‘Guerrilla’: TV Review

Showtime and John Ridley deliver a series of exceptional depth (starring Idris Elba and Freida Pinto) as it explores racism and radical politics in 1971 London.

It’s a measure of the storytelling success of Showtime’s exceptional new miniseries Guerrilla that it’s somewhat annoying to have it premiere right in the heart of one of the busiest times of the year for TV critics and in the company of a string of the medium’s finest shows, because it demands to be seen episode after episode.

That’s more praise than some may be able to appreciate, so try this: Guerrilla, created, written and partially directed by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime), is already one of the best things appearing on TV in 2017 and could be an Emmy powerhouse. This co-production with Sky is a huge score for Showtime.

Set in London in 1971, the show ostensibly sets out to explore race relations between British blacks and immigrants and a white English society sheltered from cultural and political agitation by an overly aggressive white police force — and, in Guerrilla, a part of it expressly created (the so-called “black power desk” at Scotland Yard) to deal exclusively with blacks. But what happens in short order is that Ridley proves he’s adept at not only understanding the similarities between 1960s American race issues and those of Britain in 1971, but all the varying differences as well.

As Guerrilla deepens in its examination of political activism — at a time when radical splinter groups of varying interests were popping up all over Britain in support of causes worldwide — Ridley deftly portrays how people don’t line up in tandem just because the color of their skin is the same or they all want justice and equality in their political systems. By examining the contrasts between these struggles in a smart, nuanced fashion, Guerrilla skillfully shows just how great Ridley has become at making complicated dramatic storylines for the small screen. Fans of American Crime may not immediately take to the more Anglophile nuances of Guerrilla (which includes understanding of the differences between being English and being British, plus an understanding of both white Irish and the South Africans in British society), but they should definitely recognize the director’s ability to get excellent performances from his cast.

In some ways, the twisty and wonderfully layered main plot in Guerrilla takes a backseat to both Ridley’s writing and a cast that’s one of the better ensembles in ages.

As the miniseries opens, the focus is on Marcus (Babou Ceesay, who gives not just an Emmy-worthy but an Emmy-winning performance here) and Jas (Freida Pinto, in a role that allows her to shine more than she did in Slumdog Millionaire), a young couple feeling on the outside of British culture as immigration laws are being introduced and are slowly becoming radicalized in the process. They are fighting for the release of Dhari (Nathanial Martello-White, who completes a trifecta of standout performances). Marcus and Jas consider Dhari a political prisoner and it’s the burgeoning passion of Jas — with a more reluctant and more methodical Marcus in tow — that fuels the couple to do more, to fight harder and leave a legacy.

Jas used to date Kent (Idris Elba, an executive producer here, too), but the artist and suave social scene-maker was never into politics; Jas left him because ultimately he wanted to go along to get along.

“They’re changing the laws on us,” Jas says. “People are going to ask what we did. I’m not going to tell them I sat on a fence.”

Ridley shows an acute ability to create characters who are at once heroic and selfish, who advocate for justice and then cross lines in its pursuit. He tackles the notion of whether the ends justify the means and, more important to the drama, how the conclusion drawn from that conundrum differentiates people and tears apart relationships of all sorts.

Perhaps Ridley’s most impressive achievement is the continued depth of the series (he wrote five of the six episodes and directed three of them as well) as it expands. He explores the identities of Jas as a Pakistani immigrant and Marcus as a British citizen, but also whether Dhari is just a local thug or the next Malcolm X; whether Jas and Marcus are interested in the fate of poor blacks in London or just some bigger ideal of black empowerment; where Leroy (Brandon Scott) fits in as an American member of the Black Panther party who fled to London after he killed a cop in a race riot; how Fallon (Denise Gough) fits as the white Irish girlfriend of a British black man who gets martyred; and how Chief Inspector Pence (Rory Kinnear), the South African-born leader of the task force (the “black power desk” at Scotland Yard) aimed at reining in blacks, squares his overt racism with the fact he has his own, out-of-wedlock black son and struggles to understand how his white police partner Cullen (Daniel Mays) admits that, being Irish, he understands feeling “that the whole system is rigged against you.”

Ridley’s persistence in making connections that muddy philosophies is what gives the show its gravitas. Over the course of all six episodes, the effort that goes into this complicated tapestry is impressive to witness. Guerrilla (Showtime lists it as “season one” and perhaps there could be more, but it feels like a complete miniseries) allows Ridley to keep a lot of plates spinning. Jas never allows Marcus or Kent to place value on her beauty at the expense of her talent or contribution to the cause. In one scene she says to Marcus: “Partners? Being partners doesn’t mean disappearing into you. I’m not here to be the girlfriend or the sidekick. I’m my own agent.”

Pinto truly gets a defining role here and runs with it: She’s convincingly fierce as she becomes more radicalized, but her evolution is believable at every turn, less superhero than determined activist. Jas also is a feminist who puts that below the greater political cause but never hides it enough to be taken advantage of by a man. As for Ceesay, as Marcus, it’s hard to overstate just how superb he is. None of the characters have tried to work within the system quite like Marcus; he’s likeable and relatable but conflicted as he’s pulled in a direction he’s not entirely comfortable with (he’s an English teacher). His role in the resistance is a dogged insistence to define it while others around him just want to create upheaval. In the pursuit of what? For what means? What are the things we stand for? Marcus, more tender-hearted and perhaps ill-suited for his role, is a man swept along by events he tries desperately to rationalize, and Ceesay brilliantly captures his emotional state and interior conflicts. He is quietly mesmerizing in every scene.

Elsewhere, Ridley employs the British playwright, actress and director Zawe Ashton as Omega, a different kind of black powerbroker in London, who sees the extremes of radicalized acts as a dead end and enlists Kent to take on a leadership role (in part because she sees Jas as not being one of them). In another scene, Cullen, the Irish cop, talks about not being accepted by the English even though he’s white and how that affects his world view: “If we’ve got to step over some blacks and Pakis, is that so bad? Push down to rise up.”

Into all of this internecine drama, Ridley almost inadvertently finds room for some slight humor. There are so many people pursuing different things in the radical underground that when they come together (at safe havens or in the hustle for monetary support), the clash of interests produce fleeting moments of comedy tucked into the quickened drama (like Marcus dismissing a radical Canadian from Quebec because “she’s fighting to speak French” instead of, say, start a revolution; that it makes that point while also rendering her story riveting is further proof of exactly how strongGuerrilla is).

To beat the same Peak TV drum yet again: Viewers have a lot of excellent options — particularly right at this very moment. But don’t overlook Showtime’s true gem in Guerrilla.

Guys Talk Fashion

I was browsing in a bookstore in Nottingham a few days ago, having just had an interview (which I think went okay) and I wanted to celebrate. However, the more I looked, the more disheartened I felt myself becoming. I wanted something on men’s fashion, but nothing GQ or full of opinion. I wanted literature.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; it doesn’t exist? I felt the same.

I took my search to the Internet and eventually found that the founders of one of my favourite magazines had made a book about the history of ‘top-buttoning’, a style choice I’ve always been devoted to. Needless to say, this book was bought on next day delivery and I hadn’t been as excited to read something ever (and I’m an English student). The book arrived in all its tactile beauty and I indulged in the entire text in a day. However, this is a rare example of menswear literature. Not even a diamond in the rough, there isn’t any rough around it. We need a revolution in this field.

It’s shocking, when you think about it. Name the biggest fashion brands in the world. Louis Vuitton, Armani, Dolce and Gabanna, Alexander McQueen… it’s all founded by men? So why is men’s style literature so dire?

In short, I suppose we can blame the high street. It’s the most accessible point of fashion. On the widest scale, this is our exposure to fashion. Here, menswear is at it’s worst. The over-saturation of safe clothing: lazy efforts with tailoring, shape and design are all evident on the high-street and there’s nothing to be given to the imagination, and there’s no encouragement for fashion as an art or a science.

The same can’t be said for high retail. Although, this lacks accessibility. Of course, as a fashion junkie, I can rant all day about Raf Simons as a genius and monumentally important designer, but I can’t sport the clothing for myself. This can become deflating (or bankrupting, depending on whether you buy or not) and ultimately leaves the interesting fashion for those in the elite; often people either too occupied or too accustomed to appreciate fashion as anything beyond a statement of economic identity.

“The male catwalk is quite unexciting.”

The lack of coverage is also reflected when looking at fashion weeks. By and large, the male catwalk is quite unexciting: suits, jumpers, the occasional whacky piece, shoes, trainers. That’s it. The categories are suits, modest style, or weird: us men are far too conscious to even look at sporting the weird. You can see this trickle down onto campus.

I only know a handful of guys who wear interesting, questioning and fashionably conscious clothing; this is compared to the women who boast all kinds of quirky outfits. Why? There’s more demand in the female market and therefore seriously pretty and interesting clothing can be found for half the price of a decent piece of menswear. You could put this down to men having fewer types of garment to experiment with, but that’s problematic in itself.

We only have fewer options because there is historically a great conservatism in menswear. It’s probably why so many of the top male fashion designers are working primarily with womenswear; it’s just more exciting, and men are too reluctant to invest in anything new the fashion world might bring. Does anyone remember when H&M and Kenzo collaborated? No I thought not: Google it, it was sick.

I guess things are slowly changing though, and androgyny is helping to blur the boundaries in fashion and perhaps the start of experimental menswear will come within the unisex market, with a brave few championing the artistry and expression of these garments.  Also, despite the lack of literary coverage we can likely count on magazine culture to propel menswear as a perfectly normal interest for guys in the future. Edward Enninful’s new role in Vogue might be the pinnacle of this, but also the surge in magazines such as Fantastic Man will help bring talking menswear into the mainstream in far more exciting ways than GQ does at the present.

It is not that there’s anything wrong with GQ’s current editor – Dylan Jones – as he’s transforming the magazine slowly but there’s only so much he can do.

“I’m sick of the lack of opportunity to talk men’s fashion in the University.”

Of course, smaller magazines such as yours truly can help to provide a credited and respected voice for male fashion. Perhaps this is the point of me writing this. I’m sick of the lack of opportunity to talk men’s fashion in the University. We all wear clothes, and most of us give a shit about what we wear. Why are we voiceless? If you’ve ever read a fashion article and found it engaging, influential, interesting or even slightly worthwhile, come chat sometime.

You know you want to, man. We’re the future after all, and where have you ever seen stigmatism against a well-dressed guy, by a well-dressed guy?

Yeah, I haven’t either.

Rhys Thomas

 

Spring fashion trends update classic looks, show some skin

Courtesy photo – Adaline Thomas Williams (left) is wearing Gala by Galia Lahav, sheer antique crochet mermaid dress, with dramatic draping along the back and train, in a powder-pink silk chiffon. Sophia Taylor is wearing Maison de Genévieve, Peau de soie silk sweetheart gown with floral silk chiffon overlay.

 

 

 

Spring has sprung in Charleston, which means it’s time for pastels, florals and ruffles to celebrate warmer weather and sunny skies.

We caught up with area models on a fashion shoot for the Charleston Convention & Visitor’s Bureau getting ready for an influx of visitors as warm weather returns to the city.

We also checked in with the owners of several Charleston area stores and boutiques featured in the shoot to learn about some of the season’s most popular trends for men and women, all available in the Capital City.

Brides this year have several bold, skin-baring options, according to Belle Manjong, owner of The Boutique by B. Belle Events. Manjong said brides are turning toward elegant, sexy gowns and even more nontraditional painted floral gowns.

The owners of the Bridge Road Shops (Eggplant, Geraniums and Yarid’s) all agreed the bohemian look is in this spring and will carry into the summer.

To make sure your accessories stand out, go for a long necklace look or maybe choose a trendy lariat or choker-style necklace to complete your boho looks. Dig out your platform shoes from the ’70s to tie together your look — the owners said they’re making a comeback.

If that’s not your style, the preppy look is holding on strong. Shoppers are loving the bright colors and embroidery this style has to offer. And you can’t forget accessories. Bright, embroidered espadrilles take the classic look up a notch, and a hands-free cross-body bag is a must, they said.

White lace dresses have been having their moment on the runway and red carpet in 2017, but Meridith Barth, owner of Ivor’s Trunk, said the looks isn’t restricted to evening wear.

And who doesn’t love a little sparkle? Pair a evening sequin piece with basic, classic or casual options to make this shiny trend work while the sun is up.

Macy’s at the Charleston Town Center has had many women flocking to the modern romance look. Margaret Shanks, Macy’s vice president and store manager, suggested pairing a floral dress, a twist on pearl jewelry and a neutral shoe to complete this look.

And for the men, Shank suggested a khaki suit that can take you from a day at the office to a special event.

Anthony Paranzino at Tony the Tailor suggested a look that will keep guys “dressed up and stylish, yet totally comfortable.”

Banded-collar shirts are on the cutting edge of today’s men’s fashion. Pair that with cool crisp linen pants and classic bit driver shoes, he suggested.

And don’t forget ruffles.

Virginia Lee’s owner Kathryn Rugeley said she has seen ruffles, cold shoulders and lace-tie details everywhere this spring season.

New styles have been popping up all around Charleston this spring season, many drawing on or updating classic looks to make a new statement in 2017.

 

1920s Mens Fashion Clothing: Before Men Feared Fashion

Are Men Afraid of Fashion: 1920s Mens Fashion

The roaring 1920s of mens fashion is long gone. Traveling decades later to present day, it seems that men have developed somewhat of a complicated relationship with fashion. Frankly, let just call it what it is, fear. I don’t mean to suggest that there are no stylish men nor advances in menswear. However, culturally there’s certainly a stigma surrounding men who pay attention to fashion. Almost as if to suggest that it is unnatural or not masculine. Rooted in stereotypes about gender and sexuality, fashion remains foreign for boys and men of all ages. Ironically, it hasn’t always been that way. Man’s fear of fashion is a modern style trend. Looking at our peculiar Western Culture, it’s difficult to determine exactly when the shift arose. On the other hand, maybe there was no change at all. Instead, it is clothing styles and mens fashion brands that are afraid of more outspoken style. We’ll be exploring these very questions and more in our history of mens fashion series. The first stop, mens fashion in the 1920s. Still recovering from the first World War, America emerges with with a more modern view point. These changes become evident in both women’s and mens fashion of the twenties. Many fashion historians consider it to be the start of the modern fashion era.

Below, we’ll begin exploring the components of mens fashion and style in the 1920s. The world was very different then, but perhaps it hasn’t changed all that much? We’ll start with mens suiting basics, which weren’t really aren’t basic at all.

Fashion & Mens Suiting in the 1920s

Mens suiting was casual, everyday wear in the 1920s. Unlike today, suits weren’t reserved for special occasions and Wall Street job titles. During this period mens suiting styles consist of four main pieces, a suit jacket, vest or waist coast, trousers, and neckties or bowties. Fabrics like wool and tweed were the most common adding heaviness to the pieces. Most items were bought as complete looks with coats matching trousers. There was very little mixing and matching. Accessories are also very common and include gloves, pocket squares, dress hats, and oxford style shoes.

1920s Mens Fashion Suiting Jackets

The early 1920s mens suit jacket is high-waisted and often worn belted. The style has a military feel thought to have taken inspiration from the prior World War. Suit jackets fit snugly and boast a high lapel, a notable departure from prior eras. Mens suiting colors in the 1920s are very much the same as today with blues, browns, greens and grays being the most popular. Adding more flair to the heavy designs were classic masculine patterns like checks, wide plaids and stripes.

Trousers in 1920s Mens Fashion

Trouser and narrow, often exposing the ankles which are always covered with socks secured by garters. Details including pleats and narrow pocket slits are common. Surprisingly, 1920s mens fashion offers suiting pants that are fairly modern. They have a linear, slim silhouette similar to popular styles of today. Men are even known to regularly cuff their pants, adding notes of personal style. The fit changes during the later half of the decade. Men ditch the skinnier pant style for more traditional, slouchy trousers. The pants have wide legs which eventually get wider and wider introducing a popular trouser style, Oxford Bags.

1920s Mens Fashion Shirts

Mens 1920s shirts didn’t have a collar. Instead the designs feature a narrow neckband with one button-hole in the front and another in the back. The feature is for a detachable collar. Mirroring the silhouette of jackets and trousers, shirts have a narrow neckband and overall slim fit. Each designs boast stylish personality with long vertical stripes in colors like green, blue, lilac, tan and pink. The colorful prints are a fashionable contrast against the detachable white collars. Cuffs are also a notable detail. Styles are either french cuffs or buttons adorned with gold circle cufflinks. Engraved upon each are the owner’s initials. The latter half of the twenties welcomes back shirts with collars.

Hats in Mens Fashion of the 1920s
Almost all men wore hats in the 1920s. It was a status symbol and the type of hat represented social class. Made from tweed, wool, or cotton hats are usually black, brown, or grey. Upper class men wear top hat and homburg hat styles. In the summer months, the straw boater hat is popular. Middle class men opt for more casual style with hats like the fedora, bowler hat, and trilby. Other iconic mens hat styles of the 1920s include the 8-panel newsboy hat, panama hat, gambler hat, and boater hat.
1920s Mens Fashion Vests and Waistcoats
It’s rare to see a man sporting a full three-piece suit today. Unless, you’re at a high school prom or ritzy charity event. However, for the fashionable man of the 1920s, it is a style essential. Mens vest received a slight update in the later part of the twenties. The piece is called a waistcoast and features a high v neck upper long hemline completely covering the shirt beneath. Details such as suspenders often complete the look.

Ties and Neck scarves in 1920s Mens Fashion

Ever wondered when the bow tie became popular. We owe mens fashion of the 1920s with popularizing the style. They had just as much character back then, too. Mens bowties in the twenties are made with patterns like bold polka dots and stripes. For men looking for a bit more neck freedom, the standard neck tie is worn. Narrow and peculiarly short, they appear in interesting art-deco patterns as well as traditional stripes, checks, and plaids. Perhaps the most stylish piece of neckwear is the scarf tie. The concept involved taking a silk patterned scarf and draping it around the neck in such a way that it overlaps and falls back in front of the collar. Aside from knit options in Winter, men have ditched wearing gloves. This differs dramatically from the twenties where men boldly sport gloves daily. These aren’t you traditional black and brown leather gloves of today, either. Guys are seriously bold, flaunting colors like yellow, red, and white.

Now and then, Mens Fashion in the 1920s

The 1920s were an evolutionary time in mens fashion. Culturally, men typically show an avid interest in fashion. In actuality, it’s almost obsessive. Suit pants have to match jackets, which then need to compliment shirts and waistcoasts. Additionally, there are more stylish details to consider like choice of bow tie, neck tie, or neck scarf and hat style. Mens fashion in the 1920s is influenced heavily by society. Both men and women dress according to social status. In a way, this too, does suggest that men are afraid of fashion during the time. They didn’t necessarily dress well to stand out, mens fashion was still very much about making sure you fit in. What do you think? Check back for our next update, we’ll be covering casual and formal fashion for men in the roaring 1920s.

Shopping for Wedding Dresses Above Size 14? Read This!

Sitting Pretty Miller’s first rule: Don’t pick a gown you can’t move—or sit!—in.

I’m standing in a dressing room, surrounded by wedding dresses and jammed into a gown five sizes too small for me. My arms are extended, Frankenstein-style, because the sleeves are so tight that if I bend my elbows I may burst through the lace. This is not how I imagined shopping for a my dress.

Actually, I never imagined I’d buy a wedding dress at all. Before my fiancé and I first started dancing around the subject of marriage, I had the occasional daydream about what a fun, fabulous wedding we might have (Skee-Ball! a sundae bar!), but the dress was never part of the picture, because in the back of my mind, I knew it would be a pain in the ass. I’m a size 16 to 18—just like the average American woman, according to the latest research—and shopping for my everyday clothes can be hard enough. While I’m used to buying online almost exclusively because most stores don’t sell plus sizes, I knew that wouldn’t be an option this time; this purchase would be too expensive, nonreturnable, and, you know, the dress I’d get married in. I had to try before buying. But as I’d soon discover, many bridal samples were 6s and 8s, too small for me to even get into. How could I envision the way a dress should look if I couldn’t even bend my arms in it?

I began my dress hunt as I assume all brides do: hunched over my laptop, googling like a fiend. I was looking for designers who made wedding gowns not only in my size but also my style, which is feminine but not froufrou. The dream dress I imagined was simple: a long A-line skirt, short sleeves, no beading, no frills—essentially the dress version of a classic white tee, around which I could tie a red ribbon sash and call it a wedding day. A week later I had a short list of stores in the New York City area whose pieces would work for me. I tried six shops, including Kleinfeld, David’s Bridal, Lovely Bride, The Cotton Bride, Schone Bride, and Stone Fox Bride (see the below for more details). After all that, here’s what I learned:

 

White Magic Love the idea of showing skin, without actually showing skin? Try an illusion or lace neckline.

• Many retailers and designers do offer plus-size gowns. Wedding dresses are typically made to order, so some designers I spoke with said there was no limit on how large they’d make a dress. Amazing! The bad news: Very few designers carry plus-size samples; what you’ll find in stores to try on is, to say the least, small. (And bridal sizes run much smaller than most clothes to begin with.) If you’re bigger than the sample—usually a size 6—you have to yank on a dress and leave the back unzipped and gaping open. (Sometimes a saleswoman will clip a swatch of fabric, called a modesty panel, to the dress to cover you up a bit.) With some styles this will give you a vague sense of how the dress might look if it fit, but only when facing forward. I call this look “business in the front, tragedy in the back.” Let’s just say it’s hard to feel like a beautiful bride in this situation.

• It helps to preshop. First I researched dresses based on style alone. Once I had a list of designers I liked, I then whittled it down to those who produced dresses in my size. Finally, I emailed the shops to ask about the size range of samples. Many didn’t have samples in my size, but some had a few 10s or 12s I could squeeze into, which can make a real difference in how you’ll look and feel in a gown—you might be pleasantly surprised at how much you like a dress when you can actually put it on. (That said, if there’s a store with tiny samples but dresses you love, go anyway.)

• There are plus-size surcharges, which in my humble opinion, are bullshit. Some bridal designers charge extra (usually around $100 to $200) for dresses above a size 14. They say it’s because they have to use more material, but that logic really bothers me. A size-10 woman pays the same as a size 0; why should I have to pay more than the size 10? It’s a given that every bride pays for individual alterations to the dress she eventually chooses, but this is different. An up-front fee for being above a size 14 seems like a penalty for wearing a plus-size.

Big Time If you’re into classic ball gowns, try popular outlets like Kleinfeld, which makes dresses up to size 32.

I was frustrated enough by it that I paused my dress ­hunting for a hot second to do a little more research, and I found that the whole surcharge thing didn’t sit well with Stone Fox Bride co-founder and creative director Molly Guy, either. “It’s really outrageous,” she says. “A dress is a dress is a dress.” With her unconventional, bohemian designs, Guy is a leader in the indie bridal scene. Still, her company is small and independent, and early on, she struggled with the logistics of serving plus-size ­clientele. “I had to apologetically explain a lot, ‘I’m so sorry, our samples are in a size 6,’ ” she says. “If I felt comfortable, I would throw in the caveat ‘because we’re a start-up.’ ” Producing a new collection complete with bigger samples wasn’t financially feasible, but after three years, tired of making “these anemic excuses,” she reached out to plus-size label Eloquii. Collaborating with them, she created a collection of her designs up to size 24—no surcharges in sight.

Some more traditional wedding brands are following suit, like designer Anne Barge, who recently debuted her Curve Couture line. Like Guy, she’d always made plus dresses; “we just didn’t have a name for it,” she says. But openly marketing to plus-size shoppers is important. When designers make one-time-only plus collections, it can sometimes feel patronizing: Here you go, four pieces you can buy! For a limited time! You’re welcome! Campaigns like Curve Couture send the signal that plus-size brides will be able to not just buy dresses but also browse, try on, and zip the damn things up.

In the end, how did I find my dress? I considered a custom gown. At The Cotton Bride (thecottonbride.com) I could tweak one of their existing designs to suit my taste—raise a neckline, drop a waist, swap a tulle skirt for chiffon—or create a whole new design with them completely from scratch. The service was great, but I found it difficult to visualize the final product. (You can also try custom places like Grace Bridal Couture in Los Angeles, Mignonette Bridal in Chicago, or KMKDesigns in St. Paul, Minnesota.)

Then I stepped into Schone Bride (schonebride.com) by Rebecca Schoneveld (rebeccaschoneveld.com). The samples were mostly 6s and 10s, but the brand’s plus-sizes debut this spring, with size 18 and 22 samples in its Brooklyn boutique. If you’re not in New York, Schoneveld’s designs are carried at boutiques across the country, including The Senti­mentalist in Atlanta, Detroit Bridal House in Detroit, and A & Bé Bridal Shop in Denver. All her dresses could be made in my size and were customizable—I could add sleeves or swap one skirt for another.

 

The One The added lace overlay on this Schone Bride dress made Miller say, “I do.”

I was flooded with excitement. Working with a stylist and Schoneveld herself, I wedged and clipped myself into the pieces, while the three of us talked about the issues women like me face trying to get the dress of their dreams. After a few minutes I looked into the mirror and saw myself in the dress you see above, with a tulle skirt, silvery white bodice, and an elegant lace topper. I adored the dress, and even better, I felt good about it. Schoneveld was sensitive and understanding, and eager to learn from my perspective. “From an ethical standpoint, it feels really wrong to have to pay more for a dress just because it’s a different size,” she says. “But, from a production standpoint, if it takes eight yards instead of six, do I eat that margin?” In the short term, she decided, yes—and after our talk, she opted to expand her standard size range up to 30 and eliminate her surcharge in the name of becoming a more inclusive brand. In the long term, she says, “it’s a smart business move.”

So, brides: Know that there are great options no matter your size or style—sometimes you just have to ask for what you know you deserve. Put on your game face and get shopping; your dress is out there. This is your damn day.

And now, Miller’s favorite places to shop if you’re size 14 or above.

If you want traditional: Kleinfeld (kleinfeldbridal.com) claims to have the largest selection of plus-size gowns and samples in the country (around 200 at any given time), including those from Christian Siriano, Augusta Jones, and Watters, and most of their designers can produce up to size 32. I found the selection a bit too traditional—if you’re into ball gowns and classic looks, this is your place!—but I was grinning like a kid because everything fit.

If you want bohemian: At Stone Fox Bride (stonefoxbride.com) you’ll find gorgeous modern and bohemian gowns, vintage pieces, separates, and its Eloquii for Stone Fox Bride line. The dresses can be purchased online, but I highly recommend visiting the showroom in New York if you can. Not only does cofounder Guy carry plus-size samples, but her team makes the experience both fun and relaxed. That makes a huge difference when you’re in wedding mania.

If you’re on a budget: There were a slew of samples (more than 100) I could try on at David’s Bridal in New York City (davidsbridal.com), and the dresses were, hands down, the lowest price (starting at $399). Browsing the store with a stylist, I found exclusive collections from the likes of Zac Posen, Vera Wang, and Melissa Sweet, many offering styles up to size 26. I didn’t find my dream dress, but after trying on more decorative ones, I realized I kind of liked some sparkle.

If you want personal: I found The One (see it on the next page!) at Schone Bride (schonebride.com). The samples were mostly 6s and 10s, but the brand’s plus-sizes debut this spring, with size 18 and 22 samples in its Brooklyn boutique. Don’t live in New York? Schone’s designs are carried at boutiques across the country, including The Senti­mentalist in Atlanta, Detroit Bridal House in Detroit, and A & Bé Bridal Shop in Denver.

And for more options… Many off-the-rack dresses can double as a wedding dress. Or look into the size-inclusive ready-to-wear lines that are getting into bridal. Addition Elle (additionelle.com) launched its first bridal collection this spring, featuring five styles in sizes 14 to 24, priced between $240 and $380. Fame and Partners (fameandpartners.com) followed with a 21-piece line in sizes 0 to 22, priced from $299 to $1,299. And ModCloth (modcloth.com) currently has dozens of dresses in their bridal collection, which goes up to size 26, for between $27 and $600.

 

 

How Bella Hadid Does Covered-Up, Body-Con Fashion

Bella Hadid is no stranger to highlighting her waist. After all, the model has made an entire street style career out of flashing her toned midriff, whether she’s bravely wearing a teeny tee in mid-winter or taking a crop top to the airport. But Hadid has also found ways to highlight her figure in a more covered-up fashion with equally head-turning results.

Just yesterday, she emphasized her hourglass shape with a little help from Alexander Wang Fall 2017, Look 22: a pair of high-waisted, asymmetrically buttoned jeans and a cropped black leather jacket that played with proportions. Both pieces met at her waist, naturally drawing the eye to that exact point. Hadid then topped off the killer combination with pointy boots, a tight black scoop-neck tee, and a thick fabric choker that felt right for day or night—smart midriff dressing, without the naked navel.

Women, Fashion Has You Covered

Clockwise from top left: Stella McCartney, Erdem, Emilia Wickstead, Mulberry, Michael Kors, Céline, Mulberry, Calvin Klein, Céline, Valentino, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Proenza Schouler. Credit Photo illustration by The New York Times; Photographs by Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times (McCartney); Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times (Kors); Firstview; and Nowfashion.

It’s no secret that style has always been a reflection of our culture and the times we live in. Whenever social, economic or political ideology goes to the extreme, the disruptions always seem to cause style reactions. You just have to look to the streets of New York City for visual interpretations that address whatever radical cultural change is in the air at that particular moment. It seems the more unsettling the world becomes, the stronger the visual reactions are. And we all know fashion’s greatest influence is the street, so the catwalks always follow suit. The designers most passionate about and keyed into youth culture are usually the ones who nail it best, creating the most memorable fashion ideas that can now be seen as markers of fashion history.

Looking back, I realize that every decade of my lifetime so far has come with enormous disruptions, so it comforts me when I realize that the shitshow of today is not all that much worse from the shitshows of yesterday (well…maybe a little worse). And pivotal style moments — from hippie to disco to punk to hip-hop to glam to grunge — all came about as strong reactions to cultural and political disruptions and are all worthy of their very own Costume Institute Met shows.

That brings us to the twilight zone of now, with a new American president who is a joke and literally out of his mind ruling a country now controlled not by its people but by big business. This CEO-slash-reality-TV-star lost the election by 3 million votes; has malignant narcissism; can barely string a sentence together; hates Muslims, Mexicans, women and anyone who doesn’t worship him; brags about grabbing women’s pussies (and wants them punished if they have an abortion); is supported by the Ku Klux Klan; doesn’t read books and thinks the White House is downscale. The economy is both on thin ice and in a bubble. The Internet has fucked up virtually all old business models, and many standard-bearer blue-chip companies of the 20th century, whether media and entertainment companies or big retailers, clothing brands and ad agencies, find their business models unable to function in our new global digital economy. Their ships are sinking fast and furiously, and if they don’t embrace the punk within, act radically and throw all their rules out the window, many will drop like flies. Soon.

Sorry, but I’m not the only one sensing a doomsday anxiety vibe these days. We’re all kind of waiting for that other shoe to drop, whether it’s the economic bubble bursting, a nuclear arms escalation, the political system of our country imploding or Antarctica splitting in half. All that and boogymen/terrorists want to attack us in surprising new ways and we have a tweet-raving, fear-mongering mess who is the leader of our country. And to top it off, social media and 24-hour news stations keep amplifying all this insanity to the millionth degree every second of every minute of every day. Ask any shrink — there’s not enough Valium in the world to prescribe to people these days. (Now that’s a stock to invest in!)

So what does all this have to do with fashion? I’m just saying to keep your eyes peeled, because this is sure to be a doozy of a decade for some wild style to start showing up. The luxury brands are panicked as their sales slip, and we are already starting to see expressive aggression being welcomed at high-end brands everywhere, from Raf Simons at Calvin Klein to contrarian designers like Demna Gvasalia killing it with his “fuck you” collection at Vetements and his crazy takeover of luxe label Balenciaga, which this season was inspired by, of all people, the schleppy Bernie Sanders! We loved Louis Vuitton’s deluxe new collaboration with the revered streetwear brand Supreme, which seemed to be an attempt at testing a new market and bringing new energy and relevance to a label that’s gotten more staid and snobby since the departure of Marc Jacobs in 2014. It’s ironic that years ago LVMH handed Supreme a cease and desist for their bootleg Vuitton skateboards, and just today as I write this I saw a (possibly fake) news story zipping around the Internet saying that LVMH had bought Supreme for 500 million dollars. (Not true but it wouldn’t surprise me if this eventually happened for double that price!) Think about it: Why would the most elite luxury brands in the world want to fill their catwalks with skate cases, backpacks, hoodies and windbreakers and dumpy silhouettes inspired by a 75-year-old balding socialist American politician? Rebellion is going on everywhere.

Maybe it’s because the notion of luxury simply isn’t about physical stuff anymore as life has become less about “me” and more about “we.” Living a good life surrounded by inspiration, great people and experiences, empathy and thoughtfulness seems to have more value these days than fame, a gold-leaf baby carriage, a private jet or a real fur bedspread.

I’m not sure if this is the end of the world or just another cuckoo decade that we’ll look back on and shake our heads at, a time that could very well become immortalized with a future Met show called “NOT NORMAL. Pussy Fashion for Nasty Women, Orange Men, Bad High School Students and Ivanka.” This Met show a few decades from now would surely include Gucci pussy bow shirts, Cheeto wigs, red “Make America Great Again” baseball hats, Balenciaga Bernie Sanders pieces, “#fucktrump” or “we shall overcomb” tees, Supreme/Louis Vuitton fanny packs, crocheted pink pussy hats and disintegrating Raf Simons college letter sweaters, as well as a few collector’s item Ivanka pieces from eBay. Oh, and don’t forget some 1970s vintage Vivienne Westwood swastika T-shirts thrown in for context.

Hey, I know it’s not funny. And fashion is probably the last thing we should be talking about these days. But personal expression will never be irrelevant. So take to the streets and say it loud, kids, because we need this now more than ever.