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TOPIC: fashion

This Happened

This Happened—November 3: Happy Birthday To The "Devil" Of Fashion

Updated Nov. 3, 2023 at 12:45 p.m.

Happy Birthday to the editor-in-chief of Vogue. Anna Wintour now acts as Global Chief Content Officer for the magazine's parent company Condé Nast. Wintour has made her name as arguably the most influential person of her generation in fashion and glossy publishing.

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The Pandemic May Have Changed The Dress Code Forever — Even In France

Today, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish between professional and casual wardrobes. Sneakers at the office, double-breasted jackets at the bar. What's the reason for this stylistic and societal shift? A French look at all the mixing and matching in the post-pandemic era.

PARIS — Before the summer, on an official visit to the southern city of Marseille to discuss employment, security and education, French President Emmanuel Macron wore a shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a tie. "A president who doesn't wear a suit jacket? That would have been totally impossible 10 years ago. It's a good sign that the lines have moved," says Pierre Demoux, journalist at Les Echos and author of the book L'Odyssée de la basket.

From Monday morning till Friday evening, all you have to do is look around you, in the street or on public transport, to notice the rarefaction of suit-and-tie ensembles and other associated skirts-suits or pants.

Even in conservative sectors such as politics and banking, the code has changed. Friday wear was the first step in this democratization of business attire, and now the phenomenon has gained momentum.

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Crocs And Birkenstocks: How Such "Ugly" Shoes Became So Trendy

Crocs or Birkenstock: for a long time, they were just ugly slippers. Now, they're the eternal embodiment of summer cool. Les Echos unravels a fashion mystery.

PARIS — For the past 15 years, fashionistas have been sourcing the most cutting-edge products from Merci. Since June 15, the Merci boutique, a Parisian temple of good taste, has invited the Crocs brand to take possession of its dome, which has been converted into a customization lab.

Jibbitz (personalized pins that adorn the thirteen holes of the Crocs clogs) are the emblem of the concept-store, pieces adorned live with original prints by Cameroonian artist-painter Francis Essoua, also known as Enfant Précoce. The new collaboration allows the plastic clogs, launched in the early 2000s, to flirt with the world of contemporary art.

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This Happened — August 25: Claudia Schiffer Born

German supermodel Claudia Schiffer was born on this day in 1970.

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Dominika Wantuch

Barbie's Mom: How A Daughter Of Jewish Refugees From Poland Created An American Idol

The Barbie doll is known today as one of the world’s most iconic toys, featured in Greta Gerwig’s newly-released film. The doll was not expected to be a commercial success at all, but that didn’t stop creator Ruth Handler’s determination. Here is her story.

WARSAW —“She thought that mothers would buy their daughters dolls that look like whores!” That's what toy company Mattel told Ruth Handler, when she first pitched her idea for Barbie. But it wasn’t Ruth, but Mattel, who was mistaken. This is how Handler, the daughter of Jewish refugees from Poland, broke into the world of toys and created the most famous doll in the world.

When Ruth had the idea to create a doll with long legs, a tiny waist, ample breasts, full painted lips, made-up eyes, who exuded sex appeal, everyone was in shock.

Her husband, the co-owner of Mattel, told it to her straight: “No mother will buy dolls with a bust for her daughter." Her co-workers were even more skeptical, and called Ruth crazy, and overly risky. Her greatest support came from competing companies, who prophesied the complete collapse of the company after Barbie’s introduction in 1959. A former Mattel worker, who left the company just as Barbie was about to be introduced to consumers, asked: “Can you believe what these madmen at Mattel did? They showed up on television, and thought that mothers would suddenly start buying their children dolls that look like whores.”

But Ruth did not give in to criticism. She believed in herself, her idea and her business intuition. As a woman, she believed that this was exactly the type of doll that girls wanted to play with. A doll that looked like what they themselves wanted to look like. She believed that the world needed Barbie.

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This Happened

This Happened — July 15: Gianni Versace Assassination

Fashion designer Gianni Versace and founder of the renowned fashion brand Versace was shot and killed outside his mansion in Miami Beach Florida on this day in 1997.

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Sreemanti Sengupta

Being LGBTQ+ In India, Fashion Can Be A Glamorous Way To Save Your Life

The hyper-inclusive queer world of fashion challenges the view that gayness is a "curable" tendency.

KOLKATA — “Beauty gives me hope,” says Luna.

When Suruj Pankaj Rajkhowa, popularly known as Glorious Luna (They/He/She), presented as a boy with visible effeminate tendencies, they were picked on by peers and relatives for their mannerisms and for the single blue shirt they used to wear almost all of the time. Without many options, Luna would borrow a chunni, or scarf, from a cousin and pair it with their favorite blue shirt. When the tongues still wagged, they would fire back, “There’s no satisfying you lot!”

Today, Luna is a non-binary, gay model, drag queen and make-up artist. They have worked with renowned designers and international labels and their portfolio includes Vogue India and Femina covers.

For Luna and others like them, fashion is much more than an assemblage of clothes and accessories: “As a queer person, fashion is more than a profession – it is a survival skill. My language of rebellion is not asking people for acceptance, but about showing them that I am queer, and so is my fashion.”

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In India, the world of fashion seems to be one of the most welcoming professional options for the LGBTQ+ community. Though bias and prejudice often make trans and non-binary models merely token characters in an entourage, it also affords them the freedom of expression that is stigmatized in day-to-day life while giving them employment.

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Catalina Ruiz-Navarro

Why Dior's Frida Kahlo Show Was So Offensive To Gender Violence Victims

Dior recently tried to fight gender violence in Mexico City, in a catwalk inspired by late artist icon Frida Kahlo. However, this took place in the form of an elitist show, with hollow slogans and no real action.


BOGOTÁ — Dior's fashion show last month in Mexico City revived a longstanding debate on whether or not fashion can be political, and even at times feminist.

The collection shown at the San Ildefonso palace was, according to Dior's first ever female head, María Grazia Chiuri, inspired by Mexico's iconic 20th century painter, Frida Kahlo. This isn't bad per se, though it is a little clichéd by now, especially if Frida is to be the only cultural reference abroad for Mexico.

Some of the dresses were near replicas of those she wore in the 1920s and 30s, of traditional huipil gowns one finds in market stalls or of the tight, charro jackets worn by Mariachi bands hired at parties, though probably more finely cut. This alone would have constituted an acceptable though not outstanding collection of designs, conveying Dior's superficial and unremarkable vision of a nation's arts and crafts.

But things became a little complicated in the last parade, when several models walked on wearing white cotton dresses and red shoes, in an allusion to works by Elina Chauvet, an artist from the northern state of Chihuahua.

In 2009, Chauvet collected shoes donated by members of the public, and painted them red for an installation exploring the distressing phenomenon of femicides in Ciudad Juárez, her state. The reference here was trivial if not meaningless, as nothing was donated, there was no collective effort or mobilization, nor any commemoration of the women and girls murdered in Juárez.

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food / travel
Andrew Whitehead

How The Sari Conquered The World

The prestigious Design Museum in London – named European Museum of the Year in 2018 – is currently staging a landmark exhibition, The Offbeat Sari, all about this item of dress and the clamour of attention it is enjoying.

London Calling: How does India look from afar? Looming world power or dysfunctional democracy? And what’s happening in Britain, and the West, that India needs to know about and perhaps learn from? This fortnightly column helps forge the connections so essential in our globalising world.

The curry has conquered the world; the sari less so. It is, in concept, the most simple of garments: a single piece of unstitched fabric. In execution, it’s really tricky to wear for those who don’t have the knack. All those pleats – the tucking in – and then the blouse and petticoat which are part of the ensemble. Quite a palaver.

When Western women wear a sari – often as a perhaps misguided token of cultural respect – you often wish they had stuck to a trouser suit. And in its heartland, the sari is nothing like as ubiquitous as it once was. Among young urban Indian women, as far as I can make out, the sari is saved for high days and holidays.

Yet the elegance and versatility of the sari, as well as its timeless quality, have caught the attention of fashion gurus and designers, desi and otherwise. The prestigious Design Museum in London – named European Museum of the Year in 2018 – is currently staging a landmark exhibition, The Offbeat Sari, all about this item of dress and the clamour of attention it is enjoying.

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Flora Toelo Karambiri

Meet The "Patchers," Burkina Faso's Mobile Tailors Cutting Corners On-The-Go

Seven days a week, the "patchers" of Burkina Faso roam the streets of the country's capital, looking out for any clothes that might need mending.

OUAGADOUGOU — They are easy to spot as they crisscross the capital of Burkina Faso. With sewing machines on their shoulders and scissors in hand, they travel around in search of their daily tasks. Many in urgent need make use of their services to adjust an outfit, mend holes, replace a zipper, sew on buttons or repair a tear.

These are the mobile tailors or rafistoleurs ("patchers") of this West African nation of 22 million. They save people time, trouble and often money, and are a common sight on the streets of Ouagadougou.

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Vanessa Rosales

"Splendid" Colonialism? Time To Change How We Talk About Fashion And Culture

A lavish book to celebrate Cartagena, Colombia's most prized travel destination, will perpetuate clichéd views of a city inextricably linked with European exploitation.


BOGOTÁ — The Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz is celebrating the historic port of Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia, in a new book, Cartagena Grace, published by Assouline. The European publisher specializes in luxury art and travel books, or those weighty, costly coffee table books filled with dreamy pictures. If you never opened the book, you could still admire it as a beautiful object in a lobby or on a center table.

Ortiz produced the book in collaboration with Lauren Santo Domingo, an American model (née Davis, in Connecticut) who married into one of Colombia's wealthiest families. Assouline is promoting it as a celebration of the city's "colonial splendor, Caribbean soul and unfaltering pride," while the Bogotá weekly Semana has welcomed an international publisher's focus on one of the country's emblematic cities and tourist spots.

And yet, use of terms like colonial "splendor" is not just inappropriate, but unacceptable.

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