24 December 2009

Cocaine Chic Linked To Rise In Young Addicts

London Times Online

The number of children being treated for cocaine addiction has nearly doubled in four years, NHS figures show, with the drug’s “glamorous” image being blamed for the rise.

Young adults are increasingly requiring treatment for addiction to cocaine, often after developing a habit in their teens or twenties.

Last year 745 under-18s in England sought help from the National Treatment Agency after abusing the Class A drug, up from 453 in 2005-06.

Among those reporting addictions last year was a small group of very young children, including at least 15 children who were under 12, the latest figures show. Fourteen children aged 12 to 14 and 169 children aged between 14 and 16 also needed help to stop using cocaine, although fewer teenagers were seeking treatment for crack and heroin dependencies.

Experts said that children who started to use Class A drugs so young were likely to be using them as a “coping mechanism” to hide other problems, copying parents or other family members who were already abusing the substances.

Overall, nearly 24,053 under 18s needed addiction treatment for misusing illegal drugs and alcohol last year, 150 more than the total three years ago.

The number of individuals treated for cannabis was 12,642 and alcohol 8,799, accounting for almost nine out of 10 of all young people receiving support last year.

Last year the agency treated 657 crack and heroin users who were under 18, down from 1,081 in 2005-06.

Three quarters of young people treated had psychosocial therapies such as counselling, but others required support for the breakdown of family relationships, poor school attendance or emotional and physical harms.

Harry Shapiro, director of communications at the charity Drugscope, said that a shift in use away from heroin and crack towards cocaine reflected a general trend among all age groups.

“If young people are in a particularly risky or dysfunctional environment, alcohol or cannabis abuse is going to be more likely, and that makes them more likely to try other drugs.

“Cannabis has gone down since 2002, the general trends might be flat or dipping, but there is a minority of young people trying drugs as a coping mechanism.

“If you are in an environment where the house is used as a dealing hub or there are users regularly coming round to score, or if they come into contact with Class A substances through family members who are using them, then clearly that is an issue.

“Although they are coming forward for treatment, it’s likely that their drug use is symptomatic of other problems that are going on at home or school.

“I don’t think it’s a question of children and teenagers hanging round street corners, buying off dealers, but that could be their future if they don’t get treatment.”

Figures published this month show that the number of people under 35 entering treatment for cocaine addiction has increased by 75 per cent among men and 60 per cent for women in the past four years. The average age to start using the drug was 21.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, said: “There is a real problem with young people receiving mixed messages because of the alleged glamour associated with drugs such as cocaine.

“We need to get the message across about the dangers of experimenting with a massively addictive drug such as cocaine.

“The Government has been obsessed with trying to look tough on drugs while slashing funding for information services and refusing to listen to scientific opinion. Ministers must do a lot more to make people aware of the serious damage that drug use can do to your long-term health.”

Rosanna O’Connor, director of delivery at the NTA, said that the latest figures indicated that the heroin “epidemic” had peaked.

She said: “Most young people receiving substance misuse interventions cannot be described as addicts in the same way as adults in cocaine addiction treatment programs.

“Addiction is normally the result of regular, consistent use of substances over time; most under-18s who have problems have not pursued drug-taking long enough to result in dependency.”

John Mallalieu, of the charity Turning Point, said that there was no conclusive answer as to why fewer young people were receiving crack or heroin addiction treatment, “but it seems they may now be more aware of the potential consequences of using these drugs than previous generations were”.

He added: “The fact that more young people are drinking tells us that similar cultural messages for alcohol are not sinking in. In 2008 heroin was responsible for around 900 deaths, whereas alcohol was attributed to nearly 8,500.

“Quite simply, greater resource is needed to ensure that England’s next generation of drinkers are taught of the dangers of alcohol, and change their behaviour before it is too late.”

13 December 2009

Can You Own A Hepburn?


Little Black Dress: How to Steal a Million

Are you in need of a new ensemble for your sojourn in Rome? Or perhaps some loungewear for serenading the moon on your fire escape? Today in London, Kerry Taylor Auctions will sell off an important collection of Audrey Hepburn clothing during its Passion for Fashion sale. The collection has been widely publicized and anticipated across the globe.

For a woman who saw herself as "too skinny, too flat and too tall," Hepburn played a major part in the way women looked and behaved in the 20th century. From ballet flats to skinny black jeans, Hepburn's wardrobe staples continue to influence another generation of fashion. In 2006, Gap went so far as to have Hepburn star in a commercial by using old film footage for its line of skinny black pants, similar to the ones she wore in the film Funny Face.

During a time when the feminine ideal was "the perfect size 10," Hepburn broke the mold of what it means to be feminine. She sported a pixie-like frame among voluptuous contemporaries like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. McCall's claimed that she had "all the curves of a piece of melba toast viewed from the side." And playwright Anita Loos once quipped, "Her hat size is bigger than her waist!" Despite the jokes and criticisms, many women still saw Hepburn as a symbol of elegance and grace.

The auction collection contains 40 lots and is the product of a lifelong hand-me-down tradition. Hepburn, who hated to waste anything, would send her old clothing to her former neighbor and lifelong friend, Tanja Star-Busmann. "Over the years a cavalcade of boxes filled to the brim with haute couture gowns and divine little cocktail ensembles arrived at my door. Unpacking them was always like Christmas, a thousand times over," Star-Busmann wrote in the auction catalog.

The auction also tells the story of Hepburn's lifelong friendship and devotion to designer Hubert Givenchy. Almost half of the collection consists of Givenchy originals, many haute couture and inspired by the actress. Instead of trying to hide Hepburn's petite frame behind bustles of fabric, Givenchy embraced her slender figure and emphasized it with clean lines and form-fitting silhouettes.

Many of the high-ticket items are Givenchy haute-couture gowns, including the black lace cocktail dress Hepburn wore in How to Steal a Million and the black silk dress worn to promote Paris When it Sizzles, which looks like the cocktail-length version of the famous gown worn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. One gown, which was worn during the opera scene of Love in the Afternoon, was sent to Star-Busmann shortly after she gave birth to her daughter with a note from Hepburn saying she thought the dress might remind Star-Busmann "what it was like to have a waistline again."

"It has been the most amazing experience to work with this collection," said Kerry Taylor in an e-mail. "We had an exhibition of the pieces at Sotheby's Paris and in two days 2300 people visited the exhibition."

Star-Busmann plans to donate 50 percent of the proceeds to the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund.

The Associated Press reports that the cocktail dress Hepburn wore in How to Steal a Million sold for nearly $100,000 -- more than three times what was predicted. The auctioneer told the AP Tuesday's sale brought in a total of $437,000.

Payless Announces New Partners In Shoes 4 Kids Holiday Program

PR Newswire

More Than 750 Charitable Agencies Representing All 50 States in the United States, Across Canada and Puerto Rico and in 10 Latin American Countries Come Together to Create Expansive International Grass-Roots Giving Network to Directly and Immediately Give the Gift of Shoes This Holiday Season; Kids Start Shopping with Free Shoe Coupons

Leading family footwear retailer, Payless ShoeSource, announced today that more than 750 nonprofit partners located across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and in 10 Latin American countries have officially joined Payless in its Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program, a grass-roots effort aimed at giving more than $1.2 million in free shoes to children of families in need this holiday season.

Payless will give more than 77,000 total gift coupons redeemable through Feb. 28, 2010, toward a new pair of kids' shoes at any of its more than 4,500 stores located in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and in Latin American countries including the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia.

A total of more than 150 nonprofit partners chosen from the United States' West/Southwest region include, among others:

    * Easter Seals Alaska (Fairbanks, AK)
    * Central Arizona Shelter Services (Phoenix, AZ)
    * Big Sister League of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
    * Shelter Partnership (Los Angeles, CA)
    * Denver Rescue Mission (Denver, CO)
    * Central Oahu Youth Services (Haleiwa, HI)
    * Family Services Alliance of Southeast Idaho (Pocatello, ID)
    * Hearts and Homes Family Resource Network (Bozeman, MT)
    * Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV)
    * Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe (Santa Fe, NM)
    * Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency (Shawnee, OK)
    * Operation Homefront (Albany, OR)
    * Communities in Schools Dallas Region (Dallas, TX)
    * Your Community Connection of Ogden Northern Utah (Ogden, UT)
    * Children's Home Society of Washington (Seattle, WA)
    * Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne Wyoming (Cheyenne, WY)

To see all of the selected 2009 Payless Gives non-profit organizations in your region, state or city please visit www.paylessgives.com.

Payless said that all the charity partners should receive their free shoe gift coupons by today along with a personal letter from Matt Rubel, chairman and chief executive officer of Collective Brands, Inc., the parent company of Payless, and LuAnn Via, chief executive officer and president of Payless, with a special request to get the coupons into the hands of the children that need them in time for the holidays. The quantity of gift coupons per agency is based on agency size and the number of constituents served and includes an average of about 100 coupons per charity partner. Many non-profit partners will also provide transportation for group shopping trips to the local Payless stores and already shopping trips have been coordinated for children in Los Angeles, San Juan and Cincinnati by charity partners.

"Kids have already started shopping for their free shoes," said Rubel. "Last year's program was truly amazing and we saw our charity partners coordinate directly with our local store teams to hold special shopping events outside of normal store hours -- many partners and store teams went above and beyond with special touches that included hot coco and other treats for the kids in addition to the free shoes," said Rubel.

"Already this year we've heard similar stories including NFL Hall-of-Famer, Anthony Munoz, and his foundation giving limo service and lunch for a group of second grade children in Cincinnati. Free shoes is an amazing gift to these kids, but to be able to shop with a super star athlete like Anthony makes it all even more special. We are thrilled with the hundreds of charity partners who are joining us this year in our massive holiday giving effort, and we look forward to seeing the smiling faces and hearing the heartfelt, inspiring stories that will result from this year's program."

The company launched the application phase for the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program on Oct. 15 with a call-to-action to the non-profit community to apply to be Payless partners in the shoe-gifting campaign to build a network of hundreds of localized organizations across the Western Hemisphere. This grass root approach is critical for immediate, direct access to kids in need at the holidays. In a 21-day application period, the retailer received nearly 3,000 applicants at its application website www.paylessgives.com and inquiries from nearly 37,000 visitors representing 109 countries across the globe. The application period is now closed.

Payless said its Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids non-profit network includes a total of more than 750 agencies: more than 670 charities in the United States, more than 70 in Canada, five in Puerto Rico, and 20 throughout Latin America.

"We were overwhelmed by the response from the non-profit community to join us in this important effort - to give a free pair of shoes to children in need this holiday season," said Payless CEO Via. "Our intent is to work with and through a diverse network of localized non-profits that have direct and immediate access to the children. Our chosen partners - more than 750 in all -- represent every state in the U.S., as well as organizations across Canada and in Puerto Rico and 10 Latin American countries in which we have stores. Together we've created a diverse international network of non-profits located in small towns, mid-sized and large cities, as well as rural areas so that we can blanket these countries and most effectively reach those in need."

Payless initiated the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program last year in response to the economic crisis, its impact on the underprivileged, the significant need across the United States for children's shoes, and to support smaller, localized nonprofits with a tool to assist them in helping those in need during the holidays. The retailer expanded the program internationally across the Western Hemisphere for 2009 because the need for children's shoes continues, the need is international and Payless is in a strong position to help.

A striking number of children don't have shoes that fit. Studies show that properly fitting shoes can enhance self confidence in children and aid in their proper development and growth. As well, with rising unemployment and food costs, it is difficult for parents to cover basic needs, such as kids shoes thus making the holidays an even more stressful time for struggling families.

Greater Horizons of Kansas City, also a nonprofit, served as the independent third-party to manage the bulk of the selection process, based on Payless' core selection criteria, for the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids charity partners. For a complete list of the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids partners, please go to www.paylessgives.com.

06 December 2009

Versatile Camel Coat Works On Many Levels

Detroit Free Press

A camel-colored coat might sound bland, but it could be just the thing to spice up a cool-weather wardrobe.

While a camel coat makes a classic chic statement, the style is malleable enough to be either a trendy boyfriend jacket or traditional trench.

Its place in fashion history, on the backs of Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Kate Moss, gives it a solid pedigree, and the color -- shades ranging from tobacco to fawn -- has a richness to it that, frankly, makes you look rich.

"Camel looks indulgent like winter white but has the pragmatism of gray and black. It's the best of both worlds. A camel coat evokes throwaway glamour," says Michael Kors, who uses camel as a core of his fall collections.

He suggests pairing camel with white or bold brights like red or orange; stylist Mary Alice Stephenson recommends it with one of the season's other trends, a neon color like hot pink or electric blue. And, if you don't think it matches your style, she says you probably haven't tried a camel kimono coat or a peacoat or a wrap.

More Online Options For Plus-Size Fashions

San Francisco Chronicle

Here's the good news about plus-size fashion.

The industry is more or less listening to what women want. Hip new Web sites and blogs are cropping up all the time with links and news about cute, chic clothes. Given that the average American woman wears a size 14, according to a recent segment on plus-size fashion on "CBS News Sunday Morning," and with the recent outcry over an absurdly altered Ralph Lauren ad that made the already teensy model look grotesquely thin, there's hope that more designers will cater to curvy women

The bad news: You won't find any Chanels, or sexy separates from hot labels like Alexander Wang, and the department store offerings are far more traditional than trendy - if they have plus-size departments at all.

E-commerce is taking up the slack, but it will take time. "Patience and research, patience and research," counsels Marie Denee of Oakland, a former Bay Area women's contemporary clothing retail manager who started her own Web site, in September, and blog, the Curvy Fashionista, in December 2008.

"I want my site to be a place where you can find out what Jennifer Hudson wore, what Beth Ditto said and where to find the latest trends," she said.

Denee is happy there are so many contemporary plus-size lines out there. "There's Jibri, Qristyl Frazier, Gayla Bentley, Faith 21 (Forever 21's new plus-size line), Torrid, Amanda Uprichard and Kingley & Posh," she says.

Several big-name designers, including Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, do cute plus-size lines; Oscar de la Renta and Betsey Johnson do plus-size lingerie. At Macy's, in addition to Klein and Kors, you'll find Tadashi, INC, Sunny Leigh and Studio M. At Nordstrom, the Suzi Chin line has been a longtime favorite with plus-size shoppers.

From New York, Sarah Conley's chic and cheery photo blog, On the Plus Side, is a fun, informative read. Locally, Igigi.com (pronounced ee-zhee-zhee) is a hip San Francisco plus-size Web site run by designer Yuliya Raquel. She started Igigi (the name given to some ancient Mesopotamian gods) in 2000.

Her Web site's LC (Limited Collection) is her nod to runway trends, with structured jackets sporting interesting cuffs and hems, and slimmer pants; all the clothes are made in San Francisco.

"The plus-size woman is a savvy and sophisticated shopper, and I think plus-size designers are finally starting to celebrate women's curves rather than cover them up with piles of fabric," she says.

Not the trendy type? For a more artful look, Go Figure, a popular plus-size boutique on Clement Street, delivers with lots of classic looks from European and Scandinavian brands. The boutique carries lots of hard-to-find labels in nicer fabrications than the polyester of old.

"I make every effort to get the silks, satins and georgettes," says owner Carolyn Honig. "My customer spans all ages and is looking for a more arty, unusual look." For the traditionalist, there's San Francisco's Harper Greer, which has carried its own made-in-San Francisco designs since 1985.

And, of course, the been-there-forever chain Lane Bryant caters to just about everybody, offering a range of both conservative and more youthful looks.

If there's a clear consensus among plus-size experts, it's to wear the proper foundation garments, find the best fit and let the fabric hug your body without clinging.

"Make sure your clothing choices are somewhat fitted so you don't add extra girth to yourself, but at the same time, making sure that they don't pull or ride is important," says Liliane Klein, a plus-size model and actress starring in Neil LaBute's poignant and provocatively titled "Fat Pig," at the Aurora Theatre through next Sunday. "Your clothes should lay nicely on your body. ... I am a huge fan of control-top anything," she adds with a smile.

For the holidays, palazzo pants have given way to slimmer lines; you'll find more jeweled collars and embellished dresses, one-shoulder gowns and tops with sexy cutouts, body-conscious silhouettes, structured jackets and contemporary prints. The Chronicle asked fit model Dana Roeting of Marla Dell Talent SF to try some of the options and see what worked.

04 December 2009

'Heavage' Is Back

Wall Street Journal

Man cleavage -- plunging necklines slit open to reveal chest hair, pectoral muscles, maybe more -- is back.

Until recently, male décolletage was an androgynous fashion affectation limited mainly to sporadic appearances on European runways. But the look, including deep V-necks and scoop-neck tops, hit the U.S. in full force at New York's September Fashion Week, turning up at shows by Duckie Brown, Michael Bastian and Yigal Azrouël.

This time around, the styles were more blatantly sexual and the models had a more studly swagger. New York designer Mr. Bastian said his show's vibe was inspired in part by "Latin guys" he noticed wearing their shirts unbuttoned, as well as the unabashed machismo of Latin American men in general. "We wanted to go back to a more natural body, a more '70s body with the models, getting away from the super skinny," says Mr. Bastian.

Plenty of men, from regular Joes to "Dancing With the Stars" contestants, have loosened to the trend.

On HBO's hit series "True Blood," 29-year-old ex-model Mehcad Brooks rarely went an episode without removing his shirt. Mr. Brooks also frequently displays his perfect pecs off-screen, wearing rib-hugging T's with deep V-necks or shirts with the top buttons suggestively undone.

"Even if people were making fun of me, calling me 'Miami Vice' like they used to in college, I would still wear it," says the 6-foot-4, 215-pound actor. "It feels comfortable and I like the way it looks. If you can pull off three buttons undone, then do it."

Other fans of the look include actors Jude Law and Ed Westwick, who've been snapped showing off their man cleavage -- or "heavage," as one style writer dubbed it.

"Harper's Bazaar's Stephen Gan is working the new male cleavage in a low-cut T-shirt; it's called 'heavage,'" tweeted Hilary Alexander, fashion director of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, in early October while at a runway show in Paris.

Mr. Gan, who, aptly enough, is also the editor of a magazine called "V," says, "I think I'm allowed to dress this way."

Vik Mohindra, a 27-year-old graduate student from Toronto, confesses that his guy friends sometimes tease him about his heavage. "I would not recommend it to someone who isn't confident with their body and overall sense of style," says Mr. Mohindra, who says he works out three to four days a week and has a "defined" chest.

Male cleavage, particularly on the silver screen, has long played a prominent role in popular culture. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. had his chest on display throughout the 1920s in films like 1924's "The Thief of Bagdad" and "The Iron Mask" in 1929. A dashing Errol Flynn showed man cleavage in the 1930s, most memorably in 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood." These actors made skin-flashing practically de rigueur for certain swashbuckling roles.

The aesthetic continued well into the 1950s and the 1960s, says menswear historian Robert Bryan, author of the new book "American Fashion Menswear." Among those celebrated for their heavage were Marlon Brando (in the 1951 film version of "A Streetcar Named Desire") and Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1960s.

The last time man cleavage was so prevalent in the U.S. was in the 1970s -- "the golden age of male chest hair," says Mr. Bryan. Epitomized by John Travolta in 1977's "Saturday Night Fever," the convention back then was to skip enough shirt buttons to show off a thick forest of hair, perhaps topped with a gold medallion as a sign of virility.

After decades in the fashion equivalent of Siberia, man cleavage got a boost in the early 1990s when Tom Ford, then head designer and creative director for Gucci, climbed to the top of fashion's ranks while often wearing a dress shirt unbuttoned practically to his navel.

It still took years for the fad to go more mainstream. Helping to pave the way were magazines like Men's Journal and Men's Health, which objectified the male torso on their covers. Marketers such as Abercrombie & Fitch attracted droves of fans with their buff, waxed male models. For those who don't have the goods naturally, cosmetic surgery offers an increasingly popular solution. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that pectoral implants more than tripled in 2008, to 1,335 procedures up from 440 in 2007.

Brad Wieners, editor-in-chief of Men's Journal magazine, believes that the magazine has made guys feel more comfortable about wearing more fitted clothes and styles that show that they work out. Mr. Wieners notes that for a recent cover shoot, actor Alec Baldwin donned a shirt open at the collar, subtly revealing chest hair. "He's not Burt Reynolds," says the editor. "But he's letting you know he's got a chest."

The latest resurrection of man cleavage does raise a not-so insignificant issue: to wax or not? For a number of years, any male chest hair was considered a fashion don't, but very recently a thin thatch has become quite acceptable. The low-cut look "is better if you have a little chest hair," says Tyler Thoreson, a New York-based men's style consultant. "It's not about showing off chest hair, it's about it peeking out a little bit."

Robert Caponi, a 32-year-old musician in Greensboro, N.C., isn't taking any chances. In order to get the hair-to-skin ratio just right, he shaves his chest every two weeks or so -- a regimen that helps him to feel comfortable in one of the six deep V-neck shirts he owns. Not all styles fit the bill. After purchasing a wide scoop neck recently, he declared it simply too revealing. "I looked in the mirror and I was disgusted," he says.

Some women share the sentiment. Posting on her blog earlier this year, Ketty Colom, a 22-year-old college student in Orlando, Fla., vented about the burst of men sporting heavage. "Leave it to the bedroom," she said. "I don't want to see your chest."

01 December 2009

Rihanna And Lady GaGa: Outrageous!

Daily News

Rihanna and Lady Gaga may not have won any trophies at the American Music Awards Sunday night, but the fashion-forward singers didn't disappoint with their onstage attire.

Both RiRi and Gaga choose to wow the audience with skintight bodysuits, each equipped with working light fixtures.

Marking her first stage performance since her beatdown from ex Chris Brown, Rihanna sang her next single, "Wait Your Turn" while wearing a flesh-baring catsuit with futuristic shoulder pads armed with laser beams.

The Barbadian beauty, 21, raised eyebrows when she showed off a new black tattoo written down her chest, reading "Rated R." However fans need not worry – RiRi's ink was temporary and was simply a ploy to promote her new album.

Gaga also managed to deliver a far-out performance of her hits "Bad Romance" and "Speechless."

Wearing a nude bodysuit with bandages and a lit-up skeleton bone fixture across her chest and on her head, the 23-year-old singer went on to dramatically break through a glass wall in order to get to her grand piano.

Gaga proved she was more than just a spectacle by showing off her piano skills as she played alongside a gas-mask-wearing violinist.

Though RiRi and Gaga went home empty-handed, the eccentric singers were successful in putting on a good show.

24 November 2009

Cycle Wear -- Get On Your Bikes And Ride

Motorcycle USA

Ho, ho, ho… I’m not a Grinch, really, but there’s stuff about X-mas I can do without. Like for instance shopping, running the mall parking lot gauntlet, standing in line while listening to Mannheim Steamroller. Oh, man, once those synthesizers start up with the Little Drummer Boy… Shoot me now.

Fortunately, I, like the real Santa, have long since abandoned brick-and-mortar retail for the convenience of online shopping. Maybe you see where I’m going with this. Yes, my friends, it’s time for my top editorial picks from the motorcycle holiday gear bag.

Motorcycle Helmets
Forget those sickening Zales commercials, it’s a motorcycle helmet, not jewelry, that truly says I love you. A helmet is love, surrounded by energy-absorbing EPS foam and a resilient polymer shell. But what lids top my Christmas List this year? I got two of them:

Shoei RF-1100
MSRP: $400-450 Solid, $499 Graphics

My favorite this year is the Shoei RF-1100 helmet. A 2010 replacement for the RF-1000, the RF-1100 delivers high quality fit and finish, is incredibly quiet and conforms to the new Snell M2010 standard. For full-face protection it has been my go-to helmet since I scored a test unit this summer. How much do I like it? I keep it locked in my car so my boss, Kenny, won’t steal it! The only downside, and it’s a big one, is the sheik MSRP.

HJC IS-MAX Modular
MSRP: $200-215

I’ve sample three flip-up helmets this riding season, but feel the HJC IS-MAX delivers the best value, which at $200-215 is one of the more affordable entries into the modular market. It feels quite light and features an extremely easy opening face shield design. Wearing earplugs, it’s quiet enough for prolonged stints in the saddle and we found the venting more than effective, the top venting being particularly good. A retractable integrated sun visor is a nice touch, all but eliminating the need for swapping out shields or wearing sunglasses, though we wouldn’t want to crash with it down as it scuffed the bridge of our nose more than once… DOT certified with a comfortable and washable liner, the IS-MAX is my default helmet when headed out on a long-distance ride or crave the convenience of a modular.

Motorcycle Jackets
Joe Rocket Alter Ego
Why get more than one jacket, when a versatile jacket like the Alter Ego delivers warm and cold weather protection?

Joe Rocket Alter Ego Jacket
MSRP: $260-275
I’ve been fortunate to sample some great jackets in 2009, but the Joe Rocket Alter Ego I reviewed last year is still my top recommendation. The reason? Versatility. With its numerous removable panels the Alter Ego can transform from fully ventilated mesh design to waterproof rain jacket. At the moment it is my favorite warm weather jacket, and I’ve found it performs admirably in colder weather too. While it lacks the wind/rain uber protection of a purpose-built touring jacket, by wearing a couple extra layers underneath with the wind/waterproof liner I’ve made plenty of chilly rides in the Alter Ego without any complaint. Like most riding jackets, the Joe Rocket Jacket MSRP is more expensive than I think necessary, but it really can be used year round. Look, you can specialize and buy various jackets that do one thing exceptional, but I prefer the one jacket that does everything well enough – the Alter Ego.

Motorcycle Boots
TCX Airtech XCR Boots
MSRP: $250

There’s two major reasons why I love my TCX Airtech XCR Boots. First, the TXC Airtechs are lightweight. Sure, protection is paramount but I like boots that feel light enough to wear comfortably off the bike too. Second, the TCX are waterproof. I ride in the rain quite often, so I can tell you that dry feet and warm hands are the difference between utter misery and sheer indifference to the cold. I prefer the latter and have had warm feet after every ride using the Airtechs. The boots deliver a comfy fit and sure-footed sole on wet ground. The Velcro sidestrap and zipper opening is simple to use. I can’t profess to being much of a fashionista but the TCX aren’t too flashy, with a low-key style that I prefer (and I imagine a lot of touring riders would agree). But there is the matter of their $250 MSRP. Yes, it stings, I know, but you will have purchased a quality pair of boots for many, many riding seasons.

20 November 2009

Singer Snags Six Easy Pieces At Madoff Auction

National Jeweler Network

The Singer Collection, an expert in antique and 20th-century jewelry, has acquired six pieces that once belonged to infamous Wall Street swindler Bernie Madoff.

Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence after pleading guilty to a multi-billion fraud that burned thousands of investors, and his wife, Ruth, had a number of their possessions put up for auction on Nov. 14 in New York City.

The Singer Collection entered winning bids for six items, according to a press release from the New York-based company.

They include Art Deco-style platinum, diamond and onyx link bracelets, ebony and gold loop earrings by designer David Webb, Chaumet Paris bangles and a Victorian tassel lariat chain.

"Oftentimes, a notorious provenance will create a greater buzz than other celebrity pieces," Singer Collection President Stuart Singer said in the release. "So I am very excited to have purchased pieces that will certainly add 'spice' to our estate jewelry collections!"

The Singer Collection wasn't the only company to walk away from the auction with a few of Bernie's baubles.

According to The Associated Press, two pairs of Ruth Madoff's diamond dangle earrings sold for $70,000 each at the auction, well exceeding pre-sale estimates of $9,800 and $21,400.

Another buyer paid $65,000 for Madoff's Rolex, which was below estimates of $80,000.

In addition, the AP reports that Madoff's blue satin New York Mets baseball jacket with his surname stitched on the back was valued at only $720 but snagged a whopping $14,500 at auction.

All proceeds from the auction will benefit Madoff's victims, according to the AP.

Brangelina-Designed Snake Jewelry

National Jeweler Network

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are famous for juggling their film schedules with philanthropic efforts that take them around the globe, all while playing parents to six kids, but the Hollywood power couple has lately gotten even busier: They've dipped into jewelry design.

British jewelry brand Asprey recently announced the launch of the "Protector Collection," featuring limited-edition fine jewels and silver objects designed in collaboration with Jolie and Pitt.

Each piece in the collection features a snake motif, one that Asprey said Jolie chose for its symbolism as an iconic guardian, particularly over family protection and fertility.

According to Asprey, during Jolie's first pregnancy, she was given a snake ring, intended to guard her and her unborn child. The snake symbol - not sea turtle jewelry -  has become a family guardian to the Jolie-Pitts, and in the Protector Collection, it appears in everything from fine jeweled bracelets to rings, earrings and pendants available for both children and adults.

The motif can also be found in three sterling silver objects: a tooth box featuring an animated snake that stands above the circular box; an eggcup replete with a coiled snake wrapped around the cup's base; and a spoon whose handle takes serpentine form.

Each piece in the collection was handcrafted at Asprey's London flagship store, and the designs are available now.

Given that this is a Jolie-Pitt venture, the collection also has a philanthropic bent. All net proceeds will be donated to the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, a nonprofit organization that seeks out donors and identifies new and innovative projects to provide education for children affected by conflict, violence, war or natural disaster.

19 November 2009

Vionnet Label To Be Revived (Again)

Wall Street Journal

As "Rocky VII" proves, it's hard to live up to the original but harder yet to abandon an established brand. This is true of fashion houses, too, which is why we're essentially up to "Dior V," "Givenchy V" and "Halston VI: The Designer Strikes Back."

Now another former haute couture house is seeking ready-to-wear immortality with new backers and a fresh designer. Testing the limits of the strategy, the brand in question is Vionnet, a masterful label that you probably have never heard of.

Its founding designer, Madeleine Vionnet shuttered her business in 1939, and it stayed shut for six decades. So while the name is venerated in fashion circles, it's not as if every high-school girl is dying to own a Vionnet bag.

Yet earlier this year, Matteo Marzotto bought the rights to the Vionnet brand with his friend Gianni Castiglioni, chief executive of Marni. Mr. Marzotto is the sixth-generation scion of an Italian textile family and the former chief executive of Valentino (now "Valentino III"). "We have to re-interpret a bright past, but not reproduce it," he says.

The reintroduction of Vionnet comes just in time to take advantage of the first-ever Vionnet retrospective at the Louvre's Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. The exhibit of 130 dresses, with interactive explanations of Vionnet's techniques, runs through Jan. 31. The show also may remind the public that Coco Chanel was not the only designer who pioneered today's modern, comfortable clothing.

Madeleine Vionnet popularized the forgiving bias cut and dispensed with buttons, zippers and hooks in favor of draping and wrapping fabric in comfortable forms; she dressed both Garbo and Dietrich. She created packable clothing for women who traveled, and her designs were so modern and so influential that you can find bits of them—wrap looks and drop-waist dresses, for instance—in almost any store today. Her work is studied in fashion schools with a reverence akin to aviation's regard for Charles Lindbergh.

Ms. Vionnet was paranoid when it came to copies—she pioneered dress-design copyrighting methods, cutting down on knock-offs. And in 1952, she donated her entire archive of dress samples, patterns and photographs to what is now the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.

Curator Pamela Golbin grins at her museum's fortune. "We've got the goods," she says. "She gave us the entire memory of her house."

The donation meant something different for Vionnet's new designer, Rodolfo Paglialunga: He lacked the benefit of an archive, bringing a whole new meaning to "inspired by." He worked from textbooks, photographs and anything else he could get his hands on.

Ms. Golbin says she toured Mr. Marzotto, Mr. Castiglioni and his wife (Marni designer Consuelo Castiglioni), and even Mr. Marzotto's mother through the exhibit. But Mr. Paglialunga says he was too shy to request a special tour. "I just went very quietly myself," he says.

"After I saw that, I was very scared … she's influenced everything," the designer says of Ms. Vionnet's work.

Thirteen years of designing women's wear for Miuccia Prada have given him a background in independent women, though. The resort/spring collection he created for Vionnet will arrive at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Net-a-porter.com, Holt Renfrew and other stores later this month.

The spring 2010 collection shown in Paris last month walks a fine line between homage and modern life. Largely created from squares of fabric (right out of Vionnet textbooks), long tunics can also be worn as short dresses and can even be worn backward or thrown over gaucho-type slacks. Sleeves are tied like scarves at shoulders, and the scarf becomes a motif in shoes.

These are intriguing, attractive clothes that could be tossed in a suitcase. But because they're labeled Vionnet, they must be compared with the originals. The new Vionnet is heavier and less elegant, without the cutting-edge magic of the original.

Of course, the current dark Givenchy under Riccardo Tisci bears no resemblance to the former label of Hubert de Givenchy. It's just a brand—and a successful one. Brands like Nina Ricci, Halston and Rochas have recently been revolving doors for designers who set aside their artistic druthers to channel someone else's. Sometimes, as in the case of Balenciaga with designer Nicolas Ghesquière, investors hit gold.

This isn't the first attempt to revive Vionnet. Previous investors tried it in 2006 and 2007. So we're really talking here about "Vionnet IV." Mr. Marzotto, too, worries about missteps; as he details his plans, he adds, "I'm still crossing fingers every morning for Vionnet—crossing fingers with both hands."

Women Bent Out Of Shape By Shapewear

Wall Street Journal

Before Jessica Kraus put on a tight-fitting frock one recent evening, she wriggled into a $76 piece of flesh-toned underwear that extended from the bottom of her bra to mid-thigh. She felt confident and svelte as she left her apartment to meet friends for cocktails.

Then a few hours later, the 25-year-old Boston event planner was faced with what she says was a "horrific situation." As she was embracing a man she had met that night, Ms. Kraus got to thinking about what lurked beneath her sleek exterior.

"There's no graceful way of taking the thing off," she says.

Sales of "shapewear"—undergarments for women who want a flawless, bulge-free silhouette while wearing tight clothes—have taken off since 2000. That's when Oprah Winfrey declared a brand called Spanx, with its bright packaging and product names like Bod-a-Bing! and Hide & Sleek, one of her "favorite things." The size of the market has tripled over that time, to $750 million in annual sales through the end of 2008, according to market-research firm NPD Group.

As one of the stars of the TV drama series "Melrose Place" said in a recent episode: "Perfection is as easy as a good pushup bra and some Spanx."

But the practicalities of actually wearing the undergarments are somewhat more complicated.

Brittany Bohn, 27, a lawyer in Chicago, locked herself in the bathroom at a local bar to wriggle out of what she calls a "girdle/long-underwear contraption" that was rolling down her rib cage and making her bulges look bigger than they actually are.

So what's driving sales of these garments? "It's like this competitive thing we have with other women," says Mary Pantier, a 40-year-old yoga instructor in Erie, Colo., who accidentally flashed her Spanx, worn under her workout ensemble, while in a downward-dog pose in class.

Ms. Pantier's husband, Hank, 35, doesn't get it. "If you stuff five pounds into a two-pound container, it doesn't make the five pounds smaller. It just makes it stranger-looking and uncomfortable," says Mr. Pantier, who has told his wife she feels "like a tire" in Spanx.

Then there's the bathroom issue. The garments, which can be difficult to remove, often come with a "double gusset" opening that wearers say can be hard to negotiate. Last summer, in response to a deluge of emails citing mortifying experiences, a shapewear maker called Yummie Tummie decided to sponsor a "tell us your shapewear nightmares" competition.

"It's like this competitive thing we have with other women,"

The winner, who received a style consultation and $500 to spend on clothes, was 31-year-old New York college student Amanda Davis, whose story involved a bodysuit so tight that it pressed on her bladder. As she ran to the bathroom at her school, she debated, "Do I squeeze out of the Spanx or do I try to pee through the crotchless thingy?" After soaking herself, she had to skip class and go home to change.

Body-shapers have long played a supporting role in fashion trends. The great-grandmother of shapewear, the corset, was "the most controversial garment in the history of fashion," says Valerie Steele, director and chief curator at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who wrote a book about the rigid, uncomfortable garment. The more-flexible girdle grew popular in the early 20th century, eventually becoming a key component of Christian Dior's nipped-waist "New Look," unveiled in 1947. Control-top pantyhose replaced girdles when women began heading to the gym en masse in the 1970s.

Then, in 1998, an office copy-machine saleswoman named Sara Blakely cut the feet off a pair of sheer control-top pantyhose so she could wear cream-colored pants to a party. Two years later, she founded Spanx, which became a staple red-carpet undergarment for already-slim celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba.

"What's the point of spending £500 on a dress if you don't have a straight tummy?" asks 26-year-old Frances Kinloch, who works at an investment bank in London and wears Spanx with everything except jeans. The problem is "you do look a bit like a granny in them," admits Ms. Kinloch, who removes her Spanx in the bathroom and spirits it away into her handbag when she's on a hot date.

High-end designer Roland Mouret has railed against Spanx, calling the process of secretly slipping out of the undergarments "sad."

Shapewear manufacturers are responding to consumers' concerns by trying to boost the aesthetic appeal of their utilitarian undergarments. This year, Spanx introduced an upscale collection called Haute Contour, with items like a lace thong with waist reinforcements that comes in colors like pink. "I said, 'Let's make it beautiful ... like shapewear in disguise,' " Ms. Blakely says.

Lingerie designer Bruno Schiavi launched a line in 2007 called Dr. Rey's Shapewear in collaboration with Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Rey. Sold at Sears and on the HSN cable network, it features bodysuits and waist cinchers in bold prints like leopard and—arriving in stores later this season—snakeskin. "I always thought shapewear was so boring," says Mr. Schiavi.

Other companies are developing apparel with built-in body shapewear. A brand called Not Your Daughter's Jeans features a patented "Lift & Tuck" technology that the company says will make wearers drop a size, and is also introducing shaper tops in V- and cowl-neck styles in bright colors that are intended to be worn as a regular shirt. Yummie Tummie (tagline: "Show it off") has become known for its shapewear-camisole hybrids, which can be worn alone or peeking out from a blazer.

"I wanted to break down these barriers, so that you don't have to be confined to a sea of embarrassing bottoms," says Heather Thomson, founder of Yummie Tummie. It plans to begin selling a line of shapewear dresses early next year.

17 November 2009

New Dana Davis Shop Attracting Foot Traffic

LA Times

Stores may be closing all over town, but last night Melrose Place got a little love with the opening of Dana Davis’ pop-up store.  The store, which took over the old Lambertson Truex spot, right next to Frederic Fekkai’s new salon, will be open until Dec. 3, selling shoes from Davis’ fall-winter collection.

Celebrities and socialites, including Anjelica Huston, Paris Hilton, Crystal Lourd, Jerry Bruckheimer, Liane Weintraub and Jamie Tisch, came to support their designer pal and fellow social fixture.  Davis’ mother Barbara was also in attendance before dashing out to attend a concert.

Davis was inspired to create her line of ultra-comfortable shoes when she was having trouble standing for long periods of time due to foot pain caused by her diabetes.  She and  her family  have raised over $75 million for diabetes research, with the Carousel of Hope ball fund-raiser being founded in her honor. She developed a shoe with custom orthotics that’s as cushion-y as any Easy Spirit, but far more fashionable.  In fact, Davis has figured out how to increase the heels on pumps to almost 6 inches, while still maintaining the comfort of the built-in orthotic.  Those heels will be offered for spring and are sure to be seen on any celebrity who cares about comfort while walking the red carpet.

The Dana Davis pop-up store is open now until Dec. 3 at 8459 Melrose Place, L.A.
Hours: 11am – 5pm. Closed Sundays and Thanksgiving, Nov. 25 – 29.

12 November 2009

H&M Stores Ready to Launch JImmy Choo Shoes

from The Star

They have drawn up battle plans with military precision, enlisted friends and family as shopping comrades and plan to come armed with communication devices for the battlefield.

No, it's not Boxing Day shopping. But for those with a fetish for designer shoes stuck on a shoestring budget, it will feel like it.

This Saturday marks the global launch of the highly anticipated Jimmy Choo for H&M collection. Here in Toronto, the limited- edition designer collaboration between the luxury shoe brand and the cheap and chic retailer will be available only at the Bloor St. W. and Eaton Centre locations.

"It's going to be chaos. Five times the pandemonium!" says fashion stylist Ryan Weaving. He and four friends will take shifts beginning at 5 a.m. in the lineup at the Eaton Centre store.

Anticipation has been building for months. All those Choo signatures – sexy stilettos, thigh-high leather boots and animal print bags – will be available, along with the first Jimmy Choo men's shoes and the first Jimmy Choo clothing line.

Weaving has done his research, poring over the H&M website, figuring out the sizing charts and questioning the store's staff. It's paid off: He got the inside track on details. For example, at the Eaton Centre store, the footwear – the hot-ticket items – is on the basement level while the clothing will be on the street level. He also knows that the first 160 people in line will be given wristbands with a specific time to shop just in the shoe department. And each customer will not be allowed to buy more than one of the same item.

The strategizing is necessary, given the popularity of H&M's past designer collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld, Roberto Cavalli, Viktor & Rolf, Stella McCartney and, this year, Matthew Williamson. No matter what the city, people lined up, some camping out overnight, waiting for stores to open. In Toronto, the racks were picked bare in minutes. Some of the stuff appeared on eBay within hours, selling for triple, or more, the original price.

A veteran of the high-low designer game, H&M threw fashionistas into a frenzy when it announced a few months ago that the next collaboration would be with Jimmy Choo.

The shoe label exploded after being featured on the television series Sex and the City, becoming an overnight sensation for ultra-sexy stilettos. The cobbler Jimmy Choo sold his name and company years ago to Tamara Mellon, a glamorous, jet-setting businesswoman based in London who instinctively understood women would love the kind of shoes she favoured – vampy, sexy and with a hint of rock chic.

Which is why woman-about-town Natalie Gee will be there at dawn. "I'm a big fan of Tamara Mellon. I think she is an incredible and powerful businesswoman and she has been raving about the clothes and the bags especially," says Gee.

She has this piece of advice for shoppers on Saturday: "Don't go for everything. Do your research and find one or two things you really love and then grab those. The thing about great style is having one fabulous item and making it work a million different ways."

Another avid shopper with a plan is communications student and Holt Renfrew intern Amina Said. She is sending her sister to the Eaton Centre location while she tackles the crowd at Bloor St.

They plan on communicating via BlackBerry, sending pictures back and forth on what they are able to get their hands on.

Sure there are folks who can't fathom getting up at dawn to line up outside a clothing store. But for people like Said, it isn't optional.

"Yes, there are a lot of things we can live without. But it's about what you're a connoisseur of – what each person appreciates. I happen to love fashion. I would never line up for Jay-Z tickets, but other people might. But this is what I'll line up for."

09 November 2009

Madonna To Model For Dolce and Gabbana

from Digital Spy

Madonna is to front Dolce & Gabbana's spring/summer 2010 campaign, reports People.

The 51-year-old popstar has moved on from modelling for Louis Vuitton in order to work for the popular Italian fashion duo, D&G announced in its online magazine Swide.

"To have Madonna in our campaign is a dream come true," Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana said.

D&G designed the costumes for the singer's 1993 'The Girlie Show' tour and last year's 'Sticky & Sweet' jaunt.

Photographer Steven Klein reportedly shot Madonna's first ads for the label last week in New York.

Aussies Remain Big Spenders For Luxury Fashions

WA Today

Bucking a worldwide trend, Melbourne is bracing for a boom in luxury stores, writes Rachel Wells.

When 23-year-old student Nicola Wood returned from a recent trip to New York with a $3400 Chanel handbag dangling from her arm, her mother was not amused.

"She wasn't too happy about it," laughs Wood, pictured. "But I was always going to buy it. I just adore it. I'd been eyeing it off for years. I had put some money aside for it. I was in New York on holidays. It was cheaper than what I could buy it for at home. So I just got it. And I love it."

Wood, it seems, is like many Australian consumers who are bucking the global trend and continuing to pay a small fortune for luxury handbags and shoes despite the economic climate.

While much has been written about the death of luxury in recent months - the latest forecast from consultancy firm Bain & Company predicts global sales of luxury goods will be down 8 per cent this year - Australia seems to be experiencing something of a luxury boom. According to IBIS world, there are expected to be 4917 luxury goods boutiques in Australia, a 2.8 per cent increase from 2008-9.

Melbourne's luxury retail offering is set to almost double when Chadstone officially opens its new luxury retail precinct on November 18. It will have 12 high-end stores including Chanel, Burberry, Coach, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Omega, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany, as well as Miu Miu's first Australian store, and the first stand-alone Jimmy Choo store in Victoria.

Crown is also expanding its luxury fashion offering with a new two-storey Versace outlet to be launched later this month. Versace will join existing luxury tenants Prada, Burberry and Louis Vuitton, the latter of which is also undergoing an expansion. Crown management is expected to announce a handful of new luxury retail tenants in the new year.

And if the foot traffic along the Paris end of Collins Street last week was any indication, then luxury, in Melbourne anyway, is far from dead. At Chanel, a security guard turned me away because they were "too busy at the moment". One woman left the crowded boutique with three Chanel shopping bags swinging from her arm. While other shoppers walked along the luxury strip carrying logo-emblazoned shopping bags from Gucci, Prada, Max Mara and Georg Jensen.

All this bodes well for the Australian heads of the world's leading luxury labels who are pinning their hopes on a resilient Australian economy and a growing luxury market to keep the tills ticking over at their new Melbourne stores.

While luxury sales in the US and Europe are predicted to contract 16 and 10 per cent respectively this year, Asia Pacific, excluding Japan (which is expected to slump 10 per cent), is forecast to grow by 10 per cent, boosted by China, which Bain & Co. predicts will grow by 12 per cent.

Many experts believe Australia's proximity to China will also make it a popular hub for brand-conscious Chinese tourists.

"I think Australia is going to be a very important country for Asian tourism and since our presence in China is very strong, we see a lot of potential from not only China but all over Asia to visit Australia," Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna told The Australian Financial Review in July.

Both Chadstone and Crown are confident the Australian luxury market will only strengthen as the economy continues to recover.

"Our (luxury) stores' figures are actually up on last year," says Ann Peacock, Crown's general manager, public relations. "So it's fair to say that they are all trading exceptionally well . . . The fact that Versace has committed to a brand new store and that Louis Vuitton is undergoing a major redevelopment are great signs of things to come."

Chadstone shopping centre manager Stephen DeWaele says the launch of 12 luxury retailers in a suburban shopping centre, which is a first for many of the luxury brands in Australia, will only expand their customer reach. It is a move many believe is part of a global strategy for luxury brands to target "masstige" customers - aspirational shoppers who are keen on luxury items but without the disposable income to match - with "masstige lines", which offer prestige products at affordable prices.

"Certainly the sense is that the shopping centre environment does make it (luxury) a little bit more accessible," DeWaele says. "There are two types of customer. You know there are one-off luxury purchases that people make, whether it's for a 21st, 30th or 40th birthday, or someone who has saved up to buy that one piece that's a real aspirational piece for them. At the same time there's absolutely going to be that core luxury customer."

Philip Corne, chief executive of Louis Vuitton Oceania, agrees. "We're opening at Chadstone for two reasons. One, of course, is to be closer to where our existing customers live. And the other opportunity is to introduce the brand to a new customer."

Wood will be among the tens of thousands expected to visit the new luxury precinct when it opens at Chadstone.

"I will definitely go and check it out, though I'm a bit scared of the crowds. I'm not sure quite what to expect," she says.

If current trends are any indication, she can expect a lot of eager shoppers looking for that little piece of luxury.

03 November 2009

Industry Leaders Honored For Philanthropic Efforts


Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc. (K.I.D.S.) a twenty-four year old global charity partnering with Fashion Delivers, a four year old not-for-profit organization, will honor four fashion industry leaders for outstanding philanthropic commitment at this year`s annual fund raising gala on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. Proceeds of the event will be donated to children and families in need through K.I.D.S. and Fashion Delivers. Over $1.3 million was raised from the 2008 gala event for both organizations.

Gary Simmons, CEO, Gerber Childrenswear, will be 
honored with the K.I.D.S. Lifetime Achievement Award.

This year`s honorees include: John Daly, President of Trade Finance CIT Group who will receive the Fashion Has Heat Award; Andrew Hall, President and CEO of Stage Stores who will receive the Retailer Award; Gary Simmons, President and CEO of Gerber Childrenswear, LLC who will be honored with the K.I.D.S. LifetimeAchievement Award; and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, which will receive the Humanitarian Award.

"Under normal circumstances, assistance to families and children challenged by homelessness or natural disasters is astounding, however, add to this the current state of the economy where far greater numbers are in need, and these humanitarians are the heroes of our times," said Peter Rosenthal, President of Rosenthal & Rosenthal and Chairman of K.I.D.S.

Since the devastation of Katrina, Fashion Delivers and K.I.D.S. has provided several million dollars of new product in relief and daily enhances the quality of life of those less fortunate. "This could never have been accomplished without the generosity of our fashion community," added Allan E. Ellinger, Chairman of Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation, Inc.

K.I.D.S. is a twenty-four year old global charity of leading retailers, manufacturers, and licensors of children`s and youth products committed to helping improve the lives of children and their families who are ill, living in poverty, or are the victims of natural disasters. Fashion Delivers is a four year old not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide products from all parts of the fashion and related industries to victims of natural disasters and those in need. Fashion Delivers and K.I.D.S. work with a network of 1,000 K.I.D.S. local agencies to distribute products quickly and directly to recipients.

For more information on the event and K.I.D.S., visit www.kidsdonations.org.

For more information about Fashion Delivers, visit www.fashiondelivers.org.

Stage Stores, Inc. brings nationally recognized brand name apparel, accessories, cosmetics and footwear for the entire family to small and mid-size towns and communities through 758 stores located in 39 states. The company operates its stores under the five names of Bealls, Goody`s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage.

26 October 2009

Don Your Shades - Sequins Are Hot !

From the Los Angeles Times

They can look like a sparkly 1970s disco ball spinning out of control, or the remains of an '80s Jazzercise get-up. So why, with so many ways they can go wrong, are sequins so big this fall?

Fortunately, the sequins we're seeing this season aren't over the top and tacky. "They're more sophisticated than the splashy stuff we saw in the '80s," says Jaye Hersh, owner of Intuition boutique.

This season, sequins are being worn as a daytime wardrobe staple rather than just to add glitz to an evening ensemble. Hersh has been selling sequin-smattered T-shirts, tank tops and headbands for the last few months. "People are looking for something to brighten their day," she says. Her biggest sellers are monotone pieces, such as pink sequins on a pink tank top, and basic metallics in gold, silver and bronze.

Sequins can be an easy way to add some sparkle to simple pieces, but just remember that less is definitely more. Wear them as sparingly and subtly as possible, opting for one sequined item at a time and toning down the color palette.

For daytime, try casual items such as a T-shirt or cardigan with a light dusting of a neutral-colored or monochromatic embellishment. Coach has several sequined pieces that make sense for the office and for evening. A light-gray cardigan with silver and gold sequins down the front mixes well with a solid top and standard blue jeans. Some weathered brown boots will take down the shine and add a more relaxed element to the look. Sequined knee socks from Miu Miu add a quirky touch to a full or A-line skirt and sweater. Pull them on and pair with ankle-strap platform heels.

Since sequins tend to shout, "Look at me!," wear them in neutral or dark shades to take down the glitz. A black, sequined one-shoulder dress from Tory Burch is perfect for a cocktail party, but if you're feeling shy about the shine, a fitted blazer will make it look sharp and shield some of the sequin effect.

For an even more subtle approach, try a knitted tank top with an attached sequined scarf from Alice + Olivia. The slouchy drape of the scarf is cool and casual, especially when paired with cropped jeans and cage-style heels.

If all you need is a splash of something shimmery, there are plenty of sequined accessories that will still make a statement. The fuchsia frame bag from Marc Jacobs pops with color and texture, and black and silver ballet flats from Coach freshen up a simple black dress or skirt.

If you're jazzed about the sequin trend, remember to keep it balanced and wear the right pieces for your body type and age. With so much shimmer, every little sequin counts.

25 October 2009

Payless Seeks Charity Partners For Shoe Giveaway

from Ohio.com

Local nonprofits are being sought to help give away children's shoes.

Payless ShoeSource has launched its annual Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program, aimed at delivering more than $1.2 million worth of free children's shoes to children of families in need this holiday season.

The company said it works through a network of hundreds of charity partners, which it is counting on to help pass out 77,000 gift coupons redeemable through Feb. 28, 2010, toward a new pair of kids shoes at any store.

''Footwear is a basic need that many of us take for granted, and yet a significant number of children need shoes. In a difficult economy, the underprivileged are hurt more than any other group and the charities that assist them are often underfunded,'' chief executive officer Matthew Rubel said.

Nonprofit groups with 501(c)(3) status can apply to help give the coupons away by completing an application at paylessgives.com.

24 October 2009

Clothing Recycling Initiative Launched By Goodwill, Levi's

From Ad Age

Levi Strauss & Co. and Goodwill are working together on a new initiative to save billions of pounds of unwanted clothes and put them to good use. In "A Care Tag for Our Planet," the product care tags on Levi's clothing in the U.S. will include messaging encouraging people to donate their unwanted clothing, with the project expanding to global markets in fall 2010.

According to Goodwill, about 23.8 billion pounds of clothing end up in U.S. landfills each year. Currently, 166 community-based Goodwill organizations in the U.S. and Canada divert more than 1.5 billion pounds of clothing and textiles a year from landfills and, in the process, create job-training opportunities for more than 1.5 million people annually.

The initiative was created by BBDO West, Goodwill of San Francisco's pro bono agency, which came up with the idea of using care tags to communicate this message. According to the companies, the partnership combines the values of each organization: Levi Strauss & Co.'s goal to reduce the environmental impact of its products and Goodwill's commitment to help communities recycle usable items while helping those in need.

"BBDO provided us with a perfect way to match our long-term commitment to sustainability with our ability to deliver a message to hundreds of millions of people around the globe," said Jill Nash, chief communications officer and VP-corporate affairs, Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss & Co., which has been working on environmental issues for more than two decades, studied every stage in the life cycle of a typical pair of 501 jeans. It found that one of the greatest opportunities for reducing climate change and water impact happens after consumers take their jeans home. As a result, the company is also encouraging consumers to wash less, wash in cold water and line dry when possible to reduce the climate impact of caring for the jeans.

"As a company built on values, we have long worked to promote sustainability in how we make our products and run our operations," said John Anderson, president-CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., in announcing the project this week. "This initiative uses our global voice to empower hundreds of millions of consumers around the world to join us by providing simple and actionable ways to help care for our planet."

20 October 2009

Musto To Launch Mail-Order Catalogue

Press Release

Musto are launching their first ever mail order catalogue, showcasing the brand’s Autumn/Winter collections for 2009.

The 50-page catalogue features a selection of the Lifestyles range for both men and women, which utilises Musto’s background and expertise in sailing clothing to produce sportswear that is as stylish as it is functional.

From the outdoor clothing range including fleeces, waterproof jackets and walking boots, to the more casual everyday items such as jeans and  jumpers, you’re sure to find the clothing you want at a price you can afford. The Lifestyles range also features a number of accessories, including hats, scarves, gloves, backpacks and luggage.

All of Musto’s clothing is made using the best technology that allows them to withstand whatever Mother Nature may throw at you. A number of jackets in the outdoor range are made from GORE-TEX and Windstopper material, making them water and wind-proof, as well as highly breathable. Fleece products are made using Polartec fabric, which keeps the body warm and dries quickly, while jackets with Primaloft use a patented microfiber structure to help the body retain warmth and conserve energy.

Musto are the world’s leading sailing clothing brand, and the official partners of the British Olympic sailing team Skandia Team GBR, so you can be assured that both Musto’s clothing and service is of the highest quality.

Orders can be placed by post, online, or over the phone, or alternatively you can visit one of the many Musto stores right across the country, including their brand new concession at Austin Reed on Regent Street in London.

17 October 2009

The Elder Statesmen Of Modern Fashion Photography

From the L.A. Times

Irving Penn's death marks the end of an era. He and Richard Avedon hold generally unchallenged status as innovators of the genre, but Helmut Newton also gets credit as a core influences.

There will always be beauty, style and grace on the pages of fashion magazines and books, but the death of Irving Penn this month marks the end of an era of seminal photography. Penn, along with Richard Avedon, who died in 2004, practically invented modern fashion photography -- a place where art meets commerce -- in the mid-20th century. The influence of both artists -- along with a small group of mavericks who came after them -- figures prominently in fashion editorial and advertising campaigns to this day.

Their striking images shaped how the world saw fashion and have long been ingrained in our psyches.

Penn was by all accounts extremely meticulous in his approach to taking pictures, putting his subjects through grueling sittings. He captured a crisp quietness in his work -- whether he was photographing his wife, model Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, or a few old cigarette butts plucked from the ashtray or gutter. His most iconic images include surprising portraits of Truman Capote and Pablo Picasso, a study of the ballooning sleeves of a Balenciaga coat and a graceful nude of Kate Moss perched on a table, her back to the camera.

Less glamorous, but no less intriguing, are shots of ordinary tradesmen Penn began taking in the early 1950s. These photographs of workers and their tools are on display at the Getty Center through Jan. 10.

Avedon "was very outgoing, very charismatic," according to photographer Sebastian Kim, who worked as his first assistant in the late 1990s. He was more about movement -- waist-length hair and yards of chiffon in full swing. There is a classic photo of model Dovima posing in a Dior gown and positioned between circus elephants; a fully made-up Marilyn Monroe in a sequined halter dress, looking lost; and Nastassja Kinski lying nude, face impassive, wrapped in the curves of a monstrous fork-tongued snake. Optimistic images he captured in Paris for Harper's Bazaar after World War II reestablished the city's status as the fashion capital of the world. A retrospective of Avedon's fashion photography, showcasing 181 of his works, opens today at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and runs through Jan. 17.

"Avedon was more of an influence on my work, but Penn influenced my soul," said Arthur Elgort, a New York-based photographer who often shoots for Vogue (Penn's longtime employer) and was friendly with Penn in his later years. "Penn was meticulous and controlled, and Dick [Avedon] just had an eye for everything -- he couldn't miss."

Penn and Avedon's status as innovators is roundly unchallenged, but when talking to modern fashion and portrait photographers about the genre's core influences, a third name always surfaces: Helmut Newton.

The late fashion photographer ushered in an era of blatant eroticism and dark humor in fashion imagery (see modern flash-heavy shooters Terry Richardson and Juergen Teller). Newton worked for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar in the 1960s but found his niche shooting nudes with sadomasochistic overtones in the 1980s. Earlier this year, publisher Benedikt Taschen reissued a somewhat smaller version of "SUMO," a compilation of 394 of Newton's photographs that was first published 10 years ago. The photos are on display through Jan. 31 at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin.

"That's the trifecta -- Penn, Avedon and Newton," said New York-based photographer Nick Ruechel, who was celebrity portraitist Annie Leibowitz's first assistant and worked under renowned fashion photographers including Peter Lindbergh before striking out on his own. "Contemporary fashion photography would not exist without them. So many people have copied their work verbatim."

British photographer David Bailey (whose party-hopping ways inspired the 1966 fashion film, "Blow-Up") also earned a place in the canon of pioneering midcentury fashion and portrait photographers.

His raw, energetic style captured the jubilance -- and major players -- of the swinging '60s. "I love the craziness of Bailey," said L.A.-based portrait photographer Frank Ockenfels III. "He did things without worry or care and it showed."

In the '80s and '90s, fashion photography went mainstream -- thanks to the rise of the supermodel -- and the industry embraced a new crop of top fashion photographers, most of whom are still actively shaping the genre today.

Among the new stars were Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Mario Testino and, perhaps most notably, Steven Meisel.

The late Ritts, a celebrity and fashion photographer, was known for his sensual black-and-white images. His defining shot may be of nude supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Tatiana Patiz and Christy Turlington, their coltish limbs folded into one another.

Weber, who continues to loom large in fashion photography, is famous for his playful, decidedly American-feeling work for ad campaigns including Calvin Klein (he shot all those early controversial black-and-white images for the brand), Abercrombie & Fitch and Ralph Lauren.

"No one captures the essence of life like Weber does," noted L.A.-based fashion photographer Larry Bartholomew. "You fall in love with the people, you fall in love with the place."

Peruvian fashion and portrait photographer Mario Testino -- whose bold, exuberant images often boast a signature softness -- is a veritable giant in the industry, shooting the famous and fashionable for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines and Burberry, among other top-drawer clients.

But perhaps no other modern fashion photographer has been as celebrated as reclusive New Yorker Steven Meisel, whose moody, sexy photographs define the look of fashion industry bible Italian Vogue (he's shot nearly every cover for the magazine over the last decade), and have been splashed across billboards for the last two decades, courtesy of ad campaigns for Versace, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana, among others.

But as with the work of every current fashion chronicler, shades of either Penn or Avedon are palpable -- and many of Meisel's early images echo Avedon's aesthetic.

Kim, who worked as Meisel's first assistant from 2000 to 2007 after leaving Avedon's studio, said, "Steven's earlier approach to things was very Avedon-inspired. Then there was a certain point where he broke away from that. What's interesting about him is his sense of fashion. The girl, the fashion -- those were most important to Steven. He is a fashion photographer, but he was also a stylist and a makeup artist all rolled into one. His whole energy is about creating the next trend, discovering the next girl. So when you look at his work, you can't pin him down. It's always changing."

But the more things change, the more they stay the same, say some photographers. "All we're doing now is copying Avedon and Penn," said Bartholomew with a chuckle. "We call it 'inspiration.' "