I am the oldest of four children, the daughter of divorced parents, and was raised by my grandmother. Because of my nontraditional and lower middle class upbringing I often felt ashamed, not being able to relate to the many other children in my high school who came from two-parent homes. - By Brittany Natale
Over time, this feeling of inadequacy eventually translated to embarrassment and the intense need to fit in and to be accepted. Because of this, I remember wearing certain outfits or adopting specific hairstyles not because I necessarily liked them but because those styles were considered "cool." I threw myself into drama club, cheerleading, dance team, and volunteer work. When I would go home, I would read countless magazines, closely following beauty and fashion news; the routine made me feel glamorous. I wanted to overwrite my complicated upbringing and become more than the hand that was dealt to me. I was trying to not only grow into who I was supposed to become but adopt who everyone else was at the same time. It was exhausting.
This need to fit in during my high school years affected my relationship with myself, as well as other people. My high school boyfriend, who started out as a close friend, and I began dating toward the end of senior year. As friends we got along great, as partners much less so. Beauty and fashion meant so much to me, but I quickly found out that he had strong opinions about these topics that went against mine. I could accept that he had no interest in it at all, but it was the requests that really threw me off. He insisted I only wear natural makeup, lipstick was out of the question, and probably the most bizarre rule was I could wear no red nail polish. Looking back, I should have seen this as a red flag, literally, but I was in denial and inexperienced and spent three years of my life only painting my nails ballet slipper pink.
Not being able to express my love for all things beauty and fashion during these formative years was difficult. I always used beauty to cope with my anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Getting my nails done was therapeutic, my skincare routine was my own form of meditation, and gosh, did I really miss painting my nails my favourite colour. It felt like being shut off from a world I was so curious to explore. The only time I was really able to express myself through my hair and makeup was during the annual dance competitions when we would all wear bright eye shadows, fake eyelashes, and glitter in our hair to complement our sequinned costumes.
A few years later, my boyfriend and I broke up. I felt stifled in my form of expression, pretending to be someone I was not, and there was no compromise. Slowly but surely, I gained back my identity.
Not having to overthink if my eye shadow was neutral enough, if my lipstick was too noticeable, and finally being able to paint my nails the colours I wanted to was just the beginning. The whole world of beauty opened up, and I felt that I could outwardly embrace and explore what I was truly interested in. I even ended up transferring to a college that specialised in the fashion and beauty industry. It was there that I was able to connect with so many different, amazing people who were also interested in fashion, beauty, and art. I started going to Sephora after classes again, I took up extra acting work mainly because I loved sitting in hair and makeup, and even started writing because of it. The possibilities became endless.
Most importantly, I learned through the world of beauty that I could be multidimensional, and I could especially express this through hair and makeup. My beauty routine could reflect my moods, and vice versa. I could wear my hair any way I wanted to, buy any lipstick that I pleased, and you better believe I was painting my nails red. I navigated the world of serums, delved into the idea of daily sunscreens, and became excited about little things like face masks. I even discovered my love for hyaluronic acid. Shifting the focus to these details also, in a way, shifted the focus back on myself and the care and attention I needed to give to me.
After all was said and done, I was still Brittany, but just the best version. The breakup ultimately opened myself up to the world that I had deprived myself of the whole relationship — my own.
A Chanel haute couture jacket takes up to 1,000 hours to make. Vogue visits the rue Cambon ateliers to watch the process unfold. by LIAM FREEMAN
The story of the Chanel jacket began more than 60 years ago, when Gabrielle Chanel, on a quest to liberate women from the restrictive bodices and cumbersome skirts of the 1950s, set about designing an elegant yet casual suit that could be worn morning, noon and night. By removing bust darts, stripping away interfacing and shoulder pads and inserting pockets, she created a timeless design with an emphasis on line, structure and function.
"Enabling women to move with ease, to not feel like they're in costume" was the most challenging part of her job, Chanel said, and so her main objective was to make clothes that didn't change the wearer's "attitude or manner".
The house of Chanel's raison d'être remains largely unchanged today, as does the design of its trademark jacket. That said, since Karl Lagerfeld was appointed artistic director in 1983, it has been reimagined in a wealth of different fabrics, including leather, faux fur and terry cloth, and styled with dresses, jeans and swimming costumes. This was the case when he presented his autumn/winter 2018 Chanel haute couture collection at the Grand Palais on Tuesday against a quintessential Parisian scene of Seine-side bouquinistes. A centrepiece of the collection was a two-piece suit cut from angora wool in a melange of brown, grey and amaranthe, embroidered with more than 225,000 sequins. Look 39 – a dazzling take on the timeless savoir faire Chanel pioneered, modernised with zip details and intended to create a statement, not only with its dense embellishments, but also leg-of-mutton sleeves and oversized classic collar – accounted for almost 1,000 hours of work.
In the weeks running up to the show, Vogue went behind the scenes at the Chanel haute couture ateliers on 31 rue Cambon to trace the story of look 39 from sketch to catwalk.
Chanel haute couture ateliers – the jewel in the crown that is 31 rue Cambon
After ascending the famous mirrored staircase where Mademoiselle Chanel would sit as she presented her collections – concealed from view but observing the responses of her clients in the spliced reflection with hawk-like astuteness – it's another few flights before we reach the haute couture ateliers on the upper floors of the building. Flooded with natural light, archive photos of Chanel conducting fittings peek out from behind block pattern pieces bearing the names of clients. An army of tailors, all central to continuing the maison's legacy, are arranged around banks of desks and dressmaker mannequins, fastidiously hand-stitching the final details to suiting; their sense of focus is palpable.
There are a total of four ateliers each with up to 50 seamstresses, plus a smaller atelier "galon" for trimmings. Two ateliers are devoted to what is known as the "flou" – generating a dialogue between the garments and opulent fabrics such as tulle, organza and chiffon – and the other two specialise in suiting. A head seamstress, known as a "première", presides over each atelier, collectively overseeing a total of up to 70 looks every season. It is to Madame Jacqueline's atelier that Vogue comes on Monday morning.
Meet Madame Jacqueline – a Chanel haute couture première
Having worked in haute couture from the age of 15, it's fair to say Madame Jacqueline Mercier is something of a fashion oracle – even the day before the show she is managing her titanic workload with aplomb. It takes at least 10 years, she says, to "master the trade", and it's been 30 years since she was ordained a première, 25 of which she has spent working with Karl Lagerfeld (five years at Chloé and 20 at Chanel).
"Mon dieu! It's been a journey," she says. "As well as learning in an atelier, I took a baccalaureate to perfect my skills in cutting and tailoring. I've been lucky to meet people who have taught me a lot and allowed me to grow, and it is Karl who has allowed me to grow at Chanel."
Working diligently at Mercier's side are her three "seconds" – and nearby are a trio of apprentices "who are extremely important because they are ensuring the knowledge of the atelier continues". Qualified people, she adds, "are becoming harder to find".
It all starts with a sketch"
Karl handed me the sketch for look 39 around the 10th of June, and we began realising the design immediately," Mercier says. Have there been many changes in the process of creating the jacket now draped on a stand before us? "No! I'm very good at my job," she quips. "I've known Karl a fair while now – I know where he is going, I know what he wants.
Bringing the sketch to life
From the sketch, Mercier and her team create a prototype from calico cotton known as a "toile". When a look is assigned to a première "main", that person is completely responsible for that piece, and they usually realise it from beginning to end. "We experiment with the volume and proportions until the prototype accurately reflects the original sketch," she says. "Then we present it to Karl on a real-life model so he can tell us any further adaptations he'd like made." Comparing the toile to the finished jacket, you see how the design has been developed and the garment constructed – the leg-of-mutton sleeve has been cropped from the purlicue to the forearm and its volume maintained by an underlay of stiffer fabric.
From calico cotton to elegant embroidery
The final fabric is decided upon when the toile is presented to Lagerfeld and Chanel's fashion studio director Virginie Viard. The ateliers work closely with the Métiers d'Art (Chanel's artisanal partners) and for look 39 a brown, grey and amaranth wool angora wool embellished with over 225,000 sequins by the house of Lesage is chosen. The embroidery specialist (previously Michonet) dates back 160 years and supplied the father of haute couture Charles Frederick Worth; collaborations with Chanel began when Lagerfeld took the helm in 1983.
Making the cut
The toile is converted into a flat paper pattern so the design can be cut in the final fabric. It is carefully sewn together piece-by-piece – delicate embroideries stitched over every seam to conceal them, with Lagerfeld reviewing progress on several occasions, honing in on the finer details such as the colour of the lining and zips.
Monday night sees skirts, jackets, dresses, hats, gloves, shoes and bags amalgamated into full looks. Everything still needs a final polish – adding those last buttons and embellishments – so Mercier assembles a second team to work the night shift.
At 10am on Tuesday, the 67-look Chanel autumn/winter 2018 haute couture collection makes its way down the catwalk; 986 hours of work has gone into creating look 39 alone. "A seamstress generally realises a design from beginning to end – it's their baby," Mercier explains. "For that reason, when the show happens we are sometimes so overwhelmed we cry."
The following day it's back to business as show clients arrive by appointment in the couture salons at 31 rue Cambon, with fittings orchestrated by the première.
A piece of haute couture can cost upwards of €100,000 and clients can buy global exclusivity on a garment. If more than one of each design is made for different customers however, the Chanel sales team makes sure they don’t belong to the same social circles or live on the same continent so as to minimise the risk of two dresses winding up at the same party. Yes, the curtain may have closed on couture week for this season, but the show at 31 rue Cambon still goes on.
The Met Gala, the benefit event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, is considered the highlight of New York's social calendar, attracting fashion designers and stars from around the world. By Holy Correspondent of the Holy See
It is known for its expensive tickets, exclusive guest list, and extravagant outfits that are based around a different theme each year.
This year, the theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, which showcases how Catholicism has influenced fashion throughout history.
Celebrities hit the red carpet on Monday night, sporting papal-inspired gowns, chainmail costumes reminiscent of the Crusades and in singer Katy Perry's case - oversized angel wings.
Ali Hewson’s ethical initiative includes vegan leather bags made from Ugandan trees By Suzy Menkes
Ali Hewson is standing on the tiled floor of a Tribeca gallery, explaining how Edun's ethical programme has moved forward since I spotted a vegan bag made from pineapple last season.
“Now we have bags made from tree bark in an environment-friendly process to turn it into leather,” Ali said. “Having the store gives us great feedback; we need to have somewhere people can see the whole collection together and we can move forward slowly, and also online.”
This Out of Africa vision starts with a colourfully decorated, hand-customised motorcycle taxi from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Rich with jewels and joyful in its crazy additions, it draws crowds to the gallery window.
When they come inside, there are plenty of tempting accessories, from a Kenyan ‘Bibi’ bag with a giraffe print to ceramic jewellery and vases made from Kenyan clay by Kazuri Beads, which employs 300 local women. There are faux-fur embroideries and up-cycled leather weaves from an Ethical Fashion Initiative in Burkina Faso, while a shaggy faux-fur knit is another innovative eco-fabric made in Madagascar.
Now that it is owned by LVMH, Edun’s fashion collection is recognised for both its individuality and attention to detail, including hand-made embroideries in an alphabet pattern.
With a circle of ‘trees’ as background, the new collection looked both tribal and sophisticated, meaning that a graphic play on diagonal stripes and more regular checks were combined; or that a playful mix of miniature elephants, giraffes and other animals appeared on a sharply-tailored coat.
The online ‘e-shop’ has images of the handwork being made in different African territories, suggesting that clients are beginning to see something special and luxurious in ethically sourced and produced clothes and accessories made by hand.
The right timing, personality, and, of course, looks go into creating a supermodel - but a new study suggests that the rise of a new fashion star is not as random as it seems.
By Lauren Milligan
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing looked at "the social and professional determinants of success in the fashion industry" to find who the coming season's catwalk star would be - and, unlike many areas of mathematics, this is one formula we can wrap our heads round easily. Which is no surprise since this formula is called "The Kendall Jenner Effect".
Between September and December 2014, the school's research assistant professor, Emilio Ferrara, and his team counted how many Instagram posts a range of top models did, and assessed how many likes and comments each post got on average. Then, using the Fashion Model Directory, they aggregated portfolio data - including how many times they had appeared on the catwalk so far, as well as other statistics including their height and shoe size. This information was then fed into multiple algorithms, which enabled the team to predict how "popular" the model would be at the forthcoming fashion month - as defined by how many catwalks she would appear on - with 80 per cent accuracy.
What the researchers perhaps didn't take into account, which New York Magazine also notes, is that walking the maximum number of catwalk shows is not necessarily a measure of supermodel status and, in fact, once a model gets to the point when she only has to walk in a few shows, for a few choice brands - in the way that Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, and (until recently) Gisele Bündchen have done - that is the true measure of supermodel success.
The forthcoming American Crime Story series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which stars Edgar Ramirez as the late designer and Penelope Cruz as his sister Donatella. By Katie Berrington
I am thrilled that another season of American Crime Story is coming to our screens. Ryan Murphy and his team created something truly special with The People vs O.J Simpson, winning a much merited BAFTA amongst a host of other awards," Patrick Holland, controller of BBC Two, said. "With British writer Tom Rob Smith, one of the most exciting talents in television drama, across season two, The Assassination of Gianni Versace promises to be captivating viewing”.
Accompanying the announcement are new images of the cast on set, one of which shows Cruz wearing a black lace veil covering the platinum blonde hair that she has had dyed for the role of the distinctive designer.
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Part with convention: summer in the city calls for fuchsia suiting and decadent marabou trims by day. Here's Vogue's edit of the sun-soaked street style looks to love now. by Julia Hobbs
The Pink Pant Suit
A fuchsia pant suit against a blue sky summer sky? In terms of Insta-worthy outfit choices, it doesn't get any better than this. Navy corporate suiting is a major trend for autumn, but while we're still in holiday mode, it's about a pulse-racing shade of pink (and a razor-sharp bob).
Image: JONATHAN DANIEL PRYCE
The White City Dress
2017's street style has deemed that the white cotton sundress is a major part of a slick city wardrobe (rather than beach bound). The knee-grazing spaghetti-strap style is this year's freshest cut for warmer weekdays when it pays to be dressed and out of the door in under five minutes.
Image: JONATHAN DANIEL PRYCE
The Feather Trim
Thanks to Mrs. Prada's intervention, kitsch marabou trims are now a high-fashion indicator, subject to two rules; first, wear in daylight hours for intended high-vis effect; two, add sneakers so you can easily shimmy down the pavement.
The Summer Beret
Admittedly this street style trend (born on the Dior runway) demands bags of confidence. Imagine you are an extra on Gregg Araki's cult 1995 movie The Doom Generation, and pair your beret with Nineties Cobain frames.
The Granddad Blazer
Wearing an oversized blazer is nothing new - what's inspiring here is the silk pyjamas underneath. Short of going out in a pair of boxers, this is the most relaxed take on office attire now.
Everyone knows the stylish Summer appeal of cutoffs and how to wear them, but do you know how to make the best cutoff shorts from those old jeans of yours? We turned to denim guru Chantel Valentene, formerly of Resin denim. We asked Chantel — with her foolproof tips for making cutoff shorts for Summer that won't be too short, too long, or too uneven — to be our resident cutoffs expert (and model).
Occasion: all day, every day. "Granted they are way too big for me, but I love wearing these shorts. They're so comfortable, so relaxed, so chill, so we are going to make these into a pair of tomboy shorts."
Step 1: Invert and Smooth -- "Whenever you're working with something that is 100-percent cotton you want to turn it inside out, it usually helps, because you can make sure you don't cut through your pockets — they're so long you would never know you were cutting a short short. Then smooth the legs down straight."0:00
Step 2: Measure -- "Since the rise is so long we cut them pretty short, because they'll hang down pretty low on our bodies. I'll do a 2 or 3 inch inseam, but we start at 3 inches. We're going to curve the inseam up because on men's jeans they're so baggy that following the curve of the pocket makes them a little bit sexier. I'll measure it out from my crotch point 3 inches with my measuring tape."
Step 3: Even It Out -- "You want to match your point. Fold it over, making sure the crotch is folded, so you can make sure you're at the exact same point on both sides because the worst thing is uneven shorts!"
Start pulling some of your yarns out. It works really well when your fabric is 100 percent cotton, because there is no kind of spandex to draw it back so the cotton just lays flat. A lot of men's jeans are 100 percent cotton and a lot of boyfriend-fitting jeans are a 100-percent cotton, so that's fine.
Occasion: a night out. "I'm really a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, but you can do a fancy vest top or a beaded shirt if you're going out at night, and/or a denim jacket with it. I would wear it with a white tee and a hat. Maybe a really awesome blazer, a long blazer. I'd do that."
Step 1: Measure -- Measure the length, either for a five- or seven-inch inseam. "I am going to cut it at seven, then see if I like. And if I don't, I can go up shorter. The worst thing to do would be to cut it at five inches and you hate it, but then you're stuck. Start measuring from your crotch point."
Step 2: Cut -- "Cut one side first, then the other. Never cut both sides at one time, or don't try to cut straight across. Cut the front piece first then the back piece. Put a little incision at your starting point. Then cut straight across on my top layer only and make sure it's laying flat. Use the back end of your scissors, because that's always the sharpest point."
Step 3: Even It Out -- You want to match your point. Fold it over, making sure the crotch is folded, so you can make sure you're at the exact same point on both sides."
Step 4: Customise -- "I nip the sides 'cause I like to fold them up. Jeans get narrower to your knee, so when you're cuffing it up you split it a little bit to give more room and avoid sausage leg."
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Towards the end of the Nineties, say from 1997 onwards, every Friday and Saturday night getting-ready-to-go-out conversation would go something like this: “What are you going to wear? Jeans and a top, right?”, “Yeah, jeans and a top.” By Sarah Harris
As dictated by J-Lo, Destiny’s Child and the supermodels of the era, there wasn’t an alternative going-out uniform worth considering. A spangled cocktail dress? Forget it. A skirt situation? Nope. Le Smoking? Certainly not. For cocktails at the Met Bar – or any bar in the lobby of a Schrager hotel – it would be jeans and some kind of sensational top (ideally, one that glittered or was otherwise decorative, and exposed a sliver of taut midriff) that would get you past the velvet rope. That sartorial fail-safe is back with a vengeance this season as designers revive the look. At Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello teamed faded denim with plush sweetheart-neckline tops in black velvet; at Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton partnered opulent jacquard corsets with patchwork jeans; while Roberto Cavalli went all-out bohemian, pairing hipster styles with beaded jackets and skinny silk scarves.
The first bit of good news? This time around, it isn’t vital to expose your midriff (choose high-waisted jeans and a top that neatly tucks in). And the second? In essence, this is a look that requires little more from you than a rummage in the wardrobe.
A brain scientist's guide to fashion. By Claire Maldarelli
The truisms of fashionistas are ingrained in all of us: Clothing adorned with vertical stripes makes you appear slimmer and taller, while garb with horizontal bands makes you look wider—and perhaps a bit chubby. Except, maybe not. Compare these squares of black and white stripes. The horizontally striped one looks taller and the vertically striped square seems wider, right?
Hermann von Helmholtz was first to note this illusion (now called the Helmholtz squares) in 1867. But he gave little insight into its cause. Even today, neuroscientists have no compelling theories to offer. In his note, Helmholtz did make a brief but compelling ode to fashion: “Ladies’ frocks with cross stripes make the figure look taller.”
His style guide is, in reality, more valid than ours. In 2011, psychologists at the University of York in England tested whether the illusion seen in the 2-D version was also true in 3-D. Two identical female mannequins wore either horizontal- or vertical-striped outfits. The team found that the figure sporting vertical stripes appeared wider; in fact, the one donning horizontal stripes would need to be 10.7 percent broader for the two to visually match up. A reminder that fashion is as much a science as it is an art.