"I have learned that documentary makers are incredibly sneaky people,” Anna Wintour told Today’s anchor Savannah Guthrie with a slight smile. “ They just follow you around until you make a complete fool of yourself and say something you deeply regret.” Wintour is the editor-in-chief of Vogue, artistic director for Condé Nast, and the helm of the annual fundraiser Met Gala. As one of the highest powers in fashion, Wintour has been portrayed in different documentaries, mostly showing her icy public persona.
The star-studded Met Gala, which has raised more than $150 million for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, became the subject of a new documentary called The First Monday in May. Wintour said she had so much respect for the Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Andrew Rossi’s 2011 work, Page One: Inside The New York Times. “I think we all felt we were in safe hands,” she explained of working with Rossi on the film.
Director Rossi’s gliding camera gave a sneak peek of both the party and the 2015 exhibition “China: Through The Looking Glass.” The idea was to bring together pieces from the Museum’s Chinese Galleries collection and Chinese-inspired fashion, including the works of John Galliano, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Chinese designer Guo Pei.
The documentary scratched the surface on a lot of topics: celebrating fashion as art, the mixture of art and commerce, the power of celebrities in high fashion, the politic with the Ancient Art Department, and the Chinese’s portrayal in Western culture. The movie also points out the stereotype of the Dragon Lady, a figure to describe powerful women who we project our fears onto.
“Let me say something about this Dragon Lady,” the Gala’s creative consultant and film director Baz Luhrmann shares his insight. ”I’ve seen [Anna] play the person everyone thinks she is. But it's a character; it's her work armor. But I do think that if Anna was a man, there might be less focus on that.”
Rossi captures Wintour as intimidatingly superior but also as a much-needed pragmatic decision maker. For him, it was not an easy journey to get Wintour’s trust, “The first time I shot with her one-on-one by meeting her at six o’clock in the morning, when she was getting ready to go to a meeting at the museum.” In an interview for the DVD’s special features, Rossi explains that he was waiting for Wintour to come out on the dark, cold November dawn, about eight months before the gala.
As with his other movies, Rossi tried to build up certain intimacy with his subjects. Half a year after their first meeting, Wintour finally lets Rossi and his crews film the inside of her house. The 66-year-old was boiling water while wearing a gray sweater, dark navy jeans, Tod’s blue flat shoes, as casual as Anna Wintour could be. Rossi captured the moment when Wintour was looking touched seeing her beautiful daughter Katherine "Bee" Shaffer put on a Sarah Burton’s dress. Even though Wintour still keeps her Gucci sunglasses on, that scene helps humanize the fashion titan’s public profile.
As expected, Rossi also gives the audience a The Devil Wears Prada moment, dramatizing the seating-chart planning as a power brokering. "We have to keep the numbers down and also the free seats," Wintour tells the former Costume Institute curator, Harold Koda. “There must be another way that we can accommodate people. You’ll figure it out,” the shot ended with Wintour’s smirk. Despite being labeled as the "Super Bowl" of fashion, the Met Gala is still an intimate party for A-list celebrities, designers, and politicians. Only 500 people made the guest list, and the price ranges from $30,000 per ticket to $275,000 per table, depending on the size of the brand and its relationship with Vogue. Some celebs, including Solange Knowles, ended up getting a bad table – unlike her sister, Beyoncé who has the best seat near the stage. Chloe Sevigny in her JW Anderson dress feels like she was an outcast in high school when her table is switched so the H&M one can be closer to the stage.
Of course, it would be inappropriate not to mention Andrew Bolton, the real heart of this documentary. With his less commanding presence, Bolton makes an excellent narrator guiding us through the whole behind the scene process. The viewers could picture the little kid from Lancashire totally in "awe" doing his dream as the curator of the Costume Institute. It's hard not to find him likable, after learning the incredible amount of creative thinking and hard work that goes into making the exhibition.
"Every year we get a lot of attention obviously for the party, but in the end, it's Andrew's work that we are celebrating," Wintour admits. The relationship between Bolton and Wintour is very supportive, they also seen sitting together in Comme des Garçons Spring 2016 Runway’s front row yesterday.
Bolton achieved his goal to outdo his legendary “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition. More than 800,000 people visited “China: Through the Looking Glass.” The 2015 Met Gala raised a record $12.5 million for the Museum, thanks to Wintour.
The First Monday in May perhaps didn't show deep analysis of its subject, but it is breathtaking and easy to enjoy. One can’t help but wonder will there be a movie that documents Anna Wintour’s life? Will there be a documentary that finally breaks her Dragon Lady persona?
Known as the home to families and immigrants, the Sunset District is filled with diners and bakeries, retaining the laid back feeling of a small town. At the corner of 20th Avenue, next to a Chinese herb store and an acupuncture clinic, Eye of the Tiger Tattoo gives the suburban style neighborhood a youthful vibe. There are currently six resident artists tattooing and among them is Oliver Kenton. The shop has an organic feel: fern-green walls covered with hand-painted decorations and flash tattoo designs sketched by the Tiger team. Young visitors come for a more permanent souvenir – authentic mandala tattoo.
On recent Sunday morning, Kenton was wearing a black T-shirt, navy blue Converse sneakers, and a messenger bag. The 25-year-old has a tribal nose ring and big black hoop earrings. He is nearly covered with tattoos: a redheaded lady on one hand, a dragon on his left, a zombie in a coffin on his leg, mandala tattoos along his neck and everywhere. In contrast, he is mild-mannered.
Among thousands of tattoo artists in San Francisco, Kenton stands out with his bewitching geometric tattoos. Kenton has more than 23,000 followers on Instagram and has been tattooing for seven years. He is famous for his detailed Tibetan-inspired tattoos, featuring bold geometric designs and painted elements of nature. His hourly rate is $180, slightly higher than the average, and there is a two-month waiting list. But for Kenton's customers, it’s worth the wait.
Tattooing dates back 5,000 years ago and was once so-called deviants or subversive subcultures. Now in the era of excessive individualism, the practice of body ink is so widespread, and the continuing appropriation makes this former taboo as a mainstream way to express personal taste. Gone is the stigmatization of drunken sailors and tattoos are no longer symbolizing rebellion, but showcasing a modern artistic movement. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 45 million Americans at least have one tattoo.
Today, religious iconography has made its way into contemporary tattoo art, where people make a spiritual statement through body modification. “I try to incorporate sacred geometric elements, stippling, and melt them together with blackwork tattooing,” said Kenton. The results are beautiful mandala tattoos with solid line work, high contrast shading, and symmetrical precision.
A mandala, or circle in Sanskrit, has a concentric structure, creating a circular floral design. This imagery is not just visually appealing; they also represent wholeness, harmony, and balance in one’s spiritual journey. Mandala tattoos can be a meditative spiritual symbol; many believe that meditating on mandalas can give clarity.
"It is a path of life, a right of passage. From mythical animals, lotus, to the Flower of Life, each shape has a specific meaning. I look at a lot of references from older Tibetan artworks like ruins, paintings, old tapestries, as well as ancient Japanese woodblock prints," explained Kenton. "I try to research symbolism, how it changes throughout times depending on what we want them to represent."
Kenton’s ornamental work is mostly done on the arm, also known as sleeves. In addition, many tattoo-seekers are interested in solar plexus tattoos. Look closely and you will see delicate little dots forming paisley motifs, dainty henna patterns, cubism, dangling pointillism, and sacred animals. He recently did a Vajra (meaning both thunderbolt and diamond in Sanskrit) inspired mandala, a labyrinth tattoo, a Nordic compass, a heart chakra, and a Polynesian inspired piece.
Colton Long, Kenton’s assistant, shared his thoughts: “Oliver’s meticulous attention to detail brings a fresh perspective to blackwork. The accuracy in doing geometric tattoos has to be exact, and he literally can't miss a line.” Long explained why people would pay Kenton 1,500 dollars per day for his craft and a customized experience. “He is also able to connect with customers to give the tattoo that they want or maybe didn’t even know that they wanted," added Long.
Born in Durban, South Africa, Kenton always had an interest in the arts. Kenton used to do graffiti and murals before he discovered tattooing while on vacation visiting his older sister, who worked at a tattoo shop. At seventeen, he moved to Southern California two weeks after he graduated to pursue his dream as a tattoo artist.
“My brother-in-law Cameron Fuhrer has been tattooing for thirty years. I was under his wing, and he taught me how to tattoo. I helped manage three of his shops for two years,” said Kenton. “It was pretty brutal; he didn’t go easy on me by any means. First of all, learning to not to be scared to hurt people, to facilitate people's pain. Also getting used to the medium of tattooing, just learning what to do as far as cross contamination and sterilization. It takes a while to break in on those habits.”
Three years ago, he moved to San Francisco. He thinks that people in the Bay Area are more in touch with the spiritual side of life. Mandala tattoos are popular among those who follow new age practices, the modern hippy lifestyle of San Franciscans. He then started to incorporate geometric designs into traditional flash tattoos. “I was also experimenting with other things in my life, as far as DMT and hallucinations, and I brought some of that in my tattooing,” shared Kenton.
Kenton's feminine tattooing style attracts mostly young women. Jacki L. from Inner Richmond gave Kenton five stars on her Yelp review, "I could not be happier with the result. I've been looking for an artist who executes mandalas and dot work, and I have to say I feel like I carry a piece of art with me rather than just a tattoo.”
Looking forward, Kenton wants to see the evolution of sacred geometric tattoos, combining a hybrid of realistic and minimalistic linear blackwork, as well as collaborating with other artists. His goal is to continue to give his clientele a piece of art on their body through his tailor-made images.
“It’s definitely an honor to tattoo people,” he said. “They give me their trust to do something that they will carry for life.”
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 753-9648
Studio: Eye of The Tiger Tattoo @EyeOfTheTigerTattoo
Location address: 1309 20th Ave San Francisco, CA 94122
Rate: 180/hours, 1500/day
@olivertattoos – www.olivertattoos.com – olivetattoos.tumblr.com
In 2011, right around the time Facebook moved to Palo Alto, GQ magazine named San Francisco as one of the worst dressed cities in the nation. A year before that, the New York Times’ Guy Trebay mentioned in an article that San Francisco is "the land that style forgot." Silicon Valley is economically powerful, and Union Square is surrounded by the best names in fashion, but it seems like most people here don’t splurge on fashion and luxury goods.
In Paris, New York, Milan, and Shanghai, branded outfits and designer bags are being paraded on the street. On the flip side, in the Bay Area, it is very common to see people wearing leggings, and running shoes when you enter a fancy restaurant or a high-end bar. One could spend $398 for a meal at the three Michelin-starred restaurant, Saison, maybe wearing hoodies, and no one would mind. Tech companies and startup wealth may be transforming the city, but San Francisco’s clothing style will likely remain forever comfortable and practical. The style of San Francisco would best be described as: the slob at the top.
Instead of suits and ties, free T-shirts with tech company logos are the official local uniforms for many. Yoga pants are a new favorite and are indicative of the fact that many are embracing the active lifestyle. The weather is unpredictable, so wearing layers is a must. The city’s super steep streets are no mystery, and that's why most women give up on wearing high heels.
San Francisco’s fashion icon, Haute Living blogger, and the owner of Podium boutique, Sonya Molodetskaya, once said to Academy of Art students, “Don’t even talk about the tech guys. I think the only computer specialist that dresses nicely is the Yahoogirl, Marissa Mayer.” It’s hard not to agree, seeing how Mark Zuckerberg, whose net worth is 35.7 billion USD, always wears the same plain gray t-shirt under a North Facejacket. People here feel that it is cool not to care, and it gains them entry into an elitist clique in the youthful tech world. "It's not like New York, where everyone aims to dress for perfection," added Molodetskaya. Wearing a yellow coat, striped blouse, boxy white pants, and Christian Dior shoes, she clearly is one of the rare individuals in the city who dresses to the nines.
Despite all of the bad reviews of its fashion taste, San Francisco’s laid-back approach to apparel is actually a reflection of the normcore fashion trend. Normcore, which was boomed in 2014, is best described as a fashion style that is characterized by unpretentious normal-looking clothing. "Normcore says, 'I have soul and intelligence. I'm unique, and I don't need to shout about it,’" said designer Richard Nicoll, quoted recently in Vogue.
Think about San Francisco’s Gap Inc. retail brands, American Giant, and Levi Strauss & Co. In fact, Levi’s was responsible for the popularization of “casual Friday,” caused by their 80s Dockers® khaki pants ad campaign. The informal work attire culture had spread far beyond San Francisco. Only in Silicon Valley, casual Friday has transformed into casual every day.
Is it just that people are too lazy to dress-up or is there a different mentality?
Perhaps Silicon Valley culture is about what you can do and not about what you can wear.
Unlike other countries where wearing branded attire from head to toe is considered as the symbol of success, people in the Bay Area appear to prefer conspicuous leisure rather than conspicuous consumption. People care more about the good quality of life: buying organic foods, going to the gym, and spending time with friends. Most San Franciscans prefer a nice weekend getaway to buying new Louboutin shoes; they want to buy experience, and not trivial possessions. There is even the pride of not spending money on clothing and the strong culture of thrift shopping.
The liberation of being sloppy and not being judged is also definitely a plus. It is not about the money; it is about the freedom to wear whatever you want to wear. “The difference is just there is no rule that you have to wear a suit and tie. In Google we have ‘dapper Thursday’ when employees can suit up just for fun,” said Kemble Fletcher, senior enterprise architect at Google. Piotr Oleszkiewicz, chief executive of RevealoCorp. tech startup, also agreed, “I believe that people here can dress in more fancy ways, but they do it only from time to time. They don't do that on a daily basis just because it was a tradition to do so.”
San Francisco is the city where you are free to be whoever you want to be. If you like to dress up then good for you, if you don’t then you can stay proud to be a successful slob at the top. Many fashionistas may roll their eyes at San Francisco’s choice of fashion, but one thing is certain: it is a city more interested in investing in memories than handbags. And that’s a good thing.
Flirting with death in the post apocalyptic world of fashion
“As soon as a trend is born, it is destined to die. Nothing is permanent in fashion, and its very ephemerality is suggestive of our own quick passage,” said Harold Koda, former curator of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And in few months that have passed since he said that to the fashion film website, Show Studio, the “see now, buy now, wear now” movement has been more prevalent in the fashion world. Some says it might be the future of fashion yet many believe that it is bringing death to fashion. The facts on how fashion has been flirting with death could be seen from three angles: media, rebellion, and uniformity.
In the era of instant gratification, never have consumers ingested trends faster. This year represents a dark time in fashion; fashion experts blame smartphones and fashion’s FOMO, the fear of missing out. “Social media is the laxative of the fashion system,” said Scott Galloway, the founder and chairman of the digital consultancy firm L2. People are overwhelmed with fashion information from social media, scrolling through Instagram pictures, reading Tweets, Snapchatting, or watching live stream videos. Outfits from a fashion week can be seen in fast fashion retailers’ window displays within two weeks. With some retailers bringing inventory twice a week and the fact that fashion continues to recycle itself, one question arises: Is there anything that is truly new in fashion?
There are not many things that are shocking in this day and age. Sex and nudity used to be taboo, yet now the public is so desensitized to sex-based imagery. Most of fashion advertisements use women as sex objects, disguised in humor, innuendo, or in the name of art. Controversial? Not anymore, the edge is gone. So, what is more shocking than nudity? Death.
Something as simple as scarlet ribbons can symbolize the blood of the dead. During the bloodiest period of the French Revolution, many fashionable people adopted a la victime style, by wearing red ribbons around necks that were symbolic of the thousands of lives that were taken by a massive guillotine execution.
In the Victorian era, mourning became a respectful – as well as a fashionable – practice. Popularized by Queen Victoria upon Prince Albert’s death in 1861, black mourning attire spread throughout all classes. Women also incorporated death into their accessories by wearing memorial jewelries made from the hair, tiny bones, or teeth of a deceased loved one. One popular item was a locket for braided hair and photographs. These objects are referred to momento mori, a reminder of death. Even Koda said, “Fashion [is] a kind of constant memento mori.”
However, with everything changing too fast, fashion is now stuck in its stillness, akin to death’s stillness. So it only makes sense that fashion is bringing back death imagery in designs, advertisings, and editorials. Advertisers are hoping that the shock factor from their branding ploys – using beautiful models posing as cadavers – will boost their marketing magic and fight the public’s short attention span. One example is Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2014 ad campaign featuring Miley Cyrus. Cyrus replaced her twerking moves and crazy nude antics with a somber persona. In the ads, she wears military uniform-inspired outfits in dark navy, a very unusual choice for spring collection. Cyrus stares distantly into space with a depressing beach background, as a corpse-like model lies lifelessly beside her.
Fashion has long been flirting with death in the underground subcultures. Subcultures have used fashion to build communities that sway from the norm. Goth subcultures emerged in the late 1960s, embracing the romanticism of death. Generally featuring black color from head to toe, the Goth’s style is often linked to velvet, lace, fishnets, and corsets. This fashion style is having resurrection in 2016 fashion weeks. Take a look at Dior’s jet-black lipstick, Rodarte’s lacy Goth princess dresses, Erdem’s Shakespeare heroine, and don’t forget Marc Jacobs’ eclectic neo-Goth collection.
Goth’s sister, punk, used to be scandalous with its rebellious nature of anarchy and deviations against society. Remember The Sex Pistols, Vivienne Westwood, and Malcolm McLaren in the mid-1970s? The punk subcultures influenced the early street wear revolution. Nowadays, the underground scene suddenly climbed up to the aboveground, with a new label: “street fashion.” Leather jackets, rebel t-shirts, ripped jeans, chokers, studs, colored hair – we see those styles worn by youngsters in San Francisco on a daily basis. People are trying to be unique and to stand out, but in their attempt to be different, they all end up looking the same. What used to be scandalous is now the new norm – a uniform.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in fashion’s use of the skull imagery. Once seen as a sinister symbol of subcultures, today, the skull is hardly frightening. Apparel with skulls has become a mainstream fashion classic; people have incorporated skull designs into their wardrobe from small accessories to haute couture pieces. Luxury brand Alexander McQueen is well-known for its iconic skull trademark on clothes, scarves, sunglasses, shoes, perfumes, and other merchandise. The skull also carries a deeper, symbolic meaning after Lee McQueen’s death, representing his fixation on the fragility of creation mixed with the macabre symbol of death.
Another thing that is dying in fashion is gender. Gender neutralism might be “in” but certainly is not new. Once upon a time, men and women wore similar clothing. However, in 19th century western society, skirts, dresses, and high heels became the uniform of women’s clothing, while the men’s uniform included shirts, trousers, and neckties. By the late 20th century, again, intolerance of gender ambiguity progressively began to disappear. Some believe that the future of the rebellious fashion industry may have no gender. People use the genderless fashion movement as a new form of rebellion to express self-individuality as a person, not just by gender. “The problem selling ‘genderless’ clothing is that clothing is already genderless. T-shirts don’t have genitals (surprise!),” wrote a transgender man, Jack Bean, in an article for Attitude Magazine. Bean has a point; gender labeling might just be the companies’ marketing tag.
Death, rebellion, gender bending: maybe the fashion world is simply out of ideas and keeps recycling the same old sales strategy. “Marketing of course killed the whole thing [fashion],” said trend forecaster Li Edelkoor in an interview with Dezeen Magazine. “It’s governed by greed and not by vision. There is no innovation any more because of that.”
Then there are the continuous deaths that occur in the process of making sales-driven fashion. People in other parts of the world are killed as part of the true cost of our $8 clothes. It’s been three years since the 2013 Rana Plaza accident in Bangladesh, which made international headlines. The fact that 1,134 workers were killed – when the building collapsed caused by safety standard negligence – was a wake up call. Until now, by its own admission, 61 percent of H&M factories have yet to complete the fundamental workplace safety and wage requirement. The deadly factory is just one example; it is vital for consumers to know that fast fashion is built on low-cost labor, also known as sweatshops. There are big sacrifices paid for the ridiculously cheap disposable garments, aimed at consumers who want to buy clothes every week. “Consumers weren’t demanding that [fast fashion cycle] 20 years ago. Retailers need to step back from this absurd approach of changing styles every 15 minutes,” stated Scott Nova, the Worker Rights Consortium’s executive director to Bloomberg News.
Since fashion is a reflection of self-identity, are we visiting little deaths upon ourselves? Following fast fashion is a possible quick fix by substituting the search for ourselves with the search for clothes. The death of fashion may communicate the anger and frustration felt by postmodern consumer society. The fast fashion hyper-consumerism is driven by the need for us to express our individual selves – by buying more products. This status-anxiety is built because people often measure success by the stuff we own. Like lemmings following the mass horde, we are struggling to find a place and voice in the society under the immense pressure of being unique, especially when the fashion industry now is designed to make us feel out of trend just after one week.
To live is to die, none is eternal in fashion. So while the wheel of fashion is spinning faster and faster, there seems to be no slowing down for anyone. After exploiting everything in the name of fashion, we need to slow down and get away from the click-it-buy-it-now business. No need to quit cold turkey, but lessening our consumer habits will make a difference. Otherwise, we will end up chasing death and living in the fast lane, which might bring death quicker than it should. (MT)
Bean, Jack. "‘Gender-neutral Clothing Is a Step Backwards – and Here’s Why’." Attitude Magazine. 20 Apr. 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
Fairs, Marcus. ""It's the End of Fashion as We Know It" Says Li Edelkoort." Dezeen Its the End of Fashion as We Know It Says Li Edelkoort Comments. 01 Mar. 2015. Web. 19 May 2016.
Friedman, Vanessa. "How Smartphones Are Killing Off the Fashion Show." The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
Peppers, Margot. "Miley, the High Fashion Model: Cyrus Shows off a More Serious Side in New Marc Jacobs Ads as the Full Campaign Is Released." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 07 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 May 2016.
Zarrella, Katharine. "Behind The Seams." Dialogue Between Fashion and Death. 08 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 May 2016.
Many believe in the correlation between scent and attraction. However, the appealing powers of pheromones for enticing the opposite sex may be often been exaggerated – especially by advertisers trying to sell pheromone-based scents and sprays, which they claim will make men irresistible to women.
A lot of men deny that they wear perfume, and they creatively disguise it into body spray, daily fragrance, cologne, or after-shave. Some are even ready to spend bottom dollar for designer’s men cologne, but not few prefer to spend less than $10 for popular male’s fragrance products like AXE.
Axe, also known as Lynx, was first launched in France back in 1983, and was introduced in the United States in 2002. Today, it has turned into a brand of a full line of grooming products including daily fragrance sprays, antiperspirants, shampoos, and styling products.
AXE was famous with its controversial, supposed to be funny advertising campaign, which suggested that AXE’s products helped men to attract women. Although it has been labeled for sexism, the insinuation of “The AXE Effect” gave men the edge at the mating game went global in 2002. Selling sex became AXE’s benchmark to boost 20 percent of sales each year, especially among younger target market from age 18 to 24.
One AXE 2003 commercial featured thousands of women in skimpy bikinis were running fiercely bare-footed, primal like wild animals, to hunt the one man who was dousing AXE fragrance aggressively all over his body. Following the guy’s triumphant smile, seducing female’s voice closed the video, “Spray more get more, The Axe Effect.”
Users like Pascal Fahr from Germany said, “The advertisements were witty and convincing: Use AXE and girls like you.” Stephen Hardy, another former user agreed, “I used to like it when I was 17, well, maybe I liked the commercial more than the smell.” Yet, some guys like Thomas Kister and Rey Van de Craats use AXE simply because it gets the job done.
Being curious, I grabbed two bottles of AXE from Wallgreens during a buy-one-get-one-free promo. One is the infamous AXE Daily Fragrance Gold Temptation; its smell is strong, addictive, masculine, and comforting − sweet like a lava chocolate cake that melts in one bite, fresh like a tangerine that revives the taste buds, and bold like the spicy cayenne that gives exotic twists. My second choice is AXE White Label Air, which fuses the sensations of milky coconut, refreshing lemon juice, and warm ginger smells. The tropical classic aroma is intoxicating, like sipping pina colada in a smoky bar.
One day, I did my own little experiment by testing AXE on myself. I was walking around, smelling like a musky teenage boy. Mostly nothing happened. Apparently, people feel uncomfortable commenting on others’ scent in general, even when the smell is extremely overwhelming that might make the whole room gag. So I began asking others bluntly on the pungent smell, and to my surprise, five women gave me the same response: The scent brought back the memory of their “teenage boyfriends”.
“It reminds me of the locker room in gym class when everyone would spray obscene amount of AXE as opposed to showering,” many agreed with Hayden Steinbock. “Think about the prepubescent teenagers who have no idea what smells good, that’s what everyone used to buy in the middle school,” the 24-year-old continued.
Unintentionally, the AXE marketing strategy has created a counter effect. Once people know the smell is AXE, they tend to associate it with adolescent male, insecure novices who need the most help in getting women. AXE commercials end up with the advertisement of false hope.
But that was then, in the era of feminism and gender revolution, the world of men’s fragrance is also changing. After years being in the crosshairs of critics, AXE finally switched its gear. "For Lynx (AXE), scantily clad women are somewhat a thing of the past. We are re-inventing the brand so sex will become a bit less central, and guys themselves more so," stated brand manager David Titman, quoted recently from Vogue.
A new theme emerged in AXE packaging and advertisement as a part of the latest “Find Your Magic” campaign. The one-minute video captured a broad range of individuals, “Man, who needs looks when you got the books; or books when you got some balls… Who needs some other thing when you got your thing.” Today it emphasizes its focus on being confident and being authentic to oneself.
Gone are the only connotations that AXE will make guys get laid. Instead, AXE is joining the movement of self-liberation and gender fluidity, which can be summarized in the official video description, “No must-have, must-be, fashion norms or body standards. The most attractive man you can be is yourself. So find what makes you, you. Then work on it.” (MT)
"AXE | Deodorant & Antiperspirant | Men's Hair Products." AXE | Deodorant & Antiperspirant | Men's Hair Products. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Herz, Rachel. "The Science Of Scent & Attraction." AskMen. AXE. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Irvine, Susan. "Perfect Chemistry." Vogue UK. 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
McManis, Sam. "Amusing or Offensive, Axe Ads Show That Sexism Sells." The Seattle Times. 04 Dec. 2007. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Most of us are familiar with the Hermes Kelly bag, the Fendi Baguet purse, and the Chanel 2.55 bag; but have you heard about Launer handbags? Queen Elizabeth II won’t leave home without it. It was also the signature handbag of Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
A handbag is an intimate, powerful tool; it tells stories about the woman who carries it. Launer bags have been on the most powerful women’s arms for decades, the brand must be special.
The company takes its name from a Jewish craftsman, Sam Launer, who came to England from Czechoslovakia in 1941. Launer London is one of the very last British brands manufactured in England. Made in Walsall, West Midlands, the handcrafted bags are constructed with Italian leathers, suede linings, gold plated fittings, and finished with the Launer rope emblem.
Launer London was granted the Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen in 1981. In the past 50 years, the luxury brand has built up a reputation with royalty, heads of state, and influential celebrities – including The Duchess of Cornwall, the late Baroness Thatcher, Princess Masako, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s wife Svetlana, Dame Judi Dench, and Dame Maggie Smith.
“I certainly feel, without the Queen’s support, we wouldn’t be where we are. She is a very loyal customer, and she seems to carry our bag in a lot of occasions,” stated Gerald Bodmer, the CEO of Launer London in the official website. Bodmer estimated that the Majesty owns at least 40 custom-made Launer bags dating back decades.
The older noble ladies might love the brand, but how about the younger generation? The 89-year-old Queen can be the only “spokesmodel” but it is vital for Launer’s future to expand beyond their target market. Realizing this problem, Launer London’s marketing team is starting to do social media campaign featuring fashion bloggers and celebrities: Paloma Faith, Kimberly Walsh, Natalia Vodianova, and Alice Manners to name a few.
Quoted recently in Birmingham Mail, Bodmer said: “Obviously, the association with such influential female figures in history has aided us massively, but we are seeing more bespoke bags being snapped up by a real cross-range of the general public, especially among 25 to 35 year olds.”
Today, the brand embraces more color and youthful design, with prices ranging from $850 to $24,000. Top sellers include the Diva, the Judi, the Royale, and the classic Traviata. Smaller purses, like the patent Lulu, the rounded Stella, and the multi-toned Sofia, will likely appeal to younger consumers. Any Launer bag can be customized in a variety of skins, tones, and engravings.
For many, Launer handbags symbolize class, tradition, feminine power and status. Bodmer told the Daily Mail: “We have always been understated, but there is an appetite for our timeless product now.” (MT)
Mckinney, Emma. “Shopping: Midland handbag firm’s Launer London long list of celebrity clients.” Birmingham Mail, 13 Feb. 2012. Web.
O’Brien, Catherine. “The Ultimate Tote Winner.” Mail Online, 11 May 2013. Daily Mail. Web.
Check out the latest jewelry trend with the best seven chokers to wear now.
The celebrity ranks from Kylie Jenner, Miley Cyrus and Madonna to top fashion bloggers have been celebrating this quintessential trademark of 90’s fashion. Yep, the neck game has a chokehold on some of Hollywood’s most stylish ladies. You also can see models on fashion week runway line up wearing the choker, such as seen in the Dior, Chanel, and Balmain collection.
The trend now is hitting the road and is often worn by young people daily. ”I bought my tattoo choker at Jones Beach Souvenir Shop for less than $10. I like it because the price is very affordable and I can mix and match this choker with other necklaces. It goes with all types of clothes too,” says Catherine Borrero, a 21-year-old Fine Art student in Academy of Art University.
You might remember the velvet ribbon, or the elastic-wire tattoo choker. However, of-the-moment chokers are the updated versions of the trend, made with a wide variety of materials. As rebellious and unconventionally punk rock as they may seem, chokers can also be modest and refined. From simple gold bands to elaborate diamond-encrusted jewels, these new mainstream accessories can add a dose of edge to your basic outfits.
Thankfully, previous connotations between choker necklace and slavery are now gone – yet the edginess remains. Whether you are slightly gothic, a hippie queen, or elegantly understated you can find the right choker for you. Come say hello to the top seven chokers galore!
Black and Brown Tattoo choker
From: Top Shop, us.topshop.com
The not so secret history of wearing ribbons around the neck started in 1798. Back then, women used to wear red ribbons to pay homage to those who met their death at the guillotine during the French Revolution. Throughout the 18th century, wearing black ribbons could mean a woman was a prostitute. Don’t worry about the history because those stereotypes no longer exist. However it is still fun to know facts from the past.
Velvet ribbon chokers now come with different pendants. They give a sweet, feminine yet sensual effect to the wearer. This necklace is a definite buy for this season!
Choker with Pendant
From: H&M, www.hm.com
Beaded Choker Necklace
From: Urban Outfitter, www.urbanoutfitters.com
No guts, no glory − Alexis Benefield’s favorite motto aptly sums up her belief in fashion. It was a laid back Sunday evening in San Francisco; everyone on the street was dressed in shorts and baggy t-shirts under the melting heat. That was when I saw Benefield carrying a chalkboard menu and went into Trou Normand Bar and Restaurant. Her clothing style caught my eye in an instant; I quickly followed her inside the bar. The charming lady was kind enough to stop and share her story.
Q: Hi, I am Marisa from Academy of Art University. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Would you mind telling more about yourself?
A: Sure, I am Alexis Benefield. This year I am turning 24 and I work here at Trou Normand as a hostess.
Q: It is a really nice bar here I should say. Do you work here full time?
A: I am working five days a week. But I also go to FIDM, it’s the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Union Square. It is two-year program and I am there doing visual communication.
Q: So you are a student as well, that is really cool. Where are you from originally? Do you live in this city?
A: I am from San Francisco. I did live in the city but I just moved to Oakland. I am commuting at this moment.
Q: What do you think is the best thing to do in this city on the weekend?
A: The Dolores Park or the Biergarten. There is a beer garden on Octavia – the area is nice outside and you drink beers. It’s definitely a good way to spend time when the weather is good like today.
Q: I saw you from outside earlier and I love your outfit! Tell me about what you are wearing today.
A: Oh, thank you. I am wearing high waisted black pants with black sheer crop top – both are from H&M. This necklace is from the Philippines and it is made out of can tabs.
Q: It is very unique; I just noticed the tabs after you mentioned it.
A: Yea, I got the necklace when I went there (Philippines) for my brother’s wedding. I am half Filipino so he is my half brother.
Q: You have a very cool tattoo on your arm. Does it have meaning?
A: It is a beetle. In ancient Egypt the Scarab beetle was the symbol of life, so yea [sic] I got that when I studied Art history in junior college.
Q: How will you describe your personal style?
A: My style is casual, comfortable and I like patterns. I am not wearing any except for these shoes but I like patterns. I am petite; I am short so I always look for clothes that compliment my figure. Smaller women have different style you know, like these long pants, they fits my body and make me look taller.
Q: What is your signature look?
A: Probably my hair, it is very short on the side and I gel up [sic] the middle.
Q: Who is your icon that inspires your fashion choice? Is there anyone that you look up to?
A: Demi Lovato, she does have unique hair [sic]. Indie Arie as well, her taste is unique and I love her music.
Q: Do you have favorite fashion designer? Do you have particular brand or store that you like?
A: Not really, no. A lot of stuff that I like I can’t afford, like the All Saints. I do a lot of shopping at Buffalo Exchange; it’s like a thrift store.
Q: What is the most favorite piece of clothing or accessory that you have?
A: It’s my heels. They are from Forever 21, black with pump heels and silver buckles.
Q: Please name a thing that you think every girl must have in her closet?
A: Boyfriend’s jeans.
Q: That is a good answer. If everything has to be in one color, what would it be?
A: Black, of course.
Q: What is your morning routine to dress up before you go out from the house?
A: I think about what I’m gonna [sic] wear the night before when I’m lying in bed. I wake up, I take shower, I put on my clothes and then I do my make up and I also do my hair. It will take like an hour for me to get ready in the morning.
Q: My last question. Can you pick one movie genre that describes your life right now?
A: If I have to pick a movie genre, it would be romantic comedy. My girlfriend and I, we are like crazy in love at this moment.
From 60 to 100-year-olds, these older generations are shaking up fashion’s perception of aging.
Ari Seth Cohen was managing the New Museum’s bookstore in New York City when he saw Debra Rapoport, a striking older lady with spiky pink hair, for the first time. Just as he made a habit of doing when he would meet sartorially savvy older women, he said, “I take pictures of woman over 60; can I take your picture?” Rapoport coyly blurted, “How do you know I’m over 60!”
That was back in 2009. Beside his day job as a supervisor at the bookstore, Cohen was also a not-so-ordinary fashion blogger. He started to take photographs of fabulous fashionistas he’d encounter on the streets of New York, who happen to be older than the average fashion model by over four decades. Cohen was fascinated by the creative sense of style, heartwarming story, as well as the energy and spirit of stylish older men and women.
Now 70, Rapoport has traveled alongside the 33-year-old Cohen throughout the country as one of the well-known “glad to be grey” older ladies. What used to be a side hobby is turning out to be a bright career. Cohen’s blog, Advanced Style, spawned several other projects, including an inspiring book and a kick-starter funded documentary, which have become international phenomenon.
More than just a nascent street-style Blogspot account, Advanced Style is growing to be a movement acknowledging older people for their beauty, dignity and creativity. It paints intimate and colorful portraits of fashionable older men and women; challenging the conventional ideas about aging, beauty, and the obsession of youth.
“People always ask why I did this? I can’t explain it other than I’ve always had this deep connection to older people. I wanted to be an entertainment director for a nursing home when I was younger, that was my dream. I made my first book of drawings of older women when I was seven years old. So this is just an extension of something I’ve done my whole life,” explains Cohen, who grew up in San Diego.
Since he started the project eight years ago, there have been a lot of changes happening in the lifestyle fashion media that mainly focuses on youth. In his film, Cohen was approached by Lanvin to collaborate in an advertising campaign and Rapoport started modeling for K-Mart. Advanced Style also teamed up with Coach, Karen Miller, The Row, Selfridges, Audicus and other famous brands. Marc Jacobs has admitted that the stunning ladies in Cohen’s blog have inspired his A/W 2012 collection.
In the past couple years, countless headlines such as Meet the 62-year-old lingerie model and 79-year old model shines on the catwalk! have stated the rise of the fashionable older men and women. A lot more opportunities have opened up for the forgotten senior community, and Cohen’s blog has broken the stereotypical prejudice of fashion media − the invisibility of older people. The fashion industry is finally waking up to the fact that the older generation is an important demographic.
At the recent screening at the JCCSF last week (12/9), hundreds of over-60s came to hear Cohen’s story. Now based in Los Angeles, he has successfully turned his blog into profitable multi channel business. As cited in Business of Fashion, his blog has attracted a respectable number of followers of about 100,000 unique monthly visitors. The Advanced Style book, first published by Powerhouse in May 2012 has become a best seller in its seventh printing, and his Advanced Style: Men book is set to be released next year.
Diane Keaton, Iris Apfel, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling and Carmen Dell’Orefice are some examples of women in Hollywood who are growing old beautifully. But Cohen’s work allows us to see that everybody can look good in any age through his everyday street-fashion photographs of “ordinary” folks. The people profiled by Cohen have made intense sociological fashion statements. By their art of dressing, they have inspired younger generations to change their views on aging and to face the fear of getting older.
“I feel the same as when I was 18 but I have fewer cares,” says Rapoport in the eponymous documentary, which came out in 2014. Her daily outfit looks like a work of art. She always completes the over-the-top pattern and layers of garment with her signature bracelets made of toilet paper rolls. Advanced Style displays that there is a great liberation when you have reached a certain stage of life. By dressing well, these undeniably captivating older people are freer to express their “senior moments.”
“I am an artist and I teach kids art, so I am used to working with kids, and it’s all about having their inner creativity to be expressed in a very innocent and open minded way,” says Lilly Snow, one of the younger members of the JCCSF audience. “This is the opposite when you learned from people that have faced so many things through life, and yet in a way they still have the same freedom. It is really uplifting to hear them talking about how free they are in expressing themselves still,” admits the 26-year-old Academy of Art University alumna.
Unlike the younger generation who follow trends, these advanced style muses set their own. It is about exploring things and doing what makes you feel good. Aging has become a very positive thing. There is something really powerful about embracing age. Appreciate everyday of your life because you are very lucky to get old. Advanced Style proves that trends may come and go but true style is ageless. As Coco Chanel said, “Fashion passes, style remains.” (MT)
“Young woman, you are going to be an old woman someday, don’t worry about it. Don’t sweat it, don’t worry about getting older.
Every era, it builds character,”
- Jean, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.
“Hey, guess what? I bought my first stilettos!” said Jon, my gay best friend in Singapore. It was three years ago over sushi when he told me about his new high heel love affair. He continued, “They are women’s black boots from Topshop with a front lace opening. I wore them for the first time yesterday to the club and they were so painful, my skin peeled off! But I will wear them again!” Jon was a shop assistant for Salvatore Ferragamo; helping ladies pick beautiful heels everyday − no wonder he built up an obsession with high heels.
He told me a week later he would get custom-made red stilettos. I felt sad that some men are only able to buy high heels in made-to-order or cross-dressing stores. I wish Jon could have his stilettos and didn’t have to experience his high heel hangover. In most stores, the best that men can get are those built-in lifts to make them slightly taller (think Tom Cruise), or the 1.5 inches Cuban and Cowboy boots.
In a previous age, heels used to be more popular among men than women. Christian Louboutin wasn’t the first Frenchman to use the classic red-sole; King Louis XIV beat him to it by over three centuries. The “Louis Heels” was designed by shoemaker Nicholas Lestage to boost the 5 feet 4 inches tall king’s stature. The sole was always red, an expensive dye.
Unlike King Louis XIV, Jon didn’t want to wear heels to be taller. Loving high heels is not always about the desire for height. Heels change the attitude of the wearer; they are more than just things to walk in. They are surely powerful; and yet, that power has become extremely gendered today.
Nowadays, men wearing high heels are still controversial. It is still pretty much relegated to the queer community. Men like Jon have a hard time finding the drop-dead gorgeous footwear in their size. Even though I haven’t seen him in a while, I am sure Jon would be happier if men’s shoes became beautiful again. Furthermore a new perception of high heels for men will show just how much gender equality has developed. Don’t you think we need more man heels available in retail stores? (MT)
Boboltz, Sara. “High Heels For Men.” Huffpost Art and Culture. Huffington Post, 13 March 2015. Web.
Robertson, Casey. “Where Did High Heels Come From?” Mental_Floss. Mental Floss Mag., 4 Feb. 2013. Web. 25 Jan. 2013.