Fangirling Over Four Famous Women

We all take style inspiration from different sources. Everything from politics and culture, to fame and the media has the power to change what we wear — but who are the female icons that have truly transformed how we dress?

Pinpointing the moment a style leapt from the side-lines into mainstream fashion is near impossible. However, sometimes, all it takes is the drive and power of a single female icon to create a revolution. Check out the leading women fashion influencers and find out how to bring their iconic trends into 2018.

Mary Quant and the miniskirt

The miniskirt is one of the greatest icons of the Swinging Sixties and British designer, Mary Quant, was the sole driving force behind it, taking it from alternative to mainstream almost immediately.

Although experimenting with the short hemline much earlier, it was around 1964 that she started creating miniskirts — named after Quant’s favorite car — in her London boutique. Sitting around six or seven inches above the knee, the style was revolutionary at a time when young women were still expected to dress like their mothers.

Soon, the garment went global and was worn by 1960s’ icons including Jean Shrimpton, Goldie Hawn and Jackie Kennedy. During the 1970s, the popularity of the miniskirt waned. However, rock legend, Debbie Harry, brought it back in true PVC style, before Madonna put her own tulle-embellished stamp on it at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards and 1990s’ girl Britney Spears took it in a fresh direction with barely-there cropped tops.

The miniskirt came at the ideal time — during a decade hallmarked by emerging youth culture and sexual freedom for women. Often considered a symbol of female rebellion against the status quo of fashion, the miniskirt is still causing controversy today in certain religions and countries.

Get the look:

Skorts are big in 2018 — so why not go for this style and infuse your current wardrobe with the 1960s? Alternatively, try a frill mini skirt with a cute cami for an interesting outline, or rock an embroidered denim number with a cold-shoulder top when the spring-summer season gets underway.

Audrey Hepburn and the LBD

There are hundreds of famous film costumes, but few carry the legendary status of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s number. Released in 1961, the opening scene depicted Hepburn in a stunning, black Givenchy dress with elbow-length gloves and pearls eating a croissant on the morning after a big party is a beloved part of Hollywood history.

However, the LBD was first launched in the 1920s by Parisian designer, Coco Chanel. Featuring on the front cover of Vogue in 1926, it was labelled ‘Chanel’s Ford’ which was testament to its simplicity and accessibility.

“Black wipes out everything else around,” said Chanel about the design, and it appears that fashionable women feel the same. The vision of Holly Golightly — Hepburn’s character — revived the high-fashion style and brought it to the attention of fashion-conscious, 1960s’ women who wanted to look effortlessly elegant at a time when women were beginning to be encouraged to think that way.

Interestingly, Hepburn’s original LBD was much shorter, but the film bosses of the time felt it showed too much of her leg. Consequently, costumer designer, Edith Head, amended the design, which sold at auction for £467,000 in 2006.

From the frenzy-creating LBD worn by Princess Diana in 1994, to the LBD donned by Kate Moss to mark a decade with Rimmel London; this symbol of simple sophistication is an obligatory part of female fashion — and Hepburn propelled it into mainstream consciousness where it remains.

Get the look:

This look is timeless and no matter which style you go for, you’re going to look incredible. This is your opportunity to rock whichever cut and length you feel most comfortable in. Love figure-hugging styles? Get a bodycon occasion dress. Prefer undefined silhouettes? Go for a tunic LBD. Need something truly sensational for a special evening? Opt for a floor-length, fishtail design for classic glamour.

Marilyn Monroe and the cocktail dress

Screen icon, Marilyn Monroe, is still renowned today for her on-screen persona, off-screen romances and unforgettable fashion choices. But when it comes to style, what made Monroe an icon?

Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, defined what it was to be sexually attractive and made it acceptable in an era when women were still encouraged to dress modestly. While most ladies naturally opted for blouses, long skirts and high necklines; Monroe showed the world how to wear clothes that showed off your body in an attractive way — and the best example of this was the famous white cocktail dress.

In 1955, Monroe wore the unforgettable ivory dress for production of The Seven Year Itch. You may not have watched the film, but you’ll certainly recognize the now iconic scene where air blows up from a subway grate and lifts the skirt of Monroe’s frock, as she playfully tries to push it back down — an example that perfectly defines how Monroe contributed to fashion.

This famous backless dress featured a daring halter-like bodice with a plunging neck and bare arms — a far more risqué design than many 1950s’ women were used to. Similarly, the sheer, strappy dress featuring more than 2,000 crystals that she wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 again displayed Monroe’s ability to create an attractive silhouette while fusing sex appeal and high-fashion.

The most popular sex symbol of the 1950s, many attribute the invention of the term and definition ‘bombshell’ to Monroe. Her curvaceous figure and ability to exhibit it with class and style today makes her one of fashion’s most celebrated icons. Soon after her death in August 1962, we saw the rise of miniskirts and knee-high boots — both styles that helped women break free of humble fashion during the Swinging Sixties.

Monroe embraced the power of femininity and did not conform to the modest trends of the 1950s, instead fusing her attractiveness with fashion to create an alluring, elegant, feminine appeal and encouraging other women to do the same. Perhaps today, we could even thank Monroe for 2018 fashion-favorites like figure-hugging bodycon dresses, backless jumpsuits and strapless tops.

Get the look:

There are plenty of styles around today that can help you channel the confidence and glamour of Marilyn Monroe. Bodycon dresses will give you an enviable silhouette by flaunting every curve, while Bardot tops allow you to show some shoulder and halter-neck jumpsuits look amazing with a pair of heels. Strapless, fishtail dresses are the ultimate in Hollywood glitz, and anything with metallic or diamante embellishments will help you shimmer like the blonde bombshell herself. Make sure to finish off your look with pretty pieces of jewellery, too.

Cher and bell bottom trousers

Before the 1960s, bell bottom trousers were most widely associated with the British and United States Navies. However, the rise of the multi-talented singer, actress and fashionista, Cher, was the driving force behind bell bottoms — potentially the most iconic of all 1970’s styles.

She is credited with popularizing the clothing style on both sides of the Atlantic — from the 1965 episode of Beat Club when she sang ‘I Got You Babe’ in flared trousers, to the end of her three-year run on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1974 where she donned the trouser-style throughout.

Looking back from 2018, many of us consider the bell-bottom jean — which were typically flared from the knee with an opening of up to 66cm — a product of the hippie movement. However, Cher brought the style into mainstream fashion via her fame and influence in TV, radio and film; encouraging men and women alike to adopt the style and aiding the fusion of gender-less fashion styles.

Get the look:

Bring the 1970s into 2018 by replicating these famously wide cuts. Think bell bottom jeans are too retro? Go for a pair of black palazzo pants and match with a cropped top and heels for a stunning, going-out look with just a hint of nostalgia. Or, pull on a pair of nude culottes and team it with a floral Bardot top for the perfect boho, 1970s vibe for drinks and food with friends.

There are countless more fashion icons that we and women before of us have used as a source of inspiration when it comes to dressing. They have paved the way for iconic women to be seen as trailblazers who make a statement, and create space for future generations of women to do the same.Read more at:formal dresses online australia | cheap bridesmaid dresses

How does the evening dress and its accessories match well?

Many aristocratic times inherited the dress code, still playing the nervous feet in the old communication civilization. To deal with the popular westerner, a few days early to join a company dinner party may be the reunion of the family to stop the preparation of clothing. If necessary, you should consult the dress expert first, then go to the uniform store to fine-tune. In order to cope with the higher social position, we should face the ”public”. After that, I will give you a detailed understanding of the basic knowledge of civilization.

Evening dress

Evening dress is the formal dress that wears after 20:00 at night, it is the highest class, the most characteristic, full display individuality dress style in the lady’s dress. It’s also called evening dress, dinner dress, dance dress. It is often used to match the clothes of shawls, coats and cloaks, as well as colorful decorative gloves.

Traditional evening dress style: emphasize female’s slender waist, exaggerated buttock below the weight of skirt, shoulder, bosom, arm fully reveal, leave expression space for luxuriant jewelry. Such as: low neckline design, with strong decorative design to highlight the noble grace, give priority to with Mosaic, embroidery, get a department fine plait, luxuriant lace, bowknot, roses, give a person with classical, orthodox clothing impression.

Traditional evening dress fabric: the purpose of the evening communication is to cater for the luxurious and warm atmosphere at night, and the material selection is a few gorgeous and noble materials such as mercerized fabric and flash satin.

Act the role ofing is tasted

Choose pearls, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and other high quality accessories, or artificial gems.


If the toe is exposed, it needs to be modified in sync with the facial and hand makeup.


Exquisite refined, choose patent leather, soft leather, velvet, more gold and silver silk blended materials, with Mosaic, such as embroidery, weaving technology combination, magnificent, romantic, delicate, elegant is a characteristic of evening dress with package.

Make up more

Petite figure – suitable for high waist, gauze, waist discount dresses, to decorate the proportions. Should try to avoid the skirt of the lower body is too loose, shoulder-sleeve design also should avoid exaggerated; The upper body can change more, the waist line suggests to use V word micro low waist design, in order to increase the sense of length.

Build an older person — a natural wardrobe, and any type of dress can be tried, especially with a fish-tailed wedding dress.

Full bodied – fit for straight line cuts and slimmer. Lace flower should choose thinner plane lace, do not choose high collar style; The design of waist and skirt should avoid complicated.Read more at:QueenieAu | formal dresses sydney

The beret is fashion’s latest must-have headwear

Maria Grazia Chiuri revived the beret  

(Photo:formal dresses melbourne)Recently revived by Maria Grazia Chiuri for the Dior fall/winter 2017-2018 fashion show in 2017, the beret is fashion’s latest must-have headwear. As well as being brought back to the forefront of fashion by several designers, the beret has also been spotted in the wild — and not just in France. Indeed, it has been rocked by some of fashion’s most stylish icons. Still, it’s important to strike a balance when working a beret into a look, so as not to fall into the trap of clichés. Here’s some inspiration from Bella Hadid, Sara Sampaio and Chiara Ferragni on how to wear a beret with style.

Wearing a blonde wig while enjoying some downtime with friends, Bella Hadid rocks a refreshed, loose-fitting beret, bringing a retro touch to her casual-chic look. It’s a great combination for the Dior ambassador, who is regularly seen sporting hats of all kinds. In fact, this isn’t the first time that the American supermodel has been seen rocking this year’s hottest headwear — she was snapped last fall wearing a stylish leather beret.

Style icon, influencer and businesswoman Chiara Ferragni was seen rocking a beret, matched with sophisticated attire, at Paris haute couture week. Beyond the retro touch, the hat makes a chic and feminine addition to the Italian blogger’s outfit. She wore the iconic accessory again to the Dior show, embellishing it with a violet for the occasion.

Model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne made a very noteworthy appearance at the latest Dior fashion show in February, pictures of which were seen all around the world. Dressed head to toe in iconic pieces by the French fashion house, the star rocked a masculine-feminine style capped with a Dior beret.

In a different style, Portuguese model Sara Sampaio was snapped wearing a beret as she prepared to jet out of New York. The beret adds a chic detail and a refreshing twist to her casual outfit of jeans, a top and a shearling jacket. The model pulls out all the stops to stay stylish while traveling.

Winnie Harlow — another fan of hats — has also been an early adopter of the beret, a French style classic. The Canadian model stands out with a bright red beret featuring a logo. The accessory is a perfect match for the red details on her vinyl parka, adding the finishing touch to a stylish and sexy look.Read more at:formal dresses online

Diamond Designs: Buying Diamonds for Fashion

Diamonds make a fashion statement beyond “I’m engaged.” Discover diamond jewelry trends and styles that can drive your next fine jewelry purchase.

If you think diamonds are just for engagements, weddings and anniversaries, it’s time to think again. Fine fashionable diamond jewelry is a wonderful choice, and diamonds come in a variety of shapes, sizes, cuts, and colors. But because diamonds are so often associated with the romance and symbolism of lives joined together forever, it can be hard to break free of the idea that diamonds are anything other than marriage gifts.

But that’s no reason to remove such an absolutely gorgeous gemstone from your options of gifts for others or for yourself. Jewelry fashions are constantly changing, and designers keep finding new and interesting ways to incorporate diamonds into their work.

A great way to wear a diamond ring that doesn’t compete with your engagement ring is to sport a completely different style or add some color.

A strong case can be made for “anytime” diamond purchases when you approach it from the concept of style and building your jewelry wardrobe.

Making a style statement

It wasn’t all that long ago that diamonds were usually either solitaires in a setting or accents to other gemstones. But designers have learned to enhance the beauty of larger diamonds in countless mounting choices and a variety of metals, including platinum, silver and all colors of gold.

You can make a fashion statement with diamonds by taking advantage of colors other than white, either alone or mixing. A ring, necklace or bracelet that mixes black and white diamonds creates a focal point. Yellow diamonds, alone or paired with white, are both totally on-trend and effortlessly classic. A mix of brown and white pavé diamonds in a rose gold setting is warm and wonderful.

Companies are creating exciting fashion settings in modern to heirloom-style looks. You can find chic new designs that take their influences from Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times, as well as Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Also, fashion houses and designers have partnered with diamond companies to develop designer jewelry in both bridal and fashion lines. So if you have a favorite designer, you’ve got an easy go-to for engagement rings, wedding rings and beyond. (Go figure: They discovered that once we love a jewelry brand, we often stick with it.)

There are many ways to make fine diamond jewelry the perfect gift for any occasion. With earrings at the core of nearly every American woman’s jewelry collection, classic diamond hoops make a beautiful selection. Other classics to consider include diamond studs, the tennis bracelet and large diamond cuffs with solid pavé or openwork.

Contemporary- and modern-style designs expand your choices exponentially. How about celebrating the swan-like neck of a thoroughly modern woman with a 22-inch pendant necklace?

You’ve got two hands

A diamond ring doesn’t have to be — or look like — an engagement ring. Some women are concerned about taking the focus off of their engagement rings: Will people be confused if I wear another diamond with it? A great way to wear a diamond ring that doesn’t compete with your engagement ring is to sport a completely different style or add some color.

Is your engagement ring modern? Then how about a vintage-style ring? Art Deco’s linear and symmetrical style complements more modern designs. For something more “fashion-y,” you might try a diamond ring that hits a trend that’s also a classic look, such as color-blocking black and white. That ring with black and white diamonds makes a bold statement that works with your strong black and white fashions, yet will never go out of style and can be worn with just about everything else. Have a favorite color? You can find diamonds in yellow, green, blue and purple.Read more | bridesmaid dresses australia

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Style Still Casting a Lasting Impression on Fashion

Georgia O’Keeffe was a source of inspiration for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first cruise collection for Dior as the label’s ads featuring Jennifer Lawrence can attest. After the Brooklyn Museum’s heralded run of “Georgia O’Keeffe; Living Modern” last year, the Peabody Essex Museum outside of Boston is taking another look at the artist’s disciplined sense of style with “Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style.”

For the most part, the Massachusetts exhibition features most of the major designer pieces owned by O’Keeffe including looks from Pucci, Balenciaga, Zoe de Salle, Ferragamo, Marimekko and Claire McCardell, as well as pieces the bespoke tailors Emsley and Knize. And Estrellita Karsh, the wife of the esteemed portrait photographer Yousuf, believes her husband mentioned how the artist wore couture made by Christian Dior. In 1956, Karsh traveled to New Mexico to shoot O’Keeffe. That portrait hangs near the entrance to what used to be her Abiquiu home, which is now a museum run by the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation.

“She really presents herself in many areas — in women’s rights, women’s independence. Taking herself to the desert and the fact that she was a schoolteacher who came to New York to a gallery that was in itself revolutionary. That was very, very push-the-envelope,” Karsh said. “She crafted her own image and the clothes were part of it. In this sense, the clothes not only made the man, they made the woman, or she made the clothes [making] the woman. So no stylist dressed her.”

Karsh added, “She didn’t have to do this. If she had worn slippers and a nightgown, her art would have been wonderful. But look at what she did with her clothes. Her clothes seemed so carefree, but they weren’t — they were calculated.”

Estrellita Karsh once caught a glimpse of the artist years ago during a salute to Pablo Casals at Carnegie Hall, where “100 cellists from all over the world had dropped whatever they were doing to come in his honor.” Karsh said she told her husband, “Look at this woman. She’s so beautiful.” He said, ‘That’s Georgia O’Keeffe.’…She was beautiful as a person, not a movie star but this was a presence — great energy.”

PEM has reimagined its own version of the artist’s style with a capsule collection. Cape Cod-based designer Brenda Lee created a Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired pleated dress, a wrap style, a black-and-white jacket and a swirl scarf. Lee is owner of the design company Cupcake International and a Barnstable, Mass. boutique called OZ. Lee’s husband Peter O’Keeffe has a distant connection to the artist.

Meanwhile, Karsh through her late husband’s work has a more direct connection to another prominent figure that is back in the popular vernacular – Winston Churchill. Gary Oldman’s Oscar run is helping to reintroduce the younger generation to the former British Prime Minister. Karsh’s 1941 portrait of Churchill is iconic on its own, even appearing on the British five pound note. The image is aptly named “The Roaring Lion.” Karsh described the scenario to Morley Safer of “60 Minutes” how he politely removed a cigar from Churchill’s mouth after Churchill had declined to do so. Harsh then recalled how Churchill told him, “You can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed.”Read more at:bridesmaid dresses online | formal dresses brisbane

A doze of high-end glamour

It’s been a week to the New Year but the party fever doesn’t seem to die down anytime soon. While you plan to head out to party all night long, make sure that your fashion game is on point. Ditch those predictable sequins and glitters this time, and make it avant-garde, with interesting silhouettes and styles. From vintage-inspired looks, oversized outfits, to men wearing mantyhose, this shoot has all that takes to turn one into the center of attention. It’s high time to ditch the regular partywear, and gear up in unmatchable style to rock the party season.

Being genderless

A jumpsuit with exaggerated sleeves is ideal for an out-of-the-box look. Model Veda Hrudya Nadendla looks ready to groove to the beat in this rust-coloured jumpsuit. A high pony with gothic eyes rounds off her look.

Layer it up

Let the spotlight be on you as you step out wearing a trenchcoat teamed with turtleneck and pants. Model Anand Dixit shows how to rock the look with his prim and proper pompadour hair.

The modern metador

Supermodel-turned -actor Karan Oberoi is wearing a 3D jumpsuit with a jacquard overcoat. The asymmetrically cut short pants have been teamed up with mantyhose to enhance the look. The experimental eye makeup perfects the look.

The powersuit

A bright pantsuit is all you need for a chic addition to your party line-up. Model Apeksha Verma is wearing a satin emerald-colour pantsuit with wine coloured kitten heels. Sleek hair with a quiff will add oodles of glamour to the look.

Boxy silhouette

This easy breezy look should be embraced. In this monochromatic shirt teamed with bombers and cropped trousers, model-turned-actor Karan Oberoi looks dandy. And that mantyhose adds a fun element to the style.

3D effect

Model Preeti looks pretty as a picture in this 3D floral skirt teamed with a leather brassier. With her hair done neatly in old Hollywood-style curls, she looks ready to be the showstealer of any soirée.Read more at:green bridesmaid dresses | blue bridesmaid dresses

Italian fashion designer Stefano Gabbana says the term ‘gay’ is outdated

ITALIAN fashion designer Stefano Gabbana, one half of the iconic Dolce & Gabbana brand, said in a new interview that he’s tired of being labelled by his sexuality.

“I don’t want to be called gay, because I’m simply a man … full stop,” the 55-year-old said in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily.

“The word ‘gay’ was invented by those who need to label people, and I don’t want to be identified by my sexual choices,” he said.

Gabbana launched the luxury fashion label in 1985 with his partner Domenico Dolce, and although they separated in 2004 the couple continued to work together.

“I thought that I could help spread a new culture as a famous person, a culture no longer based on gay rights but on human rights. We are human beings before being gay, heterosexual or bisexual,” Gabbana said.

The Milanese couturier said gay associations “often serve as a defence, but I don’t want to be protected by anyone, because I’ve done nothing wrong”.

He said he realised he was homosexual aged 18, when his girlfriend “who I really liked” came to visit him for a weekend in Milan, but when they went dancing he “was watching the men more than her”.

“I had known [about being gay] for a while, but I didn’t have the courage to admit it. Only through therapy did I realise that there had been clear signs in my childhood.

“I wanted to play alone … because I felt different from the other children and I feared that if we were together they would realise. And they would tell my mother,” he added.

It’s not the first time comments by the fashion designer have caused outrage.

In 2015, Gabbana and Dolce said didn’t agree with gay couples having IVF children.

In an interview at the time, Dolce said: “You are born to a mother and a father, or at least that’s how it should be. I call them children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalogue.”

His comments infuriated Elton John, who has two sons conceived through IVF via a surrogate with his husband David Furnish.

“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’”, John wrote via Instagram.

“And shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF — a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.

“Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again.”Read more at:green bridesmaid dresses | white bridesmaid dresses

Students impress at Makerere’s fashion parade

On Friday, Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts hosted the first showcase extravaganza dubbed Fashion Parade 2017, Beyond Fashion.

A concept by Nakisanze Sarah, a PhD student and Fashion lecturer, the parade was looking at the popular culture with a specific focus on function and beauty.

Here, Nakisanze was looking at different ways fashion has been used as a tool to pass on messages, especially taking into account different ways it has been a political fabric with legislators using certain dress codes to express their views, or other incidents where civil servants were asked to dress a particular way.

The showcase challenged and tasked students to take on the concept, then interpret it using their own experience and represent it in a fashion form. But that was not all; after years of fashion students staying hidden in the folds of exhibitions by the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology, this was one of the rare times they were having the floor.

The exhibition invited guest designers and also former students of the school but made the third year students the main focus of the showcases that transcended presenting fashion for smartness but tinkered with topics around technology with futurism imagery.

Officiated by acclaimed artist, Sanaa Gateja, the show started off with works by former students before mixing up activities to include dance and random modelling routines by members of the audience.

The audience, mostly students at the school, showed a lot of support to the first showcases, not only because the models were doing a good job, but because the clothes by acclaimed designers such as Judith Tusubira or Nagujja Margaret were amazing.

Tusubira was more inclined to bridal fashion, while Nagujja, with a touch of African fabric, brought life to casual clothes such as sun dresses, shorts and shirts for both men and women.

Olivia Nakabazzi, a finalist of one of the past annual fashion Seed Shows was terrific with her ready to wear outfits that received lots of applause.

However, regardless of how much the past students brought their game, it was the current students that carried the day with edgy and experimental works that came from wearables to show-stoppers.

Some of these challenged the status quo by presenting women as stronger characters than they are mostly credited, while others came from an identity place with people either appreciating cultures or nature.

According to Gerald Kato, one of the former students in the audience, it was amazing seeing students challenging their limits and hopes. He encouraged the university to have more of these shows to get the arts finalists ready for the market.Read more at:cheap bridesmaid dresses online | QueenieAu

India’s jewellery tradition of gold is turning to concrete

In India, gold jewelry has long been used to celebrate marriage and childbirth or presented as gifts during religious festivals. Ornate bridal pieces still are popular in the northern part of the country, while pieces in 22-karat yellow gold are favored in the south.

But change is in the air, partly as a result of shifting societal norms and the expansion of women’s roles in the workplace as well as the rising price of gold here and recent changes in the consumer tax on luxuries.

Jewellery created from unusual materials and in contemporary designs or sometimes inspired by traditional ethnic jewellery is becoming increasingly popular, with Eina Ahluwalia, a Kolkata-based jeweller, among those leading the way.

“A few decades ago, the primary jewellery buyer used to be the man, whether father or husband,” Ms Ahluwalia said. “Whereas now, especially in the non-gold market, it’s mostly women buying jewellery for themselves, without waiting for an occasion, purely for their own joy and satisfaction.”

Many women are no longer stuck in a what Indians call a Sass-Bua relationship, in which a mother-in-law controls a daughter-in-law’s spending, a staple storyline of many Indian soap operas. “More women are earning their own money, and spending it on themselves,” Ms Ahluwalia said. “Self-gratification no longer carries the guilt it did even just a generation ago.”

Ms Ahluwalia, who describes herself as India’s first conceptual jewelry artist, studied with the pioneering conceptual jeweller Ruudt Peters in the Netherlands in 2010, and says the contemporary jewellery designs created by Dutch designers in the 1970s continue to inspire her.

“In 2003, when I began making jewellery, I found the customers very excited and enthusiastic about finding jewellery that looked so different than what they were used to,” she said. But when a collection using concrete did not sell well, she began to work with gold-plated silver cut into elaborate fretwork designs.

Today, Ms Ahluwalia’s creations blend social activism, art, design and fashion * partly trying to counter what she calls the patriarchal associations of traditional Indian jewellery.

For example, her 2011 Wedding Vows collection took a stand against domestic violence by using renderings of kirpans, the knives that are an important symbol of her Sikh identity, in necklaces and other pieces. The words “Love, Respect, Protect” were worked in gold into chandelier earrings and layered necklaces.

That collection, she said, continues to be among her most successful, with its slogan “Accessorize the Warrior Within” resonating among customers.

Like recent industry trends among Western jewellers, Ms Ahluwalia said her designs were inspired by traditional and personal narratives, like her Wordsmith collection that displayed the names for God in Urdu, Arabic and Hindi.

“We aren’t selling jewellery,” she said, “we’re creating totems and carriers of messages and stories in physical form that can be carried close to the body, and worn as constant personal reminders.”

Ms Ahluwalia’s prices start at about $80 for a pair of shell-shaped earrings and rise to about $400 for elaborate pieces. “At first there was a cap to how much customers would spend in terms of price per piece,” she said. But, “over the years, the Indian market is exposed to so much more, and the customer base has significantly widened.”

Ms Suhani Pittie, a Pune-based designer who works in the gold-plated silver known as vermeil, agrees that the market has changed.

“The contemporary non-fine jewellery landscape has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis over the years,” she said in an email. “When we first began in 2004, there were only three players in the market. Jewellery was then divided into two categories only: fine and costume. There was no middle route for those interested in purchasing a product purely for the love of design.”

Today, unorthodox materials like concrete, wood, leather and found objects are used by many of the 60 designers whose work is showcased alongside Ms Ahluwalia’s at Nimai, a concept jewellery store opened in Delhi by Pooja Roy Yadav in 2013.

“Our designers use concrete, discarded watch parts, miniature paintings, nuts, bolts and almost anything to create jewelry not as an alternative to gold but as a piece of wearable art,” Ms Yadav said.

One of those designers, Anupama Sukh Lalvani, uses steel for her En Inde creations.

“I’m a trained architect and steel was a natural choice of material for me,” she said by email. “Steel is used for its strength and mirrorlike shine (to ward off evil). The tag line of the company is #findyoursteel.”

According to a strategic market research report by Euromonitor, the Indian costume jewellery sector is expected to show twice as much growth this year as fine jewellery, primarily because of what it calls the growing consumer preference for lightweight jewellery that can be worn every day.

Along with changes in design and materials, contemporary jewellery designers also have embraced new ways of marketing and selling their creations.

For example, Swarovski recently collaborated with 11 Indian fashion and jewelry designers, including Ms Ahluwalia. “It has introduced our brand to a much wider base of Swarovski customers who may not have known us and our work before,” the designer said. “Also, it has given our customers something new to be excited about since we don’t actually use a lot of stones.”

Ms Ahluwalia will not reveal her annual sales but, she said, 75 per cent of them occur online, primarily to Indian buyers. Her brand also has more than 21,000 followers on Instagram.

“Social media has been an invaluable tool to share these stories,” she said, “which would be near impossible in traditional retail formats, and very expensive and impersonal through conventional advertising and marketing.”

Traditionally, the Indian wedding has been the primary reason for gold jewellery purchases, with everyone from the bride to guests wearing as much as they own or borrow. Now designers, including Ms Ahluwalia and Pittie, are creating collections suitable for bridal wear.

As Ms Yadav said, “The modern Indian urban bride wants to have fun and her choices in jewellery reflects that. They are choosing fun experimental contemporary jewellery over heavily ornamented bling.

“They want jewellery that doesn’t sit in their lockers post-marriage, but costume jewellery that they can wear more often.”Read more at:unique formal dresses | backless formal dresses

Eastern Europe, a new fashion hub

In 2014, Magda Butrym, a young Warsaw-based stylist-turned-fashion designer, debuted a 35-piece collection of floral print dresses and blouses, finished with cutaway detailing and hints of leather and hand crochet.

”I had always wanted to launch a label that was distinctly and proudly Polish,” said the 32-year-old designer, who is largely self-taught.

”I wanted to create clothes inspired by Polish craftsmanship, manufactured here in Poland and to have my design studio here too. But I also knew that was not going to be easy.”

She had worked in a number of small design businesses in Warsaw before starting the brand that bears her name.

”There are no buyers here. There is no fashion week. No one is here to tell you how to do things or where you need to get your foot in the door. I was taking a big risk.”

Historically, Poland and other Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Romania, have never been considered high-fashion destinations.

Behind the scenes, however, close ties with the industry have existed for decades, with factories across the region quietly producing garments and accessories for Western European luxury houses from Louis Vuitton to Hugo Boss.

Over the last decade, some of that business has moved elsewhere as companies hunt for cheaper labour and lower production costs, leaving many skilled workers without jobs.

Now, a new generation of luxury entrepreneurs is building businesses that take advantage of that craftsmanship.

In Hungary, contemporary womenswear brand Aeron was founded in 2012 by Eszter Aron, its head designer, and three friends, with Ms Vivien Laszloffy joining the business as chief executive in 2015.

The label’s philosophy, Ms Laszloffy said, is to be a brand ”that people will recognise and know is from Budapest, in the same way people look at Acne and know it’s from Sweden”.

”People say it is against the odds to build a brand from here, rather than move to Paris or Milan, but we see it as an advantage,” she said.

”Everyone has a vision in his mind of what a French or Italian brand looks like. But no one can imagine a brand from Budapest yet. So, we can seize that space and make it our own.”

As a privately owned company, sales figures are not released. But the two women said sales doubled annually in each of the last three years, with the majority of growth coming from an unexpected region: Asia.

After struggling to gain traction in the West, the pair looked eastward, where the brand’s minimalist aesthetic and techno-fabrics gained appreciation.

More than 60 per cent of its sales now come from the region: In Japan, Aeron is stocked in major department store Isetan and fashion chain Tomorrowland, as well as in a string of boutiques across South Korea, China and Hong Kong.

Signing with Itochu, one of Japan’s largest trading companies, ”catapulted us into a different league”, Ms Laszloffy said.

And the success abroad has boosted morale at home in four factories where the brand makes its leather, knitwear and ready-to-wear styles.

”The workers have always worked for foreign companies. Now, they are part of a Hungarian success story,” she said.

”Furthermore, being able to drive an hour or two and see collections as they are produced and who produces them, rather than being a plane ride away, is a huge advantage to us as a small business. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Proximity to workshops and factories was what prompted Alexandru Adam, a Romanian footwear designer, to move to Bucharest after studying in London at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art and designing shoes for Vivienne Westwood, a British fashion label.

After introducing his own accessories and quality casual label called Metis in 2016, Adam initially intended to divide his time between the two cities. But after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, he was prompted to think again.

”Most of my fashion designer friends who have their own brands are considering alternative options for when the UK will be out of the EU,” he said. ”Everyone produces outside of the UK and most of the materials come from the EU anyway, from suppliers in France, Belgium, Italy and Romania.”

”Really, it just didn’t make financial sense for us to keep our company in London anymore,” he added.

Across the Black Sea from Romania lies Georgia, another former Soviet republic. The fashion and arts scene of Tbilisi, its capital city, has caught the fashion industry spotlight, in large part because of Demna Gvasalia, founder of cult street-wear label Vetements and creative director of Balenciaga.

Now, emerging designers still based in the region are reaping the benefits.

N-Duo-Concept, the brainchild of Nina Tsilosani and Natuka Karkashadze, a former fashion writer for publications such as Elle Ukraine and Harper’s Bazaar Kazakhstan, started life in 2014 as an e-commerce website championing lesser-known brands. A year later, they unveiled a clothing line under the same name and with a similarly offbeat aesthetic, produced in Tbilisi and stocked in a number of foreign boutiques.

Butrym, noting that Vogue Poland is expected to debut early next year, said: ”It is a really exciting time to be working here and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”Read more at:formal dresses online | formal dresses brisbane