The elite of the fashion world flocked to Brazil, defying an outbreak of the Zika virus, an economic meltdown and the deep political crisis afflicting the country to attend a runway show Saturday by revered French label Louis Vuitton.
Around 500 guests, including A-listers Jaden Smith and Catherine Deneuve and fashion royalty flown in from New York and Paris, took in Vuitton's Cruise 2017 collection at a futuristic art museum in Rio de Janeiro's sister city of Niteroi.
With the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain shimmering in the background, the models strode the catwalk in sporty looks that channeled the street style of this beachfront metropolis and harkened to the upcoming Summer Olympics which will take place here in August.
For Michael Burke, Vuitton's chairman and CEO, the collection was pure Brazil.
"Brazil is about colour, it's about positiveness, it's about the future, it's about the body, it's about a strong woman," he said.
Cutout dresses in colour-block neoprene looked like crosses between wetsuits and easy, breezy sundresses, and the squishy-soled shoes were equal parts sensible boots and the flip flops that are Rio resident's footwear of choice. Filing out of the spaceship-shaped museum in their chic gym wear, the models looked like fitness-crazed aliens determined to help humankind shed a few pounds.
Outside the heavily guarded museum, onlookers gathered on the balconies of neighbouring buildings to gawk and cheer wildly at the well-heeled guests, who also included a cadre of Brazilian women who are among the Vuitton's top customers.
Brazil's wealthy elite have long been reputed to be among the world's most voracious luxury consumers, but the current recession -- the worst since the 1930s -- has put the brakes on spending of late. The snowballing political crisis that saw President Dilma Rousseff impeached earlier this month has thrust the South American giant into further instability, even as authorities here scramble to respond to an outbreak of the Zika virus, which has been linked to a terrible birth defect in infants.
For Vuitton brass, the very act of holding the first fashion show by a top European brand in Brazil at this troubled time represented an act of defiance against the onslaught of bad news besetting the country.
Designer Nicolas Ghesquiere said the show sent a signal to the world ahead of the Aug. 5-21 Olympics, which observers say could see low tourist turnout due to the trifecta of crises.
"As the biggest brand in the world, I think it's good to give a strong message to people and say we're not scared," he said, after a makeup artist mopped the tropical perspiration from his brow.
CEO Burke went even further.
"This was much more than a fashion show. It was about showing our love for this country, out appreciation, about giving back," he said, adding the big-budget event had created temporary jobs for some 5,000 people. "Is it a humanitarian activity? No, I wouldn't go that far. But it has a little bit of that."Read more at:purple formal dresses
There has been ample proof in the form of celeb sightings in Banarasi couture to conclude that the revival of the traditional weaves of Varanasi are back in the fashion spotlight. Bollywood and fashion fraternity's patronage to Banarasi saris has led to a demand for replicas of the designs adorned by them. Local manufacturers and weavers in Varanasi are working overtime to meet the demand for such 'inspired' clothing.
Cop that Celeb style
Take for example Kaushik Selat, a manufacturer of Banarasi saris and fabrics, who recently got a silk kimkhab (traditional weave of Banaras) sari made for a customer from Mumbai. "The lady was quite taken in by a similar sari showcased by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. She wanted us to create a similar sari, which took us three months to complete," shares Kaushik, adding that hers is not a solitary case. "We are getting queries every day from cities like Mumbai and Delhi for celebrity inspired saris. In fact, the Banarasi sari business, which used to earlier slow down after January, is doing well even in the usually dull months of the year," he says. Not just individual buyers, but retailers too have been placing orders for saris inspired by designer weaves. Local textile manufacturer, Muqeem Akhtar, has witnessed a steep demand for check-patterned Banarasi saris ever since it was showcased by celebrity designer Manish Malhotra in his collection. "The designer had showcased a multi-check patterned Banarasi sari in cotton with silk border at the Make in India show earlier this year, which was sported by some actresses as well later. That has led to increase in demand for similar saris from retailers across the country that we cater to. We had to get the saris especially woven as we have already exhausted our stock," says Akhtar. With Bollywood stars also taking to Banarasi in a big way, the demand for look-alikes is on the rise. Bharat Shah, a prominent textile manufacturers in Varanasi agrees that celebrities do impact the market. "For instance, actors like Sonam Kapoor , Vidya Balan and Gauahar Khan, who have shopped for Banarasi saris and fabrics on their visit to the city and uploaded pictures of the same on Instagram, have generated a new market for Banarasi fabrics. When their pictures came out on social media, we started getting a lot of queries for similar garments/fabrics. We sold nearly 100 pieces of garments and fabrics similar to those bought by these celebrities from us," he says.
Designer wear, local prices
The reason, say those in the Banarasi weaving industry, for such requests is simple - while designer wear doesn't fit everyone's budget, it is affordability which goes in favour of celebrity or designer inspired Banarasi garments . "Recently, I was approached by an acquaintance for Banarasi fabric to be custom-made for her entire family. She had checked clothing by different designers and had liked an ensemble created by designer Sabyasachi, in which Banarasi fabric has been used," says Vaibhav Kapoor, manufacturer and member of the All India Handloom Board . "Since the original was beyond her budget, she had sent me a photograph of a model wearing it, requesting to get a similar pattern made, without of course, the value addition provided by the designer. The garment will now cost her between `15,000-20,000 - much, much cheaper than the original and well within her budget," adds Kapoor. The advanced technology is also facilitating these manufacturers to make copies of these fabrics therefore making it affordable for the average customer. "Technology is making it possible to create similar fabrics. It is only the discerning eyes which can make out the difference between a handloom and power loom fabric," says Rajat Pathak, a textile manufacturer and exporter in Banaras, who was sent a picture of a designer sherwani in handloom brocade by a customer demanding a similar patterned fabric. "The customer had provided me with a price bracket within which I had to get the fabric made. The original fabric would have cost around `3000 per metre, while the one made by us on power loom will cost `500 per meter, which is very affordable for the customer," says Pathak.
Hemang Agarwal, textile designer and manufacturer in Banaras says that this demand for look-alike garments or fabrics has a remote chance of flouting copyright rules as most of these designs use traditional motifs that have been around since time immemorial, and have evolved over the years. "Nobody has a copyright over this. It is only when some designer develops his or her own pattern and makes it part of his or her collection, and if that is copied, then it amounts to infringement of copyright," he clarifies. Designers, on their part, know their clothes are replicated for half the price. On one of his visits to Lucknow, Gaurang Shah, who designs saris in traditional weaves, had said he takes it in his stride now. "They can copy what I have created, but I can always create something new," he had said.Read more at:plus size formal dresses
After failing to close Guantanamo Bay, President Obama may leave office succeeding in opening up the rest of Cuba. This historic, monumental shift in public policy will have implications for not only politicians but brands and marketers, as well.
And what better way to mark a new beginning between Cuba and the United States than with Gisele and Vin Diesel? Hey, it’s better than using a taco bowl to connect with Hispanics, right?
Last week, Chanel landed in Havana, their first show in Latin America. From the moment their boat docked, loaded with aforementioned celebrities and models, Chanel put out all the stops for its “Cruise 2017” collection. Designer Karl Lagerfeld said he looked to Cuba for inspiration, but what came out of this was a Frankenstein’s monster of stereotypes.Cuba is best known for feeling like a time capsule, with colorful streets filled with cars from the 1950s, before the U.S. embargo halted any imports to the island nation.
But what some can enjoy from afar as quaint and colorful buries a very dark reality of Cuban history.
What Chanel did was less groundbreaking than they think. A fashion show with models wearing military fatigue and Che Guevara berets is pretty offensive to Cubans, Cuban-American refugees, and anyone with an understanding of 20th century history.
Outside of Cuba, we have the luxury of idealizing Che Guevara from a distance. We ironically sell t-shirts and posters of one of history’s staunch opponents of material capitalism. While Chanel meant no harm in their appropriation of the Castro regime, they turned their runway in the stress of Havana into a mockery of a very intense period of mass torture and execution of political prisoners. Parading models around wearing “sexy” military berets is grossly offensive to those who were forced to flee Cuba and brave the 90-miles of shark infested waters to safe haven in Florida.
But this was a party that the Cuban people were not invited to. The streets of Havana were lined with foreign photographers and journalists, but the actual Cuban citizenry were held back behind metal barricades and a small army of police officers.
And that’s about as close as most will ever come to a Chanel product. With the average Cuban earning just twenty dollars a month, it would take over 10 years to be able to afford the average Chanel bag.
This isn’t about one fashion show. When brands come to Cuba, they have to do it right, and they have to do it right by the people of Cuba. Otherwise, in an attempt to be kitsch and playful, brands risk reinforcing the legitimacy of the very autocracy that reformers have been fighting against for decades. When Cuba opens up to America, it’s not doing so for our abject entertainment. These are real people, who are part of real families that are facing severe challenges.
If we ever get to a time when Ford and GM are selling new cars in Cuba, we should not grieve over the loss of 1950s hotrods. To the outside world these vestiges of a bygone era may be appealing, but they also represent an economic system that deprives the Cuban people of an opportunity to make a decent living.
Cuban culture is rich, vibrant, and should be celebrated as the country opens its doors to consumerism and outside investment.
But like the mojitos that Vin Diesel was sipping, it’s best enjoyed responsibly.Read more at:pink formal dresses