Category Archives: Other

Fashion with a Soul

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Dubbed “the cool conscience of the fashion industry” by Vanity Fair and a poster girl for ethical rights, fashion designer Stella McCartney is a 41-year-old eco-minded mother of two who is out to save the planet one ethical decision at a time.

This lifelong advocate of animal rights (who only wears cruelty free clothing) is successfully changing the views of the fashion industry by creating clothing and accessories that are both ethical and elegant.

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Campaigning tirelessly against the use of fur in the industry, McCartney’s eco-chic fashion proves that you don’t have to use fur to make it big in the industry. With profits of up to $2.9m made last year, McCartney’s eco-friendly clothing and accessories, which don’t eschew style of luxury, has put many designers to shame with their use of real fur in many of their designs this season.

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While many luxury brands virtually pay no regard to their ethical and environmental responsibilities, McCartney works her fashion magic by creating beautiful pieces with the basic principles of cruelty free and sustainability and uses earth-friendly decisions where ever possible. McCartney estimates that up to 30 percent of each collection contains some sort of sustainable element, including a leather-like plant derivative in her shoes and boots.

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Further cementing her eco credentials, McCartney also:
* Is the first designer to team up with the Natural Resources Defense Council on its Clean by Design initiative to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint;
* Has announced a new program for aspiring designers, the Stella McCartney Scholarship, which funds local and international master’s of fashion students for a one-year placement at her fashion house. Students who win the scholarship must eschew fur, leather, or products that harm animals within their designs; and
*Has announced her newly launched eco-friendly range of fashion-forward frames (due to hit Sunglass Hut stores soon). By using raw materials stemming from natural origins, these frames help reduce the use of petroleum which takes millions of years to regenerate after consumption.

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This ethics-driven approach also reflects other areas in her lifestyle. Her stores use biodegradable bags and recycled-paper products whenever possible, and the bespoke herringbone floors in some of her stores are also made from sustainable oak. For a big environmental impact, McCartney has also changed her power source, both at home and work, to Ecotricity, which invests in wind power.

And to top that, not only does she buy organic where ever possible, McCartney has her very own line of skin-care called Care which contains no endangered plants, genetically modified ingredients, petrochemicals, paraben preservatives, or synthetic fragrances — and it mandates 100 percent certified organic active ingredients.

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Doing things her own stylish way, McCartney proves that ‘environmentally sound’ can also be uber chic!

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Beauty without Cruelty

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Unfortunately, while the nineties saw real fur creep off the catwalks in shame, thanks to the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” supermodel campaign, fur has yet again crawled it’s way back into the collections of Italian and French designers who have unapologetically used and worked with every conceivable animal from sable to mink, chinchilla and fox.

Although the lux look sets fashionista’s hearts aflutter, people who wear fur are either ignorant or arrogant about animal suffering. It doesn’t hurt to find a more animal-friendly option which is what I have always promoted.

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Feel good with the best faux fur pieces for Autumn

As we might secretly yearn for the old-fashioned allure and glamour of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, the rights and wrongs of wearing animal furs and feathers has become a minefield of complicated and moral and ethical dilemmas.

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Faux Fur Taupe Grey ‘Marianne Vest’, Rachel Zoe

So what about the purchase of feathers you ask?  Perhaps the most pragmatic way to approach this is to first find out whether the feathers were sourced in an eco-friendly gathering way (some farms sell feathers that have been molted and naturally shed by birds as part of their growing cycle). If you are unsure, simply ask your supplier directly. If you are going to purchase a product, you are entitled to know exactly where it has been sourced.

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Other feather suppliers specialise in collecting vintage feathers and selling them in bulk. Many people see vintage as an ethical choice: a guilt-free, pro-animal rights, pro-environmental way of wearing fur or feathers. It has been emphasised by eco-columnists and fashion environmentalists, the need to recycle everything from fur and feathers to ensure that no further animals have to die today to satisfy our desire for a lux look.

Another option is to research whether the product has the “humane seal of approval” developed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in conjunction with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The seal of approval promotes what it sees as the humane treatment of farm animals. It has begun a labeling program for meat, poultry, dairy and egg producers who meet its criteria for raising farm animals under humane conditions.

However, only your own conscience can dictate your actions. A good motto to live by is “beauty without cruelty”.

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Eco is the New Black

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Thanks to a gorgeous friend of mine Julia, I have leant about the importance of eco-friendly fashion and that you don’t have to sacrifice style or pay an arm and a leg to wear it.

What is eco-friendly fashion you ask?  Eco friendly, ethical or green fashion is part of the ever-growing design philosophy and trend of sustainable design.  Fashion designers are now re-introducing eco-conscious methods through the use of environmentally friendly materials and socially responsible methods of production.

This new holistic movement, aimed to raise human consciousness and eco-conscious clothing, has designers incorporating sustainable practices into modern fashion to minimise harm in the growth, manufacturing, and shipping of products.

But let’s face it, caring about the planet involves more than just offering one organic shirt in your line.  Adopting a sustainable business model means that you need to think about everything from where you source your materials to the kind of energy your building runs on.

Celebrities, models, and designers have recently drawn much-needed attention to this socially conscious and environmentally friendly trend. However, according to the May 2007 Vogue, eco-friendly clothing appears not to be a short-term trend, but rather one which will be around for multiple seasons to come.

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British it-girl Lily Cole has recently produced a range of eco-friendly clothing with hand-made knitwear made out of wool from rescue sheep.  The 22-year-old ambassador for the Environmental Justice Foundation has acknowledged that her The North Circular line’s garments may appear expensive, however insists that the costs are in place to ensure workers are not exploited during production.

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Stella McCartney has also proven that you can develop high-end, cutting-edge fashion with the launch of her line of everyday lingerie back in August last year.  The mid-priced collection features lingerie made from organic cotton and recycled metals in youthful colours of electric blue, blush pink and python.

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Both lines have been created for the rapidly growing number of consumers who are becoming aware of the importance of preserving the environment (be it about ethics and fair wages, recycling or purchasing organic materials) and appreciate good design, fashion and creativity with a fun and fresh positive spin.

We are not saying that you can’t buy new clothes, rather that buying sustainably designed clothes is certainly the way to go. The aim is to create social change and to respect the environment.

I think the message to take away here is that we can buy less and pay more to ensure that the product you are purchasing is a positive process.

Eco-Friendly Oscars

Naomie Harris in Vivienne Westwood  created using recycled zippers, organic materials and even old chocolate wrappers

Naomie Harris in Vivienne Westwood created using recycled zippers, organic materials and even old chocolate wrappers

Anne Hathaway in custom vegan Giuseppe Zanotti heels

Anne Hathaway in custom vegan Giuseppe Zanotti heels

Helen Hunt in H&M navy blue strapless eco-friendly gown

Helen Hunt in H&M navy blue strapless eco-friendly gown

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Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life

Michel Abeysekera

Michel Abeysekera

This week I had the honour of listening too and meeting an incredibly inspiring man, Michel Abeysekera. For those of you who have ever wanted to take a leap from the corporate world into doing what your heart most desires, Michel’s journey is definitely one you can draw inspiration from.

By opening his speech with Confucius’ quote “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” Michel shared his experiences and the lessons he had learned from transitioning as a corporate banker into the world of fashion to an audience of small business owners.

Providing a design and fashion perspective on how to successfully run a business, Michel described just how he managed to grow his businesses at both a national and international level.

With over 14 years under his belt, Michel is now a key player and a major innovator within the fashion industry. After launching Australia’s first seamless technology, based upon uniqueness and innovation, Michel has constructed a method of manufacturing garments that has now been placed into many up and coming fashion brands (such as Zara, ASOS, etc) including his very own luxury women’s clothing brand Cylk.

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Cylk Arabesque Summer Collection

Besides supplying high-end fashion retailers across the globe, including department stores, national chains, mass merchants and specialty stores, Michel is also the president of the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, an organisation that is strongly supportive of Australian designers and promotes emerging talent.

Pushing the boundaries of seamless knitting within fashion, Michel shared with me that the idea had first appeared to him when a dear friend of his had damaged her back in an accident. As the seamless knitting technology has specialty yarns and unique jacquard, it is design to contour the body which helps to create a compression that assists in the recovery of injuries. He also shared with me that he is now channelling the direction of his technology to assist in the recovery of sports injuries.

Oh and ladies, you will love this, not only does Michel’s retailer brands cater for plus size voluptuous women (sizes range from an eight to a 24), he even has designed compression tights which are proven to reduce cellulite! Yes, you read that right, reduces cellulite! The seamless garments conform to your body, while also enhancing the feminine form.

Yes, venturing out on your own inevitably will have a few obstacles when first starting out, as Michel shared with his audience, but taking that risk and following your dreams could lead to something so much more as proven here.

Life is too short to at least not try!

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Where does Australian fashion sit on the world stage and why is it unique?

As a product focused industry, Australia is fast becoming a ‘must have’ that the global fashion community cannot get enough of. The original and unique style of Australian fashion is increasingly taking the world by storm with down under designs being stocked in over 75 countries around the world even in some of the most unexpected and remote countries such as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Inspired by an extraordinary range of Australian fashion textiles and cultural influences, many Australian designers have made their mark around the word including dynamic designers such as Sass & Bide, Wayne Cooper, Carla Zampatti, Easton Pearson, Nicola Finetti, Bettina Liano, Martin Grant, Michelle Jank and Lisa Ho.

The work of Collette Dinnigan has also been making its mark internationally since the 1990s.  Dinnigan’s work was the first Australian to mount a full-scale ready-to-wear parade in Paris in 1995.  Dinnigan now has a store in Los Angeles, displays her label twice yearly in Parisian Fashion parades and has an extensive high-profile fan list with the likes of Naomi Watts, Sarah O’Hare, Helena Christensen and Charlize Theron.

A more recent designer who has broken into the international market is Sydney designer Ben Pollitte.  Pollitte has been selected to join the Australian Wool Industry’s international protégé project, a program in the brainchild of Franca Sozzanie, editor of Vogue Italia, who pairs promising young designers with some of fashion’s most prominent figures like Karl Largerfeld.  The mentorship will have Pollitt working with big-name designers to create a collection using Australian wool.

Whilst the global downturn has injured the fashion industry, in Australia and abroad, healthy sales are still being made in all-Australian New York fashion shops from designers such as Jayson Brunsdon, Camilla and Marc, Kirrily Jonson and Mad Cortes, among others, with predicted sales in excess of $60 million compared with $40 million in sales last year and just $2 million in sales 10 years ago.

Austrade alone also continues to attract international buyers to all Australian fashion events including Rosemount Australian Fashion Week and the Melbourne L’Oreal Fashion Festival with representatives from top fashion houses in the USA, the UK, Canada, Italy, Singapore, Ireland, UAE, Japan, Hong Kong, China and New Zealand.  Austrade’s role is to ensure they have the opportunity to show and meet with international visitors and maximise their chances of making significant export sales.

As fashion continues to be a successful export market for Australia, equal in measure is the growth that has occurred in other employment opportunities in the fashion industry including fashion journalism, fashion styling, make-up and hair styling, fashion photography and modelling. Australia has developed an international reputation for producing some of the emerging stars of the fashion world, from designers to models. Supermodels such as Elle McPherson (now with her own high-end lingerie line), Miranda Kerr, Gemma Ward and Megan Gale have reinforced Australia’s place on the world stage.

With Australian designs seen on celebrities including Cameron Diaz and Kate Moss, Australian designers will continue to have their eyes set on the global fashion stage and aspire to achieve similar success experienced by those who have successfully made their mark internationally.

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See it, love it, pin it on Pinterest to win an online colour analysis report

Before & Afters

What a colour analysis report can do for your image

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Adore J’Adore

This month fashion giant Dior unveiled their brand new ad campaign for their latest J’Adore Eau de Parfume featuring the exquisite J’Adore muse, Charlize Theron.  This glamorous digitalised short film has Charlize making her way to a French fashion show at Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors along side a myriad of Hollywood icons including Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Ditrich.

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