A real women’s woman.

When we meet she has just announced that Mercedes-Benz South Africa is the new title sponsor of what were formerly known as Joburg Fashion Week, Cape Town Fashion Week and Africa Fashion Week. She said in her speech that this collaboration would have an important bearing on our economy and further contribute to our standing in the international fashion world.

I ask if this new business relationship is her doing. She doesn’t answer directly. Too modest, I think. But I have no doubt that her business savvy and diplomatic manner were influential during the negotiations with Mercedes-Benz.

Moloi-Motsepe quotes fashion icon Coco Chanel when I ask about the new relationship: “To achieve great things, we must first dream.”

And for her, it’s a dream come true, one she believes will ” take our business forward in leaps and bounds.”

It is not the end of the road though. She remains dedicated to developing the local fashion industry. And it’s not the bright lights and fame she’s after.

She explains: “It is really about wanting to help uplift the lives of women. I want opportunities created to help women find sustainable jobs. Most of the people involved in fashion – seamstresses, models, make-up artists – are women. From my work as a doctor, I understand that the health of women who are not economically empowered is jeopardised. And in terms of who is poor in this country, women are at the bottom of the pile.”

When she left medicine 10 years ago , she became chair of the Motsepe Family Foundation she and her husband, businessman Patrice Motsepe, founded. The foundation is, according to its website, “committed to improving the living conditions and lifestyles of poor, unemployed and marginalised persons”.

Her medical work, she says, taught her about hard work, leadership and being part of a team. She puts these skills to use at the foundation where Moloi-Motsepe, a mother of three sons, focuses on girls’ and women’s health education.

She understands the enormous benefit of looking after women’s health. Women are the biggest consumers of healthcare, and when they are healthy, they are more productive at work and give birth to healthy children. Healthy children have a better chance of surviving childhood and tend to do better at school.

But why did she choose fashion as a vehicle for development?

“I love fashion. I have always been interested [in it]. I like expressing myself with what I wear. It’s playful and fun.”

Moloi-Motsepe, whose style was influenced by her mother, a nursing sister, is an ambassador of diverse South African fashion design.

“Some of our designers are creating ethnic designs, while others are more influenced by Europe but will add an African flavour to a design. There is always a local twist to highlight our uniqueness.

“[The company] has grown so much over the years. We have promoted designers internationally. We have helped designers improve their art and their business skills.”

An improved fashion industry, means there will be more sustainable jobs for women.

  • Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg at Hyde Park Corner ends tomorrow

Princess Charlene

A EUROPEAN Princess and Australian fashion royalty converged on Bendigo last night for the opening of Grace Kelly: Style Icon, a showcase of the fashions of the woman who swapped Hollywood glamour for Royalty.

Princess Charlene, wife of Prince Albert of Monaco addressed the crowd, stating that Kellys unique style endures to this day.

“Her beautiful style was a reflection of her natural elegance, taste and character,” Her Royal Sereneness said.

“Her style is so gracefully unique it remains an inspiration to all across generations and cultures.”

In a coup for Australian designer Johanna Johnson – who recently dressed a plethora of international celebrities for the Academy Awards parties including Felicity Jones and Maya Rudolph – created a stunning custom design at the request the Princess.

Johnson spent hours with the Princess, fitting the blush hued dress which features Johnson’s signature swarovski hand beaded embellishment.

It was such an honour for her to ask me to create a design for this special occasion, the humbled designer said.

Princess Grace has long been a personal style icon of mine, and her timeless elegance is a huge inspiration behind my brand I actually have original prints of Grace hanging in my office.

Hundreds of adoring fashion afficionados including Toni Maticevski and Lisa Wilkinson travelled to be treated to a sneak into Her Serene Highness sumptuous wardrobe which included more than one hundred of Kelly’s most famous costumes and dresses from Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Yves St Laurent that came to underpin the fairytale of Kelly, who occupies a unique position in the annals of style.

The world-renowned fashion exhibition, which will be hosted exclusively in Australia by Bendigo Art Gallery, also includes accessories and photographs, paying homage to one of the most photographed women of the 20th Century.

Grace Kelly: Style Icon is expected to be even more successful than the 2009 exhibit The Golden Age of Couture, another significant fashion showcase entrusted to the gallery which lured more than 75,000 visitors to Bendigo and resulted in a $9.2 million boost to the local economy.

Spring Fashion Show

Jean boutique previews new trends at spring fashion show.

With spring just around the corner, it’s time to put away the heavy coats, gloves and hats and think about a new outfit or two. On Saturday afternoon, J Jeans & Things boutique displayed what’s new this season as several local models aged 2 to 30-something made their way down the flower-lined catwalk at Olsen’s Garden Shoppe in Payson.

Jamie Rolfe, owner of J Jeans & Things, found great success hosting her first fashion show last fall and decided to do it again for spring.

“I just wanted to advertise and show off everything new for spring and summer,” Rolfe said.

Rolfe travels to fashion expos in her search for new merchandise. Saturday’s show featured her latest finds in spring fashion, including brightly colored jeans, capri pants, flutter tops and Bermuda shorts.

It also provided several women and girls an opportunity to enjoy a moment in the spotlight.

Marli Jo Coburn and her daughters Kallie and Klaire were three of 42 models at Saturday’s event. This was Kallie’s second time modeling for the boutique’s shows.

“She loves trying on the clothes and getting all made up,” Marli Jo Coburn said. “Anything like that is fun for a 13-year-old.”

Annette Brown was one of many watching the show on the beautiful sunny day. She was impressed with what she saw.

“It was fun to see all of the latest trends and fashions,” Brown said. “I loved how modest everything was too. As a mother of sons I like it when girls dress modestly.”

Rolfe began selling jeans in her parents’ garden shop after discovering it was difficult to find a nice pair of name-brand jeans at a reasonable price.

“A couple of years ago people would have never dreamed of buying jeans at a garden shop, but now people know we’re there,” Rolfe said. “The public has responded really well. It has really picked up in Payson.”

Rolfe’s boutique specializes in name brand jeans at a reasonable price. Request, LA Idol, Miss Chic, Miss Me, YMI and Vigos are among the brands available. Most jeans are in the $40-$50 range. Since opening the boutique two years ago, Rolfe has branched out in location and merchandise. J Jeans & Things can now be found at Signs and Wonders in Spanish Fork, Shaybee’s Boutique in Springville and at different expos and fairs in the community. In addition to jeans, the boutique sells tops, skirts, jackets, dresses, jewelry and more with sizes available from girl’s 2T to women’s 21.

One of the latest things Rolfe has introduced is a DownEast clothing line for women. Payson resident Jenn Mobbs has purchased several items for herself at J Jeans & Things and was happy to hear about the new line.

Archana’s designs

Archana’s designs for summer brides.

Are you set to walk down the aisle this summer but confused about what to wear? Archana Kochhar offers a solution with her new bridal collection – Summer Bride 2012.

“Looking different and glamorous at wedding is the dream of every young girl and my collection will satisfy the needs of women of today. My design philosophy revolves around making my client’s personality shine and with my latest bridal collection. The girls will not only get a chance to look traditional but glamorous too,” Kochhar told us.

The designer is quite popular among Bollywood glitterati – Kangana Ranaut, Ayesha Takia, Soha Ali Khan, Zeenat Aman, Mughda Ghodse, Dia Mirza and Mahima Choudhary are among her clients. She feels new age women are open to experimentation when it comes to keeping their wardrobe fashionable.

“Today’s women don’t want that signature red and maroon shades and this is why my colour palette revolves around shades of neon pink and orange minimally embellished with applique work and sprinkled with crystal stones,” she added.

Kochhar’s bridal collection offers kaftans, lehenga-cholis, saris and anarkali suits in fabrics like fluid viscose georgette, silk, chiffon, colorado, net, satin and velvet.

“I love to make and design grand clothes. I believe that clothes are a celebration; they bring joy to us and bring out happy and exquisite moments when one wears them and this is what the summer bride will do,” she added.

Price starts from Rs.50,000 and the new collection is available at Kochhar’s store in Mumbai.

Kelly Cutrone

Kelly Cutrone played herself in MTV’s reality show “The Hills” and its spinoff “The City,” employing wannabe fashionistas Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port at her fashion publicity and branding company, People’s Revolution. Cutrone parlayed that into her own Bravo reality show, “Kell on Earth,” and two nonfiction books, the 2010 memoir “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You,” and 2011′s “Normal Gets You Nowhere.” She joined “Dr. Phil” as a contributor in 2010, and this year signed on as a judge on “America’s Next Top Model.”

Brad Goreski

Brad Goreski was only a few months past graduation at USC and had worked for three months as an assistant to Vogue’s West Coast editor when he was cast on the initial season of “The Rachel Zoe Project” as one of the star’s assistants. Three years later, he and Zoe are no longer speaking for reasons that remain mysterious. But Goreski, 34, just finished the first season of his own show, “It’s a Brad Brad World.” His client list has grown from one — Jessica Alba —- to include Demi Moore, Christina Ricci, Rashida Jones, Shay Mitchell and Noomi Rapace. He published his first book, “Born to Be Brad: My Life and Style So Far” with Elle columnist Mickey Rapkin, last week. And he has a contract to be the exclusive stylist for the Kate Spade fashion line.

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn spent many years laboring in relative obscurity on the faculty of the Parsons School of Design before becoming the on-air mentor to the competitors on “Project Runway,” starting with its initial season in 2004. Gunn, 58, subsequently landed a gig as creative director at Liz Claiborne; starred in a Bravo spinoff, “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style,” for two seasons; and wrote two books, with a third, “Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible,” scheduled for publication this September. He has made guest appearances on sitcoms including “How I Met Your Mother” and “Gossip Girl” and is a host of ABC’s daytime talk show “The Revolution.”

Fashion reality shows

Fashion reality shows have made them all the rage.

Fashion reality shows have had a big payoff for some participants, catapulting them to full-fledged stardom in the world of style.

Christian Siriano was a design student who had apprenticed with industry bigs Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood before he won “Project Runway’s” Season 4. Since then, his independent label has become a powerhouse, showing in New York each season, appearing in fashion magazines around the world and dressing stars including Christina Hendricks, Nicki Minaj, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Vanessa Williams, Fergie, Rihanna and “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum. He has had design partnerships with Puma, Starbucks, LG Electronics, Payless ShoeSource and Spiegel. In 2010, at age 24, he was listed by Crain’s New York Business as one of its “40 under Forty” up-and-comers.

Rachel Zoe, a freelance fashion stylist whose clients have included the Backstreet Boys, Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Keira Knightley and Nicole Richie, is the center of Bravo’s “The Rachel Zoe Project,” which takes viewers into the world of celebrity dressing. Since its premiere in 2008, the show has made the 40-year-old Zoe a household name and a regular in the pages of People. Last year she stepped up from stylist to fashion designer with the launch of her own women’s wear collection. She’s been a consultant for Piperlime.com, collaborated with designer Judith Lieber on a collection of handbags and been the celebrity face of Samsung’s BlackJack cellphone ad campaign. She shares fashion advice on the Zoe Report website and wrote a book, “Style A to Zoe,” with fashion journalist Rose Apodaca.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Racy Sarah Jessica gives Paris an eyeful.

Most women would consider it a fashion faux pas of the highest order.

But Sarah Jessica Parker has never been afraid to stand out from the crowd.

The actress made a bold statement with a black bra under a white lace top at Paris Fashion Week.

Rounded off with white stilettos and white leather gloves, it was an ensemble that wouldn’t have looked out of place on her Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw, who was known for her outlandish outfits.

Last year Parker, 46, claimed she did not share Carrie’s obsession with clothes, saying: “I loved playing her, and it changed my life in lots of wonderful ways, but I’m not a crazy shoe lady. I don’t think about fashion all day long, although I have a great respect for the industry.”

But at the Louis Vuitton show in Paris she admitted she is considering a career in the fashion world after a brief stint as president and chief creative officer of American label Halston.

She said: “I learned an enormous amount, it was invaluable, and I’m definitely curious about pursuing it, and we’ll see. I’m sort of figuring that out right now, actually as we speak.”

Bridal Fashion

Dubai-based bridal fashion designer hits her stride.

The Dubai-based designer Aiisha Ramadan is shaping up to leave the fashion pack wondering “how does she do it?” in the coming weeks when she launches her much-anticipated bridal collection for FROST boutique at Galleries Lafayette.

For not only has the 29-year-old just released a short film showcasing her latest couture collection, she’s also preparing to debut her first ready-to-wear line as well as holding down a full-time job as a senior satellite coordinator for MBC Group.

“I am very passionate about the bridal collection,” she says. “I cannot believe how beautiful it is – everything my heart felt, I sketched.”

With white being something of a signature colour for the Lebanese couturier, her form-enhancing gowns have in the past often been adapted for weddings by European clients, she says. Which is why this collection of gowns will have an unmistakably bridal feel.

“There’s a romantic flair to them,” she says. “I don’t like to cut the body in chiffon – that’s not my style – and the designs are not typically Middle Eastern. They are very international.

“There’s a combination that will appeal to many markets; for example, you’ve got slightly conservative gowns, very modern ones and you’ve also got very textured but not heavy or blingy ones. Even if a gown has lots of crystals – they are used very moderately.”

A graduate in Fashion Design from the American University in Dubai, Ramadan began crafting mini dresses, kaftans and luxurious custom-made couture. She was named Young Designer of the Year by Swarovski in 2000, went on to launch her label officially in 2006 and was presented with the GR8! Women Achiever Award in 2011.

Last year, Ramadan also became the first designer in the region to have a virtual 3D fashion show, which was hosted by the celebrity stylist June Ambrose. She also made a guest appearance on New Zealand’s Next Top Model with the five leading contestants donning her designs for an episode filmed in Abu Dhabi.

Celebrity endorsements have come thick and fast in recent years, with stars from Joan Collins to singers Yara and Mika Newton wearing her creations to red-carpet events. To be thrust into the public eye in this way was something that took Ramadan unaware.

“It all started with Paris Hilton in 2009,” she says. “She bought one of my dresses from the Chocolate & Pickles boutique in Dubai when she came here for the filming of My New BFF, and it was such a surprise to see the picture in a magazine. I appreciate everything celebrities do because they do enhance my brand name and, of course, they can make or break it.”

The spring/summer collection of Ramadan’s first prêt-a-porter line, FLIRT, is due in Iconic stores across the GCC mid-March.

“There will be quite powerful, summery colours, including greens and fuchsias – very fresh,” she says. “This is the ‘best of’ collection, so those who follow AIISHA will recognise the similarity between these designs and the couture. And there’s a good range and mixture of fabrics from silks and silk-tuiles to other synthetic materials and prices will range from around Dh500-1,500.”

“The next collection – Autumn/Winter 2012, which will be launched around August, during the Eid vacation – will have a completely different theme. We’ve just finalised the samples and it is really to die for. I cannot wait.”

One new promotional avenue open to Ramadan for displaying her forthcoming lines to the mass market is film. In a vignette recorded at locations in Dubai, the UAE-based fashion blogger Tala Samman models Ramadan’s wistful Spring/Summer 2012 collection, Le Pouvoir de la Poudre.

“Instead of the normal fashion show, this year we decided to go viral to reach more people on the social network,” she says. “We always try to do something new and I believe we’re the first brand in the Middle East to launch a film.”

From the soft-focus lens and soothing soundtrack to the luxurious surroundings of what, in many frames, resembles a bijoux Parisian apartment, Ramadan’s film is unapologetically feminine.

“Some people may love the music, the model, the lifestyle,” says Ramadan. “I wanted to keep a bit of mystery so that people will go and check out the collection instead of viewing it in the normal way. Tala was amazing – able to be serious one minute and playful the next. And while the film does speak about the collection, it is more of a story about how I see the women who wear my designs.”

Talbot Runhof

Talbot Runhof

German design house Talbot Runhof visited the world of Charles Dickens’ Miss Havisham Wednesday in a Paris ready-to-wear show that channeled green foliage — a nice touch for fall.

A top in silk mousseline embellished with leaves opened the show, depicting the overgrown garden of the character from the 19th century Dickens novel Great Expectations who froze in time after she was left on her wedding day.

As expected from an English country garden, there were a lot of different textures ranging from an elegant looking dress in fluid lame tweed, to sheer tops in crystal embroidered silk tulle.

Stretchy skintight pants in leaf-printed satin worked a treat but somewhat jarred with the style of the show — more like Poison Ivy from Batman Forever than anything else.

The best look of the shoulder-strong show was an iridescent gown capped with a flowing cape-like coat in emerald green. But there was a lack of cohesion in the overall look, making this feel more like an off-calendar show than one on the official Paris runway.

Paris fall-winter menswear shows run from June 27 to July 1, followed by haute couture collections from July 2 to July 5



There’s only so much you can do with wool, even if it’s cashmere. But Allude nevertheless managed to produce a tasteful, if repetitive, fall-winter collection Friday with some highly wearable clothes.

Now a signature, the German company’s heavy cashmeres gave cardigans and sweaters in burgundy, russet and blue a weighty sweep in the first runway show.

Other, thinner knits added a sexy touch, silkily contouring the bust. Flashes such as trapeze inserts kept the mood contemporary with a retro wink, as with cool, bulls-eye-patterned knits in blue and red.

One beanie hat that looked like it could have been worn in the 1960s heyday of British model Twiggie was paired with a long cardigan that had the Bohemian feel of the decade after.

Elie Saab

Elie Saab

Among other shows Wednesday, glamor also filled the catwalk at Elie Saab’s show of a collection brimming with both traffic-stopping, sequined dresses and clients to buy them.

A glitzy array of va-va-voom silhouette ended with statement evening dresses that are sure to turn up at the next big Hollywood party, but that’s a theme from last season and the season before.

The slight variation this time was structure.

The peplum made a comeback in lean, more architectural daywear. A beautiful ash sheath with an armor-like, jutting waist perfectly balanced sex with the business look. It said: Admire, but don’t touch.

Prints in gray and black also marked a change from the total-color shock of the last ready-to-wear collection, with body skimming panels and cut-outs adding a dash of provocation to Saab’s slightly modified winning formula.

Louis Vuitton

Big-budget ‘au revoir’ ends fashion week.

Louis Vuitton capped a Paris fashion week dripping with jewels, sequins and glamorous jet-setters by going back in time to one of the most fashionable ages of travel: The era of the Orient Express.

In a big-budget production, the house that made its name and built its early fortune with leather luggage wheeled out a steam-spewing locomotive on tracks at the Louvre Museum for its fall-winter show Wednesday.

Models descended from the life-size replica Orient Express dressed as bourgeois dames in tall Edwardian hats. Each was trailed by a valet carrying — naturellement — Louis Vuitton hat boxes, vanity cases, and petite valises in crocodile and embroidered sequins.

It took a moment for the spectators to focus on the clothes on the platform catwalk.

“It’s just sumptuous, and what a spectacle,” said French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve, stepping onto the carriage after the show.

The signature bold patterns of Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs traveled first-class alongside brocades and jacquards appliqued with laser-etched plastic stones. Adding to the time warp, big bejeweled buttons and curved lapels on three-quarter length coats harked to 1960s’ fashion.

Long heavy fabrics in brown, black, siennas and purple plunged to bottom-heavy and layered silhouettes.

“We’re imagining the romance of a better time,” said Jacob speaking backstage. “Whatever you try, clothes never really live in the past. They are worn now so they are modern, with a modern take.”

At which point Jacobs revealed he was wearing a knee-length black dress. “Oh, don’t worry, I’m wearing boxer shorts underneath.”


Heart Truth Fashion Show: Models brought down the house for Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Put a women in a red dress and she might turn a few heads in the room. Put 17 vivacious women in red outfits — from ball gowns to sexy cocktail dresses — and have them strut on a fashion week runway, and they will bring the house down.

Such was the scene Thursday night at the Carlu for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s fifth annual Heart Truth Fashion Show which raises awareness of the disease in women.

To a packed audience, celebrities like Olympic Gold medallist Catriona Le May Doan and singers Jully Black and Divine Brown along with celebs Canadian model Shannon Tweed-Simmons and her husband Gene Simmons (the only man in the show) took to the runway in red outfits by Canadian designers.

Backstage before the show, the women (some of whom have never set foot on a runway) weren’t showing any pre-show nervous jitters. In fact, just minutes before showtime, Jully Black was seen happily picking away at a plate of chicken and potatoes.

“I’m anxious about the stairs,” she says of the steps on the multi-level runway. “But if I fall, I can play that off.” Like Catherine O’Hara, one of the models in the show a few years ago who slipped and hammed it up by lying on the runway.

A few chairs over and getting her hair done was Le May Doan. “I love people doing my hair and makeup. I’m trying to figure out how I can get this everyday.”

But instead of focusing on the nerve-racking experience of walking in heels on an elevated runway in front of an audience, she was already planning what she was going to do afterward. “I’m going to reward myself with a glass of wine.”

Lisa Ray was one of the few women who had runway experience. The actress and Top Chef Canada host said she was a model when she was 16.

So, was returning to the catwalk like riding a bike; something you never forget?

“I guess we will find out soon enough,” she says laughing.

For Ray, doing the show was special for several reasons. She was looking forward to the event as one of the greatest things she’ll do this year — the year she turns 40.

“It’s also International Women’s Day today and this show has all body types,” said Ray who wore an outfit by designer Farley Chatto in the show.

OMNI News anchor Angie Seth, who is seven months pregnant, twirled down the runway in a chiffon Thien Le gown to much applause.

The show closed with Tweed-Simmons in an Arthur Mendonca gown, which had a daring slit, strutting down the runway with rock star husband Gene Simmons.

With no slips or spills or falls, for one night all 17 women worked the runway with the grace and élan of professional models.

Maybe that’s the confidence and power of wearing red.

Women’s fashion

Women’s fashion through the decades.

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the social economic and political achievements of women. In connection to fashion, this day is all about women’s progress, legislation, trends and major world events that accompany each decade of fashion.

In the last century, women have come really far and one example of how far we’ve come can certainly be found in fashion. In honour of this special day, I will look back at the evolution of women’s fashion over the decades.

1900sThe 20th century sparked a trend in terms of what was acceptable for the female population to wear. Women started to dress in clothes that expressed their desire for more freedom. As the years passed by, the image of women continued to change in terms of their public appearance.

1910sIn the 1910s, skirt length began to rise from the floor to above the ankle. Although this may not seem like a drastic change in today’s world, it was a huge step for women at the time. The silhouettes created by clothing became less bulky than previous years, and more vivid colours were used. Hair styles changed as well from long hair and buns, to more practical bobs with smaller hair accessories preparing for the Jazz Age.

1920sThe 1920s busted in with an amusement of music and dance styles that set up ways for more simple styles for women. This is not to say however that the clothing was not risqué for the time. Shapeless tube dresses with a hip level waistline and a skirt barely covering the knees were considered stylish in the conservative majority of the population. Flapper dresses that clung to the upper portion of a women’s body and draped in elegant folds paved the roads for the glamourous styles of the 1930s.

1930sDespite that this era was referred to as the “dirty thirties,” fashion in the 1930s was largely distinguished by the return of ladylike appearances. Women accentuated their curves by wearing form fitting outfits. New fabric was introduced that created a sleek and flirtatious look for gowns.

1940sDue to the war in the 1940s, a uniform look became popular, which included short skirts, padded shoulders and tailored seams. At this time, women preferred these clothes more because they were too busy with their jobs and helping out with the war.

1950sDuring the 1950s, women tried to mimic the styles worn by movie stars and celebrities. The 1950s also saw a surge of teenage girls trying to appear more mature. This era marked a great emphasis on the return of full skirts and synched waistlines.

1960sThe 60s delivered a more vibrant era of styles. Women all over began accessorizing with hats that Mrs. Kennedy made famous, as well as her cosmopolitan attire.

1970sThe 1970s were about comfort and colour. Disco predisposed a whole new world of clothing traces from bell bottom pants to tie dye, and animal prints to jumpsuits.

1980sIn the 1980s the use of fabrics that were easy to care for, stretchy leggings, skirts, off the shoulder sweat shirts, headbands and bracelets became extremely popular.

1990sIn the 1990s, fashion was quite different. The look expanded on the dress down style previously seen in the 1980s. Women began to wear shorter skirts and comfortable athletic clothing. The pantsuit also became a distinctive trend at this time.

2000sThe early 2000s retained much of the styles from the 90s. New styles at the time were heavily influenced by music genres such as hip hop, heavy metal, punk rock, and pop. Not only that but, most fashion of this era can be classified as a combination of trends dating back 40 years.

Fashion Star

‘Fashion Star’ contestants insist there is fashion in Seattle

An interview with Mercer Island’s Lisa Vian Hunter and Sammamish’s Lizzie Parker, clothing designers who are contestants on the new NBC reality show “Fashion Star,” which debuts March 13, 2012.

Plenty of television’s fashion reality shows depict the work that goes into designing clothes and the results — for better and worse. But until now viewers could not run to the store the next day and buy the winning wardrobe. That’s the new wrinkle in NBC’s “Fashion Star,” debuting at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Two Seattle-area women are among the show’s 14 competitors seeking the top prize: a $6 million order for a collection of clothing to be sold in Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

But even if they don’t get named top Fashion Star, Mercer Island’s Lisa Vian Hunter and Sammamish’s Lizzie Parker still have a shot at getting their designs into one of the three chains. Each week, buyers from Macy’s, H&M and Saks will bid on contestants’ designs; the winning store will have those clothes on their racks available for sale the next day. (Although there’s no Saks store in Seattle, the clothes will be available at saksfifthavenue.com.) Designers who make no sales to the chains’ buyers will be up for elimination.

Hunter, 47, operates Vian Hunter House of Fashion in Madison Valley (vianhunter.com). Parker, 42, has her store, Lizzie Parker, at Gilman Village in Issaquah (lizzieparkerstore.com). Both women previously had conversations with producers from Lifetime’s “Project Runway” and Bravo’s short-lived “The Fashion Show.” Both women were contacted about “Fashion Star” by the show’s casting department.

“['Fashion Star'] was the right fit for me,” Parker said. “It’s all about selling clothes. I’m about women wearing my clothes, not making a dress out of beer cans. … I’ve stood at trade shows and had the Macy’s buyer walk by my booth, and now I get the chance to work with them and that’s why for me it’s a great fit.”

A self-described “nerd,” Parker moved to Seattle from Michigan in 1994, working for Microsoft until the birth of her children. Seven years ago, after “almost losing my mind” as a stay-at-home parent, she bought two sewing machines she found on Craigslist and started a business out of her garage using clothes-making knowledge imparted by her grandmother. She also apprenticed under Belltown’s Carole McClellan for a summer.

Hunter arrived in Seattle three years ago, moving her store up from a previous location in Palo Alto, Calif. She said she was always interested in fashion but when her mother took her for a tour of a San Francisco fashion design school as a teenager, she didn’t think she was ready (“I was too much of a flake then,” she said). After a career working for Nordstrom and a boutique, she decided to attend the same fashion school in her late 30s.

“We’re hoping this boost is what we need to get our business off the ground,” Hunter said. “We’d love to open multiple stores at some point, but you have to be very, very careful these days to grow your business.”

“Fashion Star” executive producer E.J. Johnston described Parker’s style as more contemporary and Hunter’s as more classic, but, he added, “They showed they could run the full spectrum. That’s a whole part of the show: Getting to see people stretch themselves.”

Hunter said her fashions are “vintage inspired.”

“I love the late ’50s and early ’60s,” she said. “For fashion, it was such a feminine time.”

Parker prefers to design clothing she calls “timeless with an edge.”

“I like asymmetrical angles,” she said. “I like to have things that are easy to incorporate into your everyday wardrobe. My customer is the everyday American women who wants to be anything but average.”

Jessica Simpson, one of the show’s celebrity mentors, praised both contestants.

“A lot of women will be able to relate to them and their designs,” she said. “And they both got really lucky on the show, too, so I think they were given opportunities that they never dreamt could happen.”

Hunter and Parker said they have no personal rivalry from their “Fashion Star” experience. They did a trunk show together last fall and have been able to commiserate about the shared secret of how they fared on the series.

“Eight months is a long time to hold a secret in, especially one like this,” Parker said. “It was really nice to have someone here who knew, too.”

They’re both happy to represent Seattle and are eager to change some fashion perceptions.

“I think it’s a huge testament to Seattle fashion,” Hunter said. “To those people who think we’re all about Eddie Bauer and fleece, I’m sorry, they picked two designers from Seattle to be among 14 nationwide. That tells a lot about fashion and Seattle — that there is fashion here in Seattle.”

Fashion Therapy

Forget all the big names in fashion – Galliano, McQueen, Lagerfeld – there is one women who has shaped the way women look and feel more than any other.

She is Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, who last week made it on to the cover of Forbes magazine’s annual billionaires issue, at the age of just 41.

Blakely admits her own bottom inspired her patented control underwear. ‘I didn’t like the way it looked in white trousers, and I couldn’t find anything to work underneath them,’ she told the website MyDaily.

‘Out of frustration, I cut the feet off my control-top tights one night to go to a party, but they rolled up my legs all night. My bottom looked great, though, and I thought, I need to figure this out.’

She developed her idea without a loan, and was able to manufacture samples of her revolutionary shapewear because of an advance in technology: the Santoni, a machine that allows garments to be made with no side seams.

Finally, the former fax machine saleswoman, who’d learned never to take no for an answer, wrestled the buyer from Neiman Marcus (America’s equivalent of John Lewis) into the ladies to try on a pair. Instantly convinced, the buyer placed an order on the spot and the nationwide chain began stocking them.

Blakely was catapulted into a new league, however, when her invention was worn by Oprah Winfrey, who looked instantly 10 lb lighter. Today, Blakely has no debt, owns 100 per cent of her company, and has never spent a penny on advertising.

She chose the name Spanx simply because ‘people find it funny… no one forgot it’.
Blakely succeeds over the fashion designers who can only dress girls with the vital statistics of a bicycle spoke by using her own body as a laboratory.

As a women, she knows what it’s like to be too hot in a pair of tights, to see the seam at the toe stick out of a sandal, or to stand up after a black tie dinner and have to use your stole to cover your tummy.

Starting out, she sold her wares from a table at Neiman Marcus with before-and-after photographs of herself wearing just bikini bottoms, and then with a pair of Spanx Power Panties so you could see the difference. She never looked back.

Spanx have been worn on the red carpet by every star you care to mention, from actresses Kristen Stewart and Jessica Biel to singers Kelly Rowland and Beyonce.

That they talk openly about the fact they are wearing a support garment is testimony to Blakely’s clever marketing and buzz words — the witty ‘Haute Contour’ is a more expensive range and there is also ‘Undie-tectable’, which is a version so smooth and soft, it’s invisible beneath clothes.

This is where Spanx has really moved with the times, away from Bridget Jones’s big pants territory and towards shape underwear that is pretty and sexy enough to be seen in its own right, without clothes on top. Blakely injected fun, fashion and glamour into garments that were  seen formerly as sort of ghastly trusses, made in fabric the colour of dentures.

But the main reason the stars are open about their Spanx addiction is that the whole ethos fits in with their desire to appear more ‘normal’, and not addicted to exercise such as Pilates or the GI diet.

A women admitting she wears Spanx is the sartorial equivalent of saying she doesn’t employ a nanny. Anyway, who has the time to attain the body of an Olympic athlete, when thanks to Spanx you can pull on something that does the job in seconds?

For the past 12 years, Spanx has made a fortune from women all over the world who want shapelier buttocks, a flatter tummy, and thinner thighs.

Last year, the company even introduced Spanx for men, slimming undershirts created to give them firmer chests and flatter tummies. And, for summer 2012, there’s a range of swimwear designed to flatter the body and disguise imperfections from bust to buttocks: the tankini, skirtini and swim dress cover a multitude of sins.

The next big thing in shapewear? According to Soozie Jenkinson, head of lingerie design at Marks & Spencer, it is the return of the hourglass figure, thanks to TV programmes such as The Hour and Mad Men, which requires a nipped-in waist — a part of the anatomy most of us have completely forgotten about.

M&S’s Flatter Me bras and knickers, launched today, have had to resurrect largely forgotten, vintage corsetry techniques, such as panelling, stitching and boning, but this time using super-soft plastic in place of whalebones. Spanx, too, has not been caught napping.

They have been developing the high-waisted panty to nip in the waist and accentuate the hips, allowing women to create a silhouette that even two years ago was unthinkable.

But the simple reason shapewear is the best performing sector in womenswear (up 30 per cent in 2012 compared with the same period last year) is that it has become light and stretchy enough to pull on fast, meaning you can wear it every day, not just for that special occasion.

Spanx’s great USP, too, is that you can type any flaw into the website, such as ‘back fat’ or ‘bingo wings’, and come up with a myriad number of ways to fix it.

You can choose your level of constraint: from low to ‘super duper’, which I imagine means you can barely breathe, let alone finish off that bowl of pasta.

Interestingly, Marks & Spencer reports the bestselling size in shapewear is a ten, which only goes to show that all women think that they have flaws and could do better.

While new technology is largely the driving force in this upsurge, so too is the fact that needing a little bit of support is no longer anything to be ashamed of.

Just look at Kate Winslet in that Stella McCartney trompe l’oeil dress on the red carpet.
It not only used colour and design to give the illusion of an hourglass figure, but the fabric too acted as one giant corset, resembling an enormous, incredibly costly pair of Spanx.

Sara Blakely, the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, says she was spurred on to achieve by witnessing her best friend being killed by a car at the age of 16.

She should feel very proud indeed that a garment that holds you in in all the right places has at last come out of the closet.

African American Women

African American Women in Colonial and Revolutionary America

The early Europeans brought Africans with them to the Americas, and it was not long before the institution of slavery was established in what would become the United States. When the laws changed so that, for those of African ancestry, servitude followed the condition of the mother, not the father, the system of chattel slavery had begun. The story of African American women in these times is mostly of women without names. Phillis Wheatley is one, but not the only, exception to this enforced anonymity.

Women and African American History: 1492-1699


• Columbus discovered America, from the perspective of Europeans. Queen Isabella of Spain declared all indigenous peoples her subjects, in the lands claimed by Columbus for Spain, preventing the Spanish conquerors from enslaving the Native Americans. The Spanish thus looked elsewhere for the labor they needed to take advantage of the New World’s economic opportunities.


• Spain permitted African slaves to be sent to the Americas


• first African slaves arrived in Hispaniola


• Isabel de Olvero, part of the Juan Guerra de Pesa Expedition, helped to colonize what has since become New Mexico


• (August 20) 20 men and women from Africa arrived on a slave ship and were sold in the first North American slave auction — by British and international custom, Africans could be held in servitude for life, though white Christian indentured servants could only be held for a limited term


• Anthony Johnson, son of an African mother, arrived in Virginia. He lived with his wife, Mary Johnson, in Accomack on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the first free Negroes in Virginia (Anthony taking his last name from his original master). Anthony and Mary Johnson eventually founded the first free black community in North America, and themselves held servants “for life.”


• Virginia census lists 23 “Negroes” including some women; ten have no names listed and the rest only first names, likely indicating lifetime servitude — none of the women are listed as married


• Virginia census lists twelve black men and eleven black women; most have no names and do not have the dates of arrival that most white servants in the census have listed — only one of the blacks has a full listing

Black Women

Black History and Women

Women are half the human race, and they’re half of black history, as well. Here are some highlights bringing together black history and women’s history. Scroll through this list to find timelines of African American history and women, biographies of African American women, African women rulers, and more.

Basics of African American Women’s History

Here are some resources that will get you started quickly in learning about and exploring the history of African American women. The timeline will show the events and individuals in historical context, and the ever-growing list of biographies will introduce you to some powerful and interesting individuals. If you want to test your knowledge of African American women’s history, try the quiz.


Woman Suffrage

What You Need to Know About Woman Suffrage

Women’s Suffrage – Basic Terminology

“Woman suffrage” refers to the right of woman to vote and to hold public office. The “women’s suffrage movement” (or “woman suffrage movement”) includes all the organized activities of reformers to change laws that kept woman from voting or to add laws and constitutional amendments to guarantee woman the right to vote.

You’ll often read about “woman suffrage” and “suffragettes” — here are some clarifications on those terms:

Who’s Who in Woman Suffrage

Who were the people involved in working to win the vote for woman? Here are some handy resources to learn more about these suffrage workers:


Linda Napikoski, who has been a contributing writer on this site since 2009, outlines the ways in which the currently-popular novel and film, The Help, touches on feminism of the 1960s. Read it here: Looking for Feminism in Kathryn Stockett’s The HelpWhile Linda Napikoski’s many articles on 1960s and 1970s feminism will stay live on this site, the Contributing Writer program that she was part of has ended, and so we’re saying good-bye today to her in that active role, and I thank her publicly for all her hard work and insight that she’s contributed to this Women’s History site. You can keep up with her at her blog at Linda Without Borders.


From the late colonial period through the American Revolution, women’s work usually centered on the home, but romanticizing this role as the Domestic Sphere came in the early 19th century.

In early America, the work of a wife was often alongside her husband, running a household, farm or plantation. Cooking for the household took a major part of a woman’s time. Making garments — spinning yarn, weaving cloth, sewing and mending clothes — also took much time. After the Revolution and into the early 19th century, higher expectations for educating the children fell, often, to the mother. Widows and the wives of men off to war or traveling on business often ran large farms and plantations pretty much as the sole managers.

Other women worked as servants or slaves. Unmarried women, or divorced women without property, might work in another household, helping out with household chores of the wife or substituting for the wife if there was not one in the family. (Widows and widowers tended to remarry very quickly, though.)

Many women, especially but not only widows, owned businesses. Women worked as apothecaries, barbers, blacksmiths, sextons, printers, tavern keepers and midwives.

In the 1840s and 1850s, as the Industrial Revolution and factory labor took hold in the United States, more women went to work outside the home. By 1840, ten percent of women held jobs outside the household; ten years later, this had risen to fifteen percent.

Factory owners hired women and children when they could, because they could pay lower wages to women and children than to men. For some tasks, like sewing, women were preferred because they had training and experience, and the jobs were “women’s work.” The sewing machine was not introduced into the factory system until the 1830s; before that, sewing was done by hand.

Russian women

Russian women, always in love. Love for her – is life! She is able to forgive the weakness of small and large mistake. Her mind in a deep understanding of life and it’s rules. Without it even a strong man sometimes seems helpless child. Real Russian women some fine-sounding tuning fork, which adjusts our whole life, trying to get our harmonies and harmony. She loves, no matter what. And even in spite of everything. Because it’s impossible. This simple formula, it led to a long ago. Career for her was never an end in itself. A firm, mostly for her was and still is, self-improvement and the result is what make his case impeccably. Character is destiny.  Russian women have a strong character. But fate is not trust. Her emotions must go into the background on free  dating , but it is not always possible. We have obstacles that can be avoided, but there are those that must be overcome at any cost. When she hears “I cannot,” thinks that people are not tried all possibilities. Better to do and regret nothing to do and regret, discusses Russian women. Happy Russian women it’s a real happy person. Exact formula of love does not exist. Real Russian women must be true, but not imaginary or drawn. She never betrays, you’ll love with all my heart and take care of all my life, with her warm and happy and easy interesting. Happy for Russian women – this is when the world is in my heart and love in your heart. Happiness for a Russian women, is just glad for their children, smile at her husband, and when the house all OK . Happy – is when you feel that you need, that brings joy to the people that are happy to see you and always welcome. Always understand and forgive, not come true. In this is the whole essence ofRussian women!

Russian women marriage

Today will be your night: the first an intimate rendezvous! What surprises await you both? Only a pleasant, if you arm the following rules Russian women marriage… If you have not guessed, this is not about loss of innocence, but about the piquant situation when a man and a Russian women marriage, feel sympathy for each other, for the first time find themselves in one bed. Some are waiting for this for a long time and look, inflaming passions in his fervor. Others – do not lay pleasure and then go to bed on the first date … Does not matter! What can we expect from “the first pancake, and how not to get in” at risk “disillusioned with each other lovers? Will help the PSP (rules first date). Rule one: Do not expect miracles Alas! This is idealization of the process – a recipe for disappointment. Try not adjust to the fact that everything will be super, hyper and super … And, paradoxically sounds Treat the process as something … familiar, as if you have more than once or twice fell asleep and woke up with this man under a blanket Russian women marriage . Of course, I urge you to change the set of luxurious linen on the old, shabby, or immediately after sex to turn away and go to sleep, saying that “get up early tomorrow.” But soaring in the clouds, endowing his character with additional bonuses and advances, also own peril. Please note, your favorite, as you are now very excited, scared, uncomfortable, and quite simply, does not yet know how quickly you just had an orgasm. Rule two: do not get carried away liquor.

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