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.