided upon using the colour when he saw a woman at the opera dressed in a rich crimson. “She was unique, isolated, fiery – the perfect heroine,” he told Vogue.

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Elizabeth Hurley and Valentino Garavani at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival

In the 70s Valentino went on to open his own ready-to-wear shops in Milan and Rome. During this time he also expanded his social circle even more, when he travelled to New York he became friends with Andy Warhol.

Even as years past, Valentino’s career showed no sign of slowing down. In the 80s he released childrenswear and a young adult’s line. Then in 1989, he opened the Academie Valentino in Rome which would host art exhibitions.

Come 1998, Valentino was able to sell his company for around $300 million to the Italian business Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali (HdP). Valentino did however stay on as a designer, even when Valentino was sold again in 2002 to Italian textile manufacturer Marzotto.

By 2007 Valentino announced his retirement. Though this was a sign of Valentino’s career finally starting to slow down, his popularity has only continued to soar. His last haute couture show in 2008 attracted many famous faces including Naomi Campbell and he’s been entrusted with designing the wedding dresses of people such as Anne Hathaway and Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall.

In 2012 Valentino was awarded for his remarkable contribution to fashion, receiving the Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal – it is considered one of France’s biggest honours.

Even without Valentino standing at the helm of his brand, his legacy is forever celebrated as gowns made in his namesake continue to grace catwalks and carpets every year.

 

 

Meghan Markle – from her career as an actress to her big princess moment

The anticipation is growing as we are now counting days before the royal wedding takes the place. One of the biggest mysteries of the upcoming ceremony – the designer of the dress, which will be worn by the bride-to-be. All we know so far is that the Queen herself has had a look at it and she gave her approval.

During the time of her engagement to Prince Harry, Markle has become a true fashion icon. She chose to wear a ruffled green Self-Portrait dress for the Invictus Games this year and right after her appearance the dress was immediately sold out.

The Alexander Mcqueen blazer, Roland Mouret handbag and the pair of black Manolo Blahnik pumps she complimented the dress with, were on the verge of selling out soon after as well.

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However, besides the fame, she gained as a princess-to-be, she was quite famous as the lead character in the TV show ‘Suits’. Let’s take a look at how Meghan’s style has changed since the beginning of her career to her big day…

 

In 2005, Meghan wore a black-shirt and a pair of jeans accessorised with a pair of beige sandals and a cap for the Kari Feinstein Pre-Emmy style lounge.

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In 2007, she chose a black dress and a pair of silver pumps.

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In 2009, at the DPA Gift Lounge, she showed up in a black short-sleeved shirt and black shorts. Markle wore the ensemble with a pair of sandals and a Gucci handbag.

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In 2010, Meghan Markle wore a belted baby pink dress and pair of sandals. The Gucci bag was her accessory of choice.

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In 2011, for the launch of Alexa Chung For Madewell, Meghan wore a black belted dress, a pair of open black heels, a colourful clutch. She finished off her look by adding some golden jewelry.

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For the 2013 NBC Universal’s 70th Golden Globe Awards after party Meghan showed up in a sparkly black lace detailed dress. She wore a pair of black pumps and a pearl white silk clutch.

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The same year she wore a magenta silk dress and a golden clutch for Elle’s Women in Television Celebration.

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In 2014, she attended the 3rd Annual NFL Characters Unite at Sports Illustrated wearing a pair of beige Louboutin pumps and a close-fitted beige and black patterned dress.

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She was wearing a silky dark green mermaid dress for the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 13th Annual and Enduring Vision Benefit.

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At the 2015 NBC Universal Cable Entertainment Upfront Markle wore a black jumpsuit with a floral white detail around her waist.

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In 2016, she chose a long-sleeved silver dress and a pair of black pumps for the Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards.

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She looked great in the burgundy brocade dress at Elle’s Women in Television dinner of 2016.

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She was spotted in New York City wearing a grey power suit and a white shirt.

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Meghan wore a white coat and dark green dress with beige pumps at the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry.

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She also wore a black dress with a ruffled skirt and embroidered golden details by Ralph&Russo for the ocassion.

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At the beginning of 2018, Meghan wore a black suit and a beige coat. She had her famous messy bun hairstyle that day.

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For the Commonwealth Day Service she chose a little black dress and a white coat accessirised with a whit beret.

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She wore a striped beige dress, a black blazer and a Prada bag at the CHOGM in April.

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Meghan was seen wearing a patterned black dress and a pair of beige pumps. She accessorised the look with a pink clutch.

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Who will design Meghan Markle’s wedding dress?

Millions across the world will watch as Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle get married in Windsor Castle on May 19.

Since its announcement, bookies began taking bets on everything related to the wedding. They cover everything from the location of Harry’s stag-do, Prince William’s choice of buzz-cut or shaved head and the designer of the dress of the soon-to-be Duchess of Sussex.

A roster of names have been predicted, from Victoria Beckham to Ralph and Russo and Stewart Parvin – one of the Queen’s dressers. But there have been no clear frontrunners.

Until now. Alexandra McQueen’s absence at the Met Gala may suggest he’s designing Markle’s dress for the big day.

McQueen often references art historical works in his garments. His fine art samples often depict figures of salvation and moments of extreme religious pathos. So why was no one wearing Alexandra McQueen at the Met?

Alexandra McQueen founded his label in 1992 and remained the creative director until he committed suicide in 2010. Since then, Sarah Burton has been at the creative helm.
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Burton designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and meets all requirements for a royal wedding dress designer.

Although many aren’t sure as to whether the designer would be bestowed with creating another royal wedding dress, the chances are the fashion house is busy designing the former actress’ dress. Explaining why no one was seen to be wearing McQueen at the perfectly themed Met Gala this year.

Watch more on this story on Westminster TV  at 2pm.

Should Pride be a party or a protest?

Just weeks before the London Pride march, organisers of Sheffield Pride have come under fire after describing their event as a “march of celebration, not protest”.

In an email to participants, then widely circulated across social media, organisers said that banners and placards would have to be viewed by the Parade Manager prior to the event, and ‘offensive’ signs would not be allowed on the march. 

It’s the vague sentiment of ‘offensive’ followed by a note that the event is “a march of celebration not protest” that has angered many, who believe the event should continue from its inherently political roots.

Luke Renwick, the president of Sheffield Hallam Student Union, noted on social media the organisers had also banned political groups from joining the march – although this has now been removed from their website. 

Organisers initially defended their policy, with event manager Darren Hopkinson telling BBC Sheffield: “We understand there is a protest element but the main priority for our event is to celebrate”. 

Later, they released a statement saying that “we got it wrong”, and they were acting on “criticism we received after last years’ parade and event”.

But ahead of a summer of Pride events it has rekindled a debate about whether Pride has lost its purpose. 

Pride in London, the organisers of the event in the capital, have repeatedly fended off criticism of associations with big corporations. They argue that it’s a necessary measure to fund the event that has to pay increasing costs to the council and police. 

Last year, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell wrote for The Guardian that “Pride has been dumbed down. For many people, it is now mostly a gigantic street party. Big corporations see it as a PR opportunity to fete LGBT consumers. The ideals of LGBT equality are barely visible.”

This attitude has led to a string of fringe events growing, most notably UK Black Pride, where politics and social change remains at the forefront. In February, Stonewall announced they’d be pulling out of London’s biggest event to instead divert their resources to UK Black Pride instead.

Despite the criticism, more than 25,000 people will attend London’s Pride march on July 7, and it remains the biggest event of its kind.

But questions remain about whether the LGBT+ community expect better from London – be it the Mayor’s office, Westminster Council or Pride in London – when hate crime has increased by 78% in the last five years (via Stonewall).

 

Cycling in London: how is it going?

Cover photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” is a common phrase used to say that, well, something is easy. But just how easy is it to do it in London, one of the most congested cities in the world? Transport for London’s 2017 Analysis estimated that 730,000 journeys are made daily with bicycles in the capital.

The Mayor of London recently announced a commitment of an average of £169m per year over the next five years to improve London’s cycling conditions, contributing to its target of 70 per cent of Londoners living within 400m of the cycle network by 2041.

Cyclists and campaign groups, however, want more than that. Yes, appropriate infrastructure is needed, but that also requires a transition of established societal and institutional ways. A study done by the Portland State University showed that changing cycling infrastructure won’t change culture.

Having blue lanes segregated from cars and other motorised vehicles won’t do anything if people don’t know how to use them. Bruce Lynn, from the London Cycling Campaign, says the infrastructure is there but people won’t use it.

There are bigger issues TfL and the Mayor of London have to consider to make cycling a possibility for every Londoner. Today, there is a common idea of the typical cyclist in London: young white men, environmentally-friendly and mostly liberal. This is supported by various studies that argue people who don’t identify as any of the above, feel less inclined to try cycling.

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In TfL’s 2016 report, the fact that people are highly against changing their routines was assumed to be one of the main reasons they don’t try it. Their 2015 Attitudes towards cycling report also showed that safety concerns, fear of collisions, too much traffic, bad weather, lack of time, health reasons and lack of confidence and accessibility are some of the most common deterrents that put Londoners off using bikes.

Just last Saturday, around 4,000 riders took the streets of London for the #BikesUpKnivesDown demonstration led by the #BikeStormz movement to raise awareness to the rise of knife crime and murder rates in the city. They rode from London Bridge to Oxford Street in one of the biggest youth-led rides against knife crime, showing that the use of bikes has turned their lives around.

Current cycling network

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Central London’s cycling paths mapped by Route Plan Roll.

The current cycling network is made up of quietways and cycle superhighways for the most part. TfL defines them as “cycle routes running from outer London into and across central London. They give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work.”

Existing ones go from the City to Tottenham, Stratford to Aldgate, Barking to Tower Gateway, Oval to Pimlico, Merton to the City, and Wandsworth to Westminster. The east-west and north-south ones are the newest additions with proposed ones to go from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, Kensington Olympia to Brentford, and Swiss Cottage to the West End.

 

 

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Safety

Safety concerns is probably what discourages people from riding the most. A study done recently by Cambridge academics found that changes in behaviour and policies is what is needed to keep the system moving, and tackle these concerns. A change in work hours, in the number of cycleways and docking stations, and in how people cycle together are factors that will contribute to that.

Another study done by Injury Prevention found that the more number of cyclists and pedestrians, the less likely motorists are to collide with them. This is partly because they are more visible, but also because the so called “safety in numbers” makes riders feel more comfortable.

14.6 per cent of casualties in Greater London while travelling were of cyclists in 2016, according to TfL. However, only eight, out of 4,424, were fatal, a decrease of 11 per cent from the year before. It certainly shows how, compared to the car, the transport mode responsible for 39.3 per cent of the casualties, cycling is less likely to get people injured. The study by Cambridge academics, however, also points out that an increase in cycling traffic also means an increased risk for cycle coalitions.

Not every rider has the same experience levels, specially in urban area conditions. ‘Bikeability’ is something most of the campaign groups advocate for, because they know that is where it starts. The London Cycling Campaign offers free ‘bikeability’ training to anyone interested and the have regular group sessions. Everyone, not only cyclists, should know how to share a public road.

How is London doing compared to the rest of the world?

 

Not good. It isn’t even on the top 20 of bike-friendly cities in the world. Infrastructure, safety and diversity (or lack of) are some of the reasons why the British capital is not considered in the 2017 Copenhagenize Design Company Index.

Tokyo, Munich, Helsinki and Oslo are new to the list because they have worked to fix issues that didn’t allow their cycling levels to grow. Closing the center to private cars, bike sharing systems, growth of network, parking facilities, and the creation of the Cycling Embassy (Tokio) and the Cycling Federation (Helsinki) are some of the things that are on place in this cities to improve the levels of cycling urbanism.

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As much as it is common thinking that more and better infrastructure will make London a top bike-friendly city, if Londoners don’t learn (or don’t want to learn) about ‘bikeability’ and cycling urbanism, the city won’t see any major changes in the years to come. The Mayor of London is committed to increase the use of bicycles in the city as it has been demonstrated that not only will it help with air pollution, but will also provide better quality public spaces.

 

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