Playing a heart broken girl who has no qualms in setting up a business with a prospective groom that she isn’t interested in marrying, in Pelli Choopulu,Ritu Varma, now fondly referred to as Chitra (her character’s name) has become the new age poster girl of Telugu cinema. Her penchant for playing empowered, independent, urban girls is what separates this Hyderabadi from the ‘glam dolls’ who specialise in looking pretty. In Prema Ishq Kadhal, her first as a heroine, she played a fashion designer Sameena who has a one night stand with a colleague and tells the guy to take it easy when he buys her a saree the morning after. That movie was only critically acclaimed, while Pelli Choopulu recently completed 100 days. With offers pouring in from Tollywood and Kollywood, it would be safe

to say she has arrived! Hyderabad Times chats her up about her newfound stardom, its pressures and of course, her love life. Excerpts:

You seem to have your hands full...

I’ve already wrapped up the first schedule for Sudheer’s film in Vizag. But I have a couple of other films lined up for early next year. Very interesting scripts are coming my way. I’m game to work in all languages, fingers crossed.

Kollywood has beckoned you already, we hear...

Yes, I’m super excited about foraying into Tamil cinema. I completed shooting for two films — China, where I play a middle class girl and Pirai Thaediya Naatkal. I’m not sure which one will release first. I took a crash course in Tamil while shooting there. Some Tamil words are similar to Telugu, so it was easy for me.

Looks like your career has finally taken off, four years after making your debut... What turned things around for you?

I’d say Pelli Choopulu. It is the biggest hit of my career and the kind of response it got was amazing. In fact, when the news of Pelli Choopulu remake was doing the rounds, I got so many messages from fans who said that they would love to see me in the remake as well. I’m so happy that my character made an impact! That said, I think you need to have a lot of patience in this industry and wait for things to fall in place. After my first Telugu film Prema Ishq Kadal, a lot of films came my way. But I was choosy. I think I’ve been part of some good films which people have received very well. I’m happy with the way my career is shaping up now.

Success apart, how has life changed post Pelli Choopulu?

For starters, there’s a lot of pressure. Everyone has high expectations of me right now, so I have to be extra careful about the films I take up. Then, people have been telling I’ll have to face stiff competition now on. but that doesn’t really affect me because I’m happy in my zone. I don’t bother about competition; I’ll just keep working hard and let my work become my calling card.

So, is it all work, no time for anything else...?

I love travelling; if possible, I would love to travel my whole life (laughs). Also, I’m huge foodie and love trying different cuisines. I’m a big movie buff too. I don’t watch my own movie because it makes me nervous and I get too critical about myself. but I enjoy watching movies of other actors I like — Allu Arjun, Dhanush, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor. I wish to work with all of them one day (laughs).

We meant, no time for love?

No! I’m very much single and not ready to mingle. I know everybody says this, but seriously, my focus is on my work right now. doing good work will make me happier. If ever I end up liking somebody, I’ll see... you never know when you connect with the right person.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/red-formal-dresses | princess formal dresses

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The contouring trend has travelled across various parts of the human anatomy. And the latest fad on the block is hair contouring.

Simply put, hair contouring literally helps sculpt faces — thanks to meticulously placed highlights and lowlights. This helps to accentuate the best facial features, defining the overall effect. Once a colour palette has been carefully chosen as per one’s skin tone, darker shades are used to create shadows. Deeper shades help the face look narrower, while lighter colours are used for broadening and lengthening since they reflect light.

The key to successful contouring is identifying your right face shape — oval/round/square/diamond or oblong. To get better clarity, on a round shaped face, light tones are generally applied around the hair line, from ear to ear. On the other hand, darker tones are painted underneath the ears and lower ends of the hair. The former brightens and elongates the face while the latter gives the facial shape more of a point.

On a square shaped face, multi tonal layers of light and dark are applied to the corners of the face and around the jawline and temples to soften the slightly wider facial features. The above are just examples to understand how best colour placements can be done to achieve a contouring effect.

Remember to stick to shades which are no more than two shades darker or lighter than ones, base colour. Use the above tips to give yourself that well sculpted look.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2016

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“This needs to be a place where we celebrate our heritage,” HSY said at the opening of his grand HSY Mansion in Karachi. Picture courtesy: Karachista.

InstepREport

Hassan Sheheryar Yasin officially inaugurates his palatial atelier and opens its

doors to fashion connoisseurs in town.

Karachi :Friday was all about Hassan Sheheryar Yasin and his newly refurbished mansion. A guided tour organized for the media, earlier in the evening, made way for a night of celebration with the who’s who of fashion and entertainment. Pakistan’s new generation of top designers from Karachi and Lahore, movie stars, television actors, influencers, fashion models and the crème of society turned up to bask in the glow of an illumine moon on a crisp Karachi winter evening. The vibe was great and one could easily be convinced that the future of fashion and entertainment in Pakistan was very bright.

Hassan Sheheryar Yasin, HSY or simple Sheroo to friends, officially opened very grand doors to his mansion, which has taken over a year to refurbish as he was painstakingly restoring as much of its original character as possible; the colourful mosaic floor, the stain glass roshandan (ventilators) and woodwork that lent it palatial dimensions.

“This needs to be a place where we celebrate Pakistani heritage,” he said. The interior was positively grand but even more fascinating was the layout of the mansion, divided into couture galleries, client spaces, archival walls and a ‘red room,’ which is an integral part of every HSY studio.

“The red room is for stars,” Hassan explained when giving the tour. “It has a separate entrance so that no one has to see them come and go and it’s not open to stylists to come, pick and choose. This is part of the star experience, where we sit down and talk with a celebrity about a look for a certain occasion. It has to be discussed and well-thought out. It has to be special.”

The same level of special treatment is extended to brides and grooms in different segments of the mansion, he explained. But would the designer always be around to extend that honour to his clients?

“I’ll be spending ten days in Lahore and ten days in Karachi every month,” he informed. He had even designed a personal residential suite on the second floor, for himself and any guests that may want to stay at the mansion too. And what about the remaining ten days, one asked, familiar with his love for travel. “You know that we’ve started sourcing fabric from Italy,” he suggested with a smile.

The launch was important as it marked 24 years of HSY. “I choreographed my first show for Nilofer Shahid exactly 24 years ago and I have to say I have achieved a lot and learnt a lot.” The big announcement, on this eve, was also the launch of HMP, the HSY Mentorship Program, in which the designer explained how four deserving candidates with an interest in fashion would be selected from a cross section of society (not necessarily fashion students) and mentored at the HSY Mansion every season.

“What will we teach them,” he questioned aloud. “Everything. We’ll teach them how to walk, talk and think like a designer. How to make and market and brand clothes. We’ll teach them everything they need to know and we want to help them discover what they do best.”

The program would be completely free of cost and in fact, deserving students who were unable to take leave from their day jobs, would be allotted a stipend to keep them financially afloat. Moreover, the program would also fund new brands for students that had been mentored under the HMP. It sounded like a huge and idyllic undertaking but if it goes according to plan then this will be a very welcome CSR activity from a successful brand.

Hassan also spoke about cultural integration and how more exchange was necessary. He was in talks with Alliance Francais, he shared, to screen French movies at the HSY Mansion as part of a cultural experience for guests and students. He had marked one wall of his mansion for photographers wishing to display their work. And he had offered designers his space for exhibition and showcase purposes, free of cost. This would be fashion’s GHQ, one felt, if such a thing could exist.

As the press-meet ended and the night picked up on the heels of party-goers, one thing became evident. Hassan Sheheryar Yasin is a man made for greater things than simply designing. The way he brought people together that night showed that if anyone could bridge the divide between Lahore and Karachi and bring fashion on to one united fashion platform, he could. All he had to do was put his mind to it.Read more at:evening dresses | bridesmaid dresses

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United Colors of Benetton has revealed more about its first collaboration with a fashion designer, signing up Stella Jean to create a knitwear-focused winter capsule collection.

In the space of just a few years, Stella Jean, who lives and works in Rome, Italy, has become a key figure in the fashion world. A former protégé of Giorgio Armani, the designer skillfully combines Italian style and expertise with African and Caribbean inspirations, with particular focus on Haitian culture. The result is an innovative, uplifting and colorful kind of fashion with highly feminine cuts and shapes.

The capsule designed by Stella Jean for United Colors of Benetton features the designer's custom signatures. It will also be based on two of the brand's historic mainstays: knitwear and color.

"The capsule collection will interpret Benetton knitwear with Stella Jean's joyous, global signature aesthetic that merges Italian style with traditional textiles from the countries of the Southern Hemisphere," the brand explains in a news release.

In total, 15 Benetton basics knitwear pieces are reinterpreted by Stella Jean in a series of feminine looks with a festive feel. The collection includes coats, dresses, sweaters, skirts and a selection of accessories.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-2016

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Among all the pink-purple shades it is Bodacious that has mostly enchanted fashion designers thus shaping up one of the fall/ winter 2016 fashion color trends. This bright, rich purple with some pink undertones to it is wrapped with coquettish milieu, simultaneously functioning effectively for versatile color combinations. Seeing this shade vagabonding through cold seasons is somewhat bizarre, but spreading tranquility and composure around is on the agenda at this juncture, which is handled by contemporary fashion designers, as well.

Among them is Oscar de la Renta with the exceptional gusto for evening gowns that has given birth to a couple of spellbinding frocks either with some froufrou surface or with undulating hems. At Topshop Unique the delicacy of Bodacious is reduplicated when materialized on lace bringing forth an exquisite mini dress and a midi skirt both of them radiating utmost intimacy and sensuality.

A tweed skirt suit at Chanel instantly mollifies, while at Gucci a fur coat in a more bleached version of Bodacious with a tonal rose at the collar is endlessly caressing. We see this bright purple at Karen Walker as well under the guise of some stripes and geometrical shapes, while at Kenzo it comes to life via animal prints on skirts, tops and coats.

We see the whole richness of Bodacious at Lacoste whether we cast an eye on a hooded sporty dress or on a lacquered coat. But its romantic side is best revealed at Dolce & Gabbana on tons of 3D flowers scattered all over the map up to shaping lovely headbands and other hair accessories.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/short-formal-dresses | http://www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses

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On the tree-lined streets of Ben Yehuda and Dizengoff in Tel Aviv-Yafo, rows of posh cafés, beauty parlors, bridal boutiques, and fashion studios stretch as far as the eye can see. The plethora of bridal salons continues south into the stone promenades of Yafo, one of the world’s oldest port markets. The salty air tastes of ocean breeze. An Arabic call to prayer reverberates from a seaside mosque while shoppers peruse some of the world’s most avant-garde wedding attire. These dresses are quickly becoming so popular that many women are even wearing them outside of weddings.

"The Israeli bridal industry has expanded a lot over the past few years and become an important player in the world," said fashion designer Julie Vino, who founded her Tel Aviv studio in 2008. "A lot of brides in general want to wear sexy dresses, which were missing in the world market. Israeli designers came and filled the hole. We’re giving women that choice."

Wedding fashion is a $3 billion industry, according to estimates by market research company IBISWorld. Today, networks like Pinterest and Instagram are remarkably influential in that globalized market. Surveys conducted by Brides magazine showed 70 percent of readers used social media to research and shop for their bridal ensembles. Women from Los Angeles to Hong Kong are flocking online, often to find many of their favorite weddings dresses come from the Middle East.

Israeli designers are pioneering a distinctive look with sheer yet strategically embellished fabrics and body-skimming silhouettes. "Many buyers and journalists think the designs are too much, too sexy," couture designer Alon Livné said in a phone interview. "But the brides saw the dresses online and started requesting them in stores. That’s what made this revolution, it came from the brides themselves."

The New York Times recently called this Mediterranean style a trademark "sexier bridal aesthetic." Tel Aviv’s couture wedding dresses are now in high demand around the world, and not only from brides.

Beyoncé made waves when she wore a thigh-baring lace wedding dress by Israeli designer Inbal Dror to the Grammys earlier this year. Dror, whose dresses are routinely shared by thousands of Pinterest users worldwide, trained under Roberto Cavalli before opening her own Tel Aviv studio near the beach. Humid weather makes breezy attire popular among local clients. Comfort is key for Israeli brides, which makes their wedding dresses particularly versatile.

In the nearby neighborhood of Florentin, sometimes compared to trendy Williamsburg in New York City, fellow entrepreneur Galia Lahav has a store known for dresses with open backs and contoured fabric blends. Jennifer Lopez wore one of her white wedding dresses as a Christmas outfit for a People magazine photo shoot last December. Serena Williamsalso wore one of Lahav’s white bridal ensembles to a 2016 Oscars after party. These celebrities are among the growing number of people showing the world wedding dresses aren’t only for brides.

"We don’t make just bridal dresses, we make fashion," Vino said in a phone interview. "You can wear it to the red carpet or a wedding." Argentine pop star Lali Esposito recently wore one of Vino’s wedding dresses to the Martin Fierro Awards, the Argentinian Emmys. Other international clients have worn her wedding gowns to formal occasions such as charity events. Nicole Johnson, fiancée of Olympian Michael Phelps, bought one of Vino’s dresses for her wedding day and a second one for an upcoming New Year’s Eve event. Vino said almost 70 percent of her business comes from abroad these days, with retail prices ranging from $6,000 to $10,000 per dress.

Over the past few years, it’s also become increasingly common for beauty queens around the world to wear Israeli wedding dresses. To mention just one example, Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan wore a bedazzled V-neck gown by Israeli fashion house Berta Bridal at this year’s American pageant finale.

Berta Balilti was born in Cairo and immigrated to Israel as a child. She started her first bridal salon in 1995. Her studio now has 1.3 million Instagram followers and almost 80 retailers worldwide, including major US department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. This October, fashion blogger and model Doina Ciobanu wore one of these slinky gowns to the Scottish Fashion Awards in London.

"Now if you have the right product, you just need to put it out there on social media," said Nir Moscovich, fashion house director (and Balilti’s son-in-law), in a phone interview. "We have a very big amount of brides that travel from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates specifically to buy our dresses at the store in London."

Despite its explosive growth over the past few years, now employing around 100 people, Berta Bridal still prides itself on being a family business with handmade embellishments and custom designs. Religious clients, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, often request subtle modifications to reveal less skin while keeping Balilti’s trademark skintight fit.

"Everything is based in Israel and made in Israel," Moscovich said. "Berta designs all the dresses herself and uses soft materials that feel like a second skin, much easier to move in." Her wedding dresses each cost around $10,000.

Like Balilti, several of Israel’s most famous designers leveraged social media to grow their international followings. Israel is a country of around 8 million people, so Tel Aviv’s fashion houses constantly look abroad for bigger markets. Despite political tension between Middle Eastern countries, women of diverse backgrounds are using online platforms to connect across borders.

"The engagement with clients all over the globe, by a touch of a finger, is outstanding and exciting," said designer Galia Lahav. "We get the applications through our website or through social media DM or stores… We recently had a bride from Dubai. It would be a dream to open a store in Dubai, Kuwait, or the UAE."

Lahav’s fashion house, founded in 1988, now has 1.4 million Instagram followers and sells her dresses in over 40 outlets worldwide, including flagship stores in Los Angeles, New York, and Hamburg. Her couture gowns start at $8,000.

Whether worn to galas or award ceremonies, beauty pageants or weddings, the spread of this sexy Mediterranean bridal look is about more than the dresses themselves. This style challenges the entire wedding gown mythos.

Earlier this year, Talleen Abu Hanna, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, proudly wore a white wedding dress on stage when Miss Trans Israel pronounced her the country’s first transgender pageant queen. She wore the sheer gown even though Israeli law does not grant transgender women the right to marry until after they’ve completed specific surgeries. What better way to resist gender norms than for a single woman to don a wedding dress in celebration of herself?

Wedding dresses are often marketed as transformative clothes that make a bride feel like she’s become a virginal "queen," with language suggesting marriage is her pinnacle accomplishment. But today, modern brides and couture connoisseurs are subverting these ideas through fashion. For many women, dramatic necklines and sexy silhouettes are a beautiful challenge to sexist traditions.

"The transparent, lingerie-evocative gown takes the tradition of the sex-symbolizing wedding attire, but flips it," Megan Garber wrote for The Atlantic. "It implies that the sex will be had on the bride's terms as much as the groom's. It's reveling in a woman's sexuality, rather than stifling it."

Livné, winner of Project Runway Israel’s sole season, thinks his clients respect tradition yet also reject the puritanical symbolism of traditional gowns. Israeli brides often wear a shawl or sheer matching jacket during any religious rituals, which they quickly shed for the reception. "We are in 2017, almost, and I don’t believe many brides will get married as virgins," he said. "The ceremony is more about people who love each other… if you want to feel sexy and celebrate your body, then why not?"

Like fellow designer Inbal Dror, Livné also trained under Roberto Cavalli. He has two studios in Israel and just opened a third on Broadway in New York City. A few weeks ago at Paris Fashion Week, French pop star Petite Meller wore one of his wedding dresses to a Vogue party. It had a delicate, lace-trimmed collar and swirling lines that tumbled down her sleeves. "When I design a wedding dress, I think about it like an art piece," Livné said. "Just because it’s white doesn’t mean you can’t wear it to other events."Read more at:formal dresses australia | evening dresses

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Kate Bosworth isn't afraid to wear denim-on-denim.

The American actress can pull off just about any fashion trend, with her wardrobe including everything from biker chic ensembles to elegant gowns.

But when it comes to her off-duty style, the 33-year-old has a penchant for jeans and all things denim.

"I love all denim, head to toe. It's very California. I'll wear all light wash or all dark wash," she told Vogue.com at the launch of Lucky Brand Jeans' latest collection. "But whatever it is, whether it's a flare or an ankle jean, it has to fit well. Every woman knows when they try on a pair if it feels like 'no' or fits like a glove."

At the moment, Kate is enjoying experimenting with different denim looks. She particularly likes the trend for graphic patterns or garments with heart and floral patches for added fun.

"There was a jacket I had when I was a little girl that was a light wash, very '80s, and I put pins and patches all over it... I would wear that jacket today, I am still so drawn to that kind of denim," she shared.

Kate believes her love of denim stems from her youth spent riding horses alongside her uncle, who was a farrier. While she may have been introduced to denim as utility wear, she now views jeans as both practical and stylish, and cites a pair of her husband Michael Polish's old Levi's as one of her favourite pairs.

"You should always feel sexy in denim, whether it's boyish and oversized - which is more my thing - or skintight, if that is your thing," smiled Kate.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-adelaide | http://www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-perth

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With designs bearing two color choices crafted in one piece, it not only gives girls the chance to have fun mixing and matching one’s ensemble but also lightens the load when it comes to packing for planned or impromptu trips to wherever the road leads.

Founded in August of this year and handmade in the shores of Cebu City, this was created by Kymberly Maitland-Smith who recalled thinking of the idea on a road trip to the beach with friends.

“I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could just take my clothes off and jump into the sea? And wouldn’t it be nice to travel light and not have to pack so many bikinis?’ That’s when I thought about making clothes you can use for any occasion and making them with more than one color option,” she said.

SOLTI is a name that stemmed from two words from different languages, both conveying the same meaning. “It is a play on words. ‘Sol’ is the Spanish word for sun and ‘Soleil’ is the French word for sun. Since my designs are made for the sun, sea and sweat, I wanted to make it sound like ‘salty’: salty like the sea and perspiration,” Kymberly said.

Last Oct. 19 at the Ibiza Beach Club of Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu, SOLTI held its launch of the brand and first fashion show. The night featured its collections which guests had the opportunity to see up close.

Not only is the passion for fashion apparent in the designs, so is the effort in being environmentally conscious. Keeping the planet in mind, Kymberly shared that the designs are made with recycled materials. “SOLTI is different because it’s not just about fashion, it’s about helping the planet as well,” she shared. “All our fabrics are recycled from waste textiles in the Philippines; what was once trash to someone else is now something women can use every day. Reducing textile waste also helps reduce landfill space as well as water and air pollution in our country.”

It not only carries swimwear but also designs built for indoor and outdoor sports and any other type of activity under the sun which, according to Kymberly, are named after the islands of the Philippines.

“Apart from feeling sexy and comfortable, I want women to feel confident and trust that SOLTI enhances the best parts of a woman’s figure,” she said of the designs. “Women should be able to wear SOLTI underneath everyday and feel like they’re ready for anything that comes their way.”Read more at:cocktail dress australia | bridesmaid dress

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A LITTLE over a month ago, history was made at the New York Fashion Week. An Indonesian fashion designer named Anniesa Hasibuan became the first Indonesian designer invited to participate in the event. Hasibuan also made history of a different sort: her designs were the first in the history of the New York Fashion Week to feature the hijab. Hasibuan’s models, attired in flowing gowns and pants of silk and lace, all had their heads covered. Their bodies may have been sporting high fashion, but their heads were encased in perfectly matched silk.

Expectedly, much ado was made of the ‘historic’ nature of the event in international newspapers, Hasibuan’s hijab-wearing models permitting her to stand out a bit among the glut of designers that traipsed along at the crowded event. For her part, Hasibuan said she felt thankful that it was her designs and not the hijab that were the focus of the event.

Whether her insistence was true is, of course, a matter of opinion. While it may have been new on the catwalks of New York’s famed fashion week, the concept of hijab-wearing models in fashion shows is not new. In May, the 2016 Istanbul Modest Fashion Week was held in that city. The models at that event also sported headscarves, and wore long high-necked silken gowns as they paraded up and down a catwalk. The dresses seemed a bit more conservative, a little less clingy, but they were, nevertheless, part of a fashion parade made up of all the constituent parts, models, catwalks and gawking onlookers.

In her native Indonesia, Hasibuan’s installation of the hijab on the catwalks of one of the world’s premier fashion events seems to have met with divided opinion. Unsurprisingly, those who do not see a conflict between showing off clothes and the modesty prescription that is supposed to underlie the hijab feted the achievement. After all, why should hijab-wearing Muslim women be left on the sidelines of fashion?

Others, the nit-picking clerical sort, focused on the sort of inanities that are a thorn in the sides of all Muslim women, the length of sleeves, the height of necklines and such (this, even though all of Hasibuan’s designs sport long sleeves and crew necks). Their objection, it seems, was not to the fact that there may be a central contradiction between wearing a hijab and treading a catwalk but rather that they (as opposed to Hasibuan’s aesthetics) could not control the designs. Theirs is a misogynistic project that would eliminate women from every sphere, generally eviscerate all their choices whether they relate to the hijab or anything else.

The Turkish event attempted to address the question of whether modesty and fashion can coexist in a more direct way. Instead of simply calling a fashion show a fashion show, which is what it was, they chose to call it the Istanbul Modest Fashion Week. The insertion of ‘modest’, it seems, was designed to overcome the contradiction at hand — the fact that the ostensible religious reason proffered for the covering of hair via the headscarf is that it detracts attention from the wearer, hence exemplifying in a literal sense a move away from the superficial to the spiritual and pious.

Words, however, are only words; while the hijab-wearing aficionados of haute couture may have bought the verbal acrobatics inherent in rendering the impermissible suddenly permissible, the rest were likely confused. If the point is to not draw attention, then strutting on a catwalk could not possibly make that claim.

The same objection could be attached to Hasibuan’s work. However, to leave the issue at that, at static definitions of what is required or not required, permissible or not permissible, is to neglect the reality of religion as a real and living thing, defined and transformed by practice.

Under this definition, both events, the Istanbul Modest Fashion Week and Hasibuan’s show in New York, reveal Muslim women’s attempts to participate in and define a global discourse where the hijab is redefined in a myriad ways. A cynical interpretation of this would point to the fact that as they join the workforce, and enjoy their increasing buying power, Muslim women want items that are creatively and artistically geared, particularly and exclusively, to them. Beautiful gowns featuring hijabs are hence responding less to religious edict and more to consumer demand.

Another interpretation would suggest that having been the subject of political (rather than spiritual) contention for several decades, the meaning of the hijab, its symbolism and signification, has completely changed. In this sense, women who wear the hijab may theoretically align themselves with the modesty precepts that were part of its original prescription, but they are really making a political statement.

The hijab, then, as it exists in the age of Modest Fashion Weeks and New York Fashion Weeks, is not so much an indicator of religious commitment as a particular political position. In Turkey, this means that the anti-secular but still aspirational classes want to show that they can wear a headscarf, be stylish, and also politically relevant and powerful. This last step has required a redefinition of the hijab not as a symbol of ascetic restraint but rather of having the potential to be as fashionable and trendy as Prada shades and Birkin bags.

Nor is Pakistan insulated from the international emergence of the hijab as a symbol of designer consumerism and political positioning. In recent decades, elite women have taken on the practice, their elaborate and stylish headgear matched with the exact silk hues of their expensive outfits. There is no restraint here, nor any argument for it, simply a statement, political and fashionable and visible to all. Undoubtedly, there are women who choose the hijab for its disavowal of the politics of consumption, its ability to insulate against the constant moral aspersions cast on women in the Muslim public sphere. New meanings do not mean that the old ones are completely erased; they remain, not on catwalks but on the margins and the sidelines.Read more at:formal evening dresses | formal dress

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If Derby Day were a chocolate bar it would be the Top Deck of the spring racing carnival thanks to the black-and-white theme, but unlike Cadbury's plebeian snack, the fashions at Flemington on Saturday were anything but basic.

Despite such a regimented dress code, the fashion was high, the headgear higher and hemlines were (relatively) low inside The Birdcage on Melbourne Cup Eve, eve, eve.

If there were odds for a style race, they would have been short for Melbourne designer Toni Maticevski, who created some of the best and most creative dresses seen off the track.

Former AFL WAGs turned Melbourne's first ladies of fashion, Rebecca Judd and Nadia Bartel, kept it classic with quirky twists on their monochrome ensembles.

Judd, who gave birth to twin boys a month ago, wore a white Maticevski dress and a spiky, gold headpiece by Sydney milliner Suzy O'Rourke.

The midi-length, form-fitting dress appeared to be inspired by her newborns thanks to an elaborate bib neckline that cascaded like spilled milk.

Bartel channelled her inner chorus line girl in a short black Thurley dress complete with a sheer, lacy overlay cape. The influencer from Geelong topped off her Chicago-esque look with a straw black and white boater hat by Lisa Tan Millinery.

Nicole Trunfio, a special guest of Myer, selected two looks by Maticevski for her day out at the races.

The first was a black cocktail number that resembled the rubber mats usually seen on the floors at your local F45 not Flemington. The second was a raw silk number that could see her seamlessly transported from The Birdcage straight to bed.

David Jones ambassador Jessica Gomes' black ensemble by Carla Zampatti, from a 2016 collection, boasted a sleeve from 1985 which had more volume than a Motley Crue concert.

Gomes, originally from Western Australia where sandflies are a hazard of the warmer months, accessorised appropriately for Melbourne's 25-degree day by wrapping flywire, fashioned by Hatmakers, around her head.

Jennifer Hawkins was mummified in individual pieces of black fabric by Maticevski.

Her simple gown was complete with a Victoria Novak crown, not too dissimilar to the one placed on her head in 2004 when she became Miss Universe, where she gained international fame and the attention of US presidential nominee Donald Trump, a man she considers a "mentor".

Jodi Gordon proved she has more talents than just acting and modelling.

She managed to stay flawless and stain-free all day inside the Myer marquee wearing head-to-toe white.

Looking like a modern day Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story in an icy Jonathan Simkhai habit, she added some "gangsta" edge, the type Coolio used to sing about, with a white headscarf by Ann Shoebridge.

If there's ever a Julie Bishop biopic, Bec Hewitt would land the role of the political protagonist.

The star formerly known as Hayley from Home & Away approached Derby day dressing like the Foreign Minister approaches diplomatic situations – cool, calm and collected

Hewitt selected a simple black shift dress and a pearl necklace that would have looked better if left on her dresser.

The highlight of the ensemble was her Victoria Novak pillbox meets miniature Charlie Chaplin bowler hat.Read more at:white formal dresses | evening dresses

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