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December 07, 2012


jody ferlaak

No way...the whole collection??!! That's crazy! I have been so happy to be back in scrapping that this just makes my heart sing! I am loving everything I've seen so far. I was wondering how I could get to CHA to see it all in person. Now it's coming to me and I hope you know I am thrilled! I look forward to crafting with it. It's my best early birthday present in years! It softened the blow of me turning 40 too. :) Love it!


This is splendid!


Love the washi tapes! Very fresh and fun!

leeann Pearce

heaven.... i can't wait to get my mitts on this collection!!! totally LOVE all the projects featuring this collection too!

Christine Smith

Brilliant layouts and I so love the camera washi tape! xx

Jennifer Reynard

How cute are those new washi tapes, especially the Camera one!
Great projects!!

Amy Coose

Congrats to the winners, can't wait to get my hands on this new collection!!


Love the washi tape! Keep it coming, loving this new collection!

Jeannine H.

Loving these new products - the washi, especially! LOVE LOVE it.

Marilyn  Nimmo

Congrats winners! LOVE that camera washi tape...definitely getting some of that!

beatrice lawson

Mini bags, how completely adorable... Amy, loved your layouts!!!

Marjolaine Walker

I love it because it is yummy, especially the washi tape!

Julie A. Shearer

Amazing ! I love the new Washi tapes ! I cannot wait to see more .


Ohmygoodness! LOOK at those little baggies! And the washi! WOW!
Also LOVE Amy's and Jamie's LOs! :D


I am drooling over the washi tape !!!


omg squee!!! i love the tapes and bags, so awesome!@!!

Ann Cicilie

Lovely inspirations! Ohhhh, washi tape... And those bags... YUM!

Priscilla Thibault

This is a beautiful collection--I would love to win it! Very romantic looking.


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34 yr old Thousand Oaks-born and raised Vitalia Passley is hooked on it cooking, canoeing. This girl gets her enthusiasm from checking out new places and regions specially to Bo - Sierra Leone.

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Karl Lagerfeld surprised everyone when he picked Alice Dellal, known as model-slash-socialite but mainly for having "punky" and "rocker" style, as the new face of his Boy Chanel handbag collection. With her half-shaved head, tattoos and a couple of unconventionally placed piercings, ; she "represents the perfect incarnation of all that is unique about the Boy Chanel handbag collection, which strives [to be] far from conformist notions of femininity."We got a sneak peek at the campaign from a short film released last month, a silent film directed by Lagerfeld in black and white called "My New Friend Boy." and they're just about as "punky" and "rocker" as you'd imagine: Dellal in her shaved head glory, wearing ripped, footless fishnet tights and a Chanel zip-up hoodie (and no pants). Oh, and carrying the new Boy bag. Check out the newest face of the French brand. Do you dig the darker feel of the new Chanel spots? Alicia Keys has been turning-heads with her sensational style as she makes the rounds during Paris Fashion Week. The singer was spotted at list of high-brow shows including Givenchy, Yves Saint-Laurent, Stella McCartney and Chanel. While Alicia has stuck to a black and white palette throughout the week--she's been adding a bit of visual interest with her unique choice of accessories. She paired her ivory buttoned-up blouse and tuxedo jacket with a large cross statement necklace to take in the Givenchy show and just yesterday decided to up the style ante by donning a jeweled headpiece to the Chanel runway presentation. The dangling hair jewelry was definitely head-turning, but we're not quite sure we love it. But this isn't the first time we're seen Alicia rock a set of crowned jewels. In fact, we think the "Empire State Of Mind" singer looked quite regal in the to music producer Swizz Beatz. But, what do you think of this most recent attempt?Here's a look at Alicia's Paris Fashion Week ensembles and a few other A-listers (like Kanye West, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Cassie) who have been running around the the City Of Lights' stylish scene. By Linda Rosenkrantz for Want to give your baby a name that truly telegraphs a sense of style? One way is by going directly to the world of high fashion: representing several different cultures, the names of many 20th/21st century fashion design icons prove to be exceptionally distinctive, diverse, creative and inspirational. Here are the Nameberry picks for best :Public opinions differ on the CW show 'Gossip Girl'. Whether you love it, loathe it, or have never watched it, I find a certain stylish attachment to the show that seems impossible to shake off. 'Who wouldn't want a closet like Blair Waldorf's?'When Karl Lagerfield choose it-girl of the moment Blake Lively as the new face of Chanel, it made sense. She’s young, blonde, beautiful, and sporty. So, why am I so bored? I’ve read reviews from other fashion insiders, and I have to say, I’m not the only yawning. This underwhelment is bumbling under the service.It was present in the New York Times article by Irina Aleksander, the sub-text asking "whatever, how long will this last? Will people be talking about her in 6 months?"Designers have been guilty of choosing girls that are able to have the clothes wear THEM, to showcase their craftsmanship on live mannequins.Which is where Lively comes in. When all-American girl gets tossed around to describe your look, it usually means pretty….and kind of boring. Yes, I said it. Where’s the high fashion? Where’s the rebellion? Where’s the intrigue? I already know her. I’ve seen a million other girls like her as the new thing. It’s been done. Consumers are paying for the wonder, elitisim, and individuality that comes with Chanel. Ads are the place to steer the brand in an edgy direction. So, what makes Lively so different?The answer: absolutely nothing. She the best choice out of what is available right now. It’s a classic case of natural selection. And once the Darwinism of the fashion world will kicks in it'll be survival (literally) of the fittest.And I’m afraid, Ms. Lively, won’t be in that group.Blake Lively has certainly become fashion's newest darling -- she's been and and it seems the kind words won't let up any time soon. as the face of Chanel and drilled the actress on how she got into fashion to begin with. :Her mother, Elaine, was a fashion model who fronted a Hanes campaign and teamed up with her daughter to make dresses. "We'd always go down to the garment district with my father. We would go to really cool vintage stores or boutiques and we'd get a bunch of clothes and we'd sew a lot," Lively recalls.[....]Yet the actress says she has no ambitions to jump into the melee with a project of her own."I have such a respect for fashion and such an appreciation for it that if there are people like Karl Lagerfeld out there designing, who am I?" she asks. "I want to bow down to them and be a representative for them if they'll have me."The "Gossip Girl" was also the subject of . She revealed, "I had other opportunities and I would say, 'Thank you so much, but I am holding out for Chanel.' That's who I want to be the face of. And people would say, 'Well, that's unrealistic, they only hire Europeans,' and I said: 'Well, how great. I'll be the first then.'"And, of course, there were other designers on-hand to sing her praises. Michael Kors , "You look at her skin and her hair -- she's healthy," Mr. Kors said. "It's the anti-bored, too-cool-for-school, locked in a club for months on end look that you see a lot of young actresses going for. There's something very optimistic about her. I think she's the anti-downer, anti-sad."Anyway, take a look at Blake's Chanel ad: Plenty of fashion labels have used mirror in advertisements at one point or another (). But , featuring the lovely actress staring back at herself, is even more familiar than usual.Lively's first ad as the new line hit the web Friday, and to our surprise it looks strikingly similar to the spots for her Mademoiselle handbag campaign for Chanel.That's right, Chanel -- Lively's fashion champions and home to her BFF Karl Lagerfeld. It wasn't too long ago that Lively was and toting bags for the French fashion brand. and taken the modeling lessons learned at Chanel with her.The Gucci ad shows Lively staring out a window into a dark sky overlooking a lit-up city. It's yet so striking similar to the dark Chanel ad also featuring Blake's profile reflected in glass.So the real question: intentional or not? Is Gucci pouring salt in Chanel's wound after stealing Karl Lagerfeld's or is the similarity a mere coincidence?See the ads for yourself below and tell us what you think!GUCCI:CHANEL:Gucci and Chanel aren't the first lookalike fashion ads...Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .In case you've been living under a rock for the past 24 hours (or entirely engrossed with ), you've already heard the startling news: this weekend! The "Green Lantern" co-stars, who have been dating for about a year, that took everyone by surprise. While there were plenty of A-listers involved -- Bette Midler and Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine reportedly sang at the reception -- there's no photographic evidence to be had, i.e. no snaps of what we're sure was a stunning wedding dress. With no pics, how will we know what Blake wore??! While most news outlets have reported that Lively wore a Chanel gown down the aisle, and can set the record straight:The bride and her bridesmaids walked down the aisle in custom Marchesa gowns designed by Blake's friends, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, with shoes created for the celebration by Christian Louboutin. The groom and groomsmen wore specially made Burberry suits with custom leather suspenders designed by the groom's friend, Christopher Bailey. The couple exchanged unique wedding rings by Lorraine Schwartz.Whoa. No love for Karl Lagerfeld? Nor Gucci? Lively has been a longtime pal and muse to the Kaiser, who made her , and . Lively also recently , the Italian label's new fragrance. (Despite our secret evil hopes for a juicy feud, it seems like Blake's Gucci gig didn't result in a dramatic fallout with Karl.) But both Lagerfeld and Gucci's Frida Giannini have reason to be jealous, since Marchesa's Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig scored the coveted wedding dress gig. Blake in was clad in "a hand-draped silk tulle bodice adorned with custom crystal and rose gold embroidery," according to Marchesa's press office. To be fair, we should have guessed Lively was going to be shopping around for her wedding wardrobe. just months ago, wondering aloud, "Which couture house should I go to?"The shoes, on the other hand, .For more details, click over to , which has the exclusive scoop for its December issue. Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhGIt's official: has evolved from his disheveled days into . The has been chosen as the first male face of Chanel No. 5 perfume, . (Gaspard Ulliel appeared in a Chanel men's fragrance ads, but at least as far as we can tell, he was never the official spokesperson of No.5.)Mr. Pitt will join the ranks of past promoters of the scent Nicole Kidman, Audrey Tatou and Catherine Deneuve when the ads are released overseas later this year.The campaign is scheduled to shoot in London this week, and we're interested to see Karl work his magic on the dreamboat. No word from on exactly why he's taken on the duty of embodying the couture house's best-selling fragrance, but the couple will reportedly take home a seven-figure paycheck from the modeling gig. Brad must have taken when he made the high-paying overseas product-shilling deal.This kind of endorsement begs the question: Why is Brad repping one of the most iconic women's scents? He's not exactly the epitome of the effeminate fragrance's target demographic. If the new Chanel face stays mum, we'll just have to wait until we see the ads to piece this together. UPDATE: It's confirmed! :CHANEL has selected world renowned actor Brad Pitt to be the face of the upcoming advertising campaign for CHANEL N°5. — CHANEL (@CHANEL) Check out Brad and Angelina's style below to get a refresher on the new fragrance aficionado's many looks with his feminine other half.Also on HuffPost: If you needed any more conclusive proof about just how blinkin' good looking Brad Pitt is then this is surely it? The Hollywood star has just been signed up to be the new face of Chanel No.5. You know, the classic ladies fragrance?The 48-year-old actor will make history as the first ever man to front the new advertising campaign for the French fragrance and has reportedly been paid a seven figure sum to do so.Brad will follow in the high-heeled footsteps of Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley, Audrey Tatou, Catherine Deneuve and Lauren Hutton who have all fronted previous campaigns for the scent.Brad is due to film the ad in London this week, which is handy, as him and fiancee Angelina Jolie have just .The couple decided to buy the £10million property - Whornes Place in Richmond - .> VIDEO: BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS: CELEBS IN ADSAlso on HuffPost: www.celebuzz.com:Yesterday, it was reported that Brad Pitt is going to be the new face of Chanel and now, new details have come to light. Brad is set to begin shooting the ads in London later this week. We like to blithely toss the word "icon" around in reference to our modern day fashion stars: Karl, Kate, Marc, Gaga (and, uh, ). But all it takes is a few costumes to remind us that none compare to a true fashion icon like Coco Chanel.The storied fashion designer is getting yet another homage in "The Little Black Jacket: Chanel's Classic Revisited," an upcoming book by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld. The tome honors the jacket created by Coco and worn by hundreds of socialites, models and celebrities ever since. at the project, for which Lagerfeld photographed everyone Georgia May Jagger to . But our favorite jacket-wearer? Well, it's a toss-up. Carine dresses up as Coco herself, wearing the traditional straw boater, the strands of pearls and that signature jacket. In the unmistakable outfit, the former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief reminds us of what an icon -- a true symbol -- Coco Chanel was.Then again, Sarah Jessica Parker wears the jacket on her head. And totally owns it.Like we said: toss-up."The Little Black Jacket: Chanel's Classic Revisited" comes out this fall -- will you be buying it?WATCH:Carine Roitfeld , but the former editor-in-chief has had no shortage of work since leaving the glossy. Two weeks ago, we learned that Roitfeld -- including the catalog, the windows and a short film -- working with photographer Mario Sorrenti and Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman. She told Women's Wear Daily, "It's good to have a new life, because now I can do projects that I never dreamed of before."Another such project? Working with Kaiser Karl, apparently. Roitfeld styled Chanel's fall/winter advertisements, which were recently shot in Paris. The new pics feature model-of-the-moment Freja Beha Erichsen, and Lagerfeld told the fashion newspaper, "The mix with Freja was genius."Will Carine and Karl keep on keeping on, collaborating in the future? Only time will tell. We wonder if one Tom Ford is jealous yet... Would you pay $20 for No, not shoulder pads. No, not some kind of new, super chic accessory. Cotton pads. Like the things you use to swipe off your eye makeup remover.When we first , we balked. $20?? But hey, these things are probably nicer than Swisspers. And they are! They're downright international!Sayeth Chanel:LE COTON is an exquisitely soft tri-layer pad developed in Japan: its outer lining, made from delicate, handpicked Egyptian cotton, and its inner filling, comprised of lightly entwined, elastic Australian fibers.Nothing but the world's finest to scrub off your mascara clumps.And there are more splurge-y cosmetics accessories where that came from; check out some other outrageously priced beauty tools in our slideshow below. eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhGDon't steal designer brand names. Just, don't. Because those brands are really big and really rich and pretty scary and they will come and sue your butt. this week when the Seoul Central District Court ordered it to pay Chanel approximately $8,800 in damages. As AFP reported, .Which may or may not be worse than that time when...... a South African boutique owner ... someone spotted ... in "The Hangover 2."... all those existed.That's not counting the countless shoes, bags and clothes that have been confiscated for falsely bearing a designer name (including just last week). What have we learned, class? Don't steal designer brand names.Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .After , 46-year-old Kristen McMenamy slipped back into a swimsuit for Monday's Chanel Croisiere show at the Hotel du Cap in Cap d'Antibes, France.The silver-haired supermodel led the way for Karl Lagerfeld's cruise collection models, clad chiefly in black, white, black-and-white or a bold print...or a bejeweled turban, in the case of the kaiser's man muse Baptiste Giabiconi. :Would-be Marlene Dietrichs sauntered the catwalk in bias-cut gowns of ivory silk that twinkled at the neckline with oversized pearls, their sultry gaits reflecting the very easygoing getaway chic that the Cruise line is meant to embody."It's about dressing down these very sumptuous looks, about easy elegance," the label's uber-designer, Karl Lagerfeld, told The Associated Press in a post-show interview.[...]"This is about the women of Cannes, women who mix bathing suits with real pearls and diamonds," Lagerfeld said. "After all, you can't wear fakes into the water."Obviously not! What an utterly unsophisticated assumption.Take a look at Karl's newest offerings. And to see who sat front row, . Chanel's set designer was clearly inspired by the right?Today as Paris Fashion Week nears its apogee, Karl Lagerfeld capitalized on the drama, putting on a show that was soaked in luxurious coats and trousers as well as striking scenery.As celebs like Alicia Keys and watched from the front row, Chanel's models strutted out in front of jutting crystal-like sculptures, walking on sand that was strewn on the runway. (Fashionista's reporter one woman pocketing some of the crystals and sand.)Who walked? Miranda Kerr (of ), who strutted in an embroidered coat with glittering eyebrows, although our fave Karlie Kloss was nowhere in sight. The rest of the collection was similarly dramatic, featuring signature Chanel textiles like tweed and wool, and a crop of sheer plastic shoes that were also adorned with crystals.There was also a tiny, Chanel-bedecked tot on the runway -- whose dad Brad is a male model and close friend of Kaiser Karl.At the show's conclusion, Lagerfeld ambled out between the crystals to pay his respects to the crowd, who appropriately cheered him for putting on such an artistic fete.Check out pics of the runway looks and video of the Chanel finale below: eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhGBy: Chanel‘s fall/winter 2012 runway presentation ended just hours ago and the fashion world is already buzzing about one standout beauty detail: thick, glittery eyebrows.Want the easy-to-achieve secret behind Rose’s flawless complexion?The arch-free appliqués came in a variety of collection-complementing colours and the beading and sequins matched the decorative trim on jackets and jewellery.Obviously this is a look made for the runway but with our current obsession with wild nails and colourful, ombré hair, could glitter eyebrows become a trend?More from TheKit.ca:Related on HuffPost: PARIS - On day two of Paris' haute couture week, Giorgio Armani took fashion on a midnight romance, Stephane Rolland channeled Supergirl-style capes and Chanel got nostalgic for past vintage styles.It was certainly a diverse collection of creations from A-lines to dropped waists, palettes that were muted or bright, and styles spanning decades.But Tuesday's shows had one key thing in common: imagination."Haute couture will exist as long as people want to dream," Didier Grumbach told The Associated Press.The French fashion president, one of the most discreet yet powerful figures in the world of fashion thus answers detractors who predict the demise of the age-old tradition.Grumbach believes that couture — an artisanal clothes-making method that exists only in Paris— has many healthy years ahead.Haute couture exists against all the odds: creations which range in price from $19,000 to $125,000 being bought by women thought to number no more than 100 in the world."But Armani's coming here to Paris, it shows that fashion needs haute couture. ... It's not just about selling clothes: it's an advert, an ideas factory," added Grumbach.Strong showings both from Armani Prive and Chanel prove that couture — 150 years since its birth — still has a lot to say.CHANELWhat do a supermodel and a 79-year-old former French first lady have in common? Chanel haute couture.The unlikely pairing of Laetitita Casta and Bernadette Chirac was seen at Karl Lagerfeld's aptly titled "New Vintage" show.Their presence showed the unique and enduring allure of 100-year-old Chanel. Down the catwalk, adorned with vintage sketches of Coco Chanel's lavish house interior, went shimmering silk tweed skirt suits, ensembles from the '50s and '60s, and a '30s bolero jacket. Other outfits sparkled with a contemporary metallic sheen.In some instances, Lagerfeld resurrected the 1980s. A series of ensembles in big, bold textured checks in black, grey and white channeled the decade's strong shoulders and narrow hemline. In other looks, pink tulle fringing recreated a dropped waist effect from the 1920s.Elsewhere, double-breasted A-lines, a Peter Pan collar and ensembles in pale pink and white might have come straight out of Jacqueline's Kennedy early '60s wardrobe.The boldest looks came toward the end: Lagerfeld let his pony-tailed hair down in a shimmering electric blue dress that could have been Coco's answer to 1970s glam rock."Ravishing," said Chirac."It's French perfectionism," said Casta."It's hard for the seamstresses," said Lagerfeld. "They toil over the clothes. The tulle with pearl took 3,000 hours. Couture is for a world of privilege.""New Vintage" was a typical contradiction in a constantly moving fashion world. But is there ever time for looking back? Not really, according to Lagerfeld."In fashion now, vintage means six months," he said.GIORGIO ARMANI PRIVEGiorgio Armani found romance in the midnight sky in a sumptuous haute couture collection that followed the changing hues of the sun.His accomplished fall-winter collection 2012 on Tuesday began with a daybreak of sorts, in lighter shades of mauve and lavender in organzas and double crepe.Shoulders were emphasized, some with upward scooped tailoring. Others had upper bodices in graduated shades of pink — dawn's first rays of sunshine.Then as the sun set, the couture got to work.Embroidered veils appeared, signalling the dimness of dusk. Geometric embroidery accompanied black tulle tops with Swarovski crystals.Spectators gasped as the show climaxed at midnight (in blue, naturally) with some of the most sumptuous dresses seen this season.A blue silk bustier dress — the program notes say, made of triple organza — rippled with its generous overlaid skirt and a gentle tulle shoulder shrug.The subtlety proves one thing: Armani lives up to his reputation for versatility.Only last month, in Beijing he staged a show with bright va-va voom, mermaid silhouettes.Here, things were more restrained and the looks, mirroring the cycle of time, oozed elegant sensuality.And what better advertisement for elegance across time is Sophia Loren? The beautiful 77-year old film star sat in the front row."It was magnificent," she said.STEPHANE ROLLANDHaute couture shows are often celebrity circuses.But rarely does the front row presence upstage a show, as reality TV star Kim Kardashian and her boyfriend, musician Kanye West, did during Stephane Rolland's rather predictable fall-winter 2012 offering.The couple's entrance and exit triggered a crowd that spilled out into the street.The media scrum caused a mother and her young daughter to be shoved to the side.But the celebrity presence here is no great surprise.The French designer — responsible for singer Cheryl Cole's red and white mermaid dress at Cannes — has been courting stars for several seasons now.Last season, Yasmin Le Bon was Rolland's muse.In this show, he went East and chose Chinese actress Fan Bing-Bing.With the celebrity hullabaloo, fashion insiders momentarily forgot the reason they came: the clothes.The trains and long capes in many of the ensembles, like last season, floated past giving the model a Supergirl silhouette.But the lack of new ideas, made the show feel more like a diluted superhero sequel._____Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAPStyle confession time: while we love watching (and could absolutely never afford) Chanel's newest collections, we absolutely adore seeing who wears what in the front row. And we weren't disappointed after Tuesday's Haute Couture show in Paris. All the cool girls were there: Vanessa Paradis, Kirsten Dunst, Lou Doillon, Diane Kruger and Alexa Chung to name a few...and we can't get over actress Elodie Bouchez open-toed boots.Oh yeah, and there was a runway show featuring nearly every model of the moment draped in Karl Lagerfeld's latest creations. Are chokers coming back in?Take a look and tell us who was best-dressed at the Chanel show. PARIS "Don't take things too seriously," said Karl Lagerfeld standing next to a towering wind turbine inside Paris' Grand Palais, "especially not fashion."Chanel's veteran designer, with trademark humor, thus summed up an important message of this Paris season.The iconic house's fun, young collection headlined the penultimate day of Paris spring-summer 2013 show.The fact the show had nothing whatsoever to do with the several eco-turbines constructed for the event no doubt at a huge cost to the environment didn't seem to matter.Fashion insiders were busy concentrating on the myriad 81 ensembles_ which made this collection possibly the longest Chanel show in history.A pinch of salt, too, may have been required Sarah Burton's ode to the McQueen bee, which mixed regal looking crinolines, 1950s silhouttes with bees and insect armory.As ever, the Alexander McQueen's ready-to-wear show was Paris Fashion Week's most original, living up to the spirit of the designer who died in 2010.Trends on Tuesday included cutouts, as featured in a strong showing from Valentino with Jennifer Lopez on the front row and in Paco Rabanne's signature "69" dics that exposed inches of bare flesh.Wednesday the grand finale of a dense and vibrant week includes shows from Elie Saab, Miu Miu and powerhouse Louis Vuitton.CHANELFun was the healthy mantra which infiltrated Tuesday's Chanel show a bright and diverse collection brimming with great new ideas.Silver bauble appliques became buttons, A-line skirts were playfully short, colorful checks contrasted funkily with geometric flashes, and feather fringing billowed exuberantly.One model in a crossing "C" swimsuit even carried a three-foot (nearly 1 meter) handbag.A bold new fashion idea was the reworked bolero jacket with curved shoulders, often spruced up with inflated arms.The wide T-shaped bolero silhouette spread onto sweaters and inspired many of the show's best looks.Naturally, many of the brighter ensembles stood out, too.Bright pink and blue felted oversized sweaters were accessorized to kitsch effect with huge pale or silver pearl necklace clusters.There was a highly accomplished delivery of color palette also, which lifted one checked red-and-white A-line dress, with the top part sliced off.It paired beautifully with a contrasting, yet complementary loose blue and red coat.Another stand out piece was a white bateau-neck ensemble with check navy bands with a clean, slightly sporty vide.Lagerfeld, who turns 80 next year, certainly hasn't let age slow him down: It's the youngest collection Chanel's seen for a while.ALEXANDER MCQUEENFashion is body armor.At least it is for Sarah Burton, who tapped her fantastical imagination for Alexander McQueen to conjure up fashion week's most original show: Mixing insect-like armory with on-trend stiff bar jackets of the New Look, as well as 19th century crinoline.If it sounds strange, it was set to a backdrop of images of bees and honeycomb with each model wearing a visor reminiscent at once of the 1950s wide hat, a cage and a beekeepers mask.Have fashions over the ages, she seemed to ask, caged and protected us like in the natural world?A cinched metal or tortoiseshell waist band a recurrent Burton feature which fanned out into a peplum in some of the looks resembled an abdomen of a wasp or queen bee.The fascinating collection of 31 looks which had fashion insiders amazed was as thought-out as it was perfectly executed with metal mesh materials that sparkled mechanically.The 1950s were visited in full skirts which mixed with structuralist fashion: Hard bodice cages, which showed the inner working of corsetry of the crinoline age, on the outside.The last collections revisited the queen theme: Billowing structured skirts in beige, soft yellow and vermilion looked like a surrealist take on Marie Antoinette.VALENTINO"Suggestion is seduction," was the theme of Valentino's accomplished spring-summer 2013 show in Paris, which saw the storied Italian fashion house move subtly more sensual.Italian design duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli kept their strict, high collars and didn't bare too much flesh but eased their conservative designs, in razor-thin slits and tiny transparent cutouts.Elsewhere, diaphanous see-through outer garments in black tulle really worked well in bringing home the collection's message of provocative shyness.Some of the outfits sported front bibs wavy silk U-shaped bands Valentino's more conservative version of the on-trend ruffle shown by Riccardo Tisci's show for Givenchy.Two gorgeous red silk dresses appeared at the end, evoking the spirit of the house DNA.Founder Valentino Garavani, 80, was seated in the front row and applauded thunderously when the show ended.PACO RABANNELydia Maurer put a spin on the house archives in her debut collection for Paco Rabanne that included myriad variations on the `60s Do-It-Yourself discs of the Rhodoid dress.The starting point of the show was Jean Clemmer and Paco Rabanne's controversial 1960s photo collaboration called "Canned Candies," which resurfaced two years ago: Images of naked women in bold armorlike jewelry.Maurer's show thus had a vibe of the sexual revolution with provocative dresses that bared much flesh all held together with Rabanne's signature "69" disc.It evoked the essence of the founder, who first cut his teeth in jewelry design.One gold fringed number made a bold gladiator-like statement, marching past to the sound of rustling metal.But some of the tailored ensembles let the collection down._____Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP with Chanel Iman pre-Paris Fashion Week to talk about what's going on in the wonderful world of the 20-year-old Victoria's Secret Angel. Here are our favorite Qs and As from the interview. For more, .What do you think about everything that has been going on with John Galliano?Well, I think that John Galliano is a genius. I've been working with him since I was young, and I admire him. I just wish for him the best.There have been a lot of images or editorials over the last couple of years that feature all black models -- you just appeared in one called February 2011 issue. How do you feel about these types of spreads? Do you feel like they are gimmicks or do you think they help take steps toward more inclusion in fashion?Edward Enninful is an amazing stylist for Italian Vogue, and he called me up and he asked if I would be a part of that story. Of course I said yes. I think that anything that's going to help better the community and [allow it] to stick together and stand strong, I'm definitely going to be a part of. The story came out beautiful.So you find them empowering?I think that [diversity] is becoming a very very huge thing for the market. I think that it's 2011, and it's definitely time for change. And I'm just really grateful to be a leader in helping that change. Do you see yourself as the Tyra Banks or the Naomi Campbell for the next generation?No, I look at myself for who I am. I think those girls are good at what they do, and they have an amazing name for who they are. I'm my own person, and I want people to know me for who I am.. And to see Chanel in the "Black Allure" spread, . What is with these ladies?! One V.Secret model is living on water before a show and now another is gorging herself to gain 15 pounds (which sounds really unbelievable considering the fact that 15 lbs would change her measurements...) where is the concept of being fit and eating healthily and whatever that leaves you looking like is what it is? Either side of the polarities (not eating or gorging) is still not a healthy image to project to women. I have some advice for these models, how about not talking about what you eat (or don't) this is one time when I wish these models would stand quietly and look pretty. Stop putting this potentially harmful information out there, young girls are listening, watching and learning. If you can't say anything to upgrade the conversation don;t say anything at all! I know this is harsh but I'm just annoyed!$1 million for a perfume bottle? See, this kind of crap is why I say the world has gone mad. There are people dying of starvation, dehydration, and exposure all over the world, and these people have poured a million dollars INTO A PERFUME BOTTLE!! !! What is wrong with you people!? And what's worse is I guarantee that there not only are people out there who not only wish they could have this silly crap, but people who would actually pay that much for one. And people wonder why so many people want to raise taxes on "the rich." Because of pointless, useless, impractical baubles like this. I personally have never seen the preoccupation and obsession with "shiny things." Jewelry is nice, in moderation. But gold is too soft to be used for anything but. Yes, diamonds are ultra hard, and make for great abrasives and cutting tools, but their ridiculously exorbitant costs make them impractical in wide scale use. And then you have things like this, or rappers who spend a half million dollars on a diamond encrusted cross, then go and rap about killing people, raping women and doing drugs. I say tax the rich at an ever increasing rate commensurate with their level of income, until everyone is within just a few thousand dollars of each other.Have you officially made it as a model when you're a frequent victim of Photoshop disasters?If that's the case, then we'd like formally to welcome Chanel Iman to the elite models' ranks. Just like from 2010, something very egregious is going on with this new February cover of France's .The cover shoot stars Chanel looking gorgeous as always in a tropical-printed Dolce & Gabbana romper, but wait... what's the deal with her manipulated proportions?Is it just us, or are her hands the size of her face? We're pretty sure Chanel doesn't have arms that slowly expand lengthwise as they reach her wrists. A quick scan of her previous campaigns (, , ) reveals that, yep, Chanel's arms are downright normal IRL.The whole gaffe kind of reminds us of Maybe it's just a bad month for magazine cover airbrushing. (, anyone?)Check out the Photoshop-abused cover below, and see even more retouching disasters in our slideshow. Mon dieu!Scroll down for more photos.Related on HuffPost: eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhGWhat would you do if you found your man cheating with another woman?We're sure there would be lots of be yelling, a complete emotional and physical meltdown--and you may even pile all his belongings into his car and set it on fire (Too much? Gotta love ). But in a new short film , model Chanel Iman channels the emotions of a jilted gal in a somewhat unconventional way. The Victoria's Secret beauty decides to slip on some sexy lingerie, sedate her cheating lover and seductively torture him. Hmmmm, definitely not the typical reaction but to each their own. The film's description reads:"After apprehensions that her lover is cheating on her, a woman seeks revenge to ultimate circumstances. What begins as innocent foreplay turns into a deadly game of confession."Elizabeth teamed up with and the accessories line Reece Hudson for the film. And although we love , it's hard to notice at anything other than Chanel's killer body and equally killer disposition. Check out Chanel and her cunning and revengeful performance in the video above. With , we often forget how young some of these gals are. Case in point: Chanel Iman is about to celebrate her 21st birthday!To ring in the alcohol-soaked milestone, Chanel's got large-scale plans (although for a girl who's walked the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, "large-scale" is a very relative term). :"I'm going to Jamaica. Me, my family and my closest friends are staying at a really cool resort called Round Hill and I'm going to throw a reggae-themed party on this island."We're also assuming And what will the young model be imbibing? "I'm a rum girl," she confessed, "Maybe a Pina Colada."Funny -- we're rum girls, too! Maybe we can tag along, Chanel? Sigh. We suppose we'll settle for seeing fun party pics afterwards. We just hope they don't give the younger models any crazy ideas... Karlie, you've still got a few more years to go. . "How ___ is made" videos tend to be all technical and science-minded (read: not our jam). But watching a Chanel jacket come to life before our very eyes? Totally our jam., taking you into the Chanel atelier and right onto the cutting table. The seamstresses carefully cut the patterns and sew the pieces of the iconic tweed, collar-less jacket themselves, finishing it off with a Chanel label on the collar.With all the manpower that goes into it, you realize why these coveted jackets are so pricey -- and thus why they're worn most often by celebrities, socialites, royals and the occasional stylist (we're looking at y'all, Caroline Seiber and Rachel Zoe). Check out our slideshow of the famous Chanel jacket in all its iterations -- black and pastel, cropped and long, embellished and spare -- and bliss out with . WATCH:Want to school your children in the ways of chic? Chanel has launched a fun interactive website to accompany an exhibit they're hosting in Beijing, . The exhibit's best feature, in our opinion? It also includes a digital coloring book. YES!The coloring app is, we begrudgingly admit, designed for children, but we're kids at heart, right?To get started, go to click "English" (if you prefer), then click "Kid's Space" at the bottom. Pick your Chanel design and digitally color away! We'll see you in about 3 hours. When you're done, you can also play .Unfortunately, there's no "Order Now" button you can click after you custom-color your Chanel shoes; just our fantasy for the future, Chanel webmasters.Check out some of our creations below. How did we do? Chanel cosmetics is aiming to reach a broader range of ethnicities with their new foundation line Perfection Lumière launching in mid September, . The new line will include 23 shades, 20 of which will be available in the U.S. The shades are categorized by skin tones ranging from very fair to very dark, and include pink to yellow undertones. executive vice president of Fragrance and Beauté for Chanel in the U.S.. “Chanel’s creative director for makeup, Peter Philips, counts perfect skin among the most important features a woman can have and since joining the brand in January 2008, has made it his goal to create a ‘perfect’ foundation: one that adjusts to the skin needs of every ethnicity and stays in place with a flawless finish.”The company's current leading foundation line Pro Lumiere offers only 6 shades, which is a poor representation of a significant portion of the buying community--minorities. Mainstream companies such as Chanel, and CoverGirl are starting to take notice of the large amounts of money black women spend on cosmetics. Let's hope this interest extends not only to the expansion of their color choices but also their advertising dollars. of the $263.7 billion spent annually on advertising within the nation, less than one percent is used to target African American consumers, despite the fact that Black buying power is estimated at around $857 billion, according to the 2010 census.The campaign for Perfection Luminere will feature Alyssah Ali, an Indian and Spanish model. There is no word on whether a black model will also be represented. Fingers crossed! eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhG VERSAILLES, France - As some of the world's most glamorous women prepare for the Cannes Film Festival later this week, Karl Lagerfeld has shown again that he's a step ahead of the game on the Riviera's red carpet.The celebrated designer rolled out a baroque-tinged cruise collection on Monday at the seat of French opulence, Versailles Palace, with film stars and other celebrities such as actress Tilda Swinton and singer Vanessa Paradis in appearance."The palace is the perfect place for Chanel, you couldn't imagine anything better," said Paradis, who watched as models filed by with ruffled eighteenth century tulle sleeves.Eclectic gold platform sneakers were among the touches that broke up the historic feel, making this one of the funkiest Chanel shows in some time.Cruise or resort collections — mid-season show, shown by only a handful of the world's fashion power houses — were created conceived to target wealthy women who travelled on cruise ships in winter.Nowadays, they're used as a lucrative means of re-stimulating fashions in the mid-season lull, in an industry that's increasingly buoyant and bucking the global financial downturn.Model of the moment Cara Delavigne opened the show in a velvety, pale blue denim dress, with a crisp A-line skirt.But the rest of show felt more like Chanel's answer to a Baroque history lesson.Beauty spots, bottom-heavy skirts, and floral chokers infused spectators with a feeling of Marie Antoinette's heyday.Baroque-tinged wigs and ruffled, courtly hair bows in silk, meanwhile, added a splash of androgyny.It's well known that Karl Lagerfeld is a workaholic, but in this show he seemed to have studied every reference under the sun.One outfit dizzied: a white, double-breasted skirt suit, with embroidered gold roses and a stiff shawl collar mixed with a short tennis skirt and glam-rock platforms. The width of the skirt and shoulders matched identically, in extravagant visual unity.Added to the mix were silver chokers with roses, a look that recalled 18th-century trendsetter Madame de Pompadour, as captured by painter Jean-Honore Fragonard.Another look twinned a black, fitted sequined zipper jacket, with a raw-edged, silk bustle skirt which hung like petals in soft pastels of pale pink, blue and yellow.One ornately knitted cotton top in white had a jacquard swag with decorative catkins hanging on either side — a strong nod to the Rococo period.Was the opulence a bit too much in a country that just elected a Socialist president, who has vowed to tax the uber-rich more?"Oh no, lightness is what France is known for. I don't delve into politics here," said German-born Lagerfeld, after the show. "Besides, I can't vote." All you Chanel shoppers out there (and we know there are oh-so-many of you), listen up: your clothes are in serious danger.We can't remembered the last time a major luxury company had to recall an item, à la Toyota or Fisher-Price. But Chanel, purveyor of some of the most desirable high-end luxury goods, has . The danger? The clothes fail to meet federal flammability standards and thus pose a fire hazard to all of Chanel's well-heeled customers, .The recall announcement was listed alongside a warning about , and . For all of you with said silky garments hanging in one of your many walk-in closets, have no fear. to stop wearing your awesome Chanel shirt and contact Karl Lagerfeld personally for a full refund. Just kidding. A phone call to Chanel's customer service will suffice.. . We're big fans of high fashion here at HuffPost Style. (Obviously.) But even we're having a hard time wrapping our heads around the price of this whimsical Chanel bag.Part of -- remember, the show where ? -- the shell-shaped minaudieres would make the perfect bag for a beach wedding or a fancy Hamptons gala. (The gym, not so much.) the resin version of the Chanel clutch sells for $33,000. And the special version that's covered in real pearls? That one will set you back $48,000. After we picked our jaws up off the floor, we decided to figure out what OTHER bags you could get for $48,000:Hmm. While your bag is quite cute, Chanel, we don't think we'll be slapping our Visas down for this one any time soon.Check out the devastatingly expensive bag below, and below, see some OTHER really pricey clutches shaped like inanimate objects. (Yes, there are plenty!) In case you had any doubts, the Chanel interlocking C's can be put on anything.On ping-pong paddles? Sure. How about some tennis balls? You bet. What about heinous neon high-tops, circa 1994? Oh, hell to the yes. in Madrid recently and snapped some fun photos of the newest Chanel goods -- there's new nail polish, quilted bags, some skirt suits. There was also a treasure trove of branded athletic gear including some pairs of shockingly bright kicks. Who do you expect to wear these, Karl -- the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Then again, they're just the thing for when you play a game of H-O-R-S-E with (price upon request, obvs).Check out the sporty designer gear below -- how much are you loving the idea of Anna Wintour wearing these sneakers?! eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhGThou shalt not use the name of Chanel in vain, or so readers of fashion newspaper WWD learned on Monday. The fashion house took out a back-page ad reading:"A note of information and entreaty to fashion editors, advertisers, copywriters and other well-intentioned mis-users of our Chanel name:Chanel was a designer, an extraordinary woman who made a timeless contribution to fashion. Chanel is a perfume. Chanel is modern elegance in couture, ready-to-wear, accessories, watches and fine jewelry. Chanel is our registered trademark for fragrance, cosmetics, clothing, accessories and other lovely things. Although our style is justly famous, a jacket is not 'a Chanel jacket' unless it is ours, and somebody else's cardigans are not 'Chanel for now.' And even if we are flattered by such tributes to our fame as 'Chanel-issime, Chanel-ed, Chanels, and Chanel-ized', PLEASE DON'T. Our lawyers positively detest them. We take our trademark seriously. Merci,Chanel, Inc." to find out more about employing the 'C' word and contacted intellectual property attorney Anne Sterba, who explained that Chanel or any other trademarked label cannot be used as an adjective. Anne told the style site, Chanel is "policing their brand. They have to do it, because if they end up in court with a trademark issue and they can't prove to a judge that they've been trying to protect their brand, they will lose credibility." A simple that Chanel was on the prowl for name-droppers as far back as 2004 (and probably before), telling a website named CHANELOVE.com to transfer the domain name to Chanel and "agree not to register any domain name(s) in the future that incorporate the word CHANEL, or any similar word." Chanel, of course, is very protective of its logo, as well, and . Karl Lagerfeld has continued his foray into films with a 30-minute-long piece entitled "The Tale of a Fairy," set to be screened at the Chanel Cruise collection show next week. The Kaiser described his new project as "a movie about an ill-advised use of money which begins with violence and ends with feeling."We got a hold of the trailer and here's what we can tell you: Anna Mouglalis sits at a cafe and laughs while wearing CC-adorned sunglasses, Freja Beha Erichsen goes topless and then those two ultimately smooch. Meanwhile, Kristen McMenamy has both a gambling problem and a nose ring, and may or may not be involved with Lagerfeld man muse Baptiste Giabiconi, whom she calls a "bad boy" and slaps. Also starring Bianca Balti, Brad Koening, Jake Davies, Mark Vanderloo, Oriol Elcacho, Sébastien Jondeau and Seth Kuhlmann.You can find the full production on . Until then...WATCH: While we prepare our barbecue menus, pack our beach bags and strategize the best firework-watching locations, celebs and designers are in Paris making some fancier plans. It's Couture Week, guys, when all of Hollywood's classiest It Girls pull up alongside designers, editors and assorted socialites to take in the world's best fashion from the front row.Yesterday was all about -- and everyone was on hand to judge his success (or failure). But today other designers got their moment to shine, namely and . One day, two major couture shows: who landed the best guests?As he does for ready-to-wear, Karl presented his Couture Fall 2012 collection in the Grand Palais. Among the grand guests were Milla Jovovich, Poppy Delevigne, Sofia Coppola, Clemence Poesy, Ines de la Fressange and Karl BFFs Alexa Chung and Diane Kruger. One less predictable face? Leslie Mann, wife of Judd Apatow and the best part of "Knocked Up." Who knew Mrs. Apatow was a couture fan?Turns out she's fairly devoted, considering she pulled a double-header and showed up at the Armani Prive show as well. She was joined by Zoe Saldana, Shailene Woodley, Sophia Loren and the typical editor coterie: Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo, Carine Roitfeld, etc. So... Chanel FTW? Not so fast. Also spotted at Armani were Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark and Princess . Royals! In the flesh! Swoon.So who has it: the It Girls vs. the Princesses? Judge for yourself in our fashion-filled slideshow. Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .I have gained some weight and am at my biggest to date in these 22 years. At this size, the only way I'm participating in any of the new fashions is if I get some serious alterations, mainly in the booty region. The worst part about my struggle with ill-fitting clothes was that I didn't want anyone to think less of me as a fashionista. I am ashamed that my concern with my weight gain was not my health or well-being, but what I could no longer wear nor buy.Yon__Ye: Ray Ban ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? RB2140?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? wayfarer?????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????PARIS - "Don't take things too seriously," said Karl Lagerfeld standing next to a towering wind turbine inside Paris' Grand Palais, "especially not fashion."This healthy mantra infiltrated Tuesday's Chanel show — a bright, fun and diverse collection brimming with great new ideas.Silver bauble appliques became buttons, A-line skirts were playfully short, colorful checks contrasted funkily with geometric flashes, and feather fringing billowed exuberantly.One model in a crossing "C'' swimsuit even carried a three-foot (nearly 1 metre) handbag.The fact the show had nothing whatsoever to do with the several eco-turbines constructed for the event — no doubt at a huge cost to the environment — didn't seem to matter.Instead, fashion insiders were busy concentrating on the myriad 81 looks — which made this spring-summer collection possibly the longest Chanel show in history.A bold new fashion idea was the reworked bolero jacket with curved shoulders, often spruced up with inflated arms.The wide T-shaped bolero silhouette spread onto sweaters and inspired many of the show's best looks.Naturally, many of the brighter ensembles stood out, too.Bright pink and blue felted oversized sweaters were accessorized to kitsch effect with huge pale or silver pearl necklace clusters.There was a highly accomplished delivery of colour palette also, which lifted one checked red-and-white A-line dress, with the top part sliced off.It paired beautifully with a contrasting, yet complementary loose blue and red coat.Another stand out piece was a white bateau-neck ensemble with check navy bands with a clean, slightly sporty vide.Lagerfeld, who turns 80 next year, certainly hasn't let age slow him down: It's the youngest collection Chanel's seen for a while._____Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAPInteresting pictures of Chanel. One correction is needed. Pic 4 of 60 with Jackie Kenned arriving in Dallas in her pink 'Chanel' suit is wrong. Jackie liked this style so much she had this copy made by an America for this particular trip. It has been so often referred to as 'Chanel' it has almost been impossible to remove this tag including Wikipedia. It sat in the attic in her house in Martha's Vineyard still with the blood stains in a box marked 'November 22, 1963' for years until her death. The suit is now stored out of public view in the National Archives and will not be seen by the public until at least 2103, according to a deed of Caroline Kennedy. At that time, when the 100-year deed expires, the Kennedy family descendants will renegotiate the matter.If Coco Chanel designed for liberated female customers, it may have been because she counted herself among them. a new book entitled "Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life" contains juicy details about the couturier's exciting romantic history, which apparently included an open attitude towards bisexuality, an affair with then-married Salvador Dalí and a German boyfriend named Hans Günther von Dincklage who also might have been a Nazi spy. Biographer Lisa Chaney also chronicles Coco's drug habit (opiates, of course). Who knew? :Unearthing an astonishing life, this remarkable biography shows how, more than any previous designer, Chanel became synonymous with a rebellious and progressive style. [...] Drawing on newly discovered love letters and other records, Chaney's controversial book reveals the truth about Chanel's drug habit and lesbian affairs. [...] While uniquely highlighting the designer's far-reaching influence on the modern arts, Chaney's fascinating biography paints a deeper and darker picture of Coco Chanel than any so far. Movingly, it explores the origins, the creative power, and the secret suffering of this exceptional and often misread woman.Plenty has been made of Chanel's eclectic past, including two recent movies. features her romance with Arthur "Boy" Capel plus dalliances with a baron or two, while highlights her romance with the Russian composer. She also served as the subject matter for the , with illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld, , Coco "wasn't only a designer -- she was a woman of her time.". So you want to be a French seductress. Simply put, it's all about simplicity. Less is definitely more (except, perhaps, when it comes to champagne and personal grooming). Although restraint is key, a significant effort must be put in at all times, as 'prevention' is always better than a cure!We were a bit confused by this New York Post headline: But it turns out the title is pretty darn accurate: "tacky trannies," , shoplifted $6,000 worth of Chanel bags from Lower East Side boutique A. Turen. Store owner Ashley Turen described the male bandits' over-the-top get-ups as "almost like a Halloween costume,” ('tis the season, after all). At least they didn't as they made their get-away. . WATCH: Dakota Fanning, a newly-minted NYU freshman, has been adjusting to college life as well as any celebrity can. She goes to class, ... while , sitting front row at fashion shows and donning the kind of oversized sunglasses required for such celebrity outings. , Dakota struck the same balance when she stepped out to the gym yesterday in downtown New York. The 17-year-old star wore her sneakers, black workout pants and a tough leather jacket. She toted, of course, a giant black Chanel bag.We're a bit surprised the bag was not by Marc Jacobs, . But we're not at all surprised that she was doing the classic water-and-cell phone carry, . What good are luxury bags if you actually put things in them? . Very, very BAD things happen to people who betray their own genetic race, ancestors, family, culture, society, and most of all our Creators. If you actually think that you can go bopping around this world having sexual relations and biracial offspring with those who are NOT your own genetic race, think again!! And one last note about the subject of offspring. Have you noticed just how infertile so many men and women are now, and how millions can no longer reproduce on their own? This is one of the primary reasons. When you screw around and mess with genetics and DNA you are playing with fire!! They are unable to reproduce because they are NOT suppose to reproduce. Artificial children are just that: ARTIFICIAL! They have are NOT part of our Creators design, plan, or creation, and they certainly have no spirit, essence, or soul. Humans who are implanted, carried, and created artificially are NOT supposed to exist, and there will be a reckoning and punishment for playing Creator, just the same as there will be for betraying your own genetic race. It’s immoral, indecent, unethical, shameful, outrageous, unacceptable, and disgraceful.people have highlighted this! Huzzah! This text has been highlighted. Highlights is a new way to discover the most interesting text on Huffington Post!Elle, Hailee, Christina -- all our favorites were out last night... together!Fashion's mini darlings, Hailee Steinfeld and Elle Fanning, joined Christina Hendricks, Kate Bosworth, Lydia Hearst and Cat Deeley at the Chanel Intimate Dinner held at the Chanel Boutique in Los Angeles on Thursday night. From young to old(er), all the women looked super chic in various combinations of black, white and gray (it was a Chanel fete, after all). We're particularly loving Hailee's gray frock with black booties, although Hailee could pretty much wear anything and look adorable. Check out the lovely Chanel fans below -- who had the best look of the night?  has become quite the fashion plate over the course of her recent, multi-week "Amazing Spider-Man" promotional tour. For the worldwide journey, the 23-year-old starlet has donned "a million and five" outfits (her words, not ours -- see the vid above), from to .But this might be our favorite yet. At Thursday's "Amazing Spider-Man" premiere in Los Angeles, with dark pink embellishments, taking a cue from one of . As she recently told Entertainment Weekly:“I wanted to dress like the Spice Girls [when I was a kid]... I got platform Skechers. I had bell-bottoms. A lot of peace signs. I cut bangs like Baby Spice because I had blond hair. I wanted to be Baby Spice."Thankfully Stone's ditched the Skechers and bell-bottoms (as we all have), but she's still got the sweet, girl-next-door look going on. The Spice Girls were not the only fashion idols on Stone's list. According to EW, Emma was was also in the 1988 film "Beetlejuice" -- maybe that explains that from earlier this month?We much prefer Emma's lighter, airier look. Paired with her white Chanel frock were strappy sequined heels and a giant gem-encrusted rose ring... on her left ring finger. Trying to tell us something, Emma?PHOTOS:See what Emma's worn on her "Amazing Spider-Man" tour!Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .In this photographic series, American photographer Cindy Sherman exhibits new, large-scale works that depict enigmatic female figures standing in striking landscapes, and wearing vivid Chanel costumes. Rather than staging scenes in her studio or using projected images, the dramatic settings were all photographed by Sherman and then manipulated in Photoshop to achieve a painterly effect.Sherman's self-portraits are based on an insert she did for Dasha Zhukova's magazine using clothes from Chanel's archive. The images published were significantly altered as Sherman developed the series for this exhibition. Wearing early haute couture pieces from the 1920s designed by Coco Chanel to more recent Karl Lagerfeld collections, she selected eccentric, often fantastical, outfits before pairing them with images she shot in Iceland during a 2010 volcanic eruption and the isle of Capri. While the series recalls photography's early mission to map the "new world," Sherman's analysis equally references the tradition of 19th century landscape painting, where lonely figures are dominated by the magnificent nature that surrounds them. The artist's looming characters however reverse this heavenly view by relegating nature to the supporting role.Cindy Sherman's new series is currently showing at April 28 - June 9, 2012Via Follow Evelyne Politanoff on Twitter:Georgia May Jagger--the offspring of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall--is the new face of Chanel. The 18-year-old's Brigitte Bardot-esque looks have garnered much attention...so much that Kaiser Karl couldn't resist shooting her for the campaign. Check out the images and tell us which is your favorite. Hillary Clinton isn't one for expensive designer labels, but it seems she is going through a bit of a Chanel phase. The Secretary of State spoke at a press conference with Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister yesterday looking chic in a black and turquoise boucle jacket. Paired with plain black pants, the collarless garment looked just like a Chanel (you know, the kind ... which it sort of is). Hillary must be channeling Anna, because on Tuesday she wore another Chanel-like look. Clinton met with Mike McFaul, ambassador-designate to Russia, at the State Department in a black and white boucle jacket with a high, buttoned-up collar. While we don't know from Hillary herself whether the jackets are, indeed, Chanel (and frankly the Secretary of State has better things to talk about than her clothing labels), they definitely have a prim, high society look. Clinton the chunky in white ceramic (a watch we've coveted for a long time). But her tailored pieces this week are still a surprising switch from the more bohemian styles she'd been sporting, including and funky jewelry (and even ). But if this is a new Hillary signature, we're totally on board. Maybe she should try having them personalized and selling them, ? Hillary Clinton has always struck us a low-key, unflashy dresser. So when she stepped out in January , our fashion senses perked to attention. How chic! How ladylike! How designer! (Although to be fair, we have no idea if they're by Chanel. They're just channeling the French brand hardcore.)It turns out that wasn't a phase; rather the jackets have worked their way into a regular rotation. Over the course of the past three days, the Secretary of State has re-worn both the turquoise jacket and the high-collared white jacket just two days apart and with nearly the exact same hairstyles as in January.She also, we noticed, did the same thing in February: on February 4 she wore the white jacket, followed by the turquoise one on February 5. We're digging Hillary's new fashion motto: If it ain't broke, wear it every four weeks on back-to-back days. A girl after our own heart.Check out Secretary Clinton's favorite jackets. Is the elegant style fit a good fit for Clinton? How many times have you seen a quote re-blogged on ? How about one from on ? Or on ? It happens all the time, and it seems to be the same quotes over and over again. But, this quote-sharing is no surprise, as fashion designers, models and actresses seem to be full of wise one-liners that stay with you. But, what are the most iconic of all time: Is it, "Fashion fades, only style remains the same" or perhaps, "When in doubt, wear red"?There's a lot of competition, but we've rounded up a few others that we think fit the bill from , and more. Let us know: Which do you think is the best and which quotes are missing?Karl Lagerfeld and Ines de la Fressange settled a decades-old feud on Tuesday, with Ines taking to the runway at Chanel's Spring/Summer 2011 show. De la Fressange, now 53 years old, was the face of the fashion house in the '80s, but she had a falling out with Lagerfeld in 1989, "after a fracas over her lending her likeness to the French republic," .And don't think their fight didn't get ugly. Lagerfeld once said, "I wish her all the luck in the world, just so long as I don't have to see her any more or hear her spoken about." However, the pair recently made up and Karl has even cast Ines in Chanel's spring/summer ad campaign. He told WWD, "She is beyond stunning. Also, she is the Parisienne." Check out images of Ines from Tuesday's show and from her past Chanel catwalks: Move over, and ! There's a new girl at fashion week -- and she's already scored a seat at Chanel. , 's daughter with Marc Anthony, sat front and center with mom, decked out in Chanel gear. Pretty chic for a 4-year-old's first show, if we say so ourselves. , wearing a plunging white mini dress and some sexy black and gold pumps. Even though little Emme didn't look particularly amused by the always-epic spectacle that is a Chanel fashion show, she was seated just a few seats away from Kanye West and was snapped kibbutzing with famed photographer (we're sure will have a thing or two to say about this). We imagine they chatted about the Saint Laurent collection yesterday and how the shows were so much better before bloggers made the guest list...But Jennifer's daughter wasn't the only one attending her first runway -- , , took in his first fashion show alongside Emme. He seemed to appreciate the situation a little more though, tweeting a picture of his impressive Grand Palais surroundings. This obviously wasn't , but with Jennifer's schedule, we're guessing Emme's in for plenty of industry events turned family affairs. Check out the photos of Jennifer Lopez's clan at the Chanel show today and tell us what you think.PHOTOS:At my 1st fashion show.. — Beau Smart (@BEAUcasperSMART) Jennifer Lopez isn't the only star who loves Chanel. Check out more celebs in the French brand!Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .Coco Chanel would have appreciated the coquettes who artfully arrayed themselves at the Legion of Honor for the MidWinter Gala. Invited by the organizing Junior Committee, these guests knew they had responded to a coveted invitation, and were not going to miss their chance to establish their presence in support of the Fine Arts Museums and their own good graces. Taking their cues from the Mademoiselle and the brand she begat, the women received a double, intertwined C for concerted chic. Blowdryers all over SF had been buzzing all afternoon, cementing updos and eyelashes in earnest.There was something amusing about the lithe, dressed-to-the-nines nifties enjoying their cocktails amongst the corporeal muscle-bound bronze nudes of the Rodin Sculpture Gallery. But Rodin focused on the male form, not the gym-sculpted females who had served as their own Pygmalions this evening. The MidWinter Gala is all about the damsel in a dress, ideally purveyed by the marquee sponsor Chanel, whose ravishing décor was enough to want the damsels to remain entrapped in this castle for quite some time. The ladies were themselves mostly works of art, with the teensiest touch of artifice to demonstrate their effort. Invited gentlemen obliged by appearing in their Saturday best, with embellishments as allowable. (Joel Goodrich, your shoes were duly noted.)Fundraising aside (although never too far out of the limelight), the evening offered the opportunity for the Heights' yummie mummies to make it a date night, for the sexy single seekers to size up the (small "S") situation, for cooing couples to cement their status on one anothers' arms. Some stalwarts chose to go stag for the night, to no detriment -- this crowd knows one another from way back when the Junior Committee had barely jettisoned the children's table. Judging by the trouble the gracious McCall's staff had in actually compelling guests to leave the cocktail clamor and be seated for dinner, the exquisitely decorated courtyard of the Legion might as well have been a rickety card table off Aunt Alma's kitchen.Once they did sit move to the courtyard, they were treated to a double feast, eyes first and palate second. Marquee Sponsor Chanel created a swoon with the all-black tent that served as a smoky backdrop for encircled crystal chandeliers and thousands of white candles. Purple cattleya orchids alternated in silver julep cups with deep burgundy anemonies, the only touch of color on an otherwise black, grey, and silver table. A calligraphied menu doubled as a place card, with a deeply silver-stamped typescript that carried the heft of a debutante invitation. In keeping with the convivial spirit of the soiree, the meal was a perfect riff on francais bistro fare: a lovely pastry-capped tomato bisque and butter lettuce salad, classic filet with bernaise and spring vegetables, with guilty-pleasure cones of frites passed table-side, and an irresistible tart tatin with caramel walnut gelato. Alexis Swanson Traina, whose husband Trevor warmly called the Committee meeting to order, generously donated the delectable Swanson wines to accompany each course: the pear-scented Pinot Grigio, an oaky Oakville Merlot in magnum, and an ambrosial Angelica to add abundance to excess and encourage abundant bidding on the laudable live auction items.Those duties were ably carried out by event sponsor Christies' auction house, which had flown its top auctioneer, Los Angeles President Andrea Fiuczynski up to coax up the bidding six irresistible items: tickets to the Chanel fashion show in Paris, dinners at French Laundry and Quince, a tea party at the Palace Hotel, a bowling party at Lucky Strike, a dinner party at the Fine Arts Museum, weekly H.Bloom floral delivery. Bidding paddles were dispensed with in favor of old-fashioned nods and waves, the better to confuse a sidelong shift in the seat with a show of support.Once the tables were cleared and the Woodhouse Chocolates consumed, the turntables were turned once more, and Chanel's midnight tent became the MidWinter revels. The art of celebration and seduction became the exhibit on the dance floor, as the evening wound up and then down to a coco-phanous, coquettish close.Stretching the canvass: Honorary Chairs Vanessa Getty and Trevor Traina, along with Committee Chairs Kathryn Lasater and the equally effective and effusive Allison Speer; Event Sponsors Marissa Mayer and Zach Bogue, Jean-Pierre Conte, Mo Clancy and Nathaniel David, Jeana Toney and Boris Putanec, Sloan and Roger Barnett, Carol and Shelby Bonnie, Paula and Bandel Carano, Jeremy Stoppelman, Connie Nielsen, Juliet de Baubigny, Anna and Mason Morfit, Serena and Alec Perkins, Gina and Stuart Peterson, Mary Beth and David Shimmon. Co-Chairs, Benefactors, and Members of the Committee, too numerous to mention but gloriously in appearance, helped make the MidWinter into one of the magical moments of the year.A lot has changed in Johnny Weir's life since he taped the second season of his reality show for Logo. He's returned to competitive skating and strictly monitoring his diet. He's also now a happily married man and finally enjoying going to practice. But the more his life changes, the more his unique style stays the same. "The show is all about me trying to find my life as a normal person. I have been a figure skater for so long that when I stopped that competitive day-to-day grind, I didn’t know what to do with myself," Weir said. "I don’t know how the world works outside being barked at by a Ukrainian woman and watching my weight.” After wrapping up taping for season two of "Be Good Johnny Weir," he's already back in training, preparing for the next Olympics. Weir said that while he was filming, it was nice not to have to wake up early, go to practice, nap, miss lunch, train again, miss dinner, go to bed -- then repeat it all the next day. “It was so nice to have all that time off to eat chicken fingers,” said Johnny, adding that a return to competitive skating was the natural thing for him to do. “I tried everything in season 2. I tried singing, I wrote a book, I was designing and I really tried everything I possibly could. It was a great opportunity. It felt for the first time in my life, if I failed at something, it wasn’t the end of the world. Now I’m skating again because I want to, not because I have to. And that’s a huge change in my life on a day-to-day basis." "Time off has been beneficial to my training, but I will never change. I will be 60 or 70 years old still rocking my Chanel blazer with my hair all coiffed," he added. The second season of "Be Good Johnny Weir" premieres on Logo at 9 p.m. on Sept. 17. CelebrityPhotos Of The Week:NEW YORK -- If Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are dating together for publicity it's working.The reality starlet and rapper have refused to confirm they're a couple, but they arrived hand-in-hand at Chanel's seventh annual artists dinner at the Tribeca Film Festival Tuesday night. The two happily posed for the cameras, then sat among a galley of stars at the event.Other attendees included Robert De Niro, Liev Schreiber, Liv Tyler and Kellan Lutz.West and Kardashian already tabloid magnets apart from each other have garnered even more attention since they became a rumored couple. West recently confessed his love for her in song, and they've been spotted out together in New York.Also Tuesday, E! announced it was extending Kardashian's family reality show for three more years. CNN interviewed Karl Lagerfeld for an upcoming special, "Fashion: Backstage Pass." They have only released the teaser so far (the show premieres on Saturday, October 15 at 2:30) but leave it to the Kaiser to give us a detectable quote in the preview. He discusses taking on the role of creative director of Chanel, "You know, when I was asked to do it, Chanel wasn't trendy at all. The owner said, 'I'm not proud of the business. If you can make something, OK. If not, I'll sell it.' And we made something out of it because he gave me total freedom.... The label has an image. It's up to me to update it. What I did, [Coco Chanel] never did, she would have hated."We're glad he took on the task! Watch the preview below: Although Karl Lagerfeld "I am a cocktail," and "I have no idea of what it means to take yourself seriously," at the International Herald Tribune's Luxury Heritage conference on Tuesday, the designer did have a bit more to say. that he chatted a bit about Coco Chanel herself. Karl remarked, "Coco did a lot but not as much as people think or as much she herself taught at the end of her career." He also dished on a pair of mistakes Chanel made late in her game:"The first was when she said 'Not one man I have spoken to likes a woman in mini skirts'. I think no one dared to tell this 86-year-old lady that miniskirts are great and really sexy," he says. "Number two was when she decided blue jeans were horrible. This was the fashion of the world at that partuclar moment -- it was the Sixties. No one wanted to be told by an old lady that miniskirts and jeans weren't chic. The result was that she lost her power and in the end no one cared about what she did."Oh, Karl. It's never too late for some Chanel denim bellbottoms!  may be the most famous (and spoiled) cat in fashion. Not only is she the subject (in which the designer revealed that she eats on plates at a table, has two maids that take care of her hair and hates the smell of ), she's also one of the .Having made her courtesy of Stephen Gan's Twitpic , . But is the , who currently has just under 14,000 followers, any competition for her owner?Take a peek in our gallery below for some of our favorite tweets from . Who do you think is funnier: Man or feline? Want more? Be sure to check out Stylelist on , , and .I saw the movie about Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel; it was a kind of sad story about her, especially when she lost her male business owner/friend (twice) but I admired how she always tried to stay strong, moved on and kept her business going. She had such great flair in designing two piece suites for women and Chanel No. 5 perfume smells great too.PARIS -- It was blue-sky thinking for Karl Lagerfeld, as he treated guests to a luxury jet-set experience in Chanel's spring-summer collection on the second day Tuesday of haute couture week.The wet Paris morning failed to dampen the mood outside the imperial Grand Palais, as guests waited excitedly to see the inside theme always a closely-guarded secret. The "Cocos" as one fashionista called Chanel followers were led nervously down a space-age passage.There were gasps as they reached the catwalk: a life-size jumbo-jet reconstructed complete with luggage lockers, walkways and even a Champagne trolley."Are we jetting to New York?" one woman asked.On the runway, signature Chanel skirt-suits were given a retro airhostess makeover with wide bateau collars in pastel colors. There was a distinct feel of the 1960s the glamour days for air travel with one embroidered silk short dress in pale blue with geometric band features on the collar, sleeves and low waist.It was as if stiff-suited Karl Lagerfeld had finally decided to relax into the flight as soft, floaty floor-length silhouettes replaced last season's more fitted, shorter and architectural look.But the artistry behind the clothes proved the mile-high couturier had not put his feet up for long: a palette of over 150 different shades was used, with meticulously embroidered silk in dazzling blues and grays the colors of the sky.Raglan balloon sleeves complemented hourglass party dresses in sparkling petrol blue. It provided a much-welcome dash of glamour in a collection watched by cocktail-sipping guests quite obviously enjoying themselves.Speaking backstage in the reconstructed cockpit, Lagerfeld, in his traditional shades and powdered hair, said that blue was used because it's an optimistic color.Revolutionary the show was not, but the Chanel brand is definitely flying steady with reason to be excited about the future. A strong clientele, and robust business mean that like other couture-producing labels, they are bucking the downtrend in a gloomy financial climate.Some watching the show called the collection bold but respecting Coco Chanel's iconic codes.  is known for fantastic accessories. Whether it's the iconic 2.55 bag that is now more expensive than a small car, or shoes adorned with faux stalagmites, knows his ladies love their accessoires. So when he sent models down the runway this Monday (we're late to the game due to our !) wearing bags with handles that looked like hula hoops, we can only guess how many members of the audience were mentally placing their orders. Our money is on carrying that bag shortly, and of course, over-the-top Vogue Nippon editor will probably make a video where she literally hula hoops with . PHOTO:But it does have us wondering: Who will actually purchase the latest ? Can you imagine entering a crowded subway train with a bag whose diameter is larger than your average, umm, car tire? Mon dieu, the dirty looks would be endless (though we suppose that anyone willing to shell out the big bucks for such an extravagant bag isn't taking public transportation). What do you think? Would you pay good money for the latestWant more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .British designer Simeon Farrar has done it again - caused a stir within the fashion industry that is.The man who gave us the iconic 'Kate Mouse' motif tee, even though she's now officially dead (the mouse that is, not the real supermod, obviously), has launched a line of t-shirts with a cheeky nod to fashionistas everywhere.The designs, which feature slogans such as Totes Jel Of My Chanel, Tom Ford Is My Homeboy, Gucci Got Game Yo and Dior Is Dope, are part of his new label Blackscore - a more daring, darker and 'punk' edged unisex t-shirt range, independent of his main Simeon Farrar line.With a team made up of his own staff and some willing helpers keen to experience the buzz of fashwan, all carrying swag bags full of the designs - Farrar made his mark on one of the most important weeks in London's fashion calendar, by stopping well known bloggers, fashion editors, celebrities and supermodels as they made their way into shows, handing them one of the many styles. Those who were happy to pose for a pic with their slogan tees and vests included singer Pixie Lott, Topshop's Kate Phelan, style guru Caryn Franklin and models Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn and Charlotte Free, among others. Paying homage to fashion's most iconic brands and designers, the collection mixes humour with just a hint of irony, and so it's befitting that on the last day of Fashion Week, TOWIE's Lydia Rose Bright was more than happy to be snapped with her Totes Jel Of My Chanel vest!"The idea for this little Black Score stunt emerged out of a conversation with The Huff Post's very own blogger Kate Lawson who has always been a great supporter of ours" said Farrar. "Together we came up with the giveaway idea and I thought it would be cool to design a set of images that referenced the fashion industry specifically. Black Score spans many different cultures and subcultures so it was fun to treat high fashion to a bit of BS. The stunt as a whole went down a storm. Everyone loved them. ""I think it brought a bit of much needed excitement to Fashion Week", he added, "Each tee was gladly accepted from everyone from your average fashion fan to celebrities to models coming out of the shows. It was a hungry market and I think we've only just wet the appetite. London Fashion Week got Black Scored good and proper this season. Paris, y'all better watch out."(Jourdan Dunn's got game, yo)(Cara Delevingne knows who her homeboy is)(Pixie Lott falls for Prada)The collection will be available on the Blackscore website shortly, and will also be part of an exclusive pop-up at Shop at Bluebird on London's Kings Road. Blackscore will also release new designs all year round, shortening the waiting time between seasons and offering something fresh and funny to keep us all entertained. For more info and to see the other designs in the collection, head and you can also read more about the label and Simeon in a previous interview I wrote for the Huff Post . Follow Kate Lawson on Twitter:The Internet is abuzz with news of the coming to the U.S. this week. The exhibit celebrates Chanel's iconic black tweed jacket, and, in a nod to the jacket's dynamism over the years, showcases 120 ways the jacket was reinterpreted and reimagined in a series of black-and-white photographs taken by Karl Lagerfeld, longtime head of Chanel's iconic fashion house. The project is the brainchild of Lagerfeld and former Vogue France editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld. And while Lagerfeld is usually one to toot his own horn, this time, he's actually got something worth about. "The interesting thing is that one simple thing, a little jacket with four pockets, you can play so much and create 120 different types," Lagerfeld said. "It's play time with an item that is timeless."Timeless is right. While it's undeniable that much has changed at the Chanel house since Lagerfeld took the helm (in my opinion, both for good and bad) the brand's adoration of its famed tweed jacket is one thing that hasn't. First imagined by Coco Chanel in 1954, the jacket has been a staple of women's fashion through its many iterations over the years. But the jacket didn't just appear out of the ether: it was the result of deliberate design, and borne of frustration. Coco Chanel was nothing if not candid, and of fashion post-WWII, she had some choice words. "Fashion has become a joke," Chanel said. "The designers have forgotten that there are women inside the dresses. Most women dress for men and want to be admired. But they must also be able to move, to get into a car without bursting their seams! Clothes must have a natural shape." History tells us that Chanel was a woman of great spirit and determination, and it was with this spirit that she was inspired to design a jacket that was not only pleasing on the eyes, but was something women -- and even men -- could feel comfortable in. And like many classic designs, it's got secrets. Each tweed jacket is with silk, which conceals one of the jacket's biggest weapons: its chain. While designing, Chanel used the chain to help the jacket retain its shape while fitting the contours of the body. To this day, Chanel is one of the few remaining fashion houses to weight its jackets, or, in this case, line them with a fine chain. Additionally, paneling in each Chanel jacket makes it possible for the jacket to expand within three size ranges of its original design. One size fits... many? This exhibit gives guests a chance to see some of these secrets. But more than anything, by paying tribute to the Chanel jacket, Lagerfeld is paving the way for its future. As the years pass, I expect the jacket will change. Colors will come and go; it will see new designers and adornments. But in a way, I'm confident it will remain the same: dynamic yet classic, simple yet elaborate. But never outdated. Follow Katherine LaGrave on Twitter:Images from the Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel campaign Keira Knightley shot forever ago (ok, last September) have finally surfaced. Take a look as the actress shows off her cropped 'do, nibbles on a bottle and wears only a bed sheet in what we'll venture to call a non-boring series of fragrance ads. Could such a thing exist? C'est possible. All images . The new preview for Keira Knightley's upcoming Chanel ad gives a nice behind-the-scenes look at the Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) directed mini film. The Coco Mademoiselle 'advertising film' will continue Chanel's tradition of pairing directors with familiar muses. Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet with Audrey Tatou in 2009 after Amelie and A Very Long Engagement, and Baz Luhrmann teamed with Nicole Kidman for the Moulin Rouge-esque . The spot presents Knightley looking back at her first impressions of the shoot, her narration set against b-roll footage. She recalls being told there was "something about a motorbike," that "it would be beige," and that there would be a "sort of catsuit" involved. The film, which will feature Knightley as a "Chanel Superwoman," will premiere Monday, March 21. There were on Tuesday night, but two stars were notably missing: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. KimYe (or whatever we're calling them) tried their best to avoid the red carpet at Tuesday night's Tribeca Film Festival Artists Program dinner. Although if you ask us, the swank Chanel-hosted dinner was a stage of its own, making it a rather fashionable joint appearance for the blossoming couple. That is, if they are a couple. asking Kim about the media attention surrounding her new beau. Kanye jokingly replied, "Who are you talking about? What guy are you talking about?" Funny one. The couple has been everywhere, and . Kim even .But this KimYe appearance is their most stylish appearance -- and our personal favorite -- yet. Check out a photo below and scroll down for more pics.See Kim's 72 days of married style when she was with one of her previous exes! Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's headstone in Lausanne, SwitzerlandWhile on a Chanel high (see my previous piece), it is only fair to pay equal respect to the woman and legend behind the brand that has single-handedly made quilted bags and ballerina flats universal fashion must-haves. Gabrielle, or "Coco" as she preferred, was a complex and complicated woman. Or, atleast, that is how she is portrayed in the three (yes, three) books that came out just this season. Having only read one so far, I can promise that Coco's romances are explored just as thoroughly as the rumors which surrounded her life between the covers of Justine Picardie's Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life. Between the captivating photos of her past and sketches by Karl Lagerfeld, Picardie's writing makes for an illuminating tale of a woman torn between two lives: fashion designer and wartime woman. My personal fascination has been focused on Coco's years in Switzerland. I've spent the past two months living in this country known for the Alps and fondue, and can't help but imagine what it must have been like 65 years ago when the designer frequented the shores of Lac Léman. As Picardie notes in her book, Chanel once said she felt "free as a bird" when visiting Switzerland; her unsmudged red lipstick and conservative clothing concealing a life of lovers, flings, family drama, and a token best friend with a drug problem.Chanel's nickname displayed in greenery across her grave in Lausanne, SwitzerlandFollowing her death at the Ritz in Paris on January 10, 1971, Coco was buried at the Cimetière du Bois-de-Vaux in Lausanne. The turnout for her burial appeared meager in photos, as a formal, more-sizable ceremony had been conducted in Paris two weeks prior. Her gravestone is recognizable by five lions that appear across the top of her headstone; Coco's astrological sign was Leo, something that defined her to the end. Today, greenery in the formation of her name, "Coco", is perfectly placed across the area where her body rests. Next week, it will be 41 years since she passed.The cover of Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life; Karl Lagerfeld's illustration of Chanel at rest.As written in Picardie's pages, Chanel once said to Paul Morand, "I would make a very bad dead person, because once I was put under, I would grow restless and would think only of returning to earth and starting all over again." I'll keep my eye on her plot. A close-up image of Chanel's grave in Lausanne, SwitzerlandI was en route to the Chanel show when I realized my heart was racing. As the car sped down Rue De Rivoli, past the Jardin de Tuileries and towards Grand Palais, I felt my stomach start to knot up. When I pulled up to the pulsing crush of people attempting to squeeze themselves into the imposing marble façade of the building, I finally understood why I was having such a physical reaction to a fashion show. In Paris, Chanel is so much more than fashion -- it is an institution. As I squeezed my way through the crowd I could feel the anticipation building: What would Karl Lagerfeld do next? The enigmatic Karl Lagerfeld is the artistic director and designer of the Chanel brand, and has become an icon in his own right. A lover of spectacle, invitees to this Spring/Summer show were clearly looking to be impressed. As I slid through security, heart still pounding, I marveled at the ornate ceiling before panning down to the massive wind turbines peppering the exceptionally blue, exceptionally long runway. To see the modern architecture of these wind turbines contrasted with the 17th-century venue was both stunning and eerie. The trance-y music washing over the crowd and the brightness of the room made it feel like I'd stepped into an alternate universe: Karl's universe. I took my seat and watched paparazzi clamor over Kanye West and Jennifer Lopez. French style icons like Laetitia Casta and Lou Doillon flitted about the grand room, and I felt totally overcome by the level of production -- we definitely weren't in New York anymore. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better the music picked up and the show began. Models, just specks in the distance, began to materialize on the far-end of the runway. Running some kind of fashionable flight pattern, scores of models resplendent in Chanel made the long journey to the end of the runway and back. With 80 looks in total, the Chanel show felt like it was teeming with energy. So many different design stories floated down the runway: printed boleros were layered on top of dresses, chunky striped platforms were paired with everything from sweet day-dresses to tweedy pantsuits and transparent Lucite hats felt like a fresh take on the classic Chanel wide-brim. Inspired by the 'windmill' motif, the three-dimensional blossoms and embroidery jumping off the finale dresses were a definite highlight. Between the wind turbines, the venue and the breadth of the collection the message was clear: Chanel has energy, and lots of it. After the show, buzzing invitees poured onto the street in front of Grand Palais and struggled to navigate swaths of street-style photographers. Slipping into idling town cars, the fashionable set made their getaway. I grabbed a few friends outside and we teetered in our high-heels to L'Avenue, the fashion canteen on the Avenue Montaigne -- the home of Parisian luxury. Settling on espressos and a plate piled with crème, strawberries and bright raspberries, I couldn't help thinking that Mr. Lagerfeld would approve. Follow Lily Kwong on Twitter:In Los Angeles, where I live, the movie stars are the celebrities. Here in Paris, the celebrities are the fashion designers -- and they're treated like royalty -- oohed and ahhhed at on the street. That said, the biggest A-Lister is Karl Lagerfield and today his show for Chanel was indisputably the hottest ticket in town. All during Fashion Week people here put relationships on the line to try to get tickets. Some don't actually find out if they have a ticket and are actually going until the morning of! Needless to say, I was thrilled when a friend of mine invited me to go. Luckily, our tickets were delivered in advance.Did the Chanel show for the Spring/Summer 2011 Collection live up to all the mega hype? Yes, and it wasn't just for a novice like me. Many people who'd been to Chanel for years noted it was the best, most elaborate show in Chanel history. Quite frankly, it was a spectacle more than an event. A full orchestra played in the background, while 85 models strutted across the stunning location, The Grand Palais. The models walked around the gigantic, incredibly well-lit, cavernous structure, decorated with 10 foot high fountains and huge black metallic cut-outs -- constructed to resemble low, French garden hedges. The ground -- what the models actually walked on top of -- was covered with a fine, white gravel -- that actually left a powdery residue on your shoes. I didn't dust my shoes off as the dust was seen as a sign of prestige that said I was at the Chanel show! The clothes were breathtaking - with lots of color, adornment, eyelet inlays, fringe and tons of feathers. The jewelry focused on mixed metallics, chains, lucite-type cuffs adorned with rhinestones and pearl type rounds of all sizes and colors. There is nothing delicate or dainty about Chanel jewelry. It is meant to say "Look at me -- I have arrived!" Nearly all the models wore platform shoes, made by Chanel, that were rather clunky looking. The had a 1970's feel to them. The upper part of the shoe varied -- but the bottom part was always the same dark colored platform with a rather square, solid heel. That platform shoe sole -- it appeared black -- appeared also in the form of a wedge. The shoe was the polar opposite of say a classic, ladylike Jimmy Choo or a Manolo. No pointy toe. No thin heel. A few interesting tidbits:All the models wore contacts to make their eyes a rather iridescent green. As if it's not hard enough to walk daintily in tiny, sheer frocks! Pale makeup, dark dark eyes with dramatic kohl shading on the entire lid. A few of the models sported jackets with teeny, tiny shorts and their bums (also tiny!) hanging out. There were no models who were women of color. Apparently, the designers want all the models to look similar so that all eyes are focused on the clothes.The front row is where top editors, famous and important people, and royalty sit. At the very center of the show in the front row (pictured below): Vogue Editor Ana Wintour seated next to Susan Tolson, wife of Charlie Rivkin, U.S. Ambassador to France. Unlike many of the other shows during Fashion Week, at the Chanel show, a vast majority of the attendants wear an item by the designer. But you don't have to be decked out head to toe. For example, Vogue's Wintour, pictured above, wore a dress by Chanel, but a maxi length, fur trimmed coat by another designer. The show lasted about 20 minutes and it was quite dramatic when the white haired Karl Lagerfield came out at the end with all the models. Everything about this fashion guru is so dramatic -- down to his collar-- which must be five inches tall and so starched it almost looks like a neck brace. After the show was over, he greeted the VIP's like rocker Courtney Love pictured above. Then he sat and spoke with the press for nearly an hour. He was constantly mobbed -- people were literally tripping to get to him -- and he had no fewer than 8 bodyguards. He apparently is easy to spot here in Paris as he travels in a gold Hummer. The outfit range at Chanel was full spectrum -- from jeans and motorcycle boots to floor length evening attire. One man was even dressed as what looked like one of the Village People from way back when! I'll have more on that -- plus some of the celebs who were there and their favorite outfits -- in the next blog. For more photos, check out Follow Linda Grasso on Twitter:Before I began my biography of Coco Chanel, I knew what you probably know: she was one of the most famous fashion designers in the world, who liberated women from corsets, created the sexy little black dress, and designed nubby wool jackets with braid trim and gold chains. Oh, yes, and those black tipped beige sling-back shoes and the quilted bag with chain handle. And, of course, Chanel No. 5. She was a genius, everyone said -- and the model of a self-made, independent woman.What I learned along the way, as I researched the life of this fascinating and infuriating woman, surprised me: women had been liberated from the corset long before Chanel arrived on the scene, by the designers Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet. Many other designers were creating clothing in soft jersey, with menswear inspired lines, at the same time as Chanel. Her little black dress -- which I had pictured as low-cut and body-skimming -- had long sleeves, a loose dropped waistline, and looked like it should be worn for a board meeting rather than a nightclub in the Roaring Twenties. And the boxy jacket, shoes, and bag: those came from Chanel's comeback in the 1950s, after she was already a stunningly famous designer. I was surprised, too, that she didn't sew and couldn't draw; that she signed away 90% of her business to the company that agreed to market her perfume, Chanel No. 5 (and spent the rest of her career suing for restitution of her rights); and that she died a lonely, bitter woman. Famous as she was, she could be paranoid and cruel. She lied to cover a past of which she was ashamed; she lied to cover her own insecurities. Even though she has the reputation of being independent and fearless, she always yearned to find a man to protect her. Being loved, she said, was the most important goal a woman could achieve. Without love, and without a man, a woman was nothing. Those ideas don't sound very liberated, and yet, even though her ideas about life and love were widely known throughout her life, Chanel was someone many women wanted to emulate.Certainly, she was a genius; she had a fine intuition for what women wanted to wear, an amazing appreciation for fabric, and infallible sense of line. But her genius was not only for fashion. Chanel was her own most famous model. Slender and flat-chested, she looked great in her own designs -- in fact, she claimed that she first tried on all of those designs herself -- and women dieted and wore flattening bras to try to copy her figure -- an impossible challenge for women who were not, and never would be, petite.She was brilliant at marketing herself as a celebrity, and one of my goals in this biography is to show how her public -- the women who coveted her fashions and perfume -- helped to create her legend. These women followed her flamboyant, and much publicized love life (among her many lovers, she was courted by the Duke of Westminster and a Russian Grand Duke, and had an affair with Stravinsky); they saw photos of her vacationing in Venice and Biarritz and at fabulous parties in Paris and London. She was photographed by some of the most talented artists of her time -- like Cecil Beaton and Man Ray. One of the first print ads for Chanel No. 5 showed Chanel herself, in a gorgeous beaded gown, standing in her own elegant rooms at the Ritz in Paris. She appeared in fashion magazines along with her famous friends, like Jean Cocteau, Serge Diaghilev, Salvador Dali, and a host of dukes and duchesses. Before there were movie stars, there was Chanel. And by the time Gloria Swanson and Ina Claire became famous, Chanel already had been the epitome of glamour, for decades.Today's print ads for Chanel perfumes, featuring the lithe and lovely Audrey Tautou perfectly capture the image of Chanel that has persisted since the 1920s, when she burst on the fashion scene. She fashioned herself as a beautiful romantic heroine, ensconced in luxury, pursued by a handsome lover. The legend is irresistible even now, and Chanel is the genius who created it.I think Lisa uses shoes as an independence statement. She and I had some face time shortly after Zoe was born, and she was wearing shoes that the soles were separating from; had silver duct tape around them to keep them together, struttin' around L.A. like that, in places where she was sure to be noticed. As I recall, Lenny (who was with us), wear wearing similar foot attire. Did it diminish her? No. Was it a blatant statement of not being bound to other people's ideas of what was "cool", "chic", even "appropriate"? Certainly! Sure, the thought "Why would someone with more than enough money for some Cons, at least for PayLess, run around like that?" eventually flashed through my mind, as an afterthought -- way after; like a couple of days after. Why? [A. She's dear to me and it just didn't occur to me to think that way, and B)] Because her Light's not limited by what' she wears!!! I was more impressed by who she is, so much so that how she had dressed that evening was completely irrelevant. Such is the case now; the lady be SHININ', unusual choice of footwear notwithstanding.Consider how many people come dressed to the 9's without the candle power Lisa has. [Even without the entertainment career], she's a star; let her shine, Julee, and stop raggin' on her for the elements she chooses for her own solar system! At least her shoes are shining too!!They are lovely young women, but dam, all I want to do is go up behind them pull the shoulders back and tell them to stand up straight. I've seen the slouching stance on really tall girls trying to be shorter, but these girls are peanuts. A lot of women it seems in the entertainment industry think this slouchy look is the way to look, they don't know how to show themselves off to advantage, how to carry themselves. Did you ever see Sophia Loren or Grace Kelly slouching for pictures?As long as I'm on a roll, my other pet peeve, if you are going to wear those tall stiletto heals learn to walk in them, don't walk like a truck driver.Admitting that she paid $500 for a new floral print Vera Wang bag, Adriana Castro couldn’t help but blush.“I got it on sale two months ago,” the hospital coordinator said quietly, away from the ears of her teenage niece. “It was originally $2,250. And it’s something different, not like your typical black or brown leather.”On a recent Saturday at mall in Los Angeles -- where nearly everyone sports a sparkling logo or three -- Castro wasn’t shopping, but hanging out with her family. “I don’t shop as much as I used to,” she said. “Especially for splurgy items, clothes, shoes. With the economy, you try to be more conscious.”Still, it’s hard to resist a good sale once in a while when, at least for the moment, you have a job. Castro wasn’t the only one to treat herself this holiday season. Industry insiders have noticed a comeback of what they call “aspirational shoppers” -- those women and men who spend big chunks of their incomes on bags, watches, gadgets and other status symbols. Armed with credit cards, they’re charging "affordable" luxury brands like Michael Kors -- the self-proclaimed " -- toward whirlwind success.But are these luxuries really affordable? In an economic recovery that is still itself , some are worried that the return of middle-class overspenders is no more than a relapse in disguise.Armine Melkonyan, 35, of Los Angeles, bought the classic quilted Chanel "Timeless" bag in December after obsessing over it for nearly two years, paying with a credit card. The price? $2,100, according to a sales representative at the Beverly Hills Chanel store. Melkonyan doesn’t have a job right now -- she’s a student at the Los Angeles City College -- but says the money isn’t a problem. "You just have to keep up with the bills every month,” she said.Banks, it seems, are just as relaxed as Melkonyan, handing out cards with uncharacteristic generosity. Bank of America, for one, saw a 50 percent surge in new during the last three months of 2011, compared to the same period of 2010. In November, meanwhile, rose 7 percent, according to merchant processing company First Data.Stores noticed the change. Luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the biggest winners in the 2011 holiday retail tussle, reported same-store sales up 7.7 percent in the last three months of 2011, which it credited in part to middle class shoppers.“You are clearly seeing aspirational customers starting to shop,” CEO said on the company’s earnings call with analysts last week.Of everything sold at Saks, handbags did particularly well. Macy’s, a mid-range department store, saw similar trends. “I think [the customer] really wants designer and logo right now,” said Russell Orlando, Macy’s accessories fashion director in an interview. “The whole classic piece in leather at a higher price point is driving the business ... It’s been going on a year now.”The aspirational "look" is becoming a fashion trend, as well. Michael Kors, one of retail's most profitable brands, has championed the aesthetic with logo-covered bags ranging from to . The "sweet spot" for shoppers is $348 to $398, Michael Kors executives told analysts on the company's most recent earnings call with analysts, saying "jet-set" no less than five times. "Jet-set" is Michael Kors’ favorite buzzword for its look: Picture soft leather and classic prints, safe enough to wear in Minneapolis or Milan. raised $944 million in an IPO in December, valuing the company at $3.8 billion.Ironically, a $348 tote might just be what kills the trip to Europe for some people.Genevieve Spitz, 23, of Boston, says she sometimes has to pick between plane tickets and shopping. "I'm one of those people who'll say 'Wow, I love that piece. I'm going to buy it, no matter the cost. And then I do. Unless, of course, I could buy a plane ticket to Spain instead.""I'm not buying designer stuff," Spitz says. "It's more like, can I technically afford those $300 shoes? No. Will I be unable to afford food for the next few weeks if I buy them? No."As in dieting, it's especially hard to say "no" to cravings after a long dry spell. More than three years after the recession began, many Americans are looking for small tokens to make life feel richer, like high quality fabrics or an eye-catching watch.George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, is working on a study with colleague Russell Golman examining how society's image of "the good life" impacts consumer decisions. "Sometimes people are worried that they're poor or appear poor, so they spend money as a way to reassure themselves," Loewenstein said. "But of course, it's about the worst possible strategy you could have."For any class of shopper, the current push by banks to issue new credit cards will no doubt create temptation to overspend. "Credit cards anesthetize the pain of spending money," Loewenstein said.Melkonyan, for one, isn't losing sleep over her new Chanel bag -- unless you consider the late night parties where she’ll wear it. "I don't care about the brand; it's not because [the bag] is expensive," she said. "I want something beautiful." Styleite.com : they unearthed photos of Martha Stewart from her modeling days in the early 1960s. On "Martha" this morning, Andre Leon Talley disclosed that Karl Lagerfeld recently told him that Stewart was once a Chanel model. Who knew? So Styleite dug around and found some incredible images (albeit not from the Chanel shoots). Here are our two favorites. .  seems to have it all these days -- a lucrative career, plenty of chances to and . But it seems that there's one more thing on the actress' wish list: a Chanel skateboard.Even though she seems to be a t-shirt and shorts (well, ) kind of girl, the newly-engaged star : soooo I really need a custom @ skateboard!Aint that right @?!— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) Who knew the 19-year-old had such high-brow sports gear taste? And with on an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, her beau and , we're thinking that luxury sports equipment is here to stay. And if Karl Lagerfeld's listening, he just might find it in the kindness of his heart to send a Chanel skateboard Miley's way.What do you think of these sports-related indulgences? Are these expensive products worth the high price tags?Check out Miley's style evolution and see if you think she's grown up enough to get a Chanel skateboard!Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .The stars came out in black and white for the Chanel Couture Fall 2011 show in Paris on Tuesday night. Karl Lagerfeld's glamorous gal pal Diane Kruger channeled old Hollywood glamour in vintage Chanel Couture (okay, so it was Fall 2009), while rising starlet Elle Fanning rocked chunky white platforms and a swingy dress from Chanel's Spring 2009 couture collection.But it was Milla Jovovich who took the couture cake, pairing her black skirt and Chanel bag with a sheer white tanktop and a black bra. How 1990s of you, Milla!As for the clothes? The Kaiser went dark and brooding, with classic suits and layered dresses in black and gray with pops of magenta.Click below to check out last night's front row dwellers and some of our favorite runway looks. Yesterday marked what would have been Coco Chanel's 129th birthday, despite dying in 1971 her legacy still lives on. Coco was a pioneer in the world of fashion with a colourful and exuberant character. Her iconic designs from the 'little black dress', the boucle jacket, the classic quilted bag and strings of pearls still remain relevant today and are wardrobe staples for many fashionistas. She redefined how to dress women with classic and timeless designs and she was a firm believer in elegance...and of wearing perfume! She left the world with a legacy of fabulous, wise and witty quotes which transcends generations, and here are a few favourites. "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.""Dress shabbily and they remember the dress, dress impeccably and they remember the woman.""A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future.""Some people think luxury is the opposite to poverty. It is not. It is the opposite to vulgarity.""As long as you know men are like children, you know everything!""Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping it will turn in to a door.""Fashion fades, only style remains the same."Here are some of my most favourite Chanel designs of late, which showcases how this classic French brand is still relevant, timeless and oozes as much elegance as when Coco first opened her very first shop in 1920.Images from I make no secret of my love for elegant design, so today I would like to bring some Chanel styling in to interior design. Below are some rooms that Coco herself would adore, all you'll need to do it pop on your box boucle jacket, have a spritz of Chanel No.5 and imagine an era of timeless sophistication. Voila! I'm thinking a classic black, cream and neutral colour palette, pearl, luxurious accessories, and simple, classic designs, with of course copious amounts of Parisian chic. Image from Image from Image from I hope Chanel will continue to give us aspirational and elegant designs. Oh, how I love Chanel! Follow Nikki Wright on Twitter:eGHZmFyID45oENrU906D%2FhMwkuHlFBz7vbH%2Ff%2FInvKhxwb9PFfSCn%2F8qVThGPiQ3fkf6YEs0I8F0fM0LVxM2fSK4I95%2BTaYZjtBUKan59TLkmVgau9HhmJEAACzNaSpRXUuWnWyQh3kn1kf9pMRzikQBOf2JuF1lPI8iKFInWq44PoH8HcJjbT%2BauTR2OQhG paints vibrant multicultural murals with disjointed narratives that confuse and delight. With a bold palette and bolder sense of humor, Abney creates bizarre scenarios that add a hint of perversity to each piece, resulting in a mashup of celebrity and literary references.Abney's scenes are full of bizarre costumes and undecipherable symbols, and even her characters' faces resist familiarity, looking more masklike than natural. The images are forceful, viewers can sense a political passion but cannot quite decipher the "moral," similarly they buzz with both masculine and feminine energy. To make sense of her work, we asked Nina some questions: HP: Can you describe how you found your visual language?? NA: I think it kinda found me. I work very intuitively, so my visual language is a combination of the different things I'm interested in as well as whatever happens in the moment that I am creating a painting. And I feel like my visual language is, and will continue to constantly change as times goes on. I am always trying new things, and editing out different elements in my work.HP: Would you call your work narrative driven? Is there a message or more of an experiment/experience??NA: ?I think my earlier work was more narrative driven, in which I focus on one particular story or experience, but I've become more interested in mixing disjointed narratives and abstraction, and finding interesting ways to obscure any possible story that can be assumed when viewing my work. So I don't necessarily aim to send out a particular message, rather I want the work to provoke the viewer come up with their own message, or answer some of their own questions surrounding the different subjects that I touch in my work.?HP: ?To what extent is your work personal/autobiographical? Do you think all artwork is autobiographical in some way??NA: I do think that all artwork is personal/autobigraphical in the sense that it's a reflection of the artist's thoughts. I treat the canvas like a journal in that it's a place where I can release any concerns, emotions, and just the different thoughts swirling around in my head in general.  ?HP: ?That kind of alludes to what I was going to ask you about all the diverse ground you cover in your work (religion, politics, sex). Would you say that in your head they are all on an equal playing ground??NA: Definitely. There's so much information that comes at an individual during the course of a day.  In one day, I may read the paper, get on the internet and browse through YouTube, my Facebook timeline, look at Twitter, watch the news, watch Bravo, VH1, read gossip blogs, listen to music, and do this all while talking on the phone and texting, so it's ??impossible for me not to cover a multitude of topics.  I'm living in an age of information overload.  ?HP: What's a work of art that inspires you?? NA: Dana Schutz's painting ? and Take a look at Abney's wild worlds below, and let us know what you think in the comments section. Here at HuffPost Style, we love sharing what we do on social media. (If you follow us on , , , and you'll know that we sometimes like to overshare.)In case you missed it, we've rounded up some of our latest photos, and this week was a big one for HuffPost Style. Some of our favorite snaps included a champagne celebration on Monday after , blog editor drinking wine with "" star Ramona Singer and (we're already coveting). Check out the photos below and make sure to follow us on your iPhone or Android.Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .'Tis the season for holiday gatherings, parties and galas! But as the invitations start piling up, so are your worries about what to you'll wear. Never fear, is here. The online boutique is the premiere destination for fashion forward gals looking to rent designer dresses for next to nothing. You can indulge in 145 designers and 20,000 dresses at up to 90% off their retail prices. Yes please! And just in time for the holidays RTR has teamed up with the vintage store to offer its stylish shoppers . If you've always or flashing a pair of double-C earrings, now is your chance. Prices range from $100 to rent a pair of earrings (retailing $1,210) to $350 to rent a handbag (retailing $3,850). Rental periods last four to eight days. Just enough to flaunt your finds! Sure, that's still a bit pricey--but if you've always wanted to splurge on a Chanel accessory, shouldn't you test one out to see if it's worth the dough? Here's a look at the amazing vintage Chanel items available to rent. A cranky customer is seeking restitution of HK$50,000 -- and, get this, two Chanel bags -- from a luxury Hong Kong department store after 32-year-old Dion Leung Wai-yin says she went to the store to validate the authenticity of a HK$17,900 Chanel bag she had previously purchased there, after finding some defects in the bag. That's when her nightmare began:"I was locked in a VIP room, [an employee] served me hot chocolate and he started to chit-chat with me. When I asked him when were we going to discuss the bag, he tried to [talk] about his divorce, the size of his feet and where he came from," Leung Leung also says that she was suffering from anxiety and depression at the time, which were both exacerbated by the 90-minute wait she endured in the store's VIP waiting room. Nevertheless, she still accepted a full refund of the price of the bag, which management offered her after her wait.The store has released an . They've also offered Leung a HK$10,000 gift voucher, even though she requested the higher sum of money, and two new Chanel bags as restitution for her emotional distress. Is she accepting? Also on HuffPost: Despite last week's media frenzy over braved the paparazzi cameras at today's Chanel Couture show. Wearing a slinky silver satin dress under a black jacket, the actress, model and longtime Chanel muse joined Paris' chicest women for Karl Lagerfeld's couture presentation. Held in a faux airplane complete with a carpeted aisle and window seats, the runway show featured plenty of short-sleeve, sky blue dresses that recalled vintage airplane uniforms. But that he didn't want to "make it too literal," which made sense given how many die-hard Chanel couture fans were in attendance. After all, Diane Kruger, Caroline Sieber and Alice Dellal will be needing some high-fashion threads to wear this season and they can't be looking like the cast of "Pan Am."As for Vanessa, we're not as certain. With compounding her already under-the-radar ways, Paradis might be making this one of her only public appearances for some time. But if she had to pick just one event, we wouldn't be surprised if her beloved Lagerfeld's couture show was it.Check out the stylish show-goers aboard Air Chanel as well as select runway looks. What do you think of the collection? Jerry Hall and Georgia May Jagger, Patti Hansen and Theodora Richards -- model moms often produce the chicest daughters.Yasmin and Amber Le Bon are no exception. hit the runway with daughter Amber at yesterday's Chanel show, strutting amongst the sumptuously laid tables for the brand's Pre-Fall 2012 presentation. The pair wore donned two of the 78 (!) looks presented by Karl Lagerfeld in Paris' Grand Palais. The theme of the show was India, or some glamorous version thereof, with Chanel's typical skirt suits and trousers rendered in shiny silks and luxurious lace with gilt embroidery. Some of the models, both Le Bons included, even sported elaborate metallic headgear. While top models like Jacquelyn Jablonski, Arizona Muse and Crystal Renn () walked the show, we're mostly impressed by the dynamic mother-daughter duo -- particularly Yasmin, who somehow looks about a day older than her daughter.That's what happens when you have supermodel genes.Check out the photo below -- can you tell who's the mommy and who's the child? (Fine, we'll tell: Yasmin is on the left, Amber on the right).PHOTOS: The runway used to serve as a backdrop against which designer looks could pop. Lately, however, it is the sets themselves that do much of the popping. The background becomes the foreground in this Chanel 2012 Spring/Summer runway, designed by Zaha Hadid. Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for architecture, is known for the strong, curving forms of her elongated structures. She has designed everything from the National Center for Contemporary Art in Rome to a high speed train station in Naples. She first teamed up with Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld in 2008 with Chanel Pavilion, a gargantuan, mobile pavilion based off of Chanel's signature quilted purse. described the piece as incorporating "undulating surfaces and flowing volumes converge, constantly redefining the quality and experience of each exhibition space, while guiding movement throughout."Her new construction captures a playful side of Chanel not often explored. Candyland icecaps and bleached coral decorate this bubble of fantasy, against which Chanel's classic couture truly does pop. Rather than walk in a straight line, the models mill around in all different directions as if scuttling across the ocean floor. The view seems possible only by opening a clam shell and gazing in at the miniature world in the pearl inside. Watch below to see fashion and fantasy dressed up in all white. Chanel is privately owned by the Wertheimer family and reserves the right to ensure any financial figures remain under wraps. But its spectacular revenues are a given. It should come as no great surprise, then, that the clothes, too, were not for shrinking violets.Models with glossy, slicked-back ponytails and huge glittering eyebrows wore boucle wool parkas with jewel-encrusted hoods, skinny cropped trousers and striped knits, layered one over the other. Here was a grey flannel cap-sleeved ankle-length gilet decorated with what looked like a map of the solar system, there the iconic little black dress, with a bodice finished with hard-edged tiles of mirrored plastic. Some of the accessories were equally striking – even including, in one notable case, a three-year-old child.If last season, Lagerfeld's message was one of sweetness, for the autumn a tougher aesthetic came to the fore. Colour was almost invariably dark: bottle green, navy, plum, black and shades of grey; embellishment was loud and proud as opposed to fragile and more than a nod to the Eighties came in the form of Lurex and an oversized silhouette.Then, of course, there were the money-spinning accessories: heavy metal cuffs, the famous quilted 2.55 bag dangling from gilded chains and necklaces finished with lozenges of semi-precious rock all made an appearance. Later in the day, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, designers of the Valentino label, also hardened up the prettiness of their summer collection in favour of something more austere.Theirs was a subtle shift, however, and a lovely one for that. Soft black leather was finished with frogging and braiding – a nod to the military mood that has been seen elsewhere – but executed with restraint. Cotton dresses in black and Valentino red and with youthful scalloped edges were similarly refined.If the idea behind employing new talent to reinvent old names is to draw future generations into the fold, then this show was a brilliant demonstration of that. Suffice it to say that all of those young, beautiful and, of course, rich enough to invest in high-end designer fashion would do well to spend their money here.This autumn's must-have accessoryEveryone knows cute kids can make great accessories, and the three-year-old boy who graced the Chanel catwalk yesterday was no exception.Despite knowing the dangers of working with children and animals, designers often do – they know it's a surefire way to grab headlines and extra column inches, not to mention lull their audiences into a broody swoon.For autumn 1999, Alexander McQueen punctuated his autumn snowstorm show with a pair of young, red-headed twins, who only added to the other-worldliness. Last September, the London-based label Meadham Kirchhoff had a troupe of pre-teen ballerinas pirouette along the catwalk before models returned for a finale.And Jean-Paul Gaultier, always one to take things to extremes, had models walk different breeds of dogs for autumn 2006, as they showed off his priceless pieces.Harriet WalkerAnna Wintour, we all know, now regularly graces the British capital's shows with her presence: they're more likely to be held in the dazzling penthouse of a west London office block or in the Royal Courts of Justice than in a snooker hall in the outer reaches of Hackney or an underground car park with concrete ramps where – in more well-mannered circles – a runway might be. The British Fashion Council ambassadors, meanwhile, from ladies who lunch to First Ladies, are glacial and groomed, dressed in London-born designs. In the past they would simply have been grumpy and perhaps in possession of a statement hat.And then there's Meadham Kirchhoff, consisting of the designers Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, whose clothes are as desirable as they are marginally deranged, whose hair and make-up is reminiscent of Leigh Bowery's in his heyday and whose mise-en-scène has been known to transport the audience everywhere from a hyper-real flower garden (the colours were brighter, somehow, than nature ever intended) to a satanic St Trinian's (think plaited white wigs, crimson lips and the soundtrack to Psycho). Their show titles are no less evocative: 'He Gave Me Blue Roses. LIFE! (Vicariously)', 'A Wolf in Lamb's Clothing', 'I Am a Lie That Tells the Truth'.They are, then, the brilliantly anarchic exception that proves the rule. Oh, and they claim to be somewhat allergic to Samantha Cameron, who is unlikely to be spotted in anything carrying their label any time soon.We're a bit reluctant to do interviews, Edward Meadham says from their studio in Dalston, east London, where the two designers live and work with their lovely, preternaturally glossy cats. He's dressed in red mohair jumper and shorts and shiny pink stockings.People always write about how moody we are and how dirty our house is which upsets Ben because he's quite a clean freak. In fact, there is nothing even remotely grubby about the space in question. Meadham's room is painted an orange so bright it's positively throbbing. Benjamin Kirchhoff's office is more subdued and populated by well-cared-for plants. The latter's clothes are chic, black and understated. Are Meadham and Kirchhoff bad-tempered?Not today, certainly. In fact, the odd flash of vitriol, directed primarily at themselves, is, as it turns out, as entertaining as the clothes.Here's Meadham talking about the autumn collection, for example. It was about all the things I'm not, he says, about all the things I've always hated myself for not being... And that is? Fun. The shows are entirely my way of being nice, you know; they're my way of being really nice. Because I'm not nice. I want everybody to sit there and feel completely joyful and not hate themselves for five seconds.True to his word, in the past year alone, the label has offered up a troupe of Courtney Love lookalike can-can dancers (Meadham is among the singer's most obsessive fans), a group of fledgling prima ballerinas, and a parade of glam-rock poster girls complete with rainbow-coloured teeth and ears, all of which was indeed enough to bring a smile to the most po-faced commentator's lips. The collections themselves have been witty, pretty, beautiful and brave.Ostrich feather chubbies, crystal-fringed silk bloomers, ankle-length ruffled chiffon dresses and jackets made out of what looks like the grandest vintage furnishing fabrics imaginable, all executed to a level not often found outside the Paris ateliers, have earnt Meadham Kirchhoff a following that extends way beyond the fashion establishment. They have a predominantly teenage fan base, they say – everywhere from America to Lithuania – and they are more than happy to communicate with these young aficionados directly.Very often we see kids making their own version of our things, says Kirchhoff. I saw a girl the other day who'd covered a pair of jeans in the heart pinafore we made for summer. Someone else has made the cardigan. We love that.For his part, Meadham has recently received an elaborately crafted fanzine, inspired by their work and sent to him by another young, like-minded soul. The fact that this girl took the time to do that, he says – it clearly took a lot of time – it makes me happy... Happy and sort of touched and proud.When Meadham Kirchhoff collaborate with Topshop, any merchandise sells out almost before it makes the rails. No less than 25,000 sets of Meadham Kirchhoff nail stickers sold through the high-street chain.Ask Meadham how old he is and he comes back with: too fucking old. Kirchhoff who is, on the surface at least, the gentler soul, says they are ageless and constant. Meadham started life in Somerset (it was kind of idyllic, I used to play in the countryside) and then West Sussex (I think I was always the weird gay one at school).Of southern French extraction, Kirchhoff was born in Chad and moved to Guinea until, aged 15, his parents sent him to school in France. I had no social skills, no knowledge of coolness, or music, or movies or anything. I wasn't made to feel very welcome. I think Ed and I both grew up being socially awkward and not necessarily having a tonne of people around us and only very few who we felt comfortable with, he says.Both of them were also, in their own very different ways, above averagely interested in fashion. Meadham made clothes for his toys and later bought Buffalo platforms and Huggy Bear records. Kirchhoff used to source fabric and then give his drawings to street tailors in Africa and have suits made. I probably looked like a right tit, he says now. But I didn't care.They met at Central Saint Martins where Meadham studied womenswear and Kirchhoff menswear and launched Benjamin Kirchhoff, purveyor of the latter, after graduating in 2002. Four years after that, Meadham Kirchhoff was born.It's not just about the clothes, Kirchhoff says of their label today. It extends to the presentation, to the hair and make-up – we always direct the way it's choreographed, everything about it. Their attention to detail is such that Meadham Kirchhoff's shows even smell of a particular perfume: a different one is given to them by Penhaligon each season. We try to create a world, Kirchhoff says.It's a world populated and influenced by the things Meadham in particular identifies with. It's a whole visual language and an attitude that goes with it, he says. Courtney and Hole, that just never goes away, the Riot Grrrl situation. Siouxsie Sioux. I saw David Lean's Great Expectations when I was about four and thought it was just the most amazing thing. I love Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire... He stops to think: In fact, I think my whole personality is actually Blanche [DuBois] and Stanley [Kowalski]. They're having a bit of an argument in my head.It's about an individual and a person and that has to come through more than the clothes you're going to sell somehow, adds Kirchhoff. I read a lot when I was young. I loved [Emile] Zola, the way that every single aspect of a story is described to you, like the sound a glass makes, a chip on crockery, a rip on a dress... All those things had a really big impact on the way I see things.Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vivienne Westwood is the single living designer Meadham claims to be indebted to. She was incredibly important to me when I was younger. She's the only one I can think of who has done, as far as I can tell, exactly what she wanted, forever, and seems to still be very much in control of what she does.Westwood, it almost goes without saying, has also made a career out of an uncompromisingly original and often confrontational stance and that – in the current climate, at least – appears to be increasingly rare.And with that in mind, Benjamin Kirchhoff states: We do things how we want to do them and not how someone else expects us to do them. It's not that we don't play the game... but we play it on our own terms.Model: Lucia at IMGMake-up: Alexandra Byrne at Terrie Tanaka using Chanel S 2012Hair: Cher Savery at MY-Management using Kiehl'sPhotographer's assistant: Jed SkrzypczakAt Prabal Gurung, models wore cat's eye sunglasses by Linda Farrow Project – an extreme update of the Fifties-style eyewear seen over the summer, but in this rendering deconstructed and given wavy edges to soften the graphic frames against the face. Perfect for sheltering behind in wintry sun.Meanwhile, the sci-fi smoky-glassed visors by Alexander McQueen are the most statement showpiece to have gone into production since the label's sky-high armadillo shoes. Part-cyborg, part Olympic velodrome, it's just the ticket to top off the new season's Star Trek-meets-sports luxe look.Jewellery-wise, go goth or go glam. Leather accessories have been in the style doldrums, thanks to the ubiquitous 50 Shades of Grey, but Lanvin's black leather panther choker is a suitably fierce and scarily sophisticated return to form, embellished as it is with jewelled eyes and mouth. Grrr. But if glitz is more to your taste, Dolce Gabbana's opulent, stranded gold necklace evokes all the arcane and baroque elegance of the Italian duo's heritage, dripping with pearls, curlicues, roses and rosary-esque beading.Feet come into sharper focus too, but shoes are anything but razor-like. Instead, think clump: Acne's elasticated slip-on brogues in high-shine and slightly sinister black leather are key to this autumn's ugly trend, while at Balenciaga Nicholas Ghesquiere mixed the Eighties with out-of-this-world references to create a retro-futurist shoe: a wedge and kitten heel combined in the form of an Edwardiana ankle boot. Phew.Print will play an important role in your wardrobe this season, but it shouldn't stop at your ankles. Follow Mrs Prada's example (for a change) and take it to your shoes as well, mis-matching the patterns on your stompy heels to the swirling lino-graphs on your painfully hip trouser suit.Even wardrobe staples aren't immune to an overhaul, as at Givenchy, where designer Riccardo Tisci gave the timeless riding boot an altogether more functional makeover, affixing leather gaiters to knee-high wedge-heels, upping the dominatrix factor considerably but in a characteristically unconventional way.Finally, pay attention to what is hanging on your arm. The It-bag is dead, but long live its blinged-up cousin, the statement bag. At Miu Miu, classic doctors' bags were streakily marbled in incongruous and sludgy colours; Chanel's clutch, meanwhile, looked more like it had been rough-hewn from the wall of a quartz mine, topped off with a hunk of semi-precious masquerading as a clasp. And Marc Jacobs' elegy to old-fashioned elegance at Louis Vuitton included a glittering and sequinned structured handbag in the shape of the house's famous monogram print. At the show, Jacobs provided porters to carry these for his models, but you may have to tote your own.Alan Grieve is a 21st-century Dickensian. He was the bright young solicitor who earned the trust of a self-exiled millionaire called John Jerwood (even the names have a Dickensian ring), and with the fortune left on Jerwood's death he created his own empire. In 20 years, Grieve has given £90m to the arts, building theatres, dance houses, libraries and creative facilities, and helping the careers of countless young artists, performers and craftspeople.At Hastings, among the fishing boats and net sheds on the Stade, a working beach where the Peggottys of David Copperfield might easily live still, Grieve has built the latest and perhaps his last in a line of capital arts projects. For a while there was a vociferous protest against the plan – an effigy of a gallery was even burnt on the beach long before any designs had been drawn up – because it would be seen to clash with historic Hastings, but the campaign ran out of steam when the understated architecture emerged as being rather complementary.Costing a modest £4m in an £8.5m development partnership with the local authority, this seaside gallery joins the South-east coast string of pearls of Margate's Turner Contemporary (£17m), Eastbourne's refurbished Towner (£8.5m) and Bexhill's De La Warr (£8m). The Jerwood Gallery opens on Saturday, devoted to 20th-century British art.Grieve is the last of the Victorian entrepreneur philanthropists – his own phrase – autocratic, single-minded and the only recipient of a National Lottery grant to give it straight back. When searching for talent to help him, he is inclined to look no further than his own family: his art historian daughter Lara Wardle is the new director of the Jerwood Foundation, and his son, Tom, is the architect of the new gallery in Hastings. The eldest of his five children is fashion's first lady, Amanda Harlech of Chanel.Grieve has personally assembled the art that the gallery has been built to house, filling a hole in what was on offer, he believes. Latterly, this has been done with advice from Lara, former associate director of 20th-century British art at Christie's, and from the new director of the gallery, Liz Gilmore, who was brought from the Arts Council where she had been head of visual art. It is a private enterprise for the public benefit, and that's true philanthropy, he says.Grieve was 30 when the senior partner of his Gray's Inn law firm asked him to look after a tricky client, tricky because he and his pearl business were based in Tokyo. Grieve travelled the world for Jerwood as his business lawyer, becoming his friend and confidant. In the mid-1970s, he was given power of attorney to create a charitable foundation, the chief interest of which, initially, was Jerwood's old school, Oakham, to which he gave close to £8m. He had no children but he had money and he liked education and the arts, Grieve says. He did what he wanted to do.When Jerwood died in 1991, Grieve took control of an organisation with huge assets but no order. Even to establish the extent of them took him two years. He acquired property, principally the handsome Fitzroy Square townhouse that was the Jerwood headquarters until last autumn, and he invested shrewdly enough to treble the assets. His CBE came in 2003.Grieve has a Micawber-like respect for good financial management – It isn't my money, after all – and an extreme aversion to paying what he considers over the odds. He made a handsome profit for Jerwood when he sold Fitzroy, moving the Foundation to a converted Notting Hill mews.The art collection, he estimates, is worth around £6m but cost only £1.5m. He has never paid more than £100,000 for a work, yet has assembled a canon of British art which started with Frank Brangwen and David Bomberg, and has progressed through Sickert, Augustus John, Stanley Spencer, Winifred Nicholson, L S Lowry, Christopher Wood, Terry Frost and Keith Vaughan. He has added Jerwood Painting Prize winners such as Craigie Aitchison, Maggie Hambling and Prunella Clough, and the gallery will show a large representation of the collection, plus temporary exhibitions, starting with Rose Wylie. It's still organic, we'll continue to buy, but sometimes we fail at auction because we're not prepared to pay prices we can't afford, he says. Most recently, Lara failed to buy a Tristram Hillier when bidding broke Jerwood's ceiling.It was the painting prize that started Jerwood's serious arts sponsorship in 1994. At £25,000, it was the richest of its kind when it was phased out in 2004. Then came the first major capital commitment, the Jerwood Space in Southwark, south London, a much-needed dance and drama rehearsal facility. The rents are calibrated according to what the client can afford, and this is the project for which Grieve applied for lottery funding.I made an application, like a lot of people in those euphoric days, and it took quite a while, very bureaucratic, but eventually we got a grant. I only kept it a few weeks before I realised that the Arts Council would want to bear in on me, tell me I hadn't done this or that. So I rang up Gerry Robinson [then chairman of Arts Council England] and asked to whom I should make the cheque out. I think you'd say he was taken aback.When the Royal Court was on the brink ofclosure, considered unsafe in the mid-1990s, Grieve offered £3m to help rebuild it. A news story suggested he insisted the quid pro quo should be a renaming to Jerwood Royal Court but that Buckingham Palace vetoed the idea. Absolute nonsense, he retorts.The Royal Court rebuild was by the architects Haworth Tompkins for whom Tom Grieve later worked, but his own practice, HAT Projects, was born after Jerwood's Hastings scheme was already under way. Hastings was chosen as a site, with the advice of a planning consultant, Hana Loftus, as much for the amenable attitude of the local authority as for the seafront site, and Loftus later joined HAT as Tom's co-director. When we were being considered, I knew nepotism would come up, and I asked Hana's advice, Tom Grieve says. She told me to look at the project and nothing else, and then make my decision if the offer came. As it was, my father pretty much left us to do our job. Alan Grieve, unfazed, refers to enlightened nepotism. He and his co-trustees, he says, chose, from a competition, a practice which came in at a bargain £4m, well below any other.His enlightened philanthropy, however, will never realise the dream of the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, of taking the burden of arts funding from public subsidy. Politicians will always do that, whenever there are cuts they will try to come up with an alternative [to public funding of the arts], but there isn't one, he says, not without the tax breaks American givers get, the difference between America and Europe. Philanthropy will continue to work alongside subsidy here. It won't replace it.Philanthropists have always been key to the arts, particularly to the Victorians when there was no state subsidy, and sponsors like Cadbury and Leverhulme were the nearest thing, he says. Now their equivalents are the foundations set up by Paul Hamlyn, Isaac Wolfson, W Garfield Weston and Jerwood – but without the colossal pound power of a century ago.The new philanthropists are business leaders who can see to the end of a project and make assessments accordingly, without blind chucking money at something he says. The thing about Jerwood is, there must be tangible identifiable results before we start. That's absolutely characteristic of us. And very characteristic of Alan Grieve. The Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, opens Sat (01424 425809, jerwoodgallery.org)The luxury car marque lost the top spot to the technology superbrand, which has just launched its iPhone5 to near universal acclaim, falling to third place after dominating the annual CoolBrands list for six of the last seven years.The 11th annual poll placed YouTube second, Twitter fourth and Google fifth.Just under 3,000 British consumers and a panel of 39 key influencers – including the chart acts Rizzle Kicks and Plan B and the actor David Harewood – ranked a shortlist of 1,200 brands from more than 10,000 initially considered.The panel scored each brand for factors including innovation, originality, style, authenticity, desirability and uniqueness ahead of the public vote.The BBC's iPlayer, the Glastonbury festival, Virgin Atlantic, hi-fi maker Bang Olufsen and department store Liberty rounded out the top 10. Almost half the list is made up of technology and media brands (45 per cent) compared with just a quarter last year, while a record number of online brands made the top 20.Among the highest movers into the top 20 were Twitter, Skype and Nikon. YouTube was up eight places from last year while Facebook did not feature at all in the top 20.It is also the most affordable list yet, with 25 per cent of the brands featured being free to consumers – including YouTube, Google, Twitter, Skype and BBC iPlayer, and 15 per cent of them costing under £10 – including Haagen-Dazs, Ben Jerry's and Vogue.Luxury brands that have fallen out of the top 20 include the car brands Maserati and Ferrari and the fashion houses Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.Stephen Cheliotis, chair of the expert council, said: It is interesting that in this age of austerity our perception of cool has increasingly shifted from aspirational, luxury brands to free or more affordable brands.It’s been subject to some upheavals. Toer van Schayk’s planned new version of Ode – a lost 1920s ballet that was groundbreaking in its use of film and lighting – had to be abandoned for personal reasons. In its place, company director Wayne Eagling staged a solo from another 1920s ballet, Le Train Bleu, and his own new version of Jeux. The cheers that greeted Eagling’s Jeux suggested personal support. He will step down as director at the end of this season, an unexpected decision that has caused controversy.  His Jeux is literally a mixture. Nijinsky’s original ballet is lost. This version draws on photographs and on the sequences Kenneth MacMillan choreographed for the 1978 movie Nijinsky. Eagling sets all this in a rehearsal studio, with a framework of Nijinsky creating the ballet. It’s a slight work, with dancers waving tennis racquets or watching each other in involved trios. There are some appealing, darting moves for the women, in chic 1920s sports dresses.  Gavin Sutherland conduct’s Debussy’s lovely score.  Vadim Muntagirov bounds through the very jolly solo from Le Train Bleu, Nijinska’s response to the sporting 1920s. Dressed in a bathing costume designed by Chanel, he turns cartwheels with and without hands, dips into a diving pose and whirls onwards.   The evening opened with a fine account of Balanchine’s Apollo. Zdenek Konvalina, a very elegant dancer, plays the young god with smooth lines and intelligent phrasing. He’s matched by Daria Klimentová’s Terpsichore, danced with clarity and warmth.  Serge Lifar, one of the stars of the original Ballets Russes, went on to create Suite en blanc in 1943. It’s a classical showcase, stuffed with solo roles and opportunities for display. Muntagirov, Laurretta Summerscales and Ken Saruhashi shine in the pas de trois, buoyant and quick. Nancy Osbaldestone boings through the pas de cinq, matched by her four cavaliers.  Elena Glurdjidze is outstanding in the “Cigarette” solo, with curling, floating arms and grand authority. Lifar’s view of classicism features academic steps and lots of chic, with dancers tilting flirtatiously into slanting poses. In the pas de deux, Erina Takahashi leans against Konvalina, tipped sideways without turning a hair. The company dive into Lifar's grand finale, ending the evening with a flourish.    Until 1 April. Box office 0871 911 0200As studies show an ever greater number of Americans suffer adverse medical reactions, sometimes severe, upon involuntary exposure to artificially scented substances, bans are being imposed across the country on the wearing of smelly aromas, whether pricey perfumes or bottom-shelf colognes.Freedom of expression is a fiercely guarded right in the US, but it is slowly being trumped by something more modern than the Constitution – allergies. As many as 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic condition that can be triggered by things ranging from foods – gluten, peanuts, dairy and chocolates are popular culprits – to animals and chemical substances, including perfume.It's got no formal action behind it but it is working, says City manager Tim Young, referring to the sign that has been hanging near the front entrance of City Hall in Tuttle, Oklahoma, for the past four years. It merely says, Allergy Alert! No Fragrances Please! Anyone who spritzed before leaving home is asked to wait in the public area and meet the official they wanted to see there.The policy was adopted for a simple reason. We had a former employee who had some extreme medical issues with this, Mr Young said. She kept working as long as she could, but when other people came in with certain fragrances, she would turn red and swell up and we had to take her to the hospital.Though hard to enforce – no one has deployed any pong-patrols yet, nor is it easy to determine how much fragrance is too much – edicts elsewhere in the country are stricter. On a federal level, the US Census Bureau enacted a ban on scent-wearing for employees in all of its offices in 2009 and the US Health and Human Services Department followed with a similar policy a year later.The city fathers in Portland, Oregon, a place with a history of progressive social initiatives, instituted a fragrance ban for all city employees last year. It also told custodians of public buildings to use scent-free cleaning products.The science of perfume allergies is not simple. The most vulnerable are sufferers of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), who can react to an array of substances that go into perfumes but also into paints and cleaning fluids. By some estimates just over one in 10 Americans has MCS. But experts say asthma patients are also at risk because perfumes can set off their symptoms.The chemicals in some of these products can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing and the runny nose, said Stanley Fineman of the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. With the asthmatics, there's really good data showing their lung function changes when they're exposed to these compounds.National attention to the problem can be traced back to 2006, when a Detroit public worker, Susan McBride, sued the city, saying that perfume worn by co-workers had prevented her from doing her job because of allergies. The city paid $100,000 in compensation and issued a city ordinance against scented bath products for public employees. For two years now, public servants in Motown have been told not to wear perfumes, colognes, body lotion, scented deodorant or use scented candles.When Hollywood stars aren't posing outside, you'll be able to start your walk at the film festival's main venue, the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès (00 33 4 93 39 01 01; palais desfestivals.com), at the western end of the Boulevard de la Croisette. This shorefront slab of concrete and glass has rolled out the red carpet for Hollywood's finest since 1983 – the first Palais was up the road at the JW Marriott hotel. It is vast, containing 35,000sq m of exhibition space – take a closer look on a tour (00 33 4 92 99 84 22; admission €3).Next, head east along the south side of La Croisette, the city's palm-lined seaside drive. The California-style mix of sun, sea and sand is said to have informed the choice of this city for the film festival back in 1946. Look south-east out to sea, where Ile Ste-Marguerite rises before you, one of the two Iles de Lérins. Tucked behind it is the second island, Ile St-Honorat (00 33 4 92 99 54 40; abbayedelerins.com), home to the Cistercian monastery that built Cannes out of a fishing village. Today, the monks produce fine wines. Boats make the 20-minute journey there between 8am and 6pm in summer from the ferry terminal just beyond the Albert Edouard jetty (cannes- ilesdelerins.com; €13 return).Continue along the poodle-ploughed promenade until you see the sign for Rado Plage (00 33 4 93 94 20 68; rado-plage.fr), the oldest private beach restaurant on La Croisette, run by the same family since 1958. Dip down the stairs to enjoy a coffee and watch the glamorous people on its blue-striped sunloungers.Cross the road near the Hotel Martinez (00 33 4 92 98 73 00; hotel-martinez.com) and admire one of the strip's grand hotels, dating from 1929, a favourite for the stars. Double back along the north side of La Croisette to a Belle Epoque treasure, the Carlton Cannes hotel (00 33 4 93 06 40 06; ichotelsgroup.com), the festival's unofficial HQ.A few steps further west brings you to La Malmaison (00 33 4 97 06 44 90; cannes.com), the sole public art gallery, set in the only surviving original section of the 19th-century Grand Hôtel. The summer exhibition, Picasso, les Chemins du Sud, opens on 1 July. Browse the designer shops that line La Croisette – Dior, Chanel, Gucci – until you reach Rue des Etats Unis. Turn into it and walk for a couple of minutes till you hit Rue d'Antibes, the Oxford Street of Cannes. Turn left, and walk a block to the junction of Rue des Serbs, where you should stop and look north to see the huge Marilyn Monroe mural on the side of the Best Western Cannes Riviera, one of a series of film-inspired murals around the city.Continue all the way down Rue d'Antibes until you reach Rue Emile Négrin, where you turn right, then take a left into Rue Meynadier for some tasty local shopping. At number 22, you find the deliciously pungent cheese shop Ceneri (00 33 4 93 39 63 68; fromagerie-ceneri.com). The dishes at number 31, Au Bons Raviolis (00 33 4 93 39 36 63), include the southern French take on pizza: pissaladière. Pata negra is the star of the deli-café Le Comptoir des Gastronomes (00 33 4 93 68 61 83).Turn right on to Rue Louis Blanc, then left into Rue du Marché Forville to reach the covered food market where you'll see heaps of fish. At the western end, carry straight on and peep into the sombre 16th-century Chapelle de la Miséricorde. Turn left, out of the chapel, along Rue de la Miséricorde, right into Rue Meynadier and right again into Rue St-Antoine, a steep cobbled street lined with bistros that comes alive at night. The road becomes Rue du Suquet – Le Suquet is the name for the old town, which you're now entering.Mantel (00 33 4 93 39 13 10; restaurantmantel.com) makes a good lunch stop. Refreshed, leave and continue up the hill. Turn right at Place du Suquet and right again into Rue de Pré. Fork right into Rue Louis Perrissol and continue up to Eglise Notre-Dame d'Espérance (00 33 493 39 17 49) and Château de la Castre (00 33 4 93 38 55 26; admission €3), the Gothic church and 12th-century castle that crown the old city. Climb the tower for views across the bay and inland to the posh hillside enclaves of Californie and Super Cannes.Make your way down to Rue Louis Perrissol, cross on to Rue Montchevalier and go down to the bottom of the hill on to Rue Georges Clemenceau. When you reach a halt at the pavement's edge, look up and you'll see the giant Cinema Cannes mural on the side of the police station. Pick out the stars and characters, from Charlie Chaplin to Roger Rabbit. Turn right for Place Bernard Cornut Gentille and on to Les Allées de la Liberté, site of the Hôtel de Ville and, at weekends, a flea market. Here stands a statue of Lord Brougham, the English peer who founded modern Cannes. Cross the road to the Palais, and your slice of Cannes is complete.Fresh cutsGet the star treatment at the new spa at Hotel Martinez (see main text) – the L Raphael Beauty Spa (00 33 4 92 98 74 90; l-raphael.com). Its indulgent three-, four- and seven-day Beauty Cruises promise to tackle signs of ageing or help with slimming. Cannes's latest lodgings include Five Hotel (00 33 4 63 36 05 05; five-hotel-cannes.com). The slick boutique property, tucked behind La Croisette, has 45 rooms and 15 suites, a spa and restaurant. Doubles start at €360, including breakfast.Travel EssentialsGetting thereThe nearest airport is at Nice, served direct from the UK by British Airways (0844 493 0758; ba.com), easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyjet .com), Flybe (0871 700 2000; flybe.com) and Jet2 (0871 964 0016; jet2.com). A bus service, No 210, departs Nice airport every half-hour and takes 50 minutes to Cannes for a fare of €26.50 return; it is run by Nice Airport Xpress (00 33 8 20 48 11 11; uk.niceairportxpress.com).In summer, arrive in style by helicopter with Hélisécurité (00 33 4 94 55 59 99; helicopter- saint-tropez.com), a 15-minute journey costing €300 return.Kate Simon travelled with British Airways, which offers two nights at the five-star Hotel Martinez from £309 per person in May, including return flights from Gatwick to Nice and BB accommodation.Further informationCannes Tourist Board: She once was a model – a first generation super, in fact - and her effortless hauteur lit up the catwalks, not to mention the covers of any number of glossy magazines, for more than fifteen years before she married outgoing French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Since February 2008, less than a year after he was elected and three months after divorcing his second wife Cécilia Ciganor-Albéniz, Bruni Sarkozy has adapted effortlessly to her role as immaculate first lady, like an aristocratic duck might to water. Overnight, she ditched high fashion and even higher heels in favour of a discreetly expensive and comparatively demure (read serious) wardrobe. In terms of any style credentials at least, she has barely put a foot wrong.Whether stepping of a plane on her inaugural state visit to London in 2008, perfectly elegant in head-to-toe haute couture, or gracing the cover of the Sunday Times magazine photographed by Juergen Teller, her face scrubbed clean of make-up and in nothing more attention-seeking than blue jeans and white T-shirt, the sight of her has proved enough to bring grown men to their knees. When, that same year, Christies New York auctioned a naked portrait of her taken by Michael Comte in 1993 at the height of her success as a mannequin, its value was estimated as between $3,000 and $4,000. It sold for $91,000.Mme Bruni Sarkozy has natural good looks and poise in spades and that certainly works in her favour. More than that, though, her judgement regarding what to wear and when and how to wear it is faultless. If Jackie Kennedy, with whom she has most often been compared, was chastised for her failure to wear American labels, Bruni Sarkozy has consistently flown the French fashion flag for public appearances. Here she is smiling graciously in tailored grey Christian Dior coat, matching pillbox hat and paper flat pumps, there she beams happily in Chanel black jacket and white boucle wool dress or perfectly draped sapphire blue Yves Saint Laurent gown. That she exudes the class she was born with is a given, on- and off-duty, and always with grace.Only heightening her appeal: lurking just beneath her groomed surface lies a less polite creature – a veritable tigress, in fact. She is a reputable singer/songwriter, actor, mother and woman who springs to her husband’s and children’s defence through good times and bad. The effect is potent to say the least. It’s not news that her tenure has brought with it a degree of controversy: rumours of extra-marital affairs, forthcoming divorce and, more recently, comparisons with Marie Antoinette following her admittedly somewhat deluded claims to live “a modest life”. In Undressed a little known 1998 documentary following the history of 20th century fashion, she demonstrated the difference between a “natural move” and a “model move” for the camera, explaining that the point of the latter was “to look down on people”. In the end, however, her power as a clothes horse par excellence is only added to by the humanity of any more earthly flaws.This article previously implied that Bruni Sarkozy and Nicolas Sarkozy were a couple when Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in May 2007. This has since been amended, as they did not meet until November 2007, and married in February 2008.Chisato, who has been showing in Paris since 2003, was in good company yesterday, part of a packed schedule that included some of the biggest names in the industry from France and further afield: Cacharel, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and Commes des Garons.Kenzo, Céline, Hermès and Givenchy unveil their women's ready-to-wear collections today, while Stella McCartney, Chanel and Louis Vuitton will be showcasing their latest designs tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.The first ever fashion week was staged in New York in 1943. Paris Fashion Week was launched 30 years later in 1973, with Milan the next to follow in 1979. London finally jumped on the bandwagon in 1984.And what of the clothes? More than anyone else in the French capital, M Lagerfeld knows how to showcase the workmanship of the petites mains that staff the specialist ateliers responsible for haute couture's execution. This was spell-binding – from feathered angel wings finishing languid gowns to tiny strips of fragile organza applied to more dresses, every one massaged by hand until edges were frayed just so.It all started, as always, with the boucle wool suit that is this house's most well-known signature. It was almost chubby this time, warm but clearly light as a feather, in gentle shades of pink and grey, shot through with sparkle and with glittering jewelled buttons. Should the Chanel couture customer want a bag to match, the new clutch, so soft and plump one could cuddle it, comes with a chain handle so that no one can snatch it.There was nothing uptight about this collection. Instead, kaftans, sweaters and even a proudly utilitarian all-in-one, only densely covered in sequins coloured cornflower blue and bright rose, were the ultimate demonstration of the luxury of not caring. The woman who wears these clothes is as relaxed in her highly exclusive wardrobe as the rest of us might be in jeans and T-shirt. For the more conservative customer, there were coats that nodded to the mid-20th century haute couture silhouette that M Lagerfeld understands well. He was there the first time, after all. Any vintage appeal was modernised, not least by accessories including painted pewter leather gauntlets and silk slippers with suitably ferocious metal toe-caps and heels.Chanel's haute couture business is not just for show. Such unique pieces may only sell in small numbers but they are vital to the maintenance of this elevated craft form nonetheless. To demonstrate its commitment to the skills of the workshops in question, some of which are staffed by seamstresses who trained under Mlle Chanel herself, 10 years ago the company she founded bought seven of Paris's leading ateliers including Lesage (embroidery), Goossens (goldsmiths), Lemarié (flowers), Guillet (feathers), Massaro (bespoke footwear), Desrues (costume jewellery) and Michel (millinery) with a view to expanding their businesses. Since then, these have not only provided a service to Chanel but also to high-end ready-to-wear labels including Lanvin, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton among others, all of whom call on their expertise for more elaborate designs.But nobody does it like Chanel. As ever to end the haute couture presentation, M Lagerfeld took his bows with the bride, who couldn't have looked more romantic in over-blown gown fluttering with pure white marabou.Barrie Knitwear, part of the collapsed Dawson International, is expected to be sold back to its management in a deal valuing the Hawick-based business at between £3m and £5m within a fortnight. The management bid – led by Jim Carrie and Clive Brown, who have backing from an Edinburgh-based businessman – became favourites following the collapse of previous sales talks last month. The company behind the US menswear chain Brooks Brothers – Italy's Claudio Del Vecchio's Retail Brand Alliance – had been in talks to buy the brand. Famously never compromising design for comfort, the master of shoe couture seems surprisingly taken by my flats. I'm really not a fascist, he murmurs. Everyone wears what they feel great in, or comfortable with. It's a beautiful day, you have an armless shirt: it goes with flip-flops.I was expecting Louboutin in person to be as intimidating as his shoes, but he's playful, chatty and as expressive as any self-respecting Frenchman, frantically conducting the air for emphasis. I don't hate the idea of comfort, he says. I just don't think it's important for me as a designer, it's not in my creative process. Some people say, for instance, they're in a comfortable relationship. I favour someone who would tell me: 'I am in a very passionate relationship'. It's the same thing for shoes. I would rather someone say, 'Your shoes look passionate and sexy', than 'Your shoes look so comfortable'. He says this applies equally to his own relationships. I'm really not a comfortable person, he adds. I don't think comfort equals happiness.His vertiginous, red-soled shoes stand accused of anti-feminism. This he dismisses, leaping into dangerous territory with both well-shod feet. Madonna is a feminist and has been doing more for the cause than all the grumpy feminists, who are giving nothing back by being grumpy, he says. He believes suggesting women should not wear heels is actually anti-feminist. It's saying women are not smart enough to make their own choices.We meet at Claridge's, the day after Louboutin, 49, launched Martini's quest to find the new face of the drinks brand. He will be one of the judges. Their philosophy of 'luck is an attitude' is similar to my own motto: 'Why not?'.I'd caught a glimpse of him at the Design Museum the night before, at the current exhibition celebrating two decades of the spikes, studs, sequins, curves, arches and toe cleavage that make his designs so sexy, if unashamedly impractical. To say he'd given a short speech would be an oversell, but he believes speeches are very Anglo-Saxon. It's not in the French habit, he says. Even for weddings, here you have the best man doing their fun speeches. I've been best man for weddings and would never even think to do that.He may have been 20 years in the business, but shows no signs of resting. He's opening four new men's stores worldwide, and is working with Disney to design Cinderella's glass slipper for the animation. This month, he announced he would be launching a beauty range – so fans can presumably match their nail varnish and lipstick to their scarlet soles. He says the venture, a collaboration with Batallure Beauty, is a natural progression, but won't reveal more until the official launch.He's also expecting the verdict of his appeal against a judge's ruling that Yves Saint Laurent's use of red soles in their designs in July did not infringe his red sole trademark. Despite his protests to the contrary, his anger over the battle is clear. Especially because PPR Group, owner of both YSL and Gucci, was last week awarded £3m in a trademark infringement case against Guess (clothing).In my opinion, they understand a signature when it's about them, but don't see when it's about somebody else, he spits. There is something incredibly hypocritical in PPR trying to break what I consider is my trademark. It's incredibly rude and double standards, he says, gesticulating with frustration. I'm like a mouse with this elephant that can crush me. They have spent so much money on lawyers. But I have to stand up for who I am, and for everyone who believes there is still the possibility to start your own thing, instead of having to be paid and employed by just one or two possible groups.Before setting up his own company, Louboutin designed shoes for YSL, among others. But he believes the current company has no relationship with the late designer. As far as I'm concerned, it is driven by marketing people who don't know what they're talking about, and is totally apart from its fabulous and wonderful creator. He would never have done such a thing like that, for sure.Louboutin grew up in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, unaware of his parents' poverty until a classmate offered his mother a maid's job. An only son, with four older sisters, he was doted on. She [mother] was a free spirit, never judging, the best support. When you have this education, driven by love, it keeps you straight for a long time – and when you have a solid character, you can do anything.His father, a cabinet maker, taught him to follow the grain. He showed me a piece of wood and said, 'You see, there is a line. If you go in the direction of the grain, you can do beautiful sculptures. If you go against, it never works: you end up having splinters.' I took it literally, but also as a metaphor – go in the direction of the grain of life and good things happen to you; go against it, and you end up breaking yourself and everything around you.He left home aged 12, and acts as if this is unremarkable. I never had a conflict; I was just quite mature. I left, but came back for lunch; left, came back another day to sleep in my old bedroom. When I was 15, I came back for a few months, and then left. It never was a break. It was much more natural; the progression of it.He went to live with a photographer 10 years his senior, and spent his teenage years at Folies-Bergères, one of Paris's oldest music halls, where he wanted to design shoes for the dancers – an ambition he never fulfilled. He was also a regular at the theatre, watching only the second half of plays, as he could slip in during the interval for free. He spent time in Egypt, a year in India, and returned to Paris in the 1980s, where he worked with the shoe designers Charles Jourdan and Roger Vivier, credited with inventing the stiletto. His first store in Paris opened in 1991.While Louboutin remains close to two of his four sisters, who both wear his designs, two don't live in France, so I barely see them, he explains. And I never was that close. I have 23 years difference with my oldest sister, and I'm 16 years younger than my second sister.He splits his time between four houses: in France, Portugal and Egypt, and a 13th-century castle in the Vendée, western France. He has been in a non-comfortable relationship with his partner, the landscape architect Louis Benech, for the past 15 years. I could not live with someone 24/7. I just never did, and I could never do. But, yes; it's very nice to go by yourself to do your thing, and then you meet. It's very much a reflection of where I've been with my family. I never remember any conflict in my family, people shouting or anything, he says. Having shod anyone who's anyone, he might be forgiven for having few ambitions left. In fact, he has much he still wants to achieve, including designing a pair of shoes for the Pope. It would be exciting – a fun collaboration. He's very much a designer, you know. Perhaps. But I can't help wondering how Benedict XVI would fare in a pair of flip-flops.Curriculum vitae1963 Born in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, the son of a cabinet maker and a homemaker.1975 After being expelled from school three times, he runs away from home aged 12 to live with a friend.1979 Appears in several films, including the cult classic Race d'ep released in English as The Homosexual Century.1981 Returns to Paris after time spent travelling in Egypt and India, with ambitions of being a shoe designer. Works at Charles Jourdan.1991 After several years working as a freelance designer for such companies as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, Louboutin forms his own company and opens his first shop in Paris with Princess Catherine of Monaco as his first customer.1997 Meets long-term partner, landscape architect Louis Benech.2007-09 Tops the Luxury Institute's Luxury Brand Status Index for three consecutive years. Customers include Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian.2011 Files an unsuccessful $1m trademark infringement suit against YSL, with the judge saying: Louboutin's claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers do, while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette.2012 Opens 1,000sqft boutique in New York, a location in Turkey and the first Louboutin Men's Boutique on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Paris. In May, announces launch of own beauty range.From mainstream witch to indie darling – or, more precisely, from Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter series to Chloe in In Bruges – Poésy is increasingly bestriding the Anglo-Gallic film-making divide, a duality neatly encapsulated last year when she played both the French national icon, Joan of Arc, in the Cannes-competing Jeanne Captive, and a piece of arm candy in the hip American cable show Gossip Girl.I feel very privileged to have been welcomed in England in that way, says Poésy, who flits between London and Paris almost as often as the Eurostar. I always thought that there was a little door that was open for me. Her latest English project has also been her most daunting – and although the role of Queen Isabella in Shakespeare's Richard II is only a minor one, the challenge of mastering iambic pentameters for the BBC's upcoming cycles of Shakespeare plays was considerable.It was like learning how to speak another language, she says in accented but perfectly fluent English. You do Shakespeare at drama school but you do it in French. It's interesting to see, when you study theatre in France, the different translations of Shakespeare – because obviously in England you just work on one material.She was able to learn from her Bard-hardened Richard II co-stars, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart, and to reflect with amusement how she managed to get into the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (France's equivalent of Rada) by performing, in English, Juliet's balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. No one had any idea of whether it was any good, laughs Poésy, who took her mother's maiden name for the stage. Her father, Etienne Guichard, is a theatre director, who used to pretend to Clemence and her younger sister, Maëlle, that their TV only played videos of movies.After a stab at couture that ended after a disastrous work-experience placement when she was expected to stitch together a wedding dress, Poésy grudgingly accepted her thespian fate.I was the one in the family who was saying I wanted to do something else, she says. Mostly because I felt a bit silly saying that I wanted to be an actress before I actually was an actress – or it might have been being scared of failure. A string of French roles playing teenagers ensued, before her English-language breakthrough as Mary, Queen of Scots in Jimmy McGovern's 2004 BBC drama Gunpowder, Treason Plot – a role that led to Harry Potter. Her mother, a schoolteacher, had already encouraged her to read JK Rowling's books, although Poésy says she only really became interested in witches – what were considered witches in those days – when reading up for her role as Joan of Arc.Harry Potter led to a variety of English language parts, from the aforementioned In Bruges, with Colin Farrell (people love that film), and the 2007 TV mini-series War and Peace, to playing Jim Sturgess's enigmatic girlfriend in the London-set horror film Heartless and as James Franco's lover in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Now Poésy is involved in a somewhat more unusual romance, Mr Morgan's Last Love, an age-gap meeting of lonely hearts between a free-spirited Parisian and Michael Caine's retired and widowed American philosophy professor. It sounds like Lost in Translation.Yuh, it's two lonely people finding each other, except it's Paris and not Tokyo, she says. It's not a real love story but there's a lot of love in it... It was lovely to get to know him. He's incredibly simple, and he's got a very playful approach to the whole thing still. Apart from being an actor, Poésy is also a musician (she plays guitar, and sang on last year's debut album by the Last Shadow Puppets' Miles Kane) and fashion icon – a face of the perfume Chloé and now the new face of Dutch urban fashion chain G-Star Raw – as well as being something of an all-round It Girl and muse for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel – although she thinks the Lagerfeld connection is exaggerated.I'm not that close, she says. It's very strange to read these things. One poster we won't be seeing however, is of a naked, or semi-naked, Poésy. After a bad experience as an 18-year-old starlet, she has a clause in all her contracts that states that any nude scenes she films can't be used in trailers or publicity stills. People can find the scene and so whatever they want on the internet, she says defiantly, but at least they can't use on the trailer.'Birdsong' is out on DVD on 12 March. 'Richard II' is on BBC2 in July. 'Mr Morgan's Last Love' is released this autumnBut the autumn/winter 2012 collections, which kicked off at the Ritz in Paris last night with Donatella Versace's first bona fide Atelier Versace catwalk show since 2004, demonstrate that haute couture is thriving.There may be no more than a few hundred women wealthy enough in the world to afford couture, but industry figures say the business is an active one.Earlier this year, Versace chief executive, Gian Giacomo Ferraris, told Women's Wear Daily that the company's couture workshop, which today employs about 30 seamstresses, had escaped restructuring cuts made in 2009 because Ms Versace protected and maintained it.But the cost of a runway show was deemed prohibitive. Instead, private clients and celebrities have been viewing the collection behind closed doors. After healthy haute couture revenues for 2011, and a slightly larger presentation in January this year, more money is now being invested in this, most upscale and elitist, arm of the label.Given that the economy continues to nose-dive, it may seem surprising that Versace is by no means the only fashion house to report significant, even double-digit, growth in sales of haute couture. This craft is the jewel in fashion's crown ? each of these garments are hand-sewn, beaded, embroidered and fitted to suit the client's every curve. Such exclusivity is expensive. Prices start at about £20,000 for a simple day suit. It is not uncommon for more complex pieces to weigh in at 10 times that amount.Chanel is expanding its haute couture business, too. That collection, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, will be shown on Tuesday. We feel more and more interest from customers for something unique, Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion, told Women's Wear Daily. People are looking for top quality.The company, which is privately owned, reserves the right to keep exact figures to itself, but said 2011 was a very good year. Couture is a small business Pavlovsky continued, but an active one nonetheless.Both Givenchy, presided over by Riccardo Tisci, and Valentino, designed since the Roman couturier's retirement in 2007 by Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri, have injected new life into the twice-yearly calendar. This time Maison Martin Margiela, famed for transforming found objects into hand-worked designs, has been invited onto the official schedule for the first time.All eyes are on Christian Dior in particular, meanwhile, where Raf Simon officially took over from John Galliano in April. His debut on this most rarefied catwalk takes place later today.Photographs: Katya De GrunwaldModel: Smita at IMGMake-up: Angela Davis-Deacon at Sue Allatt using Chanel Hydra Beauty SerumHair: Jan Przemyk at Naked Artists using Kiehl'sRetouching: Samuel BlandFrom the top floor of the by now lovingly restored and quietly impressive place the views over the city, including the famous cathedral with the Rubens' altarpiece, are spectacular. This particular area is reserved for buying appointments and all of that profession who attend can expect to be served with traditional Flemish fare – meatloaf with cherries and roast potatoes, to be precise. Much of the raw structure of the building has been preserved and it is furnished by an eclectic mix of antiques. Van Noten is an avid collector and so, when the Antwerp courts of justice chose to rid themselves of any original 1930s fixtures and fittings, for example, he was only too happy to take these items off their hands. There's a black, high-shine 1960s sofa here, oil-painted portraits of King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium in gilded frames there, all of which form a perfectly harmonious and relatively domestic counterpoint to a sense of industry and modernity that is also very much in evidence throughout.On the third floor, bolts of fabric from past seasons are piled up on shelves alongside zips, buttons and labels. Van Noten's labels are distinctive, as the size of the garment is printed beneath his name. Although the complex nature of his design process renders his twice-yearly collections more difficult than most to copy, the archive is a precious commodity and is closely guarded for that. It is testimony to the fact that Van Noten's rise to success was a gradual one that it dates back no further than the mid-Nineties. Until that point, and still struggling to make ends meet, he paid his models in clothes, as was the custom with any up-and-coming name worth his or her credentials at the time. On the second floor, the newly arrived (and vast) spring/summer collection hangs in polythene wraps and is subjected to rigorous quality control before being shipped around the world to upwards of 500 points of sale.Van Noten's office and studio is on the fourth floor. He's dressed today in smart blue chinos and sweater (I am reliably informed that he doesn't wear jeans) and is kept company by his dog, Harry, a magnificent Airedale terrier with a butch bark and a gait like a prima ballerina, all out-turned toes. Harry is a lot of work, Van Noten says. On weekdays and when he doesn't have the run of the designer's famously lovely garden at his 19th-century home on the outskirts of the city, Harry has his own unusually glamorous dog walker.It's more than 30 years since Van Noten founded his business. With a turnover estimated at around 50 million euros a year, it is a minor miracle that the label remains entirely independent and ultimately under the control of this unassuming and highly civilised man. In the last decade of the 20th century, when corporate superpowers were snapping up each and every designer name they could get their hands on, Van Noten resisted the temptation to play along, although I thought at certain points that was maybe the way to go, that that was the future. The big groups weren't only buying labels but also all the factories. Our shoes were made in Italy. The heel manufacturer was sold to Gucci, I think, the last manufacturer to the Prada Group and the producer itself was bought by Armani. My most important yarn suppliers were also bought by Prada. And it's still like that at least some of the time. In the end, though, that's not my way of doing things. I like to choose my own way forward. I really do want to create something that I personally like a lot.For similar reasons, Van Noten doesn't design a pre-collection or any subsidiary lines, preferring instead to concentrate on two ready-to-wear collections for both men and women a year, all four of which he shows in Paris. For me, the show is the only moment when I can tell my story, he says. It's the way I communicate my ideas to the world. The collections are expansive in that they include both high-end and entry-point pieces.For me personally, there's too much fashion around in this world, Van Noten says – not something one might expect to hear from the mouth of a fashion designer. There are too many images, too many impressions and the danger is that the whole thing is lost in one big blur. That's a pity. Before you had only images from ready-to-wear designers, now there's Topshop, Diesel... Everyone does fashion shows and produces imagery that is as strong as possible, just to attract attention. In the past, it was twice a year for men and twice a year for women and then there was couture. It was far more definite and there was breathing space in between.Given that today's industry is notoriously driven by money-spinning accessories, it is equally remarkable that less than 10 per cent of this designer's business is based on those. I'm a fashion designer, not a shoe designer, he says by way of explanation. I like to design clothes. It seems strange to me that people buy a whole outfit in a high-street store, but they still have very expensive shoes. OK, shoes and bags are important but not so important. The whole thing, the combination of all the elements, is important. Van Noten chooses not to advertise or bombard celebrities with his designs, although he has dressed Cate Blanchett and Maggie Gyllenhaal for the red carpet. Who are the clothes for? he wonders. It is challenging to create clothes for people who perhaps don't have the perfect body, who aren't a size 38, and to put those into the collection too. Why not? It's a real world out there.We are talking today about his offering for his spring/summer collection, currently flying out of stores, and something of a departure from Van Noten's signature, more ethnically-informed work. Now, as always, however, the fabrics take precedence, providing the starting point for the collection – although never at the expense of the silhouette, which is just as considerate of its wearer's needs as it always has been.The idea was to find things that were aesthetically interesting but which have no connection with fashion at all, the designer says. I thought: 'What would happen if we use elements on garments that were not created to be printed on garments?'. Van Noten looked at technical drawings of butterfly wings from the 17th century and at 18th-century black-and-white etchings of landscapes. What's on the etchings? A lake and some houses. So, OK, that's the way they used to do it, now let's look at the modern way of doing it. So we have water from the 18th century and we have 21st-century water, too.Then there's his collaboration with the photographer James Reeve to consider – Van Noten first came across his work at the Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival in 2010 when he was president of the fashion side of the event, which is aimed at nurturing young talent. He obviously has a completely different way of looking at cities, Van Noten says. Reeve's night-time images of everything from London's Albert Bridge to the casinos of Las Vegas have a similar quality to that seen when flying over urban spaces at night. Applied to clothing, at first sighting each piece appears to be scattered with tiny jewels. It is only when looked at more carefully that these patterns reveal themselves to be figurative. We had to find a balance between the prints and achieving a garment that is nice to look at and, especially, nice to wear.You do indeed, but there is something uplifting about wearing an oversized cotton dress or vest that turns out to be printed with blue sea, green palm fronds or ancient black-and-white sycamore trees – or indeed all of these things at the same time. The danger with prints like these is that we would end up with very simple sack shapes – you can't use too many seams, Van Noten says. The solution? The cut of the garment looks to mid-20th-century Spanish and Italian haute couture – and to Balenciaga especially – for inspiration. French couture at that period was very Cardin and Courrèges, Van Noten explains. Whereas in Spanish and Italian couture it was more about lace and about ruffles – olé, olé! – and I like that much better.Dries Van Noten was born in Antwerp in 1958. His grandfather was proprietor of a men's ready-to-wear clothing store in the city. His father was responsible for a larger designer clothing boutique in its suburbs. It was a completely new concept, Van Noten remembers. Until that point, all the stores were in the city centre. This was destination shopping ... on a Saturday people would drive to the store. It was menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, there were small fashion shows every weekend. Van Noten's elder brother and two sisters were at university studying by this point, so he used to join his father after school and do his homework there. His mother also owned a clothing store and collected antique linen and lace. During the school holidays, I accompanied my parents on buying trips to Milan, Florence and Paris, Van Noten says. It is fair to say, then, that fashion is in his blood.By the time he was 18, in 1976, Van Noten was ready to enter the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in his home town and to undertake the rigorous fashion course there presided over by the infamous Mme Prigot. She thought that long hair for girls was untidy, that they had to have a chignon, or she just took them to the hairdresser's herself and paid for them to have it cut off. Oh, and she didn't like knees, says Van Noten now. She thought the only good fashion designer in the world was Coco Chanel. It was the end of the 1970s. It was punk. Of course, when you have that many restrictions you rebel against them and that makes things quite interesting.It is the stuff of legend that, with Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, Marina Yee and Walter Van Beirendonck, Van Noten formed the Antwerp Six, perhaps safe in the knowledge that few outside their native country would remember, or even be able to pronounce, their individual names. In 1986, and with Van Noten having worked as a freelance designer since graduating in 1980, they drove their collections to London in a van and took the biannual collections in the British capital by storm. They were all completely different, both personally and professionally, of course, but they shared a belief that it was possible to break from tradition and to create innovative fashion without outside financial support. It says something of those involved that, to varying degrees, they went on to do just that. Although Van Noten remains friends with most of his contemporaries, he brushes off any suggestion that there is a shared Belgian aesthetic. But we maybe do look more at clothes piece by piece. That's why shops can easily sell Belgian designers, because they can mix their clothes with other things.Van Noten's own pragmatic approach is certainly refreshing. Doing only the creative part of the job would be boring, he says. In the end, it's all part of the same thing. What's the point of designing something if afterwards you don't know whether it sold? It's not that if something sells really well we're going to repeat it, because everyone who wanted to buy it has done so already and will want to move on to something else. But it keeps me in touch. I keep in mind what people want and maybe also why they want it. Did other countries buy it? Yes, no. Why did a collection not sell very well in one country when it sold fairly well in another? Maybe the balance of certain shapes wasn't right, the volumes were too oversized or not oversized enough. It's interesting. I like to look at that.Van Noten says that he is, for the most part, left alone when out and about in his home town. People recognise me but not too much. I'm more recognised when I walk around in Tokyo or Hong Kong than I am here. And that's good because I'm not really a big fan of that. I like to have my own life. I have my house. I am able to do things I like to do which are not always the most fashionable... He lives with his long-time partner, Patrick Vangheluwe, and they work together, too. Cooking and gardening are both high on their list of favourite pastimes.I think it's the dream of every fashion designer to have six months off, Van Noten says. To have a sabbatical just once because it all goes so fast. But that's impossible. I'm forced to think about the future because I have a responsibility to the people who work for me and who have been working here for 10 years, as well as to the people who open stores and to suppliers. We have a few thousand people working for us in India who do the embroideries, for example, so I have to make sure that every season I sell so many pieces of embroidery that represent so many hours of work...Although Van Noten travels frequently, he's as likely to spend the summer driving around the northern English countryside as fly off to anywhere more obviously exotic. He has spoken in the past of his clothes being inspired by travel of the mind. Of Paris, where he has a second office and showroom, he says: I'm always very happy to go to Paris but I'm always, also, very happy to leave. Paris is a city where you need a lot of energy to survive.Dries Van Noten is Antwerp's most successful designer. His stand-alone store on a corner at the city's centre, around a 15-minute walk from his office headquarters, is a destination for local residents – who queue round the block each time a new collection arrives – and tourists alike. It's an elegant space where staff are attentive and well-informed but never intrusive.Antwerp is a very easy city to live in, I think, the designer says. It helps that it is lovely to look at, too. As so too are Dries Van Noten's clothes. They are a multi-faceted, cultural and philosophical reflection of one another in more ways than one. Above all, though, both are somehow modest – this is neither a city nor a fashion designer that likes things loud.I don't really want to make clothes that shout, Van Noten says. I think the people who buy our clothes are quite individual. They're not buying them because they want the label or because they want people to admire that label. They're buying them because they like them.MODEL: LEAH DE WAVRIN AT IMG MAKE-UP: EMMA MILES USING JAPONESQUE HAIR: CHRISTOPHER SWEENEY AT DWM USING BUMBLE BUMBLE PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT: JED SKRZYPCZAK ALL CLOTHES FROM THE DRIES VAN NOTEN SPRING/SUMMER COLLECTION, AVAILABLE FROM HARVEY NICHOLS, HARVEYNICHOLS.COM; SELFRIDGES, SELFRIDGES.COM; AND BROWNS, BROWNSFASHION.COM. ALL SUNGLASSES DRIES VAN NOTEN BY LINDA FARROW, LINDAFARROW.CO.UKReclining on a plush cream sofa with short, slicked hair and red lips, wearing a fitted black cocktail dress, she is every inch the sophisticated socialite. Poor Emma Watson, I then counter immediately, having constantly to prove to people like me that she isn't 11-years-old any more.Her new role as the face of Lancôme's Rouge in Love lipstick range will go some way towards changing that view – shot by Mario Testino, the campaign captures her youthful vitality in a new and chic, gamine expression. It's rather more urbane and quite apart from the reputation for precociousness that the Harry Potter franchise – fairly or not – has foisted upon her.As I've got older, and since I cut all my hair off, I've felt a bit more liberated about trying different things out, she smiles, when I suggest she has successfully shaken off the fetters of having played a gawky teenage witch for a decade. I think there's this idea that lipstick is something quite old or something you'd only wear at night. The nice thing about these is that they're really translucent, like a tinted lip balm, so you can wear them in a more casual way.If she sounds like a professional, that's because she has been one for the majority of her 21 years. Picked from thousands to play Hermione Granger at the age of nine, after eight auditions for producer David Heyman, Watson is now – eight films later – rumoured to be worth £43m. She signed a contract with Lancôme in April to feature in the commercial for its Trésor Midnight Rose fragrance, and has been at Selfridges all day to promote the brand's latest launch of lipstick and nail varnish.Make-up is actually something I've always really loved, she continues. The hair and make-up department on the Potter films were the people who saw me first thing in the morning and last thing at night, so that space was somewhere I felt at home. When we had spare time on set, I'd do their make-up and get them to teach me how to do stuff. Make-up artist on the films Amanda Knight remembers Watson making up extras for crowd scenes, too, but Watson has today left it to the professionals. I haven't had my make-up done for two or three months, she says, as if expecting me to say, No way! I raise my eyebrows and she laughs. I know! But it's really weird for me because I used to have it done every day. So it felt like a treat today.She refers regularly to privileges and treats, to feeling lucky and counting her blessings, and she doesn't seem troubled or distracted by the host of opportunities available to her. She is studying English at Oxford, on a secondment from the American Ivy League campus Brown.It's just given me time, really, she says. People use their time at university and at school, which I didn't have, to really think about and figure out what they want to do, and who they want to be. And it's been so nice not to be pushed around or pushed into doing things.In fact, Watson has carefully peppered her career with choices that pertain very closely to her own interests, putting her name to a collection for eco-fashion range People Tree as well as partnering with designer Alberta Ferretti to work on a Pure Threads ethical line too. Her next film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, will be released later this year. She paints and reads books. She has, she tells me guiltily, a university essay to hand in the next day, not yet finished.Doing the Potters was such a bubble, she says, and then having to figure out how to function in the real world has been a challenge. But it's been the small successes for me: I know how to use a washing machine, I can cook. It's worth it to me not to feel disconnected from everything, feeling like I'm in touch with people who do other things than acting or being in the entertainment industry.In a few hours, she will host the Lancôme pre-Baftas party, posing in a crimson lace Valentino dress for the world's cameras. But for the moment, she has her bare feet hooked up underneath her and is fiddling with her BlackBerry; she looks at the basil plant poking out of my shopping bag and wonders what I'm having for dinner. She is terribly normal – if elfishly beautiful – in her rendition of a well-brought-up young woman.I think humour has been a help, she says. I have schoolfriends, a group of people around me, who have carried me through this whole experience and aren't fazed if they ask, 'Oh what are you doing tomorrow?' and I say, 'I'm going up to see Mario [Testino] in Notting Hill, he's shooting me for the new Lancôme campaign.' I don't know – it is mad, and some days I feel a bit mad, but it's the balance that keeps me sane. I don't fully live it, this side of my life.Watson is sanguine about the attention she receives and is logical about it; she plans to travel more now that she has a more lax schedule, and talks about going to the post office, buying milk, getting the Tube, though I can't believe for a minute that she is actually able to do these things fuss-free. Some days, for some reason, I can't go anywhere and I'm like, 'That was a mistake,' and other days no one will even notice me.There was a time, though, towards the end of the Potter franchise, when Watson came of age and began appearing on front rows at shows such as Chanel and Burberry, in whose billboard campaigns she featured along with her younger brother in 2009. I was fully game for 'Throw me in this, throw me in that,' she admits, but I'd like to develop my own sense of style, and dress for myself. The press destroyed me over this Rodarte dress I once wore – it was bright blue with chains on it. She laughs and shivers slightly. I loved it. And I wore a leather Christopher Kane dress with embroidered flowers all over it. It wasn't that crazy, but at the time...She seems to have ridden out the post-Potter publicity admirably, though. Fashion gave me a chance to feel like I was something outside of Potter, she explains, of her appearances front row at shows such as Chanel and Burberry. I'm a multidimensional person and that's the freedom of fashion: that you're able to reinvent yourself through how you dress and how you cut your hair or whatever.Her haircut was, of course, an international sensation, and turned into a global debate. Was it a good idea, did she regret it, why did she do it? Watson faced compliments and criticism in equal measure, staggeringly so. This was more than the average celeb 'do and more like a cultural event: Potter fans were horrified, while the fashion industry discreetly applauded the severing of Hermione's bookish locks.I had journalists asking me if this meant I was coming out, if I was a lesbian now. She rolls her eyes. That haircut did make me realise how subjective everyone's opinion is. Some people were crazy for it and some people just thought I'd lost my shit. All I can do is follow my instincts, because I'll never please everyone.The hues are saturated, pure, sharp, clean – proto colours. There is a hallucinogenic edge to it all. Any minute now a white rabbit might come hopping down the cobbled streets, an elephant with flapping ears might glide between the dreamy spires. I wonder about the latitude and the intensity of the light. Up here on the shores of the Baltic, I reason, we might be closer to the sun. But then what's reason got to do with anything?If logic had any rules, this small former Soviet republic in the furthest corner of north-eastern Europe should be drowning in the whirlpool of the eurozone. But it's not like that. Despite a brief blip when the property bubble burst and the economy went into reverse around 2008, this Baltic Tiger is back, not quite roaring, but purring nicely. The good times are rolling on. The anticipated growth figure this year is just under 2 per cent – not thrilling by the Estonian standards of the early 21st century – but George Osborne would be over the moon if he could make a similar projection.In the commercial heart of Tallinn the Soviet-era Kaubamaja, with its natty new K logo is unrecognisable from the department store that marked its dreary communist inception – its acres of high-end retail are now as glitzy a temple to consumerism as you could hope to see on Fifth Avenue. Viru Keskus, the mall next door, is equally awash with talismanic international brands – Chanel, Armani, Swarovski, Calvin Klein – powerful enough to erase all memory of the grim old days.Following independence in 1992, the headlong rush for all things Western was perhaps inevitable. Hotelier and restaurateur Martin Breuer recalls how it used to be. People wanted to eat exotic – they wanted to eat strange – after so many years of Soviet rule. The stranger it was, the better it was. But over the past 20 years tastes have matured into something less flashy and more indigenous. Style and quality come with an Estonian imprimatur these days.Restaurants are finally recognising the joys of sourcing locally. The recently opened F-Hoone (F-Block) in the Kalamaja suburb keeps it simple. The restaurant is popular with the bohemian set – it is housed in a former electro-mechanical factory reputed to have turned out components that went into space in the Sputniks. The interior is an effortless mash-up of industrial chic, exposed steel joists, naked brickwork, and vibrant colour. The atmosphere is warm and open. The food is unfussy; my salmon is fresh, lightly poached and excellent value.Fashion boutiques such as Nu Nordik, at VabaduseValjak 8, and Naiiv, at Pikk 33, also suggest a new aesthetic: cosy, quirky, fun, warm, and outrageously vivid. Designer Liina Viira uses Estonian folk motifs for inspiration. Her shop, Naiiv, displays a range of knitted hats, scarves, bags and dresses. The eruption of carnival colours challenges any preconception you may have that Scandi/Nordic design is muted and minds its manners.In a similar vein, Etno.ee at Tartu Road 6 is a sign of the times – the store takes evident pride in the country's ethnic design traditions. Folk patterns from various parts of Estonia are given a new twist and deployed to invigorate a range of household goods – cushions, kitchen stuff, lampshades. A bright yellow pair of wellies printed with folksy floral designs from the island of Muhu catch my eye partly because of their sheer exuberance and partly because I am headed for the island.Muhu is a two-and-half-hour drive west from the capital. The ferry from Virtsu to the island feels like an ice breaker – navigating a narrow channel through the frozen sea. Mini floes grind against the hull of the boat, giving the short crossing the feel of an Arctic expedition.Padaste Manor dates back to 1566, though the current structure is largely 19th-century. Framed by ash trees, the house stands out against the surrounding snow in its warming cream and terracotta livery. It was rebuilt from a ruin in 2008 by current owners Martin Breuer and Imre Sooaar, part of a long-term love affair with a property that they took on in 1996.Now it is a luxury hotel, finished tastefully in the modern idiom under the marketing tag of Simple Luxury. Gold taps and chintzy drapery are conspicuous by their absence. Stripped wooden floors, kilims and animal-skin rugs, occasional antiques and log fires set the tone for cool and cosy comfort. It's tempting to stay indoors for the duration.Martin's pitch for his hotel is disarming: Nothing much happens here, he says. A farmer moves a cow from left to right in the morning and from right to left in the evening, and then his day is done. There are no spectacular things – no big mountains, no waterfalls, no things which have an 'awe' effect.I get his drift but he is being unfair. The manor is located on the shoreline of the Gulf of Riga. The view stretches out from the front of the property through the grounds onto the frozen sea and onwards to some small islands. Martin is right – there are no mountains or waterfalls or wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain. But there is plenty to awe the visitor in many subtle and magical ways.Today the sun and clouds are playing tag. The light changes by the moment – the landscape is benign one minute, sullen and menacing the next. The view is perpetually on the cusp, always rearranging itself into the next tableau.There are of course things to do, and this afternoon a horse ride in the ice and snow has been arranged. A lovely idea, in theory, if I forget the deep mutual distrust that usually characterises the relationship between horses and me. As I arrive at the stables an elf comes bounding out to greet me. This is Martin Kivisoo, the horseman of Muhu. He has a long white beard and is wearing a white sheepish hat. For a few seconds I am not sure which way up his face is.My mount is called Racy, a gentle horse I am assured, suitable for beginners. She is part of a tough and ancient Estonian breed that can be left out in all weathers – and here that can mean -30C for weeks at a time. Martin spends much of the ride telling me about the spirits of the forest. We dismount at a seven-way crossroads in the juniper forest. This is an auspicious spot, he explains, to honour Uku, the ancient Estonian god of the sky and the harvest. We circle a holy rock, bang it with a smaller rock and throw grains (which Martin carries in his pocket for just such eventualities) towards the west as a gift. I'm OK with all this as it means less time in the saddle.His assistant, Kati, is keen, however, that I do some riding – and keeps breaking the horses into a trot. Try as I might I have never mastered the rhythm. The more I try the worse it gets. The bumpity-bump is not good; not good for me, not good for the unfortunate horse. We are mercifully at the end of our ride, within yards of dismounting, when Racy decides enough is enough. And tries to kill me.She shies to the right and throws me off her back. I land on my head on the crème brûlée icy crust of the snow. I am upside down with my feet still tangled in the stirrups. This is not an attractive look – luckily no photos are taken. I am removed from the vicinity of thundering hooves. Racy appears to be smirking. No damage is done, though my dignity is sorely bruised.The sunset back at the manor is dramatic. As the shallow sun begins to dip, a red blade of light travels like a laser up the grand avenue, illuminating the canopy of the barren trees and bathing the manor in an eery pink glow. Having locked on to its target the red beam intensifies until the house looks as if it might be catching fire. Looking westwards, the heart of light is blinding, a rose-tinted halo projects around the reeds and shrubs poking through the ice.The Simple Luxury slogan seems slightly disingenuous when dinner is served. As befits the restaurant named the best in Estonia for the past two years, it is an elaborate feast for the senses. The seven-course tasting menu is calibrated to the seasons and leans on local traditions and ingredients, which can include, somewhat counter-intuitively, ostrich reared on a local farm.Tonight's medley is more traditional: courses include cod with cauliflower mousse, beetroot consommé and steak with wild mushroom sauce. Chef Peeter Pihel saves the best till last with his Muhu Apurokk. It looks deceptively like cheesecake but is, in fact, his take on a local pudding made with potato and sour milk. It is served with gooey fermented birch sap and flakes of liquorice and ash meringue. The apurokk is beautiful to look at and seductive and mysterious in the mouth.In the morning, Martin Breuer marshalls his guests for a walk on the sea. We don snow shoes. Martin takes us to the edge of the shore, which is indistinguishable from the frozen sea. It's a blazing sunny day and there are visible fissures in the surface of the ice. He reassures us by going ahead. I weigh more than most of you, so if you follow where I tread you should be OK, he jokes.The guests are a varied group, from Italy, Holland, Russia, Estonia and North Wales. It is an unlikely location for the tribes of Europe to be coming together. Our shadows are elongated on the glittering crystal surface. Occasionally the ice is cratered and volcanic, in other places it has thinned to a transparent lens through which we can see flowing water.We shuffle to a small island across the bay, cooing at the wonders around us in a babel of European languages. As we return I glance back and see the line of footprints we have left on the surface of the sea. The laws of physics have been suspended. I am in Estonia. It seems the most natural thing to walk on water.Travel essentialsGetting thereSankha Guha travelled with Regent Holidays (0117-921 1711; ), which offers a twin-centre holiday with four nights at the Telegraaf Hotel in Tallinn and three nights in Padaste Manor on Muhu Island, both with breakfast. The starting price of £995 per person based on two sharing includes return flights with Estonian Air from Gatwick and transfers. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ) flies to Tallinn from East Midlands, Edinburgh, Luton and Manchester; easyJet (0843 104 5000; ) from Liverpool and Stansted; and Estonian Air () from Gatwick. Further informationHoliday beauty is no less haphazard, although it may be the one time of year we actually have the space to pamper ourselves. Hair gets crispy, skin frazzled and dry, and those no make-up make-up looks become increasingly unrealistic thanks to the blistering, honking redness beneath the foundation.You may roll your eyes at the prospect of a holiday beauty regime, but take the time to suss out some key products and you'll look better than ever on your return. Whether it's a beach break, an urban escape or something altogether more exotic, looking after your assets while you're away will prolong the feeling of well-being even when your feet are firmly back under the desk.Sun protection is key, so invest in a quality cream that won't dry out your skin – remember to reapply regularly and watch out for strap marks. The recent profusion of BB (beauty-benefit or beauty-balm, dependening on who you ask) creams combine the hydrating qualities of a moisturiser with the tint of foundation, and usually include some kind of SPF – these are a great choice for when you can't be bothered with a full face of slap but fancy a reassuring bit of coverage.Going away is also an excuse to lavish yourself with chic miniatures that comply with luggage regulations, the larger sizes (and corresponding prices) of which might usually make you balk. Eve Lom's £75 travel kit includes four of the renowned facialist's most famous and feted products, while Chanel's travel-size No 5 perfume is every bit as elegant as the original – but at £62 for a pack of three mini fragrances.Seek to make life as easy as possible – if you're heading for the beach, invest in a surf spray that will make any tangles look intentional; look for a really good waterproof mascara, too. Start using a gradual tanning moisturiser before you leave so that you'll fit in straight away – and don't forget a snazzy bag to carry all your bits and bobs in.Beauty travel tips from the expertsAlessandra Steinherr, Beauty Director, GlamourThe air con on planes is diabolical so I carry Clarins HydraQuench Serum, £40, with me. It's great for travel but also to ease post-sun dryness. A total holiday multitasker.Bobbi Brown, make-up artistMulti-use products are perfect for travel because they make packing less of a hassle. My essentials are concealer, foundation stick, and a good moisturising balm, which I use on my face, lips, cuticles, and even my heels.Jayne Demuro, Head of Beauty, SelfridgesAs soon as I set foot on an aircraft I can feel the moisture leaving my skin. I use Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief (£30) as an initial hit and top up my skin with face spray for the duration of the flight.Laura Mercier, make-up artistI love to travel, but don't like what it does to my skin. For flights I take something cooling for my eyes. My new Tone Perfecting Eye Gel Crème is the perfect light texture to relieve and calm skin and keep you fresh.Additional research by Rosa Schiller CrawhurstAt Louis Vuitton, comically oversized headpieces had a gently crumpled, elegant flamboyance, while Marc Jacobs opted for a similar look in his eponymous collection, just furrier, wider, brighter and taller.For Grand the hair was about colour and proportion. Hairstylist Guido Palau clamped the hair straight at Prada, brushed it back off the face and lengthened it with extensions in artificial hues matched with the models' natural colour, while at the McQ Alexander McQueen show he created a dense ring of hair that hovered, suspended above the forehead in a donut-shapedring. Crowning confections these certainly were.But they were only half of the story. What about the face? One need look no further than the multibillion-pound cosmetic industry to know that make-up matters. Over the years designers have become increasingly interested in what the make-up artist Alex Box, a long-term collaborator of Rankin and Pugh, terms face architecture. Think Hussein Chalayan's tear-drop wooden mask, Gareth Pugh's ecclesiastical mouth lights or McQueen's veil spiked by enormous antlers. Sounds a bit heavy? As luck would have it, many designers found a new lightness of touch with their fashion-forward creations north of the neck.Take Rei Kawakubo's spring/summer offering for Comme des Garçons, where frothy rounds of creamy fabric bordered plain, childlike faces. Or Sarah Burton's collection for Alexander McQueen, where fabric crept up from the body, encased the skull and reached down on to the face. The finely woven lace in balmy pastel hues crafted a graceful softness from the macabre silhouette. Burton sought the femininity in a futuristic aesthetic for autumn, with mirrored visors adorning plain ladylike faces.Kawakubo, meanwhile, inverted her previous season's silhouette by covering the face completely with a bondage-style balaclava that grew out of a bright floral body suit. The silhouette was constrictive but the character was warm and invulnerable. The thinly woven balaclavas pulled down over faces painted with a spirited flash of red lipstick at Rick Owens had a similar effect. His models strode out against an inferno; this was, he later asserted, a look he saw as completely wearable.Predictably, not all designers embraced covering the face in such a theatrical fashion. Instead, traditional make-up was whipped up to show that eye shadow and lip-gloss were not for the sartorially small minded.At Meadham Kirchhoff, designers Edward and Ben came to make-up artist Florrie White with a clear vision for their autumn winter show: 1990s supermodel meets 1980s drag queen. It was gradual, as if the two were meeting each other, White says. As the old-school glamour and sculpted features of Christy Turlington entered a collision with Trojan, the drag queen at the heart of the Eighties club scene, a scrawl of paint around the eye grew into an hallucinogenic eye patch, a nude lip became a canvas for hyperactive pastel doodles. And those eyebrows? Lest any detail get lost in translation, each zig-zag was scrawled on by Edward.The conflation of traditional beauty with an unusual element captured attention elsewhere. Bejewelled, ruler-straight eyebrows – embroidered in collaboration with the Maison Lesage – provided a graphic embellishment against a simple and austere base at Chanel. Colour was big elsewhere. Baby-blue hues and licks of white paint were flicked across the eyelids at Miu Miu in playful flourishes, while Prada dispensed a lesson in grown-up glamour, with orange scored across the eyebrows, a smoky-black lid and a flash of purple underfoot. Charlotte Tilbury took inspiration directly from Prabal Gurung's clothes for her autumn/winter creation. We wanted to complement and enhance the clothes by creating an enchanting beauty look inspired by 'beetle wings' and birds of paradise. Dual tone teal green and bright blue shadows were applied diagonally on the lids all the way up to the eyebrows like colours in a peacock's feather.As Tilbury aptly surmises, the make-up looks for autumn were about making the girls look beautiful with a twist. So what had designers and make-up artists beating the same drum? For Grand, this was partly a reaction against celebrity models: It was about keeping the girl blank, creating a blank canvas. Box applies this diagnosis to the look in general: It's amniotic times and people want to wipe the slate clean. It is ironic and perhaps fitting for fashion's often contradictory grand narrative that the simplicity of new beginnings is located in a cacophony of colour and concealment. For this year, at least.Make-up maestrosKevyn AucoinArriving in New York City in 1983, Aucoin quickly caught the eye of photographers Steven Meisel and Irving Penn and soon became the go-to make-up artist. His signature touch was transforming a face by using neutral tones to sculpt, define, highlight and shape the complexion, minimising and maximising features, Charlotte Tilbury says. A true master of sophistry, Aucoin made up Cindy Crawford for her first Vogue cover.Serge LutensBorn in 1942, Lutens is a fashion veteran: his precocious work for French Vogue in his 20s earned him the task of launching Christian Dior's make-up line in 1967, where he created an industry powerhouse. He did everything and really pioneered a rounded look, Alex Box says. Lutens has collaborated with the Japanese brand Shiseido since the 1970s and launched an eponymous collection of essentials in 2005.Gucci WestmanWestman is something of a world-wide tastemaker. She was International Artistic Director at Lancome from 2003, until she took up the position of Global Artistic Director at Revlon in 2008. She speaks five languages, trained at École Chauveau in Paris and turned Cameron Diaz into frumpy Lotte Schwartz in Being John Malkovich.Pat McGrathVogue has called her the most influential make-up artist in the world. Not bad for a girl from Northampton. McGrath moved to London in the early 1990s and worked for i-D and The Face before going on tour to Japan with Caron Wheeler from Soul II Soul. Twenty years on and McGrath counts 20 of the world's greatest designers as clients.Peter PhilipsPhilips did not pick up a make-up brush until he was 27: a degree in graphic design was followed by further study at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. On graduation in 1993, Philips cultivated his passion working with Alexander McQueen and Raf Simons before his appointment as creative director of Chanel make-up in 2008.Charlotte TilburyIf you haven't heard of Tilbury, you will have seen her work with covers for Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, LOVE and Pop, and ad campaigns for Versace, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton under her belt. Tilbury makes her subjects look beautiful and interesting; think high-octane smoky eyes or a glazed lip on glowing skin.How much spare time does he have? Not only is he creative director at both Chanel and Fendi, his K Karl Lagerfeld line – a more accessibly priced selection of shirts and signature high collars – launched earlier this year on Net-a-Porter, and he cut the ribbon on a pop-up store devoted to his image in Selfridges last month.Previous shows for his eponymous label have seen models wearing bejewelled motorcycle helmets, complete with interior iPod slots. Clearly, there's no danger of the creative juices running dry.When asked backstage at Fendi last week how he managed to keep on top of his workload, Karl Lagerfeld simply said: I love what I do. That's the best motivation there is. A lesson to us all, perhaps.Intricately tooled leather, languid skirts weighed down by tiny chains hand-sewn into their edges, opulent crystal embroideries and more made for darkly romantic and spectacular viewing. And should madame be interested in one-step dressing, she need look no further than long, lean, all-in-ones with their own haute couture boots attached.ChanelA Chanel garden party at the Grand Palais was peopled by quite the most beautifully dressed models in the world. Nobody knows how to showcase the skills of the haute couture ateliers better than Karl Lagerfeld and there was a romance and even emotional power to these hand-worked garments that took the breath away. Far from uptight, the silhouette was, for the most part, relaxed, or dégagé. Mlle Chanel herself would have approved. To sum up: these were throw-on pieces, if only for the world's wealthiest and most sartorially discerning women to wear and then pass down to their daughters and granddaughters.Christian DiorThree hundred thousand freshly cut flowers is excessive even by haute couture standards but that was what met guests to spectacularly beautiful effect at the hôtel particulier in the chic 16th arrondissement of Paris for Raf Simons' debut for Christian Dior. The clothes were like blooms themselves – skirts resembled upturned lilies and tulips; New Look-line dresses were embellished with petals of silk; and colour ran the spectrum from Victorian garden roses to vivid blue delphiniums. More masculine – and a gauntlet thrown down to Hedi Slimane, perhaps – was a perfectly cut tuxedo and black cigarette-legged trousers, best worn with jewelled bell tops.Jean Paul GaultierThis was a vintage couture season for Jean Paul Gaultier. By the close of the show the audience were cheering at the audacity of the vision and indeed the clothes sent out by the couturier. If an intimate salon environment and the importance of seeing the workmanship of the petites mains up close was the overriding story, this was a grand gesture, old-school style. Models wore long, lean, deconstructed tuxedos, beaded flapper dresses, laced leather and frisky sheer organza… And that was just the boys.ValentinoPierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri's show for Valentino balanced a respect for the traditions of haute couture with an understated elegance that was more contemporary by nature. A deceptively simple midnight blue velvet gown, a navy cape that only its wearer would ever know was double layered (chiffon and cashmere) and tree of life prints and embroideries featuring the plumpest and prettiest birds were all executed with the refinement that is by now the hallmark of this designer pairing. Like Valentino in his heyday, they know how to showcase exquisite workmanship, while always ensuring clothes remain light.Maison Martin MargielaMaison Martin Margiela's Artisanal collection is small and studiously imperfectly formed. This house loves the authenticity of age, and its flaws are left intact. An Edwardian silhouette dominated here but was given a tender twist: doorknobs from that period replaced buttons; leather baseball gloves were flattened and transformed into an S-bend jacket. Models' faces were masked – a signature of this very innovative collective – but this time, coloured crystal was applied to the surface. Imaginative, innovative and made entirely by hand, of course.Giambattista ValliExuberant flower prints and ruffles everywhere from neckline to hem almost threatened to engulf the slender models wearing them at Giambattista Valli's haute couture collection. Restricting his colour palette almost entirely to shades of red and green, with the odd splash of vivid iris, only added to the drama of this, a fashion fantasy inspired by the most high-impact of gardens. Models stepped out with butterflies where otherwise their lips might be, a strangely surreal and slightly macabre sight.Atelier VersaceStrips of patent leather were studded with solid rose gold for the Atelier Versace collection as modelled by Ms Versace herself as she stepped out to take her bows. This was the designer's first haute couture catwalk show for almost a decade and it was big on the high-octane glamour the Italian label is famous for, from blazing colour – bright rose, violet and citrine – to patchworked rubber, silk and lace held together with oversized stitches threaded with glittering beads and crystal metal mesh. Prints – a Versace signature – referenced tarot cards and the work of Picasso. It was all a matter of deconstruction and reconstruction, Ms Versace said.Armani PrivéEschewing his 1980s shoulder line in favour of a softer silhouette and, often, an empire line, Giorgio Armani showed three sections in the old-school manner, moving from day to evening to night-time, signalled by a backdrop on to which was projected a sunrise, a sunset and, finally, a starry sky. Soft, black wide-legged silk velvet trousers were worn with blouson jackets and little flat pumps. Narrow evening dresses in more velvet or embroidered with crystal beads were high on shimmer and shine but always polite. Sophia Loren sat in the front row, as did many a client. They looked good dressed in the grand old man of Italian fashion's designs.Up in the Air9pm BBC2(Jason Reitman, 2009) George Clooney (below, with Anna Kendrick) stars as a corporate downsizer, paid to do the unpleasant business of firing people, whose neatly ordered life unravels once he learns his own job is at risk. A comedy about the depersonalisation of modern life, and thus also the importance of making human connections, Up in the Air lightens its satirical and cynical mood with just the right amount of romanticism. ****SaturdayAustralia6.50pm Channel 4(Baz Luhrmann, 2008) It's set in a real time and place – Australia's northern territory before the outbreak of war, and then during the post-Pearl Harbor Japanese invasion – but Baz Luhrmann's kitsch, mock-epic romantic adventure story is an impressive work of pure filmic artifice; the country's landscapes made to look as vivid and pretty as a painted studio backdrop. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman star.  ****MondayCoco Before Chanel6.50pm Film4(Anne Fontaine, 2009) Focusing on the period in Gabrielle Coco Chanel's life before she was famous, and eschewing the triumphalist narrative favoured by most rags-to-riches biopics, this film also stops just short of reclaiming the elegant Chanel (Audrey Tautou, above) as a feminist figure. It instead shows us the compromises which this most uncompromising of women was forced to make in patriarchal Belle Epoque France. ***TuesdayThe French Connection1.30pm 12 midnight Sky Movies Modern Greats(William Friedkin, 1971) William Friedkin brought a near neo-realist sensibility and aesthetic to bear in the making of this gritty policier, so that Gene Hackman's (above) hardman cop Popeye Doyle, and the streets of Seventies New York that he swaggers down, still feel tough, raw and real. Meanwhile, the famous car chase set the standard against which others measure themselves to this day. ****WednesdayFrankenstein8.30pm Sky Movies Classics(James Whale, 1931) Boris Karloff (above), with the help of the make-up artist Jack Pierce, defined forever the way that Frankenstein's monster looks and acts in the popular imagination, and made him a more sympathetic and tragic beast than he is in Mary Shelley's novel. The film is the greatest of Universal's Thirties and Forties horrors: a haunting, melancholy work of gothic beauty. *****ThursdayTotal Recall10pm ITV2(Paul Verhoeven, 1990) The biggest-budget action film of its day, this sci-fi mind-bender adapted from a Philip K Dick story stars Arnie Schwarzenegger (above, with Sharon Stone) as an interplanetary superspy who thinks he's a construction worker. Or is it the other way round? Violent, somewhat ludicrous and now badly dated, it is still terrific fun. See it before the remake with Colin Farrell is released in August. ****FridayWe Need to Talk about Kevin10.15pm Sky Movies Premiere(Lynne Ramsay, 2011) Tilda Swinton stars as Eva, a woman whose life has been shattered by an act of violence committed by her son Kevin – a malevolent teenager with whom she's had a fractious relationship his whole life. Lynne Ramsay's expressionistic, uncomfortably up-close adaptation of the Lionel Shriver novel is haunted by Eva's fear that she didn't give birth to a monster, but created one. ****Way before crime, my infatuation with the sexy Latin manager of my health club had turned into a deep friendship, and culminated in true love so strong that it bound us together no matter what... even when heroin made the man I knew with the heart of gold, unrecognisable. He says prison saved his life because he had to hit rock bottom. But like Robert Downey Jr, he did finally stop using and changed his life around. When I finally saw Gil after two years into his sobriety, he looked like Captain America, strong, clear-eyed and definitely reborn. And that's when I proposed to him...I had been visiting Gil for months when I overheard some women talking about sleeping in the prison. Can I really sleep in your cell with you? I asked one day. My handsome, Puerto Rican boyfriend's frowning face burst out laughing. You mean trailer visits? he cried. Honey, you have to be married to be eligible for an overnight visit in the little cabins. Well, then let's get married... The words popped out of my mouth immediately, and then I argued for weeks, finally convincing Gil that it was the only sensible thing for us to do. It would make waiting for freedom all the more tolerable and fill the void I always felt after leaving him. When I wasn't with him, half of me was torn apart.It took six months of paperwork to get the approval needed, but we were finally granted our first overnight visit. However, now I was in a quandary: what would be the perfect outfit to begin my jailhouse honeymoon? In this movie of my life, I needed to look the part I wanted to play. My outfit was like Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility – a shield to make me impenetrable and not allow the ugliness, stress, and fear from those prison walls to affect me and the precious time alone I would have with the man I loved. I was insistent on creating an oasis and on bringing sunshine and freedom into that den of despair. So, I scoured the store for hours until I found what I was looking for, a beautiful pair of pale-lavender, linen overalls; they were perfect. I felt the soft light linen between my fingers. They were casual but also luxurious and utterly impractical, which made them all the more perfect. And they fitted like a glove, making me feel feminine and sexy. As I looked at myself in the mirror I thought, the overalls looked thoroughly appropriate to walk through the corridors of the all-male prison. I envisioned myself almost floating down the halls, confident and happy in my lavender overalls, my own suit of armour. I was determined to bring pretty to that place, no matter what.Soon, I was next in line to be processed through the prison's security check-point. Take off your shoes, jewellery and hairclip, a mean-looking female guard barked. Barefoot I walked through the metal detector in my overalls. The alarms went off as if I had been carrying a Magnum 45. I was shocked. You can't go in if you don't get through the metal detector. You'll have to leave. But I have nothing to hide! Tears welled up in frustration and anger at the sheer stupidity and pig-headedness of those who held the keys to my happiness. Then it hit me – the 20 small silver engraved buttons on my overalls. The metal detector didn't differentiate the small buttons from a gun. The guards knew that I was not carrying a gun, but they were cruel and having a good laugh at my expense.I had a choice: I could change clothes or leave. I stepped into the bathroom, wiped my tears, and pulled a Brazilian sarong from my bag. I had nothing else to wear. I handed the overalls to the guard, then passed through the metal detector easily. She glared at me and returned my garment. It took all my courage but I walked ahead through the prison, barefoot and naked underneath the flimsy wrap. I was led to a backyard with four little cabins enclosed in 20-foot concrete walls, but standing outside one of them was Gil. In one night and two days, I was transformed. Our goodbye was so hard but seeing the same guard again, I smiled. I would play by the rules, but I was unwavering in my way, too.'The JM Barrie Ladies' Swimming Society' by Barbara J Zitwer is published in April by Short BooksDiscontinuing the association with her is also good PR for Nivea because it allows them to reiterate the values that they don't feel she aspires to, says Claire Beale, editor of Campaign. Celebrity endorsements give brands an instant value to tap into and if you associate yourself with a big personality you'll instantly gain credibility with all the people that love that celebrity. The problem is celebrities often don't behave themselves.While Rihanna's firing might seem somewhat unwarranted, there are plenty of other celebrities who have given good reason to be dismissed. Both Wrigley and the Milk Processor Education Program (that's the Got Milk? campaign to you) quite rightly terminated contracts with RB performer Chris Brown after he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend (yep, Rihanna).Fashion labels such as Chanel and Burberry quickly deserted Kate Moss after she was caught on camera allegedly snorting cocaine (although the entire industry has since done a U-turn after realising the supermodel is far too valuable to blacklist). Another star who must regret allegedly dabbling in drugs is Michael Phelps, who had a lucrative deal as the face of Kellogg's (despite everyone knowing that the swimmer chows down fried egg sandwiches, omelettes, French toast and pancakes for breakfast, not a sad little bowl of Corn Flakes). After pictures surfaced of the Olympian apparently puffing on a bong, the two soon parted ways.Infidelity doesn't go down well with big business either. Wayne Rooney was dumped by Coca-Cola and Tiger beer after being caught cheating on a pregnant Coleen, while Tiger Woods' extra-marital escapades cost him not only his wife but deals with Gatorade, ATT, Accenture and Gillette worth millions (although probably not quite as much as the divorce settlement).And while cheating on partners is not appreciated by sponsors, celebrities should remember not to cheat on the product either. Just last month Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho had his sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola revoked after he turned up at a press conference sipping on a Pepsi. A can of fizzy drink is usually about 60 pence; this one cost £500,000.So it is with Haider Ackermann who first showed at the Paris collections 10 years ago now and who has built up a loyal following with the most sartorially forward thinking. Now, though, his runway presentations and the highly singular vision they represent are one of the high points of the French fashion season across the board.Still – and relatively speaking – Ackermann works against the mainstream. His collections comprise a stately procession of models, each wearing their own individual, intricately worked and impeccably realised style. Colour sings. The drape of his fabrics is among the finest in the industry. Leather is moulded, tooled and washed until it is as delicate as tissue paper. There are no money-spinning bags or other trinkets to detract from the story that is, and always has been, the clothes.There is little straightforward about Ackermann's designs. In fact, they are often so complex that when, for example, in March 2011, Lady Gaga appeared on the front cover of American Vogue wearing Haider Ackermann, the hapless fashion editor responsible for styling her look called the designer to ask for his personal help dressing her. No how many fashion editors does it take... jokes called for, please. Oh, and the fact that Ackermann even ended up in that position in the first place is quite a coup. The prime cover spot of any glossy magazine worth its credentials is predominantly the preserve of big-brand advertisers. Haider Ackermann, which is independently owned, doesn't have the budget for that.Ackermann was born in Santa Fe de Bogotá in Colombia and adopted by French parents. His father, a cartographer, travelled across Africa with his young son and a brother and sister, also adopted. Ackermann remembers Ethiopian women draped in bubu. When you're a child, everything seems so much more big and tall and they have these very skeletal figures and a certain fragility. I still project those women. Certainly, a sense of proportion reminiscent also of Giacometti's sculpture is part of the picture. In Algeria, Ackermann saw mysterious women hidden behind metres of fabric, slippering through the medina of Oran, and enveloping the female form more than exposing it continues to be important to him.Aged 12, the designer moved with his family to The Netherlands, and then on to Antwerp where he furthered his education at the Academie des Beaux-Arts, alma mater to Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten to name just three. Raf Simons, the newly appointed design director at Christian Dior (Ackermann was rumoured to be in line for that position too, incidentally), didn't study at the celebrated fashion school in that city but he was at the epicentre of its creative scene while Ackermann was a student. He [Haider] never graduated because he couldn't finish his collections. If he had to do five silhouettes, he would only do three. But they were the best, Simons has said. In Belgium, Ackermann learned that it was important to consider the comfort and dignity of any future devotees. There is so much respect for the woman who will ultimately wear the clothes in the Belgian school and the intention is always not to make decoration out of them, is how he puts it. It's about the woman first and foremost. The clothes should only reflect what she is.After college Ackermann spent a short time as an intern at John Galliano before setting up his own label. So naïve was he that when he debuted on the catwalk he neglected to invite any buyers. Still, the style press were in attendance and knew a good thing when they saw it and it wasn't long before his designs were sold in Colette in Paris, Corso Como in Milan and Louis in Antwerp. Since then, his company has grown, organically and in a perfectly well-judged manner. Ackermann is no fool and has never claimed to be averse to working for a label other than his own. As well as being name-checked for Dior, he was thought to be the most natural successor to the aforementioned Margiela when he retired in 2009. For now, though, his prime concern is his signature line. That Ackermann has friends in high places is a given. Karl Lagerfeld for one endorses his talent. In 2010, the Chanel creative director told press that the younger designer would be his preferred successor as and when the time comes. Praise indeed.Perhaps more importantly still, the actor Tilda Swinton loves Haider Ackermann. No one wears his preternaturally long, lean and covered silhouette quite so imposingly. A little over a year ago she talked to her friend for Interview magazine. I just feel this satisfaction that what seemed so clear and inevitable to everyone around you for so long – that people would one day be open to your work – is finally taking place, she said. You must feel that there's such a Haider-shaped space that you're filling now for people beyond the few of us who'd been invited into your world before...That Haider Ackermann-shaped space is a million miles away from fast fashion and the endless invention and reinvention of trends. Instead it is opulent, modest, majestic even and a deliberately slow burner... The more closely you look, the more lovely it all seems. It is precious, then, in the best possible sense of the word.In keeping with the fashion world's tradition of the long and simmering feud, this weekend's outburst is just the latest salvo in a skirmish that began last January, when one of Newsweek's fashion contributors described the ponytailed creative director of Chanel as overrated. Robin Givhan, the scribe in question, undoubtedly touched a raw nerve. Even though she is the first person to have won a Pulitzer prize for writing about fashion, Lagerfeld dismissed her critique imperiously, taking pains to point out that he had never heard of her.It was no coincidence earlier this year when Ms Givhan found her ticket seated her with the hoi poloi at Chanel's show in Paris Fashion Week.Nevertheless, Lagerfeld had ammunition left, so at a press conference on Friday he let Ms Brown have it: First of all, Tina Brown's magazine is not doing well at all, he said to an international press pack, warming to his theme as he ripped into the story: She is dying ... I'm sorry for Tina Brown, who was such a success at Vanity Fair, to go down with a shitty little paper like this. I'm sorry.Newsweek, of course, was having none of this, though it avoided expletives and loaded its return fire with statistics: In the past year since Tina Brown took over as editor-in-chief of Newsweek, newsstand sales have increased 30 per cent year on year, advertising pages have seen a 27 per cent increase for the first quarter of 2012, we have over 2.2 million people engaged in our social media communities and, perhaps the most telling indicator of the renewed vitality of Newsweek, subscription renewals, in a consistent state of decline since 2005, rose by 3 per cent last year.In truth, the most likely outcome is that the two protagonists will air-kiss and make up at some point. But theirs is just the latest in a long and ignoble tradition of handbags-at-dawn encounters between the great and the good of the fashion world.Tony Cragg, a very English sculptor, suffered from it at the start of his career, when he first moved to Wuppertal, near Feldmann's home town of Düsseldorf. Cragg would scour the banks of a neighbouring river for bits of like-coloured plastic – shards of blue bleach bottle, say – and turn them into two-dimensional sculptures. They were lovely, in a Povera kind of way. But they also seemed specifically local, to do with German history, a need to remake from fragments, to work in a childlike way.In Feldmann's case, this urge to reconstruct has taken a more conceptual turn. In his show at the Serpentine Gallery – the first, oddly, in a British public artspace – is a group of five vitrines, each containing a woman's handbag with its contents emptied out and put on display. These Feldmann bought from their owners intact: you wonder how he broached the subject.One vitrine is labelled Susanne, Berlin, 38 years, its handbag a garish red number with a torn handle, the contents including Chanel nail varnish and face powder, a BlackBerry and a great many cigarette filters. By contrast, Renate, Cologne, 43 years has artistic interests – there are art postcards and gallery tickets – while Oriane, Berlin, 27 years (old Nokia, pebble, earplugs, L'eau d'Issey roll-on, scuffed shoes) seems the most scatterbrained.Seen under glass, the handbags have the feel of evidence, perhaps from a mugging. What we deduce from them is the characters of their owners. Feldmann is big on the idea of completeness, of Vollständigkeit. Here are the total contents of a finite thing, unedited and unmediated. And yet for all their information, for all their intimacy and unguardedness, the vitrines remain entirely boring and unrevealing.That, in a nutshell, is Feldmann's message, restated again and again in different media over the past 40-odd years: more knowledge is only ever more knowledge, never omniscience. When he photographs each of the 68 strawberries in a half-kilo box individually and tacks all the pictures to a wall unframed and unadorned, we can truthfully say that we have seen every strawberry in a particular punnet. And so what? It tells us nothing of the essence of strawberries, of strawberriness. Likewise with the six beautifully printed and framed slices of rye bread on one wall of the Serpentine's central gallery, or with the sequence of shots – empty frame, bow, whole boat, stern, empty frame – of a tug passing up the Rhine.It is, in its strange way, compelling: the more evidence Feldmann gives us, the less we know; the stronger his positives, the more we feel the negatives around them. In a curtained-off niche in the Serpentine's West Gallery is an installation called – unusually for Feldmann, who prefers his work anonymous – Shadow Play. This consists of a trestle table with spotlights on it made from coffee tins, each light illuminating a spinning turntable covered in what can only be called stuff: from memory, a statuette of the Eiffel Tower, another of HM The Queen, a model of a British Airways jet, the upper half of a Barbie, two bridal couples (one heterosexual and one same-sex) from the tops of wedding cakes, and much, much else besides.You could go on reciting the ingredients of Feldmann's recipe until you were blue in the face, although no amount of listing would prepare you for the outcome. Projected on the niche's back wall, à la Noble and Webster, is the shadow play of the work's title, a joyous and yet macabre place, redolent of fairgrounds and travel and glamour but also of Hitchcock and nightmares. As with Webster and Noble, the trick is not in the transformation from solid to shadow but in the fact that we are still amazed by it even though we can see – we are forced to see – how it is done. Facts, in Feldmann's world, are not an antidote to astonishment, nor to ignorance.All this makes his insistence, often voiced, that he is not an artist faintly irritating. For Feldmann to say that he is merely an archivist is less modest than it sounds. Beneath this claim is the suggestion that his work is unmediated, honest, found rather than made. That is not childlike: it is untrue. The contents of Renate's handbag have been laid out differently from those of Susanne's, and it is Feldmann who did the laying; likewise, who chose when to press the button of his camera as he stood by the Rhine? Or what junk to put on Shadow Play's turntables? But his belief, in the end, is that we should never believe anything – including him. To 5 June (020-7402 6075)Visual choiceGillian Wearing gets a first retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery, east London. See if you can stare down her personal, pithy photographic works and films (till 17 Jun). Industrial steel sculpture in the grounds of a stately home? That's the unlikely juxtaposition at Chatsworth House in Derby-shire, where 15 of Anthony Caro's works have found a home till 1 Jul.Two of her most recent films, the raucous comedy-drama Bachelorette and Lars von Trier's apocalyptic Melancholia were released first on VOD (video-on-demand) in the US. It is fitting, although not very flattering to her, that Bachelorette should have become a No. 1 hit on iTunes at just the time that Robert Aldrich's caustic thriller What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962) is being revived. (Marking its 50th anniversary, Aldrich's classic is being shown in a restored print at the London Film Festival this month.)Women old enough to know better act like horny sailors on leave, absorb mass quantities of alcohol and drugs, and generally behave horribly, complained USA Today about Bachelorette. The more serious problem for Dunst, though, is that when your movies are watched first on laptops and TVs rather than in cinemas, your mystique is bound to be compromised.No one is suggesting that Dunst is yet in the same doldrums as Baby Jane Hudson, the one-time child-star turned hectoring harridan, who torments her sister in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Nonetheless, Dunst's case illustrates how completely Hollywood has been transformed since the heyday of female stars like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo. These actresses may not always have controlled their careers but they were ferociously protective of their screen image.Dietrich, for example, was (as her New York Times obituary made clear) a thorough professional and perfectionist, expert in make-up, lighting, clothes and film editing. Having been tutored by Josef von Sternberg, who discovered her and directed her in films from The Blue Angel to The Scarlet Empress, she knew exactly how to project glamour on screen.Garbo, meanwhile, had her own cinematographer, William H. Daniels, who used filters and side lighting to make her close-ups as striking as possible. Her hermit-like existence once her Hollywood career was over helped her retain an air of mystery.As for Joan Crawford, she grew up dirt poor but, once she became a star, went to extraordinary lengths to live up to her fans' expectations. In an interview with the American writer Studs Terkel, she revealed that on a typical publicity tour, she changed costumes five times a day and travelled with 36 matching bags and gloves.It gives you a responsibility to be to them [the fans] whatever they want you to be, she told Terkel in his book American Dreams: Lost and Found. It's quite a responsibility, dear friend. You get on your mettle. You get a little taller, you stand on your toes.It's easy to mock the vanity of Hollywood's aging divas. As What Ever Happened To Baby Jane and Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard make very evident, the one-time stars led wretched lives, forever peering back into their pasts. Norma Desmond, the forgotten star played by Gloria Swanson, isn't exactly a role model to emulate. Nonetheless, as she so famously put it as she remembered the silent era: We didn't need dialogue. We had faces.The problem for Dunst's generation is that these stars don't have faces. If their movies are being watched on laptops and TVs rather than the big screen, they become just yet more talking heads. When sadistic celebrity gossip sites publish pictures of them getting drunk or taking their garbage out, fans are reminded very forcefully of how earthbound they now are.The fans have long had a sneaking interest in the dark side of the industry. From the Fatty Arbuckle controversy in the early 1920s (when the popular comedian was charged with murdering the actress Virginia Rappé) to the deaths, suicides and illicit affairs covered in scandal sheets like Confidential (uncensored and off the record), the private lives of the stars have always been pored over in exhaustive detail. The popularity of Kenneth Anger's muckraking Hollywood Babylon books underlined the fans' interest in prurient yarns about the misbehaviour of their idols. However, countering this worm's eye view of the business were the films the stars actually made. Whatever allegations Anger made about Crawford's misdeeds and dubious career choices in her early years, we could see her up on screen in Grand Hotel or Mildred Pierce. Even late in her career, in a film as curdled and vicious as Baby Jane, she retained the glamour and arrogance of a real movie star. With a contemporary tabloid idol like Lindsay Lohan, the balance isn't the same at all. She hasn't made enough movies to distract from the constant stream of unflattering stories about her private life.It's obvious that many contemporary actresses yearn for the glamour they associate with an older Hollywood. That's why so many are playing stars from that era. Lohan's new film Liz Dick, in which she stars as Elizabeth Taylor opposite Grant Bowler's Richard Burton, premieres on American television next month. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman recently started shooting Grace of Monaco, a biopic in which she stars as Grace Kelly. Last year, we had Michelle Williams' virtuoso turn as Marilyn Monroe in the British-made My Week With Marilyn. Sienna Miller is shortly to be seen as Tippi Hedren in The Girl and Scarlett Johansson is playing Janet Leigh in the new film Hitchcock.What is equally clear is that these contemporary stars will struggle to emulate the power and charisma of Davis, Crawford, Monroe, Kelly, Hedren et al. on screen. This isn't to do with their ability. They are mostly fine actresses. Their problem is that the machine that helped create the older stars is broken. Keira Knightley is fortunate in having a cinematographer (in Seamus McGarvey) she works with regularly both on films like Anna Karenina and on her Chanel ads. Nonetheless, the armies of publicists, make-up artists and technicians who helped mould stars like Davis and Crawford have long since disbanded. Notions of what constitutes glamour have changed too. Outside pop promos and advertisements, the highly stylised lighting, camerawork and make-up that characterised Dietrich's collaborations with von Sternberg would seem jarring and odd to audiences today. The roles that stars are taking has changed too. After all, portraying a coke-snorting, hard-drinking party girl (as Dunst does in Bachelorette) isn't quite the same as playing Queen Christina. Greta Garbo's movies didn't premiere on VOD – and she never had to share the screen with male strippers either.'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' screens at the London Film Festival, 18 21 OctoberIt is filled with the new and exclusive Karl Capsule Collection; Karl, the affordable range for men and women; and Karl Lagerfeld Paris menswear, a more upscale affair. All of these are designed, according to the press release, to allow customers “to experience the Karl Lagerfeld world”.Judging by the bright young crowd in front of the store's main entrance and dutifully lined up at the sides of its escalators, in anticipation of the arrival of the man himself, more than a few are intent on doing just that.You know, personally, I don't even think that I'm famous, says Lagerfeld, at this point in full possession of his body and comfortably installed in a suite at Brown's Hotel for the afternoon. He is due to drop in on the launch in question before long.I wouldn't say I was a beginner but you're only as good, not as your last show, but your next show. I can't go into a shop without people in front of the door taking my picture on their iPhones. That's very strange to me.He will doubtless be more taken aback still, then, when he sees that the outline of his profile also graces everything from the interiors of lifts at the aforementioned department store to the T-shirts of those operating them or showing guests to the roof where cocktails are served and Alison Mosshart is DJing.Yes, he says. Sometimes even I'm surprised at what can be done with my head. Surely, though, he must realise that his self-styled, always black-and-white image – from the clothes, to the hair to the dark glasses – has as much in common with a lithograph as a living, breathing, human being.But I didn't do that on purpose. I see myself more like a cartoon. I wanted to become a cartoon artist when I was a child. I'm pretty good at it. His skills as an illustrator are unrivalled as anyone even remotely interested in fashion will know. But I never proposed my face [as part of the branding]. The company asked me if they could use it. I personally am too modest, if I can say that, to make such a proposition.It must be a relief, in an age where respect for privacy is conspicuous by its absence, that people at least have the courtesy to seek permission before stamping his silhouette here, there and everywhere. Yes. Yes. Yes. Everybody still has to ask if they can use my head… the head doesn't come for free. Whether he fully understands it, Lagerfeld is as instantly recognisable as royalty and rock stars but nowhere near as intimidating as might be imagined. And he is perfectly well-mannered to boot. I got here two hours ago, he says, It's fun. It's nice. One shouldn't be too difficult, no? It's the first time I see London with so much sun. It's beautiful. All those Regency buildings in the sunlight. The standard is really quite impeccable.Although great pains are taken by his people to separate the designer's work on the line that bears his name from that of his creative directorship at Fendi and, of course, Chanel, Lagerfeld says what he wants to say, when he wants to say it. And given his long, spectacularly grand career and ability to keep up with the times, that is as it should be. And so the Karl and Karl Lagerfeld collections are a reflection of me as a person and the others are more like an interpretation of a style. It's never mixed. Fendi never looks like Chanel, Chanel never looks like Karl Lagerfeld. I don't know how I've managed it. I think I have no personality but in fact I have three. Lagerfeld's public persona has effectively blocked any real attempts at probing over the years and the personality he speaks of is therefore communicated on a surface level. You see a silhouette. There's nothing else to see. I remember a photographer saying to me, 'I have to spend three days with you to know what's behind the image'. I said, 'You're wasting your time; there's nothing there'.Both Karl and Karl Lagerfeld rely on sharp cuts inspired by menswear, on a monochrome colour palette on the contemporary uniform of T-shirt and jeans and – closer still to the designer's personal style – detachable high collars and fingerless leather gloves. For his part, Lagerfeld's skinny black brocade trousers are of his own making as indeed is his tie, but his shirt is made for him now, as always, by Hilditch Key and his narrow black jacket is Dior Homme. But I have worn Dior for a long time, he says.Lagerfeld's output is more diverse than any other designer's: he is responsible for everything from Chanel haute couture where money is no object to the accessible Karl. In 2004, he was the first big name to collaborate with the Swedish high-street chain HM: he says it was that company's decision to use his photograph in the accompanying advertising campaign that made him a household name.I'm very much against the idea that 'commercial' is a boring word because you cannot make a collection that nobody wears. Fashion is what people wear and what they buy. I know exactly what can be done and for what price. I know what costs what and why something is expensive or affordable. That is part of my job. I think it's very pretentious to think that you are only catering to a limited group. I am lucky, though, as I have the total range.Luck, in a world where Lagerfeld's very longevity is the exception that proves the rule, has nothing to do with it. Instead, his is the infinitely protean model that has set the standard for contemporary fashion as practised by everyone from Miuccia Prada to Marc Jacobs. As well as designing Karl, Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi and Chanel, Lagerfeld has a publishing imprint, 7L, a subsidiary of Steidl, and he is also an accomplished photographer.I'm militating for a 48-hour day but that's a problem, especially in France, with the 35-hour week, he says. I have 35 hours of rest. But I'm not tired, so that's okay with me. I have the job I want and the right circumstances in which to do it. Nobody has that like I do.If Karl Lagerfeld is blessed then his good fortune pales into insignificance as compared to that of his one-year-old cat, Choupette. Now, Choupette really is famous, he says. She has become the most famous cat in the world. I even get propositioned by pet food companies and things like that but it's out of the question. I'm commercial. She's not. She's spoiled to death. Obviously. Choupette travels with Lagerfeld to St Tropez on his private jet in the cockpit, with the pilot, she loves looking at the sky. She has three maids whose duties include keeping a diary of all activities and taking her to the vet for a check-up every 10 days. I don't take her, Lagerfeld says. I don't want her to be furious with me.And with that he's off to make a brief appearance at his own party and then back to Paris. Choupette waits for me at the front door, he says. She doesn't like being alone. She gets moody.The actress has decided to give the clothes to auction, with proceeds going to her favourite charities including the Gurkha Welfare Trust, after being inspired by MS's Shwopping campaign. The outfits, which include the Jean Muir clothes she modelled, will be sold in September by Kerry Taylor auctions.Lumley is spokeswoman for the Shwopping campaign, which has seen shoppers donate more than half a million garments in store over the last six weeks, which are all given to Oxfam. The chain store is hoping that more than a million cast-offs will be donated by the end of the month, with items either sold in Oxfam shops, sent to Senegal where they are sold to local market traders, or used for fabric to stuff car upholstery.Lumley said she believes there is a much-needed step change in people's attitudes to conspicuous consumption.“I think it's dying of its own accord, I think it becomes disgusting: people opening their cupboards to 400 pairs of white high heels or something, and you go, 'You're ill actually'. To a certain extent, magazines, advertising and sales pushes have tried to [create the image] of a carefree kind-of girl who has 80 bags. You'd want to give her a tight slap,” she said.“I was born after the war, and we were brought up by our mothers with the notion of make do and mend. A new thing was quite a thing: during the holidays we might go out and get one new skirt. On the continent, when I was growing up and was a model, a French girl would choose one well made tweed skirt, one beautiful cashmere jersey, her hair would be glossily done. She would have one Hermes silk scarf - and she'd look like Grace Kelly. We've got a more hectic, hooligan attitude here which is very good for fashion but sometimes leads you down the primrose path to hell.”She believes we simply need to have more respect. “Before you buy things, think about it, and before you throw them away, think about it. Why can't schools give a rule: 'Never throw clothes away'?”The Shwopping campaign is aiming to kick start a 'buy one, give one' culture on the UK high street to try to prevent the one billion garments that are thrown into UK landfill each year - some one in four of all items bought. Every MS has bins to donate clothes, and the company hopes to eventually get one garment back for every one sold: a total of 350m a year. A new YouGov poll, published tomorrow [MON] has revealed that, in contrast to the Duchess of Cambridge and Livia Firth championing repeat wearing of clothes, one fifth of people in the UK have binned an outfit after just one wear. Three quarters of people have thrown unwanted clothes into the bin over the past twelve months, as opposed to recycling them, while one in five women admitted to having more than 100 items in their wardrobe.Looking round the Oxfam sorting depot in Milton Keynes, where the Shwopping garments are sent to be sorted; donated books are scanned for the online store and bric-a-brac is sifted through, Lumley declares of her character Patsy: “She wouldn't understand anything of this: it would literally mean nothing to her. She would be amazed, quite possibly disgusted, but actually she'd have no idea: she only wants Chanel that has been given to here - she doesn't have any feeling about this. She is landfill.“Edina is the one who is the shopper. She'd buy everything that is new and fashionable, whether it fits her or suits her or not. Ab Fab shined a light on fashion and the notion of how it can become extremely foolish, and can lead you into an area of great folly and overspending.”The colours are pretty – all the shades of white, pastel pink, blue, primrose and mint green – the silhouette is reminiscent of one a princess might like – wasp waists, bell-shaped skirts and a narrow shoulder – and embroideries are the sweetest imaginable – jewelled daisies and more meadow flowers decorate the surface of silk chiffons, organzas, jacquards and lace.As for pattern... perhaps the most conspicuous technological advancement in recent years can be witnessed in the rise and rise of the engineered print. Be it figurative, graphic, photographic, whatever, these are as busy, bold and modishly mismatched as even the most fierce fashion follower might dare to wear. Nothing escapes this mindset, least of all the still-ubiquitous skinny jeans. They come stamped with everything from tropical landscapes to exotic blooms, and in colours intended to dazzle, to boot.This is no time to be shy, then.The principle reference across the board nods to the age-old art of haute couture. Couture equals quality: hand-workmanship and an attention to detail and finish that is second to none. It's a no-brainer, really. When times are tough, the sartorially discerning go in search of that rare thing, an investment piece, a garment which looks as though it might actually be worth any hard-earned cash and which might be passed down through generations as a bona-fide heirloom. Worry not that this may lead to the type of bourgeois, French style that, in our modern times, seems just a tad on the heavy side. In the finest designers' hands, it has been duly subverted. Raw edges, a marginally larger-than-life line and a naïve, home-spun feel ensure that clothing that has its roots here boasts a spontaneity that is more contemporary in flavour.For those who prefer a more understated look, good news comes with the minimal aesthetic still upheld by Phoebe Philo at Céline, providing a much-needed counterpoint to any overriding nostalgia and/or sweetness. Androgynous tailoring, oversized cotton dresses and coats, and masculine shirting are all very much on the agenda with just this sort of woman in mind. Sportswear, too, gets more than a look in: lace-trimmed, body-conscious Aertex and a splash of true red in an otherwise monochrome world ensures all those possessed by Olympic fever can dress to match.Shoes, meanwhile, run the gamut from spike-heeled stiletto to stomping brothel-creeper and from fetishistic ankle boot to ballerina flat. And bags come in the form of jewelled clutches, purses not unlike those your granny might once have carried and, of course, satchels, which remain the functional carry-all of choice.The simplest piece may cost upwards of £10,000. For more elaborate designs, meanwhile, the sky's the limit. And who, in their right mind, and in this day and age, is prepared to invest in that? On the other hand, one might not unreasonably argue that, given the circumstances, such attention to detail is just the thing the discerning fashion follower is looking for: garments that can be worn and loved season after season, year in year out, and then passed down to a daughter or grand-daughter like a fashion heirloom.Haute couture equals quality, the story goes, and there is no arguing with that, which is why, presumably, so many ready-to-wear designers have turned to it for inspiration. Despite the fact that their fashions are for the most part machine-made, the spirit of hand-craftsmanship has been reinvigorated and, in at least some cases, the finishing touches executed by hand.Junya Watanabe's treatment of lace – the most classic and resonant of all the haute couture fabrics – is far from predictable or banal. Lace, of course, carries with it a symbolism that is unparalleled – lace for christenings, lace for weddings, funereal black lace. It is an important addition, then, to any woman's wardrobe and even life.Conventionally, however, lace is frilled and stereotypically feminine, sewn in delicate pale colours and fit for a fairytale princess. Watanabe is not one for conservative treatments of heritage clothing. In fact, if there is a single unifying feature to his brilliantly diverse body of work it is his combination of a profound respect for timeless fashions coupled with an inventiveness, imagination and technical expertise that is second to none.The designer has in the past applied this to everything from tartans, tweeds and bouclé wool – another haute couture stalwart, incidentally, thanks to Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel. He has worked frequently with denim – patch-worked, fused with vibrant African inspired prints – and collaborated with Levi's, in the first instance, to make jeans under a joint imprint and now under his own name.In Watanabe's hands, the trench coat becomes a thing of great beauty and any trace of fustiness is overthrown. As for Savile Row inspired suiting... Suffice it to say that Watanabe is probably the most inspiring tailor of the ear – particularly where taking menswear and adapting it to fit the female form is concerned.Watanabe's lace dresses are cut in the type of slightly stiffened and proudly acrylic threads that is also an integral part of his handwriting, and that would doubtless make the lacemakers at Chantilly, say, drop their thimbles in horror. For the most part following a sportswear-inspired line, with not a flounce or furbelow to be seen, in some instances black opaque panels and more intricate patterns make an appearance, although there is nothing trussed-up or old-fashioned to be seen.This is lace, then, that retains all the sweet romance of the original but with a freshness and ease that is all new. It has also been vibrantly recoloured: there's not a cliched Miss Havisham shade of ivory or cream to be seen. Instead, choose from gunmetal grey, leaf green and rose and, pictured here, very slightly hyped-up violet, lilac and candyfloss.The woman who wears these clothes won't be accessorising her lace dress with talon heels. That would be too obvious – too jolie madame – by far. Watanabe's signature take on footwear is, almost invariably, studiously heavy and flat, and this season's robust handling of the archetypal schoolgirl Mary Jane is no exception. Under-cutting any trace of woman as trophy still further, meanwhile, the powers that be at Junya Watanabe insist that all dresses be photographed with accompanying and decidedly demure cotton slips worn beneath them. No flashing of flesh required.While other designers' takes on lace have been less extreme, and simpler to boot, Miuccia Prada's ultra-cute A-line dresses for Miu Miu are similarly stiff – even stiffer – and cast in strong block hues not normally associated with the fabric – plum and tomato layered over pale yellow and beige included. For Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs' lace designs are more retro in their unabashed pastel coloured prettiness and the attention to embroideries and finish are nothing short of extraordinary. Given that this remains the wealthiest designer brand of the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) stable, Jacobs has all the skills of the Paris ateliers which execute haute couture proper at his fingertips and that shows.There is, by contrast, a slightly distressed look to Peter Copping's patch-worked treatment of lace at Nina Ricci, which embraces the haute couture tradition wholeheartedly while subtly subverting it. Finally, the great Roman couturier, Valentino Garavani, was always a lace lover par excellence and throughout his long and grand career was known for his relatively restrained handling of this delicately beautiful material. His successors – Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri – are similarly enamoured but there is a clean-cut modernity to their no-frills variation on an age-old theme that will suit a younger customer in search of some of the most exclusive ready-to-wear available down to the ground.She was among bidders who paid almost half a million pounds for items from the personal collection of Daphne Guinness which was sold at Christie's. The lots went for four times the original estimate.Gaga is understood to have set a new high for a McQueen, bidding £85,250 in a sale which saw her facing rival bids from institutions and couture collectors from around the world.The record price was for an ivory silk tulle empire line gown, entitled The Girl Who Lived In The Tree.Another McQueen - a metallic silver mini-dress dating from 2008, the year before he committed suicide - also beat the previous record, fetching £79,250.Guinness was auctioning items from her personal collection to raise funds for the Isabella Blow Foundation, which she set up in memory of her friend to support emerging fashion talent.Fashionista Blow killed herself in 2007, and her own extensive wardrobe - sold to settle debts on her estate - was bought in its entirety by Guinness to keep it intact.Chart-topping star Gaga has spoken of her admiration for Guinness and Blow in the past.She said in one interview: Isabella and Daphne are two exceptional human beings, women, icons.Daphne, like Isabella, is a huge source of inspiration for me. I cherish them both. It is as if we are all cut from the same cloth.The top lot of the sale was a photograph of Guinness taken by Mario Testino for a 2008 British edition of Vogue magazine. It was sold for £133,250.McQueen was found dead in his Mayfair apartment in February 2010, days before London Fashion Week. His death shocked the fashion industry.Christie's confirmed that Gaga was a bidder but was unable to provide further details of the items she purchased. Bidders from 21 countries took part.Guinness said: This cause is close to my heart. I am genuinely touched by the response it has generated, and truly excited for the future of the Isabella Blow Foundation.I'm overwhelmed by how many bidders took part this evening and I'm particularly moved by Lady Gaga's support for the foundation. I like her very much, and it's lovely to see the nascent beginnings of something that may help other people.The collection went for £467,800, including buyer's premium.Other items on sale came from designers such as Chanel, Gareth Pugh, Lacroix, Prada and Gucci.PAPerhaps the set was a reference to the essentially optimistic, gentle, protective and beautiful nature of the clothes. Sweet trapeze shapes, moulded sweaters and tulip dresses ensured space between garment and wearer – modesty more than in-your-face glamour appeared to be the message.Such things are relative. If the clothes – black chiffon dresses appliqued with silk petals in faded colours, optic white columns embroidered with garlands of flowers and the Chanel suit, predominantly following a youthful and naïve Sixties line – spoke of innocence, the marketing of the money-spinning accessories confirmed experience. Lagerfeld is the most accomplished image maker in the industry, after all, both in terms of his work and glittering persona.The Chanel quilted bag looked anything but shy, oversized and nestling in what resembled a pair of black leather hula hoops for handles. The Chanel pearls were the size of gobstoppers shimmering in clusters at slender necks and wrists, and the Chanel sunglasses went so far as to feature the house founder's own silhouette – finished with more ropes of pearl again – at one corner of their frames.It was a celebration of femininity, Sarah Burton said of her exquisitely judged collection for Alexander McQueen shown later in the day. And that it was, in all its guises. First came the exaggerated curve of a structured hip on a densely embroidered, wasp-waisted golden jacket that upheld the hourglass silhouette this house is known for. It was followed by crystal encrusted tortoiseshell caging and corsetry worn under and indeed over overblown organza dresses appliqued with meadow flowers. They were as sexually charged as they were sugary.Any sweetness came at least in part courtesy of the humble worker bee: honeycomb bodices gave way to skirts woven with swarms of that insect that caught the light prettily as models walked. Black patent beekeeper hats, fetishistic neck pieces and glittering black fishnet thigh-high boots with laced seams ensured that a spicy undercurrent was always part of the story. And hopefully it always will be. The woman who wears this label is, after all, queen.The fact is that you can't ski in Las Vegas, though the name of the Las Vegas Ski Snowboard Resort suggests otherwise. It was known for most of its 48-year life as Lee Canyon, on the reasonable grounds that that is where it is located, but in 1995 it converted to what one might call the Ryanair school of geography, and changed its name to the mouthful commonly abbreviated to LVSSR. It is actually about 40 miles from the city. But one of the many things tolerated in Nevada (along with gambling and, in some counties, prostitution) is travelling at 75mph on a freeway; given that linear Las Vegas has such a road running its entire length, 40 miles means 40 minutes' travel time or less. Which isn't a bad commute from a city to the slopes.After the name-change, the next important event in LVSSR's life occurred in November 2003, when its management was taken over by the US ski-resort owner and manager Utah-based Powdr Corp. (Powdr also owns the property, jointly, with a local family big in real estate.) The resort part of LVSSR's name is as misleading as the rest, since this is a small ski hill with just four lifts serving 11 intermediate trails and a vertical drop of only 860ft (unless you are prepared to hike up from the of the lifts). But Powdr is a company with big ideas; hence its Master Development Plan to expand LVSSR, a $35m project involving 10 new lifts and 50 trails.It's one thing to make a plan, another actually to execute it. But last July, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, on whose land LVSSR is located, gave its approval to the expansion, which also involves increased snow-making facilities, bigger parking areas and new guest facilities. The co-owners also have the means to fund the project; does that mean it is actually going to happen? I put that question to LVSSR's director of business development, John Morelli. Yes, he said.That was one reason for heading off to into the Nevada desert. The other was to confirm something which seems self-evident: that Las Vegas has the best après-ski anywhere in the world.The route out of Las Vegas starts with the usual lane-changing chaos of an urban highway, then settles into a fast, comfortable drive along a wide desert valley. Just before Route 95 reaches the vast airforce base at Indian Wells there is a turn-off marked ski area, and the 15-mile climb begins. On either side of the road – blessed with official Nevada Scenic Byway status – are stubby cacti growing so densely that you would swear they were being cultivated as a cash crop. The route winds up into what is the biggest natural forest in the contiguous United States, until the roadway suddenly widens on a sharp bend. This is where skiers park their cars, at 90 degrees to the carriageway with the radiator grille up against the verge.At the lift base there are offices, ticketing, equipment rental and a café/restaurant, plus two ski-school yurts. Beyond, a couple of middle-aged lifts climb to the upper slopes, and another – old and slow enough to be their father – labours up the nursery slope. This was real, old-school skiing; and I loved it.The weather helped: it was beautiful, as it very frequently is in Nevada, and LVSSR – in a mountain bowl with north-facing slopes and a south-facing sun deck – gets the benefit of blue skies without compromising the skiing surface. In unusually dry early-season conditions, the snow was almost entirely man-made, but meticulously groomed. The fun park, a high priority on a hill where 75 per cent of tickets are bought by boarders (at $50 on weekdays, $60 weekends), was equally pristine. Crowded? Hardly: with barely 40 people on the slopes, we had almost two acres each. And the atmosphere was as relaxed and friendly as it usually is in small ski areas.Currently the area gets fewer than 150,000 skier-visits per year, but LVSSR's management reckons that number should triple when the planned expansion (to 500 acres) is completed, in 10-12 years' time. Almost all the new terrain – including seven trails for advanced skiers – will be above the existing ski area, and from the snow deck Morelli showed me where the new top boundary would be. The pitches looked impressively steep at the top, although gradients are difficult to judge from below.The new terrain will certainly make the journey up from Las Vegas well worthwhile. And what about the drive down to Las Vegas? That's not so much worthwhile as essential, because LVSSR has no lodging and (barring a dramatic change in US Forest Service principles) never will. Las Vegas, on the other hand, is said to have more than 12,000 hotel beds – a lot for a place that prides itself on burning the candle not only at both ends but in the middle, too: it's the only place I know that has a nightlife and a daylife, which is frequently just more of the same thing.On a first visit to the Strip, the southern part of the city with most of the notoriously excessive hotels, there's a lot to take in, some of it hard to keep down. The architectural pastiches – Eiffel Tower, black pyramid, Italianate lake and canals – are much bigger than I expected, clumsier and less playful. Pumped out on to the sidewalks, classic rock is perpetually in your ears and sex in your face.Clothes cling to the girls out on the town, their high hems and heels making them look like Pretty Woman hookers. And half-naked women are advertised for sale on the hoardings-on-wheels being driven along the Strip, and on fliers handed out by hawkers. All these women could, apparently, be in my room in 20 minutes; for what purpose is not stated, though small print on the leaflets has a helpful reminder that prostitution is against the law in Clark County, Las Vegas's local authority.The city famously advertises its amorality with the slogan What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I know what that means, but while wandering around the lobby of the Wynn hotel I was cheered by the thought that what happens in Vegas stays there rather than coming to a neighbourhood near me. A mood swing started, and I began to get on to the city's wavelength.Wynn is the classy Las Vegas resort hotel: its owner Steve Wynn collects artworks by Rembrandt, Turner and Picasso and hangs them in his hotels. The hotel's shops are pure Bond Street – Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Cartier, plus Ferrari and Maserati – but they share the lobby with the sort of garish one-armed bandits that you'd see in an amusement arcade on a pier. Somewhat to my regret I was booked to dine there at the Sinatra, which – sure enough – plays and displays the singer to excess. The food in this Italian theme restaurant? Absolutely first rate.Such confusion of tastes reached its apogee at the Cosmopolitan hotel, in which I stayed. Upstairs it's all high style and design; in the lobby there's just the low life of gamblers smoking, drinking and playing the slots, night and day. My preferred way of crossing the vast lobby was to drop down a level and walk through the parking garage.The point about Las Vegas is that it is utterly indiscriminate, a giant bazaar which sells everything, good and bad. You just have to find the good stuff.I found the Marquee, a fabulously animated dance venue in the Cosmopolitan, with retro styling and thunderous electro music. I found Dig This, a construction-machinery driving experience curiously appropriate to a city whose buildings have a short lifespan, and also curiously thrilling. I found the old Downtown area, so much more engaging than the the Strip. I found the romantic Neon Boneyard, a museum of historic Las Vegas signage. And I found, to my great surprise, that it's not the après-ski scene that is so good, but rather the pre-ski scene: Las Vegas and the surrounding desert are sensational in the dawn light.Travel essentials: NevadaGetting there* Stephen Wood travelled with Ski Independence (0131-243 8097; ) which has a one-week Las Vegas package including non-stop flights on BA (0844 493 0787; ba.com) from Heathrow and room-only accommodation from £969 per person, based on two sharing.* Virgin Atlantic (0844 874 7747; virgin-atlantic.com) flies to Vegas from Gatwick and Manchester.Staying there* Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (001 702 698 7000; cosmopolitanlas vegas.com) has doubles from $160 (£107) for Terrace Studio. Marquee opens 10pm-4am, Mon and Thurs-Sat; cover charge from $20 (£13).Visiting there* Dig This (001 888 344 8447; dig this.info). Bulldozer or excavator drive is $210 (£140) for 90 minutes.* Neon Boneyard (001 702 387 6366; neonmuseum.org). Tours at noon and 2pm, Tues-Sat, $15 (£10).More information* Las Vegas Ski Snowboard Resort (001 702 385 2754; skilasvegas.com)Styling: Gemma HaywardPhotographs: Rhys FramptonModel: Saray at Ford ModelsHair: Gow Tanaka using Paul MitchellMake-up: Adam de Cruz at Yumikoto using Chanel S 2012 and Hydra Beauty SerumStylist's Assistant: Emma AkbareianPhotographer's Assistants: Rokas Darulis, Andy PictonFilming and Editing: Daniel BurdettRetouching: Oliver IngrouilleWith thanks to , 0844 692 6792. return flights London to Miami with Delta Airlines from £547.Shot at Kimpton's Surfcomber Miami, South Beach; Such indulgence – and some might call it pure fashion whimsy – was once the preserve of the haute couture ateliers. Now however, and increasingly, it is making its presence felt in the ready-to-wear collections too.As is often the way, it might be argued that it all started with Chanel. Ten years ago now, this famous French name bought six of the most revered couture ateliers in Paris, saving them, the story goes, from extinction. Given that at the turn of the 20th century there were around 500 such workshops up and running, specialists in everything from buttons to bows, and that today no more than a handful remain, that may well be true. Chanel bought Lesage (master embroiderers), Lemarie (specialist in feathers), Massaro (shoe makers responsible, among other things, for the Chanel two-tone pump), Goossens, (goldsmiths), Desrues (costume-jewellery makers), Maison Michel (milliners) and Guillet (creator of fabric flowers). And their names were news once more.Putting its money where its mouth is still further, to showcase their work, the monolithic French brand introduced an annual metiers d'art collection which it continues to show in exotic destinations all over the world – most recently Versailles, a far from shy location particularly given that the presentation took place only days after the election of Socialist president, François Hollande. You have to hand it to Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. He is nothing if not provocative. In the meantime, the raised profile of the time-honoured institutions in question decrees that everyone from Balenciaga to Louis Vuitton now turn to them to ensure that the more elaborate pieces in their womenswear collections are finished just so. Such craftsmanship comes at a price, of course. And so it is not uncommon for a single garment to cost five figures. Make no mistake, despite an unstable economic climate, there is a market both for haute couture proper and for this, which may perhaps best be described as high-end ready to wear, today just as there always has been.I think that with so much competition around and with times being quite difficult people really do want good quality, the Nina Ricci designer Peter Copping told W Magazine recently. His collection, with its light-as-a-feather hand-finishing, garnered rave reviews across the board and was nothing if not testimony to the fact that the few people left in the world prepared to spend thousands on a single garment insist that it be precious.People want investment pieces, Copping continued. And if something does reference haute couture, well, then that's a no-brainer, really. Indeed.And so Chanel's spring/summer ready-to-wear collection features lace, silk blossom and a veritable ocean of pearls, Louis Vuitton's jewelled floral embroideries are among the most exquisitely wrought imaginable and Balenciaga's iridescent fringing is so special that the house is keeping the techniques behind its development under wraps.It should come as no great surprise that in London, where designers are less likely to have the means to tap into such elevated resources, a similar viewpoint results in a more irreverent and homespun aesthetic but one that is delicate and highly complex nonetheless. The pyrotechnic presentation of Meadham Kirchhoff's all-singing, all-dancing summer collection almost belied the fine workmanship – much of it executed by hand – that has gone into the creation of this season's fondant-pale lace dresses, curvaceous brocade jackets, and appliquéd knits. Christopher Kane's collection of embroidered silks and oversized cashmere cricket jumpers, meanwhile, appears to fuse the golden age of haute couture and school uniform as far as silhouette is concerned, all while pushing fabric development forward. In particular, reflective appliquéd flowers in childlike colours which, upon closer inspection, resemble nothing more than a young girl's sticker collection steal the show. Yellow pansies, orange dahlias, giant daisies and blue roses are scaled up then edged with silver sequins or trapped between layers of aluminium organza and the effect is as sweet as it was uplifting. The end result is also clearly more make-do-and-mend in spirit than anything the aforementioned Maison Guillet might have to offer.And that, it almost goes without saying, is precisely the point. Backstage immediately following his show last September, Kane said he had been thinking about a teenager living on a council estate, in her bedroom, dreaming. It is perhaps no coincidence that this designer – and his sister, business partner and creative collaborator Tammy – grew up in Motherwell lusting after (and later saving up for) the opulent designs of Gianni Versace especially. Certainly there is a heartfelt atmosphere to this collection that suggests any references are close to home.With that in mind, since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2006, Kane has not only been responsible for an increasingly accomplished twice-yearly own-name womenswear collection, he has also collaborated with Versace's sister, Donatella. In the manner of the finest fashion fairytale, he is now single-handedly responsible for designing her label's more youthful Versus line.The cashmere company has been keeping people warm for 215 years, but recently efforts to combine its long heritage with more modern glamour has given the Scottish firm's chances of cracking the global market a rosy glow.Johnstons is in its fifth year of a collaboration with Christopher Kane, the multi-award winning designer who has dreamt up outfits for Kylie Minogue videos. Never mind that it is the only remaining vertical mill in the UK – meaning it does everything from taking the raw fibre to producing the finished garment for its own label. Supplying luxury brands including Chanel and Hermes has helped to lend it a new-found cachet with fashionistas.Linny Oliphant, brand manager at Johnstons says: We have recently re-branded and spent £1m on our Eastfield Mills site in Hawick. We remain true to our roots and customers love our heritage and the fact we are made in Britain.With London Fashion Week in full flow, it is reassuringly familiar story. Add in hopes that the Olympics and Queen's Diamond Jubilee will lure the rich and famous to Britain from around the world, and 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for the British luxury goods.Capitalising on this unique opportunity was top of the agenda last month at a breakfast organised by Walpole, the British luxury body, and hosted by jeweller Boodles on Bond Street.There is a chance for some of Walpole's members to move up – from being part of a cottage industry to genuine challengers to those few UK fashion powerhouses, such as Mulberry and Burberry.London Fashion Week is important to the capital: it pumps £30m into the economy and brings in £100m of orders for the designer brands that grace the catwalks. However, the show is still in the shadow similar events in the major fashion centres like Milan or Paris. As the chairman of a major Italian luxury goods house says: London is known for watching the young and the up-and-coming designers but not for the large, established luxury houses.Many of the designers whose garments make it on to the catwalk have wafer-thin profits; the most successful designers globally are supported by wealthy conglomerates that make the real money on perfume sales.The figures also show the UK hasn't completely cracked the fashion market. The UK exports an impressive £3.9bn of clothing and footwear a year, but this is dwarfed by the £14.6bn of imported garments.A handful of British luxury brands have made it big. Burberry has a market cap of £6.3bn and Mulberry is worth more than £1.1bn. Other successful labels have been snapped up by overseas buyers, with Jimmy Choo and leather goods firm Belstaff owned by Swiss company Labelux and McQueen and Stella McCartney part of French group PPR.Like Johnstons, they are making the most of the British credentials as a way of wooing spenders. Burberry has been big on promoting its 'Made in Britain' roots. It is sponsoring a scholarship at the Royal College of Art and Design and last year expanded its factory in Castleford, West Yorkshire. The group even shows videos of its factory in overseas stores.Harold Tillman, chairman of the British Fashion Council and owner of Jaeger and Aquascutum, says: We are having our time. British fashion is back and we have the opportunity to grow globally. People want to buy British – made in Britain reeks of quality. Our customers are international – not just Chinese but from across the globe.Upmarket jewellery brand and host of the luxury breakfast get-together, Boodles, also boasts a long history. Michael Wainwright, sitting in the plush surroundings of his lavish white leather and silk upholstered boutique in the heart of London's luxury sector, is the fifth generation of his family to run the 214-year-old business. Wainwright is trying to ensure the business keeps up with the 21st century despite its age, and is launching a website in Arabic and Mandarin in May. There are also shops planned for Hong Kong to add to the five Boodles has in the UK.However, Wainwright argues that UK luxury groups cannot rely on using their long lives as unique selling points. For example, handbag and accessories brand Mulberry has been a dazzling performer and is a relative newcomer [created in 1971]. Wainwright says: It isn't just about the heritage, it's making the people behind the brand accessible.Wainwright is doing just this by cancelling his summer holiday, so that he is in town to welcome shoppers to his London stores during the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee. Similarly, Burberry will open its huge Regent Street flagship store before the Olympic flame is lit in late July The influx of summer visitors mean sales are expected to rocket. A 3.5 per cent increase forecast for the London's West End alone. The New West End Company predicts an additional £16.6m in revenue as a direct consequence of the Games. There will be impossibly wealthy tourists spending implausibly vast sums from the US, China, Russia, Middle East, Nigeria and Brazil.The Jubilee celebration has a ready made face of luxury: the Queen and the Royal family. Julia Carrick, chief executive at Walpole, says: For the luxury sector, the Queen and her family are the best ambassadors of all. The Queen has helped British brands expand to become global players. Verdict Research forecasts the global luxury goods industry will increase by £37bn to £107bn by 2015. This market is not just important to the brands themselves. The manufacture of luxury goods does its bit for the UK's economy, while there is a wealth of other jobs the sector supports.Luca Solca, Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux global head of European research with a focus on luxury, says: The most important British brands seem less dependent on domestic manufacturing than what one typically finds in Switzerland or France. Hence, most of the benefits to the British economy come in the shape of high level job creation – creation, marketing, commercial and general management are typically in London – retail investments and operations, and all of the indirect effects a heightened level of economic activity typically brings.The UK doesn't have luxury conglomerates on the scale of LVMH, Richemont or PPR but brands are – after two centuries in some cases – investing in global expansion for a brighter, luxurious future.Johnstons of ElginSales: £50mJohnstons has been dyeing, spinning, weaving and knitting cashmere since 1797.BurberrySales: £1.5bnThomas Burberry, a 21-year-old draper’s apprentice, opened his first shop in Basingstoke, Hampshire in 1856Paul SmithSales: £196mSir Paul Smith opened his first shop in 1970 in his home town of Nottingham and by 1976 he had shown his first collection in Paris. He now has 12 different Paul Smith collections.MulberrySales: £122mFounder Roger Saul was ousted from the Mulberry board in 2002 after a spat with then chief executive Godfrey Davis. The Somerset based company will soon be headed by a Frenchman when Bruno Guillon joins from French rival Hermes next month.Since reaching an all-time high last July of 1,600p, the group has failed to move above that. Last night, however, it closed close to the top of the Footsie after Credit Suisse upgraded its advice to outperform following a survey of 20 of the world's most upmarket department stores.Scribblers from the broker noted that, compared to last year's results, an increasing number of respondents believed the image of Burberry – at one time more linked to football hooligans than fashionistas – was now at least at the same level as brands such as Louis Vuitton or Chanel.At the same time, nearly half of those surveyed said they expected Burberry to perform better than its luxury rivals while all planned to either increase or keep steady the amount of space in their stores dedicated to its products. These findings, said the analysts, suggested sustained, top-line outperformance for the group, adding that it looked healthier than ever. Burberry's response was to shoot up 68p to 1,392p, with the move coming amid the revival of speculation it could become a bid target. Credit Suisse's scribes believe its 100 per cent free float meant there was a potential takeover risk, although traders, who have heard the idea many times, were unimpressed.Considering the boom in growth it is enjoying from China, Burberry will not have been harmed by the shock decision of the country's central bank to cut interest rates in an attempt to prop up growth.It meant the lack of activity from the Bank of England was forgotten as the heavyweight miners charged up on the news. Rio Tinto and Xstrata raced up 115.5p to 3,015p and 28.2p to 966.8p, helping the FTSE 100 rise 63.68 points to 5,447.79, although US Fed boss Ben Bernanke, playing down hopes of stimulus measures, dampened the mood late in the day.Having watched Glencore reach an all-time low of 334.35p last week, the trading giant's boss, Ivan Glasenberg, has decided to give it a push. The group revealed he has spent nearly £10m on almost 3 million shares, raising his stake to 15.8 per cent. Given a lock-up expired last month on employees' shares – including some of Mr Glasenberg's – traders were encouraged by the fact he was buying instead of selling. The chief executive had promised to spend a substantial proportion of the recent £70m dividend he received on shares.The vote of confidence helped lift Glencore 13.45p to 361.2p, while it was also helped by the news that Australian regulators have approved its takeover of Canadian grain giant Viterra.Tullow Oil spurted up 30p to 1,468p after revealing it had struck oil off the Ivory Coast, giving a boost to the explorer's hopes of finding black gold in other nearby prospects.Diageo slipped 4p to 1,577p as Liberum Capital's Pablo Zuanic suggested it may need a name change in order to achieve its goal of taking control of the world's biggest tequila brand, Jose Cuervo. Sealing the deal may be as simple as buying shares back to pay [Cuervo owners the Beckmann family] and rechristening Diageo, said the analyst, who suggested The Johnnie Cuervo Walker Co. On the FTSE 250, Kesa Electricals powered up 4.24p to 54.1p following promising sales data from the high street. Fund manager Schroders has raised its stake in the retailer, which will be relegated to the small-cap index at the end of next week, to more than 11 per cent.A rather busy session left Synergy Health 40.5p better off at 864.5p. As well as publishing its full-year results, the sterilising equipment supplier also announced a share placing and revealed it had struck a $25.1m (£16.3m) deal to buy US rival SRI/Surgical Express.The widespread rally was accompanied by gossips reheating a number of familiar bid tales. Chip designer CSR (6.4p better off at 208p) and iron ore producer Ferrexpo (7.8p better off at 207p) were among those once again finding themselves the subject of takeover speculation, although dealers were playing it down.Down on Aim, Ithaca Energy shifted up 5.75p to 115p on the start of oil exports from its Athena field in the North Sea. The explorer remains more than a third lower than before its admission last week that takeover talks had ended without a deal being struck – some, however, still hope it could receive a hostile approach.HM, it goes without saying, is a less elusive beast. That's not to suggest that it is not an inspired one. Karl Lagerfeld, who was the first big designer to collaborate with the Swedish-born store in 2004, credits the link- up for making him a household name. Not bad given that, for the past three decades, he has been creative director of Chanel. Dutch designer pairing Viktor Rolf's collection for HM – which famously included a budget but beautiful wedding gown – sold out in minutes and then turned up on eBay priced 10 times the original amount. Ditto collections by Stella McCartney, Lanvin...In 2008 the high priestess of the fashion avant-garde, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, worked with HM. The enlightened queued round the block to gain reasonably priced access to this often impenetrable name. More recently, Donatella Versace's collections for HM have made those enamoured with dressing to impress very happy.But before you buy when the collection goes on sale worldwide on 15 November, there are some things you need to know about Martin Margiela – or Maison Martin Margiela, please. The label's Belgian-born namesake's retirement was officially announced in 2009. The house is now owned by Renzo Rosso of Diesel but still designed by at least some of Margiela's long-standing team. They have done much to keep his signatures alive. And they are? A broad, sharp shoulder – really broad, the sort that would barely fit through the door. The colour white – from the coats worn by all employees to the cracked white paint that decorates the showroom and the blank, white label tacked roughly into main line clothing. NB too: cloven-toed tabi boots which are more comfortable than they look; leather leggings (Margiela's were among the first and best) and any amount of trompe l'oeil (a bra printed on to a nude jersey body, say).Don't say: Martin Margiela, I had dinner with him last week. You didn't. And everyone will know you are lying. Do say: Ah, Martin Margiela. The most influential designer of the past quarter century. That may well be true.I hide it pretty well but I do go into a show really anxious and it doesn't get any easier, he says, his elbow propped on the back of a sofa in the Savoy Hotel suite where we meet. I've found that the nerves haven't subsided in 15 years; they are worse than they were in the beginning. I guess you've got more at stake. The business is bigger now so there's more to lose than there was back then. The man best known for boho chic pretends to bite on his fist for emphasis: I just try to white-knuckle it and keep calm.Chances are he has nothing to worry about. Since showing his – legendary, in fashion circles at least – colourful debut collection, Electric Angels, in London in 1997 on the models Kate Moss, Jade Jagger and Helena Christensen, Williamson has attracted a legion of A-list fans, including his friend Sienna Miller, and built an international presence. His latest pieces, being unveiled at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, are inspired by Russia and its costumes, palaces and tsars – and, more subliminally, by the economic downturn.In a way it [the recession] has inspired because I think it's made designers really look deeper into their offer. That garment has to have many more reasons why you would buy it than it did pre-recession, says Williamson, 40, himself decked out in designer threads from Etro and Thom Sweeney. It's harder, and I think there are more challenges, and people want the same quality but they want a lower price point. Yet his business has enjoyed an upswing in the highest price point, with customers opting for a box-ticking – as opposed to fashion – piece that will last.Williamson's latest project is for charity. He has collaborated with Sainsbury's to create three canvas shopping bags being sold in aid of Sport Relief: at least £1.50 of each £5 bag goes to the charity. He recently visited Kids Company in Kilburn, north London – one of Sport Relief's good causes – and worked with children on an art project.As a child, Williamson used to draw and paint every night after school and he knew from an early age what he wanted to do for a career. Born in Chorlton, Manchester, the self-confessed un-sporty designer was named after the celebrated Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby, thanks to his football-fan father, David. He was inspired to draw by the way his mother, Maureen, a receptionist for a chain of opticians, dressed, and went on to graduate in fashion design and printed textiles from Central Saint Martins, London in 1994. Three years later, he founded his fashion house with his business partner Joseph Velosa.Nowadays it is Miller, as opposed to his mum, who is recognised as Williamson's muse. Although he says he does not think of just one person when he designs, he describes the actress as inspirational. You know, she's willing to try anything and her sense of humour is very close to mine and our eye is drawn to the same things, creatively speaking.Williamson is about to move into a new London home with his partner, the model Stephen Baccari, and dog, Coco (after Chanel). He believes British fashion is in a better state than ever, turning over money that is not to be ignored. And he says definite effort are being made, including by the Government, to support the industry. I think the future's very hopeful if they continue to see those new designers into their middle term of growth, he says. I think it will finally dispel the idea that London is just about creative talent that then disintegrates, which it was back in the day.Start at Piazza San Babila, a busy intersection that used to lie just outside Milan's medieval walls. In the Middle Ages, merchants had to declare their goods at this gate before entering the city. The red brick church of San Babila (00 39 02 7639 4297) dates back to 1095.From here you can enter the Fashion District up Via Bagutta. This street of restaurants and antiques shops was a poor bohemian area in the 1930s, frequented by artists. As you emerge on Via Sant'Andrea, Palazzo Morando is on the left, containing a very good museum of costume (00 39 02 8846 5933; ). Vogue is staging a fashion event here, open to the public, from 21-24 September.Walk to the intersection with Via Monte Napoleone for espresso (€1) at Caffe Cova (00 39 02 7600 5599; past ). This stylish sequence of rooms opened in 1829. In those days Monte Napoleone was where the aristocracy of Lombardy built its townhouses. Who would have guessed that it would one day become the most fashionable addresses for a new kind of Italian aristocracy, the Milanese couturier? Today this street is so important it even has its own glossy magazine, Monte Napoleone, and Cova is where the fashion press congregates during Fashion Week.Now turn about and head east down Via Sant'Andrea past Chanel, Hermès, Miu Miu and Gianfranco Ferré. Crossing Via Senato and passing along Via San Primo, the Baroque building on your left is Palazzo del Senato, with its convex façade. A statue by Joan Miró stands outside.At the intersection with the busy Corso Venezia look for the plaque on the Banca Commerciale Italiana, which commemorates the birthplace of Count Luigi Torelli, the man who hoisted a large Italian tricolour on top of the Duomo during the fight for independence in 1848.Across Corso Venezia, weave through to Via dei Cappuccini. This area is one block after another of gorgeous early 20th-century apartments. The best is at the intersection of Cappuccini and Via Vivaio: Palazzo Berri-Meregalli (1914) was designed by Giulio Arata of Piacenza. These apartments are an unrepentant mishmash of Liberty style, oriental mosaics, statuary, cantilevers and frescos.Turn left up Viale Piave and immediately, on the opposite side of the road, at Number 24 is a former cinema still called the Metropol. This now belongs to Dolce Gabbana who converted it into its showroom for use during Fashion Week. Further up Viale Piave is the Hotel Diana Majestic (00 39 022 0581; ). Three sets of unmarked black double doors on the corner with Via Lambro signal the entrance to Gucci's private Fashion Week showrooms.Crossing Piazza Guglielmo Oberdan, note the massive 19th-century ceremonial gates of Porta Venezia. These mark the beginning of Corso Buenos Aires, which contains about 350 fashion outlets, the highest concentration of clothing stores in Europe. Serious shoppers should divert now.Turning back towards the city centre, enter the Giardini Pubblici, opened outside the old city walls in 1790. Here, between the park's trees, is where Alberta Ferretti stages her shows in a marquee. Keeping to the right of the Natural History Museum (00 39 02 8846 3280; ), see if you can spot the statue to General Giuseppe Sirtori. Sirtori was a comrade of Garibaldi who fought during the unification of Italy and died in 1874.Emerge in Piazza Cavour and go through the 12th-century city gates known as Archi di Porta Nuova. Heading towards the city centre down Via Manzoni, the Armani Hotel Manzoni (00 39 02 8883 8888; ) is on your right. Here you can live the style in a hotel where every piece of furniture has been personally chosen by Giorgio Armani. Turn right in front of the Grand Hotel et de Milan (00 39 02 723 141; grandhotel etdemilan) where Giuseppe Verdi died in 1901. In the 1970s at the beginning of the Italian ligna pronto (prêt-à-porter) movement, many fashion houses presented their first shows in this hotel.Head towards Via Borgonuovo and you'll pass the Armani Bookstore and Café (00 39 02 723 18600; ). At 11 Via Borgonuovo stands a 17th-century palace that is now the headquarters of Armani. Here the Divine Giorgio, a former Milanese medical student, will be presenting private views next week.Fresh cutsGalleria del Corso is a little brother to the stately Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Last year it was converted into a café, multi-store, recording studio, multiplex cinema and the Ambassador Hotel (00 39 02 7602 0241; ), where doubles start at €202.50 (£162), room only.This autumn, Daniele Confalonieri of Hotel Principe di Savoia (00 39 02 62301; ) is offering Passion Night, a vodka-based cocktail which was created for last week’s 2012 Vogue Fashion Night Out, at €20 (£16) a glass.Travel essentialsGetting thereRailbookers (020-3327 2439; ) offers short breaks to Milan from £389 per person, including rail travel from London St Pancras via Paris and two nights’ BB accommodation.You can fly to Milan on British Airways (0844 493 0787; ) from Heathrow and Gatwick and easyJet (0843 104 5000; ) from Gatwick.Staying thereIn the heart of the Fashion District, the Four Seasons (00 39 02 77088; ) at Via Gesu 6/8 offers double rooms from €676 (£542), room only.More information: Tourist Information: 00 39 027740 4343; Milan Fashion Week: Mr Murdoch, shunned by most political leaders since the phone-hacking scandal broke, will be at the poolside with his wife, Wendi Deng, and business leaders. The visit is part of Mr Johnson's drive to use the Games to promote London and encourage investment.Sources close to the Mayor said he was very comfortable about being photographed with the tycoon. He is understood to regard Mr Murdoch as an important supporter of British sports through initiatives such as sponsorship of Team Sky cyclists, including Bradley Wiggins. A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: The Mayor has always said he would use the Games to shamelessly promote London as the leading business hub in Europe .In 2010, Mr Johnson described phone-hacking allegations as codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party and a song and dance about nothing. He later said he misunderstood the severity of the allegations.In an interview in March, he said: I don't regard [Mr Murdoch] as quite the satanic influence that some do. He did a great deal to set the newspaper industry free.Basketball star's wife turns to retail therapyRetailers in London's West End have seen a decline in footfall since attention turned eastwards, but thankfully one determined shopper seems keen to revive their fortunes. No, not Mary Portas but Vanessa Bryant, wife of the US basketball player Kobe Bryant. Not renowned as a spendthrift, she took to Bond Street clutching a red Chanel purse and emerged from one designer store with a bag of goodies so large it could accommodate a small child. Mrs Bryant, who is in London with their two young daughters for a fortnight, is reportedly furious with her husband and embarrassed after he was pictured chatting shirtless to two women at a nightclub in Barcelona last week. Swimmers father gives unpredictable interviewThe father of the South African swimmer who beat Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly gave a gloriously unpredictable interview to the BBC's Clare Balding yesterday. Bert Le Clos, father of 20-year-old Chad Le Clos, was dragged to a poolside spot after his son's tearful medal ceremony. Seconds later, the producers surely wished they hadn't. Speaking in gruff, Afrikaans-accented English, and sweating profusely, Mr Le Clos ignored Balding's questions. I've never been so happy in my life, he said. Defeating her attempts to rein him in, he rambled: Wow. Look at him. And he's beautiful. Look at this. What a beautiful boy. When asked about his family, Mr Le Clos also took the chance to make Lord Coe's day a little bit worse. My other son is here, the small one. I can't find him. We're all over the place. It's not easy to get tickets. Country of the day – San MarinoThe Most Serene Republic of San Marino is only 24 miles square, surrounded entirely by Italy, and has only 31,000 inhabitants, yet it has competed in 12 summer Olympics since 1960 (though without ever winning a medal). This surely qualifies it for the adjective we British often apply to such tiny nations: plucky. This year, San Marino has sent a team of four, kitted out by the Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo, no less.The burgers were good, as burgers go, and a couple of decent cocktails dealt with the inner curmudgeon. But as I turned in my £30 share of the bill, I experienced that same feeling of vague resignation that closes many of my meals out in the British capital. It took another six months before I hit on exactly what was disappointing me about London's dining scene, and it was in the last place you might have expected: Paris.Long considered to have fallen behind London as a culinary trendsetter, the French capital is viewed condescendingly by all but the most informed of foodies and Francophiles on this side of the Channel as a teacher we've outgrown. They will point to crummy tourist-trap brasseries, overblown haute cuisine and McDonald's at the Louvre as evidence of its dramatic fall from grace. And where it does succeed, it is still playing catch-up, poor thing, they will simper. The truth is, here in London, we have nothing to learn from Paris any more.On an early autumn night a few weeks ago, however, I found myself in east Paris, in the rough and ready 20th arrondissement, receiving what felt like a re-education in dining out. A French friend had recommended Roseval, a new restaurant run by talented young chefs Michael Greenwold, a 28-year-old Brit, and Simone Tondo, a 24-year-old Sardinian, that has become an instant hit since its July opening.An unassuming little corner plot, Roseval seats around 20 in its pocket-square-sized dining-room. Roughly plastered white walls and simple wooden furniture allow the space to breathe but retain a homely feel. Unlike London, where the fashion for no-bookings means a meal now routinely begins with a two-hour wait, there's no queuing or names on clipboards, just plain old reservations. And no choosing what to eat, either – like many Paris restaurants now, Roseval offers a set menu only, although you can ring ahead for special requirements. I was more than happy to cede control – a welcome pause in the endless flow of decision-making, there's also something companionable about eating the same thing as everyone else at the table.That we were in playful but skilled hands was made clear by the starter: a salted ricotta soup with mackerel and heirloom tomatoes, prettily sprinkled with chive flowers and lemon breadcrumbs, took the bright flavours of a salad into unexpected forms. A dish of cod, tempered bone marrow, tangy wild sorrel, and pil-pil emulsion sitting atop soft, buttery potato was a featherweight delight, while 12-hour-cooked pork belly, finished on the grill, deglazed with Muscat grape juice and served with endive and gambas fair cured me of my indifference to that meat.After a perfect panna cotta topped with sweet, earthy fig, the final course of almond ice-cream, cloaked in crumbs of olive-oil cake and 28-month-aged pecorino and spiked with wild blackberries was a fitting summation of the chefs' facility with vivid combinations and lightness of touch. With each course, Greenwold and Tondo zipped back and forth from their basement kitchen to present the dish to diners.It was a great meal by any measure, but at a prix fixe of €35 (just shy of £28), it was jaw-dropping. With a rather indulgent wine choice, we knocked the price up to nearer £40 a head, but it still felt like a steal for something genuinely special. Shuffling into the night, buoyed by a glass of dessert wine on the house as we waited at the bar for a cloudburst to ease, I reflected on what the same sum might have bought me in London. My burger and kitchen roll with a few more cocktails on the side? A couple of decent courses, provided you opt for the house wine, in Soho?Before the Olympics, in a last-minute sales pitch for the city, Boris Johnson boasted that London had more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris – though it's odd that, when those stars were more plentiful on the Continent, they connoted fussy soft furnishings and overwrought food, whereas now they are used as hard evidence that Brits do it better. No matter – for the vast majority of people, comparisons at that high-falutin level are about as relevant as whether you should buy Chanel or Burberry.You can, of course, eat fantastically well for rather a lot of money in London – and for very little, if you go frill-free. It's finding something in the middle that's not mediocre which is the problem. If you're neither a restaurant critic nor exceptionally wealthy, just someone in gainful employment who'd like to go out for a properly good, interesting meal without breaking the £50 ceiling, London is a tricky prospect. If you're not crazy about inane gimmicks or gentrified fast food, it can be quite depressing.Paris, meanwhile, is full of possibilities. Happily for its denizens, Roseval is not a bargainous aberration, but typical of a local, independent restaurant scene founded on the talents of a fresh generation of young chefs, many of whom are not French, but have cut their teeth in some of the city's most creative kitchens and are now boldly striking out alone with their first ventures. Yes, there is also a clutch of trendy burger and steak joints, but they aren't setting the tone. Meg Zimbeck, editor of the Paris by Mouth restaurant blog, cites the recently opened Abri and the reopened Vivant Table, both of which have Japanese chefs, alongside Roseval as her top picks of the new season.Common features include addresses in scruffier parts of town (but we're talking mainly the 10th and 20th arrondissements here, not the back end of the banlieues), low-key décor and a deliberately relaxed environment – all of which mean they can offer inventive dishes and pristine produce at a ridiculously fair price.I still think that one can eat better in Paris than almost anywhere else in the world, but the action is no longer happening at the haute-cuisine level, explains Zimbeck. Chefs who have interned at Michelin-starred restaurants are now performing on smaller, more personal stages where they can innovate and use ingredients that go beyond foie gras, truffle and turbot. The calibre of lunch that you can have in Paris for €25 is unmatched anywhere in the world.Youthful, dynamic and international in outlook, the scene is miles away from the aforementioned caricature of Parisian cooking over here. When I call Greenwold, to ask if he and Tondo will share their insider perspective on the contemporary Paris scene with a Londoner, he seems surprised: I just didn't think anyone knew much about what's going on over here, says the Oxfordshire-raised chef. I see articles about Paris in the food and travel sections of British papers, but I don't feel there's been that acknowledgement of what's been happening here.I mention that the most recent face of Parisian dining is expat Brit Rachel Khoo, who had TV audiences drooling over her mismatched crockery, vintage dresses and her own, not especially exciting, takes on French cooking. Is she a chef? asks Tondo. Well, she describes herself as a food 'creative'… I think she opened a pop-up restaurant in her flat, I offer. Tondo rolls his eyes.So though we clearly love a bit of Amélie-esque Paris, when it comes to bistronomie – the move away from classic haute cuisine towards a more experimental style of cooking, offered in casual neo-bistro surroundings and at more affordable prices – we have been pretty slow on the uptake.The seeds were sown by chefs such as Pascal Barbot as far back as 2000, but it found its full definition in the mid-noughties. In 2006, French-born Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte brought daring reinventions of bistro fare and a slug of rock'n'roll glamour with his highly acclaimed Chateaubriand (Greenwold's training ground and currently 15th in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list). Gregory Marchand, returning from stints in New York and London, where he worked closely with Jamie Oliver – whose influence may be detected as much in his fashion sense as his approach to food – opened the insanely popular Frenchie in 2009.Beyond a commitment to quality, simplicity and accessibility, the rules of bistronomie are pretty much that there ain't no rules – creativity and individuality are its watchwords. It's this ethos that has encouraged the Roseval generation to forge ahead with their personal visions, diversifying the scene and maintaining its dynamism.All this flies in the face of accounts of the demise of Parisian gastronomy – as recently as 2009, US journalist Michael Steinberger's award-winning Au Revoir to All That presented a seemingly persuasive argument that the decline of the country's food, yoked to the offering in Paris, mirrored France's dwindling political and economic status. Although purporting to be as much eulogy as elegy, Steinberger's tome drove another nail into the metaphorical coffin in which international media seemed happy to inter Paris's culinary prowess.Yet Steinberger's argument has not dated especially well in these recessionary times. Mocking the French distrust of free-market economics and globalisation, he also drew a direct link between the vast amounts of wealth created in London, Spain's flourishing economy and their rise as gastronomic powerhouses, fuelled by diners with deep pockets. But if (temporarily) booming economies spurred a certain kind of innovation, the new genre of dining that was being created in Paris was better placed to weather a downturn. Increasingly, it looks as though the French were wise to have scaled things down in the dining-room while others were ramping them up.Paris's latest clutch of restaurant openings also shows up the fallacy of another broader claim often made about France, that the country's labour laws and bureaucracy strangle entrepreneurial spirit. I ask Greenwold whether it would have been any easier to open a restaurant in London. Though he admits the bureaucracy was maddening, it seems to galvanise the city's cheffing community (friends in the business obligingly lent Greenwold and Tondo their business plan to copy). And the bottom line is money: We could do what we wanted here for a lot less. Even in east London I can't imagine we could have opened this for less than half a million; here we did it for 150k. Our rent is expensive by Parisian standards, but cheap for London. We'd love to do something in London, but we'd need serious investment. The figures go a long way to explaining differences in the capitals' dining options. In Paris, you can go small-scale and do OK. In London, mere survival requires something very commercial. Something like a burger on a piece of kitchen roll, perhaps.Not long after my Paris trip, I speak to Luc Dubanchet, the food critic and former Gault-Millau guide editor who 10 years ago, bored with the capital's staid restaurant scene, founded Omnivore, a food publication set up in explicit opposition to the Michelin Guide and the stuffy approach to eating he felt it encouraged. Since then, the magazine has fought passionately to define and promote the new wave of jeune cuisine simmering away in Paris.I ask Dubanchet if he is pleased with how far the city has come. Well, I was right that we could do better – so that's good, he laughs. Paris is great now; you can feel something there which is about excitement rather than history and Michelin stars. But it's fragile. Everywhere, not only in France, you have to fight for something new all the time.It is in a spirit of enquiry and exchange that Dubanchet launched the Omnivore World Tour, a series of events across the globe connecting local chefs with their counterparts from Paris and around Europe for a programme of dinners and masterclasses. The Roseval boys are among those now involved: Tondo showed me a large Babushka tattoo on his arm that commemorated their stint at a recent Moscow event, confirming the youthful, irreverent nature of the gatherings.I ask whether either of them might be acquiring some London-themed body art any time soon. I think so, says Greenwold. I don't know how the kind of thing we're doing over here will go down to be honest. The [east London-based chefs] Young Turks are part of Omnivore and I know that they've got quite a lot of attention in London with some of their combinations. James [Lowe] does a dish that's aged steak cut into a tartare with an oyster emulsion. It's really good, I'm not knocking it as a dish, but if you look at what's been going on there, it's not that out there. If people think that's crazy in London, they're going to think that the kind of stuff Inaki does, and maybe we do sometimes… well, they're going to think it's fucking weird. Perhaps we're not quite the cutting-edge sophisticates we think we are.Dubanchet is a big fan of a good hamburger, so he has no sympathy for my kitchen-roll-related woes in London. But he is unimpressed when I tell him of a recent meal in Piccadilly's new Brasserie Zedel, the vast, Disney-esque repro French bistro that has been serving up competent oeuf mayonnaises and choucroute at chain-restaurant prices to the general approval of the city's critics. There are so many French copies. Even here in France there are French copies. Why another one? he sighs. You have to be careful you don't get too complacent. Otherwise, you will wake up and find that you're, well, French.Ooh la la! The brightest young stars of Parisian cuisineAbriAlready a foodie favourite since opening last month. Japanese chef Katsuaki Okiyama turns out exquisite plates, such as potato soup with coffee and cardamom foam, in a low-fi setting. A prix fixe four-course lunch is €22; six-course dinner €38.50. Abri's excellent sandwiches, served all day, are fast becoming legendary too. 92 Rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, 75010, tel: (00 33) 1 83 97 00 00ChatomatThe international pedigree of the young couple behind this diminutive restaurant (Victor is French, Alice Italo-Brasilo-French) makes for bright, thoroughly modern cooking in an unpretentious atmosphere befitting its Ménilmontant location. Described as adorable by Le Figaro's redoubtable critic François Simon, dinner à la carte averages €40. Closed lunch. 6 Rue Victor Letalle, 75020, tel: (00 33) 1 47 97 25 77Chez AlineAlthough strictly speaking not a restaurant, this is unlike any snack bar you'll have known. Housed in a former horsemeat butchers, Delphine Zampetti (aka Mrs Inaki Aizpitarte) turns out superlative sandwiches (from €4.50) and a couple of plats du jour (€10). Try the rabbit baguette with sundried tomatoes or go old-school Parisian with a simple jambon-beurre. 85 Rue de la Roquette 75011, tel: (00 33) 1 43 71 90 75Restaurant Pierre Sang BoyerA finalist in the French equivalent of Masterchef, Korean-born Boyer opened a spot in trendy Oberkampf this summer, where imaginative but polished cooking rules: veal tartare with figs; gambas with aubergine caviar and frozen banana slices. Trust us, it's good. The four-course prix fixe is €35. Sadly, no reservations are taken. 55 Rue Oberkampf, 75011, no phoneVivant TableThe bistro formerly known as Vivant has reopened with an upgrade on the menu as well as the name, thanks to two skilled Japanese chefs, Atsumi Sota and Masaki Yamamoto. Early whispers describe the food as mind-blowing, but there have been quibbles over the prices – €45 for the fixe – which shows the value Parisians expect. A bar à vins opens next door soon. 43 Rue des Petites Ecuries, 75011, tel: (00 33) 1 42 46 43 55Perhaps this goes some way toward explaining the phenomenon of the celebrity fragrance: we just want to feel like our idols do after they've had a wash. Lopez's scent is credited with reigniting the Nineties vogue for superstar endorsement a decade ago and remains top of the perfume parade, bringing in an estimated £570 per hour for the curvaceous singer, or £50m in the past 10 years.The trend started back in 1991 when Elizabeth Taylor launched 'White Diamonds', explains Alessandra Steinherr, beauty director at Glamour magazine. Many have come and gone since then and, of course, some are beyond hideous, while others are beautifully formulated and super popular. The good ones stand the test of time and the bad-quality ones tend to disappear.In the past six months, Lady Gaga and Madonna have released their own fragrances, as have – rather lower down the celeb spectrum – Amy Childs (of The Only Way is Essex fame), X Factor runner-up Cher Lloyd and X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos. Clearly, there is a market for these products.While the most popular overall – in terms of sales – remain Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker and Britney Spears, for many years Shh by Jade Goody was a bestseller. Launched in 2006 after Goody's stint on Big Brother, it sells today (three years after her death) as a collector's item on eBay.Fragrance has become increasingly part of everybody's daily dressing ritual, says Nicholas Gilbert, an olfactory expert based at London's top-end scent shop Les Senteurs. The price point of celebrity fragrances seems to explain their popularity, however, you get what you pay for.Most celebrity scents, he explains, use inexpensive fruity notes that are easily created and have widespread appeal among the nostrils of the masses. Sweet fruits, such as blackcurrants, strawberry and peach, are popular, as are fantasy floral accords, invented concepts such as Red Vanilla Orchid, Dewy Lotus Flower, Coconut Orchid. Typically, celebrity scents combine fruity top notes with a floral heart and a cake-like base, with vanilla a common ingredient in many.Vanilla's comforting, Gilbert continues, because it recalls the security of youth and nursery desserts, and is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.But celebrity fragrances tread a thin line between sex and sensuality: most of these products must be accessible to young fanbases with uneducated palettes, which is why so many of them smell so sickly sweet.Pint-sized popstar Justin Bieber's fragrance Someday, launched in 2011 (the bottle sports a rubber floral effigy uncannily like that of Marc Jacobs's Lola) is a case in point: starting notes of mandarin, pear and berries ends in vanilla and soft musk. Wearing it for a day is like being trapped in a fudge kitchen.It explains a dream, Bieber told fans when it launched. Someday I will drive a BMW. Someday I will be an astronaut.When Bieber debuted his second perfume Girlfriend, British high-street chain The Perfume Shop reported selling one bottle a minute in the opening weekend, and a 132 per cent rise in online sales on the previous year. All records were broken with the launch of 'Girlfriend', says the store's advertising manager Michelle D'Vaz. It's safe to say Bieber fever is still a phenomenon.Refreshingly, when reports last year surfaced that Lady Gaga would release a fragrance, the popstar said she wanted it to smell of blood and semen. Since then however, she has had to row back a bit: the resultant scent, which came out last month, is merely based on the molecular structure of these two substances, and is structured by three accords – that is, three sets of notes which harmonise together. Belladonna; honey, saffron and apricot, and Tiger Orchid combine to make a singular perfume that is presented in a bottle that resembles an onyx egg clutched by an alien claw. Righto.It might not sound very nice but what Lady Gaga, along with Madonna and reality-television star Kim Kardashian, has done is de-sweeten the celeb scent shelves. Madge's Truth or Dare is a traditional white floral scent undercut with amber, while Kardashian's mixes a difficult tuberose with sandalwood. They're very different from the other citrus celeb offerings: whatever one might think of buying into a brand because of the famous face behind it, these perfumes are noticeably more complex and less obviously wearable.I feel that fragrance houses need to take a risk to smash the mould of what a celebrity fragrance can be, says Gilbert. The continued focus on group testing that the mainstream insists on using is leading to a homogenisation of the celebrity-fragrance market.But Sarah Jessica Parker remains a cautionary tale. After releasing the bestselling Lovely in 2005 – capitalising on her profile at the end of the Sex and the City television series – she went on to create another product Covet, a woody chocolate and lavender scent or fougère that she was heavily involved in building, and which proved simply too challenging for the common nose. It was swiftly discontinued.It's really down to how the celebrities approach the making of their perfume, says Steinherr. How involved they are, how much it is a personal project or just a way to make a quick buck.Of course, initially the face of the fragrance is the determining factor as to whether the perfume sells, but the trick to getting longevity and repeat sales is to produce a great scent.Ultimately, if it smells nice, most people will probably like it and part with their hard-earned cash for it. And others will do as a friend of mine does: decant her favourite fragrance – True Reflection by Kim Kardashian – into a Chanel No. 5 bottle so that her secret remains safe.A brief glimpse of the former Libertines frontman's tattooed torso and scarred belly reveal the ravages of his 32 years. He quickly replaces his T-shirt, which had been inside-out, and begins posing moodily for photographs, in a room littered with strange objects: taxidermy, antique furniture and canvases. Is this for a music video? Has he got an album coming out? No. It may look pretty rock'n'roll, but it is, in fact, the start of Doherty's bid to be taken seriously as a fine artist.Jumpy like a cat, Doherty shows me around London's Cob Gallery, where his first UK solo art exhibition (he showed work at the Chappe gallery in Paris in 2008) will open next week. Most of the artwork is yet to arrive, but nine canvases are scattered around the black-walled, underground space in Camden. The paintings are spare, with lots of white space showing through linear outlines, glued-on paper and Doherty's spidery scrawl. Their unifying feature, apart from the artist's signature, is that they have been painted in blood. Doherty's blood. It is a technique he refers to as arterial splatter: an ex-girlfriend's father coined the phrase. The streaky, brown-ish marks, by turns thick (as if he's just swished a bloodied thumb across the surface) and bespattered (he squirts his blood from a syringe) are unmistakably human.A further 20 new blood-paintings will be shipped in from Paris, where the singer now lives, to form the top half of a collaboration between the curators of Cob and another gallery, Guts for Garters. The show is called On Blood: A Portrait of the Artist. The first part of the title refers to his blood paintings, and the latter half to a decision by curator Cassie Beadle to exhibit a selection of strange curiosities, trinkets and detritus hoarded by Doherty over the years.Painting is something of a collective process for Doherty. A fucking accurate portrait of his friend Peter Wolfe, from the band Wolfman and the Side-Effects, was drawn by his friend Alizé Meurisse, and Doherty has added a splatter or two and some song lyrics into the mix. An early portrait of The Libertines, which the artist modestly disparages, has been added to, not only by his eight-year-old son Astile, but also by his good friend, the late Amy Winehouse, who drew a small self-portrait in her own blood.She was on the phone to her dad when she did that. She said, 'Dad, I'm with Pete and he's making me draw with my blood!' He didn't like me much, her dad.The actress Charlotte Gainsbourg added a sketch of a house to a painting called Leet Strife – a less pretentious title than Street Life, he says.Doherty explains that for his newest works he has been using watercolours. He says it is the only way he can begin to replicate the emulsive, wishy-washy residue on the neck of a crack-cocaine bottle. Alarmingly, he then reaches into his pocket and pulls out a broken crack-pipe (It's an old one, I promise) and holds the glass up to the light so I can see the silvery remains of the drugs.Look at the colours, the oranges. You see that there? You can only get that with watercolours.Marc Quinn made wonderful sculptures from his own frozen blood, but is there something a bit faddy and pretentious about painting with it? I suggest that the self-harm element might be rather gruesome, but Cob curator Victoria Williams has an intriguing take on it. It's about breaking down the boundaries between yourself and your art. I don't think it's destructive, it's quite giving actually, she says. It's certainly not about gore.Later in the day, the curators, Doherty and his manager are getting ready to drive a van to Wiltshire, to the mansion the artist used to rent from Lord Cardigan but vacated after the roof fell in. There is some anxiety, Doherty having arrived over an hour late, that they will not get to rifle through the storage container there until after dark. Doherty is rather apprehensive about what they will find.Everything flooded when the roof fell in, Doherty says. Then it froze, then it flooded again when it melted. We stuck everything into storage but lots of it was ruined. Have you ever seen mould that looks all fluffy and white like snow?I haven't. Nor have I met Doherty before, although he insists that I have: that famous face, his dishevelled hair now touched with grey, eyes outlined by lack of sleep and a smirking, disarming smile.The curators have quite a task ahead, sifting through the piles of silks, bones, leathers, skulls, palettes – what's that thing you put canvases on? – oh yeah, easels, frames, boots, laces, wigs, mannequins... that are, apparently, Doherty's passion.His proclivity for hoarding leads him to talk about his infamous on-again, off-again relationship with the supermodel Kate Moss, from whom he finally separated in 2007.Kate used to collect elephants, so I'd buy them for her wherever I went, he says. When we split up she destroyed all my stuff, but she didn't destroy my elephants. Because I couldn't get over her for a while I just kept buying elephants and now I've got a huge elephant collection for sale. I might post them anonymously to her as a wedding present.Despite Moss having married her long-term boyfriend, Jamie Hince, last July, her name is rarely printed without mention of her tempestuous relationship with Doherty. The singer's penchant for heroin and crack-cocaine led to the end of their relationship and the model's association with him dented her reputation and helped to earn her the epithet Cocaine Kate. Moss publicly split from Doherty after footage of her allegedly taking cocaine at a studio where he was recording with Babyshambles was sold to the press. Prosecutors decided not to charge the supermodel, in the absence of forensic or direct eyewitness evidence, but Moss lost contracts with HM, Burberry and Chanel before admitting herself to rehab.I ask Doherty if he has any regrets about the demise of their relationship. He is silent for a long time: I suppose I must have, but I was a bit unhinged at that time, he shrugs. The drugs. The thing is, she knew from day one when we began our relationship that I was using very heavily. She knew that. So, you can't suddenly turn around and say, 'you've got to stop all that'. I do have regrets about Kate, but I wouldn't want to talk to you about them. I'd only talk to a highly skilled doctor with large amounts of morphine and a hypnotherapist. And a small monkey.He laughs and then lets out a scream before putting his finger in his mouth. He has cut it on the broken crack-pipe in his pocket. He bleeds only slightly, but it's a sign that we need to talk about something else. I joke that I've got some paper in case he wants to make a drawing. He declines, the mood having dropped, and for a moment the connection between his art and his well-documented self-harming hangs in the air.The show is a chance for Doherty to revitalise his image in the wake of his many falls from grace. In 2003 the singer was ejected from The Libertines, at the height of their success, by his one-time best friend Carl Barât, thanks to his increasing dependence on Class-A drugs. Doherty went on to front Babyshambles, with whom he released two albums, and also produced a solo record called Grace/Wastelands in 2009, but his celebrity reputation has always rather eclipsed his music. In 2010 The Libertines reformed for appearances at the Reading and Leeds Festivals – but, as the release of Roger Sargent's film about the band's revival, The Libertines: There Are No Innocent Bystanders, released next month, reveals, with Doherty the appeal of the story is usually greater than the sound.Doherty has been in prison three times, had at least 15 court appearances, a conviction for burglary, more than 26 drugs charges and is currently on bail for cocaine possession. I ask how he is managing his addictions.I've stopped injecting, he says, giving credit for this improvement to a new girlfriend, whose name he decides not to disclose, but whose parents he is meeting at their Oxford home this evening.The only way I see myself in a serious relationship is if I am toning it down a bit. When you're banging up all day you can't really have someone else in your life, especially if she's an English rose. I wouldn't let her touch anything, I just wouldn't. Doherty tells me he is being treated at a walk-in clinic for users and is currently on a pharmaceutical opiate called Subutex (Posh and Becks, as they call it), which doesn't get you high but suppresses withdrawal symptoms.Gone is the implant which he had in his stomach to block the effects of heroin. Jesus Christ, thank God them days are over. That was when I was up in front of a judge every five minutes and he was saying, 'get clean or go to jail'. Doherty had quite a hard time in prison.I got on OK in Pentonville [in 2006] because it was kind of my local, if you like. A lot of people wanted to get me, but more wanted to do me a favour. In Wayland last year it was lads from east rather than north London, and loads of other places. People I didn't know. As soon as he arrived, he says, people started getting at him, requesting money and drugs for protection. I didn't have any money, I didn't have any drugs. One guy said he was going to stick a fork up my arse. I threw my telly at him because I thought that would get me put in isolation.Instead, they moved Doherty to another wing where he found an ally in his cellmate who didn't like bullies, basically. Between them they managed to fend off the attention. A lot of those guys are just scared little boys inside. If you stand your ground they back down.When Doherty speaks it comes across that the constant danger, the addictions, and the hell-raising parties all stem from his wish to emulate the bohemian ideal. This was clear in his Libertines days, when the band's red jackets and the presentation of Doherty as a kind of Nick Drake of our times – a new romantic, a poet and a rebel – were still doing their work.A decade on, the figure who describes quite eloquently and earnestly his passion for a time when men wore smoking jackets and when drugs and art were synonymous, seems deflated. I hope that the art will be a positive step for Doherty; his enthusiasm for it recalls the old Pete – the showman and the optimist.I have a distinct memory of friends I had at school whose parents were, for want of a better word, bohemian. That was the kind of England that I thought I should have belonged to, he says. Instead Doherty grew up in a series of barracks, the son of a Catholic Army Major, and received little encouragement for his creative pursuits.My family used to say, point-blank, 'We'd support you if we thought you could sing, or we thought you could write songs, but you can't'.Last year his widely publicised estrangement from his father ended after a good meeting at his little sister's wedding. The family was all there together and I think my father was a little bit surprised at how compos mentis I was. He turned around and said that I was welcome to come home for Christmas. That was the first time in six years he's said that.Repeated flayings in the tabloid press from 2005 onwards – his fans loving his Keith Richards-esque behaviour, his detractors revelling in his destruction – took its toll on Doherty. Never mind the fact that he courted it to start with. Three years ago he upped sticks to Paris to avoid the relentless attention. He loves it there, his own modern-day bohemia.The media circus got a bit twisted when I was in London. It became a bit of a joke, really. In Paris, they're so serious I can take myself really seriously too. I can get really morbid without people telling me to cheer up. He still has a loyal fanbase and he hasn't abandoned his music. He has already played a couple of secret gigs in London this year.Despite this retreat from public life, Doherty hit the headlines earlier this week when the South African supermodel Lindi Hingston told the South African Sunday Times that she had given birth to his baby six weeks ago. Pictures of the little girl, who has been named Aisling, appeared in the paper. There is a distinct Doherty pout to the baby's features. When I ask the man himself about the pictures, he claims not to know anything about the press coverage.I'm really surprised she's done that [talked to a newspaper], he says rather sadly, looking to his manager for confirmation and support. The little girl was two months premature. I said I'd try to be there for the birth. You know what, I don't want to talk about that. So she is your daughter?Yeah, she's mine, he says, adding: We're using the baby's blood in one of the pictures. I'm almost certain he's joking. Almost.On Blood: A Portrait of the Artist, Cob Gallery, London NW1 (cobgallery.com/ gutsforgarters.com) 26 February to 4 MarchSome of Mrs Thatcher's iconic outfits of the time are shortly up for sale at Christie's, courtesy of a private collector – God knows how the collector got his or her hands on Mrs Thatcher's best frocks in the first place, but we don't inquire. There is an amazing bright yellow one with an interesting side-button effect, very Chinese empress. There is one in ultramarine with tutti-frutti cuffs. There is a black one with a broad polka-dot lapel, which Mrs T gave a conference speech in – there's a photograph of her with an artfully matching pussy bow.Marvellous. All of them British, not a single one of them anything other than massively redolent of a time, and a place, and a social milieu, and an overpowering personality. Interestingly, they used to be described, as Mrs Thatcher described herself, as a size 14. The size 14 of the 1980s, apparently, is the size 10 of today.Politicians often struggle quite hard to be identified with a particular item of clothing, or a look, or a prop. Sometimes it happens without them trying (Michael Foot's donkey jacket). There is Harold Wilson's pipe. There was poor John Major's underpants. There is David Cameron's apparent attachment to the Boden dad catalogue.Impossible to think of Norman St John Stevas without thinking of monogrammed red velvet house slippers. Sometimes – I know this is a recherché example – the 1990s Tory MP Dame Jill Knight will come into mind for no reason other than the massive herbaceous-border frocks she used to wear in the chamber.But nothing comes near the Thatcher look as an embodiment of a political figure, and, actually, of a political creed. It would be absolutely impossible for anyone to put one of these incredible outfits on and then say out loud, Do you know, I really think the public service needs to be applauded for the way it values consensus in debate. You just could not go on giving free state milk to children with one of those jackets on.Mrs Thatcher was not, in fact, averse to discussing the detail of her wardrobe. At one hallucinatory moment in the 1980s, she took part in an Angela Huth documentary for the series Forty Minutes and answered questions about her clothes, including her underwear – she bought it from Marks Spencer, she said, adding, Doesn't everybody?The whole period between 1975 and 1990 was rather like that. To look at these beautifully made, highly performative garments is to see the other side of Vivienne Westwood, of Adam Ant's stage costume, of a shouty T-shirt that said FRANKIE SAYS RELAX. As Marie Antoinette could tell you from the other side of the guillotine, political beliefs fade and lose their meaning. But style, carried on with enough conviction, can last for ever.Brad the gentWhat a gentleman Bradley Wiggins is, really. Not everyone noticed his exemplary behaviour on winning the Olympic time trial. He was informed that he had the best time, but made no response, even though by then, the subsequent riders could not match his time, indeed had already exceeded it. He only raised his hands in celebration when the last rider had crossed the line.This beautiful behaviour was interpreted by the BBC commentator, however, as Mr Wiggins not knowing that he had won, or not being able to believe it, or something. Nothing of the sort. As with the moment in the Tour de France when he slowed down, refusing to take advantage when his rivals suffered punctures from scattered tin-tacks, Mr Wiggins was just behaving with great respect and decency.No one these days wants to be considered a gentleman. It hasn't seemed like much of an advantage for decades. But to behave consistently well, like Mr Wiggins, and to do the right thing without being ordered to is the best lesson the Olympics can give us. We're not going to ride as fast as him, but we can all endeavour to raise our manners to the status of ethical principles.Must 'Vertigo' look down on the rest?Interestingly, the once-a-decade poll of Sight and Sound into the greatest films ever made has moved Hitchcock's Vertigo into the first place, replacing Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. It's curious, however, that this exhaustive poll of the world's critics couldn't find anything later than 2001: A Space Odyssey in their top 10. Have no films scaled the heights since 1968? What about Pulp Fiction? Or anything funny, like Tootsie?Well, we all have our personal lists. It's difficult to know, however, whether we are living in a golden age of cinematic archive or not. From one point of view, it is easier than ever to source classic films. You used to have to wait until your local repertory cinema decided to show Last Year at Marienbad. Now you just get it off Amazon.On the other hand, those repertory cinemas have now almost all gone, and the curatorial function they performed of introducing people to the classics of the past has disappeared. You are not going to watch Juliet of the Spirits if you've never heard of it. But the retro-style photo booth is back in a big way. Standalone cubicles are popping up on streets and in bars in London and beyond. They're also fast becoming a fixture at parties and weddings. There's been a huge rise in demand, says Seamus Ryan, founder of Boothnation, a photo booth rental company that counts Chanel and Calvin Klein among its clients. It's spread so much that there is virtually a new photo booth company set up every week.Next Saturday sees the world's first photo booth festival, being held off Columbia Road in east London. For £10 you can have unlimited use of more than eight bespoke photo booths including the Warhol-esque Pop Art booth, disco booth and 3D booth.Now, of course, most have gone digital so there's no longer any danger of smudging your dewy snaps. The agonising wait for them to develop is over too. The whole process is a lot quicker so you can have your prints in 20 seconds as opposed to five minutes, says Ryan.Photo booths have been capturing stolen kisses and drunken flashes since 1925. What's their enduring appeal? Because there's a curtain and no photographer, you lose your inhibitions. You can be yourself and therefore the pictures that come out are unique, says Ryan. What's nice is that it has the same effect on every social class, no matter how wealthy or humble they are. Everyone has the same silly response to a photo booth.Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton said that her show, which buzzed with golden honey bees, was a celebration of femininity, and that could be a mantra for the season as a whole.In place of ephemeral, trend-driven fashion, spring's focus is on character, of putting a look together more than stepping into a single statement piece. The Paris catwalks, still home to the most gifted designers, are the place where individuality shines. And so it did, brightly.If there is an overriding mood, it is a minimal one. That could be seen in the pure lines and fondant-bright colours at Hussein Chalayan, in the prevalence of white and in a love affair with the trapeze line given to the world by Yves Saint Laurent but this season all over other designers' runways too.Raf Simons's debut ready-to-wear collection for Christian Dior was so full of ideas it was difficult to keep track of them, on the runway at least. Simons paired a fine-gauge knit sweater with an overblown silk skirt, elaborate bell tops with black shorts and veiled black, strapless cocktail dresses to lovely effect. This was a huge collection, most impressive, perhaps, for its diversity: almost every piece told its own story.Nicolas Ghesquière's collection for Balenciaga not only upheld the new season's central contradictions – hard and soft, masculine and feminine, black and white, often in a single garment – but also had a humanity to it that was good to see. Models looked as if they'd stepped straight off the street in their own clothes – albeit amazing clothes – wearing tiny golden charms round their neck and rings on every finger. The new so-called minimal ruffle (can there be such a thing?) found its spiritual home here – it is, after all, a name famed for architectural rigour. Tailoring – with sharp, laser-cut edges and in double-faced fabrics that stood away from the body – was masterful; the elaboration on dresses extraordinarily complex but never fussy.Crushing. The energy of an explosion, was how Rei Kawakubo summed up her Comme des Garçons collection and, with scrap-metal crowns made of battered upturned paint cans and broken toys, that rang out loud and clear. The clothes began with toiles – pieces of garments in raw-edged calico squashed together to form dresses, tops and skirts: a sweet frilled sleeve here, a ragged shoulder there and the odd padded protuberance. Glittering pale silver and gold followed and finally black, which was where this collection truly sang. Comme des Garçons pretty much invented the non-colour of modern fashion and uses it less these days now that everybody else does. This was a masterclass in invention: brilliant, brave and bold.The spirit of punk that swept the London collections was evident in this collection and in Dries Van Noten's show, too. Here arms were stripped off jackets and wadding was on show, the tartan beloved of the movement was cut in finest silk chiffon, and black leather thongs tied the open backs of tops and jackets to suitably déshabillé effect. There were shades of grunge, too, as Dries Van Noten's woman layered a boyfriend sweater over a shirt, over a pair of floral-print sheer trousers, over tailored shorts.Friendship, beauty, support, life were the words that Phoebe Philo used to describe her collection for Céline, which was her most gentle so far and wonderful for that. Clothing that caressed its wearer was deceptively simple – the low-slung but still hugely elegant proportions are clearly worked on to the nth degree. The pairing of white and ivory shouldn't work but it did. The teaming of sandals that make Birkenstocks look light with coloured mink was equally unexpected: witty and surprisingly pretty. The finest raw-silk dresses were finished with coarse cotton fishnet, the most lightweight pale-gold trench coats were fashionably frayed all to discreetly but extremely desirable effect.Next season's Miu Miu girl is equally relaxed and mischievous too, as always. Miuccia Prada's take on film-noir heroine meets nerdy student was as upbeat as it was – for all its maverick playfulness – chic. An exaggerated A-line silhouette was here juxtaposed with a more distressed, narrow one as aged fabrics and skins – including bags – rubbed shoulders with the super-shiny and new. Add to the mix giant fur stoles, long leather gloves and elegant court shoes gorgeous in rose pink… We could all be forgiven for wanting to be this person. Maison Martin Margiela's muse was something of a swot too, with her heavy glasses (sans lenses), jewelled nose clips and in clothes that were ultimately French classic with a huge twist.How great to see yet another new lease of life on the Chanel catwalk, where a youthful and fresh play on scale – shoes, bags and pearls were huge, clothes were teeny tiny in places, bell-shaped and swinging on bodies in others – was on show. The Chanel suit, meanwhile, was barely recognisable: bolero jackets, A-line dresses and colours that one might not unreasonably want to eat.At Junya Watanabe, the Puma logo appeared on the back of some of the designs – a collaboration, perhaps? No. Watanabe simply acknowledged the fact that he'd borrowed high-performance fabric from the PPR-owned brand. Lucky Puma. This show took sport couture to a new level: bright, clashing colours, T-shirts and trousers with curvilinear go-faster stripes, techno-stretch dresses that made the body-conscious look cool (that's not easy) and spiked, studded silver head pieces all made for a look that the sartorially discerning bright, young thing will love to wear.The shadow of Helmut Newton loomed large over collections including Peter Copping's Nina Ricci (black fishnet, zips and underwear as outerwear more dominatrix than David Hamilton in flavour), Givenchy (a lovely juxtaposition between the curve of an oversized frill and a more sharp-edged silhouette) and Lanvin, where a particularly powerful vision of a woman was upheld as Parisian style was duly reinvented. The underpinnings as outerwear theme that ran through the aforementioned Burton's collection also nodded to this woman, all while showcasing the fetishistic attention to detail this house is now known for.More butter wouldn't melt than siren was a perfectly pitched show by the Valentino designers, Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the refinement of which doubtless fills that house's namesake with pride. And finally – fashion heaven courtesy of the Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs. Perfect set, perfect soundtrack and perfect clothes all worn by not-quite-identical twins who were more beautiful than nature ever intended.One in four admitted they would break the law for a bargain and in the last year close to one in three adults (29%) came across suspected stolen items for sale at a market, pub (22%) or auction website (21%).In a study involving more than 2,000 people, it emerged a growingnumber of burglars were stealing brands to order and using shops and auction websites to sell illegal goods.According to the criminologists' research, one in 20 (5%) burglaries committed last year was carried out with the intention of finding a specific brand.The research was undertaken by home insurer LV= and involved interviews with burglary victims and convicted thieves.It revealed the stealing to order trend has increased in the past five years.Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and Dell items topped the thieves' shopping lists because they could be sold on easily for a largeproportion of the retail price.The average going rate on the black market for popular items by these manufacturers are £345 for a stolen iPhone, £210 for an iPad and £160 for a games console - around half the cost of buying them new from an official retailer.Government statistics show burglaries increased by 14% last year,from 651,000 to 745,000 in 2011, with victims losing £1,400 worth of belongings on average.Small electronic goods are the most commonly stolen items.One burglar told researchers: Almost everyone I know sells moody (stolen) stuff online.Just get a photo from the internet and put it up.Wait till the orders come in and then go out and get it.Auction websites have helped expand the marketplace for stolen goods with most of the thieves who took part in the research saying theyused auction websites to sell stolen goods.Although most online auction sites have strict rules prohibiting sellers from using them to sell stolen goods, many thieves said they gotround this by having multiple seller identities.As well as online auctions, thieves said they took orders from more traditional sources including markets and car boot sales, as well as some convenience stores who take 'under the counter' orders from customers in the know.One burglar said he worked with a contact at a phone unlocking stall in a shopping centre who takes orders 'off the street' from willing buyers.When selecting properties to target, unsurprisingly burglars targeted easily accessible properties in affluent neighbourhoods.Burglars also trawled bins to garner clues from receipts and packaging.High value fashion brands were also highly sought.Mui Mui and Prada were the most common handbag brands that are ordered, as these can usually be bought for around a third of the cost of buying them new from an official outlet.Designer perfumes and toiletries were also highly desirable with thieves mainly seeking out Chanel branded products, which can fetch around 23% of the official retail price.Although handling stolen goods can result in a jail term, those who want the latest must-have brands at a fraction of the retail price are driving the trend.John O'Roarke, LV= managing director, said: It is not surprisingthat thieves are focusing on electronic gadgets, which can be easily concealed, transported and quickly sold on.Our own theft claims data shows a shift in recent years from larger electronic goods, such as TVs, to smaller electronic items - although the overall monetary value is the same.Legitimate owners must take care not to fall victim to theft by leaving goods in view from the outside of their home and should take care to dispose of receipts and packaging properly.PAIt is a craft form realised not by superstars. Instead, while it takes a couturier to direct the skills of the petites mains who staff the Paris ateliers, many of whom trained under the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel and Hubert de Givenchy, it is they who are ultimately responsible for the sheer beauty of the finished garments. When Givenchy retired, he took his final bows alongside them. It was a poignant gesture.These people are, usually, French-born and -trained although as the Italian designers behind Givenchy (Riccardo Tisci), Valentino (Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri) and Versace go to prove, that country has its share too. They study for years, at school and on internships with fashion's great names. They pass their skills down through generations. A younger contingent is growing steadily, meaning the future of what to some is an anachronistic discipline is assured.That is a very good thing. We may not all be able to buy haute couture, but that doesn't stop us marvelling at such painstaking and lovingly performed labour.The men and women in question, famously, wear little white coats. Once their work is done, it is handled with little white gloves to ensure its immaculate surface is not damaged in any way.In a world that seems to speed up by the minute and one dominated by throwaway fashion all too often created in far from ethical conditions, haute couture is at the opposite end of the spectrum. More than anything else, it takes time to create such elaborate garments, and that is perhaps the most precious commodity of them all.And that, perhaps, is the reason behind Hedi Slimane's bewildering debut for Yves Saint Laurent – the designer has been working as a photographer since he left Dior Homme in 2007.The show itself has since been entirely upstaged by the almighty and very public spat between Slimane and Cathy Horyn of The New York Times. But less of that, please, and more analysis of why the former chose to take a retro route last Monday when the anticipation that sprang up around his appointment in the first place was reliant on his bringing the hard-edged, architectural modernism that we all know he is capable of bringing to this most revered name.Slimane could so easily have sent out a small, tight, hard-edged and ice-cool collection based on the narrow and androgynous tailoring that he was always known for – the Le Smoking tuxedo remains the most famous Saint Laurent signature and if anyone can reinvent that, then he can. But he chose instead to follow a warmer route and to reference Saint Laurent in his absolute heyday – the late Sixties/early Seventies – which, given Slimane's fascination with music, and rock stars' wives, is heartfelt, and I like that.I would also be more than happy to wear the shrunken jackets and skinny jeans he sent out for spring/summer 2013: however scathing the reviews, I'd be prepared to place bets that I'm not the only one where that is concerned.It is unfortunate, given the open-door policy today adopted by houses as successful as Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and now Dior – all direct competitors – that the powers that be at Yves Saint Laurent were so fiercely elitist and controlling with regard to everything from seating arrangements at the show to the publication of portraits of Slimane himself. It served only to raise the bar and nothing short of perfection would have made this degree of antipathy towards people who are, in the end, trying only to do their jobs, acceptable.Here's hoping, though, that what appears to be arrogance is more a case of new-boy jitters. I say: give the man a chance.If you're going to wear a train, at least do so with conviction: there's enough fabric on display here to upholster an entire bungalow in Hendon. Perhaps for that reason Fan Bing Bing looks very proud of herself in her strapless, corseted curtain. Do you think there might be someone curled up asleep in there?Tilda SwintonBeautiful, golden Tilda Swinton is probably the only woman on the red-carpet circuit who dares to wear fashion as it appears on the runway. And she looks all the more brilliant for that. This is designed by her friend, Haider Ackermann. She sat next to him front row at the Chanel show at Versailles earlier this week and he's quite lovely, too.Barrie Knitwear, part of the collapsed Dawson International, is expected to be sold back to its management in a deal valuing the Hawick-based business at between £3m and £5m within a fortnight.The management bid – led by Jim Carrie and Clive Brown, who have backing from an Edinburgh-based businessman – became favourites following the collapse of previous sales talks last month.The company behind the US menswear chain Brooks Brothers – Italy's Claudio Del Vecchio's Retail Brand Alliance – had been in talks to buy the brand. The administrator, KPMG, had also held talks with US retailers, including the department store group Nordstrom, who had also been a customer, but these talks came to nothing.Blair Nimmo, the head of restructuring at KPMG and joint administrator of Dawson International, would not comment on the identity of the new bidder but said: Since our appointment as administrators we have worked hard to achieve a successful sale of the business. The sales process has taken a little longer than originally expected, which is due to the late withdrawal of the initial preferred bidder. We are pleased to report that we are now in advanced discussions with a new preferred bidder.Dawson, which was listed on the Alternative Investment Market, collapsed into administration in August due to huge pension deficits thought to be in excess of £50m.Supplying Chanel with cashmere makes up around 60 per cent of Barrie Knitwear's business. Chanel owed £800,000 at the time of Dawson's collapse and it is thought the French luxury goods company has played a close part in working with Barrie's management to secure a bid to rescue the business.In the year to the end of March, Dawson turned over £9.7m, earning profits of £1.1m and had employed 180 people. A lifelong horserider from the Chilterns, the 56-year-old housewife does not venture into the capital often. But, along with others wandering Greenwich Park yesterday lunchtime in a terribly genteel cavalcade of Hunter wellies and Chanel scarves, it was the turn of the countryside (or at least the posher end of it) to revel in a spot of Olympian elation.Clutching her Union Flag, Mrs Ball said: Simply wonderful. I could barely look as Tina approached the final fences. It is lovely our sport can make its contribution. I was mucking out 48 hours ago. Now I'm looking at the Thames, celebrating a silver medal.Of course, notwithstanding the presence of HRHs William, Kate and Harry to cheer on Team GB royal Zara Phillips, the tweed-wearing Establishment did not have a monopoly on the jubilations on the Meridian.For every perfect fedora at the equestrian venue, there was (whisper it so the Olympic brand watchdogs do not hear) a wonky Nike baseball cap and for every pair of jodpurs, a distinctly urban pair of rapper's jeans.The resulting effect was something of a cross between the V Festival and Badminton, only with less mud and more smoked salmon and prawn sandwiches (the unchallenged best seller on the seafood stall).As one ruddy-cheeked denizen of the shires, his leather wellies hitched up to his knees, put it: It's all rather jolly, don't you think? Great atmosphere. Even the wine is passable.The day had begun with hopes high that Britain could secure its first gold in equestrian eventing in 40 years after two days of dressage and treacherous charging around a London park in the cross-country. It reached its crescendo just after 1pm when mother-of-two Cook's final round, with a single penalty point, narrowly secured second place ahead of New Zealand.It is a quirk of equestrianism that it is the team with the lowest score that triumphs. And in the end no one had a lower score than Germany, whose team, despite their last rider knocking down two fences on the final round to gasps of ye-sss from the less well-mannered end of the home crowd, finished with 133.7 points, comfortably ahead to Britain's 138.2. Not even the 12 fences designed to evoke Britishness, from a Cutty Sark and a montage of Trafalgar Square to Stonehenge, could deter a Teutonic triumph.Overseers of equestrianism bridled, appropriately, at suggestions that their sport, with its thoroughbred steeds and followers, might be a touch elitist compared to, say, BMX or boxing.A spokeswoman for British Eventing said: We are the ultimate equestrian challenge; a healthy outdoor sport, where women and men of all ages compete on an even playing field. Thousands of volunteers and spectators support the sport at fantastic rural locations every weekend.In the end, as Cook and 51-year-old colleague Mary King failed to push home their medal claims in the individual competition, it came down to the British team's unquestionably poshest Posh Bird to provide the common touch. Or, more to the point, her husband.Rugby playing bad boy Mike Tindall, there to support his wife Zara Phillips, was asked what his thoughts had been as she completed her final round, in which she clipped down two fences.Tindall replied using a robust four-letter Anglo-Saxon term unlikely to be deployed when he's in the presence of his wife's grandmother, before adding: You always get little uptight. You want her to do well. And it ended up a really happy afternoon.Meanwhile, the Queen's granddaughter, who expelled doubts about the merit of her own selection by scoring a perfect round to finish eighth overall in the individual event, showed how to deal with oiks unaware of equestrian etiquette.When asked by persistent press photographers to pose while embracing her husband, she replied: We already did. You missed it.  Age and experience need not be a barrier to Olympic gloryAmid the parade of gilded youth, it is easy to forget that experience also counts for something when it comes to sporting endeavour, writes Cahal Milmo. None are more experienced than Hiroshi Hoketsu, who at 71 is the oldest competitor at London 2012.He and his horse, Whisper, take part in the individual dressage this week. Hoketsu, who competed in his first Olympics in Tokyo in 1964, leads the senior competitors who include fellow equestrian Ian Millar, 65, of Canada, who will break the record for most Olympic appearances by taking part in his 10th Games in London. The rower Greg Searle, a nipper at 40, won gold in Barcelona 20 years ago and has come out of retirement to compete in the men's eight final today.Japan's Hoketsu, who looks 20 years younger than his age, swats aside questions about his advancing years. He said: I don't know how you're supposed to feel at 71. I'm the same physique as I was at university. There's no special secret. I used to get up at 5am, go riding, go home and leave for the office for 30 years. Now I sleep until 7am. Luxury.Saving the best till last is also something of a sporting tradition. Briton Mary King, who at 51 won a silver yesterday in her sixth Games, will, by Hoketsu's standards, have at least four more Games in which to improve that tally. But Hoketsu will not overtake the world's oldest Olympian, Sweden's Oscar Swahn, who was 72 when he competed in shooting in 1920. He has ruled himself out of the Rio 2016 Olympics because although he feels up to it, he worries that his horse will be too old at 19.From the outer limits of probability Europe conjured the magic number 14 to retain the Ryder Cup. The impulse is to write that twice to make doubly sure. All around Medinah folk of a European persuasion were asking how this could happen. Perhaps the answer was tattooed across the sky. Midway through the afternoon “Spirit of Seve” appeared overhead in tiny puffs of cloud. It became possible to believe as Europe's heroic top order came in one after another in a blaze of scoreboard blue that the great man was indeed pulling celestial strings. First, Luke Donald then in quick succession Paul Lawrie, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose impaled the American foe to bring Europe level in this incredible contest.At 11 apiece a triumph that at the start of play had looked beyond Europe's battered golfers was suddenly, tantalisingly within their grasp. Lee Westwood made it 12 points and Sergio Garcia came from behind to beat Jim Furyk at the last. Garcia pointed to his left sleeve, where the players wore a tribute to Seve Ballesteros, feeling certain that the father of the European Ryder Cup team had his hand on the rudder of fate. Jose Maria Olazabal, the Europe captain, dared not look. It came down to the last two matches, Martin Kaymer versus Steve Stricker and Francesco Molinari against Tiger Woods.Kaymer needed a half at the last to secure the winning point, and spare Molinari, who had fallen one behind at the 17th . Easier said than done after finding sand off the tee. Stricker was feeding off adrenalin, too, and from the middle of the fairway could get no closer than 20 yards. His birdie putt sailed 12 feet past. Kaymer followed him past the hole leaving him an eight-footer to retain the cup for Europe. It never looked like missing. Cue delirium.Europe were required to overturn history as well as a four-point deficit. Only eight times in 38 previous meetings had this team, firstly as Great Britain and Ireland and subsequently Europe, prevailed in mano a mano combat on the last day. The degree of difficulty simplified the challenge. It was win or bust straight out of the box. Olazabal top-loaded his line-up sending out his four best players in a high-risk strategy to put points on the board. No one could argue with that.  As much as they tried to guard against complacency, the American team betrayed a sense of comfort in their easy deportment at the start of play. Vice-captain Freddie Couples was bouncing around the first tee like a puppy, conducting the bonding session with the American supporters boxed behind the tee. Most of the seating had been taken three hours before the whistle went. As many as 40,000 were expected through the gate. There was the inevitable communion with America's mascot-in-chief Michael Jordan, who resembled a tower block with a coat on so much did his impressive physicality dominate the setting.Europe responded with subtelty in the shape of Pep Guardiola. The former Barcelona coach was in the house with his wife and two children.Keegan Bradley has been the screaming face of American endeavour. In deed and mood he had set the agenda over the opening two days. Hitherto unanswerable, the singles pairings threw McIlroy his way. At least it would do eventually.Between them Captain Olazabal and his four lieutenants left their prize asset in bed. This was the morning when everything had to run like clockwork, no mistakes, everyone on his game. While preparations were under way at the course McIlroy was watching from his hotel room believing his tee time was an hour away. The Golf Chanel clock ticks on Eastern time. McIlroy was on Central time, an hour back. Oops.While Bradley was sprinting around the tee box, working the crowd with his Arnold Schwartzenegger impressions, his opponent was speeding to Medinah via police escort. With less than 10 minutes to his tee time, McIlroy bolted from the front passenger seat to the putting green. No time to loosen up on the range. A quick swig from a water bottle and a munch on an energy bar and McIlroy was on the gantry making his way from the putting green to the tee.This insane development with Europe in the midden bettered any of the cock-ups fashioned by Sir Nick Faldo at Valhalla four years ago. Never mind. Donald was out first after returning a point in the gloaming alongside Sergio Garcia on Saturday night.Ranged against him was Bubba Watson on a course that was made to measure for the long-hitting Masters champion. He hadn't reckoned with Donald's surgical precision, silencing his noisy assailants in the stands, who taunted him over his majorless state. Donald had the major winner at four-down before prevailing at the penultimate hole to claim the first point of the day for Europe and reduce the deficit to three.That would soon come down to two courtesy of the brutally efficient dispatch of Brandt Snedeker by Lawrie. Up ahead Europe's go-to sorcerer, Ian Poulter, was locked in a tense duel with Webb Simpson. Poulter was understandably slow to rise after the intensity of the previous day and fell two behind at the fourth and again at the sixth, but he was all square at the 12th and fully engaged once more.They came to the par-three 17th locked together but when Simpson found sand off the tee the initiative passed to Poulter at the last. It proved to be the point that tied the teams after McIlroy speared Bradley at the 17th. Having overslept at the PGA and won by eight, McIlroy was not overly concerned. He led from the fourth hole, and though pegged back briefly at the 12th, hit the accelerator with birdies at 14 and 15 and won it at the penultimate hole. Golf, bloody hell.It doesn’t disappoint: airy, spacious and packed to the rafters with the most sought-after labels, the second floor has been transformed. Eight boutiques – Chanel, Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga and Lanvin among them – surround a central space representing some of the more avant-garde names, such as Maison Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Junya Watanabe.From today, the Designer Galleries play host to an exhibition of digital installations from some of the designers whose wares are stocked there. Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen and many more have created unique videos of their spring 2012 collections which will be screened in the area, to better reflect their clothes in motion, and to explain some of the references and inspirations behind them.“The brief to the designers was very open,” explains the store’s creative director, Alannah Weston. “The only stipulation was that there was a strong female character at the centre of each film.”“The space isn’t just intended for shoppers,” explains award-winning set designer Simon Costin, who has worked on creating an environment for the films, using giants beds and sofas. “Any member of the public can come in and see the films. We hope people will come away having seen a familiar medium used in a new and surprising way. The films are really beautiful, and use the notion of fashion in an unexpected way.”Overall, the department aims to provide a more personalised and individual service, allowing customers to opt into text and email confirmations of when their favourite labels arrive, and with the addition of an on-site tailoring service to ensure garments fit perfectly, there and then.“We know that our customers are sophisticated, global trend-makers,” says Ms Weston. “And we look forward to presenting beautiful designer pieces, including some exclusive looks, in a serene and elegant environment.”The videos are part of a digital push across the floor, which features an ultra-high-tech fitting room equipped with an interactive mirror that can take photographs and record short videos of customers, which they are then able to email to friends and loved ones to get second opinions – or to themselves, simply to savour the moment they tried on the dress of their dreams.While the sweeping statement in question is not strictly speaking true, as Queen Victoria, not to mention the grandees of the 17th-century Spanish court, might have argued, it is certainly impressive and they were long gone by the time she laid claim to it. Luckily, Chanel is referring specifically, of course, to the little black dress, launched in 1926 and designed to be worn at times other than during a period of mourning or indeed when swanning around Barcelona circa 1620. The couturier, who favoured neutrals throughout her career personally and professionally, did make black the fashionable colour to see and be seen in at all times – from day to evening and dressed up or down, depending on the taste of its wearer.Black is also the starting point of the company's new fragrance, Coco Noir. It is integral to the spectacular success of this, the mother of all French status labels, that all elements – from perfume to nail polish and, of course, any clothes – spring from the biography of the founder, however laterally. Coco Noir comes in a signature perfectly simple square bottle with rounded, faceted edges – only jet and opaque as opposed to crystal clear like the iconic design for Chanel No 5, known not only for its beauty but also its radical simplicity. The gold details discreetly in evidence on the Coco Noir bottle, meanwhile, refers to Mademoiselle's fascination with the Byzantine and the Baroque and, specifically, her love of Venice: she first visited the city in 1920 to promote her beach pyjamas and generally soak up inspiration. That city was then still the principal gateway between East and West and the experience of going there lent her aesthetic a darker, richer and more elaborate style. Chanel met many of the people with whom she would collaborate in Venice, including Serge Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, and the illustrator Christian Bérard. If every fragrance begins with a story, then this is both a precious and romantic one.The juice itself, created by Jacques Polge, the Chanel master perfumer since 1979, is rooted in similar concerns. As individual as a fragrance may be, Polge argues, it can only exist because of those that came before it. Coco – debatably Coco Noir's exotic predecessor – was launched at the haute couture collections in July 1984 at the Paris Opera, where the scent of it filled the air. At its heart are spices, evocative of the Orient and the Coromandel screens that filled Chanel's Paris apartment. The original Coco is also distinguished by its floral-amber accord. Coco Mademoiselle followed in 2001, a fresher and lighter fragrance further infused with jasmine and rose. For its part, Coco Noir is based around sandalwood, vetiver, frankincense, patchouli, vanilla, tonka bean and white musk. It is a rich and complicated scent described by its maker as a great nocturnal Baroque, poetically enough. Nonetheless – and this perhaps is key to all Polge's work – a lightness prevails thanks maybe to top notes of grapefruit and Calabrian bergamot, rose absolute, narcissus, jasmine, pink peppercorns and rose geranium leaf.It is not every day that Chanel launches a new fragrance. Unlike many of fashion's big names that may now produce upwards of four new scents a year, the company affords Polge the luxury of time. Then there is the not-so-small matter of the unparalleled creative freedom he enjoys. And it shows: Coco Noir is the latest in a long line of olfactory endeavours that will serve to cement the reputation of French fashion's most spectacularly successful and magical name.More Scents of SuccessNo 5Created by Ernest Beaux in 1921 and with Chanel's star in the ascendant, it is said that, almost a century on, a bottle is still sold somewhere in the world every minute. It is the most successful and enduring fragrance in history. Essentially a rose-jasmine accord, it was revolutionary in the first instance for its inclusion of aldehydes, powerful-but-unstable synthetic molecules that enhance aromatic scents. At the time, the fragrance industry was characterised by one-note floral perfumes. No 5 is a far more complex creature and one that changed the face of fragrance for all time. In fact, No 22 was introduced at the same time. Then Beaux came up with Bois des Iles, a woody chypre and Cuir de Russie, a precursor to androgynous fragrances.No 19Beaux was succeeded in 1954 by Henri Robert, whose first launch was Pour Monsieur, the only men's fragrance introduced during Chanel's lifetime. It wasn't until 1970 that No 19 was born, commemorating Chanel's birthday – 19 August. It is a powerful rose-iris that is as beautiful as it is daringly confrontational. Last year, Jacques Polge reinterpreted the scent with the launch of 19 Poudre, a softer variation but unmistakeably an elegant and acquired taste nonetheless.CristalleIn 1974, Robert also created Cristalle, a summery scent that is very much a reflection of sparkling times. This time, citrus-based – Sicilian lemon and Calabrian mandarin to be precise – Cristalle was also created with Coco Chanel's life in mind and her life on the beach in Deauville, Biarritz, in particular. A newer version of the scent, Eau Verte, was issued in 2009.AntaeusJacques Polge took over Chanel's fragrance division in 1979 both to create new fragrances and add new formulas to existing classics, in particular to develop Chanel's eaux de parfum – headier than eau de toilette but lighter than pure perfume. His first new launch was a men's fragrance, Antaeus, created in 1981. This is a woody, leathery scent and one this time inspired by the love of Coco Chanel's life, Boy Capel.ChanceIn 2003 Polge came up with Chanel's most youthful fragrance, which is a floral oriental following in the footsteps of Coco Mademoiselle, Chance. Its difference is immediately apparent from the sobriety of the brand's perfumes in general: the juice is a pretty pink and the bottle round.Les ExclusifsIn 2007, Polge excelled himself with Les Exclusifs. Initially released as a series of 10 new fragrances, but still growing, they are more expensive than the company's other perfumes and available only from Chanel's boutiques and website. Karl Lagerfeld favours the Eau de Cologne from this range. No 22 is the brilliantly abstract reworking of the original. Since the launch, Polge has added new perfumes to Les Exclusifs, most recently, Jersey – inspired by Coco Chanel's use of that fabric, once the preserve of men's underwear but famously incorporated into her designs.Photographs: Andrew LeoModel: Zhulin at IMGHair and make-up: Krystle G using Chanel S 2012 and Hydra beauty SerumPhotographer's assistant: Chloe CoatesStylist's assistant: Magda BrykLocation courtesy of the Barbican Centre; But these were no ordinary robberies. Prugo is charged with breaking into the homes of a series of celebrities including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom. Last month he took the stand offering a deal whereby in return for testifying against his alleged partners in crime – Courtney Ames, Roy Lopez and Diana Tamayo – all but two of the charges would be dropped. If grassing on his former friends proves successful, Prugo could be looking at a sentence of just two years. He is due back in court next month for the verdict.Prugo's hearing is the latest instalment in a saga that has dominated America's gossip pages since he was first arrested back in September 2009. Prugo is a member of the 'bling ring' – a group of affluent, club-hopping, (mostly) teenage Valley kids who, motivated by a warped obsession with celebrity, proved to be one of the most precocious burglary gangs in Hollywood history. They used Twitter to track when their targets were out, Google Earth to work their way into their mansions, and came away with a haul worth more than $3m. It's a story so perfectly of the moment it's as if it were lifted straight from the pages of a movie script.Now Sofia Coppola, who came from Hollywood 'royalty' and has long been preoccupied with the vacuous nature of celebrity, has started making the movie. Shooting began in March (with Emma Watson as lead) and it looks as if the f film will be out even before the final few perpetrators have been sentenced for their crimes.Nick is feeling very despondent right now, says Prugo's lawyer, Markus Dombois. He is physically very small and slight and is going to find jail difficult. I'm concerned for his safety. He was never the ringleader in all this. He's not completely without blame but he was like the little brother tagging along, he did it out of infatuation. He doesn't have a problem testifying against these people. At first they were his friends but now he realises how morally bankrupt they are.The bling ring spree started towards the end of 2008 at the $4m Hollywood Hills mansion belonging to Paris Hilton. Initially, the perpetrators consisted solely of Prugo and his friend Rachel Lee, a classmate from Indian Hills high school in a wealthy Los Angeles suburb. They met when Prugo transferred there after being kicked out of his previous school for non-attendance. Lee was outgoing and popular – recipient of the highly coveted 'best dressed' award in the 2007 Indian Hills Year Book. By contrast, Prugo was quiet and awkward. She took him under her wing and the pair quickly became inseparable.In a platonic sort of a way Nick was in love with Rachel, says writer Nancy Jo Sales, who was one of the first to pick up on the story and is now a consultant on Coppola's movie. He was a shy, troubled guy who followed this alpha female around. She kind of got him to do her bidding.Prugo says they decided to target Hilton's place because they figured she was dumb. The pair arrived at her mansion nervous and under the cover of darkness to find she had gone out leaving the key under the mat and both the door and her safe unlocked. They found cocaine lying out on the bed and jewellery all around the place, says Dombois. It was like stepping into a store on Rodeo Drive when the owners were out.At first they were discreet. When Hilton returned she didn't even notice she had been broken into. But it didn't take long before things escalated. Lee started carrying around Hilton's door key, like a trophy, on her own key chain. She began bragging about their deeds to friends and the ranks of the bling ring swelled to around six. And it was Lee who introduced the bling ring break-in rallying cry of, Let's go shopping.It became like a party atmosphere and Lee kept getting more people involved, says Sales. I think they may have all had different motivations but certainly the designer labels were the main draw. They were totally obsessed with luxury brand names like Chanel and Prada. Nick told me that when they went into these starlets' houses they were just so shocked at the amount of clothes they would have – bags and bags of things that hadn't even been opened. I think that they idolised these people but at the same time there seemed to be a weird resentment, too – a feeling of you've got way more than you need so I'll take them from you. It was a great thrill. There was a feeling of power. They would go out wearing these clothes and joyriding around LA.As time went on, their deeds began to buy them access to the celebrity world they so coveted. Adorned in their pilfered luxury labels and buoyed by their increasing sense of notoriety, they started getting into fashionable clubs such as Les f Deux and Miyagi's bar on Sunset Boulevard, where LA wannabes would gather in the car park after hours. They started hanging out with celebrities and, rumour has it, one of the bling ring even started a dalliance with a famous actor. For a while it looked as if their crimes were beginning to pay.But it wasn't long before the net started to close. On Oscar night 2009, while she was out working the red carpet, they robbed the home of Audrina Partridge, star of The Hills, a faux-reality show, ironically also about the lives of a group of pampered LA fashionistas. I watched the security video, said an incredulous Partridge, expecting to see these big scary guys, but instead it was these kids. The bling ring made off with $43,000 worth of her possessions including a laptop, jewellery and jeans, which Partridge said, were made to fit my body to my perfect shape. She posted the surveillance video straight on to her website.Then, after being burgled four more times, Hilton finally woke up to what was going on – only after one bling ringer, Roy Lopez, allegedly helped himself to more than $1m-worth of her jewellery, stuffed into a Louis Vuitton tote bag. Another big haul was found in the house of Orlando Bloom when, joined by Indian Hills classmate Alexis Neiers, they came away with a Rolex watch collection as well as artworks totalling nearly half a million dollars. Lee was moving to Las Vegas, explains Dombois, and she fancied some artwork to furnish her new place.The final straw came when they broke into Lindsay Lohan's place. According to Prugo, Lohan was Lee's fashion icon and her ultimate celebrity prize and she made the journey from her new home in Vegas specially to do it. The resulting surveillance shots, showing them casually stuffing their bags, picks out their faces as clear as daylight.The security videos are amazing, says Sales, Nick always looked very jumpy and scared, but Rachel was so blasé that at one point she went to the toilet and had a bowel movement. Can you imagine doing that in the middle of robbing someone's house? It's mind-blowing.But by this stage the videos hardly mattered as the bling ring's bragging had seen to it that the police had already received numerous tip-offs. Detectives simply used Facebook to work out who was friends with who, to put together the final pieces of the puzzle. One by one, at the tail-end of 2009, the members of the bling ring were arrested.It's one of those cases that defines a moment in terms of youth culture and media culture, says Sales. Some of the attitudes of those kids were really unpleasant and disturbing and it holds up a mirror to things we are witnessing in American youth culture right now – the obsession with celebrity and the obsession with fame. Unfortunately, there is just no shame any more. The only currency is fame itself.What it also demonstrates is the level of confusion we have now reached between celebrity and non-celebrity – and in turn, reality and non-reality. The other striking thing it shows is how the wall between celebrities and ordinary people has completely broken down, continues Sales. It's absolutely permeable now. You have celebrities acting like real people – making themselves all the more available and accessible all of the time. And you have real people acting more and more like celebrities by having reality shows and tweeting to their followers. There used to be a sense that Hollywood celebrities were god-like creatures who rarely came down from the mountain and mingled with the common folk. Now it's completely blurred.Dombois agrees. I think these kids felt the people they were robbing weren't actually real people – because they were celebrities. And I also think they felt they were vicariously participating in the whole celebrity lifestyle, he says. In LA today, for some people, attention and fame is worth much more than any amount of money could ever be. I think that may be what has happened here.Tellingly, when the bling ring's activities were reaching a crescendo, Alexis Neiers, then aged 18, who describes herself as a hip-hop and pole dancing teacher, was actually shooting a pilot for her own reality show. The original intention was that it should be yet another programme about a Hollywood party girl but, no doubt, to the glee of the producers, it quickly morphed into the story of her battle to stay out of prison.The show, entitled Pretty Wild, was commissioned immediately and premiered on E! in March 2010. Neiers's court hearing duly turned into a media circus. She chose her outfit carefully, had her make-up touched up on the court bench and coyly pleaded no contest to felony burglary. She was sentenced to six months and ordered to stay clear of Orlando Bloom's home. In the event she was out in just 30 days, which fitted in perfectly with filming schedules. The show was never commissioned for a second series.Neiers was only being filmed for a pilot that might or might not happen, says Sales. Then she got a reality show because of the burglary and then she actually does become famous. It's like the dog eating its own tail.It's also worth pointing out that the very celebrities that the bling ring so admired – Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan – had themselves been regularly waltzing in and out of jail (Lohan five times in as many years). These days, when Lohan has a court appearance, the attention it attracts is far greater than anything she commits to celluloid – as if the courthouse steps have superseded the red carpet in a twisted new pecking order. And, as if the story couldn't turn any more in on itself, Neiers actually found herself, for one night, in a cell right next to Lohan. It was insane, she told Extra, the American celebrity news show. It was mayhem. They put us on lockdown all day. I got the feeling the girls were actually excited. They were screaming 'I love you Lindsay, I want to be your girlfriend'.Inevitably, all the members of the bling ring ended up, with help from expensive lawyers, fighting their corners and pointing fingers. Lee is currently doing four years in Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, central California. The last two years of my life have changed me from an irresponsible and childish drug and alcohol addict towards becoming a responsible adult, she wrote in a letter to LA Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler before being sentenced. I was really messed up from so much substance abuse as well as poor choices of friends.Out of all of them, Prugo seems to have suffered the most. After his arrest he said he was finding it difficult to breathe, sleep and eat. I was even losing my hair, he says. And in his naivety, after his arrest, he confessed to crimes that the police had no idea he had committed.Despite her guilty verdict, Neiers still flatly denies everything. Eventually my story will come out, she said, doing the rounds on yet another chat show. I witnessed a robbery. I didn't know whose house it was at the time until I woke up one morning with cops all round my house. It was devastating. I did make a bad choice of friends and I was out drinking that night and got taken to a very bad place. I already had a career going, I had goals, I had a show. Why would I do something like that?As her 'celebrity' career limps on, it's a denial that betrays a distinct lack of remorse. Aside from perhaps Prugo, I just don't think they had any sense of consequence whatsoever, says Sales. I think it's a hangover from the Bush era – when there was very much a feeling of no consequence. These kids did not seem to have any notion that there would be any outcome to their actions. They were so reckless and so utterly blasé about committing very serious crimes.And still the bling ring controversy goes on, as it turns out Coppola, again blurring the lines between fact and fiction, has employed some of the perpetrators in the making of her movie. Dombois says that Prugo was offered $20,000 to consult on the movie but turned it down because he did not want to appear to profit from the case. Neiers, meanwhile, signed up immediately.The bottom line is that Sofia Coppola was going to make this movie with or without my help, she says, so why not give input and help her to make it a little more accurate? Also, she says, the pay cheque proved particularly helpful as her 22-year-old 'sister' Tess Taylor (not a birth sister, but a friend who had grown up living with her) was in the throes of heroin addiction and the money earnt would pay her way through Pasadena Recovery Centre.The detective who led the investigation, Brett Goodkin of the Los Angeles Police Department, has also been employed by Coppola to play himself in the film. With three defendants still possibly facing trial, he has been accused of jeopardising their cases. It's very generic cop kind of stuff, he said in his defence. It's not like I'm Bruce Willis. Meanwhile, David Diamond, the lawyer for the bling ring defendant Roy Lopez, has just subpoenaed Coppola to have access to the entire payroll so he can see exactly who has been paid and for what. The story looks set to rumble on and on through the courts.It's a fascinating case which is why Coppola is making a movie out of it, concludes Dombois. People may be saying these people are losers and criminals, why would you glorify them, but it's a societal and cultural phenomena and that's why it's of such interest. And why is Coppola making the movie right now? It's all about money – you've got to hit while it's hot. You've got to remember, we're talking about America here.THE DIRTY HALF-DOZENNick PrugoTwenty-one-year-old Prugo was a founder member of the bling ring. He was on prescription drugs for ADHD. Prugo would surf the internet to establish the target's itinerary and address.Rachel LeeLee had a tricky relationship with her mother and stepfather and moved to Las Vegas not long before the break-in at Lindsay Lohan's house. Her Audi A4 was used as the getaway car.Alexis NeiersNeiers claimed to be so inebriated on the night of the break-in at Orlando Bloom's house that she had no idea what happened. She was found guilty and served 30 days.Courtney AmesAmes, another student at Indian Hills, had been a good friend of Lee's since 8th grade. The LAPD has pictures of her at Les Deux nightclub wearing a Diane von Furstenberg leather jacket allegedly belonging to Paris Hilton.Roy LopezLopez, a bouncer and the oldest of the group, at 27, was charged with one count of residential burglary of Paris Hilton's home and allegedly stole up to $2m of her jewellery.Diana TamayoStudent president who was voted as having the 'best smile', Tamayo reportedly once aided the burglary operation by crawling into a target's home through a cat flap.LENA CORNER£1,415, brownsfashion.comAfter the success of the label’s PS1 satchel schoolbag, the PS11 takes Proenza Schouler’s accessories into more grown-up territory: it’s modern and minimal, roomy and tough, and the colour will keep even the most fashionable shopper happy.2. Prada£1,500, Prada.comIn the show, this appliqué leather bag was carried alongside all manner of clashing prints – you don’t need to do this, as it makes quite the statement on its own. A bit Seventies, rather nostalgic and uniquely strange, this number has Prada written all over it. Not literally – they’re flowers.3. Chanel£1,830, 020 7493 5040Chanel’s Boy bag is named after Mademoiselle’s great love, Boy Capel, and is a new take on the classic Chanel quilted bag. This versatile version has more of a gothic flavour, which will fit in perfectly with autumn’s dark romantic trend.4. Gucci£1,760, gucci.comForget what you think you know about velvet – Gucci’s Frida Giannini has reinvigorated it with a gothic equestrian feel. The gold hardware forms part of the brand’s signature, while the panelling feels new and modern but isn’t about to date any time soon, either.5. Miu Miu£1,195, miumiu.comAt Miu Miu this season, the doctor’s bag is a key accessory. This tan leather version is less traditional, with its double clasps, but feels all the more special for it. The classic, warm and natural tone will go well with everything else in your wardrobe too.6. Alaia£1,400, net-a-porterMake the ultimate understated statement with this perforated leather tote bag by fashion’s demigod Azzedine Alaia. It’s chic, classically elegant and spacious – and will only look better with age.7. Louis Vuitton£2,510, louisvuitton.comWe know we’ve been banging on about this North South tote from Louis Vuitton, but it truly is something to behold. The luxury label’s classic monogram print is picked out in twinkly paillettes on felt and will add a bit of sparkle to your routine.8. Dolce Gabbana£1,810, 020 7659 9000This season, the classic Dolce Gabbana shape gets a baroque tapestry update – two of the biggest trends of the new season – and features one of the Italian duo’s favourite things: gold. It might look like something your nana did in front of the telly, but this ladylike bag is pure luxury.9. Celine£1,195, celine.comIf you don’t already own a floppy, over-sized clutch bag, where have you been? This fold-over version from one of Paris’s most desirable labels is one of the best around, showcasing all the sleek hallmarks of designer Phoebe Philo’s minimal style. And you can fit everything you need in it without too much trouble.10. Marni£250, net-a-porter.comIs it a bag or is it Puffa jacket? Marni’s utilitarian and sporty shopper is like carrying a lightweight sleeping bag on one arm, and if you don’t want to add bulk to your body with the Puffa trend this autumn, why not try it out with accessories instead?.2. Ladylike tote in tan£36, warehouse.co.ukGet the ladylike look in the bag (geddit?). This feminine option is structured and of medium size, with a tote handle as well as a long shoulder strap.3. Black and cream shopper£79, marksandspencer.comFrom MS's premium Autograph line, this cream and black shopper is made of high-quality leather. The unfussy aesthetic of the shopper is becoming increasingly popular.4. Orange satchel£199, hobbs.co.ukIf you're looking for a bag that is the height of style, then this good-quality leather version ticks all the right boxes. It comes with a detachable shoulder strap.5. Black sturdy£89.90, massimodutti.comAn elegant option with its understated style, you can rest assured this black leather shopper will never be deemed unfashionable – only covetable.6. Green£135, cosstores.comHere's the Swedish brand's pared-down take on the usually clumpy satchel. Gone are the messy straps and pockets. Clean lines and lightweight leather are the order of the day here.7. Purple shoulder bag£45, missselfridge.comIf you have Céline and Chanel tastes without the bank balance to accomplish such lavish buys, then you will be interested in this brilliant leather shoulder bag complete with chain handle.8. Gold shopper£79, riverisland.comThe leather on this unstructured golden shopper is super supple and the finish only gently shimmers, so the overall effect is pleasingly subtle more than dazzling.9. Fabric handbag£110, frenchconnection.comA nice alternative to all-over leather or pleather, this cotton bag mixes grey, black and brown. It's roomy, too, so ideal for anyone who doesn't travel day-to-day lightly.10. Punched-hole tote£79.99, zara.comThis tote bag from Zara has been a huge seller for the brand. Its latest makeover sees the sturdy leather bag updated with laser-cut patterns, which gives it a sporty feel.£ 650, Monroe gave a young Brooklyn photographer his big break by choosing him to photograph her. And here is the result – a limited-print-run heirloom of a book.2. Magnum Contact Sheets£95, If you are serious about photography, you'll want this book. It lays bare the creative process by juxtaposing a famous image with the photographers' contact sheets.3. Photofile: Sarah Moon£9.95, Moon has shot for Vogue, Harper's and Chanel. This new book is a showcase of both the scope of her work and of her ethereal, otherworldly style.4. The Artist's Body£12.95, This 250-image book is best thought of as a photo essay, a rumination on the way artists have used their own bodies to create art through the 20th century.5. Mario Testino Private View£44.99, Testino makes fashion types' hearts beat that bit faster. The Peruvian has also taken on the world of formal portraiture.6. World Press Photo 12 by Teun Van Der Heijden£16.95, The stirring yearly annual put out by World Press Photo. Categories covered include: people, general news and sport.7. Bob Willoughby: Audrey Hepburn£ 44.99, Willoughby's snaps of Hepburn, span the late 1950s right through to the peak of her My Fair Lady fame.8. Dorothea Lange£7.95, Lange was the first woman to be awarded the Guggenheim Photography Fellowship and this book showcases her most famous work.9. The Sites of Ancient Greece by Georg Gerster£39.95, With tails of strife and discord the daily bread of Greece, it is easy to forget why the country has beguiled so many.10. In The Moment: The Sports Photography of Tom Jenkins£30, Few have proved more adept at capturing the passion of sport than Jenkins.2. Pink-Silver multi-glitter£2.99, Barry M, Superdrug and Boots nationwideThe multi-hued tones create a pretty pink with a slight disco finish that's ideal for weekends, and when you let your hair down.3. Shrimply Devine£6.95, Sally Hansen, 01233 656366This promises to last up to 10 days, combining base, top and colour coats, and with a brush designed to cover the nail in one stroke.4. Early Green£5, GOSH Cosmetics, 0845 671 0709Crisp green is a refreshing choice and taps into the season's trend for ice-cream inspired colours. Easy to apply and long lasting.5. Sassy Pink£4.99, L'Oreal, available nationwideA gel-based formula that's designed to glide on, helped by the paddle-shaped brush, to help achieve a smooth, even finish without the expense of a salon visit.6. Bikini so teeny£7.99, Essie, Boots and Superdrug nationwideThe finely milled glitter in this icy-blue shade will create a subtle shimmer that lifts the finish from anything too flat. A great colour for tanned toes.7. Burnished Rouge£25, Tom Ford, 0870 034 2566Disciples of red nail polish will have an old faithful shade that they return to. But this luxury number by Tom Ford is shot through with golden shimmer, and will stand up to the full glare of the sun.8. Holiday£18, Chanel, 0207 493 3836You may not want your tan to look orange, but that doesn't mean it should be verboten for nails. This tangy option matches the brand's sheer lip gloss in Calypso.9. Amchoor£14, Nars, available nationwideDesigner Thakoon Panichgul's eye for modern and feminine colour is distilled into a long-wearing, high-gloss finish formula.10. Artful Dodger£12, Butter London, Harvey Nichols nationwideA chemical-free polish which gives a shot of colour without being too bright, and hopefully will match the ocean as you paddle through it.Tell us FashionMore than just your average online retailer, TellusFashion sells not only designs from the most exciting new brands but also showcases multimedia content to go along with it including a magazine, blogs and an industry-networking hub.Not Just a Label  (Elizabeth Dunn shoes, £235)If your preferred sartorial tastes lie with off-the-beaten-track designers, then you've found your haven. Not Just a Label, with its thousands of brands, is the world's leading online platform for new designer talent.ASOS MarketplaceMarketplace is the democratic retail space created by online behemoth ASOS. The site is made up of smaller boutiques showcasing under-the-radar labels, indie brands and vintage-clothing sellers for the ultimate eclectic fashion forum.Young British Designers (Elise Berger dress, £255)Created in recognition of great British design talents, this website is a stage for home-grown talent at the beginnings of their career. Designers include one of this season's NewGen winners, JW Anderson. Budget:AwearWith 31 stores on the high street, Awear is a household name over in the Republic of Ireland. The online store, however, has quickly made a name for itself across the UK with its fashion-forward pieces at purse-friendly prices.Linzi Shoes  (Shoes, from £40)Bringing the fast-fashion experience into the footwear forum, Linzi Shoes offers an impressive array of shoes and boots at prices that make it hard to check out with just one pair.GlamorousA daily delivery of new lines means you won't have to search far to find something you like. It's with dresses that this retailer really comes into its own with hundreds of styles in rainbow-worthy colours and prints.She Likes (Red dress, £22)With new trends emerging on a near-weekly basis, websites such as She Likes are a welcome addition to the fashion scene. You'll find instant trend injections for your wardrobe at prices that won't break the bank.Lavish AliceYou'll be in good company with a purchase from Lavish Alice, which counts celebrity names including The Saturdays' Mollie King and Little Mix among its growing fan base.Boohoo  (Blazer, £30)In the eight years since its launch, Boohoo has become one of the leading online retailers in providing trend-led fashion for those on a budget. Taking inspiration from celebrity style, Boohoo has won many awards for its price-savvy designs.Own the RunwayUsing the catwalks as its inspiration, Own the Runway provides an affordable way to recreate high-fashion looks. It's not just the clothing that's worth a look, there's an impressive array of footwear to boot.MissguidedHaving established itself as a must-visit destination for on-trend fashion, Missguided is leading the way in showing you how to wear it, too, with an interactive fashion blog and trend section.Stylist PickAiming to give a more personal approach to online shopping; after a short questionnaire Stylistpick offers its customers a selection of pieces to suit their look carefully curated by a team of fashion stylists.Prodigy Red (Striped shirt, £14.99)With dresses priced as low as £9.99 and shirts from £14.99 you can't really go wrong with this value-led fashion retailer. Expect to find a colourful array of on trend items at prices you really can't argue with. Vintage:Vestiaire CollectiveThis is the online equivalent of a high-fashion car-boot sale where the online community comes together to buy and sell each other's wares, with the added advantage of an online team who check over the quality of every item.Rokit(Dress, £250)One of the best names in the vintage market, Rokit started out almost two decades ago from a market stall in Camden. Its vintage clothing can now be enjoyed globally with worldwide shipping.Vintage SeekersIn addition to its beautiful array of vintage clothing and watches, Vintage Seekers also offers art and wine for sale via its seeker personal-shopping service.Style Sequel Style Sequel is a website that aims to give pre-owned, high-end designer clothing a second lease of life by selling it on to a new owner. Among its treasure-trove of second-hand pieces you'll find Chanel handbags and Christian Louboutin shoes.Love Miss DaisyFor those in the market for vintage clothing but who prefer not to go down the rummage route, this site is for you. Love Miss Daisy sells vintage pieces from the Forties through to the Eighties, plus a stunning selection of wedding dresses. Discount:Lux Fix (Lara Bohinc boots, Prices vary)Lux Fix showcases an ever-changing roster of designer collections, but this site is a rarity in that it offers stock from current-season collections at special (changing) prices. The only catch is that you'll have to sign up as these special deals are open to members only.YooxOne of the largest fashion online retailers, Yoox's roster of brands includes Alexander McQueen and Prada, but where this site really comes into its own is with its carefully selected end-of-season product sales.Then and Now Shop This site says what it sells on the tin. Representing the then is past-season designer collections selling at discounts of up to 75 per cent off, while the now is a select collection of current-season stock from up-and-coming names.CocosaOne of the front-runners in time-limited online sales, Cocosa has established its reputation with an impressive and varied selection of sale goods. Look out for its newly launched beauty section with big-name brands at bargain prices.TK Maxx Gold LabelTK Maxx has long been one of the leaders in discount designer fashion. It upped the ante, however, with an online presence and the introduction of Gold Label; reserved for only the most luxurious of designer labels.BrandAlleyThe supermarket of online-sale shopping, Brand Alley features a daily line-up of brands from French Connection to DG. In addition to the timed sales there's now also a year-round outlet section with no shortage of bargains up for grabs.eBay Fashion Gallery (French Connection dress, £29.60)For those not wanting to go through the anxiety of bidding wars and buying from unknown sellers, eBay's Fashion Gallery provides a forum for discount clothing direct from the retailer, cutting out the middlemen but retaining the saving.Secret SalesThere's nothing more exciting in the world of shopping than feeling like you're part of a private club. Secretsales.com has nailed the members-only formula to bring amazing discounts on fashion and accessories with new sales every day.The OutnetFrom the team behind Net-a-porter.com, The Outnet is a site dedicated to selling designer womenswear at discounted prices. It's worth signing up to email updates for the promotional sales with even further reductions.My HabitWith online giant Amazon the brain power behind this online store, it's safe to assume it won't disappoint. Based in the USA but with flat-rate international delivery, the site offers 72-hour sales on women's, men's, children's clothing and interiors products too. Boutiques:The Dressing RoomBased in Hertfordshire, this award-winning boutique has built up a dedicated clientele. Jeans lovers will enjoy its impressive array of premium denim brands including Hudson Jeans, Paige, Current/ Elliott and Mother.SeftonA highlight on Islington's trendy Upper Street, Sefton has been pulling in the crowds both in-store and online with its exciting mix of menswear designers as well as its popular own line.Austique (Christina shorts, £210)Austique made its name with its diverse range of international designers both established and up-and-coming. Fans of popular Aussie brands such as Zimmermann and Camilla and Marc will love this site.CogglesWith 30 years under its belt, Coggles, which started life in York, has become a master of its trade: more than just an online clothes shop, you'll find books, homeware and vintage pieces alongside its established mens- and womenswear collections.Cricket  (YSL bag, £1,185)Cricket is the leading independent-clothing boutique based in Liverpool specialising in high-end designer womenswear. Log on to find offerings from the likes of Isabel Marant, Lanvin and Chloé. Luxury:LN-CCLN-CC, or Late Night Chameleon Café, takes the same approach of fusing a retail concept within an art installation online as it do with its store. A progressive array of labels is on offer in addition to lesser-known Japanese brands and a selection of rare books and music.Avenue 32A newcomer on the luxury online-shopping scene, supplementing the range of brands on offer the site focuses on providing high-end editorial content with an online magazine that includes designer profiles and trend reports.My TheresaGerman-based online store My Theresa has established a reputation as one of the world's leading online retailers. The site boasts more than 160 international designers and stocks hard-to-find online labels such as Balenciaga and Tod's.Far Fetch In Far Fetch you'll find an online store that allows you to shop at the world's best boutiques all in one place. It hand-picks the boutiques on offer to ensure the most diverse and luxurious offerings online. This autumn sees new signings from Miami-based boutique The Webster and London's Browns.Moda OperandiA first in online retail, Moda Operandi operates an online trunk-show concept in which you are able to make orders direct from the unedited collections of designers such as Zac Posen and Marchesa months before they go on general sale.Stylebop  (McQ dress, £255)A decade since its inception, Stylebop has become a leading name in luxury labels online: two million users a month log on to check out the great mix of established designers such as Pucci and Balmain with newer names Casadei and Raoul.London BoutiquesLondon is a hotbed of designer boutiques and this site makes shopping in them all a breeze. Shop from stores such as Notting Hill's The Gathering Goddess or Shoreditch's 11 Boundary without ever having to leave your lounge.Shoe Scribe  (Casadei shoes, £690)This website is a haven for all things footwear-related; think shoe shopping, shoe news and even a shoe valet who can sort out everything from maintenance to styling dilemmas.Watch That LabelSometimes the best fashion finds are the ones from under-the-radar brands. Watch That Label is a site dedicated to bringing only the best new names in luxury fashion for those looking for something a little out of the ordinary.Mr PorterIt's not only the fairer sex who love to shop online. From the same fashion team that forged Net-a-porter, is the menswear version, Mr Porter – equally as sleek and as well stocked as its award-winning counterpart. For hire:Girl Meets DressThe perfect solution for those looking for something a little bit special to wear but without the whopping designer price tag.Kennedy Purple, (Balenciaga bag, 1 week £45)If you can't afford to buy the latest designer it-bag don't despair because with Kennedy Purple you can now rent it instead. For a fraction of the retail price a new handbag from designers such as Chloé and Mulberry can be yours on a weekly or monthly rental basis.The ShortcutFor those conscious of not being seen in the same thing twice, rental website The Shortcut offers a solution with its array of flirty party dresses for just £14.99 per weekend. Plus there's free postage, free returns and no need to worry about cleaning.Wish Want WearAs one of the UK's leading online dress-hire websites, on Wish Want Wear you'll find a roster of dresses for every occasion, whether it's black tie, bridesmaid duties or summer barbecues, in a range of sizes and brands.That DressEliminate the guilt factor of purchasing yet another evening dress by renting one instead. That Dress offers designer frocks to rent from as little as £35 and with a £3.95 damage waiver there's no need to panic about a little wine spill.New York Fashion Week is under way, and this landmark hotel will surely have a few well-dressed guests slinking down its hallways at present. Not only is it set amid the glittering boutiques of Fifth Avenue, but The St Regis also boasts two sumptuous designer suites. There's the Dior, which comes with a pristine white living room and juliette windows that open on to the Manhattan skyline. Or the Tiffany, where rooms are dashed in the jewellery designer's trademark turquoise shade. Both come with butler service, naturally.The St Regis, Two East 55th Street, Fifth Av, New York, US (001 212 753 4500; ). Suites US$9,500 (£6,333), BB.Missoni Hotel, KuwaitFrom Edinburgh to the Emirates: this is the second outpost by the playful Italian fashion house, following on from its inaugural hotel in the Scottish capital. The latest address, which opened last year, lords itself over Kuwait City's cosmopolitan shopping enclave of Salmiya. Inside, pretty pastels clash with bright citric colours, the Six Senses spa soothes and there's a choice of two restaurants. The Choco Café has a delightful outdoor terrace and sweet treats stamped with Missoni stripes.Missoni, Arabian Gulf Road, Symphony Center, Kuwait (00 965 2577 0000; ). Doubles start at 63 Kuwaiti dinar (£140), BB.Hôtel Le Notre Dame, ParisThis is the third hotel masterminded by revered designer Christian Lacroix. The latest haunt bears the same rich satins, opulent fabrics and graphic prints that have long set Lacroix apart as one of the world's leading couturiers. His interest in theatrical costumery and historical figures abounds in the 26 rooms which display murals of Paris, past and present. The location, as its name suggests, is directly across from the city's Gothic cathedral.Hôtel Le Notre Dame, Quai Saint-Michel 81, Paris, France (00 33 1 43 54 20 43; ). Doubles start at €206, including breakfast.Armani Hotel, MilanAn elegant palazzo on the via Manzoni is the site of Armani's second hotel. Much like the brand's first hotel foray within the soaring, stiletto-shaped Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the new hotel cuts a fine figure with a soft, sophisticated blend of creamy, chocolate shades in each of its 95 rooms. The polished restaurant and lounge look out across the red rooftops of the Italian fashion capital, with floor-to-ceiling windows, lacquered surfaces and a liberal use of marble throughout.Armani Hotel, Via Manzoni 31, Milan, Italy (00 39 02 8883 8888; . Doubles start from €432, room only.Schlosshotel im Grunewald, BerlinSilver of hair and serious of face... there is only one Karl Lagerfeld. The creative king behind Chanel and Fendi turned his hand to hotel rooms when the opportunity arose at this fittingly regal palace. Set in leafy Grunewald, it has the air of an exclusive country house. There are high ceilings strung with chandeliers, vast rooms with wood panelling, high notes in the Vivaldi restaurant and a sultry cigar lounge.Schlosshotel im Grunewald, Brahmsstr 10, Berlin, Germany (00 49 30 895 840; ). Doubles start at €239, without breakfast.Claridge's, LondonOld-world elegance was given a modern makeover at Claridge's when the timeless Mayfair hotel collaborated with Belgian design doyenne, Diane von Fürstenberg, to unveil a series of rooms and suites. Some are refined and honey-hued, others are monochrome with fine gold detailing, bespoke fabrics and geometric prints. There's also a more audacious clutch which flaunt the signature DvF leopard print and bold floral patterns.Claridge's, Brook Street, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom (020-7629 8860; ). Doubles start at £495, room only.Lip and Cheek stain in Tainted Love, £36, Tom Ford, harrods.com, Coco Noir fragrance, 50ml £75, 100ml £106, Chanel, 020-7493 3836Instant Definition mascara in 04 Intense Plum, £20, Clarins, Pure colour nail lacquer in Berry Desire, £14, Estée Lauder, Nail varnish in Rouge Garonne, £18, Dior, Stella eau de parfum, £67, Stella McCartney, Nail lacquer in Rougemarie, £10, MAC, Ombre Solo eyeshadow in Deep Night Purple, £21, Yves Saint Laurent, 'Notting Hill Gate' frame sunglasses, £606, by pq eyewear designed by Ron Arad, 36 Beauchamp Place, London NW3, 020-7581 6336Embellished shoes, £1,110, Prada, 16-18 Old Bond Street, London W1, 020-7647 5000Wool and sequin North South bag, £2,510, Louis Vuitton, 17-19 New Bond Street, London W1, 020-7399 3856Silk floral scarf, £255, Gucci, 18 Sloane Street, London SW1, 020-7235 6707Velvet and lambskin shoulder bag, £1,711, Chanel, 26 Old Bond Street, London W1, 020-7493 5040Bonded flannel fedora with leather trim, £169, Emporio Armani, 020-7823 8818Artemis gold necklace, £175, Lulu Frost, Crystal heel boots, £1,000, Chanel, as beforeStyling: Gemma HaywardPhotographs: Catherine LosingSet design: Sarah ParkerAssistant: Jemma PearsonWe're not sure about: Villain of the pieceAccording to the folk behind the latest fragrance off the Ed Hardy conveyer belt, it's good to be bad, but whether that should refer to someone's odour is a matter up for some debate. With kisses as sweet and addicting as crème brûlée, it sounds truly nauseating.We're buying: Chic charity teesThe work of London fashion luminaries Jonathan Saunders, JW Anderson, Mary Katrantzou and Richard Nicoll may usually be out of reach for most, but these charity T-shirts are not only priced in the double digits, but will help support The Dispossessed Fund which fights poverty in London.£60, matchesfashion.comWe can't wait for: Chanel's new storeBeauty buffs will be counting down the hours on their perfectly manicured fingers until the launch of Chanel's beauty boutique. The 57-square-metre space will be dedicated to exclusive products, make-up classes, and even a nail bar from the polish trendsetters themselves.From 24 July, chanelatcoventgarden.comWe're cheating: Wrap it upFor nail-art obsessives who can't make it to the salon and aren't quite ambidextrous enough to achieve the same results at home, fashion favourite brand Wah Nails has extended its product line to include these easy-to-apply stickers with a choice of six of the most popular patterns.£7 each, Boots nationwideLanguishing on the unloved list for a while, paisley prints have become a signature for young designer J.W. Anderson. The pyjama print jumped from nightwear to the catwalk as Haider Ackermann and Stella McCartney showed silky separates festooned with the twisted teardrops.An Olympian yearWho can blame designers for latching on to the Olympics and running with it – excuse the pun. Sports fans will be pleased to see that sweatshirts, shorts, bomber jackets and hoodies have been given a high fashion spin in luxurious fabrics and a pastel palette.In a flapperGucci led the glamorous Gatsby-era charge with a black-and-gold showing of fringed flapper dresses. If you're worried about playing dress-ups, make-up is a good way to achieve a subtle version of the trend. Nars' metallic smudge sticks (£17, Nars; from selfridges.com) make a gilded eye a doddle.Vroom, vroom!The retro references continued with Prada's hyper-feminine outing, of which muscle cars were a signature motif – on everything from stilettos (£650, prada.com) to skirts and bags. Hourglass curves made an appearance in Dolce Gabbana's Mediterranean vegetable medley while the minimal pedal pushers and gingham at Jil Sander were a crisp take on the Fifties era.Water worldPearls were slung around models' waists, dotted down their spines and through their hair at Chanel's underwater-inspired extravaganza. Iridescent fabrics, jewel-encrusted netting and undulating ruffles all mimicked the delights at the bottom of the ocean. The conch-shaped clutch bags with a pearlescent finish are the accessory of the season, if you've a spare £18,200 (Chanel, 020-7493 5040).Get waistedModern and sleek, this season, peplums, whether attached above or below the waistline, added volume to a straight silhouette at Céline and Dries Van Noten or emphasised an hourglass figure at Givenchy and Jason Wu.Nailing itMix up the sweetness of the season with Dolce Gabbana's new kohl collection which features a series of vampy, glamorous nail shades (£17, harrods.com), or match it with Chanel's newest must-have additions – three pinkish shades named for the months of spring.Sweetness and lightThere's no getting away from it, saccharine pastels are one of the biggest colour stories this season, shown by almost everyone. The girliness of the hues is not for the faint of heart – although it may feel easier to wear fondant shades as make-up rather than clothes.Bobbing alongA newly chopped bob can be a refreshing beauty statement for the spring, but if you're not quite ready to take the plunge with the scissors, the faux bobs as seen at Jil Sander are a good place to start.Short shortsForget the Daisy Dukes or tailored city shorts, this season the shape resembles nothing so much as a big pair of knickers. Scarf prints and florals showed in the last-ever DG collection, while at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière balanced teeny-tiny shorts with boxy shoulders.Lace upsSpring and lace go hand in hand and the intricate fabric is sexy (of course) at Dolce Gabbana, romantic at Valentino and Erdem, and colour-contrasted at Miu Miu and Junya Watanabe. The supersize broderie Anglaise collars at Louis Vuitton are one of the key buys of the summer.Darling buds of MayThis season, florals are graphically printed, appliquéd and embroidered. Follow the trend up the garden path with Gucci's new Flora Garden collection (£72 for 100ml, available nationwide), Stella McCartney's lily-of-the-valley-inspired L.I.L.Y or Jo Malone's newly customisable classic Red Roses.Thirty thousand bright children from poor backgrounds will get the chance to go to top private schools under plans unveiled yesterday. More than 80 top fee-paying schools, including Westminster and Manchester Grammar, have agreed to award places solely on academic merit. An education charity is pushing for the policy to be included in the three main parties' 2015 manifestos. Labour: cut number of women in prisonThe number of women in prison must be reduced, the shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan will say today. Almost 11,000 women were jailed last year – separating some 17,000 children from their mothers. A Labour government would create a Women's Justice Board. Obama and Romney prepare for debatePresident Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, were yesterday busy preparing for the first presidential debate, due to be held in Denver tonight. Ahead of the contest, Mr Romney signalled a shift in his stance on immigration policy. Government risks complicity in tortureThe British government will be complicit in torture should Abu Hamza and his fellow terror suspects be extradited to the US, a senior UN adviser warned. Juan Mendez said the solitary confinement they would endure in US supermax prisons amounts to torture. MPs summon AhmadinejadThe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been summoned to parliament to answer questions about the currency, with the rial at a record low against the US dollar. Alarm over the currency has sparked a rise in the number of Iranians buying foreign currency. Opposition leader wins shock victoryThe triumphant leader of Georgia's opposition coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has called on President Mikheil Saakashvili to step down after securing a shock victory in Sunday's parliamentary polls. Tube train strikes 12-year-old girlA 12-year-old girl was taken to hospital yesterday in a life-threatening condition after being struck by a Tube train during rush hour. The incident, which police are treating as non-suspicious, occurred at Brixton in south London at 8.40am. People were petrified and some were screaming or crying, a witness said. Inquiry into Pope's former butlerJudges in the Vatican have ordered a probe into the treatment of Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's former butler arrested in the Vatileaks scandal. Taking the stand yesterday, Mr Gabriele denied theft but accepted he abused the Pope's trust. He is accused of stealing documents and passing them to the media.Ryanair boss says his £1m pay is unfairThe outspoken chief executive of the budget airline Ryanair has claimed that his £1m pay last year made him the most underpaid and under appreciated airline boss in Europe. Michael O'Leary said being paid 20 times more than his average employee was unfair, because he works 50 times harder. Six-year-old beat me up, says gym teacherA 14st gym teacher in New York has sparked more than few smirks after claiming that a 6-year-old student weighing just 50lb had physically assaulted him. John Webster fractured his ankle and injured his knee after the alleged assault, according to the New York Post. Trip to swingers' club on expensesA German insurance giant has revealed that its employees put a trip to a swingers' hotel in Jamaica on expenses when it published an internal audit on a public website. Ergo, primary insurance unit of Munich Re, the world's biggest reinsurer, unveiled a website containing details of 12 similar incidents. Chanel takes over Grand Palais in ParisWind turbines graced Paris's Grand Palais for a Chanel show unrivalled in scale and spectacle yesterday. The set was thought to be a reference to the gentle, beautiful nature of the clothes, which included black chiffon dresses appliqued with silk petals. The collection had a youthful 1960s theme, complemented by bold, oversized accessories. American Airlines flights lose seats A major airline is checking its passenger seats after some came loose following take-off on three separate flights. American Airlines said the incidents occurred on a flight last week between Vail, Colorado, and Dallas-Fort Worth and again on Saturday and Monday. Sir Chris takes a ride in his velodromeSix-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy cycled the first lap of the Commonwealth Games velodrome named in his honour yesterday. Sir Chris said he hoped the Commonwealth Games venue in Glasgow would mean that the next generation of champions came from Scotland. He hopes to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games should he stay injury-free.BFI to spend £500m to develop industryThe British Film Institute (BFI) will invest £500m in the country's movie industry over the next five years in a bid to develop talent outside London. Equipment will be provided to 1,000 community venues across the UK, while the Film Fund will see its budget increased from £18m to £24m.Year-long trip may blast off in 2015The first year-long mission to the International Space Station may begin in March 2015, after an agreement between ISS partners. Alexei Krasnov of Russian space agency Roscosmos, said yesterday the two-person expedition will be a test for future flight lengths. Pupils made to write cards to prisonersA teacher has received a warning letter from the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board for making her fifth-grade pupils write Christmas cards to a friend serving time in prison. The cards contained the children's names and in some cases addresses. They were intercepted by a prison officer. Tom Sawyer was a firefighterThe hero of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was a heavy-drinking firefighter, according to an American magazine. The Smithsonian claims the real-life Sawyer met Twain in San Francisco in 1863. Sawyer said of Twain: He could drink more and talk more than any feller I ever seen.If Alès is a spiritual man, then it is this breathtaking garden, located a few hours south of Paris, that surely serves as his altar. For much of his working life, nature has provided Alès with a never-ending driving force; first as a hairdresser to the Parisian beau monde (his salon is still located on the same spot on the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt where he first opened in 1965), where he revolutionised a technique 'the brushing', more of which later; and then as the person who developed and exploited the commercial potential of plants in hair products. Even today, after working with plants for so many years, I believe that we are only at the beginning of understanding all they can teach us, he enthuses.Here, set among 380 hectares of ancient woods and oaks, cedars, pines and sequoias planted by Alès, his 'garden' is a calming escape from the hectic outside world. At its heart lies the secret of Phyto's success, an impressive apothecary garden they call the 'Phytotèque' (as in a bibliothèque, but for plants rather than books). Run by his daughter Patricia, this is the company's true chemistry lab (they have a scientific one in Paris, too), complete with buzzing bees and butterflies, where they grow hundreds of different species of plants, all to be used in some way in a Phyto formula. Thirty varieties of basil and every kind of thyme, rosemary, lavender, rhubarb and mint you can imagine; unusual species like Arachis hypogaea (peanut) and pink Malabar spinach, Opium poppies and Anthemis tinctoria, a vivid yellow chamomile used for its hair-dying properties; and exotic (often endangered) plants being nurtured by the family for posterity.Nearby is a superb rose garden with more than 200 species of roses; close to the 18th- century house (apparently built by the Marquis du Durantis for his mistress), lies the cathédral des sapins – an oval-shaped enclave of pine trees and a little path leading to a statue of Sainte Marie – and a little further away, a whole patch dedicated to the large, elegant silver-green-leaved beauty of the hosta plant, the symbol for the Phyto brand. There are ongoing experiments too, like the 5,000 ginkgo biloba bushes recently planted, extracts of which are used in the Phytocyane shampoo for thinning hair. It was the only tree to survive the effects of the Hiroshima bomb says Alès. I feel there is a magic that lives in that tree.Nothing goes to waste – the rows of American sweetgum (liquidambars) are harvested every three years for their leaves, which provide a foaming agent for Phyto's shampoos. Every leaf, bud, bark and stem is investigated for potential benefits, and – once distilled in the drying barn – it is sent to the Phyto lab to provide the ultimate benchmark of quality for comparison when the company sources ingredients in bulk for the production each year of their range.At 82, Alès is living proof (if it was needed, given the legion of Phyto fans and hundreds of clinical studies to back his innovations up), with his own thick locks and the smoothness of his hands, of the magic of plants. Not bad for a young Spaniard who arrived in France in 1937 with his family, escaping their homeland's civil war, with an initial ambition to study architecture. In the summer of 1946, before I was meant to start university, my father said to me, 'get a job', Alès recalls in his soft, slightly stilted English. So I took a job managing the stockroom in the biggest hairdressing salon in Paris at the time – owned by Louis Gervais, with more than 103 employees on the Champs Elysées in Paris – and when I walk in, and it's so nice, the ladies are beautiful, the salon is beautiful, so I told my father to forget architecture, I want to be a hairdresser. His father was shocked. He said, 'this is work for women, not for you', but I told him that to make ladies more beautiful is the best job in the world. My father said 'OK'.When he asked Gervais for an apprenticeship, Gervais took Alès to the stockroom, climbed on top of a chair and wiped the top of the shelf with his finger. It was spotless. He said 'OK, I take you', laughs Alès. It was also here that Alès first saw the hands of the women who did the shampooing all day, their hands swollen and nails destroyed by chemicals, and the first seeds of his idea for a much more gentle, less harmful range of products was quietly sown. I started to look at plants, and to see how they grow and survive – I began to think it is possible to look at how to create a synergy with the human body and nature to create something more gentle.Of course, it is impossible to imagine now, but at the time, everyone told him his botanical lotions and more natural approach to hairdressing would never work. When all the world was fixated with setting a lady's hair in chemicals and rollers in the late 1950s, Vidal Sassoon was on one side of the Channel starting to conjure glamorous new ways of cutting geometrically, and Alès was embracing the natural movement of hair by inventing 'The Blowout', much loved by A-list clients like Catherine Deneuve. It was purely mechanical – I worked out the way the hair naturally grows and falls, so it went with the movement of the hair from the roots rather than against it, he explains. With it, he invented a round brush that, combined with a hairdryer, allowed hair to be 'brushed' in a way that allowed it to fall in sleek bouncy folds.It was finding ways to rescue his client Brigitte Bardot's bleached and dried-out locks in the early Sixties that inspired Huile D'Alès, and then came his groundbreaking Phyto 7 which used the synergy of essential oils extracted from seven plants – calendula, sage, burdock, willow, soybean, rosemary and althea – to create an innovative natural hair conditioner. His long-term client Madame Pompidou introduced Alès and his products to Jacqueline Kennedy, who promptly spread fanatical word across the Atlantic. Phyto (or Phytotherathrie as it was called – phyto/plant, thera/care, thrie (from trixos)/hair) was an instant smash on a worldwide scale.At first, however, Alès and his wife Jacquie – with help from his children Sylvie, Romain and Patricia – were making the products from the kitchen table at home in their house in Provence; this was the early 60s. He had even taken his ideas to L'Oréal but they were not interested, believing the future of haircare lay in chemistry not nature. With a small loan from a friend (and fellow high-profile hairdresser Jacques Dessange), Alès decided to manufacture for himself and started to sell his small collection of 12 products through pharmacies, including one at Saint Louis hospital in Paris, famous for its work in dermatology, from 1969. There he met Professor Vachon. Vachon was the first, in 1974, to confirm through clinical studies the beneficial effects Alès instinctively knew the active plant ingredients were providing in Phyto. Soon, products like the anti-frizz Phytodéfrisant (one of only two French products to be included in the exalted American beauty magazine Allure's Hall of Fame, the other Chanel No. 5) and Phytoplage (the first sun protection haircare) took the world by storm.For Alès, despite the global success and acclaim (and a few hiccups along the way, including legal wrangles with L'Oréal after they bought Alès's silent partner Dessange's 49 per cent share of the business), it is still the search for 'plant magic' that keeps him going. I am always looking at new plants and the synergy of how one can reinforce another's properties. The company, with its hi-tech, innovating scientific lab complete with doctors, pharmacists and scientists, works closely with the French National Centre for Scientific Research and Alès remains continually inspired by past botanical medicinal discoveries such as the cancer-treating drug Taxol (derived from the bark of the Pacific Yew), penicillin (from humble fungi) and the cure for leprosy (derived from the oil of the Chaulmoogra nut). He has made various inroads into finding a commercially viable, consumer-friendly solution to hair loss and alopecia – in fact, we have one clinically proven solution right now, derived from a very ordinary plant used by Egyptian women to encourage the flow of breastmilk, but the smell is too awful, Alès sighs.Back at La Lienne d'Alès, it's evident that if there are going to be any major scientific breakthroughs, they will be found here, unearthed possibly even by accident, through the Alès family's trial and error and passion for plants. Trees have a message – whether it's in their leaves or bark, even where some look very simple and ordinary, there is a power there. We are only just skimming the surface of trying to assimilate the synthesis of what nature does. We need to look to it for the answers, he says. I have just planted 400 more oak trees and I realise that I probably won't see them grow, Alès admits, aware that he is in his twilight years despite his still sprightly acuity and enthusiasm. When we bought this land, some people had already planted some trees, and I am adding some more; and if they continue for the next generation I will be happy.For more information, visit 2. Prada£2,450, 020 7647 5000The Prada collection is among the most feted of the spring/summer season, crafted in hyper-feminine fabrics and in colours to match. This Pyramide bag is just the thing to finish such a gentle look.3. Proenza Schouler£1,685, net-a-porter.comThe large version of this designer satchel is still as light as anyone might wish for, and will hold everything the modern woman needs to carry with her. This red version looks great with jeans.4. Pierre Hardy£1,075, Pierre Hardy, brownsfashion.comWhat's not to want about this brightly coloured backpack? It's unlikely that anyone carrying this modish design in the colours of the spring/summer season will get lost.5. Givenchy£1,400, selfridges.comThe Antigona is as practical a bag as it is lovely to behold. It's big enough to function as a work bag, easily holding notebooks, papers, make-up and more, and has top handles as well as a shoulder strap.6. Olympia Le-Tan£1,110, brownsfashion.comOlympia Le-Tan has made a career – and a business – out of crafting handbags that take their inspiration from the covers of books and films.7. Chanel£985, 020 7493 5040It's a basic tote in a great colour but let's face it, the selling point of this is its logo. It's cut in cotton canvas, with leather trim and a signature leather and chain handle.8. Yves Saint Laurent£1,660, ysl.comThis Yves Saint Laurent classic has been given a sporting makeover, crafted as it is in the finest leather punched to resemble Airtex. The finished thing is as light as the proverbial feather.9. Alexander Wang£980, Alexander Wang, thecorner.comWang is the toast of New York and cool girls will love to carry this great leather bag. It's big enough to fit half a life in and looks gorgeous in ultra-luxe, grey suede.10. Mulberry£995, mulberry.comThis travel day bag is very much like the bestselling Alexa but with gleaming gold hardware added for good measure. It's even cuter that way but still light, though, which is clever.Io9, the science fiction blog, suggests that mermaids might be just the thing to fill the vampire-sized hole in the lives of teenage readers. It notes there have already been 18 young adult books about the mythical sea creatures released this year. And by not being bound to the many rules dictated by vampire lore, the mermaid genre is much more flexible. The young adult mermaid fiction being released includes every underwater scenario from murderous sea nymphs to sunny, hippy tales about the ocean. Some are stories of friendship; other love stories.Orange-prize winning Helen Dunmore has written five mermaid books for young adult in her Ingo Chronicles series, the most recent of which, Stormswept, was published earlier this year. In the US, titles such as Wake, about a teenaged siren, Wrecked, which has a merman as the main character and Fathomless, which will be published in the UK next month, are making waves. Studio execs will be watching closely the reading habits of teenagers. The success of the Twilight and The Hunger Games books has translated into big box office. So if it is mermaids that are currently capturing teenagers' imaginations then it is surely only a matter of time before a couple of dark, angsty films are given the green light. And in the same way that two Snow White films were released this year (Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman), a similar battle between mermaid-themed films seems almost guaranteed.For those who grew up with the familiar faces – and tails – of Splash's Madison, played by Darryl Hannah, and Disney's Ariel, it might seem strange that mermaids have only now been rising to the surface. Sure, for die-hard mermaid fans there was H2O: Just Add Water, an Australian teen soap. But it's only recently that there have been signs that mermaids are ripe for a comeback, with Lady Gaga donning scales for her You and I video last year and Katy Perry, looking rather more glamorous and a lot less otherworldly as a sexy sea creature in an ad for GHD hair products.The fashion world, typically one step ahead of the game, embraced sea nymphs in their spring/summer 2012 collections. Chanel had Florence Welch singing live in a huge white seashell at its underwater-themed show and designers such as Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Armani have all been inspired by mermaids of late. And with Azealia Banks, currently one of the hottest acts in music, proclaiming to be the first mermaid of hip-hop, having released a mixtape called Fantasea (track titles include Atlantis, Aquababe and Neptune), as well as putting on Mermaid Ball gigs in New York and LA, are mermaids set to replace vampires and werewolves as pop culture's new mythical obsession?It looks like it's time for a sea change.Her marriage is wonderful, shes given up alcohol and from tomorrow shes hosting the nightly Strictly spin-off show It Takes TwoWear the trousersTrousers are the new skirts. Often, however, they are worn with a tunic and/or dress – a case of enjoying the best of both worlds which is always good. At Junya Watanabe flocked velvet dresses are worn over tailored pants borrowed from menswear; Marc Jacobs styled narrow, empire-line dresses over cropped designs for his own label and at Louis Vuitton and at Prada too the shoulders are narrow, the hemlines wide by comparison.From left to right: Marc Jacobs, PradaIt's a wrapStating the obvious: it's autumn so a coat is important. This time that coat must be big. It looks lovely in its masculine incarnation at Dries Van Noten, has a military borrowed from menswear toughness at McQ, is a signature cut in soft gabardine at Yohji Yamamoto and also in wool at Maison Martin Margiela. Jean-Paul Gaultier's parkas have a luxe-utilitarian appeal and Chalayan's oversized grey wool version is trimmed with neon: to ensure any wearer will be seen in the dark? Left: ChalayanBaroque is beautifulThe fragility of surface embellishment was once its very appeal but now the opposite is the case. Crystals the size of cough sweets feature at Miu Miu. Marni's jewelled buttons are the size of saucers. At Lanvin lace, fur, ribbons and bows are piled onto jewelled cocktail dresses.From left to right: Lanvin, Miu MiuThe new gothicGivenchy's Riccardo Tisci has long channeled a gothic mood and made many a well-dressed woman and indeed man about town very happy by so doing. At Gucci, Frida Giannini is of a similar frame of mind this season; Peter Copping's take at Nina Ricci is more scary fairy and sweeter for that; Karl Lagerfeld's vision for Chanel is also softer though still spooky. Finally, at Versace a predominantly dark collection is embroidered with jewelled crucifixes. Vintage.From left to right: Nina Ricci, Gucci, GivenchyHell for leatherLeather is more prevalent than ever in the form of full mid-calf length skirts at Christian Dior and Hermès and total look and totally black in the totally great Loewe and Valentino collections. For Stefano Pilati's final collection for Yves Saint Laurent belted racing green and ox-blood tunics are the height of tough luxury and then there's Celine leather which we all want.From left to right: Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, CelineWinter flowersMore fairies, this time flowery ones. There's nothing more lovely than blooms printed, embroidered or appliqued in the autumn season. Valentino's are delicate in all the shade from pales pink to black. Dolce Gabbana's are more exuberant. Christopher Kane's flowers are plain nasty in funereal flocked velvet and Giles Deacon's crushed roses on white satins and silks unashamedly romantic. At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton's blossom-encrusted designs appear almost to be growing on models frames like otherworldly flora and fauna.From left to right: Alexander McQueen, Dolce Gabbana, Giles DeaconThe big easyDare to wear clothing that is oversized in the extreme and – at Comme des Garçons and also, more discreetly, Celine – flattened. Sci-fi inspired sweatshirts with moulded sleeves at Balenciaga make for some of autumn's most covetable clothing as does voluminous wool tailoring at Haider Ackermann – most beautiful in blue. For Raf Simons' final collection for Jil Sander, the new Dior designer developed an oversized haute couture-inspired silhouette for an audience that was visibly moved by it. Acne's take is tough and utilitarian.From left: Comme des Garçons, Haider Ackermann, BalenciagaPunk princessesPunk's riotous spirit is all present, correct and as anarchic as expected in the British capital where Meadham Kirchhoff's Leigh Bowery-inspired glamour girls, Louise Gray's brilliant mix-and-match colour and pattern, Kinder's twisted prints and Sister by Sibling's leopard knits with masks and ears are loud and proud. And of course, Vivienne Westwood is still the trailblazer here.From left to right: Meadham Kirchhoff, Louise GrayBut that isn't quite why Daphne Guinness, heiress to the beer fortune and granddaughter of Diana Mitford, has donated a selection of 102 of her own dresses, coats, shoes and suits to Christie's, where they will be auctioned next week.Two years ago, Guinness, 44, halted the planned sale of the late Isabella Blow's wardrobe at Christie's by buying the collection in its entirety. She said at the time that the breaking up of the fashion editor, stylist and muse's belongings would be carnage.It gives me enormous satisfaction, she said yesterday at Christie's, that my seemingly impetuous decision to purchase the entirety of Isabella's collection is now clearly going to set a few injustices to rights.The takings will go to The Isabella Blow Foundation, a charity created by Guinness which supports young artists and designers, as well as funding research into depression and mental-health issues. Blow, who died in 2007, is credited with having helped nurture the talents of designer Alexander McQueen and milliner Philip Treacy, among others. Her personal pieces showcase some of Britain's most important designers.Blow's mantle has been taken on by Guinness in the years since her death. She has been an artist, model, perfumier and designer, among the very small circle of women who still buy bespoke couture clothes from the likes of Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga, as well as supporting young London designers and collecting their work.Recognisable by her idiosyncratic platinum and black-striped beehive, Guinness dresses in a way that is eye-catching and, at times, a bit gothic. Lady Gaga once described her and Blow as exceptional icons and soulmates. But many of the pieces going under the hammer are from her early years, before she had honed her personal aesthetic.A purple textured A-line coat by Christian Dior, estimated to go for £1,000, was a favourite piece during Guinness's late-20s, while a lemon yellow satin and hide bubble dress by Christian Lacroix was the first piece of couture she ever bought, in 1987. There are several pieces created by Alexander McQueen before his death in 2010 – a pair of black leather boots estimated at £2,500 and two dresses worth around £20,000 each – as well as a pair of Guinness's trademark heel-less shoes by Noritaka Tatehana, which took more than eight months to make. Entry-level prices start at around £250 for a Givenchy dress and a Valentino skirt suit.The Guinness auction collection is as surprising as it is diverse – given her reputation for extreme edginess, many of the pieces are more accessible than you might imagine, and they show a clear evolution in her personal style over the years, from timeless classics to the more outré numbers.The clothes are all by really important designers, says Christie's fashion and textiles specialist Clare Borthwick, and they embody who Daphne is. Pieces from the big houses are always going to be a good investment, but I always advise people to collect things that they love, because you're going to have to look at it every day and you can't always guarantee what's going to make money in the future.The funds raised by the sale, estimated to reach £100,000, will also go towards the upkeep and maintenance of Blow's extensive collection, which is set to go on show at the London design college Central Saint Martins, McQueen's alma mater, later this year. The best thing is that [Blow's collection] can be seen and touched and conserved for the next generation of talent, says Guinness.Photographs: Andrew LeoModel: Adina at IMGHair and make-up: Krystle using Chanel S/s 2012 and Hydra beauty SerumPhotographer's assistant: Catherine LosingShot on location at Hylands House, ChelmsfordThe 84-year-old died in his home on the city's famed Mulholland Drive, surrounded by his family and loved ones.Among younger generations of women, Sassoon's name will be mainly associated with the brands of hairstyling products that made him millions.Yet Wash and Go was not merely the name of his shampoo. It was a fashion concept that went some way to helping the momentum of the women's liberation movement in the 1960s, as he snipped away at the intricate and cumbersome hairstyles of British women to introduce bolder, simpler looks – most famously the bob – which required far less work. With the beehives and bouffants gone, so too were the curlers and the hours spent sitting in them at home.Women were going back to work, they were assuming their own power. They didn't have time to sit under the dryer any more, he told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. However, he added that his approach was not just about practicality. My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous. The fashion designer Mary Quant – whose clothes were intrinsically linked to Sassoon's cuts – labelled him the Chanel of hair.Last night the celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke said Sassoon was one of the top five Swinging Sixties icons along with the Beatles, Carnaby Street, Mary Quant and the Union Jack. He added: What he did was bring in a form based on Modernism. He just brought that to hair that worked in terms of it being all about the cut.Sassoon opened his first salon on London's Bond Street in 1958, and began opening more in Britain and across the Atlantic in the mid-1960s as excitement grew around his styles, which also included the five-point cut and the Greek goddess. His ideas had ever-increasing influence in the fashion world, leading to him being flown from London to Hollywood at a reported cost of $5,000 simply to cut the hair of the actress Mia Farrow – with a pixie look – for Roman Polanski's 1968 cult film Rosemary's Baby.Born in 1928 to a poor Jewish family, Sassoon joined the 43 Group to fight fascists on the streets of London in the 1940s, leading the author Michael Rosen to pay tribute to him last night. On one occasion he was arrested and spent a night in a cell for his troubles.He left for Palestine to fight in Israel's war of independence in 1948, and later, in 1982, he established the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.He was made a CBE in 2009, commenting after receiving his award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace that the monarch's hair had a beautiful colour.Despite moving to the US he maintained a strong affection for the UK – not least through his support for Chelsea FC. Indeed, his love of football led him to say in 2007: I thought I'd be a soccer player but my mother said I should be a hairdresser, and, as often happens, the mother got her way.Sassoon's personal life proved somewhat rocky, taking in four marriages. He had four children with his second wife, but their eldest daughter, Catya, died in her sleep on New Year's Day 2002 after an accidental overdose. He is survived by his fourth wife, Ronnie.It certainly doesn't appear to be. On her feet are the signature elevated platforms, a variation of which Naomi Campbell famously fell from back in 1993. On her head is an oversized helmet complete with a veil of bronze sequins, Westwood's fiercely glamorous alternative to military netting. The designer is recreating a style that she dreamt up for the Paralympics closing ceremony – this is the morning after the night before – where she was asked to appear as Queen Boudica riding a chariot conceived by stage designer Joe Rush and the Mutoid Waste Company. Joe Corre, her son by Malcolm McLaren, and Andreas Kronthaler, her husband and partner in design, went along for the ride.Joe [Rush] is a friend of mine and he'd done all these brilliant things, she says. When he asked me to be Boudica, I said: 'No, get a model, you don't need me, anybody can do that'. And then afterwards I thought: if I can use it, then I'll do it.And use it she did. Vivienne Westwood, Queen of Punk, grande dame of British fashion, media manipulator par excellence, one-time agent provocateur and now, more passionately evangelical still, full-blown activist, went so far as to avoid the dress rehearsal, knowing that should her intentions become clear, they might be quashed, whether they were to save the planet or not.I had to deceive everyone because I had this thing printed inside my dress and I knew they'd have checked, she says, her sense of mischief clearly as acute as ever. They'd have asked: 'Have you got any branding?', 'Is there any nudity?'. Given that Westwood famously picked up her 1992 OBE from the Queen wearing no knickers, they might hardly have been blamed for that. These days, though (and now a Dame), she has serious issues, over and above mere indecent exposure, in mind. I didn't feel that guilty because, you know, if I'd told them what I was up to they'd be duty-bound to stay on the safe side and not allow me to do it – and people always end up liking that sort of thing I think.She hasn't seen the televised version of the stunt in question as yet. Westwood doesn't approve of watching TV, although she did cast an eye over at least part of July's Olympics opening ceremony. I thought the beginning, with this green, pleasant land, the towers coming up, the hospital beds and the Queen was really wonderful. After the punks though… Whatever… I'd had enough. And the closing ceremony, where she was one of only five fashion designers represented (the others were Burberry, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen), also failed to capture her attention more than briefly. I did see the bit with my dress but, honestly, that's not so important to me. Fashion is my job and I just get on with it.Vivienne Westwood, now as ever, uses fashion as a platform to express her views and, at the very least, tell a story that extends beyond the realm of clothes. Her interest in the bigger picture belies the fact that she is among the most influential designers in history. This season alone, London-based designers including Louise Gray, Meadham Kirchhoff, Sibling, Kinder and more have referenced the anarchic spirit with which she made her name. In America, meanwhile, it was announced last week that the subject of next year's most important fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute will be Punk: Chaos to Couture, a show that will, doubtless, follow Westwood's trajectory more closely than any other's. And that's a smart move: the parallels between the world then (the late Seventies) and now are impossible to ignore for even the most polite fashion commentator. In the past, Westwood has reluctantly spoken about the impact of the movement she dressed so impressively. Now, though, she says: Johnny Rotten's songs really were very clever weren't they? 'No future. Your future dream is a shopping machine'. Yeah. That's what he was on about and that is what we are, we're a consumer society.fNot only did Westwood give the world the uniform of punk, but there followed 1981's Pirates, her first collection shown in Paris, that ushered in the New Romantic movement. The punk always used to take things around himself out of the gutter, if you like, any old rubbish, she once told me. There were these Irish punks who used kettles as handbags and do you remember getting crisp packets and baking them in the oven so they shrank? They were wearing those like brooches. Then there was Sid [Vicious] with his toilet-paper tie… Malcolm and I always said that we wanted to get off this island and plunder history too, and the world, like pirates. We didn't want to be seen as token rebels.The Buffalo Girls collection (1982) – inspired by Latin American Indians and featuring asymmetrically-layered skirts and petticoats – came next and, not insignificantly, bras worn over blouses a good 10 years before Madonna's Jean-Paul Gaultier-designed conical bra. Later, Westwood gleefully reclaimed (and reinvented) the uniform of the British aristocracy and of royalty with mini-crinis, Harris Tweed and crowns; she turned to French Old Master painting for inspiration for, by now, signature corsetry and overblown ballgown skirts. The list goes on, and on, and on. More recently, and in line with a move towards more ethical values, she has reintroduced the virtues of DIY designs that were once an integral part of punk's spirit, advocating the joys of, say, cutting up a tablecloth to make a skirt or wearing your (male) partner's underwear as shorts – just as she herself does. Suffice it to say, though, that her skills as a pattern cutter are rather more deft than most.For more than 30 years, Westwood has designed clothes for heroes. Outrageously flamboyant if not plain outrageous, they are beautiful, brave and often swim against the tide. Of today's so-called icons, she says: Thatf Victoria Beckham, she always looks neat and sort of minimal and tidy. That's not bad and her designs are good designs if you happen to like that sort of thing. She pauses for a moment before adding, with patrician hauteur: But I don't. It would be really great, she adds, if also neat and posh – which is good Kate Middleton and Samantha Cameron formed the habit of not always changing their outfits, and wore the same things over and over again. As a woman in control of one of very few independently-owned and globally-recognised brands, she is also a force to be reckoned with. And people love Westwood for that, from fledgling designers for whom she is a source of inspiration, to the obsessive – truly obsessive – Westwood devotees who save up to buy her clothes. For Westwood, the thinking behind her brand is straightforward: You have a more interesting life, she argues, if you wear impressive clothes.So what is more important to the designer than fashion and the company she has presided over for so long now? She is a patron of Reprieve and Liberty. She supports Amnesty International, Environmental Justice Foundation and Friends of the Earth. She is a long-time advocate to free Native American Leonard Peltier. She backs the Greenpeace Arctic Campaign and this year donated £1 million to rainforest charity Cool Earth. Her interest in human rights stretches right back to childhood. I've said this before and I was embarrassed to tell people at first, but I think I was about four when I came across this picture of the Crucifixion. It was in my cousin's calendar. I'd never seen it before being a Protestant. Anyway, I just couldn't believe it. And ever since then I've thought people have to stop doing these terrible things.Five years ago, meanwhile, she read environmentalist James Lovelock's Gaïa hypothesis and surmised that humanity was an endangered species… Our economic system, run for profit and waste and based primarily on the extractive industries, is the cause of climate change, is how she explains it. We have wasted the earth's treasure and we can no longer exploit it cheaply… Economists treat economics as if it is a pure science divorced from the facts of life. The result of this false accountancy is a wilful confusion under cover of which industry wreaks its havoc scot-free and ignores the environmental cost. At around the same time Westwood wrote her manifesto, 'Active Resistance to Propaganda', a text peopled by everyone from Ancient Greek philosophers to Disney cartoon characters – Westwood is interested in appealing to the young especially – to inspire an interest in learning and culture, in place of indiscriminate consumption.Westwood is not unaware that all of the above begs the question: how can a designer at the forefront of a globally recognised and, yes, ever-expanding fashion business possibly point the finger at anyone without also incriminating herself? Guilty, she says, literally holding her hands up. My main point, though, is quality rather than quantity. It's a question of trying to have less product but for it to be great. I am definitely very worried about the extent of shipping and travelling. We're a worldwide operation and we're sending clothes all over the world, all of the time, and we have to find ways of dealing with that, of running down our carbon footprint. I want to see what we can do with the company that will be usefully good. What I'm always trying to say to the consumer is: buy less, choose well, make it last.Putting her money where her mouth is, she has now changed into somewhat more modest attire – a draped white organza summertime dress which hails from her spring 2000 Gold Label collection: it is 13 years old. Andreas moans at me sometimes and says myf clothes are beginning to look a bit threadbare or something, she says, but I don't care. I like these things. I'm kind of insisting that however lovely a dress in a more recent collection may be, I actually like this one just as much so I don't need it.Vivienne Westwood was born Vivienne Isabel Swire in Glossop, Derbyshire, on April 8, 1941. Her father came from a long line of cobblers; her mother worked in the local cotton mills when she wasn't at home looking after her children. When she was 17, her parents bought a post office and moved to South Harrow in Middlesex. After working in a factory for a short while, Westwood went to teacher training college and then married Derek Westwood and had her first child, Ben, by him. The marriage lasted three years, during which time she taught and made jewellery which she sold on a stall on Portobello Road. She soon met McLaren (then Malcolm Edwards) and became pregnant with her second son, Joseph. In 1971 she gave up her day job. McLaren had opened a shop called Let It Rock at 430 King's Road, London, and Westwood filled it.It is the stuff of fashion history that in 1972, and in line with the fashion that was developing its own distinct character, the name changed to Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die and then, in 1974, to SEX. When, in 1976, the Sex Pistols, managed by McLaren, released God Save the Queen, it became known as Seditionaries until, in 1980, and with Westwood disillusioned with the mainstream's adoption of punk and its main protagonists, she renamed it World's End. I realised that they weren't real anarchists like we were, she remembers of punk's later, less radical protagonists, they just wanted to be in a gang and smash anything to do with the older generation like kids do. That name – and indeed the clock that hangs on its façade telling the time backwards – remains.In 1976, Westwood, punk legend Jordan and then shop girl, Chrissie Hynde were photographed at the store wearing the type of rubber clothing inspired by fetish and pornography that SEX, in the period immediately prior to Seditionaries, was known for. Westwood herself, however, though in stockings, suspenders and suitably intimidating platform-soled footwear, is wearing a man's white shirt. On to that apparently unassuming garment she has scrawled the French Situationist slogan: 'BE REASONABLE: DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE'. It would be reasonable, neatly enough, to argue that this marvellously audacious sentiment still drives her.You can save the rainforest for £100 million, she says, for example. It's not that much money. It's the advertising budget of Samsung. They could protect the rainforest for that budget and would get so much publicity out of it if they chose to do that. Westwood was invited to 10 Downing Street by former advisor to David Cameron, Steve Hilton, specifically to discuss this subject. I couldn't believe it. A Conservative government that was interested in saving the rainforest. I thought that was brilliant. He was brilliant. Then he left. I don't hate David Cameron but all politicians are just so delayed.She is nothing if not outspoken. Westwood speaks disparagingly about Barack Obama (she's vehemently opposed to the use of drones) and Tony Blair is a war criminal – he should be in The Hague. Neither are her views on feminism quite what one might expect them to be. I've got people here in this company who pay as much to the baby minder as they earn at work, she says. Because they'd rather work than look after their child. But I think they have to really think about what they're doing.It seems only fair to point out that Westwood herself works and always has done. I know and I was a terrible mother, she shoots back. I didn't put my children first. You have to work today to make money but my mother didn't have to and we managed. I'm really glad to have been born during the war and afterwards during rationing time. We weren't rich but we were probably happier which I know is a cliché but it was before we had all this… – she searches for the word – this stuff.At 72, Westwood says that her greatest indulgence is reading (she's currently immersed in a biography of Aldous Huxley) and visiting art galleries. With the showing of both her spring 2013 Red Label collection at London Fashion Week and her Gold Label collection staged in Paris only days away, how, I wonder, does Vivienne Westwood find time for her day job?Yeah, well, Andreas would like to know that as well, she laughs. I just keep saying it's not my priority. Andreas is the most brilliant designer I have ever met. He's a genius. I've finally persuaded him to come out on to the catwalk with me now. He does at least half of the work. He's about the lining and the stitching and all of the fabric and everything. I'm the geometry of the thing. I usually work out the cutting principles, and the tearing of cloth, that comes from me too. I don't want to retire because my job gives me the opportunity to open my mouth and say something and that's wonderful. If I stopped, I wouldn't have my voice any more and I need it. What I wouldn't think is good is for a new person to become a fashion designer. I'd think, well, why on earth would you want to do that? There are enough of us now. A girl said to me recently: 'I really want to be a fashion designer but I also like biology'. I said: 'Do biology'.In the end, there is as much warmth, wit, intelligence and imagination to Vivienne Westwood herself as there is to her clothes which, for all her outside interests, remain a powerfully potent force.She knows that, but: If I'm going to talk to someone for two hours then it can't just be about fashion. You know, I never really wanted to be a designer in the first place but about 15 to 20 years ago I decided that if I was going to continue I'd be better off starting to like it. I do think looking your best is really, really good for the spirit and my clothes allow people to project their personalities and express themselves. I offer choice in an age of conformity. A perfect Vivienne Westwood pronouncement.All clothes and accessories from a selection by Vivienne Westwood Gold Label, Red Label and Anglomania collections, available from 44 Conduit Street, London W1, 020-7439 1109, . Vivienne Westwood Gold Label and made to measure couture is available from 6 Davies Street, London W1, 020-7629 3757STYLIST: GEMMA HAYWARDPHOTOGRAPHER: DAN SMITHMODEL: Georgia Frost at SelectMAKE-UP: Alexandra Byrne at Terrie Tanaka using Chanel A/W 2012 and Rouge Allure 2012HAIR: Peter Lux at Frank Agency using Bumble bumbleSTYLIST'S ASSISTANT: Lottie DightRight now, massive, mind-bogglingly graphic woven epics by the celebrated photographer Craigie Horsfield on the theme of the circus are causing jaws to drop at Art Basel. Decades after artists like the Icelandic Dieter Roth, and feminist icon Judy Chicago – whose needlework and textile series, Birth Project, caused a stir in the 1980s – led the charge, the number of contemporary artists having woolly ideas is growing at a rate of knots.So what is the draw of the loom? Adam Lowe of Factum Arte, the Italy-based studio that makes digital tapestries for the Louvre and the British Museum, believes a surge in interest over the past 10 years was inevitable: Artists across the disciplines are attracted by the materiality and complexity of tapestry, particularly in a new age where the generation of the image – and often the output, too – is digital.Like Grayson Perry's enormous Walthamstow Tapestry from 2009, a subversive Bayeux Tapestry of our time featuring Chanel handbags, Superdrug and a woman giving birth to the Devil, which was woven from digital files on a Jacquard loom (an automated, rather than human-operated, machine) in Belgium. It returns to the public eye at the opening of William Morris's London home next month, just weeks after six of Perry's new pieces (also digitally-woven, using a mechanical loom to create his images in tapestry form), The Vanity of Small Differences, launched at the Victoria Miro gallery.But the human touch is by no means obsolete. A hundred years after it was founded in 1912 by William Morris's weavers, Edinburgh's Dovecot Studios is holding the torch for cutting-edge hand-weaving. Having been saved from closure in 2000, Dovecot has for the past four years occupied a vast space on the site of the city's first public baths. Now in its centenary year, the studio has been transformed beyond recognition.On the day I visit Dovecot, the excavated ladies' pool is in the process of being styled for a fashion show. The day before, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was playing one of a number of regular chamber concerts in among the looms, with guests looking on from the original gallery that circles what was once the main swimming pool; the walls are lined with abstract wall-hangings and colourful tufted rugs featuring geometric shapes and lighthouses, by artists including Alan Davie.In August, as part of an ongoing series of centenary celebrations, this space will host a musical history of the studio, A Tapestry of Many Threads, co-written by creative polymath Alexander McCall Smith. It is all part of an attempt, explains Dovecot director David Weir, to break down the boundaries between artistic disciplines. We've always occupied an unusual territory, he says. Tapestry is a craft-based skill but the studio has always worked with contemporary designers, Weir, who used to work as a laywer, knows what he's talking about when he adds: We don't live our lives in a single dimension.Several feet below the original water-level in what was once a magnificent swimming pool, Naomi Robertson and colleague Jonathan Cleaver beaver away at their looms, producing pieces for Peter Blake and Peter Saville. Robertson replaced Douglas Grierson last year when the latter retired after 50 years as Dovecot's master-weaver and Robertson is making relatively fast progress on a series of woven versions of graphic images for Peter Blake, including a tapestry of his famous target symbol, beloved by Mods in the 1960s. Metres away, Cleaver is working on another piece called After, After, After, Monarch of the Glen, a group collaboration by Peter Blake, Peter Saville, and the Dovecot weavers (of which there are five). The piece acquired so many 'After' prefixes because it was reinterpreted by a number of artists: Cleaver's woven work is based on a print by Peter Blake of a picture by Peter Saville, which was based on Landseer's original painting, Monarch of the Glen. It is, Cleaver says, a modern take on the tradition of the stag in wall-hangings.Working eight hours a day, Cleaver has been given three months to complete the work: Initially we made samples to give Peter and Peter an idea of what we were thinking of doing; there were discussions about layout and lettering; you could do it lots of ways, he says. Eventually, the piece will be reproduced several times as a limited edition, and every piece will vary as each weaver painstakingly blends their own colours as they work.It is a long slog, but one Dovecot director David Weir says a computer cannot hope to match: Handmade tapestry is a thought process, everything is slow and deliberate... A machine can't replicate the human touch, the happy accident or the editorial decision. Adam Lowe, whose Factum Arte studio have also made digital tapestries for Perry and Quinn, disagrees: Traditionally, the arts have been defined by their medium: printmaking, metal-working, painting... We are now in an age where we can take one sense and transform it into another using computers. Just look at the transformation of sound into light in discos.As a craftsman and an artist, the point is to build bridges between processes and ideas, and the reason weaving caught on is exactly that, because it is something many artists can do, Lowe adds. Digital tapestry is certainly more cost-effective than handmade – a copy of Perry's Hold Your Belief Lightly, for example, will set you back a relatively affordable £950.By contrast, Dovecot's prices range between £5 and £15,000 per square metre, depending on the size of the project and the level of detail. Because of the skill involved and how labour-intensive it is, Weir admits, tapestry's most prized asset is its biggest obstacle: few people can afford it. It was ever thus: on his deathbed, Henry VIII was considered the world's richest man, based not on his stash of gold or silver, but on his inventory of woven masterpieces. But this rather expensive sense of tradition remains part of the appeal, Weir says: When the rest of the world becomes increasingly challenging, there is a retrenchment to what is true, respecting the values of craftsmanship and making.Today, the bulk of commissions for Dovecot still come from corporate collectors such as PepsiCo, which commissioned a piece by Frank Stellar, now hanging in its HQ in New York, and Rolls Royce, IBM, and the London Stock Exchange. While public buildings are still key clients – a 7mx7m Ron Kitaj/Dovecot piece hangs in the central atrium of the British Library, while Castle of Mey, woven for the Queen Mother in the 1950s, takes pride of place in her Caithness home – the number of private collectors, Weir insists, are increasing, with rich yachtsmen among a new breed of collectors chasing after the prestige a magnificent tapestry still affords.However, with the price of wool sky-rocketing (thanks to increased world-wide demand) and with misconceptions about the art form still rife, the life of the modern weaver is still not perfect. The biggest problem, Weir says, is getting recognition as an artist in your own right. One of Hockney's first observations on a collaboration with the Dovecot weavers in the 1970s was not well-received, he adds: Hockney complained that one line had taken three weeks. After a number of conversations, he learnt that collaboration is about a dialogue, about creating something between the designer and the weaver's individual visions.In order to prove that they are more than mere technicians, in 2008 Dovecot asked its employees to create their own pieces in response to their new site. The results are dazzling. At the front entrance, Naomi Robertson's portrait of a female bather hangs opposite a colourful, more impressionist, piece by Douglas Grierson, in which their former master-weaver depicts a number of artists, including Hockney and Monet – alongside Damien Hirst's formaldehyde shark – in a brightly-coloured work.Sometimes I wonder, Weir admits, standing next to a mannequin dressed in a neon-pink woven corset, what would William Morris's weavers have made of this? His instincts are that they would have approved.Styling: Gemma HaywardPhotography: Rhys FramptonModel: Teresa at UnionHair: gow tanaka using Paul Mitchell.Make-up: Adam de Cruz at yumikoto using Chanel S 2012 and Hydra Beauty SerumStylist's Assistant: Emma AkbareianPhotographer's Assistants: Rokas Darulis and Andy PictonFilming and Editing: Daniel BurdettRetouching: Oliver Ingrouille With thanks to and The Surfcomber Hotel, Miami, All prices subject to change during salesWorking and studying in fashion often brings to mind scenes from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ with menacing figures at the root of fashion houses or magazines that make decisions on the latest trends, which affect everybody whether they realize it or not. Working in fashion is a career that many aspire to. with glamorous ideals painted by the media. Everyone can and has to engage with clothes and whether you realise it or not, this plays a huge role in your life and how it maps out; first impressions are always important. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of such a huge and influential industry?Certainly part of the stereotypes behind fashion are true; it is a competitive industry - each job opening one ‘a million girls would kill for’, which means that an ambitious and hard-working nature is needed to survive and thrive in an ever-changing industry. It’s true as well, that we get discounts from friends of friends with a network of contacts all eager to scratch one another’s backs! However I’m sorry to deliver the news that fashion is not simply glamorous – we just work with glamour, but some of it is bound to rub off.My story starts with a foundation course at my local college in general art and design where I took classes in ceramics, textiles, illustration and photography to experience previously unknown aspects of the arts. I produced two collections, one on regency dress and the other inspired by Midsummer Night’s Dream, and gained a distinction from my initial year immersed in design.From here the London College of Fashion was my first choice for my studies since the course BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development combined the savvy sense of business with the practical knowledge of design and garment construction. For me, each aspect of fashion supports and makes sense of the others within such a dynamic industry. London is, and forever will be, one of the fashion capitals of the world and a designers’ playground. That’s why creative people gather here, and where my college, one of the best in the world for fashion, forms an amazing community under the University of the Arts umbrella. The myth that an arts degree may be easier than others is just that: a myth. Working in any creative industry is a lifestyle rather than simply a job. Once you’ve completed one project you’re on to the next. They overlap, and you carry it with you in your mind wherever you go. It may be hard work but it enhances the world and makes you who you are.The course offered ‘live projects’, which meant working with clients such as Volcom and Kings College London to get industry feedback on targeted designs for a specific customer in mind. My year prepared a portfolio and prototypes for new NHS nurses’ uniforms, and Volcom commissioned a younger perspective on women’s sportswear. This was perfect training for eventually working for a brand where the brand’s ethos and customer profile informs the outcome of their collections.The third year of the course is a year-long placement year to gain experience of the industry first-hand and help us to see which direction we might wish to follow both in or final year project and in our future careers. I worked at Mulberry Company Design for the full year as a raw material buyer for both sampling and production purposes. Mulberry celebrated its 40 year anniversary last year and still remains one of Britain’s most successful heritage brands. During this year, I was offered a part-time role in Product Development which suited my skills of being a creative designer whilst still applying business sense to every decision made.Working three days a week at Mulberry whilst studying in my final year pushed me to start my own business, Make Fashion British, to unite young designers such as myself with manufacturers here in Britain. I graduated in July with a 2.1 and am now working at Mulberry which is a wonderfully friendly company with an extraordinary team. I have the opportunity to work on the runway collections and work backstage during London Fashion week, dressing the models and preparing the outfits to be viewed at their best. Famous names abound in the fashion world and I have rubbed shoulders with Jimmy Choo, Lana Del Ray and Anna Wintour to name but three.I would recommend a career in fashion to those who appreciate beauty in design, are ready to work hard under pressure and understand that fashion is one of the world’s largest international industries that has moral and economic issues as well as being the glittering show-stopper on the cover of Vogue.Check out heels in the shape of coral on Chanel's shoes, Versace's shell-patterned dress and Peter Pilotto's tropical beach holiday-inspired patterns – and keep an eye out for the trend filtering through to the high street soon.Some fashion trends are hard to work in the home, but this one can look better in interiors than on your back. The secret is to keep it simple. Add a marine motif to a neutral, sea-inspired palette and you're on trend without living in a Disney theme park. White can be your mainstay here, and accents of navy, turquoise or any other shade of blue work well. Distressed wood chairs or simple Danish lines are the perfect foil for ocean themes. Choose curtains or upholster an armchair in cream and navy stripes and you'll immediately evoke a seaside feel or pick a wallpaper with a watery theme to add a sophisticated note.Then top up your scheme with a few on-trend objects – scallop-shaped plates, a distressed wooden boat, pretty patterned cushions or sea-inspired objets d'art. And at this time of year, when summer feels as though it may never reappear, bringing a little of the seaside into your home can go a long way to lifting your mood.As the number of high-spending visitors from mainland China rises, tourist spots and shops, hotels and businesses in Britain are trying to encourage their custom.The Hippodrome Casino opens in central London in a fortnight, with one exit on to Chinatown decorated in metallic colours according to feng shui principles housing a separate Chinese community centre. Harvey Nichols announced last month that it would be introducing Chanel and Christian Dior to its store to appeal to overseas customers, and a sea-view property in Dorset has just gone on the market for £888,000 – seen as lucky as number 8, ba, sounds similar to the word for wealth, fa.With the number of Chinese visitors rising 35 per cent last year to 150,000 and expected to double by 2020, the Chinese tourist market is growing increasingly important to the UK. Not least because the average Chinese visitor to Britain spends around £1,700 – three times the average of £567.Stephen Boxall, managing director of the Ritz, said: Chinese clientele have become some of the world's most discerning spenders, consistently listing Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton as some of their favourite brands. Looking at the impressive double-digit growth in sales to wealthy Chinese tourists at both Harrods and Selfridges since the introduction of UnionPay terminals, it is clear this is a market with a significant expendable income, a desire for luxury brands and an increasingly well-travelled population who are looking to spend in the UK.Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said: China is clearly one of the most important markets. This is why we're making every effort to not only showcase Britain's culture and heritage, but also show exciting city life, our music scene, that our shopping is the best and that we have beautiful countryside.But plans to set up Britain's first purpose-built Chinese holiday resort in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, were put on hold this year after the Welsh government said designs were unacceptable.The report of the Design Commission for Wales into the 100-bed hotel and 80 holiday home resort, with signs in Mandarin and English, read: The bland, disparate and rootless architectural language, designed to appeal to international clients irrespective of site and location, does not do justice to the quality appropriate for this site.Lamidi Evbuomwan, an architect with contractors Maxhard, said in May: It is unfortunate that the plans have been delayed because I believe this project would have regenerated the area.GamblingBritish racing is launching a multi-lingual website with Mandarin and Cantonese to promote itself to international tourists. While many racecourses serve Chinese fast food, Richard Mounsey, spokesman for the British Horseracing Associations said it was quite a way from what you would pick up on the streets of Shanghai. The Hippodrome casino, opening on 13 July, has a back entrance opening on to Chinatown. The principles of feng shui have been adhered to on the Chinatown side, with metallic colours on the south side of the building. It also has a Chinese community centre with separate entrance, Chinese-speaking staff and all paperwork in Chinese. Chairman Simon Thomas said: There is a dedicated cabaret theatre, which will see Chinese cabaret, and we will also be celebrating all of the Chinese holidays.Tour operators and travelVisitBritain is overtly courting the Chinese. It sent a Queen lookalike over to Shanghai for the Jubilee as well as a 3D canvas in Shanghai so people could virtually visit Buckingham Palace. Windsor Castle and London Bus Tours offer Chinese brochures and audio guides. The Roman Baths in Bath now attract 60,000 mainland Chinese visitors a year since translating their website into Mandarin.Glamorous Travel will use the numbers eight and six on tour car number plates and hotel rooms, but avoid the figure four as it is associated with death. Any tour price containing that figure is upgraded to five. Chief executive Yan Zhang said: Our clients like attending exclusive clubs, especially the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London, because those universities are highly regarded by Chinese internationals.ShoppingHigh-end stores are courting customers from China. Burberry said that 30 per cent of UK sales were to Chinese customers last year.Harvey Nichols is introducing classic brands such as Chanel and Christian Dior, as they appeal to foreign shoppers, while Harrods and Selfridges have China UnionPay terminals instore. Harrods reported a 40 per cent increase in sales to Chinese customers after introducing more than 100 terminals. Chinese shoppers spent an average of £3,500 over Christmas 2010. The prestigious department store hopes this figure will double over the next five years. Selfridges is offering Chinese language lessons to staff.The designer store outlet Bicester Village is such a success – it has become the UK's most visited Chinese tourist destination outside London – that when David Cameron met the Chinese ambassador for advice on enticing more Chinese to Britain, the ambassador suggested to the Prime Minister that the UK should be building more just like it.Feng shuiThe Chinese art of maximising good energy – qi – is being adopted by homeowners and businesses. There has been a 10 per cent increase in people joining the Feng Shui Society in the past year, and a similar increase in the number of Chinese people contacting the society when they are buying, selling or renting property. The South-east is known as the wealth corner, and it is auspicious to place a fish tank or money plants to encourage prosperity.The society's Jan Cisek says businesses are especially keen. Brands including Coca-Cola, Orange, British Airways, Hiscox Insurance, Hilton Hotels and Marriott Hotels all use feng shui in a variety of business-related ways. High street banks also observe certain principles, such as rounding the corners within branches to avoid sharp lines.PropertyThe magic number 8 – associated with wealth – has led to Sotheby's Realty setting a guide price of £888,000 for a penthouse apartment overlooking the beach on the Sandbanks peninsula in Dorset.Peter Bevan, head of UK Sotheby's International Realty's Mayfair office, said he believes that after China's currency is internationalised the mainland Chinese could be the dominant purchaser in the London property market. He said clients are often looking for investment properties which their children move into while studying, so locations close to leading universities are popular. Ultra-wealthy Chinese buyers look to Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Belgravia and Kensington specifically for new freehold houses or luxury apartment blocks.Harrods Estates has received an increasing amount of interest from Asian buyers, with 42 per cent of its sales coming from Asia.HotelsCongee for breakfast and Chinese tea in the bedroom, along with noodles and Chinese newspapers, are all touches designed to appeal to discerning Chinese tourists at London's top hotels. At the Ritz, numbers of Chinese guests have trebled since the hotel introduced China UnionPay (China's only domestic bank card) terminals. Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking staff have increased, and guests arrive to find chrysanthemum tea, Chinese biscuits and Chinese magazines and newspapers in their bedrooms. A butler can advise on stores accepting UnionPay.The Dorchester offers Dragon's Pearl tea and noodles with Chinese newspapers, and ensures Chinese-speaking staff will be on duty.Hilton Hotels run to Chinese teas in rooms as well as slippers and a dedicated Chinese TV channel. Apex hotels translated their website into Mandarin in February and in two months saw revenue grow by 676 per cent. Musto goes on: "Calvin, darling, you're embarrassing yourself. What's worse, you're embarrassing the whole community. You were never really that much of a gay hero in the first place. Remember when you suddenly had a wife because, as AIDS made it uncool to be gay, you took the wussy way out and closeted yourself so you could sell more T shirts and perfume?" Burn. Klein has been increasingly open about his sexual orientation in recent years but only since departing the fashion label that bears his name. The whole thing is really worth reading. []"When he wasn't casting aspersions on other luxury brands, he lobbed ribald jokes as an Italian variety show flickered on the television behind him," writes Women's Wear Daily of its interview with designer Roberto Cavalli, otherwise known as bizarro Berlusconi. Says Cavalli of his new outpost in Japan, "I will demonstrate this to the dear Messrs. Chanel or other people like that. Fine, you dress the grandmothers and the mothers and I'll dress their kids." The designer, who is 70, says he plans to live another 50 years. In which time he intends to have sex 15,000 times. [] Cosmopolitan's new Adele cover is out. This is the first time we can recall seeing Adele's face and body on the front of a magazine. [] H&M shot models and their families for its new holiday campaign. Included are Jerry Hall and her daughter, the model Georgia May Jagger; Kristen McMenamy and her two sons; and Karen Elson and her fraternal twin sister, the model Kate. [] Meanwhile, the current issue of British Vogue includes a Tim Walker photograph of a model dressed like a yak, riding a yak. The yak-like outfit costs £5820. []We've already dissected and evaluated the female characters' , makeup, and costume choices based on early Great Gatsby images (and that ) now it's time for the men. Brooks Brothers was the "official clothier" for the film, which is costume-designed by Catherine Martin (who won an Oscar for her work on Moulin Rouge). Martin trawled the company's 1920s archives of clothing and advertising imagery (such as that seen at right) to produce more than 500 men's day and evening outfits for Baz Luhrmann's $125 million adaptation. Maybe the movie won't be any good but at least it will look good. [] Unsurprisingly, Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan's Shelter Island summer home is gorgeous and kinda kitschy in just the right proportions. [] Jimmy Choo which is no longer associated with former creative director and co-founder Tamara Mellon is unveiling a collaboration with artist Rob Pruitt. That apparently resulted in the dégradé, lace-printed zebra heels seen here. []Fashion editor Anna Piaggi was an old-school fashion eccentric. The longtime Vogue Italia contributor, who died on Tuesday in Milan aged 81, wore a wardrobe that was exceedingly varied she claimed in interviews to never wear an outfit publicly more than once but nonetheless had some common touchstones. Piaggi was particularly given to opera glasses, capes, canes, undersized hats (the better to show off her finger-waved blue hair), and elaborate shoes. If clothes are, as James Laver wrote, "the furniture of the mind made visible," then Anna Piaggi's mind was a riot of contrasting prints and textures, Stephen Jones headpieces, and corporate uniform items. Here are some of her best outfits.Alessandra Ambrosio has confirmed she is four months into her second pregnancy. For those of you who can count, that means that yes, she was already pregnant (about eight weeks) when she walked the Victoria's Secret show. Imagine! Two months along and still ambulant! Us magazine seems very, very impressed that Ambrosio was still skinny, too. They must think that's some kind of record. [] The hilarious YouTube channel Pronunciation Manual a spoof of the more useful Pronunciation Book would like to embarrass you in front of your friends quicker than you can , "Thanks, I bought it at Versayce." [] A peeved-sounding Douglas Hannant told the Post that Jason Wu ripped off one of his designs in the latter's 2012 pre-fall collection. "If I knew that Jason Wu liked my dress so much, I would have sold it to him," said the designer. Hannant's dress was also worn by Anne Heche to an event. The dresses are similar, but far from identical, and frankly the whole "colorful shape on a black background to make you look all skinny," which is all the dresses have in common, is a pretty generic idea. Also, Wu's pre-fall collection shows a number of skirts and dresses that alternate black fabric with colored panels, suggesting it's at least possible this dress arose organically. Stella McCartney also sold a dress earlier this year; it's a pretty old trick. [] Kate Moss is on the new cover of Marie Claire South Africa. It is her third January 2012 cover: she poses as David Bowie for Vogue Paris, and in a pool for Australia's Madison. []Malibu, CA, June 4: Actress Ali Larter attends Chanel's benefit dinner for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Ocean Initiative. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)Many of Silicon Valley's most powerful women are standing out amongst the area's schlumpy braniacs by dressing in expensive couture: Chanel cocktail shifts, Jimmy Choo heels, the works. Of course, high-ranking men have donned fashion status symbols like cufflinks for ages, but it's a little different in Northern California, where most techies dress down à la hoodie-loving Mark Zuckerberg. But a number of notable women told the that "dressing well (and talking about it) could help erode the stereotypes that repel some women from the technology field." "It's possible to hold your femininity and love of fashion," said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, a former Google executive who now runs a video shopping site. "Now I feel not at all at risk that people would say, ‘How can she care about dressing well and run a billion-dollar company or be smart?'" Marissa Mayer, who once paid $60,000 at an auction for lunch with Oscar de la Renta, said she didn't care what her employees thought of her proclivity for full skirts and bright colors. "My willingness to talk about it is because I believe the way we'll get more people into computer science and ultimately more women into computer science is by making it really clear that you can be yourself and don't need to give up parts of yourself to succeed," she said. "You can be into fashion and you don't have to be the pasty white programmer with a pocket protector staying up all night." This is the first Times Styles trend piece about women and tech (or maybe, actually, Silicon Valley in general) I've read in ages that didn't . It's awesome that these women are wearing whatever they want, and even more awesome that so many of them are talking about it unabashedly, too. [NYT]American Apparel just missed another financial filing deadline, and for the last period for which the company has made results available, the numbers are not good: during the first nine months of 2010, American Apparel lost $67 million, and same-store sales fell a whopping 14%. (Same-store sales have now been falling at the troubled chain for over two years.) Dov Charney, naturally, still believes his company can be saved. "If we can increase top-line sales by 10 percent at our own stores, that will translate to over $20 million in EBITDA," he said, referring to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. (Increasing EBITDA is a key provision of the heavily indebted company's loan covenants; every time American Apparel falls out of compliance, its interest rates get jacked up and its lenders get to call more shots.) See! A hypothetical 10% jump in sales would solve all Dov's problems! "Staff's job is to get some gelt into those stores." Oh, Dov. "In the words of that old Yiddish proverb: ‘Get me an order. Everything else will take care of itself.'" [] Right now, because of the latest missed filing deadline for its full-year 2010 results, American Apparel is again courting the risk that its stock will be de-listed. The company says it will have 2010 numbers by March 31, and revised 2009 numbers yep, it still technically hasn't filed those, either by April 10. But if its stock price sits below $1 for more than 30 days, that would also trigger de-listing. American Apparel is at 93 cents a share. [] Male model Andrej Pejic, whose long blond hair and delicate features have led many designers to cast him to model women's wear, says the attention his look has attracted "is nice because it's offering me a wide array of opportunities. But sometimes I do just have to stop and hit myself in the head with my diamond-encrusted vase." When asked about Lea T., the transsexual Givenchy campaign model, he replied: "I don't think my situation and Lea T's are completely different when it comes to our personal lives but that's personal, for me at least. And I really think people should stop trying to categorize me because of their need for labels. When it comes to our professional lives, well she only does women's wear and I think I cover more fields. Some people in the industry will use us in a very similar way to represent similar ideas and some will want me to be a bit different from her more androgynous, more boyish or even sex-less rather than womanly. I think professionally I am capable of being very versatile." []American Apparel may be facing bankruptcy at last. According to the company's latest financial report filed late, as is Dov Charney's custom American Apparel lost $86 million in 2010, and had just $5.3 million in cash as of the end of February. Sales fell by 4%. Lion Capital, the private investment firm that has bailed the troubled t-shirt-maker out on more than one occasion it first lent American Apparel $83 million to avert a bankruptcy in 2009 had two seats on the company board; both of those members have just resigned. Charney is now talking about "creative financing." Charney, who sank $1.3 million of his own money into the company last week, says he is seeking "creative financing." According to the Post, "insiders say the risk of a bankruptcy appears to be rising." [, ] Related (?) news: American Apparel is giving away free clothes to everyone who spends $10 online today. [] Miu Miu is selling tiny versions of its handbags. They cost $115-$380. [] Here is your long-awaited Christian Siriano cleaning sponge. Handsome, isn't it! [] Karlie Kloss published a photo of her wearing her Jason Wu prom dress. [] Kate Moss and her teeny anchor tattoo star in the new campaign for Dior cosmetics. []The investors that American Apparel from bankruptcy four months ago are selling their stock in the company. A consortium of investors bought $15 million worth of American Apparel shares at 90 cents a pop back in March is looking to sell those shares now that AA is trading at around 97 cents; the investors also have warrants to buy up to another $30 million worth of shares at the original 90 cent price over the next six months. Sounds like they're looking to make a quick buck, but are still not sure of the company's long-term prospects. [] Additionally, two private-equity firms are sniffing around American Apparel's copious debt. The company owes Lion Capital some $86 million, which it has defaulted on so frequently that it's now paying 18% interest. Leonard Green & Partners, which recently took J. Crew private and also has holdings in Neiman Marcus and David's Bridal, apparently offered American Apparel a $100 million loan. What did they want as security? American Apparel has no money seriously, the company it had only $5 million cash on hand in March, which is less money than it had to pay in its settlement with Woody Allen for making him the star of a seasonal ad campaign without, you know, checking with him first so Leonard Green asked for AA's intellectual property and brand name to secure the loan. And as has been reported previously, AA minority shareholder Ron "Air Fuck One" Burkle's company has also made overtures to acquire the troubled clothier's debt. Dov Charney, who was reached by Women's Wear Daily while sitting shiva for his grandmother in Montreal, had no comment on the stock sales or the debt deals. [] Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, and Alicia Keys are on the cover of the new Glamour. [] J. Brand is moving beyond jeans for the first time next spring. Expect t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, skirts, and some non-denim kinds of pants. And they'll be really fucking expensive: prices range from $200 and $1,500. [] Carine Roitfeld wonders sometimes if she's really all that interesting. "Sometimes I say, What is so interesting about me? I am just doing photo shoots. It's not something that extraordinary. I'm not a great artist, I'm not writing books, I'm not a painter, and people in the streets ask me for a picture or a note and I say why? But I think it's better to appreciate it, because maybe it's not forever." Irreverent, a book that looks back at some of Roitfeld's best shoots for Vogue Paris including with Carolyn Murphy and André J comes out this October. [, ] Thursday Friday, the makers of those canvas tote bags that are screen-printed with appropriated images of overpriced status bags, like Birkins and Chanel 2.55s, say they are confident they're on the right side of intellectual property law. (Even though a lawsuit from Hermès did force the company to agree not to sell the "Birkin" totes anymore.) Glamour seems skeptical of this notion, but didn't Richard Prince pretty much with Marlboro like 30 years ago? [] Paz de la Huerta will appear in some ads for Agent Provocateur. Falling drunk out of a black limousine while wearing expensive lingerie is totally the classy way to fall drunk out of a black limousine. []Polo Ralph Lauren is under fire for its Olympic uniforms which, like virtually all other Polo Ralph Lauren products, are made in China, not the U.S. Harry Reid even said, "they should take all the outfits, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over." Nanette Lepore, a designer who manufactures around 85% of her goods in the Garment District in New York City, says, "Why shouldn't we have pride, not only in the American athletes, but in the American manufacturers and laborers who are the backbone of our country? What's wrong? Why was that not a consideration?" Though the controversy could easily be written off as political demagoguery and jingoism anything that Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner agree on should be regarded with suspicion the issue is a sensitive one with national unemployment still high at 8.2%, and with the domestic textile and apparel manufacturing industry in a protracted decline. According to a study completed this year by the City of New York, the industry is to continue shrinking at a rate of around 2% per year. Earlier this year, the official tourism marketing agency of New York City found itself when the press discovered that its New York promotional t-shirts were made in countries like El Salvador. New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand put the economic impact of making the uniforms in the U.S. at $1 billion, and said in a statement, "When America's best athletes are representing our country on the world stage, we should be representing the best of American-made goods. The pride of our Olympic athletics goes hand in hand with the pride of American innovation and manufacturing." The U.S. Olympic Committee released a statement saying it was "proud of" its sponsorship deal with Ralph Lauren, which it called "an iconic American company." (That's different from a company that actually makes shit in America!) [, , ] Karen Elson dared refer on Twitter to comedian Daniel Tosh's telling an audience member that it "would be really funny" if she "got raped by, like, five guys." The supermodel Tweeted, "Daniel Tosh didn't get the memo that it [rape] never was and never will be funny." Immediately, Tosh's army of enraged fans started Tweeting threats at Elson (see the example given at left). Elson took down the Tweet, but added, "Until you have walked in a woman's shoes and have to walk in a world where being sexually harassed is common you may understand my point...The replies I received mostly from young men were vile and only proved my point that rape isn't funny. I also think Daniel Tosh wouldn't want his fans to react this way." [, @] In unrelated Karen Elson news: she answered Rookie readers' pleas for advice about boys, healing after cheating, tattoos, and how to deal with street harassment. She advises against, by the way, getting a Harry Potter tattoo right now, because, "I loved the movie Labyrinth when I was younger, and I'm glad I don't have the words 'The Babe With the Power' on my back today." [] Mila Kunis is in a second set of Dior ads. Mario Sorrenti is the photographer. [] Dior edited together this video depicting the three-day undertaking that was covering the walls of its Paris salon with fresh flowers. The backdrop to the couture show the first women's wear collection designed by new creative director Raf Simons was widely admired. [] Lush is getting into makeup. The cosmetics will be available first in Chicago, then nationwide, and you can use the shades interchangeably on cheeks, lips, and eyelids. [] Naomi Campbell is on a very sparkly cover of Schön magazine. []Victoria's Secret has quickly pulled an Asian-themed lingerie collection called "Go East" that traded in sexualized, generic pan-Asian ethnic stereotypes. The item people found most offensive? The $98 "Sexy Little Geisha" teddy. The teddy was part of the lingerie giant's "Sexy Little Things" product category making it sort of like the outfit or the get-up VS also offers, only with overtones of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The "Sexy Little Geisha" teddy boasted an obi-style belt and was accessorized with chopsticks for your hair and a paper fan. "Your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals," read the VS Web copy. "Sexy little fantasies, there's one for every sexy you." Jeff Yang at the Wall Street Journal interviewed one of the most insightful voices on the topic of fashion's construction of race, Mimi Nguyen from , about the "Go East" collection: Mimi Nguyen, associate professor of women's and Asian American studies at the University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign and cofounder with Minh-Ha Pham of the Threadbared fashion blog, flags the collection as a set of "stereotypical images that use racist transgression to create an exotic edge," pointing out that all of the models wearing the Go East lingerie are non-Asian. "Asians can't wear things like the ‘sexy little geisha' outfit without looking ridiculous," she says. "But it's a way for white women to borrow a racially exotic edge for a moment's play." Or, as, Phil Yu, the inimitable voice behind the AngryAsianMan.com blog, puts it even more simply: "Hooray for exotic orientalist bullshit." Following this uproar, Victoria's Secret promptly yanked the Sexy Little Geisha outfit, and then obscured access to the whole Go East collection, with publicists now saying that the line has "sold out," an assertion belied by the fact that the items have been purged from the website's very database: Searches for "Geisha" or "Go East" now come up as errors. () [, ] This is Prada's fall campaign video and it is amazing. [] Karlie Kloss shot an editorial for the new Numéro. Notable things: 1. Kloss is fairly nude throughout. 2. She appears to be wearing a pair of boots from Kanye West's collection. 3. They didn't Photoshop out her ribs. [] The late Hélène Rochas' art collection is to be sold at auction. Rochas and her husband, the late couturier Marcel Rochas, accumulated hundreds of works of art and antiques, including paintings by Kandinsky and Balthus, and four Warhol portraits of Mme. Rochas herself. At left, the Kandinsky and on the right, one of the Warhols. [] Hilary Rhoda is on the cover of Vogue Mexico's October issue. [] Free People got Garance Doré to shoot Lou Doillon for its latest catalog. []Anna Wintour did something a little unusual last week at the White House state dinner: she reached deep into her no doubt capacious closet, and fished out a Chanel haute couture gown she last publicly wore three years ago. To another high-profile event the Met Ball, which she organizes. That was far from the Vogue editor-in-chief's first incursion into the normal-person practice of outfit repeating. In fact, she's been doing it for years. Often she repeats an outfit several times in one season, but sometimes her repeats are a little more ambitious. Why, just last month, Wintour wore a five-year-old dress to an event for the Human Rights Campaign. Why would someone who receives a rumored annual clothing budget of $200,000 as part of her compensation package from Condé Nast bother outfit-repeating? Fucking Christ, people, she's Anna Wintour. She can wear whatever the hell she wants. If she never wants to take off her favorite Prada snakeskin coat ever, ever, ever again, she doesn't have to. Besides, I bet she really enjoys trolling us all.Anna Wintour is apparently campaigning to get Kate Middleton on the cover of American Vogue. Duchess Shinyhair-Upon-Tyne is basically the ladymag world's biggest get right about now, so the "news" here is that Wintour is essentially behaving like any editor with a scintilla of news judgment, ever. Only better-connected: Wintour's been allegedly putting the screws on Mario Testino, who frequently shoots for Vogue (Testino does about 10, sometimes 11, of Vogue's 12 annual covers) and is also close with the royal family. (He shot Williams and Kate's engagement photos, remember?) [] In other news of Middlemania, Alice Temperley, a designer who had Pippa at her show a week ago is still talking about how wonderful it was. More interestingly, Temperley says her 2-year-old son "was obsessed with smacking the models' bottoms" backstage. [] And in other Wintour news: "In an interview published today in Italian daily newspaper la Repubblica, Ms. Wintour calls the Italian prime minister a dictator and urges the world of fashion to rebel against him during fashion week. In the interview, Ms. Wintour also speaks about the gap between Italy's flourishing artisanal industry and the country's tarnished image because of its leadership." [] If you read that Rebecca Mead of Daphne Guinness and thought, "Hmmm...little contrived" well, here's a photo of Guinness in the 1980s, with her then-husband. And a photo of her in 2002. [] Did L'Oréal lighten Freida Pinto's skin in this ad? It wouldn't be . [] "Forget the ballet flat. Retailers claim that the hot trend in flat footwear for fall, from contemporary to designer, is the smoking slipper." Dolce Vita leopard-print smoking slipper at left; $159. Has anyone seen any evidence of this trend? Anyone? [] Women's Wear Daily thinks Tom Brady's "greasy long hair with a hint of a beehive suggests premature midlife crisis." [] Fashion figureheads, re-imagined as animals. []The top international modeling agency Women has copped to an oopsie: its most promising new face of the season, a girl by the name of Valerija Sestic who has already walked for 16 of the biggest designers at New York fashion week, is underage. In a season when all modeling agencies made a pledge not to put girls under 16 forward for runway work, Women lied. Sestic is 15. And yet here she is, pictured walking in runway shows for Prabal Gurung, DKNY, and Marc by Marc Jacobs. This news will be an interesting test of the industry's resolve for change, and of the limits of its capacity for self-regulation. A few things first: as long as there has been a modeling industry, it has been the case that most models begin their careers in their early teens. Carmen Dell'Orefice was "discovered" at age 13; in 1947, at 15, she made the cover of Vogue. Brooke Shields was 14 in 1980 when she was the face of Calvin Klein denim. Kate Moss, Patti Hansen, Niki Taylor, Kimora Lee Simmons, Bridget Hall, Gisele Bündchen, Karolina Kurkova, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington: these are just a few of the well-known models who started working at age 13, 14, or 15. More recently, Tanya Dziahileva, Chanel Iman, Karlie Kloss, Lindsey Wixson, Monika Jagaciak, Daphne Groeneveld, and Hailey Clauson have all found fame within the industry after starting young. (Of course, there are many more models who begin working in their early teens who never become well-known.) There are some problems that arise when you have a labor force that is overwhelmingly young, foreign, and female, especially one that is in the employ of an industry dominated by wealthy, established interests. These girls work for clients that report quarterly earnings in the hundreds of millions; there are board members at these companies who have served longer than these girls have been alive. New models know that they are just one face out of the hundreds represented by their agencies. Is it any wonder that the workforce is therefore vulnerable, at least potentially, to exploitation? And this is an industry where some scouts talk openly of "grooming" their new faces. I have long felt that the modeling industry's reliance on exceedingly young girls children, frankly breeds a certain lassitude. Put simply, it's system set up around the simple truth that girls especially girls who don't know any differently, because they've never had another job will put up with treatment that women won't. Model age isn't just an issue because a shoot for a magazine that wants to do topless or a runway changing area full of backstage photographers or any of the many, many places where someone working in fashion might encounter illegal drugs or a photo studio alone with Terry Richardson (or any of the men like him) is an inappropriate place for a young girl to be although those are inappropriate places for a child to work. Model age is also an issue because the way that the modeling industry profits, to a certain extent, off of the relative youth and inexperience of its workforce is a systemic problem, and one that can only be addressed by having models who are adults. As Ashley Mears recently in the New York Times, "Decades of critiquing representations of bodies in fashion have not changed what we see on the catwalk; reforming the conditions backstage just might. Empowering models as workers could potentially help them stand up against other aspects of the industry, like unhealthy expectations about dieting." So. Valerija Sestic. She's from the Swiss town of Thun. Her parents are Croatian. She apparently speaks five languages. She was born, her mother Mirela says, on October 21, 1995. She modeled as a child. Her mother also models; Mirela Sestic a Croatian-language news source in March that she was "Currently negotiating with several agencies" on Valerija's behalf, "and soon we start with the first engagement." Mirela said she has put her career "on ice" and planned to travel with her daughter. As Google translates her response when asked about her daughter's relative youth, Mirela says, "If you do not try, later might be too late. I am willing to sacrifice much to achieve, and her wishes. It's like in professional sports, if the parents at some point, in some years, do not stand behind their children and give them maximum support, it can be difficult to develop a top athlete. I would not like to later blame myself." This industry makes parents and girls believe that if they don't start at 14, they'll never get anywhere. But it's entirely within the power of agencies and clients to change that reality, should they want to. Here's Sestic some traditional Croatian crafts at an event in Germany, also back in March. And here's Sestic in one of her test shoots for Women. Clauson, whom Sestic strongly resembles (I initially mistook her for Clauson on the DKNY runway), a photographer who allegedly sold a similar shot of her to be printed on Urban Outfitters t-shirts without authorization. That would be a strange coincidence, except I'm pretty sure that these days they issue crotch-shot-on-a-motorbike photos to all newbie models at signing. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, a trade association that represents the interests of U.S. designers, has long recommended that its members not hire girls under 16 for runway work. This season, it asked its members to card models at castings, and extracted a pledge from all the top New York agencies not to put anyone under 16 forward for shows or highlight any underage girls in their show packages. Now that we are at the end of New York fashion week, it is plain that the honor system has had some failures. 14-year-old Ondria Hardin, who is currently a face of Prada, was in Ford's show package, and was booked by Marc Jacobs for his runway show. And after Women lied about her age, Sestic walked in sixteen shows, including some of the biggest of fashion week: BCBG by Max Azria, Rag & Bone, Doo.Ri, Prabal Gurung, DKNY, Y-3, Carolina Herrera, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Hervé Leger by Max Azria, Rodarte, Theyskens Theory, Oscar de la Renta, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Ports 1961, and Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti. (Despite her age, Ports 1961 styled Sestic in a dress with a translucent top. That kind of styling is not uncommon: three seasons ago, when Lindsey Wixson was 15, she that exposed her breasts. Wixson had recently given an interview in which she talked about how awkward it was to ask for a strapless bra on a W shoot where the magazine asked her to wear some sheer garments, although the magazine did oblige her request.) Sestic skipped London where a firm ban on models under 16 is in effect and went straight to Milan, where so far she's walked for D&G, Anteprima, Blumarine, and Moschino. And at least one of those clients is pissed. A spokesperson for Tory Burch said Sestic wouldn't have been booked had the company known her true age. "We are conscious not to use models under 16." "It is true. She is 15," says Dejan Markovic, the president of Women Management. "This is never going to happen again from our company. I take full responsibility." Forgive me if I remain unconvinced of Dejan Markovic's sincerity on this score; the new face he lied about to give a start just became a breakout star. Clearly, the honor system isn't keeping children off the runways, and even if it were effective to just ask agencies to pinkie-swear their girls are at least 16 fashion week is just two weeks out of the year. There's a whole lot of modeling that goes on the rest of the time. What's needed is for the modeling industry to stop regarding 12-year-old girls as a natural resource. Ondria Hardin, who was 13 when she shot her Prada campaign with Steven Meisel, had already worked extensively in Asia, where clients and agencies are even more prepared to look the other way on age than they are in the West. What would be so wrong with agencies taking a pledge not to sign any model for the adult market until she turns 16? And what if clients were to test that by ID'ing the models they hire not just for runway jobs, but for all gigs? What if 16 were a firm starting age for all modeling work? What if the media started taking notice of, and reporting on, models' ages? If instead of models starting at 13-14, and being allowed onto the runway at 16, models simply started their careers at 16? It sounds like a small change, but the longer these girls have to devote to their educations, to grow their support networks of family and friends, and to develop in maturity and life skills before embarking on a career that can pose distinct challenges to all of the above and more, the better. [WSJ]Some large retailers believe we may be glimpsing the end of the "big box" store. RIP, big box store, 1980s-2010s: now the we can all find limitless selection online, the point of having a poorly organized 200,000 square foot warehouse of a shop populated by underpaid, overworked, constitutionally unhelpful polo-shirted drones is rather moot, and with more people living in urban centers (where real estate is more expensive), a denser pattern of development make more sense. J.C. Penney just opened a smaller store in Daly City, California, and is rolling out more stores in the 50,000-60,000 square foot range. Wal-Mart has started opening 15,000 square foot Wal-Mart Express stores, and Target has its smaller CityTargets. Sears and Best Buy are among the chains that are apparently considering subleasing parts of their existing enormous stores in order to reduce their own area. Most of these "smaller" stores are still comparatively quite large, but they're not three-football-fields, pallets-to-the-ceiling, hyperventilation-in-aisle-117b large. And, according to Women's Wear Daily and the retail analysts it interviewed for this piece, there's "a new kind of consumer animal" running rampant in the city: WOOFs, or well-off old folks. "They are empty nesters in their 50s and beyond who have moved out of the suburbs and taken to the bright lights of the city for their twilight years." [] Liv Tyler is in a Givenchy makeup ad. [] Candice Swanepoel who's been known more for her Victoria's Secret contract than her high-fashion work as of late booked the Tom Ford fall campaign. Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott shot it. [] Crystal Renn shows off vintage-inspired fashions in this Mark Seliger spread from the new Vogue Spain. [] This photo of Edita Vilkeviciute is included in a Mario Testino show currently open in Rome. [] Kinga Rajzak is almost unrecognizable, in a beautiful way, in this editorial from Björk's guest-edited issue of Dazed & Confused. [] Kate Spade and L.A. denim brand Current/Elliott are collaborating on a line of handbags. They will retail for $245-$1295. [] M.I.A.'s eldest sister is a jewelry designer whose latest collection is intended to resemble gunshot wounds, machete slashes, and machine-gun spray. The pieces are all done in gold and precious stones. [] Two words: Zombie bikinis. []When you think "Giorgio Armani," do you think high contrast black and white? Do you think giant flower corsages? Do you think 1920s cloches and boaters? No? Well that's what he presented in Milan yesterday as part of his spring 2012 collection. Theere was an absence of color, but the clothes were super crisp, very fresh and totally sharp.If there was one thing that stood out on the Golden Globes red carpet well, one thing besides Helena Bonham Carter's purposefully mismatched shoes it was the number of actors who selected dresses to fulfill their contractual obligations.And they often didn't look great doing it. Entertainment industry figures with endorsement deals are nothing new but more and more these days, luxury brands are signing celebrities to exclusive, multi-year contracts that cover far more than the usual fragrance deal. Where once a famous lady or dude might have just been the seasonal face of an advertising campaign, now brands are locking in their services for all manner of high-profile public appearances for the duration of the contract. Magazine covers and awards shows are publicity opportunities not to be missed, and luxury companies want as much of that sweet lucre on lockdown as they can get. Which is why Armani paid Megan Fox to become a face of the brand in 2009; Fox has worn practically nothing but Armani since. Ditto January Jones, with Versace. Ditto Marion Cotillard, with Dior. Nicole Kidman wore Chanel pretty much exclusively during her as the house's spokesmodel. Anne Hathaway wears Armani in public and attends Armani fashion shows with such regularity that she might as well be on the payroll. And any starlet who turns up on a red carpet in Marchesa (as Olivia Wilde did last night and Kate Hudson did last year) is automatically suspect. Harvey Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, co-runs the label. And Weinstein is an industry figure not to be trifled with. What this means in practice is that some of the more extraordinary dresses the couture outliers, bound to polarize the peanut gallery don't get worn. Brands and stars are united under the goal of never looking bad, but a red carpet without risk is a boring affair indeed. Where was the Dior couture? Why wasn't anyone willing to try and match the gorgeousness of, say, Cate Blanchett's periwinkle blue Jean-Paul Gaultier gown ? This selection bias that favors the neutral over the bright, the plain over the dramatic, the pretty over the beautiful is often blamed on gossip bloggers in particular and the level of discourse on teh internets in general, but I think it's more likely the natural consequence of overriding commercial considerations.Former First Lady Barbara Bush made an appearance on Fox News yesterday, and when she was asked about what she thought about the Mother Of Five Ann Romney Has Not Worked A Day In Her Life kerfluffle, she had some game-changing knowledge bombs to drop. In a three sentence response to Megyn Kelly's question on the matter, Babs said it was good of CNN pundit Hilary Rosen to apologize for her Romney remarks, but that ultimately, this crap doesn't really matter. She said, "Forget it. Women who stay at home are wonderful. Women who go to work are wonderful. Whatever." Whatever indeed, Madam. Whatever indeed. Full disclosure: Even though she is half responsible for the production of my generation's least favorite President, I love Barbara Bush. That old broad is ice cold, and so over everything that she couldn't find a fuck to give if you told her where to look. She's like a caricature of a rich lady inside a Chanel suit inside a cocoon of protective air that vibrates with powerful yet-to-be deployed shame. She's a force of WASP-iness. I bet it would take her about a minute to make Ann Coulter cry. []Betsey Johnson has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Johnson's company was given a from bankruptcy in 2010 by Steve Madden, the shoe maker and convicted felon, after it defaulted on a nearly $50 million loan. Madden's company paid the debt, taking as collateral all of Betsey Johnson's intellectual property, and began the process of restructuring the company and pumping out more licensed goods but the restructuring didn't really take, and retail sales are down by more than 20% since 2007. As a result of the bankruptcy filing, about 350 people will lose their jobs, and the majority of the chain's 63 stores will be shuttered. Johnson, who got her start as a costume designer on Andy Warhol's films (and who was once to John Cale), says that the company will reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy, she will remain the creative director, and that she will have a runway show in September. [, ] Linda Evangelista stars in a dancing-themed cover editorial in the new Vogue Italia. The magazine uploaded to preview GIFs to its Web site. [] Elle has a history of the two-piece women's swimsuit up on its site, including Frenchmen Jacques Heim's 1946 "Atome" swimsuit and Louis Réard's 1947 "Bikini." The 1944 of four Mexican women bathing in a stream, one of whom is wearing something that looks very much like a two-piece swimsuit, which was unearthed last year by fashion history blog Of Another Fashion is not included; in fact, all of the bikini-wearing women in Elle's history appear to be white. [, ] This photo of two models posing as a gay couple in 1942 is part of a new Ray-Ban campaign intended to glorify "rebels" throughout history. [] Yeah, maybe it's not such a good idea to call one colorway of your stupid manicure-with-lumps-in-it nail polish set "Ghetto Fabulous." That's shading into "Juarez" territory. []Tom Scocca wrote a glowing review of Bill Cunningham New York, the documentary about New York Times street style photographer, which was just released in the U.S.: "Cunningham's work falls in the territory where fashion becomes clothing, or vice versa. The fashion industry itself prefers to obfuscate how this works, how the decisions of designers, prepared seasons in advance, correspond somehow to the collective desires of the public to choose put on a particular style in the moment. Cunningham blows away the smoke and mist, asking only, what do I see people wearing now?...The theory of Bill Cunningham is democratic and objective; the practice is autocratic and subjective. That is: he's a journalist, a real one. He imposes his sensibility on the world with severe neutrality." [] The film is outstanding. Here is a clip to tide you over until you go see it. [] James Franco gets a cover, a multi-page editorial spread, and 5,000 words devoted to his various excellences in the new issue of GQ Style, GQ UK's semiannual fashion supplement. [] Jean Baptiste Mondino shot Mia Wasikowska one of the Kids who is All Right in a white face mask for the cover of W. [] Karl Lagerfeld did some lovely fashion illustrations for a new edition of Justine Picardie's biography of Coco Chanel. []Was there a dress code? Or do stars just hear "CHANEL Tribeca Film Festival Artists Dinner" and assume through long practice that it's an occasion for black and white?Oh, the nauseating of the celebrity spokesmodel: "It's more than just a purse. It's a quilted case full of lipstick, , and the dreams and possibilities that I have always felt every time I see that beautiful 'CC.'"Blake Lively who was only just to us about how Chanel didn't just make a nice handbag, "It's a quilted case full of lipstick, love letters, and the dreams and possibilities that I have always felt every time I see that beautiful 'CC'" has defected to a rival luxury brand. She's now going to be a face of a Gucci perfume. Presumably it smells like money. [] MAC just added 65 new nail polish colors. Look at them all. Purrrrrrrty. [] Prada is releasing some t-shirts with artist Vahram Muratyan. [] Candice Swanepoel stars in the fall Versace Jeans campaign. []Bobby Brown seems to have some sort of chip inside him that is programmed to make him cause trouble at regular intervals. Today Brown, who obviously is no stranger to substance abuse, was arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles. Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, this shit is getting old. Apparently he was driving in Reseda, California at around noon when he was pulled over for talking on his phone. He was then arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and was taken to the Van Nuys jail. It looks like he was drunk, and, according to TMZ, "his people" are bailing him out. This will surely not be the last we hear about this incident. Brown, of course, is no stranger to tangling with the law, and, in fact, he has been convicted of a DUI once before, in 1996. So he's probably got this whole thing down to a science. Ugh. [] For a minute there, it looked like Taylor Swift and Dianna Agron were going to be sworn enemies waging an epic battle for the heart of Tim Tebow. But they've outfoxed us and showed that, in fact, they are friends. The two went to see Hunger Games together this weekend, and, at least from the photo that got , there's nary a hint of hatred between them. What's that old saying? "Hoes before Tebows" or something like that? [] There's further drama today surrounding Whitney Houston's death. A person with the amazing name Raffles van Exel, a "confidant" of Whitney's, told Dutch newspaper The Telegraph that he was the one who cleaned out her hotel room after she died because, "Someone had to do it." OK, maybe, but if that's true, then why tell a Dutch newspaper about it and not one of the 1,000 U.S. tabloids that probably would have paid you handsomely for that info? Oh, right, because he's the incredibly who sold the photo of Whitney in the casket to the National Enquirer and who also sold a fake photo of "Whitney's body" being wheeled out of the hotel to TMZ. God, who can you even trust in this world anymore if you can't trust a celebrity hanger-on named Raffles van Exel? [] If Twitter is good for anything, it's for spreading pictures of celebrities without their makeup on. The most recent instance is Lady Gaga tweeting out of herself sans makeup, and while she looks great, she doesn't look much like the Lady Gaga we're used to. She has more of a Stefani Germanotta vibe about her, which is actually quite refreshing. [] She may be approaching her 800th trimester of pregnancy, but Jessica Simpson was still game to be a bridesmaid in her friend's wedding. She and sister Ashlee Simpson both donned flowered gowns and walked down the aisle. The bride must have been concerned that Jessica would go into labor during the "I do" moment, but that'd probably mean her wedding photos would instantly be worth a fortune, which isn't a bad trade for having your party rained on by a gush of amniotic fluid. [] Carine Roitfeld has this to say about makeup: "I don't like it when makeup looks very try-too-hard. I like it when makeup looks like you have more important things to do than to look at yourself. Like you have other things to do than your makeup!" Roitfeld's collection for M.A.C. just launched, but she says her number-one piece of beauty advice is simple: wear sunscreen. [] Roitfeld also says that her apartment is messy. Really messy: "One time, a burglar came to my apartment, so we called the police. My son was here, so I think they left before they tried to steal something. So the police come to the apartment and they say, 'Oh my god, did they steal everything?' I was like, 'No, it was like that!'" [] Chanel released this behind-the-scenes shot from Brad Pitt's Chanel No. 5 commercial shoot. The actor was reportedly paid $7 million for his services, and the ad apparently "features Pitt speaking in a way that the viewer assumes he's speaking to a woman and then it's revealed that the addressee is actually the scent." Clever twist, Chanel. Never would have seen that one coming. [] Jennifer Lawrence is on the new cover of British Vogue. [] This is a sketch of Anne Hathaway's Valentino wedding dress released by the brand. It was crafted in ivory silk point d'esprit tulle. [] Here are a handful of behind-the-scenes shots (all clothed) from the set of the 2013 Pirelli calendar shoot. Karlie Kloss and Hanaa Abdesslem are among the cast. The photographer is Steve McCurry, the photojournalist best known for his "Afghan Girl" portrait of Sharbat Gula. The models were reportedly cast for their ties to non-profit and humanitarian work. [] Refinery29 collaborated with DKNY on a line of bags. There's one for every city in which there's an edition of the site, and they cost $195-$395. [] The Cut unlocked the secret of Ann Romney's wardrobe, and that secret is a New York-based designer named Alfred Fiandaca. Fiandaca founded his label in 1960 and is responsible for some of the would-be FLOTUS's most remarked-upon outfits including the pink suit she wore on the night of the first presidential debate and that black perforated-leather biker suit thing that was so racy it had the Mormon fashion community whether she was wearing her temple garments or not. Fiandaca, through a spokesperson, described himself as apolitical. "Everyone in the atelier just loves the Romney family," his P.R. said. "Mrs. Romney is just lovely." []In order to view comments on jezebel.com you need to enable JavaScript. If you are using Firefox and NoScript addon, please mark jezebel.com as trusted.Today in unsolicited uterus updates: Carla Bruni went out in public wearing sweat pants, and now there's gossip that she's pregnant. Bruni, who tends to favor luxury labels like Christian Dior, has been dressing more casually lately maybe because she and Nicolas Sarkozy have an eight-month-old in the house? But French tabloid mag Closer says Bruni is definitely pregnant, and that her change in clothing style and "extra weight" are evidence: For several weeks people have been asking why she has not been able to lose the extra weight gained with her last pregnancy, to return to that allure that Bruni has always possessed. Everyone was a little dumbfounded by her baggy, shapeless clothes, and her newfound preference for appearing in public in sweatpants. But we can now reveal that Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is pregnant again...And with her stomach looking ever more round, she can no longer hide it. She clearly wants to nurture this pregnancy with the utmost care, because, like the last one, it is later in life so all the riskier. She has therefore been advised to take as much rest as possible. We wondered what the Sarkozys would do with themselves after leaving office, and now we know play happy families! If she is pregnant, Bruni likely won't be making any official announcements anytime soon. With her baby daughter Giulia, she didn't comment on anything related to the pregnancy up to and including the birth. People claiming to be members of Bruni's "entourage" have already told Gala and Voici that the rumor is false. "Carla Bruni will not deny it officially, but I can tell you she is not pregnant," says one "friend." "She's breastfeeding her daughter, and she's starting to lose the weight. To write that she is pregnant? No." According to our sources, not only is the former First Lady not pregnant with her third child, she is furious and humiliated by the idea that such a rumor would take hold because of her difficulty in getting back into her pre-baby shape immediately. Unlike Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey, Miranda Kerr and Beyoncé, who lost their kilos just weeks after giving birth, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy like many women is taking (a little) more time. But no, she is not pregnant. [, , ] Supermodel Elle MacPherson will not be returning as the host of NBC's little-watched reality show Fashion Star when it comes back for a second season. Also leaving the show is sponsor H&M, one of the retailers where the season 1 contestants sold their clothes. Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and Nicole Richie are remaining as judges. [] Lindsey Wixson, Kati Nescher, and new face Cora Emmanuel scored this fall's Chanel campaign. Unfortunately, it's really ugly. [] Salvatore Ferragamo's fall ads star Kate Moss and Karmen Pedaru. [] Natalia Vodianova is on the cover of Jalouse. [] Awww. Lourdes Ciccone Leon borrowed one of her mother's Jean Paul Gaultier corsets, put it on, and took a photo for Twitter. []Last night, Cartier previewed its "New York City in the '70s" exhibition and held an after party attended by European princesses and America's royal couple, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. For an event thrown by the infamous jewelers, there wasn't much bling.The unregulated feline fashion model industry is booming, like a prospectin' town in the Ol' West or a shore town's lone custard stand over Fourth of July weekend. Cats owe their new popularity among fashion photographers largely to their conspicuous mix of fuzziness and haughtiness, and also to the fact that they dominate the internet and all magazines nowadays want to be because the internet is where all the super-cool people hang out, like you and me (but not any of these other dweebs, *elbow in the ribs, snicker snicker*). Amy Odell over at Buzzfeed the rise of fashion cats, which have been appearing more often in ads ever since Lanvin's fall 2009 campaign. Since that fateful season, cats have infiltrated Miuccia Prada, Chanel, Givenchy and even magazine editorials (as writers, I would assume, because cats seem like they'd make good writers). Even Karl Lagerfeld's cat Choupette who has more employees than you have had or ever will have acquaintances is starting to make her presence felt on the fashion scene, securing representation from IMG and a recent photo shoot with model Laetitia Casta. The problem, though, with the cat trend is that cats, according to Karen Hoeverman, cat whisperer, are really hard to train, probably as hard as they are to herd or teach how to samba on only their hind legs (it can be done). Even with regular training sessions, some cats can still be intransigent assholes and straight-up refuse to cooperate with anyone else's schedule. They earn comparatively less than human models ($20,000 a year is a really high cat model salary), and, surprise, the fashion industry is extremely choosy about which cats are most photogenic. If you think "smashed-in face" cats would be the most popular at fashion shoots because they are the most popular at fashion shows, it just proves how little you know about fashion smash-face cats look too angry to help sell designer clothes, so designers prefer to use long-nose cats, ocelot-looking cats. If you have a cat and you're thinking, "Hey, my cat is adorable and well-behaved enough not to kick poop out of the litterbox I should put it in Vogue or something, the better to supplement my own income," two things: congratulations on being a responsible pet owner, and nobody wants your ugly cat to be in their ad for handbags. Career cats dominate the fashion scene (they have their own agents and everything), and if those cats ever saw an normie cat try to worm its way onto a fashion shoot, they'd probably snark on its belly pouch, because cats can be really shallow and mean. [Buzzfeed]The Veuve Clicquot held its Second Annual Polo Classic in Los Angeles on Sunday, which begs the question: What exactly is a Polo Classic? Is it like the more elitist, West Coast version of the Kentucky Derby? Are you supposed to wear breezy lawn dresses and hats? We're going to assume not, seeing as most of the attendees wore unimpressive clothes and carried Chanel purses that, unfortunately, looked like plastic under the October sun.In order to view comments on jezebel.com you need to enable JavaScript. If you are using Firefox and NoScript addon, please mark jezebel.com as trusted.Apparently, there have been "internal grumblings" at Chanel's U.S. division over the brand's choice to hire Blake Lively as a face. Certain people say that Lively's is an "off-brand look" "the bitchy fashion industry's clinical way of saying that Lively's contemporary American beauty does not dovetail with Chanel USA's efforts to sell its fashions as the height of European sophistication," explains the Daily News. When Lively was named the new star of the brand's ads, she memorably told the press that Chanel handbags are special because they're "full of dreams." [] After studying Lara Stone's underwear very closely, a CBS affiliate is willing to advance the theory that this billboard has a hidden message that reads "F U c K." Once you see it, you can't un-see it. [] Hey there, moneybags! Were you standing in your bathroom this morning, staring at the priceless antique jar you fill with cotton balls, thinking to yourself, "These little wads of cotton just aren't soft enough for my fine face. If only there was something more luxurious I could invest in"? Well, it's your lucky day! Chanel has just the solution for you: Le Coton, "an exquisitely soft tri-layer pad developed in Japan." It may look like a regular cotton pad embossed with the Chanel logo, but it is actually so much more: It's outer lining, made from delicate, handpicked Egyptian cotton, and its inner filling, comprised of lightly entwined, elastic Australian fibers. Combined, this ultra-absorbent, lint-free composition increases the effectiveness of CHANEL Cleansers and Toners, treating even the most sensitive skin to unparalleled gentleness. For a mere twenty American dollars, you can own 100 of these "generously sized" Le Coton pads. For those of you who are too rich to be bothered with math, that breaks down to roughly 20 cents per pad. For reference, you can buy 80 lowbrow for roughly two dollars, or 2.5 cents per pad. Of course there is simply no luxury in that, and the truth is you will pay whatever you have to in order to have the Chanel Le Coton experience. You could never deny yourself the smooth caresses of Egyptian cotton floating majestically over your flawless face or the joy of watching the precious dirt and leftover foundation from your face build up in the tiny corners of the timeless Chanel logo. [Via ] We're not entirely sure what this...is...but it looks like Karl had a fever dream after watching Mannequin (or maybe after watching the horror vehicle Dead Silence), woke up, and thought, "What a tremendous concept for zee new video!"The Fashion Test Dummies Lagerfeld cast for this little flight of fancy are , , and Bapstiste Giabiconi. Giabiconi whom you may remember from his recent, and completely mind-blowing, Western-themed debut music video, actually looks remarkably convincing as a plaster mannequin. Dvorakova keeps twitching, which is irritating. What this has to do with fashion, we don't know, but we can't stop watching. Fashin Earlier: Charlize Theron would rather not talk about John Galliano and the racist and anti-Semitic ("I love Hitler, you'd all be fucking dead," &c) that got him fired from Dior, where Theron remains a well-paid spokesmodel. "I think that he's going through a really difficult time right now, and I'm sure that he wants some privacy. He's got an important journey to go through right now. But I wish him nothing but well." Fellow Dior face Natalie Portman, you will recall, was in her condemnation of Galliano's statements. [] Theron says she has yet to get used to seeing her face on bus shelters, magazines, and billboards. "How is that normal? It's always very incredibly bizarre. It's like an out of body experience in many ways. I'm always so happy with the campaigns that I do with them… I'm very proud of it, but it's very awkward to kind of look at yourself like that. Very bizarre." [] Another of Kate Winslet's ads for St. John has dropped. [] Carmen Dell'Orefice will receive an honorary doctorate from the London College of Fashion this summer. [] We had no idea "Australian" model Catherine McNeil was the bearer of a New Zealand passport. That makes exactly one thing we have in common. Also, she cut her hair, as you can see. [] Marc Jacobs is launching a new fragrance. It's called Oh, Lola, and the campaign stars Dakota Fanning. [] Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest just nabbed his first magazine cover. He shot for Fashion magazine, alongside Polish model and Calvin Klein face Monika "Jac" Jagaciak. His interstitial inverted-commas nickname is the more bad-ass of the two. [] Duran Duran who really pleasantly surprised us when we saw them live at a Paper party a while back, really, pleasantly, surprised are filming a music video that stars Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, and Helena Christensen, as well as Yasmin Le Bon (of course). Jonas Ackerlund, of "Paparazzi" fame, directs, and the event doubles as a cover shoot for British Harper's Bazaar. Here's a backstage TwitPic of Cindy Crawford; this sounds promising. []Christina Hendricks has swimsuit season ish. She says, "It's really hard to find a bathing suit if you have breasts. You either get smooshed down or there's no support." The actress continues, "My husband and I have sketched out designs." Christina? We guarantee that if you paid someone to turn those sketches into samples, and showed those samples to stores, PEOPLE WOULD BUY THEM. Swimsuit designers generally have no clue what to do about a lady's funbags. [] Kelly Osbourne shot another season's worth of ads for Madonna's Macy's line, Material Girl. [] Here's Naomi Campbell, snarling away in the fall Givenchy campaign. [] YSL's fall campaign features Raquel Zimmerman posing in front of a full-length plate glass window, 31 floors up in a Manhattan skyscraper. [] Two more pictures from Hailee Steinfeld's Miu Miu campaign have been released. We continue to really enjoy the fact that this was not shot in another bloody studio! Great outdoors FTW. [] The ads were shot near Miami. [] Lily Donaldson graces the cover of August Vogue Japan Beauty. [] Soon-to-be divorcée Natalia Vodianova designed a lingerie collection for Etam, of which she is a face. [] This tiny minaudière, at $150 retail, is the cheapest bag from Nicole Richie's forthcoming accessories collection. The most expensive is a $625 "taupe and ivory pony burnout hobo." [] Refinery29's slideshow of well-dressed women in their 70s is absolutely amazing and wonderful. "A good pair of sunglasses is better than a facelift. It hides the ravages of time and lets you spy on people," says one. "To age is a privilege," says another. [] Today in Lagerfeldiana: Chanel quilted flat-screen televisions handbags. [@]A new biography of Coco Chanel sheds more light on her wartime activities, and the house of Chanel seems to be bracing itself for backlash. What was ol' Gabrielle up to during World War II? Palling around with Nazis at the Ritz, basically but the house of Chanel is denying that its founder and namesake spied for the German regime, and that she was actually anti-Semitic. Coco Chanel had an affair with Hans Gunther von Dincklage, a Nazi military intelligence officer and immediate subordinate of Joseph Goebbels, during World War II, and was close with Walter Schellenberg, the Nazi head of foreign intelligence; she also sought to wrest control of the Chanel company from her Jewish business partners, the Wertheimers, under the Nazi anti-Jewish ownership laws. (She failed because the Wertheimers had secretly transferred ownership of the company to a Christian prior to the Nazi invasion of France.) Coco Chanel lived in Switzerland for nine years after the war's end, in part to avoid prosecution as a collaborator; although her ties to various Nazi figures have long been well-known, the author of Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War has added significant original research to our understanding of that period of her life. The book even makes the claim that Coco Chanel herself was a Nazi spy. Author Hal Vaughan , "I was looking for something else and I come across this document saying 'Chanel is a Nazi agent, her number is blah, blah, blah and her pseudonym is Westminster.' I look at this again and I say, 'What the hell is this?' I couldn't believe my eyes! Then I really started hunting through all of the archives, in the United States, in London, in Berlin and in Rome and I come across not one, but 20, 30, 40 absolutely solid archival materials on Chanel and her lover, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who was a professional Abwehr spy." Modern-day Chanel's response? "She would hardly have formed a relationship with the family of the owners or counted Jewish people among her close friends and professional partners such as the Rothschild family, the photographer Irving Penn or the well-known French writer Joseph Kessel had these really been her views." So, basically, she had Jewish friends. Chanel also denies that Coco Chanel spied for the Nazi regime, calls the timing of her relationship with Dincklage "unfortunate" but points out that his mother was English (as though that mattered), and asserts that she approached Winston Churchill about "acting as an intermediary between the Allies and the Germans for a peace settlement known as Operation Modelhut." That makes Operation Modelhut sound pretty benign, but the truth is a lot more complicated; the Times of London Operation Modelhut a "Nazi plot" that was to use Coco Chanel as "bait." [] The incredible photographer Deborah Turbeville is working on some kind of project with Donna Karan, to be unveiled during London Fashion Week. [] French actress Léa Seydoux, who plays Gabrielle the antiques dealer in Midnight in Paris, was once an American Apparel model. Link NSFW, because American Apparel, duh. [] Current Playboy cover model Daisy Lowe looks really cute in these promotional shots for her mother Pearl's latest (Stevie Nicks-inspired!) collection for Peacocks. [] Steven Meisel shot plus-size model Candice Huffine for the September issue of W. Huffine got two shots in an editorial that also featured Karen Elson, Carolyn Murphy, and Raquel Zimmerman. Link NSFW. [] Heidi Klum made the September cover of Harper's Bazaar's Russian edition. [] Esperanza Spalding is on the cover of the next issue of T. [] There are pictures of Anna Dello Russo's collection for Macy's INC brand. Unfortunately, there are no photos of the AMAZING SUNGLASSES that the models were wearing at the preview last night, so you'll have to take our word for their existence (and amazingness). [] Giambattista Valli has signed on to produce a collection for Macy's, too. [] In case you are or a man of your acquaintance is in need of a pair of pleated-front, elasticized-cuff khaki pants, Dockers is rolling out a series of designer collaborations over the coming season, including pieces from T by Alexander Wang, Michael Bastian, and Patrik Ervell. [] There's an article in this week's Times Style section on the excellent blog , which writer Jon Caramanica calls "now one of the foremost online repositories of black style." [] Thakoon is selling this lightweight wool plaid scarf for $250, and 100% of the proceeds will go to aid for the millions of people affected by Somalia's famine. The country is currently experiencing its worst drought in 50 years. []Much has been taken from the French over the years, and now that includes their ability to be all snooty about staying thin. (who's on a roll this week) says: You almost have to feel bad for the French here. First they lost their standing as the preeminent power in the world to a bunch of people who think that British food is "good." Then they lost their empire to a war with a bunch of people who think that lederhosen are fashionable. Then, mon dieu, they had to start taking orders in world affairs from a bunch of people who they not only saved from the British earlier, but then later turned around and became bestest buddies with those Limey assholes. But they soldiered on, those industrious little frogs. A croisant in one hand, and a cigarette in the other, they let their disdain for the world and iron grip over Chanel drive them forward. Sure, their cars barely have a market in France itself, and nobody really knows what their economy exists for today, but goddammit, they soldiered on knowing that they were the skinniest and prettiest. And the food! They could eat their cheese and drink their wine and laugh at those uncultured Americains and eedeous English pigdogs. And now even that is gone. "Ye sons of France, awake to apnea, Hark, hark! what McGriddles bid you rise!" Submit nominations to the . Just send the outstanding comment's URL and tag your nomination . (Replying to a comment with "" does not work.)  Use to report comments that you feel the editors/mods should be aware of. Try not to respond to/approve/promote trollish comments in the threads instead, just post the comment on the page, the same way you'd post a comment on or on the page, and the editors/mods will take care of it. For meetups, use the tag page!The inimitable Pedro Almodovar was honored last night at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Instead of a red carpet, there was a wall of roses. The clothes were almost as lovely. But, as always, there were a few exceptions and near-misses.With everything from birth control to equal pay under assault, it's never been more important that we, as women, tackle the issues that really matter to women today. Namely: are female politics reporters looking extra skanky nowadays, or what? How can we stop them before they rub their barely-hidden vaginas all over the news and make it smell all musky? Fishbowl DC takes on the hard issues and more with their in-depth piece, entitled (seriously) . Basically, the problem is this and they swear, honey, that they're not trying to put you down in any way and they're only saying this because they care about you so much and are just trying to be a good friend and, like, they want other people to see how amazing you are young, female reporters like The Times' and The Hill's are parading around on the internet in dresses that show off their shoulders and are putting pictures on Twitter wherein they look kind of pretty and, well, Fishbowl didn't say this, but other people have been saying this, it makes them look like, well, a piping hot pot of sex. And maybe if female reporters want people to respect them and stuff, they should stop looking like such sluts. Concerned, first and foremost, and not in a judgmental way at all, with the well being of these weapons-grade whores and their slutcareers, Fishbowl asked a marketing expert about what sort of damage their glistening, heaving breasts are doing to their images as serious reporters. The marketing expert said that the pictures used on Twitter weren't damaging per se, but that it was important for young reporters to remember that their user picture on social networking sites should reflect their "brand." (Which is why I'm totally not wearing pants in my Twitter picture.) So, according to the expert, their pictures weren't slutty at all. Undaunted by the fact that the theory that maybe other people might think these women were looking a little round in the heel (if you get my geriatric drift) was debunked by the marketing expert, Fishbowl presented, for its readers, examples of just how unprofessional and strippery young female reporters have gotten. Why aren't they dressed like Madeleine Albright? Where are the Chanel jackets and prim poses? Did none of these women debut at a respectable deb ball?! Not even Gawker's resident skank Maureen O'Connor was immune to the . She tweeted a sarcastic comment at FishbowlDC's account after they posted the story only to have whoever is running their feed basically call her another perfect example of the kind of harlot that's ruining the media. I'm not sure how it ended but now I think they have to fight to the death in a mudpit or something. And all over women who dare write while not looking hideous. So let this be a warning to you, ladies: If you're going to write things and expect people to listen to you, you better do it from inside a paper bag or turtleneck. Or else no one will take you seriously. No offense. [FishbowlDC] Image via Carlo Depino/ShutterstockThis is kind of a DUH but so great to see it confirmed: Multiethnic beauty consumers are on the rise. WWD reports that there are "a growing number of women in the U.S. who associate themselves with multiple ethnic backgrounds, thus making it difficult for them to find brands that speak to them - or work for them - completely." Global beauty industry analyst Karen Grant says: The world today is not a black-and-white one. [It is critical to] allow for women to embrace brands without thinking they are making an ethnic choice… Brands that have done well have recognized the potential in their portfolio. The ethnic complexion in the U.S. is constantly changing. Grant names some of the fastest-growing demographics in the U.S. as Indians, Pakistanis, Middle Easterners, Brazilians and Hispanics, both as residents and visiting beauty buyers alike, and says the new multiethnic consumer is typically under age 45, beauty-oriented and underserved when it comes to her beauty needs. Basically, beauty companies who don't recognize and tailor and market toward these customers will get left behind. [, sub req'd] Victoria Beckham is doing a Chanel Haute Couture shoot right now; she's been pix from the iconic staircase in the Paris Salon and rumor has it Karl Lagerfeld will be photographing Posh Spice for French Elle. [] By the by, Vicky Becks is exited about the Spice Girls reunion for the Olympics closing ceremony. I'm so respectful of my past and I love the other girls. We have some fantastic fans," she told RTE. "Who knows, maybe some day we'll do something else with the Spice Girls. I would love nothing more. I don't know about a comeback tour but I loved being back with the girls. There was a lot of fun, we did so much together and we'll see. If they're up for something then I certainly am. We are so proud to be English and we are very excited about the Olympics." [] Here's the first image made public from Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion book. Death. Life. Drama! [] And that's not all: Carine Roitfeld will be using animated gifs! [] Ever heard of C Magazine? Well you have now, because they shot Katie Holmes for the September cover. Nicely timed. [] Mario Lopez has a line of underwear (of course), and to promote the MaLo brand, he posed painted gold. Behold Skivvicus, god of boxer briefs! [, ] Have you seen Spain's Olympic uniform? Check out Spain's Olympic uniform. It looks like someone barfed on a McDonald's uniform. It looks like the pattern behind your eyelids when you're having a bad acid trip. It looks like stained glass in a cathedral in Hell. Quoth Erin: "I'd say someone should get fired over it, but Spain already has 18% unemployment." This is just the shirt, there's a hat and a hideous matching backpack at the link. []The cover of January Cosmo is as sexed-up as ever on newsstands at least. But we got a copy of the version the mag sends to advertisers, and it's significantly more chaste. What's going on here?Note the miraculous disappearance of "60 Sex Tips" and "Orgasm Virgins" suddenly, Cosmo's appropriate for your grandma! Or your grandma's favorite retailer a tipster suggests that the cleaned-up cover is meant to be "more appropriate for conservative [advertising] clients, which the ad sales team is hoping to fool." If so, they're not doing a very good job the table of contents in the ad-friendly version still lists both the sex tips and the orgasm piece as cover stories. A spokesperson for Cosmo offered this terse comment in response to our queries: "It is common for magazines to have different versions of the cover." We decided to see if this was indeed common at other publications. Caroline Nuckolls at Teen Vogue told us the magazine usually has just one version of the cover but of course, Teen Vogue has a cleaner image to start out with, and less to hide. So we called Maxim, known for its lad-mag raunch a source there told us they too produce just one cover, which goes out to newsstands, subscribers, and advertisers alike. This isn't to say that no magazine does what Cosmo's done, but it's not an industry-wide standard. Of course, it's not a surprise that a publication feels it needs to put its best foot forward to attract ad dollars still, creating whole new cover lines is a pretty big step. Which coveted advertising account merited such a drastic cleanup? Some high-fashion brand? (Current Cosmo advertisers include Dior and Chanel.) Mainstream car or consumer products companies? (January's issue includes an ad for Chevrolet.) Maybe they're gunning for that account? Whatever the brand, Cosmo assumes the ad buyers don't read very carefully, and don't know that the mag's been providing sex advice and orgasm pointers to eager middle-schoolers for decades.Dakota Fanning says she "really wasn't old enough" for the clothes she wore in her Spring-Summer 2007 Marc Jacobs campaign, pictured. "I was 12. I was always into fashion because my mom has always been interested in fashion. She majored in fashion merchandising in college, and it's always been something we have in common. When I did that first campaign for Marc Jacobs, I really wasn't old enough to wear the clothes. He made all the clothes from the runway in my size. I still have them." This is an interesting comment in light of the fact that fashion's use of (and celebrity faces) has been in the lately; Fanning's current Marc Jacobs perfume campaign has actually been banned in the U.K. for being too sexually suggestive (in the ad, the flower-shaped bottle is lodged between now-17-year-old Fanning's legs). And it's also interesting because even if Jacobs cut the clothes to fit her, the theme of Fanning's '07 campaign was still that she looked too small for the clothes, kind of like a kid playing dress-up. [] The December issue of Vogue features a wet-haired Charlize Theron emerging from the ocean. Why, don't you love going for a nice, refreshing dip off of Coney in December? We feel cold just looking at her. Inside, model Nyasha Matonhodze makes her American Vogue debut. [] Julia Restoin Roitfeld and her longtime boyfriend, male model Robert Konjic, are going to have a baby. [@] Anderson Cooper ; Adriana Lima's pre-Victoria's Secret all-liquid diet is ridiculous and not to be admired. [] Hunger Games nail polish. Because everything can be turned into a nail polish, these days. [] A book of the late Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier's work is coming out on November 22. Read more about Maier an amateur photographer who took more than 100,000 pictures in her lifetime, always on her day off from working as a nanny and the rediscovery of her work . []Look forward to seeing David Beckham's nude torso on a lot more billboards. He's launching his own branded company: his new cologne will hit stores in September, and his first men's wear collection is launching at some unspecified date later this year. "It's not my natural inclination to see myself as a brand, I'm just a person who has been fortunate to explore other interests and passions outside of the game I love," says Beckham, who says he was inspired to start his own clothing line after being the face of Emporio Armani. "They told me that their gross turnover in 2007 was €16 million [$22.7 million at current exchange] and after the campaign in 2008 it went up to €31 million [$43.9 million] in 2008. It proved to me that there is a real market for good-looking, well-made men's bodywear." Beckham's partner in the venture is Simon Fuller, the Spice Girls manager-turned-backer of Victoria Beckham and Roland Mouret. [] Here's one of Walter Pfeiffer's shots of Tilda Swinton for the new Pringle of Scotland campaign. Tilda's bowl cut is pretty boss, and also probably un-attemptable by anyone else on this planet. [] Louis Vuitton's fall campaign just hit the Internet, and as previously rumored, it features a bunch of models. Zuzanna Bijoch, Daphne Groeneveld, Gertrud Hegelund, Nyasha Matonhodze, Anaïs Pouliot and Fei Fei Sun, to be precise. As not previously rumored, it also has dogs! Cute little Japanese Chins. Awwwww. [] Prabal Gurung for J. Crew is pricey there are some $400 and $450 pieces. This "exploding bow" top costs $295. [] Jeffrey Campbell knocked off Alejandro Ingelmo's wicked shoes for Chris Benz. []This holiday season, Diane Keaton is going to be the face of Chico's. Although she has been a face of L'Oréal for years, this is kind of astonishingly, given her image as for her role in Annie Hall Keaton's first fashion campaign. "Chico's embraces being an individual, and I love individual style," says Keaton. "Love makes the world go 'round. And so do hats and gloves and a fabulous belt." Surely there's a "need the eggs" joke in here somewhere. [] Milla Jovovich says that when she a reporter that male models "are even worse than actors" and "I mean seriously: you're going to model for a living? It's embarrassing for a man to model" she was kidding. "[I]t didn't mention that I said it w a heavy e.European accent pretending 2 b my dads macho friends! Lol!" she Tweeted ([sic] for all of that). (In the story, Jovovich had discussed her parents' opinions of models and actors and how that had affected her own perceptions and cracked wise, so it's possible this was indeed a joke that didn't land.) [@] Here's a sketch of what Jason Wu's working on for Target. [] Jamie Hince kissed Kate Moss in one shot of her cover editorial for French Elle. Married love: so hot for fall. [] Architectural Digest shot Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres' home. This is their shoe closet. []Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied got married this weekend! They did it under a chuppah in Big Sur, California. But on to the important details: Grazia, which claims to have seen "sneaky snaps" of the dress, reports: Picture this, if you will: a classic white frock in a '50s stylee, full-skirted with a nipped in waist and a midi hemline. Yep, no floor-sweepers for our Nat. The sleeves are long and sheer and the design is fuss-free. As for the veil, a waft of chiffon cascaded to her lower back from a floral headband worn over loose brunette waves. The look was topped off with a classic pair of nude heels. There is speculation that Portman may have worn Dior couture. She is a face of the house and several gowns from Raf Simons' recent collection seem to fit the above description or could have been made to with the addition of sheer sleeves. UPDATE: In Touch is that the dress was Rodarte. Portman is friends with the designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy and wore Rodarte to the Academy Awards in 2011. You can see some rude (but now no doubt amply compensated) guest's bad cell-phone picture of the dress . [] Victoria Beckham, who is near-sighted, has launched an eyewear collection. She says she's always been "self-conscious" about her need to wear glasses, so she opted to design six styles herself. The frames will cost around $410. [] Lily Collins is in some Movado ads. [] i-D has some photos of Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld's kitten, for you to nomnomnomnomnomnom. [] Agent Provocateur has hired Monica Cruz, sister of Penelope, to be the face of its fall ads. [] Karlie Kloss is now the face of Juicy Couture. []Dior insists that studio head Bill Gaytten, who oversaw that of a fall couture collection, is just a place-holder designer. The brand will "take all its time" to replace John Galliano, the longtime creative director it fired in March for habitual drunkenness/being an embarrassing racist. "You know when you ask young girls all the time when they are going to get married, they reply: When I find the right man," said C.E.O. Sidney Toledano. [] Balenciaga shot its fall campaign in "a church in Harlem" anyone know which one? and a studio made to look like a tiled bathroom. Models Julia Nobis and Liisa Winkler star, and Steven Meisel was the photographer. [] Here's Emma Watson's British Harper's Bazaar covers, newsstand and subscriber edition, side-by-side. [] Vogue asked designers to tell them which women embodied classic, American style: responses included Gisele Bündchen (who is "American" in the...larger sense, we guess), Cate Blanchett (who is, um, Australian), Willow Smith, and the eternal safe option, Michelle Obama. [] Gisele Bündchen is on the cover of the new Vogue Brazil. As Made in Brazil points out, the model is depicted "completely out of focus and with bad hair." [] The stars of Downton Abbey appear in a spread in the new British Vogue. [] Lindsay Lohan posed for Italian Vanity Fair. Wait, is that Pedo Bear? [] Fashion blogger BryanBoy is thrilled to have made Star magazine's worst-dressed list. [@] BryanBoy was photographed while attending Prada's men's wear show which has been widely praised, despite featuring a weird mixture of ugly 70s-inspired floral prints, polo collars, Boy Scout scarves, and tweed. But Fantastic Man editor-in-chief Gert Jonkers says he thinks the collection is for "fashion victims...There were lots of things that were very puzzling." [] has been fired by . Company C.E.O. Sidney Toledano, who is of Jewish heritage, called Galliano's behavior "odious" and said in a statement, "I unequivocally condemn the statements made by John Galliano, which are in total contradiction to the longstanding core values of Christian Dior." Notwithstanding its sudden lack of a creative director, Dior intends to go ahead with its fashion show this Friday. [] And a spokesperson for John Galliano's namesake fashion brand, which is financially backed by Dior, says that Galliano's show on Sunday will go ahead. [] At the Oscars on Sunday night, Natalie Portman who recently became the face of Miss Dior Chérie perfume, and about how nice Galliano was to make vegan Dior shoes for her did not wear a Dior dress. But when a reporter asked her about that choice at the post-Academy Awards press conference, Portman's publicist interjected, and the exchange was even stricken from the official transcript of the event. (Some are this "censorship," which is a silly bit of hyperbole, but still.) After collecting herself, after watching , and no doubt after making a discreet phonecall to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy HQ, Portman released a statement last night that read: "I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano's comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful." [] As for his ongoing legal fight, Galliano yesterday went to police headquarters in the neighborhood where he is alleged to have screamed racial and anti-Semitic epithets during three separate incidents. He arrived around 2 p.m., and waded through a crowd of photographers and reporters accompanied by his lawyer. Police had previously announced that Galliano was to be interviewed face-to-face with two of his accusers, Géraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgitti. The designer left the station around 7 p.m. He made no statements to the press, but his lawyer did say that Galliano "never made an anti-Semitic remark in more than ten years at Dior." [] Meanwhile, Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani questions the intentions of the people who recorded the video in which a very drunk Galliano says, "I love Hitler," and talks about all the people, "your mothers, your forefathers," who should be "gassed." Sozzani wrote on her blog that Galliano was "clearly provoked" and that the people who released the cell phone video were "just some parvenus of journalistic scandal who, in our opinion, were waiting to have three minutes of video to sell to someone for thirty pieces of silver." She has since edited the post heavily, removing some of the above language, and adding, "we condemn the extremely seriously racist content of what he said." [] T's cover story on Salma Hayek which is ever so beautifully photographed by Cass Bird contains one interesting tidbit: the actress is launching a skincare line called Nuance, to be sold at CVS. "I always wanted to do this," Hayek claims. Some products will be based on recipes used by her Mexican grandmother, "because my grandmother, who was a beauty, she died at 96 with no wrinkles. And you should see my mother! We have some family secrets." [] Victoria's Secret model Chanel Iman is pretty much nekkid in i-D. []According to the latest version of the / wedding dress rumors, the princess-to-be consulted with British Vogue editor before Saying Yes To A Dress. Shulman told her to pick McQueen. The Telegraph reports that "a Vogue spokesman refused to comment, but sources admitted that private conversations with Buckingham Palace had taken place." This news has already "prompted bookmakers to cut the odds on a McQueen wedding dress from 14-1 to 1-20." [] Meanwhile, Middleton wore another British label a $1,000 Burberry trench coat to an event in Northern Ireland. []Donatella Versace and Miuccia Prada like to get together and eat paninis. Versace says the two Italian designers met at an event years ago in Milan and became fast friends. "I made a joke and she started to laugh and she said let's go and get some paninis because we're starving… and off we went. We just talk, talk, talk. She's so inspiring. We make fun of each other and teach each other. She says, 'I could never make sexy clothes, but I love them.' And I say, 'Well, I love what you do.'" Prada who was a leftist and second-wave feminist while studying for her PhD in International Relations in the '70s is on record as saying that feminism is dead in Italy. Versace, asked about her friend's remark, said: "Feminism is dead in the world. It comes from another time. I'm a feminist. I want to fight, but I don't see many people with this desire to fight for something. Women don't help each other, especially in fashion. I know Miuccia… but that's it. Nobody else." [] Schiaparelli may be a fashion house without a designer, but it is no longer a fashion house without a headquarters: this is what the soon-to-be-fully-revived brand's new Paris salon looks like. There's a chest of drawers shaped like a lobster and a Sphinx statue that adorned Elsa Schiaparelli's original offices. [] Here's Blake Lively's new Gucci perfume ad. [] This, starring male model Marton Dorfler, is Balenciaga's first men's wear ad campaign. [] In honor of couture week, Vogue has this slideshow of archival couture spreads. [] "Haute couture is supposed to die since 1925," says Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, when asked about the future of the business. "You'd be surprised to have extraordinary articles decrying the end of the artisanat, and as you see it's still existing and you are still interested. And wen you speak with some brands, they would never consider for one minute to stop the haute couture. So for me, haute couture will last forever." []Critics are calling Donna Karan misguided and possibly racist for shooting her new spring ad campaign in Haiti, but using a white model as its star. In two ads, Victoria's Secret supermodel Adriana Lima appears alone, but in the third, pictured above, two Haitian teenagers pose in the background behind her. Unusually for a fashion campaign, the images all bear text identifying the location as Jacmel, Haiti, and directing viewers to the brand's web site, which has a whole on Haiti. Karan has raised a lot of money for Haiti, both through her own charity and along with the Clinton Foundation, and she frequently uses interviews and public appearances to talk about the country's development needs and earthquake-recovery efforts, even now, after Haiti has sort of ceased to be the "fashionable" cause on all the rich people's lips. She also credits by name the Haitian artist, Philippe Dodard, whose work inspired her spring collection. Nonetheless, the juxtaposition of luxury clothing Donna Karan sells $2,000 dresses and the poorest country in the Western hemisphere is troubling, and perhaps undercuts the message Karan thinks she's sending. Karan would have done better to highlight whatever local involvement there was in the production of the shoot. And, sigh, why do the black people always have to be in the background? [] Lily Cole covers the January issue of Russian Vogue. [] Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott shot Gisele Bündchen and Ryan Barrett for Versace's spring campaign. [] As part of New York's ongoing series of "cinemagraphs" gifs made not by clipping a TV show, but on purpose, with a camera by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg features J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons sketching a dress. [] Here's one image from the new Balenciaga campaign. Steven Meisel shot four new faces Juliane Grüner, Rosie Tapner and Kirstin Liljegren, and Laura Kampman, pictured for the ads. []Growing up, I didn't yet know Elizabeth Taylor as the volatile, verbose dipsomaniac Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Nor did I know her as the neglected wife Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a character whose beauty, whose ripeness posing on that bed in that white satin slip, I would later understand, perfectly communicated the practical uselessness, to a woman, of being generally considered "sexy." I hadn't watched those movies yet, or read those plays (although it turns out Tennessee Williams has a more compelling explanation for Brick's lack of desire than MGM felt comfortable putting on the big screen in 1958). I mostly knew Elizabeth Taylor as the woman from those funny perfume ads that ran in my American mother's outdated copies of Good Housekeeping magazine. Elizabeth Taylor launched her first fragrance, "Passion," in 1988. Other perfumes "Gardenias," "Black Pearls" soon followed, but it is "White Diamonds," which will turn 20 this fall, that is still on shelves, and White Diamonds that still does around $200 million in annual sales today. Taylor was definitely celebrity to distill fame into a scent to be bottled and sold Alain Delon released a whole series of perfumes in the 1980s, as did Catherine Deneuve, via a licensing agreement with Avon, and Sophia Loren, who signed a deal with the fragrance giant Coty but Taylor was one of the first and the few to have any staying power at the perfume counter. Most perfumes, especially celebrity perfumes, quickly fall from view: this is for the very simple reason that most celebrity perfumes are lackluster scents hitched seemingly at random to a "star" for no other reason than to make a quick buck. (Who now , let alone wears, Mikhail Baryshnikov's "Misha" or Cher's "Uninhibited"?) And once the initial glow of hype fades, that lackluster celebrity scent is left in the tough position of having to compete with the Chanel No. 5s of this world. But when it's right, it's right. A well-formulated scent, cleverly marketed, which retails for the right price, is basically a license to print money with an almost indefinite shelf life. Best-selling perfumes, along with cosmetics, sunglasses, and other small accessories are where most fashion houses make the money that keeps them in the black. That's why some fashion brands persist as perfume brands long after they have ceased to even bother making clothes. (Thierry Mugler, with its best-sellers like "Angel," was in that position for over a decade, until Nicola Formichetti was hired last year to make Mugler into a clothing brand again.) Taylor's effort at parlaying all those well-earned decades of fame into cash money certainly . And my goodness, those ads! Those gauzy, Vaseline-lensed print campaigns, in which Liz inevitably looked as though she knew a secret you didn't (but could learn, maybe, for the cost of a $58 set of four mini-EDTs). And those television commercials with the horses galloping and the diamond jewelry and the rapid cuts! Taylor marketed little bottles of her own glamour, and she did marketed them earnestly, without condescending to her audience. How could she not move product? [NYTimes] [Perfume Shrine] In case you were wondering how Elizabeth Wurtzel felt about wealthy stay-at-home mothers, she just wrote called, "1 Percent Wives Are Helping to Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible" Okay then! "Because here's what happens when women go shopping at Chanel and get facials at Tracy Martyn when they should be wage-earning mensches," Wurtzel explains: "the war on women happens." Hmmm, we'd say the war on women happens when politicians spew antichoice, anti-women rhetoric and try their damnedest to enact laws that ensure women aren't considered equals. But here are some more (troll-y) quotes from Wurtzel's piece: "Let's please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don't depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own." "Hilary Rosen would not have been so quick to be so super sorry for saying that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life if we weren't all made more than a wee bit nervous by our own biases, which is that being a mother isn't really work. Yes, of course, it's something actually, it's something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle of making okay meals and decent kid conversation. But let's face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job, it's a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation)." "I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work." Pretty much all of Wurtzel's valid points that economic inequality is key, for example are masked with overwrought hyperbole ("feminism is pretty much a nice girl who really, really wants so badly to be liked by everybody"), but if you're bored tonight you'll probably want to check out the comments section; it's bound to be a doozy. [The Atlantic] Image via wavebreakmedia ltd .Worth noting: There are four actual models on four different covers of the October issue of Elle. This is the first time a model has been on the cover in eight years. The ladies are well-known names: Miranda Kerr, Chanel Ima, Adriana Lima and Doutzen Kroes. It's both intriguing and disorienting to see models on a mainstream woman's magazine again; the effect is both retro and somehow new and fresh. Ladymags had fallen into in a rut in the last few years; recycling and alternating the 15 Hollywood celebs, including Aniston, Kidman, Simpson, SJP and Johansson. But the we saw a couple of years ago have been set aside for women who make a living out of posing and shilling clothes. At least for a month! Whether this change can translate into great newsstand sales remains to be seen. But this former magazine junkie who hasn't picked up a ladymag for personal perusing in months is definitely buying one. I just have to decide: Will it be awesomely smiley Chanel Iman? Or frakking fierce Adriana? [Fashionologie] [The Life Files]Karl Lagerfeld was asked at a party whom he'd like to massage. (A celebrity massage had just been auctioned for charity at said party, so this wasn't a totally random question.) "I hate massage and I don't believe in massage. I hate to be touched," replied the Chanel designer. So, nobody then? "No. I'm not John Travolta." [] Victoria Beckham is reading E.M. Forster on the new cover of German Interview. Inside, she tells the magazine that while she is "a happy person," if all she saw of herself were her sourpuss paparazzi pictures, she'd think she was miserable, too. "I created this persona and I'm very different from that. I don't feel like I have to scream and shout about it I know I am a happy person. So I don't get upset when people comment on the fact that I look quite miserable all the time. But people think I am. And you know, sometimes I think the same thing when I look at the pictures." [] French customs unveiled a new ad campaign targeting buyers of counterfeit goods which are illegal to own in France. Will slogans like, "Buy a fake Cartier, get a genuine criminal record" work? [] A company called Rayfish Sneakers claims to have perfected the genetic modification of stingrays, creating unique patterns and colors in their skin. A pair of (hoax?) "bio-customized" stingray leather shoes will set you back $1,800. [] Designer Maayan Zilberman of the Lake & Stars lingerie brand decided to stop dying her hair black to cover the gray she's had since her early 20s. To those of us who may or may not have found our first grays in the harsh light of a Milwaukee motel bathroom, age 19, her makeover looks fantastic. [] Susie Bubble has a fascinating step-by-step look at shoe designer Noritaka Tatehana's process as he applies a leather sole to one of his trademark heel-less shoes. (Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness are among Tatehana's fans, and these Swarovski-encrusted gray shoes are destined for the feet of the latter.) [] I was just "talking" with Dodai about what to do for a Rag Trade lede. "Dodai," I said. "Karl Lagerfeld some krazy shit again!" "Hmm," said Dodai. "I know we highlighted the Adele-is-fat bit," I said. "Right." "But there are so many other bons mots! 'People in magazines are 50% bimbo and 50% pregnant women.' 'If I was a woman in Russia I would be a lesbian, as the men are very ugly.'" "Yeah," said Dodai. "The pregnant women bit was in Dirt Bag as well." "'Nobody wants Greece to disappear, but they have really disgusting habits.'" "What are your other options?" she asked "The Model Alliance launch, haha?" I typed, hesitantly. "Doutzen Kroes, Coco Rocha, Crystal Renn, and a bunch of other models were there. Shalom Harlow came! Plus Robin Lawley and Sarah Stephens. It was amazing." "I think that might be better," said Dodai. "You think? But I helped organize it." I said. "I know," she replied. "I mean, it's a bit of a weird thing to do make myself the lede." "Nah, do that!" said Dodai. Hmm, I thought. Let me check Getty to see if any of are available under our subscription. That photographer who I saw last night who remembered me from a Karen Walker show in, like, 2008 was he shooting for Getty? I know someone was there for Getty. Either way, he was a really nice guy. Hmm. No subscription photos. Oh well. Hey, look, the Gloss posted a nice one! Let's go with that. Oh, and look what Ashley Cardiff about the Model Alliance: Models are still a work force and still deserve the same basic rights as any teacher, waiter, blogger, plumber… Unfortunately, models are often reluctant to speak out when confronted with inappropriate behavior or financial exploitation for a litany of reasons, not the least of which is a constant reminder of their own expendability. Why complain about sexual harassment if there's someone even younger and thinner waiting to take your place? Salient points. Couldn't agree more. A pretty good take on the Model Alliance, all told (which in case you haven't figured out by now, is a new nonprofit dedicated to giving models a voice in the American fashion industry, an organization on whose board I am proud to sit, and whose launch party last night at the Standard Hotel I helped to plan, and which I am now writing about because Karl Lagerfeld's latest kerrrrazy kuote was too kold for this news cycle). Ooh, there was also a piece on Luckymag.com. The Model Alliance "seeks to improve the conditions in which models work and live," wrote John Jannuzzi: From the outside, modeling looks like a glamorous, effortless and "cushy" job. But like anything in this business, it's not always that easy. A grueling schedule (from shoots to multiple fashion weeks), marginal labor rights (they're typically freelancers), mounting bills (yes, in many cases, models actually end up owing money to agencies) and countless cases of exploitation, suddenly the profession doesn't seem so easy as, "walking from one end of the platform to the other." Yep, also accurate. Looks like Reuters got our press release, too: "The idea of models organizing may seem frivolous or, worse, downright funny models are certainly not the people you picture when you think of child labor or bad working conditions," said former model and fashion writer Jenna Sauers. "There's nothing funny about a work force that is overwhelmingly young, female and impoverished, working for some of fashion's wealthiest, most powerful brands." Oh yes. I remember when I wrote that. Fun times. Last night, Sara Ziff the Model Alliance founder, and the co-director of the acclaimed documentary Picture Me spoke eloquently about the need for the enforcement of existing child labor and contract laws, something the Model Alliance supports. "I have been very fortunate in my career," she said. But Sara who started modeling when she was 14 also described feeling unable to say no to work that conflicted with her educational obligations, being put on the spot to do shoot in the nude at castings from a young age, and having unauthorized charges levied against her earnings by her agency. I and the other board members, Susan Scafidi and Dorian Warren spoke, and so did our co-host for the evening, Coco Rocha. Coco read a long list of names of models who couldn't be there last night, including Karlie Kloss, Jessica White, and Behati Prinsloo, but who she said wanted to go on record as Model Alliance supporters. Oh, and Sara and Susan were Brian Lehrer this morning! That was awesome. "Did you see ? because this could also be a lede maybe," typed Dodai. "Yes I did see that," I wrote back. "Aw, now I'm writing a Model Alliance thing. Can this be the one time I do something weirdly self-referential?" There was a pause. "OK." So there you have it. Watch our video, visit our , like us , follow us , why not talk about us IRL with your actual friends? The Model Alliance is now officially live. And the real work of changing fashion for the better begins today. /soapbox [, , , ] Stella McCartney recorded an anti-leather video for PETA. [] The campaign for Kenzo's spring collection the first designed by Opening Ceremony's Carol Lim and Humberto Leon stars an all-black cast of models. [] Even if you're not going to New York fashion week, you can still appreciate the creativity that goes into some of the best invitations. 3.1 Phillip Lim's is a pop-up card of the New York skyline. [] Vogue Paris editor Emmanuelle Alt dances and lip-syncs to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" in this video to announce the Web redesign of her magazine. We just spent about five very satisfying minutes imagining Anna Wintour doing this in honor of the new Vogue archive. [] Casting director Douglas Perrett shared some old Polaroids of famous models when they were just starting out. Here are Miranda Kerr, Chanel Iman, and the late Daul Kim. Perrett says of meeting Iman, "[I] realized how young these kids are. She needed a hug that day." Perrett's forthcoming book is called Wild Things. []Brands often say that they rely on a cast of extremely young, acutely thin, and overwhelmingly white models because fashion is supposed to be "aspirational" that if you can't envy the body and youth of a skinny Eastern European teenager in a glossy magazine, then you can't envy her dress either. Says who? Modeling agency founder and academic Ben Barry had some questions about the fashion industry and its advertising, but he could find no research into consumers' choices that actually demonstrated casting such models motivated them to buy clothing or accessories. So he decided to do some for his Ph.D. To conduct a study into the impacts models have on consumer choices, Barry first mocked up eight ads for the same Diane Von Furstenberg dress. The ads were identical in concept and art direction, but showcased models of different ages, body size, and race. Barry randomly selected two of the ads and showed them to women. He didn't tell them that he was studying their reactions to the models; he just asked them which ad made them want to buy the dress. These were his results: Barry then held focus groups with women across the U.S. and Canada where he asked them about the impact that model casting in ads had on their purchasing behavior. All told, he spoke to more than 2,500 women. His subjects told him that they preferred to buy clothing advertised by women who looked somewhat like them for simple reasons: they could see how it fit, they felt included in the brand's messaging, and they were more able to imagine themselves participating in the aesthetic fantasy of the ad. This is significant, writes Barry, because "While one side of the debate over model diversity argues that curvy models should replace thin ones assuming that one model is universally more effective than another I find that every model type can be effective. Their effectiveness depends on whether the model shares the consumers' traits." Solipsistic? Maybe. But public health advocates and feminists have spent decades agitating against advertisers' preference for a narrow beauty ideal on grounds that such images can hurt the self esteem of women and girls to almost no avail. The models who fill the pages of the women's magazines and populate the billboards and pop up on retailers' Web sites are as skinny, young, and white as they ever were. Making a well-reasoned appeal for diversity on behalf of the bottom line, however, just might work. Barry also found that the women he interviewed, who ranged in age from 14-65, were very savvy at picking up on brands' cues about what "kind" of person is welcome in their clothing. Putting on the runway plus-size models as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Mark Fast, and Chanel have each done, with varying levels of commitment or models of different ages as Calvin Klein did for Fall '10 is nice, but not when it smacks of a stunt. "When two of 20 models on a runway are larger or older, consumers appreciate the gesture but believe it's tokenistic," reports Barry. "Similarly, when a brand showcases curvy or older models in clothes that don't quite fit or flatter them, it looks like they're trying to grab a quick headline." Diversity has to be an ongoing commitment to read as "authentic." And consumers don't like it when older models (or curvier models, or non-white models) are portrayed in ways that set them apart from their model peers. They want the same attention paid to the styling and art direction of all the kinds of models. Skimping on the aesthetics in fact reverses the positive effects of casting diverse models. The women in my research want models regardless of size or age to inspire them with glamour, artistry and creativity. One woman said it best: "What's the point of buying fashion if you're going to look unfashionable?" The underlying message is that fashion needs to sell aspiration, but it is not a standardized model's age, size or race that is aspirational; it is the clothes, styling and creative direction of the shoot. So women want fashion to give them more, and better, images of beauty and diversity. You don't say! Barry's research also casts doubt on the that people buy things because advertising stokes their insecurities, creating a need that can only be filled by the advertised product. It suggests that advertising can work by inducing in the consumer feelings of affinity for and identification with the people shown in the ad. When one mature woman saw an older model, she explained: "[The model] does more than make me feel beautiful; she inspires me to go out and get this dress and celebrate my beauty." While some women in my study felt insecure when they saw idealized models, their insecurity didn't translate to purchase intentions as the industry hopes; it actually turned them off the product. As one of the participants summarized: "Ads like this want us to be part of their world, but they have the opposite effect for me. I feel excluded." Contrary to long-held marketing wisdom, fashion ads don't need to lead women to aspire to an unattainable ideal to sell products. Instead, women will buy fashion when models convey a realistic, attainable image and make them feel confident; they will continue to demand the products to maintain the advertised look and their feelings of empowerment. To unleash this economic potential, brands should cast models who mirror the diversity of their target market: If a brand sells sizes 2 to 14 and the age of their target consumer is 18 to 35, the models should reflect the same size and age ranges. Of course, this is self-reported data and we know from other studies of consumer behavior that people can be unreliable when it comes to accurately describing their own motivations. (Who would ever sit across a table and say to a researcher, in front of an audience of other women, "I buy skin cream because the ads make me worry that I need it," even if it is the truth?) And telling a researcher that Ad 1 makes you want to buy the dress more than Ad 2 is a very different activity than walking into a store and ringing up a purchase. But Barry's research does raise some interesting questions for the fashion and advertising industries not the least of which is why have we coasted so long on the assumption that fashion needs to make women feel bad about themselves to buy shit. [Elle Canada]Last night, the CFDA Fashion Awards honored the year's best designers, which attracted celebrities and socialites, looking to make statements of their own. With everyone trying to aesthetically express themselves, the only real crime of fashion at this event was to be boring.After Dominique Strauss-Kahn embarked on a culminating in the alleged rape of a hotel maid in New York City, it was Christine LaGarde who picked up the reins at the IMF. She's the first woman to fill that role, a French woman with American ties. So what's she like? If her teeth are gritted, it's impossible to tell. What lovely teeth she has – straight and white, they gleam out of a permanently, almost alarmingly, tanned face. Tall -– she's 5ft 10in -– and slim, the 55-year-old Lagarde dresses with the casual élan of a Parisian, patriotically attired in Chanel suits and Hermès scarves, along with jazzy bracelets and fur-lined ponchos. Lagarde softens her rather severe black-and-white outfits with silk scarves, a string of pearls or a brooch. She has widely spaced green eyes framed by a silver bob. She still swims, but not in formation. Well thank goodness she's sexy. Actually, she might even be the World's Sexiest Woman! Hooray! An otherwise excellent portrait of LaGarde in The Guardian is marred by the stereotypical body pan down that so often accompanies profiles of women. The yellow journalism of celebrity reporting has seeped into profiles of powerful women. Rather than being shown her credentials, we're first provided a litany of physical descriptors- her hair color! Clothes! Jewlery! Teeth! When will a woman being conventionally attractive and accomplished cease to be news or comment worthy? Assumption that being physically attractive should be enough for a woman to coast on forever and continues to blow everyone's mind when anyone has decided to be attractive and-. An attractive woman who is also funny? comes every minutes , but single one does, it's almost embarrassing the type of hullabaloo she causes. A smart woman who is conventionally attractive? Stop the presses! A ? Excuse me while my eyeballs multiply themselves and my heart beats out of my chest before I involuntarily make an AAH-OOH-GAH sound. And everyone knows a woman described as having a "great personality" is actually probably "ugly" because if a woman were beautiful, some complimentary looks-related phrase would be the first thing that would be invoked in describing her. If you're beautiful enough, you shouldn't have to worry your pretty little head about working. Look at Kim Kardashian and Real Housewives from coast to coast. Why fill your head with useless knowledge when you could just find yourself a nice man and settle down? I'm not trying to make a case that it's so very hard for beautiful women nowadays, but it is a shame that beauty is so highly prized that there always seems to be accompanying befuddlement when a woman decides not to coast on it, to use faculties aside from those genetically (or surgically) bestowed upon her to achieve her kind of success. Imagine that the paragraph about LaGarde were written about newly-elected Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel- If his teeth are gritted, it's impossible to tell. What lovely teeth he has – straight and white, they gleam out of a permanently, almost alarmingly, tanned face. Not very tall, but well-built nonetheless – and musclebound, the 51-year-old Emanuel dresses with the casual élan of a Chicagoan, patriotically attired in Brooks Brothers suits and Hugo Boss ties, along with jazzy shoes and fur-lined ponchos. Emanuel softens his rather severe black-and-white outfits with silk pocket squares, pearl cufflinks, or a Rolex watch. He has widely spaced green eyes framed by a silver mane. He still dances, but not in ballet. The piece concludes on the same crappy note on which it started- revisiting LaGarde's looks. She's keen on the feminine virtues, then, without being po-faced. At the finance ministry she used to keep a collection of cartoons. Her favourite shows her in fishnet stockings, whipping a banker. Whether it's coming from a construction worker or a writer from The Guardian, if Christine LaGarde can't escape the male gaze, what hope do the rest of us have? [The Guardian]With models like Crystal "Vogue Paris" Renn becoming true crossover stars, and agents like Gary Dakin of Ford+ reporting so much demand that he turns work down, it seems like the fashion industry is finally starting to recognize the beauty of bodies that aren't runway-sample-sized. Here are five we think are ripe for mainstream success. We'd love to see any one of them on the runway this fashion week. The 5'11" Ukraininan Alyona Osmanova came on to the international modeling scene in 2006, at the age of 18. Her agency, Supreme, listed her measurements as 33"-23"-33" actually an inch smaller than the straight-size runway standard. Osmanova's first season was pretty much a blockbuster: she walked for designers including Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, and Thakoon, and scored the coveted Prada exclusive. (Every season, and her casting director, , choose one girl out of the hundreds of hopeful new faces, and give that girl and her agency a pile of cash to walk in the Prada show and the Prada show only during Milan fashion week. Sometimes Prada also books the model exclusively for her show in Paris; Osmanova did both.) She went on to walk for Proenza Schouler, and Chanel and Givenchy haute couture, among many others. Over the next four years, Osmanova racked up editorial credits in the top magazines, including Vogue Italia, Teen Vogue, V, and Pop. But during winter last year, with New York fashion week approaching, she found could no longer keep her weight down. "I did part of Fashion Week, and I couldn't [finish] because I couldn't fit in any of the dresses," Osmanova New York's Amy Odell. "I pretty much didn't know what to do for three months or four months, and I was trying to work out and diet but I was stressing out." She heard about plus-size modeling, and signed with Ford. Since her switch, Osmanova has walked in the Elena Miro show in Milan, and modeled for Teen Vogue. (She told the magazine, "The body is such a unique gift, and we won't have it forever, so there's no time to hate anything about it.") Those are great bookings, but it's undeniable that Osmanova's career has slowed down significantly since her crossover to plus which is a great shame on the industry. Osmanova is an experienced model who's worked with some of fashion's greatest talents. Why aren't more clients keen to capitalize on that? Where are all the designers and the magazines who were scrambling to book her two years ago? Where's Russell Marsh? With legs for miles and those cheekbones, if ever there were a girl destined for high fashion, Osmanova is it. The striking, 6' tall bi-racial Swede Sabina Karlsson is, like Renn and Osmanova, yet another girl who struggled as a straight-size model with the industry's size restrictions, and emerged later and healthier as a plus-size model. Karlsson was first launched into the industry in 2005 at the age of 17 via the Ford Supermodel of the World competition, which the agency uses to scout for new faces. She also competed on Sweden's Next Top Model (Karlsson came second). During her first New York fashion week, Karlsson booked 12 shows, and she would go on to walk for designers including , Betsey Johnson, and Tracey Reese. At the time, her agency gave her hip measurement at 36", which is definitely on the larger side for a runway model, and there was some industry sniping about how Karlsson was "bottom-heavy." In 2007, she told a magazine, "It's sad that the model world requires models to be so skinny, just so they can fit the designer clothes. And, in a way, it's the designers who are pushing this problem forward if they keep on making clothes in size zero, models will always need to be a size zero." (She claimed in the same interview to maintain her weight with healthy eating and exercise habits.) On the editorial side, Karlsson worked for American Elle (and we in Glamour), and she did ads for Madewell and American Eagle. Karlsson crossed over to plus-size modeling in 2010, and I her in the One Stop Plus show at New York fashion week. You can see her and Osmanova interviewed by fellow plus-size model (otherwise She Whose Cleavage Was Too Hot For Fox To Handle) . Karlsson has the kind of truly unique look that fashion ordinarily values those freckles! that red hair! that gap! and it would be a natural fit for her to continue doing now the kind of edgy jobs that she was booking as a teenager. Ashley Graham Speaking of Ashley Graham: she's gorgeous, even if she's not so much a model to watch as a model we are already watching, and have been for a while. Ashley Graham is obviously highly photogenic, but she's also so beautiful in person that the first time I met her at the flagship on 34th St., where I had gone to interview Crystal Renn I was almost speechless. And I pretty much write about models and modeling for a living. Graham has lately been working up a storm: not only was her censored Lane Bryant ad a boon for her career, even before it had aired, she was already shooting for magazines including Glamour and American Vogue. (Well: American Vogue's annual "Shape" issue. Why not any of the other eleven issues, Vogue?) She is also the latest face of Levi's. Ashley Graham needs to be the face of more things, stat. Marquita Pring hit my radar after her for Solve Sundsbo in V last year; she followed up last September with a trip down the catwalk for Jean-Paul Gaultier, and back-to-back Levi's campaigns. Pring is 20, and she's been modeling for several years. I think fashion needs to see more of her. Will she show up on the New York runways this season? If she does, you'll be the first to know. I probably ought to disclose right off the bat that I've met Leah Kelley numerous times, and shared wine and conversation and at least one pretty terrific Mexican dinner with her. (Also she once lent me a copy of I Know This Much Is True, in the way that friends-of-friends sometimes loan one another books for extended periods, and I am afraid I have neglected so far to finish it.) But if there's one thing above all else that biases my opinion of Kelley's work aside from her superlative trampolining it's her beauty. And my attendant belief that this stunning blonde from Sacramento should be getting even more work than she already is. Kelley's modeled for designers including and Elena Miro, as well as clients like Nordstrom, Macy's, and . She this story of how she came to be "discovered": "I was 19 and in my second year of college, working for a tow truck company in Sacramento (yes, I can unlock your car or change your tire) when I was discovered. It began while I was browsing the internet, and I saw a link through MySpace for the Ford Models online submission. I did not really think very much of it, and it took about a month for a reply. I actually almost deleted the response, because I used to get a lot of emails from auction lots relating to the automotive industry, and I misread the sender as Model Fords. I ignored the email for about four days." Thank God she opened it. And now, will someone get this girl an editorial in Vogue Italia? Please? There are plenty of other great plus-size models I would love to see get more work. In addition to those mentioned above, there's Lizzie Miller, Inga Eiriksdottir, Candace Huffine, Tara Lynn, and Amy Lemons. Fashion is far from perfect and what the industry needs to do away with, more than anything, is the notion that making room for one token plus-size model at a time is acceptable proof of "inclusivity" but it seems that some change is happening, albeit slowly.Gird yourselves for the arrival of the youngest installment of the Kardashian Klan: Kendall and Kylie Jenner seem to have scored the new cover of Teen Vogue. Representative line: Kendall and Kylie have 2.1 million and 1.3 million followers on Twitter, respectively, but they're not ones to flaunt their popularity. [] It's a Monday and the Kardashians are ruining everything. Why not watch 30 seconds of David Beckham in his underwear? [] Does the new logo J.C. Penney is getting (as part of the chain's $800 million revamp) remind anyone else of the logo the Gap tried, and dumped? [] The awesome Jenny Slate is in the new Rachel Antonoff for Bass shoes lookbook. Look, everyone! It's Jenny Slate the comedian with shoes on. / groan [] Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone appear in the new Alexis Bittar ads. [] The jewelry designer just signed a deal for major new backing from the private-equity group TSG, in exchange for a 50% equity stake. Terms were not disclosed. [] Vogue Russia has a whole editorial featuring Marni for H&M clothes. [] Yeah, Anjelica Huston looks pretty bad-ass on the new cover of WSJ. []Last month, Urban Outfitters drew popular and threats of legal action from the Navajo Nation for advertising such products as the "Navajo Flask" and the "Navajo Hipster Panty." The tribe owns a variety of trademarks on the term "Navajo," including one covering clothing meaning that legally speaking, calling a non-Navajo-made product "Navajo" is as as calling a non-Chanel-made product "Chanel." Presumably to avoid that potential liability, Urban Outfitters recently the names of all 21 of the products it had been calling "Navajo," including the panties, the flask, the "Navajo Feather Earrings" and the "Navajo Nations Crew Pullover." Those products are still available, they're just called the "Printed Flask" and the "Printed Hipster Panties." The problem, in the eyes of intellectual property law, wasn't the arguable appropriation of Native American patterns or designs, it was the unauthorized use of a registered trademark. But fellow mass-market retailer Forever 21 doesn't seem to share Urban Outfitters' concern. While a search for "Navajo" on its website turns up no results, a little digging reveals at least a half-dozen items that have the Navajo trademark in the title. That includes the that's right, not one but two international chains sold "Navajo" underwear for fall the and the in the U.S. online store. (The tunic, along with a pair of "Navajo Drop Earrings," is currently out of stock, but you can see a Google cached page for now.) In Forever 21's U.K. online store, meanwhile, you can find such items as the and the The ad copy for the necklace begins: Complete your outfit with a little native flair! Forever 21, do we have to get Daniella Pineda to it to you? Although two of these items the panties and the handbag have product descriptions that call them "Navajo-inspired," they all have "Navajo" and not "Navajo-Inspired" in their names, and the rest of the descriptions use yet more specific language that arguably misuses the Navajo Nation's trademark. The necklace is said to be "Navajo beaded," and the tunic and the socks are said to have a "Navajo print." You'd obviously have to be fairly naïve and unfamiliar with the retailer's reliance on California and foreign sweatshop labor to believe that anything sold at Forever 21 was in fact made by Navajo people. And you'd have to be similarly naïve and unfamiliar with the company's apparent distaste for paying licensing fees to believe any of these "Navajo" products were authorized by the Navajo Nation under license to Forever 21. But the language used in the company's online catalogue is, at the very least, misleading. You can't call something "Navajo" when it's, well, just not. It's a trademark. And for Forever 21, that's a problem. Earlier: Forever 21 is being sued for copyright infringement by an up-and-coming designer again. The folks behind a line called Feral Childe allege that the California-based creepy-Christian sweatshop emporium copied one of their textile prints. This is noteworthy because while under current law garments themselves as in patterns, "cut," construction elements, and everything else that makes a dress unique are not copyrightable intellectual property, graphic elements that might be featured on garments as in prints are. Forever 21 has been sued for copying more than 50 times by designers including Anna Sui and Diane von Furstenberg; the company has always settled out of court. One trade dress infringement claim by the now-defunct label Trovata in a lengthy trial, during which the court was treated to the spectacle of Forever 21 co-founder and creative director Jin Sook Chang claiming ignorance of her company's ownership structure, of who her company's other executives are, and even of her company annual sales. Trovata later settled out of court. Feral Childe's textile design is shown at top; Forever 21's is below. [] Feral Childe's designers Alice Wu and Moriah Carlson say their textile design, called "Teepees," is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Wu says it took her and Carlson "several months" to develop the print, "starting from sketchbook drawings and then refined and edited in countless email exchanges between us until we perfected the image. This type of markmaking reflects the very particular philosophy of drawing taught at the New York Studio School, where both of us studied...We have made the image very personal and particular to Feral Childe. There are hidden pictures of teepees and crowns and pennants in the drawing that aren't necessarily apparent at first glance. How could anyone else come up with that combination?" She continues, "Whoever at Forever 21 discovered our print and decided to co-opt it wasn't looking closely and probably just assumed this was just an abstract 'scratch print' and didn't notice our hidden pictures." [] Meanwhile, this morning Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, a Harvard law professor, and a spokesperson for the American Apparel & Footwear Association, an industry lobbying group, testified before Congress in support of the proposed Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Act. The IDPPA would extend limited copyright protection to clothing itself when a designer's work was deliberately copied by someone who had access to or was aware of the original, resulting in a copy that is "substantially identical" to the original. Council of Fashion Designers of America president Steven Kolb says the proposed law, which was developed with Senator Chuck Schumer, is necessary "because we see the vulnerability of designers, particularly young designers and small business owners and the consequences of their ideas, intellectual property and creativity being taken from them and how it impacts their ability to manufacture their collections and grow their businesses." Indeed, behemoths like Forever 21 have a preference for copying the work of younger and less-established designers, because they are less likely to be protected by a phalanx of scary litigators, like, say, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are. [] You can read Hernandez' congressional testimony along with all the witnesses' testimony here. [] Justin Bieber's perfume Someday has broken all sales records. In less than three weeks, it's rung up more than $3 million at Macy's. At this rate, it is on track to become the top-selling perfume of 2011. Previously, Beyoncé's Heat was considered the top-selling celebrity perfume at launch. Heat did $3 million in its first month. [] Taylor Swift Has Laryngitis, Also A Perfume. [] Jane Lynch and her wife are in a Vogue spread. [] Karen Elson and Raquel Zimmerman star in the fall Lanvin campaign, which was shot by Steven Meisel. [] Jefferey Campbell knocked off the Prada creeper-brogue hybrid. Point the first: this isn't even a very accurate copy. (Holly Shoes a version that included both that band of hemp and the treaded soles, neither of which Jeffery Campbell could apparently be bothered to get right.) Point the second: Still ugly. [] The Olsen twins' handbag line includes this backpack that costs $39,000. Barneys New York fashion director Amanda Brooks says the backpack is "super triple chic." She continued, "I think if you were every going to spend $39,000 on a bag, that's the bag you should buy because I think you'd wear it for a really long time." Simon Doonan, Barneys creative director, however says backpacks aren't for him. "I never was a backpack person. My gay sister was always working a backpack and it's a little too hearty for me." Two of the $39,000 backpacks have already been pre-ordered. [] Michele Lamy, the wife and muse of Rick Owens, has an unusual background. She studied law, worked as a stripper, protested in Paris in May 1968, and responds to questions about whether she has an interest in the occult by saying, "Belief is a way to express a memory of your genes." She has a couple gold-plated teeth and does her nails with a henna-like vegetable dye. (Women in Morocco and the Middle East do this, too, but with actual henna.) [] Here is a gallery of fashion photos of (mostly) models eating pasta. []The top row of shirts is by Forever 21. The bottom row is by a small California-based label called Trovata. Welcome to a peek behind the curtain at secretive, cult-y, and very rapidly growing fast-fashion chain Forever 21.It's always a bad sign when, on a store tour with a retailer's head of marketing, a reporter sees a pair of shoes on the shelf that look exactly like the pair she has on. Except the identi-shoes are a different brand, aren't real leather, and cost less than a quarter of what she paid for them. "You should buy another pair here," suggests the marketing exec when the reporter, BusinessWeek's Susan Berfield, points this out. (Marketing execs are so unflappable.) Although Forever 21 cooperated with BusinessWeek's story, the company wouldn't allow Berfield to even set foot in its design and merchandising headquarters, which are housed in a building of their own on Forever 21's corporate campus, a building with its own security. "The windows are covered with blinds," writes Berfield. Her requests to go inside "were met with laughs by Forever 21's representatives." "Their design is swathed in mystery," says Susan Scafidi, a professor of copyright law at Fordham University Law School and director of the Fashion Law Institute. "But it probably looks a bit like a crime scene, with the chalk outline of the garments they're copying." Forever 21 is a $3 billion chain that counts 477 stores in 19 countries and around 35,000 employees; it has been expanding aggressively during the recession, opening enormous new stores in spaces abandoned by retreating retailers like Saks, Circuit City, and Mervyns. Forever 21 expects to open another 75 stores in 2011. The company was founded and is still owned by Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, Korean immigrants to Los Angeles. Do Won Chang has said he got the idea when he was working at a gas station, and noticed that all the nice cars were owned by people in the rag trade; Jin Sook Chang says that she went to a mountain one morning to pray and God told her she should open a store and that she would be successful. Jin Sook is in charge of whatever it is goes on in that merchandise building. Her husband handles everything else. Their daughters, Linda and Esther Chang, both have high-powered positions within the company despite only being in their twenties, and are expected to take over eventually. Linda wears Forever 21, but mixes it with Chanel. A lot of weird things stand out about the company culture. For one, there's the whole Evangelical Christian thing: "Every decision that they made has been with thoughtful prayer," says Linda. Mr. and Mrs. Chang attend a daily 5:30 a.m. prayer meeting at the Ttokamsa Mission Church when they're in town; he also leads Bible study, and she's a deacon. "I think they get a lot of business ideas and insight during early morning prayer time," Pastor Ken Choe says in an e-mail. According to him, they've contributed millions of dollars to missions around the world and regularly go on missions themselves, including to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. They've told their daughters that when they retire, they want to devote themselves fully to the church. "Mr. Chang said he would have been a missionary if this hadn't worked out," says Linda. "This supports that. This is part of their missionary vision." Berfield reports that there are Bibles at the company's headquarters, and it's generally understood that in order to advance within the company, one should be "saved." And then there are the lawsuits. Turns out that having a brand new selection of $19.80 rayon blazers and $23.80 pleather shoes delivered by the ton daily is not easily achieved without ending up on the wrong side of labor laws. Forever 21 used to manufacture most of its clothing in Southern California, using a variety of local suppliers. The reasons were simple: Until 2005, an international textile trade agreement offered some measure of protection to the U.S. apparel industry and made outsourcing more expensive, and domestic manufacture also allowed for shorter lead times and a nimbler response to customer demand. But there are also labor laws in the U.S. And in 2001, Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Garment Worker Center sued the company on behalf of 19 workers who alleged they had not been paid legally required minimum wages and overtime. The lawsuit spawned a three-year-long boycott of the company and was the subject of an Emmy-winning documentary, Made in LA. Forever 21 eventually settled the suit (the terms are confidential). "It was a difficult time for them," Esther Chang says of her parents' reaction to the lawsuit. Since then, the Changs have moved a lot of Forever 21's production to countries like China, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Still, Berfield finds one L.A. factory where workers earn 12 cents apiece to sew vests that retail for $13.80: The California Broadway Trade Center sits on the edge of the garment district, across from the derelict Rialto Theater and just down the street from new lofts built in the old Union Bank. It's a nine-story building that houses at least 80 of these factories. At the loading dock, scraps of paper are taped to the wall, listing in Spanish the jobs available that day. The building looks uncared for, but not decrepit. Some of the doors to these factories are open, making it possible to walk around unannounced. In one, on the top floor, with no company name on the door, about 30 people are sewing gray cotton vests for Forever 21 in a small, hot room. Many of them have stuffed scraps of fabric into their noses to block the particles of material floating in the air. They're just finishing up a one-week, 10,000-piece order for which the seamstresses earn about 12 cents apiece, according to Guadalupe Hernandez, a longtime garment worker in Los Angeles. If they sew 66 vests an hour, they'll earn minimum wage. Oh, and there's also the whole ripping off other people's intellectual property thing. Forever 21 has confidentially settled more than 50 Forever 21 lawsuits with designers who have accused it of stealing their intellectual property. The only suit to make it to an open trial was Trovata's, at which Jin Sook Chang variously claimed on the witness stand that she didn't know what percentage of the company she and her husband owned, if there were any other shareholders, or even what her company's annual sales were. Trovata's lawyers, meanwhile, turned up evidence that the Changs, through various holding companies and investment vehicles, in fact owned or part-owned some of their biggest "independent" suppliers the same suppliers Forever 21 attempts to publicly distance itself from whenever labor rights violations or copyright violations emerge from the production supply chain. Diane Von Furstenberg, Anna Sui who once guests at her fashion show t-shirts that read "Forever WANTED: Don Cassidy and The Sundance Jin" that quoted Exodus 20:15, "Thou shalt not steal" and Anthropologie are among the other designers who have won settlements from the company. Forever 21 tends to avoid knocking off large and well-protected fashion companies, like Chanel or Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, both of which are notorious for aggressively policing their copyrights. Forever 21 knocks off smaller, less established labels like Trovata, Alexander Wang, and Foley + Corinna, whose printed maxi dress is shown here next to its Forever 21 copy because those brands are less likely to be able to mount a vigorous legal defense. Berfield also talks to a designer, Virginia Johnson, who saw a knock-off of one of her skirts for sale at Forever 21; when her lawyer contacted the company, "he learned that the company had a policy in place for just such scenarios. They would pay Johnson 10 percent of the $40,000 worth of skirts they said they had sold. When Johnson rejected that as too low, they offered $9,000, which she accepted. 'I was surprised how matter-of-fact they were,' she says." Forever 21 denies it has any such policy. So: Forever 21's workers earn minimum wage if they can sew an entire vest every 55 seconds. The Changs meanwhile buy their daughters Chanel and educated them at prep schools and Ivy League colleges. And if one of their dresses or tops turns out to have been someone else's idea first, well the fat profits on all those vests make for lots of settlement money. Fast fashion, like a lot of things about the fashion industry, really isn't very pretty underneath. Trovata/Forever 21 image from Trovata's lawsuit; Foley + Corinna/Forever 21 image [BusinessWeek] [Counterfeit Chic]Analysts at MasterCard are projecting that this year, Americans will for the first time ever spend more than $20 billion on Black Friday barring extreme weather or other acts of God. And while some retailers' plans to open on the holiday itself have drawn popular , customer feedback motivated at least one chain to cut its holiday hours this time around: Sears, which opened on Thanksgiving day in 2010, won't do so again this year. ("There was a sentiment from customers to keep Thanksgiving as a holiday," admitted a sheepish-sounding spokesperson.) But the overall trend is still for longer hours, hence why shopping on Thanksgiving, by the way, now has a name: Brown Thursday. Ewwwwwwwww. [] Black Friday and the holiday shopping season, by the numbers: total holiday retail sales are expected to top $873 billion this season. 195 million people will shop on Black Friday. Americans say they plan to spend, on average, $704 on holiday gifts this year. Doubtless they will all buy highly necessary things that their intended recipients will treasure forever. [] Shoe designer Camilla Skovgaard, known for her stark designs that suggest there are things more valuable than merely being considered "pretty," is profiled in the Wall Street Journal. "It's the easiest thing in the world to bring yet another delicate little patent peep-toe stiletto into the world," she says, "and I have to work consciously to not go there." Another place Camilla Skovgaard does not go? Kitten heels: "It just looks bloody wrong, in my opinion. And what's the point if my heel is going to get stuck in the sidewalk anyway, it might as well get stuck properly. I don't like doing things half-way." Interestingly, after fashion school, Skovgaard applied for a job working as a designer in Dubai, serving some of the wealthiest families of the Middle East. She worked there for seven years. "I guess you could say I overdosed on it all on lace and embroidery, flowery prints and Swarovski crystals, which came in the bucket-loads. I know that's when I developed my distaste for shiny things," she says. She returned to London and studied shoe-making for six years, earning another fashion degree and her master's. She started her own business in 2006; "I find doing business a quite creative process, and I've run a very tight ship. I started on a £35,000 business loan from a Danish bank no investors, no cash sponsorships, none of that." Last year, her sales topped £3.2 million. [] O.G. socialite and confirmed snazzy dresser Iris Apfel is lending her name to a set of reading glasses. Eyebobs is coming out with the Iris, pictured, for January. Proceeds from the specs will go to the charity Lighthouse International. [] Meanwhile, Rihanna is already onto her second fragrance. It's called Rebelle, and she's not wearing any visible clothing in the ads, OMG. [] If you wanted to check out the Tom Ford collection that had some critics reeling that is to say, the collection that Virginie Mouzat an "inventory for Kim Kardashian" and a re-tread of everything Ford did ten years ago at Yves Saint Laurent, mixed with a little Céline and Alaïa photos of it are, at last, available online. []After being targeted with criticism regarding its March issue and Beyoncé's African Queen photo shoot, L'Officiel has issued a statement: L'OFFICIEL is very proud to present its March issue featuring Beyoncé in African-inspired dresses and jewellery by top designers, including Gucci, Azzedine Alaia, Fendi, Pucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Rodarte, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier and Lanvin. Designer Tina Knowles, who is also Beyoncé's mother, created a one of a kind couture piece. The designs are all reflective of the African influence on fashion this season. Miss Knowles poses with royal allure. A queen, a goddess, Beyoncé is a bombshell beauty with a divine voice. We're thrilled she's opening a season of celebrating the 90th anniversary of L'Officiel de la Mode. The series was conceived as using art and fashion in paying homage to African queens. Beyoncé mentioned the artist Fela Kuti in the interview as one of her musical inspirations. It was later misquoted as the inspiration for the shoot. We would like to clarify that it is not the case. As for the artistic makeup, the inspiration came from several African rituals during which paint is used on the face. We find the images beautiful and inspiring. L'Officiel would like to thank Beyoncé for her outstanding contribution to this celebration of African influences in Fashion. Good to know. After writing about her dark makeup and wondering if she was using blackness as a fashion accessory, I received some pretty hateful messages. One brave, anonymous soul wrote: "I saw your comments on beyonces photos in the march issue of L'Officiel Paris and you could not sound any more arrogant and retarded. She is not 'using blackness as a fashion accessory.' It is a specific tribute to a specific inspirational person from history… Its no different from a while girl powdering her face to look like fucking marilyn monroe. You are starting a controversy for no reason at all… Shut the fuck up so racism can actually go away you dumb bitch." Since we now know that Beyoncé was not, in fact, doing the shoot inspired by "an actual person in history," this argument is moot. But thank you, dear reader, for your eloquent and reasoned thoughts. I still maintain that the dark face makeup is bothersome, and the explanation that the inspiration came "from several African rituals during which paint is used on the face" does not sit well with me. Here's why: No particular tribe or religion is mentioned. There are literally hundreds of ethnic groups on the continent of Africa, and face paint is used in many different ways. So if you're not specifically copying a particular people, religion or "ritual," then what you're really doing is just asserting that "face paint" is something "Africans" do. It's a very Western/Eurocentric way of thinking. Africa is a vast continent with many bustling cities. I've been to places like Tunis, Tangiers, Marrakesh, Gaborone and Johannesburg, and while I did see folks wearing jeans and t-shirts, I didn't see anyone wearing leopard skin and face paint. Of course some people, in some regions, on some occasions, do paint their faces. The use yellow and red; usually have white smears or a series of tiny white dots. It just seems as though Beyoncé and the folks behind the photo shoot painted her face to make her look more "African," using a narrow, uninformed definition of the word. It also seems probable that, as a fashion magazine, they most likely did it because it looks cool. And if that is the case, they should just say so. Beyoncé's gorgeous, talented and smart; she has the right to paint her face black and I have the right to think it's a terrible and offensive idea. And in the end, this misstep has given her and the magazine a heap of free publicity. [Just Jared] [Rolling Stone] [Fox] [Pop Eater] [OMG] Earlier: One of the most uncomfortable truths about the fashion industry is that most models begin working when they are in their early teens or even tweens; they are children. In this editorial, Vogue Paris cuts right to the chase.J. Crew creative director and president Jenna Lyons' much-photographed Brooklyn brownstone home you've seen it in just about every shelter mag, ever is now on the market for $3.75 million. Lyons and her husband separated this summer and are embroiled in a bitter divorce; meanwhile, Lyons has with another woman who works in fashion, jewelry executive Courtney Crangi. The house and custody of their son Beckett are said to be the two most contentious issues in Lyons' divorce. More glorious real estate porn at the link. [] Label Daryl K shot a model dressed in its clothes at Occupy Wall Street to advertise its sample sale. As New York puts it, "Nothing says 99 percent like a $325 camel wrap-coat." [] Donatella Versace is in New York, preparing for the fashion show that will launch the Versace for H&M collection. The show Nicki Minaj and Prince are going to perform is tonight, and the clothes hit stores on November 19. "Girls today love to dress up," says Versace. "They love the Medusa. You see it even if they just buy a belt or sunglasses. They want to look cool and sexy. They don't want to look ordinary." [] This year's Victoria's Secret show (also known as the reason Adriana Lima hasn't solid food in weeks) features 38 models 15 of whom have never walked the show before and 69 looks. It has a budget of $12 million. [] Angel Candice Swanepoel did a ski-bunny-themed spread for the new V. [] Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, as previously announced, won't be doing the VS show this year. She has more important things to do, like be on the cover of German Vogue. [] Swiss scientists have found a way to bond a nanometer-thin layer of gold to a polyester core. The resulting fiber can be woven into neckties. For the man who has everything, CHF 7,500, or $8,450. []In order to view comments on jezebel.com you need to enable JavaScript. If you are using Firefox and NoScript addon, please mark jezebel.com as trusted.Fashion insiders are expressing their shock at 's racist behavior. Despite an alleged three recent incidents in which the now ex-Dior designer hurled racist and anti-Semitic abuse at strangers, including one that was , all of which came to light without much digging and within 72 hours of his arrest last Thursday in Paris...you see, nobody knew there was this side to him. "I was so shocked when I heard the news that I didn't actually believe it until I watched that video online. Initially, I couldn't believe it because and so many fashion people have said this what he did is so contrary to everything we know about him," says one anonymous London fashion insider. A stylist offers, "I think everyone's known [Galliano's] been crazy forever, but to be honest, he's not the only one in the industry." Says a "veteran fashion writer," "The fashion industry can really create monsters people live in these bubbles where they are fawned over and celebrated. Nobody ever says no. They get exactly what they want . . . They are completely out of touch with reality because they don't live in reality. I can see how [Galliano] has become this crazy, out-of-touch lunatic." [] Women's Wear Daily's Bridget Foley, who has been going to Galliano's shows since 1994, claims, "Never in all those years of seasonal check-ins has Galliano presented himself other than as a quiet, gentle soul. At times he seemed uncomfortable with the monotony of walking editors through his collections; at other times, agreeable and energized, possibly substance-enhanced. One sensed a bit of wickedness, but playful, never hateful or mean." [] Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Paris police says that the inquiry into the two legal complaints made against Galliano is not yet finished, but said that she believes the legal process will be swift. Joan Burstein, the owner and founder of the London boutique Browns, who bought Galliano's entire graduate collection in 1984, says, "I am deeply saddened by the fact that John Galliano has been dismissed. I hope that I have the opportunity to see him face-to-face, as I have no comment to make until I am told the truth by him." And though most industry insiders are saying Galliano's racist rantings are out of character, Pat Field would seek to excuse them on the grounds that Galliano was "acting out a character." The stylist continues: "People in fashion don't recognize the farce in it. All of a sudden they don't know him. But it's OK when it's Mel Brooks' The Producers singing ‘Springtime for Hitler.'" Karl Lagerfeld takes a different tack. "I'm furious, if you want to know." Lagerfeld went on, "today, with the Internet, one has to be more careful than ever, especially if you are a publicly known person. You cannot go in the street and be drunk there are things you cannot do. I'm furious with him because of the harm he did to LVMH and Bernard Arnault, who is a friend, and who supported him more than he supported any other designer in his group, because Dior is his favorite label. It's as if he had his child hurt." [] Yesterday, just hours after Dior announced it was , sources close to the designer confirmed to Suzy Menkes that he would be heading "immediately" to rehab. (There's nothing rehab won't fix, apparently.) And also that he had, to possibly fight his dismissal, retained the services of the same lawyer Kate Moss hired in the wake of her cocaine scandal, when several major brands temporarily dropped her as a face. []The question of who will replace disgraced total-Nazi designer at has tongues wagging all over the industry. (But then again, when are fashion people ever not gossiping about something?) But two of the alleged front-runners are tight-lipped. Riccardo Tisci, when asked after his Givenchy show about the rumors that he is in line to become the next Dior creative director, would say only, "I felt this was a strong, positive season. And I'm happy at Givenchy." [] Haider Ackermann, another designer one from outside the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy fold said to be in the running for the Dior gig, said cryptically when asked if he'd go to another house, "Yes, you have to find the right person and look in the same direction; it's like a love affair. It has to be a coup de foudre on both sides. You know, sometimes you have a repertoire of your own, and sometimes you have something else to express and the code of another house may help. I don't know. We'll see." Ackermann said that he turned down the opportunity to take over Maison Martin Margiela in 2009, because "Martin is my hero, so it's a soul and souls are not replaceable. But yes there are places I would like to go and that I might go." [] Then there's this, from Style.com's Twitter feed: "Not to add to the Dior rumor mill, but people in Paris are asking, why has the Lanvin team been in tears all day?" Lanvin's Alber Elbaz is another name that's been widely touted as a Galliano successor. [@] Earlier: Meanwhile, Sidney Toledano, the C.E.O. of Dior, confirmed that LVMH is still backing the John Galliano signature label for now. LVMH owns 92% of the John Galliano brand. It's common for major luxury companies to back the namesake lines of the designers who toil as creative directors of their flagship brands (see: LVMH investing in Marc Jacobs when Jacobs signed on as the creative director of Louis Vuitton) as a reward for loyal service whether or not those namesake lines, which are often lower in profile than the flagship brands, actually make money. (The John Galliano brand is said to "barely break even.") Toledano attended the Galliano show in Paris on Sunday, and he said, "For the moment, the [Galliano] business continues. This is a business which has licenses and tomorrow we will show the collection in the showrooms as usual . . . I am here to prove that business goes on . . . and to support the teams." Not a ringing endorsement, exactly, but then again, this is an industry where maybe money resounds even more loudly than saying "I love Hitler." [] One of the models at the Galliano show had a small Star of David tattoo on her arm. [] Remember when Keira Knightley rode a beige Ducati motorcycle around the streets of Paris, a beige leather motorcycle suit, like the mother-of-the-bride version of Beatrix Kiddo? Well, now the Chanel perfume ad she was shooting is out. You can't actually see the bike. [] An old Jennifer Aniston photo shoot was recycled for a new cover of French Glamour. []Holy eyebrows: Emmanuelle Alt put George Michael and Kate Moss on the latest cover of French Vogue. The singer seems like kind of a random choice, but then again as we from the video she made to mark Vogue's Web redesign, Alt is a George Michael superfan. This being the awesome video in question. [] Tom Ford has taken the unprecedented step of publishing photographs of five of his spring show looks on the Internet. Where just anybody can see them! Someone . Ford's spring collection was described by the designer as embodying values of "chastity and perversity." Now flick through the slideshow and grade looks "Chaste!" or "Perverse!" to your little hearts' content. [] Diane Kruger had to get cut out of this Dior couture dress. "It was so big that it took me an hour to get into it and the only way for me to go to the bathroom was to take off the bodice," said the actress. "Once I finished dinner, I had to go to the bathroom and it became so tight that I couldn't breathe anymore. Josh had to come with me to the lady's room and cut me out of it." [] Here is a promo for the documentary that Albert Maysles is making about Iris Apfel. [] What, you'd expect a Cosmopolitan lingerie collection for J.C. Penney to look tasteful and restrained? [] This is Nicki Minaj's fragrance ad. [] And this is Jerry Hall's iconic 1995 fragrance ad for Thierry Mugler's Angel. Christophe de Latilade, Mugler's longtime creative director, recalls of the shoot: "We shot this in White Sands, New Mexico. Apparently Jerry had been visiting her family in Texas at the time, so she told me, 'I will make my arrangements, just tell me where the hotel is.' The day of the shoot, a huge white stretch limo appeared with a chauffeur who looked like a pimp or something, all dressed in white with white crocodile boots. Jerry came out and had big Vuitton trunks filled with lingerie with her. She spent her evenings doing fittings with her own lingerie in an ugly little motel in Alamo Gordo. That was the sort of thing she did." [] Beyoncé's red dress that she wore to meet the President at the little $40,000-a-plate fundraiser she hosted with her husband? Oscar de la Renta. []Discount online retailer and investment-magnet Gilt Groupe says it is now worth $1 billion. That's a lot of designer flash sales! The company has 670 employees and is looking to hire for 125 positions. Gilt intends to launch a full-price men's site this year. According to the C.E.O., "our online male sales are three to four times bigger than Saks and five times bigger than Bloomingdale's. The question is: Who should be worried?" Everyone in retail who is not Gilt Groupe should be worried, that's who. Or else they should be filling out an application. [] Other positive signs in the fashion job market? Recruiters are hitting up graduate fashion shows again. [] United Nude designed this carbon fiber and leather shoe to be worn in space. It comes flat-packed, like Ikea furniture, and you assemble it. []The guy who makes the wings for the Victoria's Secret fashion show is working on a project with NASA, naturally. Designer Ted Southern has won a contract to make a better kind of astronaut glove. But more importantly, he says Gisele Bündchen is hell to work with. She is "really tough. She's always screaming, 'What the fuck is this?" "What the fuck is this" does not seem like a wholly inappropriate reaction to a Victoria's Secret get-up, actually. [] What's the thing to do when you're facing the possibility of bankruptcy on April 30, and lost $86.3 million in the last fiscal year? Why, start a denim line of $80 jeans! American Apparel, you never fail to surprise us. The jeans line which is launching today with two styles for women, which the company intends to complement with men's in time for the back-to-school season, assuming American Apparel, you know, still exists then has been in development for over a year. Why let a little thing like, oh, careening towards insolvency get in the way of a long-planned new product launch? [] Here is Freida Pinto's new L'Oréal lipstick ad. It's, like, in Russian. []The backlash over Anna Wintour's political activities the Vogue editor is a top-tier Obama "bundler," having raised more than $500,000 for his reelection campaign, and has personally donated over $96,000 to Democratic candidates since 2004 is here. And it is very, very sexist. On his radio show, Glenn Beck attacked Wintour and the Web ad she recently filmed for the Obama campaign (the one where she invited supporters to donate for a chance to dine with the president at a fundraiser Wintour is co-hosting with Michelle Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker) by referring to everyone's favorite hit dramedy of 2006, The Devil Wears Prada. "She was the devil part," said the radio host. "She was the person who was actually in the movie treating her co-workers... like garbage, waiting on her every whim. She is what [Obama] says capitalists are like all the time. She is everything she says the Republicans are and she's an Obama supporter." He then put on an accent to mock Wintour's pronunciation of "Mee-chelle Obahhma," and her invitation from the video: "I'm saving the best seat for you. Actually, I'm lying. You're gonna get a crumbum seat because you're part of the people." For good measure, he added, "She's not from a foreign country, she's an American." Wintour is in fact "from a foreign country" she was born and raised in the U.K. (though she is also a naturalized U.S. citizen). Meanwhile, paleoconservative-with-a-Post-column John Podhoretz devoted his entire weekly rant to Wintour and her fancy-schmancy, "ridiculous," nose-in-the-air high-fashion turpitude. Podhoretz posted a still from the video, and called Wintour a "horror show" in the image caption. "The head-scratching political event of the weekend was the Obama campaign's release of a video starring that peerless political thinker and ideological visionary, Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour," he writes. (John Podhoretz's qualifications to opine on matters political include the fact that he won Jeopardy! like five times in the 90s.) Podhoretz calls out Wintour's "relative lack of fame" compared to her co-hosts, and swoops in low for a joke about how fashion people have food issues, asking whether "the menu will include a salad of three lettuce leaves without dressing with a Tic Tac for dessert?" The conservative Web site the Daily Caller put a photo of Parker on its homepage under the headline, "Horse Race." The subhed: "FROM THE STABLES: Horsing around with Sarah Jessica Parker." That politicians sometimes host fundraising events with celebrities and figures from the media is hardly news. Mitt Romney is currently a strikingly similar celebrity dinner sweepstakes with Donald Trump in New York. "Dine with the Donald!" promises Romney's Web site. For donating $3 or more, you too can be entered to win a chance to "Ride in the Trump vehicle while in New York," get a tour of Trump Tower, and "Dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney." Why is Obama's dinner fundraiser getting so much negative attention? Probably because it happens to be co-hosted by two women who can be painted as frivolous, for entirely sexist reasons, thanks to their involvement with fashion. [, , ] Cass Bird was shooting Shalom Harlow for an Oyster cover story when a dude with a blue mohawk who calls himself Punk Kouture wandered onto the set from the Bowery Hotel restaurant. (We are hesitant to call anyone who dines at the Bowery Hotel restaurant a "punk," but Mr. Kouture certainly went to great lengths to embody the style.) Harlow flashed him, the moment was immortalized both by Bird and by behind-the-scenes photographer Christopher Peterson. And now it's in the magazine. [] Karl Lagerfeld's book of celebrities wearing black Chanel cardigan-style jackets is here. At right: Lauren Hutton, Yoko Ono, and Kanye West. []Gwyneth Paltrow, dressed all in black and looking kinda 90s'd-out to us, graces the latest issue of Elle. Inside, she talks about how "Beyoncé and Jay" are just begging her to get in the studio and make an album already. And she has a message for anyone who GOOP: "Unsubscribe." But Gwyneth, if we did that, where would we learn which brand of $300 cashmere socks to buy? [] Demi Moore is the new face of Ann Taylor. [] Isabeli Fontana wears a beehive hairdo and a crop-top on the new cover of Vogue Brazil. [] Lane Crawford, the Asian department store chain, decided to use only Chinese models in its fall ad campaign. Featured are Fei Fei Sun, Liu Wen, Ming Xi, Shu Pei and Xiao Wen Ju. []The bodies of most of the models H&M features on its website are computer-generated and "completely virtual," the company has admitted. H&M designs a body that can better display clothes made for humans than humans can, then "dresses" it by drawing on its clothes, and digitally pastes on the heads of real women in post-production. For now in the future, even models' faces won't be considered perfect enough for online fast fashion, and we'll buy all of our clothing from cyborgs. (This news sort of explains .) But man, isn't looking at the four identical bodies with different heads so uncanny? Duly noted that H&M made one of the fake bodies black. You can't say that the fictional, Photoshopped, mismatched-head future of catalog modeling isn't racially diverse. [] In other speculative uses of digital imaging technology: Victoria's Secret models in FatBooth. Only from the Daily Mail. [] Dianna Agron from that show about teenagers who sing is on the cover of Nylon. [] Today in unusual pairings on fashion covers: large fluffy white kitty, Caroline Trentini, Brazilian Harper's Bazaar. [] Naked baby, Dree Hemingway, Spanish Vogue. [] In her other big new magazine cover, Numéro, Karlie Kloss is not naked. []An objectively horrible and undeniably racist New York City hairstylist named Marina Vance called a no-show client and left her what must be one of the nastiest, most racist voicemails in the history of telecommunications. Vance said, in part: "I'm sure you're a fucking nigger, ah, who doesn't care for anybody's time, alright? I wish, you know what, please, that you don't show up for your appointment, ah, which is coming. Tifany with an 'F,' a fucking nigger, next time, or or a fucking Dominican bitch." The client, a woman named Tifany McIntosh who had been set to enlist Vance's services for her wedding day (she says she missed a preliminary appointment due to a family emergency, not that it matters because did you see that voicemail), took a racial discrimination case to the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Somewhat unsurprisingly, McIntosh won. (In fact, the hairstylist who seemed to have such a problem with people who can't keep appointments didn't even show up to the hearing.) The bigoted stylist, whose name again is Marina Vance, will likely have to pay a $22,500 fine. [] Johnny Weir wears a corset embellished with beads and rhinestones in his first MAC ads. The skater is the face of the holiday collection, "Glitter and Ice." [] Pictures of Nicki Minaj's OPI collection, due out early next year, have hit the Internet. [] This mesmerizing concealer ad featuring Rico "Zombie Boy" Genest having is probably the coolest thing you'll watch today. [] This is what the cover of Jimmy Choo XV looks like. It's a book celebrating the shoe brand's 15th anniversary this year, with pictures of 15 "iconic" designs. [] The new issue of V features a fashion spread where male models re-create snapshots from their youth, like Brad Kroenig here. [] Versace has reissued three of its printed silk shirts from the early '90s. Strangely, they are still hideous. [] Ali Lohan, in the guise of a model, is on the cover of a magazine called Fault. [] This is Nine West's first perfume, Love Fury. [] Fashionista points out that Mattel released a "Van Gogh Barbie" in June, which looks strongly reminiscent of one of Rodarte's looks from its spring Van Gogh-inspired show. Unrelated: When do we get a Claes Oldenburg Barbie? [] Image via Lindsay Dean/Harper's Bazaar shot Miranda Kerr for a fall fashion editorial showcasing boots. As should be obvious, the magazine really wanted the boots to be the focus of the spread. So Kerr is depicted naked. Having Kerr be nude to sell boots is far from "gratuitous" or "objectifying" or "tired and obvious"; it is an aesthetic choice completely justified nay, demanded! by the subject matter of the story. Exactly how else are you supposed to advertise boots, hm? (This is, incidentally, the we've seen Kerr's business.) So just look at those boots. Look long and hard at those boots. Do you think you'll be buying any boots this season? Boots. [] Here is Lady Gaga Photoshopped as RuPaul . Or maybe it's RuPaul Photoshopped as Lady Gaga on the cover of Vogue. Either way, you're welcome! [] This is Jennifer Lopez wearing some t-shirts from Teeology, the new crowd-sourced Internet t-shirt boutique she both invests in and fronts. [] In this ad for her Marks & Spencer lingerie line, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley describes the goods as "young and modern" but also "classic and sexy" and "buzzword and buzzword." [] Here are some hilarious pictures of Zac Efron modeling for some denim line nobody has ever heard of. [] For the first issue of cult boutique Opening Ceremony's new annual magazine thing, the folks behind art/fashion site DIS styled and shot a fashion spread featuring Carol Alt and Pat Cleveland racewalking. The sport/fashion thing (and heightening the unreality of fashion photography with Photoshop) is exactly up DIS's alley. [] Interview did a fashion shoot themed around the male hookup app Grindr. It features America's Next Top Model judge Rob Evans (right). [] Marchesa is launching a perfume. [] Reem Acra also has a fragrance that will go on sale in October. The ad features Crystal Renn, allegedly she's so Photoshopped we didn't recognize her. It is believed to be Renn's first fragrance campaign. [] And in yet more news of smelly things, Chanel is launching a new scent called Coco Noir. []Have you ever wanted to see the cacophonous and often contradictory body of contemporary dating advice distilled into a single, ridiculous document? If so, a group of Harvard students has now made your dreams come true. A Google titled "The How To Guide for (Romantic) Relationships at Harvard" has surfaced on numerous references to Harvard residence halls and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust suggest it is indeed legitimate. Or at least, it is legitimately from Harvard its advice is not necessarily the gold standard of healthy relationship-building. The document (which is now locked) initially had multiple editors the result is, as Jennifer 8. Lee puts it, a "crowdsourced" guide to romance. Some highlights: Some of the advice, however, is quite wise. For instance: Other items reveal the dangers of crowdsourcing (bracketed statements are from students, not us): One editor of the document says it's a project "for psych of close relationships." Psychology of Close Relationships appears to be a new course offered this fall. Its description reads, This course is an in-depth exploration of close relationships. Examples of topics to be covered include the biological bases of attraction; relationship formation; the end of relationships through break-up, divorce, or death; relationship satisfaction; deception; gender roles; same-sex relationships; loneliness; relationships and well-being; and public perceptions about relationships. You will have an opportunity to explore these topics primarily through critical examination of the empirical literature as well as through popular press. We've contacted the Harvard psychology department for more information; in the meantime, it's unclear whether course instructor Holly Parker assigned students to create a crowdsourced relationship guide, or whether they came up with this idea on their own. Whatever the case, the guide is a good reminder of how confusing today's glut of romance tips can be. Be monogamous! Don't be monogamous! Be independent! Be committed! Do 69! Set a fire! They may not have intended to do so, but the Harvard students have provided a pretty decent snapshot of the world of relationship advice and it's a scary, scary place. Update: Harvard student Rose Wang emailed me to explain her creation of the guide: For our final paper, Holly gave us 3 prompts one of which is, "write a guidebook for relationship success. You may write the guide for success in friendships or romantic relationships. Please be clear about your intended audience and the focus of your guidebook (that is, is there a particular aspect of relationship success, such as communication, that is the focus of your book, or are you writing a more general guide). Although you will want to match your writing style to your intended audience, remember to reference the literature in your book." Since I am no expert on relationships myself, I started this googledoc and seeded it with the first 5 tips and sent it over a couple of email lists, allowing anyone to edit the doc. Within the first 10 seconds, 20 people had the doc open and then within 20 minutes, people couldn't even edit the doc because apparently googledocs has a 50-person edit limit. I had to shut down the edits after 2 hours, because people were trolling hardcore and I was getting tired of censoring inappropriate comments. (What you see now is much milder than some of things people were posting.) I had meant to send in an edited version of the document as an appendix to my paper, but it seems like it is out of my hands now, and I am about to email my professor to explain all this haha. For the brave and/or bored, here's the entire document: The How To Guide for (Romantic) Relationships at Harvard Sorry everyone This was getting out of hand, so it's read only now.- Rose Although now it's more of a Social Psych project (sorry you'll need CUHS approval to use in research). Woops! Add a form but don't delete this! THIS IS AWESOME Perfect form of procrastination right before finals. :P We are helping a friend do work. This is real work! 0. Be attractive. Duh. - the "duh" makes this sound sarcastic but i actually meant it lol people who say looks dont matter are kidding themselves 0a. Don't be unattractive. good call 0b. Don't remove bag from over face. Cut out eye-holes to see with.This is extremely misogynistic 1. Go on dates...dhall meals do not count. yes they do... no they don't. you should pay for a date and not have your friends possibly drop in on your "date"! 1. we're not bankers yet 2. don't u want to meet the buddies? ? (It's no fun unless the crew gets some) it's not a co-op its a relationship. ? it's college..rose!!!! i ruv you. ^ dhall meals count as a bad date, if you wanna get technical 2. Embark on "coupley" activities other than 2am hookups, such as 1 am hookups. Preferably not blackout drunk. But not mandatory. 3. Prioritize spending time with the other person. (It's called studying together. And by studying, I mean not studying.) 3 or planning the "study" session with the next one 4. Don't hook up with other people. (or entertain the idea of an openly non-monogamous relationship) [a nonmonogamous relationship is sort of an oxymoron] [these are all on a certain level moral judgments, that's what advice is] Ok. Advice: if you and your partner might be happier in a non-monagamous relationship, then be open to trying it out. My advice: experiment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory 5. Remember the little things when they have finals/papers/etc. AND THE BIG THINGS. LIKE BIRTHDAYS. or what they might like but did not tell you (a theme you might see in their room, etc) ask favorite color! and animal? 6. Although technology tempts us to deal with problems via texting and over the internet, remember that relationships are between people and try to deal with problems in person.[omg too real] Alternatively, sexting can solve everything. 7. Remember that the other person (ideally) wants to make it work just as much as you do, and try to assume the best until actually assessing the situation. 8. Never make it a game of pride. EVER. STRONGLY AGREE.[OMG TOO REAL] (Stick to Hunger Games!) ooooh I agree with dat. 9. Do cute, small things to surprise them; small fires are a good place to start. what the hell? Small fires? Small fries. 10. Don't transfer your misplaced frustrations from other sources - midterms, job interviews, etc, on them. Remember that they're going through hard times too. 11. (Might not work for everyone) Try to keep focused on schoolwork during the week and make sure you prioritize work during the week so you can prioritize them on the weekends. 12. Be willing to make time for each other despite of your busy schedules. but don't be pushy though. 13. Threesomes. +1 (Only when your relationship is stable enough, otherwise you should stick to foursomes.) gender preferences/ratios? 13.37 Don't be n00b 14. Understand that a relationship is a two way exchange. There has to be just as much giving as there is receiving. [Impossible for this to go both ways ? FALSE!...] 15. Have a sex life. No seriously. true that. [A sex life is great if you are comfortable with it, but don't feel like you HAVE to have a sex life. Do what feels most comfortable for you or you will be miserable in any relationship][ Clarification then: Make sure that both you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to sex: If not then honestly its something that needs to be figured out 16. Don't be afraid to try new things together, both in terms of extracurriculars, new activities, and in bed. Sex toys aren't only for bored people! +2 17. Pray together to the altar of Budweiser [if you are both comfortable with it, great idea.]. 18. Remember that being part of a pair is good, but don't make your relationship all you remember from your college experience - there's a lot out there to explore besides your better half's *ahem* 19. Trust. Without trust there is no relationship. 20. Go gay! Why not? Everybody else is doing it. 21. Occupy the yard; freezing bums in winter is a proven relationship booster. Also, they have a sweet jungle gym. 22. Involve Drew Faust in your … activities whenever possible. 3 3 *Drew Gilpin Faust* 3 3 23. Before you pick/continue a fight, ask yourself if it's worth it. 24. Be understanding of your partner. Girls like to assume men are always wrong and need to be some knight in shining armor and be everywhere and do everything, (this is coming from a girl by the way) Also, always assume heteronormative relationship models! Like making sandwiches and doing dishes? -Sorry for the example. Disregard if you so wish.- 25. Learn to listen to your partner. They might be seeing things from a perspective you haven't figured yet. 27. Love them. 29. To guys (this is coming from a guy). REMEMBER the day you asked her out -____- Take the time to do something a little special on days like your 100 day. Doesn't have to be big but it shows that you care. 30. Take Lit & Sex together! It will never be awkward for anyone. 32. ALWAYS make it clear from the start. Casual hookups do not turn into serious love. -You never know, although when in a casual hookup it's best not to complicate with your feelings unless it's mutual. One of my best relationships started as a hookup 33. If in long distance, try to make rituals to do together send photos, postcards, or schedule Skype dates. ("Dates.") 34. Don't be in a relationship just for the sake of it! You can be strong and independent all on your own. You should never NEED someone you're amazing just as you! 34b . ^Truth. The best relationship might be when neither of you are looking for it if you're both whole on your own, then you won't be super needy with each other =) \/ to each his own. (Also FYI Rose, if you do use this bit, it's actually from Plato I think, where he goes on some rant about a red line connecting 2 people but I forgot where it's from.) 34c. I can't help but disagree a bit with above ^ I personally a think being in a relationship is more than two individuals. It's when two people give up enough for each other to be something different. ? Communism. ? False understanding of communism ? that's what the Communists want you to say. 35. Guys don't be jerks 37. Get out of the Harvard bubble. Unless that bubble is Mather Lather. When is that this year? ( Like :D ) 38. Don't compare the person you are dating with your ex. It'll make both parties really sad/feel like they can't live up to expectations or whatever. Every person is different (so treat them as individuals). Unless your ex is crap.(+9000. Flying spaghetti approves) 39. Don't just be completely cute and romantic in a pseudo-relationship without ever clearing the air about things. (Or... walk it out... http://www.boreme.com/posting.php?id=11971) 69. DERP HERP 40. 69 ? see what I did there? (#ISEEWHATYOUDIDTHARBRO)(ohsnap) 41. Just communicate in person on the regular. 42. Study for finals together. Like right now. (But you can look cutely at each other! Oh I guess so...) MEANING OF LIFE! 43. Don't study for finals together. Right now everyone is stressed out and its too easy to accidentally let it out at the worst time. let what out? Unless you two are helpful in relieving that stressTRUE.( (stress sex? does it exist? it's the best)no but angry sex is hot(at least for men stress = really really bad performance... usually) viagra? (viagra when you honestly don't need it is really bad for the health. Its makes it hard for a guy to perform normally without it later. So no) learn something every day.(as for angry sex. yes its hot :P) Learn from each other. If [s]he really likes something way different from you, try to experience it for yourself before rejecting it. It'll show that you care, even if you still hate it.+2 45. You don't have to be on the phone with each other for hours a day. You also don't have to get in fights about every person of the opposite gender [s]he speaks to. It's OK you like each other the most (hopefully). :) +1 [Straight] Guys and girls can have friends of the opposite gender. [Gay guys and girls cannot, evidently.]nope. only of the same. 46. Make sure you both want the same thing out of the relationship (are u just in it to have fun? looking for something to last a while?) 47. Start a rumor that your significant other has the clap! Then no one will want to hook up with them, so they can't cheat on you. :)*dislike* [oh god evil] (That sounds really reasonable! Good thinking. I'll have to try it! :D)[at least just say mono. gawd clap?]The Clap is at least 50 times as funny as mono. Don't even try to cross me. I will cut you. whoever wrote dis shit is crazy ? whoever wrote DAT shit just got CUT 48. Compliment each other sincerely from time to time =) Don't overdo it though. The rest of the time, compliment insincerely! Or better yet, passive aggressively. lulzwhat 49. Whatever you do/say/moan, be cognizant of how thin your walls are... and whether your windows are open...I hate listening to sex on the other side of the wall!! Note for Leverites: cinder block isn't that thick. [aka this is why I got sound cancelation headphones. Also btw Kirklanders... recently learned that sometimes sounds echo sthrough the fire places D:]! Yooo I know you can always hear people pee in lev towers. You can hear everything in lev towers. Or consider playing music. Loud music. 50. Don't cry. Bottle it up! Hmm but should we also be real with our feelings? No. CS50! 51. Post your partner's info on www.crimsoncocks.tumblr.com ? unless they're female? Strap-ons, obviously. Oh isn't there also a crimson boobs? http://crimsonboobs.tumblr.com/ what if i just want to show off my ti-89 51. I assume this is not just Kirkland editing this document...Hi everhttp://crimsonboobs.tumblr.com/yone! .Hello from Quincy! [I'm this far down the page and nobody has mentioned Incest, so I guess it's not Kirkland-only. Kirk-Kirk relationships are definitely the best.(Agreed!)] INCESTFEST!!! 52. If your boy/girlfriend makes a big mistake or ticks you off, it's OK. Take a breath before you fight about it. 53. (Not sure if this is everyone, but...) It sometimes is annoying if you only say "sure" or "OK" or "I don't care" a definitive "yes" or "no" doesn't have the other party questioning your sincerity/willingness to do something. 54. Don't go into arguments angry as hell. If you feel its necessary save an argument for the next day when both people are clear headed about it. 55. Train yourself extensively so that you can defeat your partner in physical combat (or carry her up the stairs, super romantic!) should the occasion arise. (why only physical combat? Do a dance battle instead. :P But jousting always settles everything. (Or if you're emotionally superior, you can win at mind games?) Yes! Mind games are a good option. Rose don't use this part. no mind games are not a good idea because usually its one person Really? I thought mind games were a really helpful couples bonding strategy. That's the strategy I've used for my marriage over the last six years, and it's worked out just fine. in a couple that mins (either the girl or the guy) and it leads to resentment{person with 6 year marriage. The mind games work when the couple is completely comfortable with mental jousting and feel equal to one another. If that is not the case then it can cripple a relationship, and nobody wants a cripplationship. We actually met as a part of an elaborate mind game. My spouse still does not know my real age, ethnic background, name, occupation, or gender. It's fun to try to keep him guessing! Wait, we have married people on here? Cool?[I feel this is trolling D:] (agreed) (sounds reasonable to me) 56. Play Words with Friends together if you're in long distance. And by "Words with Friends," I mean be sure to close your windows and speak quietly when you're on the phone. (But actually playing games over iPhone is fun!) (Almost as fun as mind games! See #55) Or play never have I ever A better idea is to chat on Skype or Google video chat 57. HYGIENE! Be clean and smell clean. soooooaaaap = win. soap operas? 58. Prepare a dance routine for every TLC song, because you never know when you'll need to perform one. Start with "No Scrubs" and work your way from there. (Wait, what?) (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=No+Scrubs&l=1) 58. And, if it's reaaaaaaaaaaally not working out, and you've both tried to compromise, then maybe it's just time to move on : But, if you haven't tried compromise at all, then man up and grow up. Only a Sith deals in absolutes. + Whoever is being a jerk-off learn to grow the hell up -__- And please stop trollololololololololing . Instead, be mature. For example, call people "jerk-off"s. 59. Play "I just had sex" by Lonely Island really loudly if you hear your neighbor getting it on, or Smell Your Dick, by Riskay. "My Neck, My Back" by Khia is great for subtler moments. "Put it in your mouth" by Akinyele helps keep it subtle and classy. "Play" by David Banner, or perhaps "Wait (The Whisper Song)" by the Ying-Yang Twins, always helps to gently set the mood. 60. Don't be related to each other (Yeah...) (super awkward) ( *turtle* ) Unless you are a four-term president and his lesbian wife. Incestfest being the exception. KHAUS 3 61. Don't follow Shakespeare, unless you're doing a skit for your date and [s]he really likes Shakespeare. 62. We're so close to 69 SERIOUSLY!!! 63. Be safe.But not too safe! A little danger never hurt anybody. Well, except for when it did. 64. Massages make everyone happy in the end. Do it naked. (In the end... see what I did there?) oil... 65. Do it like a dude. 66. Go for a cute one. 69 foreplay. 67. do it like your mom 68. Love is hiding who you really are at all times, even when you're sleeping. Love is wearing make up to bed, and going downstairs to the Burger King to poop, and hiding alcohol in perfume bottles. That's love. 3 Love is waking up next to a plate of bacon. feed each other bacon. Use bacon lube, such thing exists! What?Haha. I enjoy the 3 at the end the skeet after the 3 makes no sense, you should at least make it a d obviously 69. 69 69.69. 69 69. Do 69. ? subtle 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 69. 69 69. 70. What phone has a less than sign? No one ever sends hearts on phones! 71. Is your phone from the 80s? 72. The 1880s? 72a. They have less than signs in T9word if you look hard enough. 73. Be nice in bed. If you want something, show them you'll give it to them first 74. Cuddle. Bitches love cuddling... Ain't dat da troof. Cuddling's the best. 3 cuddling. true that. I agree! 75. Anyone want to cuddle?Cuddle fest! Eliot House? Kirkland-wide sleepover? Can we organize one? [Kirkland seniors had a sleepover in the JCR last year. Ask Scott.] (Yeah it happened during senior week) Meet in pfoholibrary Alright guys, lets not turn this into Law and Order SVU Lemon Law? oy vey Who da heyul is going to go to the Quad to cuddle with some rando? True Life: I go to the Quad to cuddle. TL2: I go to the Quad to randomly say hi. Not even any

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