Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Blow To Fashion - The Legacy Of Isabel And Alexander

She was known as the ´Fashion´s Nutty Aunt ´. Her hats were bigger than her personality and she was often spotted wearing full length ball gowns on the London metro. Isabella Blow was a bastion of emerging fashion and a creative genius who scouted and then went onto develop the careers of some of the biggest names in fashion today. The tormented genius committed suicide by drinking weed killer in 2007. Her third and final attempt at suicide saw one less light in fashion as its world lost a true personality.

Nurturing fresh graduates such as Phillip Treacy, Hussein Chalayan, Sophie Dahl and more famously Alexander McQueen, ´Issie´ took raw emerging potential from the sidewalks of London to the catwalks’ of Milan. Tales of her anecdotes and adventures still float through Conde Nast as strong as her legacy. The woman who took ´Lee from London´ and transformed him into his namesake brand Alexander McQueen by advising him to ¨use your middle name. It will simply make you sound more regal. It will add more value.¨ For Lee, the rest was history, as she bought his entire graduate collection then showcased him and (her other peers) onto the world media stage.
It’s easy for everybody to love him now, but she was cheer-leading him for years and years and years.
In real life, the relationship between Isabella and Lee was intensive and punishing. Although she acted as a mentor and mother to McQueen, influencing his decisions and escalating his confidence, numerous ferocious and disdainful exchanges took place. ¨It’s easy for everybody to love him now, but she was cheer-leading him for years and years and years, Philip Treacy once said. After McQueen embarked on his eminent role at Givenchy, the relationship was put under increasing stress when she wasn´t offered a role by his side and continued to struggle financially. This polemic partnership saw the next few years fuelled with resentment which led to her depression blowing out of control. This ended with her untimely death and Alexander´s subsequent suicide three years later.

The relationship of Issie and Lee was full of many sharp contrasts. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the bitter and the sweet. As a friendship, both privately and professionally, they were very interdependent on each other in an all-encompassing manner. Towards the end, in her ´dark days´, McQueen turned on Blow and tried to reject her, which was the literal nail in her coffin. Although she came from a blue blooded family, her life was fraught with torment and rebuff. Episodes of financial poverty and an incongruous relationship with her father set her up for a life of anxiety, depression and loss after witnessing the drowning of her 5 year old brother.
She was upset that Alexander McQueen didn't take her along when he sold his brand to Gucci. Once the deals started happening, she fell by the wayside. Everybody else got contracts, and she got a free dress.
Was her stabilising grace in life her addiction to fashion and its operatives? Famously noted for her gruelling and uncompromising work ethic, there was always a part of her that semmed to be lost. As a mentor, she was a hugely creative influence but was not a creator. Quoting her ex-husband, Detmar Blow ¨ if she found something that she loved, she would move hell and high water to help that person have an impact in the public arena¨. She had a great talent for scouting as Anna Wintour once commented ¨When Issie told me to go and see somebody, or to take somebody seriously, I always did.¨

She floated high above the runways like a fairy godmother, but was seldom referenced for her efforts so any ability to monetise from her discoveries dissipated, fuelling her fear of poverty and homelessness which certainly contributed to her suicide at the age of 48 years. The final irony of this tale closes with how she ultimately became more famous in death than she could ever have hoped to be in life. The publication of an intimate biography ´Blow By Blow´scribed by her late husband and sell out retrospective exhibition of her life and works at Somerset house in London ´Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!´ finally elevated her status to that of her rich fashion bounties.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Stephen James - La Moda En Piel

To succeed in the model industry today takes skill. Long gone are the days when a tall, toned body and perfectly symmetrical face would guarantee work (let alone, fame). Although perfection is welcomed, cutting edge editorials and magazines are looking for that little bit more these days. There are Cara´s eyebrows and Bianca´s teeth gap. Even the boys have their calling card, with Jon Kortajarena´s ultimate bed head hair and David (Dandy) Gandy´s piercing blue eyes. Having a ripped body with an 8 pack also gets you noticed, however one up and coming model is re-writing the rules of fitness modelling, quite literally.

Former professional footballer, Stephen James body is somewhat of a living canvas. His perfectly sculpted physique is encapsulated from head to toe with intricate tattoo art. From portraiture to icons and geometric patterns, James´s body is more than a showcase for ink. Under the guidance of his agency, Storm models in London, the Hammersmith born beauty has become somewhat of a modelling sensation both in and out the studio, having worked with clients such as Philipp Plein and Calvin Klein sitting alongside a social media fan base of well over a million followers plus.

When he´s not in Barcelona, Milan, Paris or New York, Stephen candidly says that he would ´much rather be at home listening to The Smiths´. His hard edged image strikes a real juxtaposition against a soft spoken voice and shy personality, which are not the two most common attributes today´s models possess. Scouting for fame and fortune were never top of his criteria. In fact, he quite literally fell into modelling. ¨I was living in Barcelona and playing soccer there when I got hurt, and I was scouted while in rehab for the injury. So modelling was bit unexpected, but I had thought about it prior to that. As I travelled for soccer, I would always pick up modelling cards from different agencies, but it wasn’t until I had the problem with the injury that I decided, why not give this a try. Luckily it’s worked out so far.¨
The biggest thing about me is that I’m actually very shy. I’m not confident in certain situations. But with the success I’ve been experiencing, I have learned to be a bit more approachable and open
Having recently achieved over one million followers on Instagram, Stephen never really took the power of social media seriously until he was influenced by some friends. ¨Getting used to sharing so much was different for me since I’d never had Facebook or Myspace, any of that.¨ After having Instagram for a few months, he was contacted directly and given the chance to be in a music video with singer Victoria Daineko. The coverage and response he achieved from his convinced him of its worth. ¨ From that moment I saw the power of social media. It has the pull to bring in jobs, income and to let people discover you. After that, I started putting in the effort and taking it seriously as a platform¨.

Stephen enjoys an almost constant interaction with his followers, but building a solid platform has taken a little time. ¨One day you get 10 comments, another you get 100, and suddenly you find you’ve built a following.¨ Travelling frequently means that sometimes he does not have the time to reply to every comment, but does make a conscious effort to update his fan pages reguarly.¨I try to stay in touch with my fan pages, because at the end of the day I’ve gotten this far thanks to their help¨. This gives him a good feeling to know that people from all over the world are devoting their time and energy to his career, plus the fact that fans can post photo´s from editorials that he hasn´t seen before.

Several years ago, whilst playing soccer in Prague, Stephen got his first tattoo, a Star of David on his right elbow. Having had several friends who were tattoo artists, he used to hang out in the studios, but never had the urge to get inked. ¨My friends would never give me a tattoo. They’d always tell me that I’d regret it, so I got my first tattoo at a random shop. After that, my friends were all fine tattooing me. I think they just didn’t want to do that first one.¨
It gives me a good feeling to know that people from all over the world are devoting their time and energy to my career as well as tagging me in editorials that I haven´t seen yet
A fascination for fine arts led him to have his whole arm tattooed when he was in Barcelona. ¨I started studying Salvador Dali´s life and works and I became fascinated with his personality. I found a lot of similarities between us, given the way he was perceived as being eccentric¨ something which James had experienced a lot of, playing soccer. On his right arm, a striking image of Morrissey takes pride of place ¨I grew up listening to him and The Smiths. I have a big connection to that sort of music and their lyrics. I used my left arm for my artistic inspirations, and my right one for a British theme.¨ Music clearly made its mark on his skin as all his favourite artists from youth have been immortalised. Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees, Ian Dury from the Blockheads and Robert Smith from The Cure are some of the acoustic nobility that feature. ¨Some of the tattoos are very intricate, so it’s not like I could go to my local shop and get them done. There are a few where I’ve had to travel, or wait months and months in order to get them done.¨ Luckily in the end, this has all come together.

Having currently modelled for two and a half years, Stephen has noticed a real change in the industry and how tattoos and body art are perceived. During his first assignments in Spain, he noticed the market was more conservative and close minded than in England.¨ They don’t like a lot of edgy stuff, so I had to prove myself two or three times over. Now I find going to jobs is so much easier as tattoos have become the norm, but my neck, head and hand tattoos were hard for people to accept, especially for the more conservative brands in the market.¨

With a sustained international success and several new campaigns in the pipeline for 2016, Stephen is turning his attention from tattoos to fitness.¨ I was just able to do my first Men’s Health cover in Spain and that was a big deal for me. I’d love to one day create my own fitness label and get more involved with that industry as well.¨ Having attended the most recent Mr Universe competition as a guest fuelled his fascination for the sport, but clarified the problem of how heavily dominated the industry is by steroids. ¨It would be great to challenge that perception and show that all it takes to have a career in fitness is hard work and dedication¨ something that Stephen clearly has in abundance, as well as tattoos.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hat Trick: A Brief History Of The Haute Couture Headpiece

The lacquered gold, skeletal like mask that concluded Maison Margiela´s latest offering by John Galliano last season was assuredly one of the most Instagramed haute couture headpieces to date. It may have been distinct in its formation, materials and aesthetic, but was not a first time this level of detail and imagination was used in the couture field, especially in millinery.

Some of the industries good and great milliners such as Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones have been creating pieces worthy of an alchemist for over a decade. Once hailed by Grace Coddington as ´The Crown Princes of the Theatrical´, Galliano, Lacroix and Gaultier have allowed the extravagance of the ´chapeaux´ headwear to sometimes detract from the clothes themselves with their splurges of gold, lame and heavy encrustations of semi-precious jewels.
Hats are really for ultimate occasions, so when I make one, I try to do something different, something noticeable - Philip Treacy
Last year, Raf Simmons put his 21st century spin on these anachronistic accoutrements during his spring/summer 2013 Dior couture show in Paris. This not only paid homage to the craft but also presented a view that in this level of high fashion, dazzling moments of rare beauty and interest can come any piece within their showcase collections. Whether you’re a traditionalist or more Avant Garde, here are some of the dazzling moments and rare beauty of the heady headwear in all their bold and beautiful forms.

Armani Couture a/w´12

Chanel Couture a/w´08

Chanel Couture s/s´09

Dior Couture a/w´04

Dior Couture a/w´05

Dior Couture s/s´04

Dior Couture s/s´07

Dior Couture s/s´13

Lacroix Couture a/w´96

Lacroix Couture a/w´07

Gianni Pucci

Givenchy Couture s/s´11

Gaultier Couture s/s´07

Gaultier Couture s/s´10

Maison Margiela Couture s/s´15

Philip Treacy Couture a/w´03

Valentino Couture s/s´02

Saint Laurent Couture s/s´68

Victoria & Albert Exhibiton - Shoes: Pleasure & Pain

When dressing this morning, what notions went through your head? Did you want to be sport-luxe, contemporary casual or maybe more couture for a special event. Top-to-toe co-ordination is now a must in any fashion followers guidebook. From underwear to umbrellas and hats to high heels everything has to have a ´sense of unity´within your daily dilemma.

Many people like to dress for comfort, until it´s down to their shoes. Before wearing them comes the selection process. Do you opt for practicallity with comfort or power with aesthetic performance? Whether its adding some height or simply a contrast, shoes have been noted over the centuries to give their wearer transformative attributes. Acknowledging the serious role of shoes in fashion and society today, the Victoria & Albert Museum´s soulful showcase Shoes: Pleasure & Pain continues to delight its public. With over five years of preparations, the V&A´s top trending treasure trove strives to de-mystify societies shoe obsession using their history and development along side case studies to bring together over 250 pairs of shoes in every style imageinable under one roof.
This obsession with shoes just really struck me, and how it's gone on. Through social media, it's in our living room. I wanted to go into why are we who we are in shoes? And so often they are not really made for our feet, which are actually quite wide. Fashion is a different thing.
The principal curator, Helen Persson explained how she was struck by the shoe obsession of society, which has become more apparent of present through social media advertising. Retaining a modest 40 or so pairs herself ranging from the pretty to the practical gave her a chance to indulge her wildest foot fantasies during the exbibitions compilation. As well as the shoes themselves, a full array of history, designers, techniques and quotes adorn the walls of this central London shrine to fashion.

Taking pride of place next to the central courtyard and covering two floors, the cleverly lit exhibition space is reminiscent of a very decadant jewellery box with it´s dull, seductive lower level which gives way to a light flooded higher volume filled with all the drama and spectacle of its resident wares. The main categorisation of the shoes are either ´status´ or ´seduction´. Don´t be amazed if you see a pair of court shoes belonging to Marilyn Monroe. ¨If you get the chance to look inside her shoes, you can still see her toe prints as she reguarly wore these shoes. There's something very intimate about that because it contains a piece of your body, rather like lingerie.¨

Standing next to these classifications with a juxtaposition sharper than Nigella´s famous fetish heels are the ´porn chic´ shoes. Attention commanding sapphire and red diamond shoes sparkle next to ´those´ blue Vivienne Westwood platforms which sent Naomi tumbling during her autumn/winter 1993 show. Other offerings from Jean Louis Francois Pinet, Manolo Blahnik and the lady who made him famous, Carrie Bradshaw. ¨Sex And The City - it was in the papers, you couldn't avoid it. It became part of the street vocabulary. It's been talked about so much that one could feel tired by it, but one should not underestimate it¨ Persson reminisced. Any nineties prime time watching, fashion following fantasist will remeber with the clarity of a Harry Winston the time then Mr Big proposed to Ms Bradshaw with the infamous Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Jewel Satin Pumps.
If you get the chance to look inside Marilyn´s shoes, you can still see her toe prints. There's something very intimate about that because it contains a piece of your body, rather like lingerie.
However, putting the aesthetics aside, it is important to remember the purpose that shoes actually served which was to protect the feet. At times, it can be easy to forget that these little works of art you walk on are actually ingenious feats of of engineering and construction. Back in time, hundreds of years ago, although gladiator sandals were common place, platforms and high heels were actually being attempted, in their crudest forms. "The fashion was to wear really high platforms to be above everyone else and show off¨ Helen found from her discovery after researching sculptures from the from the women of the time.

The exhibition closes with an impressive shoe wall of boxes towards the exit. Polariods of various styles from the permanent collection adorn the frontages of their little cardboard coffins which sadly never made the light of day, which is a stark contrast to reality today and why the V&A commissioned such a commendable offering.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

China's Consumer Growth To Soar

Despite reports that China's economy is slowing, its consumer market has been forecast to make $6.5 trillion by 2020, and e-commerce - especially through mobile platforms - has been credited as the main reason why.

The study, conducted by Boston Consulting Group - the company that has been tapped by Diane von Furstenberg and the CFDA to explore the possibility of shaking up New York Fashion Week - and AliResearch - the research department of the Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba - specifically cites the rise of the upper and middle class that is driving consumer growth; the growing role of e-commerce in everyday life; and a new generation of consumers that are making more sophisticated and informed decisions about what they spend their money on as the key factors, reports WWD.

The latter echoes comments made by Vogue China editor Angelica Cheung at this year's Conde Nast International Conference, where she told the gathered delegates that the Chinese consumer is asking more questions and becoming more educated about their spending habits.

"It's like a man who has been starving for a long time, and when he sees food, he wants to stuff himself. But when he gets full he doesn't feel well and becomes bloated - so then he wants to have more of an informed healthy lifestyle," she said. "That's where we're at - the growth we have in China is real now."

Youchi Kuo, a principal at BCG and co-author of the study, concurred with Cheung, saying: "Because the nature of consumption is changing dramatically, the winning strategies of the past are becoming outdated. It will be more important than ever before for [companies] to target the right income segments and product categories and to be represented in fast-growing online retail channels."

France Passes Model Health Law

The French government has passed a bill decreeing that models working in the country must possess a medical certificate deeming them fit to work, in a bid to prevent the use of "excessively thin" models. The bill also requires that digitally altered images - in particular those which make a model's silhouette "narrower or wider" - be labelled "touched up".

Measured using body mass index (BMI), models' health will be evaluated by a medical professional - who will be permitted to take into account the individual's weight, age, and body shape to ultimately determine their wellbeing,The Fashion Law reports - and companies will be forbidden from employing any model not in possession of a certificate. Any company found to be hiring models who have not provided the certificate will be liable to a fine of more than £50,000 and could be given a prison sentence of up to six months.

Despite the seemingly positive agenda behind the move, model agencies in France are less than impressed - with many feeling that regulating and increasing sample sizes as an industry standard would be a kinder and fairer way to legislate.

"The power is in the hands of designers, photographers and editors," Isabelle Saint-Félix, general secretary of Synam, France's union of model agencies, toldWWD. "They're the ones who make dresses in size 34 or 36, who decide to shoot or feature them. Modelling agencies respond to the demand of advertisers, designers and photographers. One asks models to fit in a dress - not the opposite. I would like everyone to sit around a table and say that the time of models who are too thin is over."

Is Isabel Marant For Sale?

Isabel Marant is said to be in talks to sell a majority stake in her eponymous fashion label to private equity firm Eurazeo, reports Reuters. The French designer, who established her eponymous brand in 1994, is reportedly keen to build her global presence, as well expand into new categories including bags and leather goods.

For Eurazeo, it wouldn't be the first time that it has invested in a fashion house - it already owns shares in Desigual, Moncler and Vestiaire Collective. It is said to have been holding discussions with Isabel Marant for several weeks and is currently in the process of "conducting due diligence" which could take several months.

Marant, meanwhile, is currently in the process of fending off allegations of plagiarism regarding the design of a embroidered blouse that was inspired by the traditional dress from the village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec in the province of Oaxaca, in Mexico. The designer openly admits that her clothes pay homage to the original clothing, stating that she has never claimed to "be the author of this tunic and these designs".

Who Is The Model Of The Year?

Anna Ewers has been voted model of the year by The German Vogue cover girl came top in a poll of industry insiders, while Gigi Hadid took the top spot in the public vote but was also runner up in the industry's eyes. Kendall Jenner came runner up behind her long-time friend Hadid in the public poll.

While she may not have generated the same volume of headlines as her runner-up, Ewers has enjoyed an unarguably solid year, fronting campaigns for Chanel, Alexander Wang and H&M to name a few, and securing Vogue covers in Britain, China and two in France.

David: Victoria Is Easy To Buy For

Contrary to the assumption that Victoria Beckham must be the girl that has it all, her husband David has revealed that she is, in fact, still very easy to buy Christmas presents for - if you know her really well that is.

"People always say to me, 'It must be so difficult to buy a present for Victoria,' because she has a lot of things that you'd think about going to buy your wife or your girlfriend," he told the BBC. "But I know her so well, and the simple things that she likes and enjoys, so no, she's fine."

The former footballer - who is currently promoting his new programme David Beckham: For the Love of the Game, which sees him travel the world to play seven football games in seven different locations - also revealed this weekend that having spent the last twenty years in the spotlight, he's more than happy to take a back seat and let his sixteen-year-old son, Brooklyn, take the limelight.

"When we're out he just gets recognised so much," he told chat-show host Graham Norton. "I'm known as Brooklyn's dad now - I'm the one who's being asked to take all the pictures."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The 2016 BFC / Vogue Fashion Fund

The search for the seventh winner of the BFC/ Vogue Fashion Fund in on, and this year they have got to impress a group of the fashion industry's most esteemed and respected names. Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman and BFC CEO Caroline Rush are joined by Victoria Beckham, Lisa Armstrong, Joan Burstein, Harry's of London's Ian Lewis, Topshop's Mary Homer, Burberry's Sarah Manley, Farfetch's Susanne Tide-Frater and BFC ambassador Samantha Cameron.

In this first episode of a monthly series that will follow the process from decision making to how the winner chooses to use the cash prize of £200,000 (as well as utilise access to mentoring from industry experts), the panel meets the shortlist above the clouds in The Shard, London. You can watch the video and the progress of its applicants as they develop on Vimeo.

Rita Sues Jay-Z's Label

Rita Ora has filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z's company, Roc Nation, looking to enforce California's famous seven-year rule on personal service contracts, which would allow her to be freed from her contract.

The singer claims that as Roc Nation developed its main areas of interest and expertise away from the music industry and "suffered a revolving door of executives", it left her "orphaned" with no-one to support her or push her career in the right direction, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

"When Rita signed, Roc Nation and its senior executives were very involved with her as an artist," states the complaint filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, continuing that, "Rita's remaining supporters at the label left or moved on to other activities, to the point where she no longer had a relationship with anyone at the company."

The seven-year rule in a contract means the signee (in this case Ora) is legally contracted to have served seven actual years, ommiting any holiday taken, which in actual terms stretches the contract to a longer calendar period. Ora, who has only released one studio album while signed to Roc Nation, claims that due to the lack of support from the label, it has unfairly stretched her contract, leaving her in a "political quagmire of dysfunction" and therefore wants out.

"Rita's relationship with Roc Nation is irrevocably damaged," states the complaint made on Ora's behalf by attorney Howard King. "Fortunately for Rita, the California legislature had the foresight to protect its artists from the sorts of vicissitudes she's experienced with Roc Nation."

Other stars to have successfully enforced the rule include Olivia Newton-John who brought a case against MCA Records who claimed that she had yet to deliver promised albums. While Newton-John was freed from contract, it resulted in the California legislature adding new rules for record contracts whereby artists who didn't fulfill their commitments during the term of a deal could be sued for "lost profits" on uncompleted albums.

Whether or not this could affect Ora's case is not yet known.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Valentino IPO No Closer

Valentino is not close to an IPO, according to a source close to the fashion house who has contradicted a recent report that stated its owner, the Qatari-based Mayhoola for Investments, had "invited banks to pitch for the advisory roles on a stock-market listing".

Rumours of an IPO first surfaced in October this year, when a source close to an apparent deal said that Mayhoola for Investments were considering selling "25 to 35 per cent of the business in a share sale as early as the first half of next year." At the time the company would only say, "The shareholders and management of Valentino confirm their total commitment to support and continue to grow the global presence of the brand."

The latest developement is not to say that a deal is off the cards, but indicates that it doesn't look to be first on the agenda come 2016. "No timing has been set and all these rumours are an element of disruption," the source said.

Fashion's Most Googled Designer Is...

Google has released its most searched-for terms of 2015 and its fashion designer category has come up with some interesting results. Raf Simons tops the list, no doubt as a result of his shock departure from Dior in October that made headlines around the world, while Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss - founder of American label Shoshanna - and Giambattista Valli come in second and third place.

Another interesting trend list is the most Googled fashion-related questions, which range in subject from customisation, to style seekers looking for inspiration when it comes to wearing what with what. See the full lists below.

1. Raf Simons

2. Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss

3. Giambattista Valli

4. Thakoon Panichgul

5. Tadashi Shoji

6. Elle Saab

7. Karl Lagerfeld

8. Christian Lacroix

9. Zuhair Murad

10. Tommy Hilfiger


1. How to walk in heels?

2. What to wear on the first day of school?

3. How to fray jeans?

4. How to tie a shirt?

5. What should a bride wear to the rehearsal dinner?

6. What to wear booties with?

7. What are mules shoes?

8. What to wear to a wedding in the woods?

9. How to dress up like Miranda Sings?

10. What colour shoes goes with a black and blue dress?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gigi Turns Designer

Not content with conquering the catwalk, Gigi Hadid has turned her talents to fashion design, collaborating on a capsule collection with Tommy Hilfiger.

"I never thought I would be asked to design a capsule collection, so it still feels like a dream that Tommy approached me to collaborate," enthused Hadid following the announcement today. "His company is one that I genuinely love and have been a fan of for my entire life, and Tommy is the easiest, most fun person to work with."

"I have always looked up to his brand, campaigns and design style," she continued. "I think our collection celebrates the iconic Tommy lifestyle and mixes a bit of everything: there are styles that are really hippie-chic, styles that are sporty streetwear, and styles that are tomboy but girly; everyone's is going to love a different part of it."

Set to hit shops in the autumn of 2016, the collection will comprise sportswear, footwear, accessories (including watches and sunglasses), as well as a new fragrance, all of which "celebrate Hadid's unique take on modern style, fused with Hilfiger's signature 'classic American cool' heritage", according to the brand, which is no doubt hoping to capitalise on Hadid's global social-media reach to help the pieces fly off the shelves.

"I've known Gigi and her family for years, and it has been amazing to watch her grow into one of the world's top models and most-followed fashion influencers," said Hilfiger. "Gigi has walked in our runway shows and now we are thrilled to continue our collaboration with her as the new face of Tommy Hilfiger womenswear and fragrance. She is truly the definition of today's 'Tommy Girl' - her magnetic personality is bright and always optimistic, and her style is confident, effortless and cool."

River Island Launches Plus-Size Collection

River Island is launching RI Plus, a new offering of selected core and main fashion styles in sizes 18 to 24. The collection, set to debut in early March 2016, will comprise pieces from all areas of the brand's collection - from party and workwear to core basics and denim - and will be available in top stores as well as online.

Candice Huffine - who was the first plus-size model to appear in the Pirelli calendar and on the cover of Italian Vogue - will front the campaign for the new collection.

"The fact that River Island is extending their sizing while staying true to their brand is perfection," Huffine said. "It's clear that they have thought about a curvy woman's body and designed accordingly, while giving her exactly what can be found on the high street at any other size. A plus-size collection doesn't need to be made totally different, it just needs to be made to fit."

The collection arrives in store and online at in March, with prices ranging from £6 to £80.

Are Adriana And Alessandra Retiring?

They´ve been part of theVictoria's Secret line-up for more than a decade, but Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio are notably absent from this year's swim shoot in St Barths, so does this mean that they're finally hanging up their wings? The brand did not respond when contacted this morning, but let's look at the evidence.

The other three established Angels - Candice Swanepoel, Lily Aldridge and Behati Prinsloo - are present at the shoot, along with most of the crop of new Angels who joined this year. The Victoria's Secret swim shoot takes place every year following the show and usually features all Angels and key model names in a sundrenched location. Last year, for the first time, the shoot was also turned in to a televised special.

The images and footage are then used to promote the brand's swimwear and sports ranges, in the same way that the show imagery showcases the lingerie, but it is also generally a good indication of moves within the brand's Angel ranks. Last year the group of models featured, with the exception of Joan Smalls, all later became Angels; while Karlie Kloss - who had not yet revealed that she was leaving the brand - was a notable absentee from the shoot. This year, two of the new Angels - Jac Jagaciak and Kate Grigorieva - are also missing, and one non-Angel, Vita Sidorkina, is taking part in the shoot.

As is customary, Victoria's Secret has posted very little about the shoot on social media but - unlike at the show, when a social media blackout is in place in the hours leading up to the event - it allows its models and shoot crew to post pictures at will. Nick Jonas also posted from this year's shoot, where he performed on the beach surrounded by the girls.

Lima and Ambrosio joined 16 and 15 years ago respectively, and have each walked in 16 shows (Lima missing the 2009 showcase due to the birth of her eldest daughter). Interestingly, the Brazilian models held differing views about their potential longevity as Angels when we met them ahead of the 2014 show in London.

"I will keep doing this as long as I can hold back nature," Lima - show veteran and the self-confessed "mother Angel" - told us. "I never want to retire, so I'll do this for as long as my body can hold out!"

"I feel the opposite of her!" Ambrosio laughed. "I don't want to go on forever. I know there comes a time that I'll have to hang up my wings, and I'm OK with that. Everyone moves on eventually."

While the shoot was talking place, both Lima and Ambrosio were active on social media - the former posting an image of herself holding hands with rumoured new boyfriend Joe Thomas, and Ambrosio shooting in New York.

The New Bag Ladies

The old adage, "You never know what's around the corner", is one that resonates with M2Malletier designers Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcela Velez more than most. A chance encounter at a mutual friend's party at Bungalow 8 in New York back in the late Noughties led them to not only become the best of friends, but the most fruitful of business partners.

You may not know the name of the brand but no doubt you will be familiar with their bags thanks to Emma Watson, Cate Blanchett, Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner, Kate Bosworth, Emma Stone, Suki Waterhouse, Solange Knowles - we could go on, but we'll leave it there - being fans. Thanks also to the very distinctive metal bar detail that features on all of their accessories - a design element that stems from the designers' education at Parsons The New School For Design where Velez studied design and management, Bofill fashion design.

"We always knew that we wanted to create a project together," Losada-Bofill told us of their collaboration, the aesthetic of which combines architectural and historic references brought together in a minimalist way. "We also knew that we wanted to create our own hardware. It was a long process of inspiration and research before we met with a metallic engineer that gave form and life to the handle. It's a signature that we will always keep and evolve with time."

Losada-Bofill and Velez, who both hail from Colombia, are an attractive package themselves. Striking in appearance and switched on when it comes to business nous, they find the surroundings in which they design an important aspect of their business. Losada-Bofill's father-in-law is the celebrated Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill, and the girls have taken over his renovated 19th century cement factory home in Barcelona to conceive and create their designs.

"Our studio is located in a magical place that is both minimal and surrealist," enthused Velez. "We were very inspired by the details and architecture there. We work very hard and try to be very professional in every single aspect of our company, paying attention to every detail and every decision that we make."

The next step naturally involves expansion for the pair, who cite shoes, jewellery and collaborations with artists as areas they would like to explore. Until then, expect to see that distinctive bar on a bag near you soon.

All Change At NYFW

CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg is re-evaluating the way that New York Fashion Week works. She, along with her fellow board members, has brought in external consultation company Boston Consulting Group to examine the effects that turning the showcase into a consumer event would have on the industry as a whole.

"We have designers, retailers and everybody complaining about the shows. Something's not right anymore because of social media, people are confused," Von Furstenberg (who described the current system as "broken") told WWD, adding that making the clothes seen on the catwalk immediately available in store would capitalise on the hype that platforms such as Twitter and Instagram create. "We have some ideas. Everyone seems to feel that the shows being consumer driven is a very good idea."

BCG's findings won't be relayed in time for the February shows, but possible formats include holding small showroom appointments for key press and buyers six months in advance of the show in order to plan coverage and take orders, followed by a big show to which only consumers would be invited.

Another possibility, WWD reports, would be to switch the seasons, so that spring/summer would show in February and March, and autumn/winter would be presented in September and October. BCG will apparently also be looking into whether or not it would be more effective to fall in line with the menswear shows that take place in January and June therefore giving more time for orders to land in store.

"It's very confusing," continued Von Furstenberg. "Everything needs to be rebooted. We're making this proposal and people can do whatever they want. I have a feeling people will be showing what's available closer to what's in store. I don't have all the answers, otherwise we wouldn't be hiring BCG."

The announcement by the CFDA comes in the same week that NYFW designer Rebecca Minkoff pre-empted its investigation by revealing that she would be showing her spring/summer 2016 collection at the bi-annual showcase in February so that consumers could purchase items they liked straight after the show. Meanwhile, Thakoon announced last week that it was coming off the schedule next season to adopy a "real-time fashion model". All eyes will now be on the outcomes to see if it proves profitable.