Monthly Archives: October 2009

City Style

Ella is a vintage-a-holic and has created a chiq and stylish outfit mixing charity finds with high street trends:

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Shoes: New Look

Black dress: Topshop

Beaded necklace: Oxfam

Coat: Primark

Flowery Belt: borrowed from another dress

Bag: free with Elle Magazine

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Ella is a magazine journalism student at Cardiff and her fashion is inspired by, Elle Magazine, Vogue and Dazed and Confused.

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Ella’s style icons are Alexa Chung and Scarlett Johansson.

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City Style

Fiona poses on the University Campus in a colourful, casual number….

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Dress: Gap sale

Pink shoes: Topshop sale

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Bangle: Found in a market in Madagascar

Rings:  A rare treasure from a market in France

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Bag: Lovely Laura Ashley

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Fi is not a huge fan of fashion magazines or following the latest trends, she prefers to shop around and find individual beauties and mix them with high street staples.

A regular reader of the Times Fashion supplement, Fi creates a uniquely stylish look and loves to wear men’s clothes.

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Sex and Ethical Fashion: A Match made in Capitalist Heaven?

It would appear so comparing American Apparel’s yearly profit with their famously errotic photo shoots.

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AA is the Starbucks loving hipsters’ heaven – it is edgy, sexy and ethical.  It has found a niche in the market and gone somewhere far beyond it’s less risqué Banana Republic style competitors.

Dov Charney, the creator – or the new Hugh Hefner as he has become, is surrounded by controversy and scandal. He has been sued numerous times, wonders around the LA factory in his underpants demanding sex acts from his employees, addresses female workers as ‘sluts and whores’ and yet the company was named retailer of the year in 2008.

AA’s famous soft porn advertising is intrinsically linked to Charney’s own character.

The Times reported last year that half-way through an interview with a female reporter from an American women’s fashion magazine, Charney loosened his Pierre Cardin belt, removed his trousers and pleasured himself in front of her “eight or so times” and then she witnessed him request oral sex from an employee, who obliged.

On another occasion, a female employee was called into his office and offered a vibrator, because “it’s great during sex”.

And proving that sex definitely sells, Reuters reported 2009’s profits measuring between $575 million to $600 million…

Sex is not a new marketing tool, but when you buy from AA you know your body-con dress has not been made by a 10-year-old girl in a sweat shop in Indonesia, being paid less per week than you fork out for a skinny mochachino.

The workers at the LA store are paid twice the minimum wage and receive huge benefits including full health insurance – a rare thing for the kingdom of capitalism that is America.

So what is the problem – workers are being paid way more than most and all they have to endure is a slightly crazy looking boss wondering around half-naked. Times journalist Giles Hattersley believes, “isn’t it much worse to have your T-shirt stitched by a child slave from Indonesia than a responsibly paid young woman who has to endure the occasional ignominy of her boss running round her workspace with his meat and two veg hanging out?”

But Charney is not just a sex crazed old man. He is a marketing genius. The entire ethos of the stores’ advertising campaign oozes controversy – something scenesters magnate towards.

The prime audience are cool, young, free thinking twenty-somethings with casual attitudes towards sex.

The  photo shoots are  never real models but staff at the store or their friends, creating a more ‘real’ image. This is a gold mine for an audience bored with the straight-laced,  run of the mill glossy model pictures.

The latest Lace  photo shoots(see above) are basically naked women, looking alluringly into a camera – something you could quite easily find in a porn magazine.  Guardian journalist Aida Edemariam responded to the campaign by mentioning a New York billboard showing a woman bent over double, wearing only tights with the text “I wonder why women get raped?” in big black letters over it.

In September 2009 an advert was removed by the Advertising Standards Agency as it claimed the pictures depicted a girl under the age of 16 undressing for a soft porn film. AA claimed it was a 23-year-old model and the emphasis was on the soft to touch material that should be worn in direct contact with your skin.

This advert appeared in Vice magazine as as blogger Stuart Smith points out, “Controversy, as the title suggests, is inherent in its nature. Sample of content: The Vice Guide to Shagging Muslims.”

Judge for yourself below…

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Some people believe AA’s images belong in a porn magazine, not a fashion shoot – but this is not a new thing for fashion. Fashion goes hand in hand with sex and controversy.

Charney has broken the market by mixing sex and ethical fashion. I wonder if his employers agree…

Shoreditchers are rejoicing in a label that is edgy, different, sexy  – and ethical, whilst Charney rejoices at the insurmountable wealth and recognition his store has created.

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All that glitters…

The 80s are well and truly back, we’ve had the leggings, leotards and lycra and now comes the glitter. The party season is almost here, so to get in the mood here is a sparkling of glittery delights …

peacocks £14A steal at £14, from Pri-mark’s not so well-known friend – Peacocks

asos £5

The online shop we love, ASOS, brings us this little head band of joy for only £5.00

mango £22

Also comes in white, Mango’s zebra style sequined t-shirt is a must at only £22

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Out of the budget but beautiful, ASOS, £75

french conn £155

One for the wish list, this French Connection is sequined dress is £155

£24 u outfitters

A little bit of luxurious extravagance but will definitely make work more fun, Urban Outfitters, £24

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French Vogue blacks up models – What were they thinking???

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Why oh why would this ever be a good idea. We know Vogue is edgy and likes to cause controversy but blacking-up a white model for the October issue has gone a step too far.

The photo shoot was designed by the magazine’s long-time editor, Carine Roitfeld.  In the past it has published similarly controversial images, including supposedly pregnant models smoking, but this seems one step too far.

Lara Stone, a 25-year-old Dutch Model,  was blacked up and dressed in an ethnic style for the magazine’s photo shoot.

This has caused mass criticism and confusion. There seems no logical explanation for this – why not hire Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn, Chanel Iman or any of the countless other black models around?

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“It’s as if we’ve stepped back in time,” says Shevelle Rhule, fashion and beauty editor at black women’s magazine Pride.

“The image says we’d rather turn a European model white than hire a black model.” says Nana A Tamakloe, founder of Confidence Model Management.

The 13-page photo shoot featured in French Vogue was shot by Steven Klein.

US blog Jezebel have criticised the shoot, accusing the magazine of cultural insensitivity:

“France and Australia may not have the United States’ s particular history of minstrel shows but something about the act of portraying a white woman as black ought to sound an alarm, somewhere”

Were French Vogue trying to make a comment about racism in society? the difference between races? that black models are some how inferior to white? whatever their absurd reasoning this article is both racist and offensive.

The magazine is known worldwide for its innovative and confident photo shoots – so why do they need to go this one step further to sell copies?

French Vogue have failed to respond to media questions.

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Trafigura-gate continues…

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Multi-media corporations to newspaper journalists – beware. No longer can you get away with silencing the press and covering up corrupt or illegal actions. Whether you are a multi-national company, or a Daily Mail columnist – the audience is answering back.

The online world is expanding daily and currently 38% of all online users have a social networking profile and 41% are using networking sites daily. Facebook is the second largest site in the UK after Google with over 300 million users and the relatively recent Twitter now has 18 million users.

Everyone knows the story about Trafigura-gate. Triumphant newspapers and the twittershphere have been boasting (rightly so) about it all week.

In brief –  the super-injunction prevented the Guardian and other media outlets from reporting on the question asked by Paul Farrelly last week, and even from telling the public what it was forbidden to tell them.

On October 13th the Guardian printed a short front page article stating this, causing a frenzied rush of internet users to seek out the forbidden papers and splash them all over twitter.

Carter-Ruck withdrew its gagging attempt by lunchtime.

MPs have reacted with anger to the suggestion a law firm had tried to gag a newspaper from reporting parliament and demanded an emergency debate, being held today.

Injunctions have become one of the most effective tools powerful individuals and corporations can use for silencing the media.

Alan Rusbridger, said: “I’m very pleased that common sense has prevailed and that Carter-Ruck’s clients are now prepared to vary this draconian injunction to allow reporting of parliament. It is time that judges stopped granting ‘super-injunctions’ which are so absolute and wide-ranging that nothing about them can be reported at all.”

The Guardian (and everyone else) is still forbidden by the terms of the existing injunction, granted by a vacation duty judge, Mr Justice Maddison, to give further information about the Minton report, or its contents.

Last month, Trafigura agreed to pay more than £30 million in compensation and legal costs to 30,000 inhabitants of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, for “flu-like symptoms” they might have suffered following the dumping (the importance being on the word “might”.)

The oil traders continue to deny that the waste could have caused serious or fatal injuries.

Surely the question we should be asking is why Trafigura allegedly dumped the waste off the Ivory Coast. If this was some where slightly closer to home, for example: the west coast of Scotland – we would have definitely have heard more about it before now.

This is an example of a multi-national company trying to silence the media reporting on its immoral and inhumane activities.

I wonder how many other multi-national corporations have done similar acts around the world and obtained super-injunctions to silence their activities. Coca-Cola, Nestle, Shell…we all know they’re up to no good but there is never enough public attention on these companies – maybe because their actions are covered up so well.

Super-injunctions are not good – they silence free speech and allow people to hold anything they want back from the media.

This week the bloggersphere proved how effective it is and, combined with the Guardian, forced the super-injunction to be abolished.   A huge success for free speech.

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City Style

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The lovely Heather, 21, is wearing a selection of vintage and new clothes creating a trendy, chic style 018which anyone can achieve with some clever mixing.

Heather is a big fan of vintage and gets her style inspiration from many places including:

1) The legendary style queen Vivienne Westwood

2) Punk -rockerDavid Bowie019

3) Ultra Sassy Nylon Magazine

4) The woman who has redefined mix and match  fashion – Karen O (Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs)

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Floral dress: Vintage shop, ‘Cow’, in Sheffield

Leather, tan belt: Topshop

Black leggings: Tesco

Chunky pearls: Accessorize

White, patent flats: Aldo

Leather Jacket: Topshop

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Ralph Lauren photoshops a model to within an inch of her life

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Ralph Lauren has received much criticism for the extreme alterations to this photo, used in promotional posters in a Japanese store.

The image has been photoshopped so much that it  looks physically impossible. The model, Filippa Hamilton’s, waist appears to be the same width as her head – promoting a completly unrealistic body type.

Hamilton, 23, went on the Today programme this week and said: “I saw my face on this super-extremely skinny girl, which is not me; it’s not healthy, it’s not right.”

Ralph Lauren has admitted this was a mistake (after it was heavily condemned) and stated that the image was not supposed to have been published or printed.

Hamilton has worked with the label for the past five years but was fired in April, shortly before the photo was printed. She claims this is because at 120lb and 5ft 10in, she was told she was too over-weight to model the designer’s clothes.

Ralph Lauren have strongly denied firing the model because of her weight and said it actually because she had not fulfilled her modelling contract properly.

After the ‘mistake’ with the publication of the photo, I find it hard to believe the model’s weight was not a factor in ending her contract.

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Only fat women object to thin models?

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Or so German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, 71, would have you believe. The eccentric designer has entered the size-zero debate this week by claiming that people enjoy looking at skinny women – and if you don’t you must belong to the group of “fat mummies” who sit around eating crisps.

The best selling German magazine Brigitte said last week it will now use realistic sized women in its photo-shoots, instead of impossibly thin girls.  This decision is to promote healthy images of women that people will respect, instead of giving the false impression that all women should conform to the size-zero body form in order to be successful/beautiful/happy…

Lagerfeld said he believed this decision was absurd and driven by overweight people who didn’t want to be reminded of their own weight issues. In an interview with Focus magazine, he said: “These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly.” nyr10601121937.widec

Lagafeld, the creative director for fashion giant Chanel, also said the fashion world was to do with: ” dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women”. King Karl, as he is known in the industry, is well known for his obsession with weight and throughout the years has been on several non-carb diets and frequently offers his tips on how to lose weight.

The outspoken designer is also well known for fervently defending the fashion world from claims that it encourages anorexia and instead blames the models’ own psychological problems on weight-loss issues.

The size-zero debate is not a new one. Every round of fashion shows brings new opinions and scandals to the forefront. In 2006 Madrid fashion week banned super skinny models but the following year the British Fashion Council refused to enforce the banning of all size-zero models from the catwalk, supported by Marks and Spencer’s Chief Executive, Stuart Rose.

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The editor of Brigitte, Andreas Lebert, is set to produce the new look magazine on 2 January 2010. The magazine is trying to show real women, with real identities, for example a 23-year-old teacher, or 35-year-old mother.  By showing models as real women, audiences will be able to respect and identify with them.

It is doubtful that other major fashion labels will follow this bold move just yet. If, as Karl tells us, people who criticise size-zero models are “fat mummies” then surely these women must make up quite a large number of the fashion world’s audience.  Maybe it is time the industry has a rethink before it loses touch with real women.

The fashion industry has always been associated with stick-thin models, from Twiggy to Kate Moss – skinny girls sell clothes. However, with personalities like Beth Ditto and Kelly Brook in mainstream fashion news and Brigette’s important move to respect and use real women models, hopefully this signals a change to the male dominated industry that currently promotes such an unhealthy image to young women. lovebeth_6__5feb216_249962t

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The Internet Manifesto

The translated version of the Internet Manifesto by a group of German journalists spells out in 17 clear, concise statements the problems journalists face today with relation to the online world, why newsrooms need to act now or risk being left behind and why many are failing to use the internet to increase their potential readership.

The manifesto hits the nail on head when asking these questions but the main flaw, as Alison Gow has highlighted in her response, is the fact that it is online. The whole point of the manifesto is to tackle the reasons why newsrooms aren’t being more interactive but it seems to be preaching to the converted. The main audience it should be addressing is newsrooms who aren’t web savvy – and therefore should be printed out and sent to these (if the journalists at such papers are willing to read it.)

A key point from the manifesto that should be followed up by journalists is this: “The media must adapt their work methods to today’s technological reality instead of ignoring or challenging it.” The only way to succeed in these uncertain times is to “understand the life world of today’s users and embrace their forms of communication.” Starting conversation with the public through social networking sites, blogs or twitter is the only way to tap into and connect with this huge audience.

Gow says journalists (of all levels) are using excuses like money or work load to avoid internet journalism.  I think the online world can be daunting to journalists unfamiliar with it but a high workload comes with the job the only way anyone can survive and succeed today is to want to know more about it. Interactive stories are much more accessible than the plain text format version as Gow confirms: “30 seconds of footage of a fire is more interesting/valuable to an online audience than two paragraphs describing flames and smoke.”

Gow states: “digital journalism is just publishing instantly, instead of waiting for a press to start rolling.” Journalists of all levels need to embrace online journalism and learn everything they can about it to be able to exist in this world.

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