Category Archives: Fashion

The new pirates

The vendors on Santee Alley are going underground with the good stuff — the $300 knockoff designer handbags so close to the real thing, they could fool an Hermes salesgirl.

Most of the bags displayed out in the open on downtown L.A.’s most infamous retail street (the No. 1 hub for counterfeit fashion goods in the U.S., according to the LAPD), are half-hearted, vinyl versions of “It” bags, crafted on the cheap in Chinese factories. And contrary to popular belief, these bags — bearing comical labels such as “Prawa” (Prada) and “Channel” (Chanel) — are legal to manufacture and sell. They aren’t, under current laws, considered counterfeit goods.

“If there’s a copy of a Chanel bag that has a logo that’s double-Os instead of double-Cs, we can’t do anything,” said Rick Ishitani, one of the five detectives on the Los Angeles Police Department’s anti-piracy task force. “But once the vendor cuts the Os into a double-C logo, that’s a violation.”

Under the federal Copyright Act of 1976, the line between design piracy in fashion (co-opting the cut, shape and silhouette of an item) and counterfeiting (faux goods posing as designer merchandise) is razor-thin. Only artwork is protected: brand labels, logos, original prints and embroidery. The patterns — or blueprints — for garments and accessories are not. But many in the fashion industry consider the classifications ludicrous and are trying to have the law changed.

“There is no counterfeiting without design piracy,” designer Diane von Furstenberg said in an interview at her Beverly Hills estate. “It’s counterfeiting without the label.”

As the president of the New York-based Council of Fashion Designers, a nonprofit trade organization, Von Furstenberg is backing a bill pending in the Senate that would amend the Copyright Act. Dubbed the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, it would extend the protections in fashion design beyond artwork to encompass “the appearance as a whole” (the cut and silhouette) of an article for three years.

Though the bill has garnered strong support from Seventh Avenue, many L.A. fashion professionals have voiced doubt as to whether the bill could really make a dent in design piracy — or if it will increase litigation in an already hyper-litigious industry.

Indeed, some of Los Angeles’ most established fashion companies have good reason to hope the bill falls short. Companies such as Bebe, ABS by Allen Schwartz and Forever 21 regularly cull design “inspiration” from New York’s runways, and if passed, the legislation may greatly curb this practice. Additionally, many of the West Coast’s biggest fashion exports fall into the denim and sportswear categories, genres that are less concerned with silhouette and shape than they are with flashy branding and artwork — elements already protected under current laws.

But if passed, the bill could profoundly alter the way trends trickle down in the marketplace on both coasts. Last year’s ubiquitous tent dress, for instance, made its debut on the runways, but by early this year, versions of it were seen in every level of retail. Would there have been so many to choose from if a few top-brass designers had registered their takes on the design early on?

Von Furstenberg, for one, said the bill wouldn’t restrict designers from latching onto major trends in fashion, only deter them from copying looks verbatim. “It’s like locking your door,” she said. “Once people know you have locks, they won’t try it.”

Designers would be required to register garments with the U.S. copyright office for them to be protected, and all designs in existence before the passage of the bill (such as bell-bottom jeans) would be considered public domain. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), among others, is expected to come up for a vote early next year.

The U.S. is one of the only Western nations that doesn’t protect the overall design of garments and accessories. (In most of Europe, a garment doesn’t have to be registered for its cut and silhouette to be protected under copyright laws, though registering can afford up to 25 years of protection against design piracy). And other creative mediums here, including music and film, are more fully guarded against copyright violations.

Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Assn., a nonprofit organization based in downtown Los Angeles, called pattern-making “a craft, not an art. There is only so much you can do with a silhouette, a collar, a drape. For the little designers who have that one great idea and it’s knocked off — well, welcome to the real world, guys. Make another one.”

Metchek also cited the potential for more than one designer to conjure up a nearly identical idea within a small window of time. “Then they end up suing each other, depending on who registered it first,” she said. “This is not the way the fashion industry works.”

LA. Represented well in the upcoming CFDA / Vogue Paris showcase show

Southern California-based brands account for half the lineup in an upcoming “Americans in Paris” initiative organized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue magazine and sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger.

Past West Coast CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists tapped to participate include Jennifer Meyer, George Esquivel (Esquivel Shoes), J.C. Obando, Andrea Lieberman (A.L.C) and Elder Statesman’s Greg Chait, who won the most recent CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award last November.

The other five designers in the mix (also past Fashion Fund designers) include Wes Gordon, Sofia Sizzi (Giulietta), Daniel Silberman and Justin Salguero (Illesteva), Jennifer Fisher and Patrik Ervell.

As part of the program, the 10 designers are set to occupy shared showroom space at Le 8 Valois from Sept. 28 through Sept. 30 during Paris Fashion Week. The night before, Hilfiger is scheduled to host a roundtable conversation with, followed by a dinner in honor of, this year’s group.

The “Americans in Paris” program, now in its fifth season, was created as a global showcase for emerging American designers and leverages the exposure that comes with Paris Fashion Week’s international retailers and fashion industry media.

Paris Fashion Week spring and summer 2014 Saint Laurent review

Based Hedi Slimane, the most controversial designer working today, threw the fashion world into a tizzy with his first two collections for the storied French house of Saint Laurent. And he did it again Monday night in Paris.

After paying homage to 1970s rock goddesses and 1990s grunge for his first two women’s runway outings, he showed a spring 2014 collection that seemed to be deliberately tacky, and elicited yet another collective “Huh?”

The inspiration: It’s hard to tell, because Slimane does not really speak to the press. But obviously, the Saint Laurent archives were a rich source.

Key pieces: Lip prints, originally a homage to 1960s Pop artists like Andy Warhol, appeared on a wrap dress and sequin top. An olive drab military jacket, worn over a leather miniskirt, was a reminder of how Saint Laurent took clothes out of the Army Navy store and elevated them to couture. Several iterations of Le Smoking also came down the runway, some with sheer blouses, others with skinny ties that brought to mind the slim line menswear aesthetic Slimane himself created at Dior Homme in the early aughts.

But mostly, the broad-shouldered, wedge-shaped jackets, super-short black leather skirts, one-shoulder sequin tops and zebra stripe skirts, all worn with glitter ankle socks tucked into kitten heels, seemed to be deliberately cheap-looking and garish.

The verdict: It was as if Slimane were trying to channel Saint Laurent at his most subversive when he presented the 1971 “Vichy Chic” collection of 1940s-inspired garb that evoked strippers and drag queens.

Here, the clothes definitely had a Frederick’s of Hollywood quality. (It’s worth pointing out that the L.A.-based designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte evoked a similar vibe with their spring runway collection shown at New York Fashion Week. Angelenos are creating outsider fashion all the way.)

Even the models were behaving badly — less dutiful mannequins and more petulant teenagers, hellbent on stomping to the end of the runway, turning, and high-tailing it out of the Grand Palais as fast as possible.

What about the clothes? Well, what about them. They weren’t much. But this week in Paris we’ve seen plenty of shows where the clothes have been beside the point. (Rick Owens’ step dance ode to joy for one, and Comme des Garcons’ psychological assault on the senses with whiplash-inducing looks and scratchy, stopping-and-starting music for another.)

It’s obvious Slimane is thumbing his nose at the fashion industry, but perhaps he’s also thumbing his nose at the haute bourgeoisie.

Any hedge fund manager’s wife can sling a $10,000  Birkin bag over her wrist and buy good taste. But buying bad taste? That’s not your mother’s couture.

Fashion needs provocateurs. There aren’t many of them left. I just hope that in addition to looking to Yves for inspiration, Slimane also starts to develop a design vocabulary of his own.

Olsen Mary-Kate’s twin, Ashley talks ‘Full House’ fashion influence

The Olsen twins have made a new name for themselves in the fashion industry with their luxury brand the Row, but Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen actually sashayed into the world of fashion at a much earlier age when they donned designer duds on the set of their hit sitcom, “Full House.”

The fiercely private twosome explained to Net-A-Porter magazine the Edit that their start in the industry coincided with their acting career while the pair alternated playing Michelle Tanner, the youngest daughter of the Tanner family when the now-syndicated comedy aired from 1987 to 1995. They were 9 months old when they were cast, allegedly because they didn’t cry when a TV exec carried them.

On “Full House” “we’d be in six-hour fittings three times a week, because we had to wear 12 different outfits,” Ashley told the mag.

PHOTOS: Family TV: Kid-tested, parent-approved

Wardrobe pieces came from Chanel and Marc Jacobs’ adult lines and were cut to fit the tiny actresses. Très chic, dude.

“We were designing clothes for ourselves as we were so petite,” Mary-Kate added. “So I think that is when we became obsessed with fit, and now the obsession has become a profession.”

The 27-year-old “Full House” stars went on star in their own films, turning the Olsen twins into a franchise, and became executives at the production company Dualstar. They haven’t provided as much tabloid fodder as their contemporaries, save for Mary-Kate’s connection to the death of actor and friend Heath Ledger in 2008 and her current relationship with Olivier Sarkozy, who is 17 years older than she is and the half brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Though they grew up in the spotlight, they stepped away from acting and worked to redefine cool in the fashion arena. However, their younger sister Elizabeth Olsen is carving out a career for herself these days with starring roles in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Very Good Girls” and “Kill Your Darlings.”

But the twin California natives have looked east, moving to New York in 2004 and inadvertently helping revive grunge chic with their layered “hobo” ensembles. Apparently, their seemingly haphazard looks came simply as a reaction to the East Coast’s cold weather, the mag reported.

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Now they’re making a name for themselves in the fashion industry as “proper” designers rather than being relegated to being called “celebrity designers,” and it seems to be working. In 2012, the sisters won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s honor of Womenswear Designers of the Year for their work on the the Row, which Mary-Kate said “they’re really focused on … at the moment.”

“Anonymity is a word we talk about all the time in life and in clothes,” Ashley said.

“We were 9 months old when we started, so fame has always been part of our lives. There wasn’t any weirdness where we decided that we wanted to be famous,” she added. “Then as we got older, we were very fortunate that we could hire and work with amazing people who want to protect us.”

As for their design aesthetic, it came from a 2006 excursion to find the perfect T-shirt, one made of great fabric with great fit, the mag said. That evolved into a brand of luxury basics with 23 collections under their proverbial belts and a Manhattan atelier that employs 60 people. They also work on other brands of their own: Elizabeth and James, Olsenboye and StyleMint.

“We saw a space in the market,” Ashley said. “We knew there wasn’t another brand offering basics in a luxurious and contemporary way. If I wear certain designer brands, or too much of something, I look crazy, and I need something to break it up. If you are wearing a Chanel jacket and you need an anonymous piece that will show just how special that jacket is, I hope that is what the Row gives you.”

Bernard Ozer 60 Trends People Wanted for the Fashion Industry

Bernard Ozer, the colorful trend spotter of the nation’s fashion industry, has died of heart disease at the age of 60.

Jody Donahue, a friend and associate, said from New York on Tuesday that Ozer was 60 and died Sunday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.

Until last month, Ozer was vice president of fashion merchandising and marketing at Associated Merchandising Corp. He was known throughout the trade for his weekly newsletter, Ozerview, in which the puckish-looking merchandiser discussed ways to put profit into street fashion.

Ozer, whose wardrobe ran to offbeat extremes, traveled the world looking for trends and styles that could be produced in America and sold in mainstream American stores.

With Associated Merchandising, Ozer helped promote and develop products for member department and specialty stores.

He taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, the University of Alabama and Kent State University in Ohio and appeared regularly on television as an industry spokesman.

Slightly Designing Back to Mode

Her old company is bankrupt, she’s knee-deep in messy litigation, and she has lost the rights to her own name. But Los Angeles designer Carole Little is preparing a return to the fashion scene.

Little and her longtime business partner and ex-husband, Leonard Rabinowitz, are planning a September launch of a design studio to sell Little’s creative talent to apparel manufacturers. Called Studio CL, the stripped-down venture marks the pair’s first project since their clothing company collapsed last year under a pile of debt after an ill-fated merger.

The implosion of that entity–Chorus Line Corp.–has triggered a spate of lawsuits, with Little and Rabinowitz, investors, financiers and former employees all claiming they were victims. But the most noticeable casualty for consumers is the Carole Little trademark itself. The line of better women’s sportswear and career apparel hasn’t been produced since last fall, and the label now is owned by creditors who have yet to find a buyer to make them whole.

Little concedes that prospects appear slim for working out a financial deal to regain control of her namesake brand. But if the Studio CL concept proves successful, her signature fashions may soon be back on retail racks, even though the labels will not bear her moniker.

“It’s frustrating not to control your own name,” Little said. “But I’m looking forward to doing what I love best . . . and putting that other stuff behind me.”

That may not be so easy. Even by the rough-and-tumble standards of the fashion business, the fallout from Chorus Line’s destruction isn’t pretty.

The company was formed by the July 2000 merger of two struggling companies: Chorus Line, a maker of moderately priced sportswear controlled by Beverly Hills investment firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners Inc., and Little and Rabinowitz’s California Fashion Industries Inc., which produced the Carole Little and St. Tropez lines. The idea was to revive both firms’ fortunes by combining operations, slashing overhead and offering buyers a wide selection of apparel in several price categories.

The result, according to court records, was “a marriage made in hell.” Just four months after the merger, the firm closed its doors, throwing 300 people out of work. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition followed in December. The company since has taken to producing lawsuits instead of clothing.

Everyone involved now claims to be a fashion victim. The principal lender, GMAC Commercial Credit, filed suit seeking $40 million from Levine Leichtman, alleging the investment firm cooked Chorus Line’s books to trick GMAC into bankrolling the merger. Levine Leichtman denies those allegations and has filed a countersuit claiming that California Fashion Industries was the weakest link. It claims GMAC concealed the company’s “bankrupt” financial condition to dupe Levine Leichtman into consenting to a merger, wiping out the money management firm’s $49-million investment in Chorus Line when the new company tanked.

Rabinowitz and Little have filed their own suit against Levine Leichtman, alleging the firm used California Fashion Industries to prop up Chorus Line in order to hide losses from investors. And former employees have sued the merged company and its principals, claiming they are owed back wages, vacation pay and other compensation when the apparel maker abruptly ceased operations in November.

“There is plenty of blame to go around,” said Mark Brutzkus, an attorney for three vendors that pushed Chorus Line Corp. into Bankruptcy Court by filing an involuntary Chapter 7 liquidation petition. The lenders and principals “were all sophisticated business people. It’s the little guys who got burned.”

It’s now up to the courts to sort out the mess. In the meantime, Carole Little clothing hasn’t been on retailers’ shelves for nearly a year–an eternity in the fashion world. The label in effect belongs to GMAC, which has yet to arrange a sale or licensing deal. Little and Rabinowitz said they’ve had some discussion with GMAC, which did not respond to a request for comment. But the pair say they’re prepared to move on without the brand that defined them for nearly 25 years.

“Manufacturers still know who Carole is,” Rabinowitz said. “Providing them with design talent is where we can really add value.”

The pair are currently setting up their 7,000-square-foot studio on San Vicente Boulevard in the Mid- City area. They have hired a couple of support staff members, but their goal is to assemble a team that would include as many as 12 designers and artists to help manufacturers and retailers develop new lines or spruce up old ones.

Will anyone be interested in Carole Little the designer if they can’t brag about it on the label? Absolutely, said Ilse Metchek, executive director of the California Fashion Assn.

Metchek said there are plenty of manufacturers, particularly foreign apparel makers, who know how to make a quality garment but lack the distinctive styling to break through in the American market. And although low-rise jeans, halter tops and other belly-button-revealing junior fashions are currently the rage, Metchek said an aging population favors the enduring styles that have always been Little’s specialty.

“California design talent is a very, very valuable commodity,” Metchek said. “Carole Little has a proven track record. Someone is going to want to buy that creativity.”

For her part, Little said she won’t miss the headaches associated with running a manufacturing operation.

“I always liked it when we were smaller and had control over what we were doing,” Little said. “All I’ve ever cared about is the creative part.”

Jussara Lee Shares Slow Style Ideol

Jussara Lee hasn’t matched Lauren Singer’s zero-waste lifestyle in that two year’s worth of trash can be contained in a 16-ounce Mason jar, but the designer is doing her part to share the upsides of sustainability.

At this weekend’s Slow Food Nations event in Denver, Lee will be part of a roster of speakers that includes Alice Waters, Kimbal Musk and James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya. More than 10,000 people are expected at the Slow Food Nations, which Lee described as “a modicum number,” compared to its umbrella organization, Terra Madre in Turin, which attracts half a million people. “But this is a great start in the heart of the country that invented fast food. We hope to change that model for good,” she added.

After first encountering the Slow Food movement in Italy in the Nineties, she quickly took to its philosophy of growing vegetables in smaller scale without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and raising animals without antibiotics and hormones. In recent years, she aligned her ethos personally and professionally, drawing several parallels between her fashion career and the Slow Food movement. In relation to sound health and well-being, Lee became more conscious of pollution, overproduction, scale, safeguarding certain traditions, regeneration and fair workers’ treatment.

This weekend, Lee plans to discuss her recent experience volunteering at a small organic farm in Long Island. What was supposed to be a visit turned into a working one with the women who singlehandedly runs the farm. “We do everything by hand, the seeding, planting, weeding and harvesting. It is humbling to learn a completely different set of skills,” Lee said. “And as a fun fact, the land where the farm is located, is owned by Isabella Rossellini. Sure enough, she came to pick me up at the train station in Bellport and showed me around the area. She is very involved with the animals and started to go to this town about 30 years ago, as a model for Bruce Weber. Fashion follows me even when I’m on the field working the land.”

Lee, who believes that everything that is not biodegradable should not have a single-use purpose, is the kind of person who eschews plastic coverings for name tags. With that in mind, she decided on designing a bandanna with the Slow Food’s emblematic snail. She also suggested to SFN’s executive director Richard McCarthy that all the promotional materials be made with repurposed cloth. So Lee bought secondhand T-shirts and used couture techniques. Lee and her team individual

Jussara Lee hasn’t matched Lauren Singer’s zero-waste lifestyle in that two year’s worth of trash can be contained in a 16-ounce Mason jar, but the designer is doing her part to share the upsides of sustainability.

At this weekend’s Slow Food Nations event in Denver, Lee will be part of a roster of speakers that includes Alice Waters, Kimbal Musk and James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya. More than 10,000 people are expected at the Slow Food Nations, which Lee described as “a modicum number,” compared to its umbrella organization, Terra Madre in Turin, which attracts half a million people. “But this is a great start in the heart of the country that invented fast food. We hope to change that model for good,” she added.

After first encountering the Slow Food movement in Italy in the Nineties, she quickly took to its philosophy of growing vegetables in smaller scale without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and raising animals without antibiotics and hormones. In recent years, she aligned her ethos personally and professionally, drawing several parallels between her fashion career and the Slow Food movement. In relation to sound health and well-being, Lee became more conscious of pollution, overproduction, scale, safeguarding certain traditions, regeneration and fair workers’ treatment.

This weekend, Lee plans to discuss her recent experience volunteering at a small organic farm in Long Island. What was supposed to be a visit turned into a working one with the women who singlehandedly runs the farm. “We do everything by hand, the seeding, planting, weeding and harvesting. It is humbling to learn a completely different set of skills,” Lee said. “And as a fun fact, the land where the farm is located, is owned by Isabella Rossellini. Sure enough, she came to pick me up at the train station in Bellport and showed me around the area. She is very involved with the animals and started to go to this town about 30 years ago, as a model for Bruce Weber. Fashion follows me even when I’m on the field working the land.”

Lee, who believes that everything that is not biodegradable should not have a single-use purpose, is the kind of person who eschews plastic coverings for name tags. With that in mind, she decided on designing a bandanna with the Slow Food’s emblematic snail. She also suggested to SFN’s executive director Richard McCarthy that all the promotional materials be made with repurposed cloth. So Lee bought secondhand T-shirts and used couture techniques. Lee and her team individually cut and hand-embroidered 600 bandannas, crocheted about 50 award corsages, braided 800 wristbands and appliquéd and block-printed 800 lanyards. Those creations will be launched at Alice Waters’ kickoff party Saturday, when the renowned chef and activist will plug her 22-year-old campaign called The Edible Schoolyard Project.

When she returns to New York, she will host a screening of this year’s Sundance Audience Award winner documentary “Chasing Coral.” Lee will also host the second edition of the pop-up thrift shop in her West Village store this fall. The designer is also taking things a little slow as she recovers from an accident cycling — her preferred mode of transportation in New York City.

ly cut and hand-embroidered 600 bandannas, crocheted about 50 award corsages, braided 800 wristbands and appliquéd and block-printed 800 lanyards. Those creations will be launched at Alice Waters’ kickoff party Saturday, when the renowned chef and activist will plug her 22-year-old campaign called The Edible Schoolyard Project.

When she returns to New York, she will host a screening of this year’s Sundance Audience Award winner documentary “Chasing Coral.” Lee will also host the second edition of the pop-up thrift shop in her West Village store this fall. The designer is also taking things a little slow as she recovers from an accident cycling — her preferred mode of transportation in New York City.

Jussara Lee Shares Slow Style Ideology

Tonight, King Felipe VI  and Queen Letizia of Spain are the guests of honour at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. The event, which Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, among other members of the royal family, are also attending, marks the first full day of the King and Queen of Spain’s three day state visit to the UK.

There has been lengthy discussion as to whether Queen Letizia would make a diplomatic sartorial choice this evening, honouring both her host and home nations in a gown by Spanish fashion house Loewe, which is currently headed up by Irish designer J.W. Anderson. In fact, she chose Felipe Varela, her all-time favourite and go-to for major occasions, instead shining a global spotlight on the Spanish designer’s work.

The stylish Spanish Queen has, in the past, proven herself to be quite fashion forward, with jumpsuits and oversize earrings among the more daring trends she has adopted. So, although she always appears sleek and polished (often with a nod to her days as a TVE newsreader in immaculately cut tailoring) many wondered whether tonight’s ensemble would reflect her experimental approach to style, or play it safe?
If her appearances earlier today were anything to go by, it seemed the Spanish Queen might be taking some style notes from the Duchess of Cambridge. Queen Letizia was pictured wearing a canary-yellow dress and coordinating sherbet-hued coat, finishing her look with the Duchess of Cambridge’s signature shoe: nude pumps. Was this the Spanish Queen’s take on British style? Or was it an experiment gone slightly awry?. Later in the day, she was pictured at the Palace of Westminster in a burgundy trench coat by British designer Burberry – a nod to both the nation and perhaps, the Duchess of Cambridge, given that she has also worn the designer on numerous occasions.
The gown chosen by Queen Letizia for the state banquet was in fact, a crimson embroidered floor-sweeping creation, which she wore with an elaborate tiara and drop earrings. The dress, which featured a fitted bodice and an off-the-shoulder neckline, and was a similar shade to the showstopping Stella McCartney dress she wore earlier in the year for the King of the Netherland’s birthday, was in keeping with the Spanish Queen’s penchant for structured pieces and, although similar in shape to an Alexander McQueen dress worn by the Duchess to the BAFTAs earlier in the year, it was a unique choice.
And then there was the question of what fellow fashion plate and royal style ‘rival’, the Duchess of Cambridge would wear for the banquet. Her gown was by New York-based brand, Marchesa. While she hasn’t worn a dress by the label’s main line- which is headed by duo Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig – before, the Duchess has worn a dress from their second, slightly more affordable line, Marchesa Notte to theopening night of 42nd Street in London’s West End. The label is renowned for providing gorgeous red carpet looks for the likes of Halle Berry and Emma Watson, and so was a fitting choice for this evening.

This dusty-pink hue is one the Duchess of Cambridge has worn before, most recently at her sister Pippa’s wedding, where she wore anAlexander McQueen dress in a similar shade. But colour aside, the Duchess branched out in terms of cut and shape, opting for a noticeably more low-cut design than those she usually adopts.  Might this be a case of competitive dressing, or just coincidence? The fact that Kate posed for no full-length photos on the night suggesrs that she wanted to allow her guest to have her moment. 

A special occasion such as this calls for considerable embellishment. The Duchess of Cambridge appeared in the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara -which she has worn before – and pearl drop earrings, the latter of which are thought to be part of Princess Diana’s private jewel collection. The ruby and diamond necklace donned by the Duchess was a wedding gift to the Queen from her parents, and hasn’t been worn since the 1980s. Other royal attendees also sported elaborate jewels, namely Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne and Sophie Countess of Wessex, all of whom were wearing aquamarines. 

 

The fashion industry launched its new collection, Born Free and HIV Initiative

A Celine tote for $220? A Carolina Herrera shirt dress for $255? And shopping for a good cause too?

No, you’re not dreaming.

The items are available to buy at Shopbop.com andAmazon.com as part of a new capsule collection launched to support the private-sector-led charity initiative Born Free Africa, with the goal of ending mother-to-child HIV transmission by Dec. 31, 2015.

Kenya-born, Brooklyn-based contemporary artistWangechi Mutu collaborated with 22 fashion designers on the Born Free collection, including J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons, Miuccia Prada, Tory Burch and Isabel Marant. Items include drawstring pants, ladylike skirts, peasant blouses and scarves for women and children. Most items are priced less than $250, and all proceeds from sales benefit the organization.

The capsule is part of a series of fashion industry-led actions rolling out this spring to help highlight the global effort to achieve a generation free of HIV.

An article about the effort in the May issue of Vogue features photos by Annie Leibovitz following Victoria Beckham and model-designer-advocate Liya Kebede as they visit South Africa to learn about the work being done there to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Vogue publisher Conde Nast has pledged to donate 100% of new subscription proceeds across all its brands, purchased through a Born Free promotion running in print issues and on websites. And the MAC AIDS Fund has pledged to match all purchases and donations to Born Free up to $500,000.

Beginning this month, Born Free is also releasing an advertising campaign, shot by Patrick Demarchelier, and appearing in Conde Nast magazines as well as outdoor media space. The campaign features models with their children, all wearing the Born Free collection. And on Mother’s Day, there will be a kickoff event in New York City featuring a number of participating collaborators and designers.

The fashion industry boycotted the Dorchester collection hotel

Is this the end of designer dinners at the Hotel Bel-Air and charity fashion shows at the Beverly Hills Hotel?

If high-profile members of the fashion community have their way, maybe.

Several vocal personalities, including Decades boutique co-owner Cameron Silver and designers Brian Atwood and Peter Som have taken to social media to call for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and a host of other high-end Dorchester Collection properties around the globe with ties to the sultanate of Brunei. (The Dorchester Collection is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government that manages the oil-rich country’s luxury hotels in Europe and the U.S.)

Silver told the Los Angeles Times that the boycott was in response to a recent law taking effect this month that increases the punishment for committing a homosexual act from a 10-year prison sentence to death by stoning.

“The fashion industry and its supporters are unified in boycotting these properties,” Silver said Tuesday afternoon, “Brian Atwood, Bryan Boy, Valentino, etc. … all have taken to our social media.”

Silver said the free-form protest started to gather steam Sunday night. “There was no sort of unified group, everyone was just sort of paying attention to it. Someone mentioned it to me while I was in New York on Sunday, I looked up an article [about the new law] and then posted something. [Valentino PR Director] Carlos Souza reposted it and then it was reposted by [Valentino’s longtime business partner] Giancarlo [Giammetti] and it just sort of grew from there.”

Most Instagram and Twitter mentions on the subject lead back to shoe designer Atwood’s Instagram post of April 21 that reads as follows:

“Don’t stay at the Principe di Savoia, Le Meurice, or the Dorchester during Milan, Paris or London fashion week’s [sic] this June to October.

Send a clear signal to their owner, The Sultan of Brunei, that stoning people to death for being gay in Brunei is not acceptable.

His new law comes into effect tomorrow April 22. Why not cancel your bookings tomorrow?”

Atwood did not immediately return an email seeking comment on the call to boycott.

Silver said he hoped the action would raise awareness. “I doubt it will have enough clout to change this Draconian law in Brunei,” he said. “But I think that it just makes us more aware of where we’re spending our money – it makes me very conscious of who owns what. I knew nothing about it – I knew [the Sultan] owned the Dorchester Properties but wasn’t aware that the new law was being implemented. And these are a lot of very fashiony properties. If tastemakers stop going to those properties, that’s [the kind of thing] that does make a difference.”

Silver added that the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, which has hosted fashion events for the Yves Saint Laurent brand and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute among others, resonated with him on several levels. “I’m sure there’s an issue with practically anything we spend money on,” he acknowledged, “But this is a very public thing – and it’s the hotel  that I grew up at so it’s a little more sensitive [for me]. I live down the block – it’s like my backyard.”

In a request for comment on the boycott, the hotel emailed the following statement attributed to Leslie Lefkowitz, a public relations consultant for the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air: “We continue to abide by the laws of the countries we operate in and do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind. The laws that exist in other countries outside of where Dorchester Collection operates do not affect the policies that govern how we run our hotels. Dorchester Collection’s Code, endorsed by the company’s ownership, emphasizes equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees.”

In addition to those two properties, the other properties in the Dorchester Collection portfolio include the Principe de Savoia in Milan and the Meurice in Paris, both of which are fashion industry favorites during the biannual fashion weeks.

The hotel group also bestows a fashion prize of its own. Established in 2010, the annual Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize was created, according to its website, “to discover emerging fashion talent and build on Dorchester Collection’s own established fashion heritage.” Touted as “the first award of its kind developed by a luxury hotel company,” the 2013 winner of the prize was designer Huishan Zhang.