Women, fashion has you covered

Ruth Negga 

(Photo:formal dresses)It is a truism of the history of dress that decade-defining looks generally don’t congeal until quite late in the period they eventually come to represent.

The miniskirts and Crayola colours of the 1960s, the power shoulders of the ’80s, the minimalism of the ’90s — all reached critical mass well into the midpoint of those eras, when whatever had been bubbling up in wardrobes and on sidewalks found its reflection in the wider world.

Well, we have finally reached that stage in the 2010s. The tectonic plates of fashion have shifted. Look around. What do you see?

Look to the runway: during the recent round of fashion shows, suits — and sleeves and long skirts — dominated. Look to the street, and the stores.

”Women who once bought strapless dresses with a little skirt are now buying evening gowns with sleeves and high necks,” said Claire Distenfeld, the owner of Fivestory, the destination boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. ”Four seasons ago we couldn’t sell a blouse, and now everyone wants a blouse. Young women who used to come in and buy Balmain’s nonexistent dresses are leaving with knee-length skirts with a sweater or blouse by Emilia Wickstead.”

And speaking of Balmain — even that label offered long knits, long sleeves and long crocodile skins among the short-‘n’-fringed styles in its last collection.

Look to the red carpet: there was Ruth Negga owning the last awards season in a series of generously sleeved frocks, and then showing up at the Oscars almost entirely covered in red Valentino — long sleeves, high neck, long skirt — and making pretty much every top 10 best-dressed list of the night. Ditto Jessica Biel (in long-sleeved, high-necked, floor-length gold KaufmanFranco) and Isabelle Huppert (in long-sleeved, crew-necked, floor-length white Armani Privé).

Look to your own closet.

”It’s a macrotrend,” said Ghizlan Guenez, founder of The Modist, a new fashion site.

Which is to say, a trend that goes beyond fashion. But what exactly is it?

The end of the naked look. The beginning of a new age of female ”pluri-empowerment” (as Iza Dezon, a trend forecaster, told CNN), as expressed through the kind of dress that prioritizes the individual and her needs over the clichés of female role play. Arguably it began, as these things do, at least three years ago — The New York Times began chronicling young women on the streets of Brooklyn layering clothes in creative ways that shielded or swaddled their bodies back in 2015. But it is only now reaching critical mass, thanks to a convergence of social, political and cultural factors as reflected in clothing.

And as far as those issues go: women, fashion has you covered. In every sense of that word.

”We live in an age of reality TV and transparency, where everything is out there,” said Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the innovation group at J. Walter Thompson.

”Images of women being intensely beautified, sexualized and shown like dolls over many years has had an impact on me, as I believe it has on us all,” Phoebe Philo, the creative director of Céline, wrote in an email.

As an alternative, Philo has focused her work at Céline on designing clothes — often oversize, soft, enveloping — that act almost as a chrysalis from within which the woman can emerge.

This is one kind of esthetic reaction, but not the only one. It is not only about hemlines, for example, at least not in the vein of Newtonian fashion physics (everything that goes up must come down). It’s not about power dressing in the old, battering ram shoulder sense, but in the sense that when you feel secure and comfortable and protected, you feel stronger.

It is reflected in both the hip historiana of Giambattista Valli’s floral silk chiffons with their long sleeves, sweeping skirts and chaste necks, and the head-to-toe character-actor dressing at Gucci. In the boho Puritan lines of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino and the slouchy tailoring of Stella McCartney, the elegant rock-star suiting of Haider Ackermann and the windswept Victorian romance of Erdem. Also the swaddling chic of Michael Kors.

”When people are seated at fashion shows wearing pasties, the only thing that could be shocking is a tailored suit,” Kors said, referring to the surprise appearance last month of Nicki Minaj at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday at the side of Haider Ackermann’s runway, her left breast almost entirely exposed. Also the fact that the whole look was still somehow much less seductively relevant than Alek Wek in a perfectly cut black cashmere tuxedo coat, skinny black trousers and black polo neck sashaying her way down the catwalk in front.

Perhaps because, as Greene said, one of the hallmarks of these clothes is that to a certain extent they ”reject the strictures of the male gaze.”

”They are not about what men want any more,” she continued, ”but about what women want.”

As women have found their voice politically, they have begun to express themselves sartorially, be it through white pantsuits, so-called pussy hats or the modest fashion movement. Clothes are an integral part of the debate over the freedom to make your own choices — whether about what you do with your body or who touches your body or what you put on your body — that began with the rise of gender-neutral dressing, picked up steam thanks to both the leaked tape of Trump talking about grabbing women and the debate over the hijab, and became even more visible during the Women’s March on Washington in January.

”Elegant” is a word that comes up a lot in association with the move to the more covered. ”Sophisticated” and ”practical,” too.

”I am convinced,” Kors said, ”that there is something far more alluring about women wearing things that give them confidence, that don’t make them feel as if they have to tug at their hemlines or yank at their straps.”Read more at:semi formal dresses

It’s all about fashion


(Photo:plus size formal dresses)Now that Bench has launched its first ever fashion week, fans of its biennial underwear show need not worry. Ben Chan, chair of Suyen Corp., assured the public that the tradition would continue to live on with a huge show, which always manages to court controversy while leaving little to the imagination, sometime this November at the Mall of Asia Arena to mark Bench’s 30th anniversary.

Chan and his collaborators did away with the underwear show’s 2016 edition to focus their energies and resources in charting new directions for Bench. During the last three decades, Suyen Corp. has grown to include not only Bench, but also several homegrown and foreign brands like Human, Kashieca, Vero Moda, Cotton On, and American Eagle Outfitters.

That new thrust resulted in the recently concluded three-day Bench Fashion Week, another first in the history of Bench as well as local fashion retailing. Prior to the series of events held at Bench Playground, Suyen Corp. and its brands used to participate in fashion weeks organized and produced by other groups.

This year it decided to have full creative control by producing its own fashion week featuring not only its brands, but also the collections of three young Filipino designers—one designer per day—such as Sassa Jimenez, Rik Rasos and Pat Bondoc of Proudrace, and Ziggy Savella.

Chan also used the occasion to formally introduce Italian hunk Pietro Boselli as Bench’s new endorser on the last day of its three-day fashion week. Dubbed as the “hottest math teacher alive,” Boselli, a model and math professor, also has a PhD in mathematics and engineering tucked under his belt.

“I didn’t feel that the underwear show was getting old,” said Chan. “Controversy isn’t new to me. There has always been controversy ever since we started staging it.”

But with the advent of social media, the show reached a new level of controversy and condemnation from moralists and women’s groups the last time it was staged in 2014. Since the context of the show and its numerous segments were lost on piecemeal photos and videos uploaded by the audience on social media, Chan suddenly found himself being pilloried from all sides.

“It was one headache I didn’t need,” he said. “But when I recently asked a number of millennials whether I should continue with the show or not, they wanted to know why I was apprehensive, especially now that they are of age to watch it.”

That was when Chan realized that his much-awaited underwear and jeans extravaganza still resonated with today’s young audiences. The marketing whiz always credits his ability to stay relevant by constantly conducting dialogues with various groups, especially the youth. It’s the only way to go, he said, in a retail market now flooded with local and global brands.

“I will never get tired of talking to millennials,” he said. “The planning of this fashion week was no exception. We derived valuable ideas from other people. But at the end of the day, we ourselveshad to decide what to do.”

Three days of featuring three attractions per day can hardly be called a week, but Bench is slowly getting there. Leading stylist Noel Manapat, a longtime consultant for Suyen Corp., said that the next edition this September will definitely be bigger, as they will also feature 10 up-and-coming Filipino designers vying for the top three slots in the first Bench Design Awards.

Organizers of Amazon Fashion Week in Tokyo will be flying to Manila in September to be part of the judging panel. The top three winners will get to show their respective collections in the next Tokyo Fashion Week.

If these winners get lucky, they might even be able to expand their market abroad. Organizers of Tokyo Fashion Week, including a Japanese government agency, have a program called Asian Fashion Meets Tokyo, which aims to bridge various Asian designers with the Tokyo market.

“We have yet to open our contest to applicants,” said Manapat. “Once we do, everyone from all over the Philippines is welcome to join, as long as they’re Filipinos 35 years old and below. We’re open to a mix of new as well as established names because it takes a certain amount of skill and experience to produce cohesive and well-constructed pieces.” (The contest is now open. For details, go to benchblog.ph/benchdesignawards.)

It’s not even a prerequisite to require designers, including Jimenez and company, to sell their clothes through Bench or any of Suyen Corp.’s local brands. If they do wish to sell them, the company will most likely feature these pieces at its high-end multi-brand chain called Assembly.

As for the featured retail pieces in the recent Bench Fashion Week, everything is now available in stores throughout the summer months. Unlike abroad, consumers won’t have to wait for the fall/winter season to purchase what they’ve seen in spring/summer.

“Some are already available, while others will be shipped within the remainder of the summer season,” said Manapat. “Our show isn’t really for buyers. It’s meant for consumers and the press. You have nothing to wait for because we’ve taken a see-now, buy-now approach.”

Organizers also carefully matched the featured brands with the featured designers. Day 1 was devoted to women’s wear with collections from Kashieca, Vero Moda, and Sassa Jimenez. Day 2 was all about young, edgy streetwear with collections from Human, Cotton On, and Proudrace. Day 3 featured smart, casual, and contemporary dressing with collections from American Eagle Outfitters, Bench, and Ziggy Savella.Read more at:short formal dresses

‘Clicks’ ahead when it comes to style

'Clicks' ahead when it comes to style 

(Photo:bridesmaid dresses australia)SUZANNE Jackson really is a one stop powerhouse when it comes to social media for celebrity fashion, beauty and lifestyle.

I met the beautiful young Suzanne aka SoSueMe at a recent photoshoot for the upcoming RSVP magazine’s December issue. I have heard so much about her from my models and wasn’t disappointed when I met her. From someone who had no job and no prospects six years ago, she has become Ireland’s most successful blogger with over 1.1 million international readers a month, 270k Facebook fans and 146k Instagram followers. That’s what’s called good entrepreneurship. The shoot was focused on the old guard of the fashion industry – yours truly – and Suzanne.

We were tasked with giving each other a make-over. It was great fun and she was a pleasure to work with. She was very impressed with the clothes I picked for her from the boutiques in Limerick city and county.

Of course, the conversation was all about her upcoming wedding as she is on the hunt for her wedding dress. I am sure she will be one beautiful bride! Look out for us on the December issue of RSVP, which should be hitting the shelves soon.

Hi Magazine awards

IT was off to Cork I went next for the Hi Magazine awards. Munster’s largest style awards event took place in the beautiful and newly renovated Clayton Hotel Events Centre. Over 600 of the most stylish from all counties in Munster were in attendance with Limerick well represented from the city and county. Last year’s winner, Liz Mangan attended as did Catwalk Hair and Beauty owner Neisha Leahy, who won Limerick’s Most Stylish Lady and the Holman Lee Agency model Edwin Fitzgibbon walked away with Hi Magazine’s Male Model of the Year 2016. Yours truly won an award for style, devotion and training of some of the top models in Ireland. It was a fantastic night hosted by Hi publisher Michael Mulcahy.

Note for your diary: The Mid West Bridal Exhibition 2017 is back bigger and better on Saturday, January 7 and Sunday, January 8 2017 in the University of Limerick Sports Arena and Exhibition Hall. We are already looking ahead to it so make sure you jot it down in your diary!Read more at:formal dresses online australia

Meet Jane Zhang, The Recently Married Chinese Pop Star On The Verge Of Global Takeover!

It’s time to get familiar with Jane Zhang!

The 32-year-old Chinese pop star, who first rose to fame after competing in 2005′s massively popular all-girl TV singing competition Super Girl, is on the verge of global takeover thanks to the release of her debut US single “Dust Off My Shoulders,” which was produced by hit-maker Timbaland.

Jane also recently tied the knot toMichael Feng Ke, the CEO of Show City Times – her management company – at a castle in Italy on Wednesday (November 9).

JustJared caught up with Jane to talk about the gorgeous wedding, the rising success of her English debut, and what we can expect from her in 2017.

JJ: Congratulations on recently tying the knot. Did you go anywhere for your honeymoon? Were there any mishaps on your wedding day?

Thank you! I had previous engagements in both China and the United States, so we have to delay our honeymoon probably until next year. Everything went well during the wedding. It was perfect. If I must nitpick something from my wedding though, it would be the weight of the [Tony Ward] wedding dress, but I wouldn’t mind wearing it for the rest of my life because it was an absolutely gorgeous dress.

JJ: Your song “Dust My Shoulders Off” has started to take off in the US. How did this collaboration with Timbaland come about?

I was working with J-Roc on a track in L.A., and Timbaland‘s manager was also there in the same studio. After hearing my music, he really liked it. And because Timbaland was also in town at the time, his manager was able to set up a meeting where I got a chance to show Timbaland the song I was working on. That’s how we connected.

JJ: The music video is very art-driven. How did you come up with the idea?

I wanted something very unique, so I asked [creative director] Outerspace Leo to provide me with some ideas. We have a longstanding work relationship! After a few meetings, I decided to go with this art concept because it expresses the core message of ‘Dust My Shoulders Off’, that everyone has their own problems, no matter who you are, real or fictional.

JJ: What was your favorite part of the video?

My favorite part of the video was doing the shoot of the Van Gogh self-portrait and The Scream. I even made the fake nose myself for the Van Gogh makeup; a lot of my fans didn’t even recognize that it was me.

JJ: How’s your album coming along? Is Timbaland going to executive produce the entire album?

We finished all the mixing for the album and we are still working on more music videos. And yes,Timbaland is the executive producer on the entire album, which will be out early next year. We have some really amazing features, you will find out more in the near future!Read more at:bridesmaid dresses australia | formal dresses online

Is the RBI’s Rs 2.5 lakh allowance for weddings a cue to tone down the big fat, Indian wedding?

Since Nov 8, the entire country has been facing the repercussions of the note ban. Long queues, no cash in ATMs, and barely any cash in hand are just some of the problems people are facing. And since this is the marriage season, those with a wedding in the family have had it worse. However, to ease things, the RBI recently decided to allow families with a wedding before Dec 30 to allow Rs 2.5 lakh. While we can’t say if this will totally take care of the problem, what we can do is rethink how we spend on weddings. Indians are known to be ostentatious and many a time families go overboard, drying up an entire life’s savings. Also, with the Reddy wedding now under the tax scanner, there are many benefits in considering toning down wedding expenses. But, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the fun. Here’s how you can still have a rocking shaadi.

1. Have one big function instead of many. Opt for a court wedding or a simple ceremony and throw one big joint bash. And remember it’s not a Facebook friend list-you don’t have to invite each person you ever met.

2. Cut out the physical invites and send evites. In any case most people are in touch over the phone or mail or Facebook and hardly anyone carries the actual card around, thanks to GPS. So, get an arty friend to design a fun evite instead. This also means you cut down on those fancy gifts that usually accompany the cards.

3. Dispense with the old style photographer. Who wants those snaps of guests eating, their mouths wide open, anyway. And with a smartphone around, everyone’s a photographer. But to ensure there’s at least one picture of you, depute a responsible friend who owns a DSLR to shoot the wedding candid style.

4. Ditch the expensive designer lehenga. Apart from that one day, it’s going to hang in your cupboard for the rest of your life anyway. Instead, think of innovative ways to stand out. Get everyone to dress according to a theme-say shades of white-and then turn up in black or red or turquoise. Pair a heavy brocade crop top with a lighter skirt. Or, rent a lehenga and jewellery. If you really like your baubles, go for just one statement piece instead of wearing it all.

5. Instead of piling up a big trousseau, take what you need and will wear. This whole thing about 11 sarees or 21 sarees or 51 is nothing but a number. In all likelihood their turn won’t come for years by which time they’ll be totally out of style. So, choose quality instead of quantity.

It’s time to say bye to the big fat wedding–because obesity in any form is unhealthy!Read more at:year 10 formal dresses | online bridesmaid dresses

A bloody fair deal

The winds were blowing hard. The clouds stretched their hostile arms to clog up the sun’s rays. They carried a letter written by the powers residing in heaven. The words poured down in the form of droplets and were conveying the message to soil and nature — words that only a few mortals could fathom. The cuckoo’s cooing reverberated through the trunks of the trees and walls of a century-old bungalow. The weather brought

chaos to the bungalow of Chakrobartys.

“This is unbearable,” said Bhanu and kept the newspaper down on the table. “Baba, what are these arrangements that you have been doing for the past two months?” asked Subha and stood beside her father.

Bhanu noticed her elegant, angular visage, and said in his usual soft, concerned voice, “Oh Subha, your wedding is day after tomorrow and look at you! You are a bride now!”

“Arundhati!” he called for his wife. Arundhati walked into the room and placed a cup of hot tea on the Burmese teakwood table. Her forehead was soaked in sweat.

“Arundhati,” he said in an unusually tender way, “Get your daughter ready and tell her what she needs to know.” Arundhati grabbed Subha’s hand and took her into the room. Subha noticed her red eyes. Her hair was tied loose, and an inevitable grief dropped from every word she spoke. She stood on the bed and went closer to her. “Is anything wrong? Mom,” Subha had learnt the word ‘mom’ from her cousins who came to visit them from Wales. Tears trickled down Arundhati’s cheeks and she looked away to wipe them, and gather some courage.

“You don’t know it Subha.” Her every word was filled with the pain that she had harboured for so many days. “This wedding is no less than a deal, a business deal.”

“They will choke you but you have to live as the options we have are already exhausted.” Her words left no opportunity to curse her husband, her life. Subha stood their in utter disbelief but the weight of truth was unbearable.

Arundhati gathered her breath to speak. “You don’t know how it feels to lose freedom…Subha. A child’s pain, you haven’t experienced it.”

Subha went quietly to her room. She sat on the cot and covered her cold, shivering body with the warm blanket. Her mother’s words kept ringing in her ears.

The wedding day is a bright occasion for any girl. But for Subha it meant dark beginnings. Dressed in a ruby-hued red sari, her luscious blakc hair was neatly braided and strands of white jasmine flowers were tied into a small bun on the crown. Her gold bangles clanged, in a way that seemed more music than noise. The mascara on her eyes revealed the hidden beauty and resembling the eyes of a peacock dancing in the monsoon shower.

“Are you ready?” enquired Bhanu as he entered the room. “My pretty lady!” His words were interrupted then.

“Baba, can I talk to him?” asked Subha. “Who?” asked Bhanu with a sudden curiosity. “Shantanu. I want to tell him something. Something that only he should know.”

“Fine. I will call him here. But the talk shouldn’t be long,” said Bhanu and left the room. A few minutes passed and a man about twice her height wearing a golden shervani entered the room. He sat on the cot. But his words were silenced at once. Subha opened the door and started towards her father with a cold, impassive face. “What happened?” asked Bhanu. “What did you say?”

“I killed him. Thank you.” said Subha.Read more at:bridesmaid dresses australia | sydney formal dress shops

Glammin’ up the gown

Models showcase the varied styles of gowns and maxi skirts in trend this season. 

(Photo:queenieau.com)Mercury levels are soaring with B Town beauties, Hollywood celebrities, models and the rich and famous dazzling in shimmery, symmetrical or even assymetrical gowns and maxi skirts. Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Jacqueline Fernandez and many others are flaunting them in style. While fashion trends come and go, clearly these maxi skirts and long gowns with a slit and a twist are having a moment right now.

Try the Alexander Wang’s slit front versions or the slender modern 90s inspired ones in your nonchalant style with oodles of confidence, pizzazz and panache. Style them differently for a brunch, an evening out, or flashing toned midriffs between a bustier and a low-slung skirt for that added sex appeal for a cocktail wedding. City designers share how you can pick your own style from the varied styles around. The slits are suddenly a trend and can be tweaked for a look that’s effortless like Beyonce or Angelina Jolie.

Designer Ramya Girimaji says, “Whether it’s a wedding cocktail party, a dinner date or a Sunday brunch, this season is dictated by femininity. And what better way to express this than through the drama of the right skirt or gown! If it’s a skirt that you want to don, a silhouette that works best is a high-waisted flared skirt paired with a small cropped top. The skirt is cinched at the smallest part of your waist, and the dramatic flair makes the waistline look smaller while hiding any unwanted bulges underneath. By wearing a cropped top that peek-a-boos the high waistline, you bring an element of softness.

Use fabrics like raw silk or even linen for the skirt and for the top, go for georgettes, chiffons or crepes. Gowns with a twist are trending this season. A silhouette that has historically worked is the empire waistline with a clean flow. You can’t go wrong in crepe with a high thread count. The potential to experiment with this trend can stretch as far as one’s imagination allows! The best looks are the ones that are tailored to fit.”

Go for layered long gowns with one layer having a high slit or just a single layer full length gown with two daring slits teamed with cigarette pants. While it’s important to be in sync with the trends, it’s also equally crucial to keep your originality and style.

Designer Michelle Salins shares, “There are various distractions on the runway for us to pick up with for the holiday and party season ahead, and what we’re all obsessing over is the maxi dress with a high front slit and a column like look. And also the floor length maxi skirt with a bare midriff. Choose the right accessories to dress it up. A maxi column dress with high slit is best worn in jewel tones for the evening and is very comfortable. I like it with a side slit which adds a hint of ease at the hemline and allows you the slight flare. You can team it with a fitted cropped top or a roll neck top, or wear it with a ruffle trim crop off the shoulder top. For a casual evening, wear it with a silk slim collared blouse or throw on a ribbed sweater for that edgy look.”

Bring a twist to your outfit, adds designer Anjali Sharma, “Uplift the aesthetic appeal of a garment into a more sensuous one. We’re watching the dressy clothing become minimal. A little detailing of play of fabric on its own is a trend to stay. The detail to watch out for is a knot or a twist to enhance a decolletage or a slim waist with fabric play and voila, you’ve got the look!”Read more at:formal dresses melbourne

Weddings take a hit as families struggle to arrange small denomination notes

wedding, marriage, wedding vows, Indian weddings, Indian women, proposal, Shaadi.com, news, lifestyle news, latest news, India news, national news, Gourav Rakshit 

(Photo:beautiful formal dresses)In a matter of hours, the celebratory mood in hundreds of families preparing for weddings scheduled for this week and the next turned into anxiety as they were suddenly faced with the daunting task of arranging for currency notes of Rs 100 denomination to pay vendors ranging from florists to mehendi artists who generally accept only cash.

One resident of Mumbai, who is getting married this week on conditions of anonymity said, “We have had to rethink the entire planning. The smaller vendors will not take card payments and all the money withdrawn by my family is useless. You can’t expect us to make large payments in Rs 100 notes. We are also planning to send out e-mails requesting guests not to give us money during the wedding as it will only add to our problems in case they give us notes that are no longer in circulation.”

Several couples getting married over the next few days said they had just withdrawn large sums in cash from banks to make payments to vendors.

Prachi Srivastava, who is getting married in Lucknow on November 21, added that during weddings, money is especially required for last minute purchases which are usually made from local grocery stores. “They don’t accept cards. Moreover, how do you pay the pandit who performs the ceremony. You can’t give them a cheque or tell them you will pay online. I am not against what the Prime Minster is trying to do but it it turning out to be inconvenient to those of us getting married,” she said, adding the move had especially hit those in smaller cities and where card payments are accepted by only a handful of vendors.

Sonal Somani, who is getting married on November 21, said she had issues with payment to the beauty parlour where she was supposed to go for her bridal make-up. “It is not possible to get a huge number of Rs 100 notes to make such payments. This is just one of the problems, you give money to relatives which is again a problem. I don’t have a father so all the arrangements are being made by my uncle and brother. This is the time you are supposed to enjoy your wedding, instead everyone is tense,” she said.

Wedding planners have also been facing the impact of this changed scenario with requests being made to defer payments or to have smaller affair to cut down costs. Raj Shah founder of Exotic Wedding planner, which does events, anchoring, choreography for mainly sangeet functions, said, “Our clients have called to defer payments because the little cash that they have, they want to use for urgent payments. We are also trying to cooperate in such cases.”

According to Harish Sukhani, from Koncept events, people have been offering their company extra money if they take payment in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. “They are also asking to cut down the scale of events to ensure the expenditure comes down,” he said.Read more at:semi formal dresses

Nina McLemore’s ‘power’ jacket

It’s an unfair and brutal truth: “The more women talk, the more men turn off,” says Nina McLemore. “One of the challenges for women is to learn to say fewer words in a lower voice.”

To be clear, McLemore doesn’t condone this prejudice. As a former executive at Liz Claiborne, she has always encouraged women to speak up. But she is a pragmatist. “We have unconscious biases we don’t know we have and not a lot of control over. We have to accept it and work around it.”

Nina (NINE-uh) McLemore is not a speech coach or life coach. She’s a fashion designer who advises female clients on how to dress for work — to land the promotion, reel in a client, state her case, win the election.

And in particular, she has made a name for herself with her softly tailored jackets, which over the years have both shielded and celebrated women such as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett — and yes, the self-described “pantsuit aficionado” herself, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

These are blazers you probably haven’t even noticed. You’re not supposed to. As the retail industry suffers a multitude of upheavals, the McLemore jackets have filled a niche, overlooked by the likes of Giorgio Armani and St John Knits, as the uniform for a woman of a certain level of authority. They’re not only designed to balance out a woman’s proportions or distract from a problem area — but to communicate power.

Not power as sketched out by Hollywood and Seventh Avenue, which tend to merge sex and ambition with skirts that are short, dresses that are tight and jackets that fit like a vise — but the version of power that strides briskly through blue-chip law firms, investment banks, the halls of Congress and, perhaps, the Oval Office. Power accessorised with a pair of sensible pumps.

Her signature jackets are cut with a narrow shoulder but a full back.

“Women are self-conscious about the shoulders being too big,” she says. But a woman’s got to be able to raise a gavel or gesture emphatically, so McLemore eschews the tight, high armholes favoured by high-end designers.

Her sleeves run about an inch longer than average, and she crafts 2 1/2-inch-lined cuffs so a woman can turn them up in a get-to-work posture. This aesthetic quirk also allows women to buy them off the rack, without seeing a tailor to adjust the sleeve length. Women, McLemore says, don’t like dealing with a tailor.

The collars stand up to frame the face and to elongate the body. And McLemore isn’t going to mince words: Long-and-lean is good.

McLemore came to be the guru of the power set after a dozen years at Liz Claiborne, where she launched accessories and sat on the executive committee. Moving on, she got her MBA from Columbia University, worked in venture capital and fancied herself a bit of a ski bum. Then a few women with sizable incomes and plenty of clout — bankers mostly — complained to her that they couldn’t find anything to wear to work, and asked whether McLemore, as a favour, would help them shop.

After marching these women in and out of boutiques along New York’s Madison Avenue, McLemore recognised their problem. High-end fashion lines had turned their focus towards trendy customers from China and other developing markets rather than catering to the more quotidien needs of those in the retail-saturated United States. And designers had also made the false assumption that baby boomers had aged out of fashion. They were all chasing millennials.

Armani had become obsessively committed to men’s-wear-style tailoring and a neutral palette that did not play well on television. St John, once beloved for its wrinkle-proof separates, had hired Angelina Jolie as a brand ambassador and ratcheted prices upwards. While Akris, a favourite of former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, still offered exquisite tailoring, it had become more pricey than most women can bear. And frankly, many accomplished women in their 50s and 60s were simply not ready to embrace the new power uniform as flaunted by gym-buff 40-somethings like Michelle Obama and the entire female on-air staff of the Today show: the sleeveless, form-fitting sheath.

In other words, fashion had left a lucrative market in the lurch.

When other designers talk about their inspirations, they often drift into poetic reveries about an art exhibition that moved them, a film that haunted their dreams or a landscape that left them in awe.

McLemore, on the other hand, is more likely to explain her creative process with sentences that begin, “There’s a very interesting study …”

Our brains, she says, make snap assessments about people that can determine everything from who gets hired to who we talk to at a cocktail party. We remember how someone looked more often than we remember exactly what they said. So, look capable, look confident, look good.

In spring 2003, McLemore debuted her collection of jackets, trousers and shirts for the kind of women who live a good portion of their professional lives on C-SPAN, CNN and PBS. She offered them comfortable tailoring in TV-friendly colours, fabrics that don’t wrinkle and at a cost — about $800 (Dh2,938) for a jacket — that’s a good 40 per cent less than the usual designer prices.

Her clients could afford to pay more, but those who have constituents rather than shareholders are loathe to be known for running up their American Express with $4,000 Akris blazers or a $12,000 Giorgio Armani leather coat, of the kind that Clinton recently drew criticism for reportedly wearing.

Although she calls the District of Columbia home, McLemore’s company is based in New York, and she manufactures most everything in the city’s Garment District. Of all her designs, three jacket styles stand out: the Suzanne, the Retro, the Car Coat.

The Suzanne, which is Warren’s preferred silhouette, flatters slender women with lines that gently follow the body. A jacket with a (American) size 8 bustline, for example, eases out to a size 10 at the hips. The Retro is a bit longer, covering the tush — we’ve seen it a lot on Clinton. And the Car Coat is longer still; it’s the style McLemore suggests for taller women or those who are thick in the middle but with skinny legs — a shorter jacket would make them look a bit like “a box on toothpicks.”

Every inch of a McLemore jacket is in service to her customers’ authoritative image; there are no flights of fancy. And every straight-to-the-point observation uttered by McLemore is intended to tell a client what she needs to know and not what she wants to hear. How’s candidate Clinton doing? McLemore would like to see her occasionally dress a bit more casually: “She looks very formal. She’s too East-Coast-dressed-up.”

Being on the public stage makes a woman subject to scrutiny. But it’s also an opportunity, McLemore says. The question to ask is not “What do I want to wear?” but “What impact do I want to make ?”Read more at:year 10 formal dresses | red formal dresses

Three stylish women collect gowns that transform them into fashion royalty

Three stylish women collect gowns that transform them into fashion royalty.

On May 18 last year, fans of designer Oscar de la Renta glided into the Audi Fashion Festival tent dressed in their best from the designer.

It was the first Singapore showcase for the Dominican-American designer, who died in October last year.

Among them was Mrs Nana Au-Chua, who stood out amid a sea of beautiful women in a multi-coloured tube cocktail dress, even though she was standing in a dark corner of the crowded show space.

At 1.75m, she towered over other show-goers and possessed a sense of elegance and confidence. Her sleek low bun completed the red-carpet-ready look.

The chief operating officer of lighting company Million Lighting is a fan of Oscar de la Renta and has over 30 of his gowns and cocktail dresses. His gowns make up most of her collection, which is partially tucked away in a storage facility.

“My body is not perfect, but his gowns have the ability to make my flaws disappear and make me feel like a princess,” says the 43-year-old.

She adds that tube gowns work best for her. “Tube dresses draw attention to my shoulders so people don’t look at my tummy,” she explains bashfully.

“There’s nothing over-the-top about his designs. They are classic, but still have the ability to make people go wow,” says the mother of three, aged two to 11.

Her husband, Mr Edwin Chua, 42, is the chief executive of Million Lighting.

Mrs Au-Chua, a former bank executive, bought the gowns from the brand’s boutique at South Cove Plaza in Costa Mesa, California. She has been making annual trips there with her family for the last eight years.

The designer Carolina Herrera is another favourite. Mrs Au-Chua’s everyday dressing of a crisp shirt and voluminous skirt mirrors the Venezuelan-American designer’s personal style.

“I’m drawn to designers that are all about elegance and sophistication,” she says.

Her style icons – actress Audrey Hepburn, former US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Queen Rania of Jordan – exude these qualities.

Mrs Au-Chua says that it was her businessman father who made her value the importance of looking presentable.

“Even if we were just staying at home, my father did not like us leaving our bedrooms dressed sloppily,” says Mrs Au-Chua, who grew up in Batu Pahat, Johor, as the youngest of seven daughters.

Towards the end of the interview, she takes out two scrapbooks filled with magazine clippings of her favourite gowns (mostly from Oscar de la Renta again) and make-up looks, and shows them off with girlish pride.

“Evening gowns are so special because they are always associated with happy occasions.”

As the managing director of DeFRED Jewellers, Mrs Sharel Ho can certainly afford to buy her own designer gowns.

But a strong sense of personal style and a desire to stand out have led her to design her own evening gowns.

More than 60 per cent of her gown collection, which she is unable to attach a number to, are one-of-a-kind pieces that she designed.

The rest are from an array of designer brands, such as Valentino, Lanvin, Alexander McQueen and Oscar de la Renta, which she stores in a bedroom with the rest of her clothes. She is staying in a condominium along Thomson Lane while she looks for a new house.

On the day of the photo-shoot, she arrives at the presidential suite of The St Regis Singapore hotel armed with some of her best designs made by local tailor Heng Nam Nam.

Among her favourites is a fiery red dress with a long train that features a racerfront neckline – a recurring feature in many of her gowns. She also shows off a gold one-shoulder number with a mermaid silhouette that she designed a year ago.

“I think my shoulders and legs are my best features, so I love to show them off. When I design my own gown, I’ll highlight all my best features,” says Mrs Ho, who is married to Mr Fred Ho, owner of DeFRED Jewellers. He is in his 50s.

Mrs Ho is quick to state that she is by no means a designer in the strict sense of the word and that she dreams up designs by drawing inspiration from awards and fashion shows.

“I can’t sketch; my sketches are really ugly. I’ll describe elements from gowns that I’ve seen and get Nam Nam to make them for me,” says Mrs Ho, who had her first bespoke dress tailored 10 years ago.

Each bespoke dress costs at least $1,000, she says.

“Sometimes it costs just as much as a designer gown, but I get exactly what I want,” says Mrs Ho, who attends more than 12 balls a year.

Exuding confidence, during the photo-shoot, she works her best angles wearing gowns that her maid Loreta Tablizo, 38, helps to select.

“I’ve been really busy and Loreta knows my closet well,” she explains.

Ms Tablizo, who has worked for Mrs Ho for 11 years, also doubles up as a production assistant by snapping behind-the-scenes shots of the photo-shoot. It turns out that she is also behind many of Mrs Ho’s OOTD or Outfit of The Day photographs on Instagram (shareltanho26).

Mrs Ho, a mother of two daughters aged 16 and 12, is also fond of taking selfies or self-portraits.

“It’s how I found my best angles; I realised that I like my left profile best,” says Mrs Ho, 40.

She has no qualms about being called vain. Neither is she afraid to admit that she relies on monthly radio frequency treatments to lift and firm her skin.

“Women should be vain. Only then will you take better care of yourself.”

It may seem risky to go online and drop thousands of dollars on an evening gown, but lawyer Min-Li Tan has amassed a collection of over 20 gowns in this fashion.

With an astute eye for style and good deals, her online shopping jaunts have reaped gems such as a Zac Posen bustier gown with an asymmetrical hem that was priced a few thousand dollars less due to a technical fault.

Not one to be deterred by sizing issues, Ms Tan has even purchased dresses that are bigger that her size 0 frame.

She notes that odd-sized dresses tend to get marked down and can be altered to fit.

“I never buy any of my gowns in Singapore, because the selection is rather limited,” says the corporate lawyer. She counts Net-A-Porter, Shopbop and Matches Fashion among her go-to e-commerce sites.

In her wardrobe – a bedroom set aside for her clothes and shoes – hangs voluminous gowns from Oscar de la Renta, a lacy Lela Rose number and an embellished Carolina Herrera gown, just to name a few.

She shops online partly because her workdays stretch beyond midnight on some days.

Even though this interview and photo-shoot take place during her week off from work, she responds to work e-mails and takes phone calls while getting her hair and make-up done.

And once the shoot is over, she hurries out of her landed property in the central part of Singapore, and heads to the office.

“Sometimes my job gets really intense because of difficult people and situations. I love it, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break and enjoy the lighter side of life, like fashion,” says Ms Tan, who declines to reveal her age and marital status.

She bought her first gown five years ago when invitations to balls started to come her way. On average, she attends five balls a year and the occasions allow her to live out a childhood dream of dressing up,

“Growing up, I loved watching my mother get dressed up for parties. I would also borrow her fashion magazines and do sketches of gowns that I liked,” says Ms Tan, who is a fixture in glamorous society magazines.

She has taken her passion for fashion a step further by designing a collection with local accessories and ready-to-wear label Mad About Hue.Read more at:pink formal dresses | orange formal dresses