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How to pick the best bridesmaid dresses now they’re fashion forward, not frumpy

If you ever want to know how not to dress your bridesmaids, then watch the romantic comedy 27 Dresses.

Fortunately, 10 years have passed since the movie was first released, and things are looking up for style-starved maids. The bridal world now takes its cues from the runways, with fashion trends inspiring not only bridal designers but big brands and high-profile talents to create collections specifically for this lucrative market.

“The bridesmaid category has become a lot more exciting. When we started in 2011 bridesmaid dresses were very standardised and consisted of one fabric – usually chiffon – and a limited colour palette of pastels. Now designers and brides are borrowing trends from ready-to-wear and thinking outside the traditional box,” says Cecile Chen, founder of Trinity Bridal.

Take for example, Hong Kong bride Feiping Chang, whose storybook wedding in Capri was covered by high-profile publications such as Vogue. Instead of cookie-cutter bridesmaid gowns, she opted for various styles designed by friend and Self Portrait designer Han Chong.

“I knew I wanted my bridesmaids to wear white, which most people tend to shy away from. Together we chose a selection of styles that would fit each girl’s body as well as their personal style. So overall, the dresses looked consistent but each was something unique that they could also wear again,” says Chang.

While individuality is important for modern bridesmaids, so are trends. Many are experimenting with fun prints like the patchwork florals popularised by British designer Richard Quinn while silhouettes have transitioned from conservative Grecian styles to the more fashionable cold shoulder and off-the-shoulder looks. When it comes to colour, many brides tend to err on the side of caution and opt for pastels, but there is also a return to bold shades such as yellow and blue.

Location also plays a role in determining bridesmaid dresses. Traditional venues such as hotels are becoming less popular thanks to the emergence of destination weddings. Exotic, off-the-beaten track locales have allowed bridesmaids to do away with formal styles and opt for fun and fresh looks instead.

“I usually advise destination bridesmaids to mix and match dresses with varied and multi-dimensional aesthetics. Colour choices can also be more modern and include navy, dove grey or even black. Instead of a flowy dress, you can experiment with jumpsuits and more structured dresses which look more contemporary,” advises Jacqueline Au, founder and creative director of The Loft Bridal.

A demand for more modern styles has also meant that brides can explore beyond the usual stable of specialised brands and opt for creations by ready-to-wear fashion brands like Needle & Thread and Caroline Constans. While purchasing off-the-rack can be tricky when you have larger groups to dress, it still opens a whole new world of possibilities in terms of fashion choices.

“Popular brands include Self Portrait and Red Valentino for entry-level price point while Zimmerman is ideal for a summer garden party type wedding. Valentino, Rochas, Erdem all offer beautiful dresses that could work for a bridesmaid. For more traditional dresses, Elie Saab and Maria Lucia Hohan are great,” says Suzanne Pendlebury, buying manager at matchesfashion.com.

Another easy way to inject a modern touch to your bridesmaid look is through accessories such as jewellery, hair pieces and shoes, all of which add a touch of personality and an element of surprise.

“Sometimes when you follow runway trends the photos can look out of date after a few years. I would still keep the dress refined but play with jewellery, be it chunky bold pieces a la Celine or maximalist Gucci-style with layers of pearls and crystals. Even if you are stuck wearing a cookie-cutter dress, you are able to inject a bit of your own personality through accessories,” says Au.

A final note of caution to all bridesmaids. While looking good may be your top priority, it’s not necessarily the bride’s. Avoid a Pippa Middleton situation and keep your choices stylish yet discreet. Your big day will come eventually.

Spring/summer 2018 runway trends perfect for bridesmaids

Ruffles: Velvet dress (HK$3,500) by Self Portrait from Lane Crawford.

Vintage florals: Long patchwork dress (HK$499) from Zara.

Bold colours: Rope detail silk satin gown (HK$16,625) by Roksanda from matchesfashion.com.

Embellishments: Andromeda ruffled embellished tulle gown (HK$4,810) by Needle & Thread from Net-a-Porter.

Sheer: Rosetta lace dress (HK$5,500) from S.Nine by Susanna Soo.

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Milan Fashion Week Men’s Street Style

The worst fashion fads of 2017

2017 was a year of suprises, and the fashion world followed suit. Some trends, like the rise of “athleisurewear” and the return of ruffles, were welcome additions. But other fashions left us shuddering, especially after models began sporting them on the runway, or style-stars started embracing them with open arms.

Check out this year’s roundup of the absolute worst fashion fads of 2017, and cross your fingers that they won’t sneak into the New Year, either.

#1. Man rompers

Making their debut just in time for summer 2017, man rompers were the male fashion trend no one was expecting. Even still, more than a few brave souls sported them through the warmer months. There’s even a collection of Christmas and Hanukkah-inspired man rompers for the holiday party season.

#2. The $10,000 pizza bikini

For one day only, pizza chain Villa Italian Kitchen sold a two-piece swimsuit made entirely of real dough, cheese, sauce and pepperoni in what they dubbed “the world’s most mouthwatering bikini.” It was also probably one of the most expensive, too, at $10,000.

THE ONE THING MEGHAN MARKLE NEVER TRAVELS WITHOUT

#3. “Underboob”

Sure, this concept has been around for a bit, but the bold trend really picked up steam this year. Favored by starlets and models who dared to bare, the risque look arrived in late August and hasn’t left red carpets since.

#4. Pajamas as daywear

Cleverly repurposing loungewear as outerwear, the “pajamas as daywear” trend brazenly arrived in early 2017, wearing a smart, silken robe. The comfy-sleek look gained tractionwith celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Zendaya Coleman and Rachel Platten.

#5. One-piece President Trump swimsuits

This $50, head-turning swimsuit featuring a larger-than-life screen-print of POTUS is in fact manufactured by the same company that created the hairy-chest one piece swimsuit — no surprise there.

#6. The “dad bod” fanny pack

At the peak of “dad bod” hype, this versatile pouch showed up as a perfect place to store beer — and kinda gross us out.

MODELS STRIP DOWN IN TIMES SQUARE TO PROMOTE BODY-POSITIVITY

#7. Dry cleaning dresses

While most people tend to remove their dry cleaning bag from their garments before stepping out into the world, Moschino thought more “inside the bag” with this $730 see-through frock.

#8. Thanksgiving stuffing pants

Because Thanksgiving dinner is no time to wear jeans, Stove Top Stuffing served up a pair of stuffing printed pants just for the occasion.

#9. Dad sneakers

Seemingly overnight, thick soled, chunky, “Seinfeld”-esque kicks became the must-have footwear of fall.

#10. Double jeans, muddy jeans, detachable jeans, jeans with clear knees, but worst of all, thong jeans

After a highly publicized debut at Tokyo Fashion Week, the infamous thong-jean look spawned its own Halloween costume.

CENTRESTAGE: Wambui Mukenyi’s grand fashion launch on a plane

Celebrated Kenyan fashion designer and wedding connoisseur Wambui Mukenyi has unveiled her latest luxury bridal line, dubbed “Wambui Mukenyi Luxe”.

The event, unlike most others witnessed locally, happened on a “runway” 20,000 feet above sea level. The launch is apparently the first ever of its kind in Eastern, Western and Central Africa. The launch was an exclusive, invite-only affair and in partnership with Moët & Chandon.

Among invited guests were NTV‘s Kobi Kihara, model Pinky Ghelani, stylist Connie Aluoch, Couture‘s Olive Gachara, Kris Senanu and K24‘s Anjlee Gadhvi. They were served with free flowing champagne during the flight to Malindi and the experience extended to Diamonds Dream of Africa Beach Resort over an exquisite lunch.

“Well synchronised event, creative chic designs, great crowd and brilliant execution,” said Senanu, an entrepreneur and investor in the TV programme Lion’s Den.

16 BRIDAL GOWNS

According to Ms Mukenyi, Kenya is ready for luxury fashion. “Growing demand and support from our customers is the main reason we unveiled Wambui Mukenyi Luxe, ” she said, adding, “The miles-high launch was to signify the leaps that the brand is making. From Kenya to the world, by bringing the best of Kenya to the rest of the world. Making great strides together with partners who believe in us, like Moët & Chandon, and our consumers who trust us to take the journey together.”

Every collection showed the designer’s love for luxurious fabric, while at the same time instilling her African heritage to produce timeless, feminine pieces. The dresses, in particularly, stand out because of the statement they make. They have a contemporary and elegant edge perfect for today’s modern woman that needs to be unique without making too much effort.

During the unveiling, 16 bridal pieces were showcased. The first catwalk was in the plane, which saw the models display the four designs. The collection featured elegant and trendy pieces, each of them an easy fit with the power to make an ordinary woman feel and look stylish.

On landing in Malindi, the models took turns to showcase the rest of the designer’s work on the beach. Wambui admitted that it was not easy and that she wanted to do something that has not been done here before; to test unchartered waters. “This was a good experience. I showcased the new designs that are definitely going to take wedding gowns to the next level.”

SAMANTHA’S BRIDAL SHOW

“The feminine gowns are carefully made with every bride in mind. This is showcased by the daring, strapless necklines, complemented by delicately boned bodices that are reminiscent of Victorian corsetry,” she said.

The shy and soft-spoken mother of one has an eye for detail, perfect designs, fabric choices and silhouettes, while at the same time guaranteeing her clients’ style and confidence on their big day. She embraces both classic and new styles, which are effortlessly eye catching and capture many a bride’s fantasies.

Founded in 2009, the Wambui Mukenyi label is the brainchild of the self-taught designer. She joined fashion company JF Fashions as a finance intern, but her destiny twirled on the wheel of fortune, resting on fashion and design.

Ms Wambui began by making custom-made pieces for her clients in 2009, before she branched out to wedding gowns and ready-to-wear clothes full of creativity and style. Her big break came later in the year when her products were used by the cast of Shuga, a drama series themed on love, sex and money. Since then, demand for her label has been soaring. Her pieces have been featured in prestigious fashion magazines in Kenya.

In 2012, Wambui participated in Samantha’s Bridal Show and The Hub of Africa Fashion Week. She described the fashion week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a learning experience. In the same year, she collaborated with media personality Janet Mbugua to launch the Janet Collection, which boasts 20 designs.

Together they came up with designs that Ms Mbugua would be able to wear while travelling and for other formal occasions. Ms Wambui helped bring the combined ideas to life. Asked what is next for her, she said: “All we can say is, this is just the beginning. Stay with us, grow with us, and you shall see what awaits”.

Hats off: why the beret is back on the frontline of fashion

The beret is… divisive. I know this first-hand, as I wear them regularly, in black, grey and raspberry. And while much discussion may be found online as to the angle at which one should be worn (pulled forward, or jauntily to the side, or covering your whole head, your hair croissanted up inside), of more help I think is the following tip. The trick to wearing a beret is to avoid eye contact with strangers. Then, when they shout something at you such as, “Bonjour!” (you’re from Hove) or, “Ooh Betty!” (you’re too young to get the reference), it’s far easier to pretend you haven’t noticed and carry on walking. Because in your head you’reMarlene Dietrich, as opposed to “all French people”. You’re Faye Dunaway. You’reDebbie Harry, pretending she’s Patty Hearst, pretending she’s a leftwing terrorist called Tania, with a machine gun and a cosy head. You’re Rembrandt, idiot.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in Bonnie And Clyde, 1967.
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in Bonnie And Clyde, 1967. Photograph: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

It slides in and out of favour, the beret. The first examples were found by archaeologists in bronze age tombs, with berets also seen on sculptures in 12th-century Europe. Some were bigger, some floppier, but all were made of felt, the oldest form of cloth, created by pressing wool, hard. Shepherds used to fill their shoes with tufts from the sheep; as they worked and sweated, felt was made. Berets were adopted by peasants, then royalty, then the military, then artists. But in 2002 the market had all but dried up – 40 years earlier there had been 15 beret factories in Oloron-Sainte-Marie (France’s beret capital); by then there was just one. “We suffer from the savagery of fashion,” said Bernard Fargues, head of Beatex, the last beret maker in town. Which means today their luck could be changing. The beret is back.

On Prada’s Autumn/Winter 2017 catwalk in Milan.
On Prada’s Autumn/Winter 2017 catwalk in Milan. Photograph: SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

In Maria Grazia Chiuri’s A/W 17 collection for Dior, every look came topped with a beret – the models were styled as romantic revolutionaries – and Rihanna wore hers in the front row, too. Vogue said the beret is “shaping up to be one of Fall 2017’s most ubiquitous items for gals and guys”. Which of course I applaud. Because there are few accessories as odd as the beret, few that signify conservative uniform as well as revolution and rebellious rock’n’roll. I mean, my dad has a beret. No, he has two, one French, after Picasso, one Spanish, like a Basque separatist. I’ve worn one since I was a child, photographed gazing wistfully out across a reservoir, then at art school, and on days when it rains. I lean towards a beret worn with buoyancy, after Princess Diana, and one fitted snugly, like Eddie Izzard protesting against Brexit.

German actress Marlene Dietrich on the set of Manpower directed by Raoul Walsh in 1941.
German actress Marlene Dietrich on the set of Manpower directed by Raoul Walsh in 1941. Photograph: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

To list famous beret wearers is to moodboard the entire 20th century: Benny Hill,Audrey Hepburn, Frank Spencer, Ernest Hemingway, Che Guevara. It’s hard to make a list like this and not imagine the dinner party, and the absolute laugh they’d all have. Jean-Paul Sartre, Monica Lewinsky, Johnny Rotten, the Pink Panther, posh schoolgirls, Edith Piaf, the Black Panthers, Beyoncé, mime artists, all of them balancing a nippled plate of felt on their head as if marching off to battle.

A beret is perceived as a hat with power, whether the power to remain poised in a storm or to keep your hair on tight while you change the world. Today, with all that baggage, it is also perceived as a bit mannered. A bit whimsical. For example, a lot of Tesco’s fancy dress costumes come with a small polyester beret. We once bought a beret the size of a Pringle for my late cat (RIP). So, much as I love them, I understand the desire to roll an eye at the sight of one approaching on an urban street. For a hat that can fold up to the size of an Oyster card, this one comes with a lot of crap to carry around. But it’s worth it, as long as you realise that by wearing a beret, you’re always on the frontline.

 

 

DEALMAN

Jeremy Scott is the man fashion loves to hate

Fashion Week is a circus, and no one relishes the big top more than Jeremy Scott.

The designer’s February runway show had fashionistas sweltering in an 80-degree room as they waited for attendee Kylie Jenner to appear, 45 minutes late and with TV crew in tow. Gate-crashers stole seats, relegating top editors from Elle and Teen Vogue to watching a live stream of the presentation in a screening room. Model Gigi Hadid stormed the runway in velvet bell-bottoms emblazoned with the face of Jesus; Anna Cleveland sashayed in a gaudy, Vegas-era Elvis cape.

The industry Web site Fashionista.com called the event a “s – – tshow,” while other critics scoffed at the C-listers, such as Sofia Richie, mugging in the front row. But for Scott, that embrace of chaos, celebrity and kitsch is the whole point.

“I’ve always been inspired by pop culture,” the 42-year-old designer told The Post. “I’ve always been very democratic about my view of fashion and iconography.” As for his haters?
“I would say that they’re stuffy and they could go to another show.”

They do so at their own peril. This Fashion Week marks the 20th anniversary of Scott’s namesake brand — his show on Friday will be a retrospective of his career — and, love him or hate him, his postmodern, cartoon aesthetic is everywhere.

It’s on TV, with Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus strutting in his eye-popping designs at the MTV Video Music Awards. It’s on newsstands, where reality stars are on the cover of Vogue. It’s even on the Paris runway, with revered labels such as Vetements and Gucci splattering images from “Titanic” or Disney cartoons onto their clothes.

 

DEALMAN

Meghan Markle style file: the fashion history of Prince Harry’s girlfriend

Having begun her career with small roles in CSI: NY and 90210 – as well as a small stint as a ‘briefcase girl’ on Deal or no DealMeghan Markle shot to fame in 2011 when she was cast as paralegal Rachel Zane in Suits.

Not her only reason for being in the spotlight, however, Markle has also been dating Prince Harry for the last nine months.

Confirming their relationship last November, Harry made an emotional appeal for the couple to be left in peace.

Instructing Kensington Palace to issue a statement on his behalf, Harry called Markle his “girlfriend” and noted that she had been the “subject to a wave of abuse and harassment” including a torrent of racist and sexist slurs by “social media trolls”.

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Previously relatively quiet on the celebrity circuit, Markle met Prince Harry in Toronto in May 2016 during his promotional visit for the Invictus Games. Soon after she was photographed taking her seat in the royal box at Wimbledon.

While she is an ambassador for World Vision Canada as well as an advocate for United Nations Women, Markle’s father is a Hollywood lighting director and her mother a yoga instructor.

And while you may think balancing a role in a hot legal drama alongside humanitarian work would keep the young star busy enough, the star has also shown a keen interest in fashion.

Sitting front row during a number of shows at New York Fashion Week, Markle has shown her support to designers such as Tory Burch, Wes Gordon, Marchesa, Herve Leger and Tracy Reese.

DEALMAN