Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Olga Kurylenko: April's most fashionable

Ukraine-born actress Olga Kurylenko was barely absent from the red carpet this April, and with friends like Elie Saab, Balmain and Burberry, it's easy to see why.

You might recall Olga Kurylenko creeping onto your radar back in 2008, as the crop-haired, rough-and-ready Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace . Cue major body envy from women all over the globe, and another dancer-come-model-come-Bond Girl for the male population to get giddy over.

And then nothing. Save a Campari advert, and a few low profile films (forgive us, but did anyone see Centurion or Tyranny ?) Until Joseph Kosinski cast her in Oblivion and Olga did a 'Kerry Washington' on us this April. NB: To do a 'Kerry Washington' is to embark on a global promotional film tour with an arsenal of designer dresses fit to send all onlookers into a state of swoon.

With co-star Tom Cruise at her side, the world saw Olga in Elie Saab couture, structured Balmain minis, Valentino show stoppers and coats with sleeve or hem detailing to send fashionistas doolally. The most refreshing part of this cocktail of couture? The mega-watt smile that went with each tunic, gown or trouser.

Go on Olga's Twitter page and her buzz for fashion is obvious - the giveaway being the pictures of Louboutins that she posts. But so is her humility (a following picture showed her feet in a pair of Air France bed socks).

With designers rushing to dress her lithe frame, the 33-year-old delved into the trunk of luxe clothes and transformed into a different persona for each tour stop. Vienna got fiery Olga in Valentino with scraped-back Swedish milkmaid plait; London got ethereal Olga in delicate Marchesa.

Not content with dominating the red carpet like a professional, (and barely letting her diminutive co-star have a look-in) the trained ballet dancer and former model also boasts fluency in Russian, English and French, and is said to be learning Chinese. 

Miuccia Prada on designing costumes for The Great Gatsby

Despite claims that the Roaring Twenties has never influenced her collections, Miuccia Prada's design aesthetic proved to be a match made in party-dressing heaven for 'The Great Gatsby' costumes.

Nevermind that The Great Gatsby star Carey Mulligan and Prada dresses go together like cheese and wine, Miuccia Prada's involvement in the forthcoming film happened rather unwittingly.

It turns out the film's costume designer, Catherine Martin, used existing Prada and Miu Miu looks for a screen test. WWD reveal that the clothes looked so good, Martin approached Mrs Prada to create 40 looks for the film's party scenes.

The film's director, Baz Luhrmann, "wanted to show her [Mulligan's character Daisy Buchanan] as the most beautiful and rich woman on earth" says Prada, who was "relieved" to be able to use her archive as a starting point for the costumes - such as the 'chandelier dress' from her spring/summer 2010 collection, which was appropriated for Daisy.

Oscar-winning Martin, who is married to Luhrmann, revealed how she didn't want to get lost in trying to replicate every minutiae from the fashions of the era. She explains: "The reality is that from 1920, I could find a photo or a fashion illustration that would support almost any choice that we've made in the film. But we are not making a documentary. We are trying to express a story in a way in which Fitzgerald's visceral modernity is able to transgress the plane of the screen."

Conversely, Prada claims she hadn't been influenced by the decadent Jazz Age of the 1920s in her collections.

"That's what's interesting," she explained. "The point of view can transform things so much. Yes, probably a few [dresses] had that kind of edge, but almost none were meant to be the Twenties when I did them. I was really fascinated by that."

Selected costumes from the film will be exhibited in the Prada store on Broadway in New York, from tomorrow. Featuring gowns, dresses, hats, shoes and jewellery as well as sketches, production stills, backstage footage and trailers from the film, the exhibition will travel to the Prada Tokyo Epicenter store from June 14 to 30, and the IFC Mall in Shanghai in mid-July.

Grace Kelly: the enduring style icon for modern European royals

New Dutch Queen Maxima isn't alone in channelling the style of Princess Grace of Monaco, who is arguably the most elegant princess of them all.

What's a princess to wear when she's accepting the big promotion? This quandary must have been keeping Princess Máxima of the Netherlands awake at night ever since her mother-in-law decided she was going to abdicate the throne in favour of her son, the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander, thus making Máxima the new queen today.

In the event, the 41-year-old blonde did what all sensible European princesses do these days and channelled the fairest of them all - Princess Grace of Monaco.
Starting out as first a model, then a leading lady in Hollywood, Grace Kelly had a head start (and a lot of help, no doubt) creating her poised and elegant image. But it is an image which has endured for over 60 years.

Queen Máxima's feminine pastel ensemble teamed with her cool blonde hair, twisted and pinned neatly under at the nape of her neck into a French Roll today, both echoed Kelly's signature Fifties style.

And Máxima is not the first royal to fall for Kelly's timeless charms. Our own Duchess of Cambridge married her Prince wearing a lace Alexander McQueen dress which bore a striking resemblance to the Helen Rose gown Kelly chose for her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956.

Crown Princess Letizia of Spain and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (The Duchess of Cambridge's style double) meanwhile, both have a penchant for a Kelly-esque ladylike suit and fairytale gowns, and are both perennially groomed to Kelly-standard perfection in all their state regalia whenever the occasion calls.

Even Princess Charlene of Monaco - the rebel princess - has succumbed to the power of her late mother-in-law's image, taming her flowing platinum locks into a chic chignon and dressing in the kind of understated, elegant Giorgio Armani gowns which wouldn't have looked out of place on her predecessor.

And her legacy comes comes full circle with Hollywood and the fashion world falling in love with Grace Kelly all over again. Dior designer Raf Simons' recent couture collections owe much to the timeless beauty's archive of flawless fairy tale looks, while the world waits to see Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Kelly in upcoming movie Grace of Monaco, scheduled for release next year.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Diana Vreeland documentary wins Designs of the Year fashion category

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel has won the fashion category of the Design Museum's prestigious Designs of the Year contest.

The feature-length documentary was directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the wife of one of Vreeland's grandsons, Alexander. Although the two never met, Lisa wanted to create a documentary that comprehensively detailed Vreeland's professional and personal life after noticing a lack of accurate information in the public domain. Immordino Vreeland herself had worked in the fashion industry for many years before pursuing the project, which features contributions form the likes of Anjelica Houston, Manolo Blahnik and Lauren Hutton.

Chair of the jury Ilse Crawford commented: "She took fashion design to another level, reaching a wider audience and creating a greater understanding of the fashion world. So many of her achievements are taken for granted, for example the fact that she brought fashion into the context of the museum. And she never stopped. The longevity of her career is quite astounding."

Vreeland was best known for her work as a fashion editor at US Harper's Bazaar where she worked from 1836 until 1962, although she also enjoyed an eight-year tenure as editor-in-chief of US Vogue . Following her dismissal from that role she went on to become a consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Eye Has To Travel beat off competition from five other fashion names, including Giles Deacon, who was nominated for his autumn/winter 2012 collection, and Prada, nominated for its spring/summer 2012 collection.

The overall winner of the Design of The Year 2013 prize - which will be selected from the winners of the seven categories - will be announced on Wednesday, April 16.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hot Stuff by Fashiondella

Spektre: the new cult sunglasses

The autumn/winter '13 Fashion Week circuit saw street stylistas unite to bring the white stiletto back on the world's respected sartorial radar . And now, as we start prepping our wardrobes for a delayed spring, the fashion pack have given us another tip-off on the accessories front.

While we all expected Prada's sculpted floral shades and Linda Farrow's lens collection for The Row to be the stars of the shows, it was a range of high-shine, mirrored sunglasses spotted perched on the tip of many a front row nose, that caught our eye.

The coveted brand in question? Spektre: A Milanese sunglasses company established in 2009. Street style favourite Viviana Volpicella, a freelance stylist from Milan, has been championing mirror lenses of purple and blue, and chic Italians Eleonora Carisi and Giovanna Battaglia have also been parading the show grounds in high-vis pairs. For a label that maintains "we don't care about the market, we do what we like" Spektre have certainly caught the eye of the right ladies.

Viviana Volpicella modelling Spektre Vitesse sunglasses at autumn/winter 2013 Milan and Paris fashion weeks. Photos: Bridget Fleming

Here's what you need to know: The pairs retail at €124 (£105) for the Vitesse, a round lensed pair favoured by Giovanna Battaglia, and €114 (£96) for the Memento Audere Semper, which are stylistically akin to Ray Ban's Wayfarers. All styles can be bought on Spektre's online store .

Left: Spektre Vitesse, €124 (£105). Right: Spektre Memento Audere Semper, €114 (£96)

With the label promising "you will feel cool and protected", see this as your one way, affordable fast track ticket to a place on street style blogs everywhere.