• Oscar de la Renta's advertising image gets the point perfectly – just sell the dress

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    I think that Oscar de la Renta’s advertising for autumn/winter 2015 is the best I’ve seen in about 15 years. There, I’ve said it. I’m not quite sure why. The image I’m talking about is the above – of Carolyn Murphy shot from the back in a puce puffball ballgown. You may look at it and wonder what the big deal is. It doesn’t even look like an advertising image. What is it selling?

    That’s exactly the point. You don’t really know what they’re trying to hawk. You don’t feel the hard sell, the wanton desperation of other labels. There’s no handbag clutched at eye level, no “look at me” celebrity trying to convince that she truly loves the garments – not just because she’s being paid.

    Here, there’s just a dress, on a woman, in a beautiful image, shot by David Sims, that ends up looking more like a low-key editorial than a high-octane ad campaign.

    Contrast it with the spring campaign, the models’ mean, pinched faces captured on fish-eye lenses veering around a Miami garden in tugged and tucked-in evening dresses, ponytails whipping behind them, and there’s a world of difference. For starters, that campaign looks old fashioned. Not fuddy-duddy, exactly, but certainly out of date.

    This season’s campaign is also the first with designer Peter Copping at the house, and captures his first collection. I wonder if that has influenced the strength of my reaction to it? I don’t know if Copping’s doing a good job yet: I’ve no idea if women are buying his clothes, nor if they will. I’m not an Upper East-side matriarch with the kind of dress sense and social diary that necessitates evening gowns and beaded cardigans and neatly-tailored little dinner dresses. From my point of view, as a fashion critic, his debut show was one of the most difficult in living memory, and he handled it with dignity and grace. He’s did something new, but not too new. He had respect, but also fresh ideas. Copping and Co have done the same with this advertising campaign. They’re interesting. It’s interesting. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next.

    And, if I was a woman, it would make me want that dress. Which is the point of the whole damn thing.Read more at:plus size prom dresses uk

  • How to practise kindness

    Kirsten Andrews
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    There is something intensely satisfying about helping other people. Being kind, considering others, going out of one’s way to make another person’s day or experience a wee bit brighter undoubtedly leaves a lasting impression.

    The ripples we create by gently tossing just one pebble into the pond of humanity are so far-reaching it’s impossible to calculate the impact.

    My grandmother demonstrated generosity in ways that were important to her, primarily by taking care of her family in small but thoughtful ways, and I realized at a young age that this was a quality I wanted to emulate.

    It’s a virtue I hold in the highest regard.

    Even on a fixed income, my Oma provided her grandkids with a generous starter fund for buying our first cars.

    She was happy to lend us money for important purchases like grad dresses or university textbooks. And as the family matriarch, she took great pride and joy in paying for dinners the handful of times our entire clan would come together.

    She always had copious return address labels from the many charities she supported. She reveled in watching opera on PBS and made a point of supporting the station during their campaign drives. It was actually important to her. She would note it on her calendar to make sure she didn’t miss it. When she would do her weekly baking, she always prepared care packages for her family when they visited.

    While these bits are just pieces of a larger snapshot, and by no means unique, they remind me of what it is to see a person take pleasure in caring for others.

    And this can easily extend to those with whom we are not currently “in a relationship.” People we meet on the street – and yes, that may include people actually living on the street, the exasperated mom in the grocery store, or those who need our help halfway around the world.

    It could be as simple as ordering an extra sandwich or coffee for the fellow sitting outside the restaurant, or stopping to ask the woman in the wheelchair struggling for a book just outside of her reach if she’d like assistance.

    Asking “Can I help you?” makes no assumption, leaves people with their dignity intact, and is a comforting gesture for anyone who may be feeling taxed. And let’s admit, when we are taxed outwardly, we are often taxed inwardly.

    And while all generosity is most certainly a step in the right direction, it’s important that we are able to feel the compassion behind the gesture and not do it to prop ourselves up or feel better about other less generous things we do in our lives.

    A great measure of this is if you can do your act of kindness – whether it is random or calculated – and not feel the need to tell anyone else about it.

    I recently read: “If you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business, not kindness.”

    The perfect yardstick to go by.

    So this week, why not do three acts of kindness… and don’t get found out?Read more at:graduation gowns

  • Inside the World of Mary Benson, London’s Young Glam-Rock Label

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    Wham, glam, thank you, ma’am! Back in February, Mary Benson, one of the three participants of Fashion East’s Fall ’15 class, made a winning case for the power of a little stardust. The designer, who cut her teeth with an internship at Alexander McQueen, served up a collection that dazzled with its playful, Technicolor debauchery. Among the metallic “stained glass” prints she’s made her signature were a spray of gold coins and a fawn vomiting up rabbits or the word gorgeous—some kind of fairy-tale acid trip gone deliciously wrong. There’s a certain Westwood-y verve to Benson’s clothes that felt well served by her presentation format, a fantastical punk tableau where models lounged rakishly in face paint amid neon signs. “I really wanted to make a statement and create some kind of wild dream collection,” said Benson, “so it was a great platform to show people my work and to give my audience the most lurid introduction to my world.”

    Her world is surely a compelling one, and for all its fantasia it is grounded in wearable silhouettes (sweet peplumed tops and spruce tailoring) and some decidedly real stuff. Per Benson: “[My aesthetic is] lively and feminine, dreamy and illustrative, surreal, melodramatic, a bit strange, and, most important, it’s extremely personal, as the majority of my inspirations are of dreams and feelings, however good or bad, weird or wonderful.” That vision is one that has resonated with style stars from Rita Ora to London nightlife icon Princess Julia. When asked what A-lister she’d most like to see in her pieces, Benson’s response of Jennifer Lawrence comes as a bit of a surprise. But while the brand’s bold looks are a far cry from J-Law’s often demure Dior, there’s no doubt a certain kindred sensibility between the no-holds-barred starlet and the designer’s vision. (For our money, the label’s stage-ready flair and keen mix of darkness and light seem almost tailor-made for FKA twigs.)

    While for now you’ll find Benson’s designs exclusively at ShowStudio’s London concept shop Machine-A, a new batch of stockists is forthcoming for fall.Read more at:orange prom dresses