Cocktail party

How I Turned Instagram Into a Dating Service.

We were sitting on a stoop on my old 9th Street block. It was a summer Saturday night, and we were eating a carton of Ben & Jerry’s with plastic spoons, waiting for someone to high-five us. This game was my idea: I haven’t been in the East Village once in the last year without a stranger on the street putting his palm in front of me, his button-down shirt often slightly open regardless of the weather, yelling “Give me five!” Within minutes a young business-type gingerly put his hand ahead of him as he passed us. His fingers brushed mine. My companion looked at me incredulously, and I laughed. This was a good first date. We’d already gotten a little Champagne-drunk at Balthazar hours before landing here, with Cherry Garcia in tow.
“How long did it take to finish that sleeve?” the would-be trader asked, stopping and looking at the tattoos on the guy to my right.
“A while. Hey, I met her on Instagram.”
“Is that a thing?”
“No, no — it’s not,” I said, still laughing.
I lied. I think it is.

He’d been following me on Instagram for months — we had good friends in common though I’d never seen him before. I followed him back. A week later he wrote “Come see me sometime?” beneath one of my photos — not of my face, but the spray-painted Fort Tilden concrete sidewalk, emblazoned with the words: “topless as fuck.” The dude was classy, obviously, but I knew from creeping his photos that he had a snarky sense of humor, a handsome face, and an affinity for the same Nolita neighborhood staples as myself. We appeared to be neighbors. My answer was yes: at worst, for cocktail party fodder; at best, for the very same reason.


I’ve met a long-term boyfriend on the L train, an anarchist non-starter on Missed Connections, and a vaguely alcoholic lawyer on the street, when I refereed a conversation between he and a friend about whether or not to stop dating 29-year-old women. (Answer: They’re not all looking to settle down.) The randomness of dating in New York is something that I still love with the same humming fervor that kept me warm in my first apartment: A day that starts in one place can end entirely in another — the next beginning elsewhere, still. This was always true, of course — but now we have new ways to get weird. Grindr is most obvious, with its ability to sexualize literally any setting: the morning commute, family dinner, the DMV. Instagram, less overt but equally visual, can serve as Grindr’s buttoned-up cousin. Perhaps a bit shy, less forward, but ultimately as suggestive.

I realized back on that East Village stoop, before we’d been high-fived for a third time — my stomach by then aching from laughing — that it was one of the better dates I’d been on in months. It wasn’t, however, the first time I’d met someone this way.

Last spring, pawing through followers of friends on Instagram, I stumbled onto a guy whose photos oscillated between Venice, California, and the Pacific Northwest — photo shoots in Los Angeles and dirty hiking boots in redwood forests, jubilant golden retrievers, pastel sunsets, and leafy, homemade meals all topped with poached eggs. Precious, granted, but I followed him, he followed me back, and after a few weeks it was clear that he’d appeared city-side. I wrote “Coffee?” beneath a candlelit photo of Roberta’s pizza. “Sure,” was his quick reply. “Not sure that you still have my e-mail address, but here you go.” (Direct messaging is a large untapped market for Instagram.) The next night, we sat at a bar, eating churros and comparing notes: my Adirondack childhood, his explanation of what it means for a wine to be called “oily.” Time well spent, though we soon resumed our relationship in its original form: liking photos of each other’s farmers’ market hauls.


So Instagram yielded two of the most interesting, decent guys I’ve recently met. Maybe it’s not surprising: This simple photo stream is an intimate (albeit edited) record of our lives — a roadmap, and at best, a humorous, even sexy one. It conveys a surprising amount of information: your neighborhood and surroundings, preferred alcohol, favorite locales, an exhaustive picture of your dining habits, whether you have a sense of humor at all, the general attractiveness of your friends, the overall creepiness of your point of view. The effect of that nonchalant percentage of GPOY (read: “Gratuitous Pictures of Yourself”), slipped delicately between photos of painted toes and rooftop sunsets, the lot of it aglow with the addition of a skin-illuminating “Rise” filter, is one of rosy, mysterious appeal.

Granted, Instagram is a long-game, compared to, say, OKCupid. But it lets straight people circle each other aggressively and unabashedly without having to be on a dating site. Especially straight people, because honestly: Are there any girls on Blendr? I don’t know any. Instagram is a portrait of yourself beyond selfies, almost an accidental profile that spares you from having to list your favorite movies or perfect Friday night (and thus leap flailingly from the window while you’re at it). It may not be Grindr, but it’s lubricant.

Last week I took a photo of a handsome colleague, sitting on the floor of my office, sipping coffee, sunlight streaming through his blond hair (highlights courtesy of “Amaro”). It was only moments after I posted it that my phone started flashing. The first comment, from a fashion editor uptown: “Into it.” A few more girls chimed in. He’s taking one out next week. If it doesn’t work out, he can try the others.

Support ladies

Lil’ Kim: I love fashion.

Lil’ Kim wants to “support ladies in fashion” during New York Fashion Week.
The 38-year-old rapper made an appearance on the coveted front row over the weekend. Kim looked her usual edgy self in a Ralph Lauren top, a white collared shirt, and a long gold skirt with Versace stilettos as she attended the Nina Skarra show.
Kim heaped praised on the Norwegian designer.
“She’s different. She’s doing something different now with sustainable clothes,” the star told
“I always like to support my ladies in fashion. I love fashion.”
Kim – who posed backstage with the designer after the show – also attended Mara Hoffman’s presentation at the prestigious fashion event.
Fashion Week has attracted a host of famous names so far. Rose Byrne was also lucky enough to head behind the runway at the Jill Stuart runway show on Saturday.
The Hollywood actress was seen posing with the designer backstage, wearing one of the label’s Fall 12 collection dresses.
Rose looked glamorous in a black lace frock which featured brace-like thick black straps down the front. The elegant lace top was set over a nude-coloured material.
Rose accessorised the chic ensemble with matching black pumps and a simple black clutch.

Versace Leather

Britney Spears Is Riveting in Versace Leather…

We’re always pleased to see Britney Spears upright and making eye contact with folks. Makes us hopeful for the future of every pop star who once shaved her head and attacked paparazzi with an umbrella.
But lo, what’s this? An added bonus: seeing Britney looking fierce in a leather Versace dress on the cover of Elle.
We’re not crazy about the magazine stylist’s choice of accessories—who needs stacks of green bracelets when you’ve got a dress that’s already been bedazzled by a nail gun?—but we do dig the other looks Brit-Brit sports inside the issue.
Shield thine eyes, it’s Britney in a day-glo dress!
One snap showcases the X Factor judge’s serious gams with a pair of crystal-embellished bloomers by The Blonds. And in an intimate shot with fiance Jason Trawick (who, by the way, spills to the mag that Brit made the first move in their relaysh), we spy a lovely tiered gown by Just Cavalli and a set of decent suede boots by—not a misprint—Kanye West.
“I love my jeans and my sweats,” Brit dishes in to the mag. “I’m really just a tomboy at heart. So it’s really hard for me to be like Kim Kardashian and be makeup- and hair-ready every time I go out of my house.”
The issue debuts on newsstands Sept. 18.

Hot seller

Out another hot seller is the Le Prestige City Bag Zebra Handbag which is made of superior quality faux leather. The beauty of this purse is enhanced by the gold toned hardware detailing and the versatile carrying options. All the essentials inside the purse are secured by flap closure. Want to make a loud statement without saying much? Grab one of these wholesale designer handbags from  today and speak out your heart to the world. One thing is for sure, everyone is going to simply love your.


Oroton first ready-to-wear elegance as models hits the runway at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Sydney.

OROTON’S first ready-to-wear collection combined breezy elegance with a nod to its bling-y heritage today.
The iconic Australian handbag company sent printed silk suits, flowy silk shirt dresses with asymmetrical hemlines, soft knits and glomesh down the runway at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Sydney.
Oroton’s creative director, Ana Maria Escobar, used glomesh to embellish shirts, jackets, skirts and dresses in keeping with the heritage of the brand, which released its first glomesh purse in1952.
“The core of the brand is accessories and apparel will compliment that,” she said.
“We started with knitwear four seasons ago, which became a capsule collection. Apparel is a great way to show what the brand is about and that we really are a fashion brand, not just retailers.”


Modelspeak: Being skinny makes you look sick.

Being a Maharashtrian from Bangalore, fashion model Mitali Rannorey feels Mumbai is her second home but misses her mother’s home cooked food and the city of her birth Bangalore.
The 23-year-old telecommunications engineer speaks about how modeling happened and why she feels she might one day go back to work as an engineer.
What does fashion mean to you?
It’s just about being comfortable.
Do you think you will ever go back to engineering?
Probably. Sometime.
I don’t know. Sometimes I think probably next month; sometimes I think probably next year.
Why like that?
When I see my friends working a regular job I feel like going back.
So what do you prefer? An engineer’s job or a model?
The good, the bad, the ugly of fashion world…
The good things is there are lot of friends around. Everybody from Bangalore…
True friends?
Yeah, true friends. In Bangalore we were all working together and here too we are all together. We get time to catch up and that’s what excites all of us.
Things that you like and don’t like about the city…
What I like is the city feels like a home, I being a Maharashtrian. Bad thing of being in the city is I miss mom’s food. I don’t like hotel food and one is not home often to do the cooking and experiment.
Which city is safer for women?
Bombay, anyday?
Not Bangalore?
The city begins at 11 in the morning and by 9-9.30 there is complete darkness. There is nobody on the streets.
Your struggling days… your first modeling assignment…
It wasn’t much of a struggle. I was groomed by Prasad Bidappa and when I finished my final year of engineering I was working with him and got my first assignment. Though I flunked in my final year I gave it the subsequent year and passed with 77 per cent marks.
You didn’t go for a job interview after completing engineering?
I went to L&T Infotech for the heck of it, cleared all the rounds but during the technical round I couldn’t answer anything (laughs) and my friends were like how did you get till here (the technical round)?
Your success tips to aspiring and fresh models…
I don’t know. I did not do anything special…
Have you seen exploitation of models in the fashion world?
I have never seen it but they there are lot of things one gets to hear but I choose not to believe these stories.
Your success mantras…
Be fit, be confident, be good, be down to earth and be nice to all the people around you.
Your fitness mantra
I like to gym but I have not been doing it since last two months but when I go back to Bangalore immediately after LFW I will may be again start doing it.
Do you believe size zero makes for good models…
Not at all.
Why not?
I think sometimes being skinny looks very bad, clothes don’t fit on you and you look sick.
Which is your favourite haunt in Mumbai?
I like Candies in Bandra. It’s a nice place.

Palm Desert

Models sought for fashion show in Palm Desert.

A casting call has gone out for models ages 5 to 75, male and female, to model in Westfield Palm Desert’s fifth annual Rock the Runway Fashion Show.
The casting call is for 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at the mall. More than 100 models will be selected to model the latest in fall and back-to-school fashion.
Michael Costello of “Project Runway” has been named the premier designer for the show, slated for 1 p.m. Aug. 18 at the mall.
Costello, a Palm Springs designer, will preview pieces from his spring/summer 2013 collection to be showcased at New York’s Fashion Week this fall, mall marketing director Franchesca Forrer said.
“We’re thrilled to have Michael Costello join us for the fifth annual Rock the Runway fashion show. His new collection is remarkable, and guests will love him as much in person as they did on ‘Project Runway,’ ” she said.
KESQ Channel 3’s Ginger Jeffries is scheduled to host emcee the fashion show.
New to the catwalk are a group of models — “haute dogs” from Animal Samaritans.
These four-legged fashionistas will unleash their tail-wagging style, and along with nearby “Couture Cats” can be adopted after the show, Forrer said.
There is no cost to attend the fashion show.
More than a dozen retailers will be highlighted at the event, including Aeropostale, Buckle, Charlotte Russe, Gap and JCPenney. A beauty bar will feature samples and discounts from vendors like Bath & Body Works and Perfumania. Free haircuts will be offered for children in kindergarten through sixth grade at JCPenney Salon.

Wedding dress

So…who will design Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress?

Since Brangelina announced their engagement by brandishing a ring costing the equivalent of a modest flat in London in our faces, we decided to amuse ourselves (and you, of course) with Ms Pitt-To-Be’s prospective wedding dress.

We didn’t just want to imagine what Angelina would choose for her big day, we actually wanted to ‘create’ it, so to speak. (Keep reading…)

Taking a brief look at Angelina’s red carpet appearances so far this year, it’s clear she has an affinity for…..

1. Versace – She opted for directional look on the Golden Globes red carpet in a rather memorable Atelier Versace number, and who can forget the Oscars? Apart from the infamous, knobbly kneed flash of leg on display – which acquired a following of its own – again Angelina picked Versace.

Donatella’s designs are clearly number one for the Hollywood superstar, but she does opt for other big names, too. Angelina’s daytime, smart-casual look often lies in a Ralph Lauren suit, and at the 3rd Annual Women in the World Summit last month, she appeared in an androgynous, monochrome Gucci suit.

Classic fashion

It appears Ms. Jolie is a sucker for classic fashion names, but not without putting a personal and highly unconventional spin on things. She won’t just wear a look fresh-off-the-catwalk, but rather tattoo it (pardon the pun), sartorially, with her initials. And, extreme personalisation, we say, is the way forward when it comes to picking a memorable wedding dress. Ange definitely won’t be succumbing to the ‘meringue culture’ surrounding wedding dresses! (We hope!)

So, a lot of you may possibly be thinking Angelina will settle for a Versace bridal number, but the Italian brand isn’t known for its altar-appropriate fashion. However, one wave of Ange’s celeb wand and Donatella would probably be in her atelier working on something bespoke for the star.
Or, maybe she’ll take inspiration from her 2012 SAG Awards dress, and look to Kate Middleton’s designer of choice…
2. Jenny Packham, to dress her for her big day – our fave, too. Another possible choice could be…
3. Romona Keveza, who dressed the star in a ‘very Ange’ gown for the LA premiere of her directorial debut move, The Land of Blood and Honey, last year.
Whichever designer Ange goes with, we know it’s going to be one hell of a dress, and the speculation surrounding it will surely reach pitch fever, as it did with Kate Middy’s.
So, while we wait to find out, we looked to the Spring 2013 bridal runway – where, at Vera Wang, red and magenta were the new wedding whites – and decided to have a little cut ‘n’ paste fun of our own…


Wines of Europe Look to Asia to Offset Slowdown at Home.

Sluggish sales in Europe and the United States were among the topics this week at the Vinitaly international wine fair in Verona.

Fairgoers tasting a Chianti wine. Italian exports rose last year, but exports to Asia were modest.

Across much of Europe, wine consumption is flat or sinking. The United States is only slightly more buoyant. To stay in the game, the industry is trying hard to develop new markets, especially in Asia.

In China, perhaps the most promising Asian country for European producers, France has been the main beneficiary of growing consumer interest in wine. Now Italy is trying to catch up.

This week at the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, which bills itself as the largest wine gathering in the world, with more than 4,500 producers represented and more than 150,000 visitors expected, the organizers announced a partnership with the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair, under which they will promote each other’s activities.

Among other things, Vinitaly will encourage Italian producers to exhibit their wines at the Hong Kong event — an important promotional tool for a highly fragmented industry.

Over all, Italian wine exports rose 13 percent last year, to 4.4 billion euros, or $5.8 billion, according to Vinitaly. But in Asia, Italy has some ground to make up. In the first six months of last year, France exported 5.5 million cases of wine to China, accounting for 48 percent of total imports, according to Chinese customs data. Italy, with fewer than one million cases, claimed a mere 8.3 percent of Chinese imports, putting it in third place, behind Australia.

“We need to do more to educate consumers,” said Lamberto Vallarino Gancia, president of Federvini, a trade group. “Asian consumers are very brand-conscious.”


Italy’s late start in Asia contrasts with its consistent strength in the United States, where it is the biggest foreign producer. In 2010, it supplied 30 percent of total American wine imports by value, according to the Commerce Department, compared with 24 percent provided by France.

Cultural ties have helped Italian winemakers in the United States, where French producers are still recovering from anti-French sentiment after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which the French government opposed.

In China, on the other hand, French wines have benefited from a perceived association with luxury and status. Wine from Bordeaux houses like Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild and Latour have soared in price in recent years, in part because of Chinese demand, wine dealers say. Chinese investors have even bought several historic Bordeaux chateaus.

Now there are signs that the Chinese enthusiasm for high-end Bordeaux may be waning slightly, with the price of Lafite-Rothschild easing from the highs recorded a year or two ago.

Is this the opening that the Italians needed? Italy has some noted wines, like Sassicaia from Tuscany and those produced by the house of Gaja in Piedmont, but few of them fetch the four-digit prices that are not uncommon for top Bordeaux in great vintages.

To try to strengthen the link in consumers’ minds between Italian wines and other examples of the finer things in life, the country’s wine industry has recruited the Altagamma Foundation, which represents Italian fashion houses and luxury goods producers, as another partner.

Santo Versace

Santo Versace, brother of the fashion designer Donatella Versace and president of Altagamma, said at a news conference during Vinitaly that members of the group would feature Italian wines at fashion shows and other events around the world.

“Fashion, design, jewelry, food, hospitality — they all give shape to the way in which Italy is identified abroad, being at the same time the true engine of our economy,” Mr. Versace said in prepared remarks. He also said that promoting “synergy” among these industries could be beneficial.

To promote the association with fashion, Vinitaly organized an unusual tasting in which more than 100 of the best winemakers in Italy poured their wines to an invitation-only crowd — including a handful of Asian critics, bloggers and buyers.

Coordinated action like this is often lacking in the European wine industry, which celebrates the diversity of its producers, geographical origins and wine styles.

Thierry Desseauve, a French wine critic who has promoted French wines in Asia, said European vintners should look beyond old rivalries that have divided wine regions and countries, and work together to promote their products in growing Asian markets.

“We think there is not one country in the wine world, but one civilization, mostly a European civilization, and we need to develop this civilization in Asia,” he said at Vinitaly, which continues through Wednesday.

Gianni Versace SpA

Gianni Versace SpA, after three years of losses, returned to a profit for 2011 and predicted three years of strong sales growth, a sign that the health of the luxury-goods industry is rippling through one of the fashion houses hardest hit by the economic crisis.

The family-owned Italian label on Tuesday posted a profit of €8.5 million ($11.4 million), compared with a €21.7 million loss the year before. Sales jumped 16% to €340 million from €292 million a year earlier. The unlisted company belongs to the family of founder Gianni Versace, who was murdered in Miami in 1997.

The strong growth last year, which has continued so far this year, has made Chief Executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris enthusiastic for the future. He anticipates Versace’s sales will grow by more than 10% a year for the next three years, bringing revenue to €500 million by the end of 2014. “We are beginning to demonstrate fantastic brand awareness,” he said in an interview.

Versace’s strength speaks to the current health of the high-end fashion industry. The sector’s titans—French conglomerates LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Gucci owner —both had banner years too.

But small, independent brands are finding it increasingly hard to compete with LVMH and PPR, which benefit from their scale to nab top retail locations and group costs together. That certainly appeared to be the case with Versace. In 2009, the company closed all of its stores in Japan, one of the world’s biggest luxury markets, and slashed a quarter of its work force amid the economic crisis. In the past year, two family-controlled Italian luxury brands, Bulgari and Brioni, were sold to the French groups.


Mr. Ferraris, who joined Versace in 2009 after stints at Jil Sander and Gucci, said that Versace will remain independent. “This medium- to long-term plan can be reached with our own capability. The family has the capacity to stay focused,” he said.

Recently, Mr. Ferraris and designer Donatella Versace, Mr. Versace’s sister, have taken steps to increase Versace’s profile. Last November, Versace teamed up with mass-market fashion retailer H&M for a collection that sold out within hours. Mr. Ferraris credits the visibility from the H&M collaboration with making Versace’s growth in the U.S. higher than in China in the first three months of this year. In January, Versace returned to Paris’s haute couture fashion week after an eight-year absence.

And the fashion house scored a publicity coup with Angelina Jolie’s dresses by Atelier Versace at both the Golden Globes and Oscars this year.

Now, after nursing Versace back to health, Mr. Ferraris is pressing ahead with growth. This year, he plans to open the fashion house’s first stores in Brazil and Korea as well as expanding in China, launching e-commerce, and producing spin off lines in-house. Versace has re-entered Japan. And the brand is amping up in accessories, notably in shoes and small leather goods. The high-margin product category now makes up 30% of Versace’s sales, Mr. Ferraris said.

Even Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and drastic austerity measures in Italy aren’t damping Mr. Ferraris’s optimism. Versace’s Italian stores are in tourist destinations—Rome, Venice and Milan—and spending by visitors is more than compensating for the decline in spending among locals, Mr. Ferraris added.

Sign of the cross

Fashion currently has a cross to bear. While some of the faithful fight what they see as the creeping secularisation of society, designers have had a style conversion — “borrowing” the Christian symbol and splashing it across the catwalk and on accessories.
Versace’s autumn/winter 2012 show  in Milan last month had clear Christian influences, with Byzantine jewelled crosses adorning corsets, little black dresses and polo necks, and the symbol embroidered on velvet frock coats and imprinted onto leather.

But paired with Rooney Mara-inspired monk-like fringes and fetish fishnet boots, the whole look was Gothic dominatrix — a perhaps uncomfortable juxtaposition of religion and sex. Donatella Versace said she had been inspired by the last collection her brother unveiled before his death 15 years ago, which also, rather ominously, featured crosses.

Meanwhile, to sit in the front row at Givenchy, singer Alicia Keys adopted a “saintly” style, donning a large gold-cross necklace and a white tuxedo jacket. And last week Rihanna, a Protestant, showed off a new tattoo: a tiny cross on her collar bone.

They are not the only ones revealing divine inspiration. For his spring/summer show, Emilio Pucci’s Peter Dundas paired both his “haute gypsy” look (flowing printed skirts and crop tops) and sharp tailoring with acetate and onyx black crosses, while at Lanvin, hefty ornate crosses hung on long chains, and one of the label’s clutch bags came embellished with a cross.

New York jeweller Pamela Love — a rising star of the gems world — has taken the trend further, with necklaces inspired by rosaries but with the crucifix replaced by a dagger.

Those offering the look for less include Topshop, which is stocking cross-body chains, anklets, brooches and earrings, and online fashion store Asos.

Interestingly, the cross’s popularity with designers comes at a time when some Christians feel their right to wear their faith on their chests is under threat. Two women are taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights, in which they claimed to have been discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing crosses.

But is the conversion of the most recognisable symbol of Christianity into a fleeting fashion trend sacrilegious?

Unsurprisingly, these spiritual and materialistic worlds have had an uneasy relationship in the past. Seven years ago, the Catholic Church tried to stop rosaries becoming an in-vogue item after David Beckham appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in a $1,000 Dolce & Gabbana set of prayer beads. In the same year, Roberto Cavalli was lambasted by Hindus for a range of bikinis decorated with images of Hindu gods and goddesses.

So — for the love of God — there may be many hoping that fashion-followers have only the briefest of flirtations with their altar egos.


Watch Maya Rudolph’s Hilarious Impressions Of Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, & Gwen Stefani.

SNL alum Maya Rudolph made a name for herself impersonating some of the biggest names in the entertainment business, including Donatella Versace, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, and perhaps most famously, the late Whitney Houston. So, when the Bridesmaids’ star stopped by The Ellen Show recently, she showed off her improv impersonation skills.

The fun began when host Ellen Degeneres asked Maya to play a game of Guess That Celebrity. The rules of the game were simple: Sing a verse of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani so that Ellen could guess.

We knew that the Up All Night actress was a pro at impersonations. But, this time around, she outdid herself. Check out Maya’s spot-on impressions below. And, as a bonus, we also added a video of the funny girl impersonating XTina with pinpoint precision. Which impression is your favorite?

Neoprene minidress

Neoprene has come out of the water and on to the catwalks

Richard Nicoll neoprene minidress, £700; Jimmy Choo neoprene scuba sandals, £495.

The word “neoprene” probably brings to mind the sea rather than the street: a back-zippered wetsuit, say, in decidedly unfashionable shades of violet or turquoise. But that may be about to change. Neoprene has made the leap from protective layer to fashion’s favourite fabric – and not just as part of this season’s taste for the life aquatic.

For designers, neoprene offers a multitude of anti-gravitational possibilities. It’s the fabric behind the shapes that have defined fashion for the past five or so years, most of which can be traced back, in some way, to Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga and his firm, foamy skirt-suits sculpted around the body and splashed with florals of 2008.
Alber Elbaz used neoprene in Lanvin’s men’s and women’s collections for autumn/winter 2012, slicing it into primary-coloured peplum dresses and almost-conventional men’s tailoring. He called it “techno meets tradition”, which neatly encapsulates its ability to allow the creation of the grand, arching shapes of mid-century haute couture masters such as Cristóbal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy without the need to resort to heavy-duty canvas tailoring, or tricky fabrics such as silk zibeline or gazar. The latter, Balenciaga’s favourite, has a troublesome tendency to split over time, and its high-maintenance, crease-prone nature isn’t conducive to the fast-paced daily life of a modern woman.

Designer Richard Nicoll

“Neoprene is durable and hard-wearing. It creates the type of tailoring that can be thrown in a suitcase,” says designer Richard Nicoll, who used neoprene for athletic zip-front jackets and shift dresses in his 1960s-inspired spring collection. “It’s high performance and mass market … it feels modern.” Indeed, in Peter Pilotto’s spring show, neoprene was not only used for sporty zip-front trouser-suits but also for a range of bathing suits in Pilotto’s trademark pop-colour prints created in collaboration with swimwear designer Lisa Marie Fernandez and worn under printed georgette skirts as alternatives to evening blouses. “They are functional yet high-fashion items,” say Pilotto and design partner Christopher de Vos.

Ruth Chapman, director and co-founder of London’s Matches, exclusive stockists of the 16-piece collection, says: “The collaboration works so well because it combines the über-sleek scuba/swim feel of Lisa Marie Fernandez, with the very modern, print aesthetic of Peter Pilotto, which feels light and summery.

“Neoprene is a unique fabrication; it is functional but also sexy.” Especially when designers begin to remove the stiffness and weight of neoprene to make it wearable for everyday, as opposed to under water.

“Comfort is al­ways an important factor,” says Donatella Versace, who cut a softer, sleeker and more luxurious neoprene into bubbly shorts and cropped jackets printed with sea-life for her mermaid-inspired spring Versace collection. “If I would never wear it, then I do not design it or put it on the runway.”

Helena Lavin, a commercial litigator at Freeth Cartwright, says: “The idea of neoprene could scare you off. No one wants to walk around wearing a wetsuit, but when you actually wear a neoprene coat or T-shirt, it feels weightless. It’s stylish, but incredibly practical.”

Designer Karl Lagerfeld

It peaked at Chanel, when designer Karl Lagerfeld built a giant, pure white coral reef as a mise-en-scène for a spring/summer show that included white shift dresses covered in mother of pearl-coloured sequins and skirts made from shell-like fans of pleated pearl-hued silk. Lagerfeld even had singer Florence Welch performing from inside a shell in a dress dripping with tassels that resembled seaweed fronds, like an indie-pop Botticelli’s “Venus”.

It continued at Alexander McQueen, where designer Sarah Burton’s inspirations included “the ocean bed, seashells, anemones and the crests of waves” and clothes came in “barnacle jacquard” and “seed-pearl barnacle lace”, along with mother-of-pearl and oyster-print chiffon.

And it washed around the whole season, at Mary Katrantzou, Versace, Holly Fulton, Issa and Givenchy, where designer Riccardo Tisci riffed on fish scales made from chiffon, sequins or leather cut-outs, and used materials such as shark, eel, seawolf, salmon and stingray accessorised with giant shark tooth pendants.

“It”, of course, is the ocean. It’s the single most powerful theme of the spring/summer season, whether invoking the lyricism of The Tempest, in which the ocean creates “a sea-change. Into something rich and strange”, the mythological ocean of Atlantis or the hypercoloured fantasia of Finding Nemo. “The shapes of sea life are ultra-modern, beautiful and timeless,” says Lagerfeld, as if they had evolved over thousands of years specifically to become the perfect template for luxury goods.

Drowning World

Donatella Versace, who created a wave of neoprene mini-dresses, crop tops and miniskirts printed with shells, seahorses and mermaids in pastels and pale acid shades, has another view. “I had in mind a modern-day Versace siren,” says the designer, “like the ones who lured sailors in Greek mythology with their enchanting songs. But my sirens would seduce with their appearance.” Elsewhere, Holly Fulton’s reference was “an art deco casino in the US which is decorated with underwater friezes”, while Mary Katrantzou took her tropical fish scenes from images of aquariums.

All of which raises the question: how did so many designers with so many different starting points end up, sartorially speaking, in much the same place? Ruth Runberg, buying director at Browns boutique in London, thinks “water and sea images are desirable during spring’s return to warmer weather and all that it entails – holidays, sunshine, relaxation, exoticism. The pre-collections from spring were laden with tropical references, kind of a sister trend to runway’s oceanic vibe.” Katrantzou says: “It’s spring/summer and you cannot completely dismiss the fact that the colours are really beautiful but there is something deeper.”

Indeed, there’s a precoccupation with water at the moment, whether it be the anniversary of the Titanic sinking, director James Cameron’s deep-sea submarine dive or the anxiety of rising sea levels due to global warming – see next month’s exhibition Drowning World at Somerset House, London, which will feature photographs of recent major floods. Fashion industry watchers speculated on influences that ranged from The Little Mermaid to JG Ballard’s novel The Drowned World, which is set in a flooded future and uses water as a metaphor for the collective unconscious.

Spring-summer season

“The sea is an obvious metaphor for the unconscious and the unbounded,” says Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of New York’s Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “Also, it is associated with happiness – coral is so beautiful and colourful – but brings with it a hint of danger. That there’s something lurking underneath: a shark or watersnake.” Indeed, lurking in the background of these collections was the memory of Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2010 show – the last before his death – entitled Plato’s Atlantis, which invoked a post-apocalyptic, underwater dystopia with dresses in blurry blue digital prints, a backdrop of writhing snakes and shoes that resembled a bizarre creature you might find living on the ocean bed.

From clockwise: Samudra canvas clutch, £60, Browns; shell clutch from Celestina, £525, Browns; Lanvin shell necklace and brooch, £690, Matches

Some of this season’s accessories also look as if they could have been picked off the ocean floor. In addition to conch shell clutches at Chanel and starfish key chains at Yves Saint Laurent, there are clutches made from shells with hammered brass frames from Celestina, which Runberg calls “the perfect on-trend item – the shell colours match anything you wear”. Browns also has jewellery by Sara Beltran that uses sharks’ teeth, while Lanvin has a shell pendant necklace.

The sea nymph look is hardly one for the office but then this isn’t exactly a build-your-wardrobe, go-to-pieces kind of trend: it’s designers diving into fashion fantasy without coming up for air. “The water is the ultimate liberator,” says Donatella Versace. “It is elemental, eternal and magical. It takes you into another world away from the everyday bustle of modern life.” Who wouldn’t want to jump in at the deep end?

Versace upbeat after return to profits

Gianni Versace, the Italian fashion house known for its high-wattage glamour, has returned to profit after a three-year hiatus, underlining a turnround at the brand after it almost collapsed during the financial crisis.

Net profit at the fashion house led by Donatella Versace, sister of murdered designer Gianni, rose to €8.5m last year, up from a loss of €22m in 2010.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, a crucial measure of strength in the fashion industry, rose 73 per cent to €38.7m.

Gian Giacomo Ferraris, chief executive, who has masterminded the turnround alongside Ms Versace, said sales to emerging markets, especially Greater China, had driven growth last year.

However, he said he was confident of a longer-term return to profitability after a surge in like-for-like sales in the US, where Versace makes some 15 per cent of its total business, in the first three months of this year.

Versace is aiming to achieve double-digit growth over the next three years.

The upbeat forecast echoes strong results from luxury goods groups for last year, but comes amid some concerns that the industry could face a slowdown this year as the economies of emerging markets stall.

Mr Ferraris, a former executive at Prada, Gucci and Jil Sander, told the Financial Times he was “cautiously optimistic,” as he saw opportunities for the brand to build its resilience to economic shocks by expanding across product lines and geographies.

He also ruled out a sale of the fashion house, and said the family, who include Ms Versace’s daughter Allegra, were keen to keep it independent at least for the next few years.

Versace came close to becoming the most high-profile casualty of the financial crisis after the brand and its creative force Donatella Versace, now 56, lost their way in the decade after the murder of Gianni Versace in 1997.

Its turnround under Mr Ferraris, who joined the company in 2009, has seen Versace follow the model of Giorgio Armani, where a ready-to-wear collection provided the starting point for the creation of a luxury goods empire that now spans haute couture, hotels and restaurants.

Creating a “luxury lifestyle group” has become a common theme in the industry as it is considered a more resilient business model.

Versace launched its own haute couture line, Atelier Versace, in Paris in January, to critical acclaim. It started a children’s wear line, Young Versace, which Mr Ferraris said was showing “strong growth,” and brought Versus, its younger line, back into the main group after a series of disastrous licensing agreements.

Mr Ferraris sees its high-margin accessories business accounting for 45 per cent of total sales at its top lines, up from 30 per cent today.

Donatella Versace prepares with rock anthems

Donatella Versace “adores” rock music and always listens to it first thing in the morning.

The Italian designer has given Harper’s Bazaar magazine an insight into a typical day in her life. She likes to take her time getting ready in the morning and always listens to her favourite tunes while dressing.

“It takes about an hour for me to get ready in total. The whole process is accompanied by music. I adore rock music; it is my passion, and it is never too early to have a blast of it,” she said. “I have a quick breakfast of fruit salad and a fruit juice. Being Italian, I obviously prefer coffee to tea, and in the morning it will be a cappuccino. Later in the day, I’ll drink espressos.”

Donatella’s pet dog is also a huge part of her morning routine. She always takes the time to give her pooch a hug.

“The first thing I do each morning is get out of bed and give my dog, Audrey, a hug. She’s a Jack Russell,” the designer enthused. “I think having an animal is a wonderful thing, particularly dogs. They are great levellers, there’s no nonsense with them, and they just want simple affection.”

Donatella works out four times a week, always in the morning. She usually wears tight trousers and a blouse as the outfit is easy to work in, and favours smoky make-up.

The star finds choosing her daily jewellery exciting.

“I always wear high heels – I simply feel naked without them. I also love well-chosen accessories, and I will usually pick out a couple of pieces from my personal collection of fine jewellery,” she said. “What I select depends on what I’m wearing, but I’m lucky enough to own beautiful fine jewels, and I have lots to choose from. My favourite piece is a yellow diamond ring Gianni gave me after my first Versus show.”

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week kicks off!

London Fashion Week got off to a stylish start this morning as the who’s who of the fashion world gathered at the opening conference hosted by Sir Philip Green and Harold Tilman CBE.


Fashion tycoon, Green announced that Topshop will continue to sponsor NEWGEN for a further ten years to showcase and promote new designers.

Unveiling a five point plan, the duo explained that the British Fashion Council has identified key areas for growth for the UK fashion industry – skills and training, retail opportunities, manufacturing, development, philanthropy and sponsorship.

‘London is the premier place to visit in terms of fashion,’ Green said. ‘In 2012, with the Olympics and the Jubilee, the city will be more important than ever before, and in turn so will the fashion industry.’

As part of the launch, the British Fashion Council have also released a short film to promote London Fashion Week.

In it Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport explains: ‘The Fashion industry is unbelieveably important. The British Fashion Council estimate that it’s worth over £20 billion to the UK economy which equates to 1.7 per cent of the UK’s GDP.’

Sir Harold Tillman CBE, the chairman of the BFC added: ‘That’s twice the size of the chemical industry and the car industry. Recognition that we are achieving these figures has proven our growth over the last 20 years.’

The video is part of a wider government movement to promote Britain. This week, Victoria Beckham was named as an international ambassador for the the scheme called ‘Britain’s GREAT campaign’, to highlight the UK as a place to visit, study and invest. Alexa Chung, meanwhile, was today announced as the British Fashion Council’s young ambassador to promote UK fashion on a global scale.

Versace launch

Inside Versace eyewear launch.

Donatella Versace latest eyewear collection Etoile de la Mer was unveiled during Haute Couture Fashion Week last Monday in Paris.

The dinner event, held at Restaurant Lasserre, was attended by celebrities and VIP fashion media including Salma Hayek, Arizona Muse and Anna Wintour.

The capsule series of Donatella Versace eyewear consists of two sunglass styles and one optical model – the signature frameless pilot-shaped design showcased at the spring/summer 2012 Versace women’s fashion show in Milan.

Shot in an abandonded pool in the Californian desert by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, and art directed by  Giovanni Bianco, Brazilian bombshelle Gisele Bündchen was the perfect choice for for a campaign as hot as this.

The Versace Etoile de la Mer optical style will be in store at OPSM this month, and the sunglasses will be available at Sunglass Hut in April.


At the apex of fashion.

High fashion is really more about the details of a garment than on its other aspects. The Haute Couture Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012 in Paris is a perfect example of details taking center stage and demonstrating that great clothes are timeless and really do transcend trends and innovation.

Fashion houses that are accredited to call their creations “haute couture” are few and there are those who don’t even use the privilege anymore because creating a collection of haute couture pieces is costly, take a lot of time and does not equate to profitability. Those who do still come out with collections do it for the prestige as a way to declare that they are at the apex of the fashion design hierarchy.

And don’t be surprised to see a lot of Lady Gaga-esque looks when browsing through the new season’s designs.

Versace chose to showcase pieces that fall really close to the body. In quintessential Donatella flair, the items are bejeweled, shiny and shimmery. Cool greens and silver dominate the runway and specific areas of the body—shoulders, hips—are strategically pronounced with sculpted accents.

Dior opted for a very classic silhouette with precision written all over the garments, redesigned versions of a 1940s collection. The color scheme is somber and every pleat, feather, bow and embellishment is a calculated design element.

Chanel’s output seems like it came from the archives. Each piece is cut and textured in a way that’s reminiscent of mademoiselle Coco and stays true to the label’s core value of functional chic.

Georgio Armani Prive is all about the overcoat, done a variety of ways. Again, we see cool greens, intricate details and sculpted elements—three themes that serve up plenty of luxuriousness used by many of the designers.

Elie Saab, following the traditional unwritten rule of ending a couture show with a bridal ensemble, showed whimsical lacy dresses in cool tones, unified by the same embroidery and delicate embellishments. The runway seemed to evoke a wedding entourage feel—only this time, everyone, not just the bride, was in a breathtaking dress.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Amy Winehouse-inspired set might have created a small controversy, but it can’t be denied that the quirky line is meticulously conceived, using all forms of inspiration that can date back to the Victorian era. The bold colors, the exaggerated cuts and precision corsets are things haute couture really should be made of.

And last, there’s Valentino, who offers an extremely Parisian collection in white and similarly light hues. Dainty patterns adorn each of the sheer pieces that look positively vintage and really expensive.

Atelier Versace

The art of crafting couture.

“I AM very nervous. I have not been this nervous in years,” confessed Donatella Versace after her first presentation for Atelier Versace since 2004.

“I had not realised how much I missed haute couture, but now I feel the time is right, the world needs glamour.”

Versace is riding high following the smash hit success of her recent collaboration with high street retailer H&M. She finally felt ready to reclaim her haute couture credentials in Paris last week. “We are a house of haute couture, but I like mass market as well.”

To prove her point Versace sent out 15 body-sculpting goddess gowns, minis, biker jackets and a romper suit in zinging lime, orange and gold for her spring collection. It was sexy and it was colourful: sequined gowns, lacy laser-cut leather and an orange paillette mini-dress showed Versace and her atelier still have a flair for making a statement.

Gold strips moulded curvy silhouettes and slashed skirts revealed long limbs; clearly, these dresses are destined for the red carpet, especially with the Oscars looming. Versace, Armani and Elie Saab are the go-to designers for actresses during the awards season, and Oscar-nominee Berenice Bejo (The Artist) looked overwhelmed by the rabid media interest in her arrival at Saab’s show.

The Lebanese designer is popular with the Hollywood crowd and his pastel beaded gowns will be winners in the statuette season, while white-lace, full-skirted party dresses are perfect for the round of pre-Oscar events.

At Armani Prive, Jessica Chastain was tight-lipped about what she would wear to the Oscars. News of her nomination for best supporting actress in The Help arrived just before the show began, prompting a barrage of air-kisses and congratulatory shrieks from Cameron Diaz and her fellow front-rowers.

Coiled snake-print ball gowns, chrysalis-shaped skirts and venom-green dresses highlighted Armani’s slithery, reptilian theme. Even the jackets were sculpted in gilded crocodile resembling serpent scales.

The effect was dramatic and unexpectedly dark for Armani. “I always like the elegance, but what I liked about this was that it had a bit of an edge,” Chastain said.

The cut and intricate embellishment in the collections from Versace and Armani brought into focus the enduring skills found in the ateliers of couture houses.

Riccardo Tisci’s atelier at Givenchy reconstructed glamorous 1930s-style, bias-cut gowns in black or brown caviar beading and painstakingly mounted sueded crocodile scales on tulle backing to create a whisper-light dress. In 10 glorious outfits, Tisci mixed tradition with modernity, fitting zips that curved around a long bias skirt and tooling leather biker jackets with a patchwork of crocodile applique.

An emphasis on workmanship ran through all the shows, from Giambattista Valli to Valentino, and even this season to the unsettled house of Christian Dior. At Dior, which has been on shaky ground since the departure of troubled genius John Galliano, Bill Gaytten attempted to X-ray craftsmanship. Details such as stitching and layers of organdie normally hidden from view were accentuated on the exterior of vintage-style dresses.

The house signatures were present, from the Dior grey and monochrome palette to the checks and houndstooth patterns created with embroidered beading. Gauzy, full-skirted dresses looked light, fresh and easy-to-wear.

John Galliano is a hard act to follow. A number of names have been in the running for Dior’s top job, most recently Raf Simons, but perhaps Gaytten, who stood by Galliano for 16 years and has a couture background, is now a frontrunner instead of a fill-in.

Giambattista Valli, who trained with Capucci and Ungaro and has been fast-tracked to full haute couturier status in his second season by French fashion’s governing body, has a sprawling atelier and showroom just off the Place de la Madeleine.

Here “les petit mains” (as the seamstresses are known) spent weeks embellishing white dresses, capes and coats with embroidered flowers, crusty laces and feathers. These flamboyant, camera-ready creations will appeal to Valli’s young clientele.

There is a similarly dewy youthfulness to the Valentino collections, where designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri have an ability to charm and seduce. Party dresses and ball gowns were inspired by the bucolic 18th-century paintings of Fragonard and Watteau. Antique meadow flower and toiles de jouy prints and creamy Chantilly lace hovered prettily above lace slippers and printed loafers.

Jean Paul Gaultier found more recent inspiration for his collection, which paid tribute to Amy Winehouse. While an a capella group doo-wopped the late singer’s back catalogue, models vamped on the runway beneath colourful beehives wearing exuberant clothes that were a touch tarty. The troubled Winehouse might seem a dodgy premise for a collection in the rarefied world of couture, but exquisite corsetry, vivid taffeta trench coats and black tailored suits offered the necessary layers of luxe.

At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld exhausted tailors, beaders and embroiderers with a couture collection that borrowed every shade of blue from the Pantone colour chart. Had he been watching too much Pan Am? Was he thinking of Elvis’s Blue Moon? Either way, Lagerfeld’s flirty flight attendants swished down the aisle of Chanel’s aircraft set in slim dresses with low waistbands, 60s-style boat-neck collars and neat little jackets.

It was a far cry from Peter Morrissey’s uniforms for Qantas flight crew. Jewelled, beaded and sequined cocktail dresses were pure flights of fantasy. The only thing missing was Lagerfeld wheeling duty-free bottles of Chanel No.5 down the aisle.

Perhaps that would be flying too close to the business of fashion.

Versace Haute Couture

Donatella Versace outshines at Versace Haute Couture SS2012 show!

Paris fashion runway watchers of Atlanta, Donatella Versace has outdone herself for her latest collection presented at the Versace Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012 show during Paris Fashion Week on January 23, 2012 in Paris, France.

Versace’s fashion show featured its unmistakable Italian flair, figure-conscious Goddess gowns, complete with tall gladiator shoes and chunky booties.

In contrast, Donatella Versace is featuring many bodysuits and short shorts – think of all the divas who would snap up that look for their stage acts including Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Shakira!

Cameron Diaz, who is making the rounds at many of the fashion shows this Paris Fashion Week, was there in all her bronzed glory, looking polished in her LBD (little black dress) – love the new blond bob hairstyle – suits Ms Diaz extremely well!

Other fashionistas attending the Donatella Versace show in Paris were Ludivine Sagnier (loved the pale blue Goddess dress!), Abbie Cornish in her zebra striped sheath (rocking the maroon lipstick!), Diane Kruger in an amazing splashy tropical print in black and white, and Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt.

As part of their collection, there are quite a few green gowns, along with orange and yellow – all colors which are very on-trend this season.  To those, Versace has added a good few styles in the silver or pewter range.

Prepare to see a truly stunning fashion spread from Donatella Versace in my slide show and some well-heeled fashionistas who attended…

Prince Charles

Donatella Versace: Prince Charles is ‘beyond fashion’.

The Queen of bling, Donatella Versace, has praised Prince Charles’s style in an interview with GQ magazine.

After the royal debuted at number 50 on the magazine’s 2012 Best Dressed list, Donatella revealed she is a huge fan of the Prince’s style.

I have an image of what a British gentleman looks like, and that image finds real expression in Prince Charles. He is beyond fashion — he is an archetype of style,’ she told the magazine.

Prince Harry also made the list for the second time but dropped from 5th place last year to 25th this year.

Suprisingly his older brother William is nowhere to be seen in the rankings, although he did make number 27 in 2011.

We’re not sure Duchess Kate will be too impressed…

Viva Versace

Viva Versace! After eight years away, Donatella takes glamour back to the top.

Is the ultimate luxury label out of step with the times? Not at Paris fashion week. Susannah Frankel on a rousing return.

For years the Atelier Versace collection was among the high points of the haute couture calendar, until it disappeared from the schedule. The late Gianni Versace installed a catwalk over the swimming pool at the Paris Ritz to show off his label’s most glamorous collections but then times changed and such opulence fell out of fashion. Yesterday, the Italian status label showed its first Atelier Versace collection since 2004.

After Gianni Versace’s murder on the steps of his Miami mansion in 1997, his younger sister, Donatella, became creative director. The first decade of the new millennium was a challenging one for the designer. Despite her best efforts, Ms Versace battled against personal, professional and more widespread economic difficulties. More recently, however, the Versace label, formerly synonymous with dressing to impress and high-octane glamour Italian style, has regained its stride.

Lady Gaga wore vintage Versace on several occasions last year and November’s debut H&M collection introduced the house’s signatures – baroque print, dazzling colour and silver and gold metal mesh included – to a whole new and, crucially, younger customer. While the second budget collaboration with H&M is being snapped up online, yesterday’s collection was aimed at the customer who prefers her wardrobe to be filled with precious one-offs, hand-fitted, tailored and finished to suit her every curve.

Ms Versace dressed Angelina Jolie in a highly structured Atelier Versace column dress for the Golden Globes last week and it was this level of show-stopping style that set the blueprint.

The designer was thinking of “glamorous warriors” she said. With that clearly in mind, her models stalked a burnished gold podium in thigh-high python boots and gladiator sandals and wearing jewelled, embroidered gowns in liquid gold and silver with suitably fierce metal corsetry on display.

It was what a modern-day Boadicea might like to wear or, for that matter, any big-name Oscar attendee worth her red carpet credentials: Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz both attended.

Alongside the requisite big entrance dresses were shorter, sharper designs in dazzling shades of fluorescent orange, yellow and green. They were finished with polished metal and Perspex, that proved hand-made doesn’t necessarily mean traditional in the usual sense of the word. There were shades of Barbarella here too.

When asked backstage after the show why she had decided to show Atelier Versace again, Donatella Versace said: “Because I missed it.” The injection of bravura that this collection demonstrated ensured that she is more than welcome in return.

Later in the day came the second haute couture collection for the house of Christian Dior since John Galliano’s abrupt departure from that label last year. Once again, his long-time first designer and the man who has taken over his signature line, Bill Gaytten, stepped out to take bows at the end of the proceedings. Gaytten is acting creative director at Dior but has not officially been named as Galliano’s successor. And neither does it seem likely he will be.

This was an entirely polite show that appeared to hark back to a bygone era that whispered of money and conseravtism: a time, then, long before Galliano got his hands on the label and with none of the audacity and spirit that characterised his tenure.

The haute couture schedule is the jewel in the crown of French fashion brands, the laboratory of ideas from which everything else springs. Here, more than anywhere else, a clear image is vital to promote a name. While lip service was paid to the Dior heritage – the wasp-waisted New Look, the houndstooth check, the overblown ball gowns – any vitality or sense of relevance to an increasingly fashion-knowledgeable couture customer was conspicuous by its absence.

Throughout the summer months it was thought that Marc Jacobs, artistic director of Louis Vuitton, was the designer most likely to take over at Christian Dior. More recently, Raf Simons, responsible for both a signature menswear line and for men’s and womenswear at Jil Sander, has been cited as the most likely name in the frame. An official announcement is yet to be made.

Vogue Paris

Vogue Paris and Donatella Versace dinner.

VOGUE PARIS and Donatella Versace celabrated the launch of the fashion house’s Etoile de la mer sunglass collection with one of Couture Fashion Week’s chicest soirees.


Held at Paris eaterie Lasserre, Emmanuelle Alt – editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris – and Donatella Versace greeted a host of famous friends, models, designers and international Vogue editors at the elegant dinner, following a busy day of couture shows.

Naturally, you couldn’t move for spotting Versace’s glamorous dresses – Karlie Kloss, Diane Kruger, Arizona Muse, and of course, Donatella Versace herself all arrived in their Versace finest.

Donatella Versace Spring 2012

Donatella Versace Spring 2012 was a trip to the sea complete with

a mob of glitzy sea horses and star fish.

It’s certain that this collection most definitely depleted Italy of it’s metal supplies due to all the studs and metallic finishes. Cute detailing on dresses makes for a Spring 2012 collection that is full of flash and fun and changes the demographic of Versace by attracting younger audiences. Not that they needed that as Lady Gaga has been wearing Versace to many of her functions recently and what better way to attract younger audiences than to get Gaga in your gear?

Though Donatella’s looks were heavy on the frou frou front, the finishings of the clothes were a combination of clean lines and solid hardware. The juxtaposition of the soft pleated silks peaking out from under heavy cotton skirts belted by studded leather was in many ways the essence of Versace. Much in the way Gianni Versace printed heavy gold chains on silks, so now does Donatella  play with fluttering silks and chains. Great things never die.

Perhaps this is from a lack of worldly experience, or perhaps Donatella was dressing her clientelle, but the shoes were made of an extremely tall lucite material which look flashy, but look more like… something a “woman of the night” would wear. You know, street walkers, call girls, pole twirlers, they go by so many names but the shoes are always the same, and those shoes look just like the shoes seen at the Versace Spring 2012 show.

How many is too many studs? There are some who love studs and can’t seem to get enough, a good rule of thumb is if your dress weighs more than your car, it is too much. Not that the Versace dresses were that hopped up on studs but the line was definitely being blurred.

The press loved the show, the audience loved the show, we loved the show, What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.


Donatella Versace is one of fashion’s survivors – not least for enduring the misery of her brother Gianni’s murder on July 15 1997 – she had always been his muse and he dedicated perfume Blonde to her and her famed platinum mane. She has kept Versace as a major player in the fashion stakes since his death, whilst publicly emerging from her own addiction issues.

She now oversees the production of a dozen collections each year. Versus – which was handed to her by her brother – has been successful for more than a decade. Celebrities love her and she has a loyal following, from Elizabeth Hurley to Jennifer Lopez.

Donatella is now separated from her former husband, former model Paul Beck. They have two children and Beck continues to look after Versace’s advertising. Together they pioneered the use of celebrities in advertising brands, recently using Madonna then Demi Moore.

• Gianni, Santo and Donatella Versace were brought up in Calabria, Italy, by their father and dressmaker mother
• After her uncle’s death, it was Donatella’s daughter Allegra – then aged 11 – who inherited the lion’s share of his fortune – a 50 per cent  stake in the Versace brand.
• In February 2001, Donatella launched her own fragrance, Versace Woman

Under Donatella Versace’s watch, the company has moved beyond clothing to include fashion, accessories, home furnishings, and hotels into a complete lifestyle brand. The brand has confirmed cult status. Gianni’s niece (Santo’s daughter), Francesca Versace, also studied fashion at Central Saint Martins.

In 2008 Donatella Versace was made the honorary chairman for London’s Fashion Fringe, judging upcoming designer talent.

In 2009 Donatella asked Christopher Kane to revive Versus the diffusion line originally started off by her brother, Gianni Versace in the Eighties. The pair have successfully revitalised the brand, making it a major player again on the Fashion Week schedule.


Donatella Versace (born 1959) is a goddess of fashion. The female figurehead of one of the few remaining family-run fashion houses, she presides over seven brands under the Versace name. Her flamboyant, party-girl image has become synonymous with Versace itself.

Gianni Versace (born 1946) and Donatella grew up in Reggio Calabria, southern Italy. While her much older brother moved to Milan to seek his fashion fortune, Donatella studied for a degree in languages at the University of Florence. While there, her brother’s career took off. After working for Callaghan and Genny, he set up his solo label in 1978. Suggesting the family’s love for bright colours, body-hugging shapes and a large dose of glamour, it was a great success. He called on his younger sister to help develop the brand. The two worked together for much of the ’80s and ’90s, with Donatella concentrating on the sumptuous advertising images for which Versace is known to this day. She also set up the children’s line, Young Versace, in 1993 and worked as head designer on the diffusion label, Versus.

When Gianni Versace was tragically killed in 1996, his sister became chief designer and inherited a somewhat daunting legacy. She met the challenge. Versace was brought into the 21st century by fusing Gianni’s very Italian glamour with Donatella’s own rock’n’roll instincts. Versace is continually in the public eye, not least because of its – and Donatella’s – famous friends. Jon Bon Jovi, Courtney Love and Elizabeth Hurley are all devoted Versace fans. Madonna even posed as a sexy secretary in Versace’s spring/summer 2005 ad campaign.

Donatella is also responsible for extending the brand’s range, setting up both a cosmetics line and Palazzo Versace, the first six-star Versace hotel, which opened on the Gold Coast of Australia in 2000.

Donatella Versace Biography

Donatella Versace was born May 12, 1955, in the town of Reggio di Calabria, Italy. Like her famous brother, Gianni Versace, the founder of the high-end Versace clothing company, she is an affluent, high-end fashion designer. Her current title is Vice-President of the Versace Group and Chief Designer of the fashion line.  She acquired this title after the tragic death and murder of her brother Gianni Versace. The youngest of four children in her family, her father being a businessman to the Italian Aristocracy, she studied languages at Florence University in Italy after an early life filled with parties and fun alongside her brother, Gianni. Her debut in the Versace Company started her being in its public relations department, but her influence and her almost natural design knowledge went much deeper, as credit began shifting her way. Donatella is actually credited and known as the figure that began to use notable models and celebrities to broadcast her clothing into the world on the catwalk. Donatella is also the Creator and Chief Designer of Versace Young, a fashion line for children which launched in 1993.

Versace Performance

In the beginning, in 1978 the Versace business accounted for roughly $15 million of total sales. Ten years later, this number rose to $353 million. In 1994, total sales were at 1,175 billion Lira ($728 million), this figure rose in 1996 to 1,655 billion Lira ($1073 million). In 1996, sales of 854 billion Lira ($553 million) were achieved without revenues from license agreements; in 1995 684 billion Lira ($420 million). In 1994, these direct sales were only 610 billion Lira ($378 million). Pre-tax profit was at 178 billion Lira ($115 million) in 1996; 13.6% up from 1995. 80% of these total sales were achieved outside of Italy. Our picture shows the regional divisions of sales contributions.

The introduction of the Versus-collection to the New York-designer shows in 1995 marked the beginning of an expansion of the North American business for Versace. This move was accompanied by the opening of various new stores and shop-in-shops in America. Around the world the Versace S.A. possesed in 1994 40 own shops, with an additional number of exclusive Versace outlets run by a Japanese partner. Versace’s own shops achieved 170 billion Lira ($105 billion) in 1995; 53% of which were achieved outside of Italy.

Versace familly business

The Versace empire is a familly business. Until his death, Gianni Versace himself held the position of a director of his company Gianni Versace S.p.A.. His sister Donatella Versace served as vice-president and was also in charge of the Versace distribution concepts. His brother Dottore Santo Versace presides together with his college friend Claudio Luti over the holding company Finanziaria Versace S.p.A. The company was supposed to go public in mid-1998. Therefore, Gianni Versace started to reconstruct to company organisation short before his death in mid-1997. It was planned to offer 25-30% of the company assets at the stock market. Since Versace’s death, the management still holds on to these plans. Gianni Versace used to own 45% of the company assets, 35% santo Versace and 20% Donatella. Since Donatella’s daughter Allegra is the sole heiress of the Gianni’s wealth, Donatella will control the majority of the comapny assets. The company will receive $21.6 million from Gianni Versace’s life-insurance.

Donatella Versace

Fashion Designer Gianni Versace was born in 1946 in Reggio Calabria, Italy, he became victim of a cold-blooded murder on the 16th July, 1997. In the early days, his mother supported the family with her small tailor-shop. There, Versace learned everything about making clothes and soon he designed apparel himself, which was sold in his mother’s shop. Then, Versace acquired additional skills working in fabric procurement positions. He got his first chance to show his skills when designing a collection for Fiori Fiorentini, a Lucca, Italy based company in 1972

In the following, Versace designed for the Italian fashion labels De Parisi, Genny (for whom he would later be working again), Callaghan, Alma, and then for Complice in 1974. The work for Complice, which he fully conceived himself marked the first occasion where his own name was included in the brand name.

In 1978, Versace opened his first boutique in Milan’s Via della Spiga, still selling other labels to complement his own collections. Soon, with the growing popularity of the Versace style, boutiques started to spread across the globe.

In 1985, Versace added the Instante label to his fashion empire. Similar in style to Versace couture, but targeted at a less affluent and younger crowd.

The Versace-style has become a trademark of its own. If one seeks to characterize Versace, you can always point to Giorgio Armani. Versace is everything Armani is not. He is known for striking colours, materials, and cuts. His collections for men and women are sexy to the point of vulgarity. On first sight his work seems to reflect the typical Italian grandezza. On second sight, he seemed to draw only from those images (like the neo-classicistic ornaments in his prints), pushing them to the limits, in order to question any prevailing common agreement on &qout;good taste”.

When designing new products, Versace gave only a vague sketch of his ideas. Then, his assistents were responsible for transforming them into wearable garments.

Since his days as a fabric buyer, Versace enjoyed travelling. In his new creations, he incorporates the impressions he gains while travelling.

In 1997, Versace was shot to death in front of his mansion in Miami, Florida. Versace’s killer is allegedly a serial killer, who committed suicide in Miami short after Versace’s murder. In September 1997, Gianni Versace’s brother Santo Versace was announced the new CEO of the Versace holding. Gianni’s sister Donatella Versace is the new head of design. Donatella was already in a creative position, designing for the Versus label. Sole heiress of Gianni Versace is Donatella’s eleven year old daughter Allegra. Her son Daniel inherits Gianni’s collection of paintings. Part of Gianni Versace’s heritage are his lucious mansions at Lake Como, Italy, in Milan, Italy, in New York City, and the mansion in Miami were Versace was killed.

Donatella’s face

Donatella’s face is beginning to crack, but is the sun or cosmetic surgery to blame?

No matter how blonde your hair or trim your figure, time eventually has its way.As Donatella Versace appears to be finding out.At 52, and head of the iconic Italian fashion house that bears her family name, she could be a picture of low-key groomed glamour.Instead, she has clung to a long platinum hairstyle, deep tan and the revealing clothes her brand is famous for. No doubt she is equally attached to her plastic surgeon.A year is a long time in fashion: Donatella Versace looking down in the mouth in New York this week and (right) how she looked a year agoThe result is a woman who suddenly, despite her vast fortune to spend on her looks, seems to be showing her years. And more.Despite having had cosmetic procedures to stave off the signs of ageing, skin experts say the mother of two’s love of sunbathing could be her undoing.Deep wrinkles have appeared on the bridge of her nose, which they believe could be due to excessive sun damage or simply botched surgery.And her full lips, widely attributed to earlier cosmetic work, seem even more swollen than usual with deep lines around the mouth.Apostolis Gaitanis, a Harley Street plastic surgeon, said: “This scar tissue on her nose could be due to sunburn as we know she likes the sun a lot. It could also be the result of rhinoplasty that went wrong. This is a definite scar though.”I am sure that in the past she has had a face-lift but in this case the face has relaxed again.”Miss Versace, a former cocaine addict, took over Versace after her brother Gianni was murdered in 1997.