Can we give the novelty Christmas jumper a holiday?

Seasonal blight: a garish Christmas knit

I kind of dread Christmas. I’m sure many people do – the enforced merry-making, the repulsive quantities of egg nog, the stress of shelling out a small fortune for gifts you’d actually quite like to keep for yourself (maybe I’m the only person who does that?). And the sartorial minefield.

I’ll admit, I’m partly to blame for the latter: as a fashion editor, Christmas is the time when you encourage everyone to don the dodgier, showier extremes of the autumn/winter trends. All that lurex at JW Anderson and Christopher Kane? How about those gobstopper-sized sparkles at Prada and Balmain (H&M or otherwise)? Or maybe one of the Ziggy Stardust catsuits from Raf Simons’ penultimate Dior ready-to-wear show? You can probably snap some of it up in the sale already, so it’s not a profligate purchase (or at least, the price doesn’t make you wince as hard as it once did). And, personally, I think lurex is for life, not just for Christmas. I habitually sport Prada’s 2011 cashmere-mix version of the stuff for every day.

However, I hold no truck with the holidays’ garment of choice: the Christmas jumper. Invented

The best beauty gift sets

Every year there’s a smug collective of super-humanly organised people who relish telling people that they have finished their Christmas shopping. If you’re one of those for whom the space under the tree still looks decidedly bare, there is, fortunately, still plenty of time. That however, won’t help solve the problem of exactly what to invest in. The pressure to pick the perfect present is on; Harvey Nichols summed up the issue with its witty “Avoid Gift Face” campaign in which present recipients are forced to put on Oscar-worthy smiles to avoid giving away their disappointment.

One way you can’t go wrong is with beauty products. It’s no coincidence that the UK beauty industry is estimated to be worth around £17bn. From anti-wrinkle eye cream to fake tan, we as a nation are obsessed with personal care.

A beauty gift set has several advantages; firstly value for money, often offering groupings of products at a saving in cost and second there’s the packaging which will more than likely beat any home-wrapping attempts.

If budget is on your side, coming high on most wish lists is just about anything that comes in the famous yellow

Fashion blogs: How do ordinary consumers harness social media to become style leaders?

The Internet has given consumers the unprecedented opportunity to reach a mass audience and thereby advance their social position through displays of good taste, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Ordinary consumers were previously limited to sharing their views and tastes within their circle of friends and acquaintances, and only media professionals and others in powerful positions could reach a mass audience. But the Internet has made it possible for ordinary consumers to reach a mass audience or ‘grab hold of the megaphone’ through blogs, online review sites like Yelp, and user-generated content on sites like YouTube and Pinterest,” write authors Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University), Jessica Miller (Southern Methodist University), and Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan).

The authors studied fashion bloggers who have succeeded in gaining a mass audience and found that the Internet has made it possible to accumulate cultural capital through public displays of taste. Once a blogger has established a large audience through repeated displays of good taste, this audience begins to attract the attention of the fashion system, and this then provides social and economic resources to the blogger, further augmenting her audience.

This marks a departure in

State-of-the-art science reveals secrets of 19th century fashion industry

The dye industry of the 19th century was fast-moving and international, according to a state-of-the-art analysis of four purple dresses. The study, published in Spectrochimica Acta, Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, reveals that a brand new purple dye went from first synthesis to commercial use in just a few years.

Before the 1800s, purple dye came at a premium, so it was usually restricted to royalty — hence the connection between royals and purple. The 19th century saw the discovery of several synthetic purple dyes, making purple textiles more affordable and readily available. Understanding where these dyes came from and were used is therefore of historical interest.

In the new study, researchers from CSIRO Manufacturing and the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia show that the new purple dyes were part of a fast-moving industry, going from first synthesis to commercial use in as few as four years. This reflects how dynamic the fashion industry must have been at the time.

“Chemical analysis has given us a glimpse into the state of the dye industry in the 19th century, revealing the actual use of dyes around the world,” said Dr. Jeffrey Church, one of the authors of the study

Average-sized models could sell more fashion, research suggests

New research from the University of Kent suggests the fashion industry could benefit from using average-sized models rather than size zero in marketing campaigns.

The research, led by Dr Xuemei Bian, of Kent Business School, considered the impact of using average and zero-sized models in marketing campaigns for both established and fictitious new fashion brands.

In three studies, the researchers asked women aged 18-25 which size of model they preferred. The studies also considered the role the women’s self-esteem played in their preference.

Dr Bian and her team found that when it came to established brands, average-sized models could be used interchangeably with size zero models, with little or no impact on product or model evaluation.

However, in the case of the ‘new’ fashion brands, the women in the studies preferred the use of average-sized models over those sized zero. This was because the women had no prior knowledge of the brand on which to base their judgment on.

The research found that this preference was even more pronounced among the women taking part in the studies who considered themselves to have low self-esteem.

Dr Bian said: ‘The issue of fashion industry use of skinny models is a very controversial and we have

Scientists use Instagram data to forecast top models at New York Fashion Week

With Fashion Week kicking off Sept. 10 in New York City, everyone wants to know who will be the industry’s next top model.

The answer may lay far from the glittering world of runways, magazine covers and star-making designers. Researchers at Indiana University have predicted the popularity of new faces to the world of modeling with over 80 percent accuracy using advanced computational methods and data from Instagram.

To conduct their analysis, IU scientists gathered statistics on 400 fashion models from the Fashion Model Directory, a major database of professional female fashion models, tracking hair and eye color; height; hip, waist, dress and shoes size; modeling agency; and runways walked.

“Popularity” was defined as the number of runway walks in which a new model participated during the Fall/Winter 2015 season in March. Data for the study was collected in fall 2014.

The team then analyzed accounts of the models on Instagram, using the social media platform to catalog each user’s number of followers, number of posts per month, number of “likes” and comments on those posts, and whether these comments were generally positive or negative.

To test their ability to predict a model’s popularity, IU researchers narrowed their focus to 15 models

alternatives to the traditional tie this festive season

The choice of men’s neckwear has traditionally been narrow: literally and figuratively. You have the straight and narrow of the traditional tie: in myriad colours, sure, but little design differentiation other than that. Then, the bow tie – staidly elegant for evening, self-consciously eccentric for day, never acceptable in the bright hues and garish patterns so often sported. The cravat is a no-go outside of a period drama or a Home Counties wedding.

No wonder many men have eschewed neckwear entirely for the open-necked shirt with even the most formal of attire – French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy leaps to mind. You have Tom Ford and his permanently prominent triangle of chest-hair from 1995-2004 to thank for that enduring touch of deshabille.

So those are the choices: to tie, or not to tie. This season, designers are proposing something entirely different. Oddly enough, it came from Ford’s old stomping-ground, the Italian label Gucci, where new blood Alessandro Michele opted for androgyny over the hypersexual in his unofficial first show, for autumn/winter, back in January. In layman’s terms, he buttoned up those Gucci shirts. But instead of knotting a tie tightly at the top, he opted for all

the best maxi dresses for party season

If there’s one time of the year to get carried away with your wardrobe, it’s Christmas. In the spirit of the season, it’s not just our homes we decorate with all manner of sparkle. We also make the most of the occasion by adorning our bodies, in plentiful sequins and beads.

For the more demure dressers, there isn’t much on the racks amid the seasonal glitz blitz. This autumn/winter, however, thanks to a softer mood for the season and the Seventies trend still going strong, floor-length dresses offer an unadorned antidote to all that excess,

There’s a tendency to get a bit muddled when it comes to maxi hemlines; either they are associated with the heady days of summer holidays or with more formal, black-tie dress codes. Neither makes for good partying clobber.

A new middle-ground, however, was proposed at the fashion shows back in March; Chloe offered a characteristically bohemian take on the look with billowing chiffon numbers; Lanvin an eclectic selection of multicolour print and lustrous brocade, while Victoria Beckham presented sleek, monochrome variations.

To take on the trend, the first rule is to avoid brights. Citrus palettes should be avoided for their warm weather links; instead invest in autumnal shades of

Chanel reveals new film starring Kristen Stewart

Last night Karl Lagerfeld presented the Chanel Metiers d’art collection in Rome, held at the legendary film studio complex Cinecitta- a fitting venue also to debut his newest fashion film at.

Once and Forever is the newest short(ish) film from the fashion designer (it’s 11 minutes long) starring Kristen Stewart as a young Gabrielle Chanel.

The film tells the story of Stewart and Geraldine Chaplin as actresses preparing to play the role of Gabrielle Chanel at different ages in a lively film set. Stewart plays a feisty actress who clashes with the rest of the cast.

The film also stars Jérémie Elkaïm, François Marthouret, Amanda Harlech, Jamie Bochert, Jake Davies, Baptiste Giabiconi and Laura Brown.

Although the first time Stewart has played the role of Chanel, it’s not the first time she’s taken a starring role for the brand – she was the face of the 2013 Dallas-themed Metiers d’art collection, the 11.12 handbag campaign and also the face of the eyewear collection.

The established Chanel muse will also front the campaign for this Metiers d’art collection which will be unveiled next year.

Praising Stewart for her role in the film Lagerfeld told WWD:

“She’s so good, I think she’s one of the greatest actors of her generation. She gives the

how to wear a tuxedo

Thanks in part to our very own Edward VII, who kick-started a trend for wearing shorter dinner jackets rather than the traditional tails for his Sandringham House shenanigans, the tuxedo has become the go-to dress-up attire for men at this time of year.

However, it’s easy to wind up looking like a period piece in an ultratraditional dicky-bowed evening look. That’s because it kind of is: the menswear after-dark uniform is a stay-over from the 19th century, and has remained relatively unchanged for the past two centuries – bar trousers replacing knee-breeches.

Today, however, those long-held conventions are being uprooted.

When the 2014 Met Gala imposed on its male attendees the dress code of white tie – the most formal menswear iteration of all – many bent the rule to breaking point, pitching up in a multitude of varied designer interpretations. A few broke rank altogether, sporting Edward’s favoured tuxes in bright brocades and velvets.

The taste seeped on to winter’s catwalks: Junya Watanabe showed nothing casual at all, opting instead for dozens of interpretations of the tuxedo, patchworked elaborately and even cut in denim; Kris Van Assche’s Dior Homme show opened with an array of hyper-formal tailcoats – but clusters of pin badges

Specs appeal the best designer glasses

When Dorothy Parker quipped that “men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses”, she was referring to the idea that wearing spectacles must mean that you are smart. Or shy. Or socially stilted.

Happily, that notion, as well as the old-fashioned thinking that intelligence in a woman is undesirable, is by and large extinct. Glasses, it has to be said, have come a long way since 1937 when that poem of Parker’s was published. That is in large part thanks to ever-improving technology that has made frames lighter and more flexible, and lenses thinner.

But for all the modernisation, there is a pleasingly retro feel to much of the eyewear on the market today. That makes sense, because a pair of prescription glasses is usually an investment that will last years rather than seasons, so styles tend to evolve slowly.

Today, most luxury ready-to-wear brands have an extensive optical range, often nodding to details from the main collections. But few designers have been so keen to put their models in the frame as Alessandro Michele of Gucci, a man who – every season – finishes a significant number of looks with a pair of spectacles. And for a designer with more than

The British fashion designer has risen to the heights at Coach

Despite a price tag of £7.75bn and annual turnover of £3bn this year, the headquarters of American fashion giant Coach aren’t especially plush. Forget high-end Fifth Avenue, or Seventh – colloquially known as Fashion Avenue – where other rag-traders send skyscrapers soaring. Coach instead crouches on Manhattan’s West 34th Street under the High Line, a 1.45-mile stretch of disused railway that’s now an aerial walkway.

Coach’s executive creative director Stuart Vevers (that’s head designer to everyone outside of a boardroom) walks the High Line to work every day. He also likes to show his womenswear collections atop it. The first three were rather static affairs. The latest, which he put on in September, was a catwalk show staged inside a glass box, with a grassy prairie as a backdrop.

It was an intriguingly incongruous spectacle, set against the grey New York skyline, just as Vevers himself is a touch out of place at Coach, at least on paper. He’s a 42-year-old Brit, born and bred in Doncaster, with slightly flattened vowels to show for it. He was only transplanted to New York, where he lives in a picture-> perfect brownstone with his illustrator husband, in 2013, and still dresses down in sweatshirt

The 5 best vegan beauty products

While most cosmetic brands are more than happy extolling the way their products can make you look or feel, smoke and mirrors are often deployed when it comes to what’s actually in the bottle and how it got there. So the rise of vegan and cruelty-free products is cheering, as is the fact that consumers are increasingly aware of the power their purchasing habits can have. While the sale of cosmetics tested on animals is illegal in the EU, the opposite is true in China, where animal testing is still mandatory on many products, including all imported cosmetics.

Many companies have quietly changed their habits in order to break into the growing Chinese market. It’s also worth being aware that many smaller companies with commendable ethical stances are owned by larger conglomerates that may be less animal-friendly. As with all things, the more we question the status quo the bigger the chance of changing it.


Ways to wear velvet this party season

As those with a penchant for late-night karaoke and a bit of air guitar will know, “Black Velvet” is the title of a stonking power ballad from the late Eighties.

But it’s much more, too – not least a catch-all approach to party dressing that came into its own in that era. And, fittingly in a season that has seen a revival of the best, and occasionally worst, of that decade’s style, velvet is experiencing a fashion moment once again. On the catwalk, Christopher Kane’s retro take on velvet came in a punchy, electric colour palette, while at Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci used the plush stuff to gothic effect in his Victoriana-infused collection.

The imminent arrival of a month of parties is, of course, partly responsible for the fact that velvet is looking like a tempting proposition again – eminently tactile, it’s something of a no-brainer for a bit of fun on a festive night out. If the style of the Eighties didn’t leave lasting damage the first time around, or during any of its subsequent revivals, then look for off-the-shoulder, body-con dresses – the epitome of a cocktail frock if ever there was one. The trusty little black dress has been usurped

Designers have branched out with small, but perfectly formed, treats for the Christmas tree

For the lucky ones amoung us, Christmas stockings have long been stuffed with little slices of luxury: a tiny flacon of Chanel eau du parfum, the expensive heft of a Dior lipstick or perhaps the glistening gold of YSL’s Touche Eclat. Visit a department store beauty hall at this time of year, and you’ll notice that the fragrance department will have grown as if by magic, allowing retailers to stack their goods high in order to sell them … well, if not exactly cheap, then at least at a fraction of the prices their ready-to-wear commands. The market term is “entry level product”– meaning a cost-conscious way to buy into a designer brand. Beauty has been the primary means – and has proved lucrative, the market is worth an estimated £17 billion in the UK alone. But, for an increasingly fashion-literate customer, a lipstick or bottle of the same old designer eau de toilette isn’t quite enough to satisfy.

While fragrance was once seen as an all-powerful licence to print money, the market is actually in decline: Coty, the manufacturer of scent for designer houses including Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta and Chloé reported last month that its perfume sales had fallen

Karl Lagerfeld exports Paris to the Romans

In cinema, an auteur ranks as the sort of director whose stylistic stamp and personal control mark their productions, unmistakably, as their own, regardless of the collective effort it takes to achieve. In fashion, we have Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, the only designer today whose vision is similarly singular and all-encompassing. Indeed, it includes a biannual jaunt across the world, tentatively lassoed to the Chanel legacy – last May it was Dubai (pearls come from there); last winter Salzburg (Chanel based her cardigan suit on the city’s bell-hop uniforms, apparently).

In actual fact, those far-flung locales are simple expressions of the will of Lagerfeld and his boundless imagination. Thus, the fashion crowd made their way through the gates of Cinecittà, the epicentre of the Italian film industry dubbed Hollywood on the Tiber, for Chanel’s 2016 pre-autumn show.

What does all that have to do with Chanel, that most quintessential of French houses whose founder, Gabrielle Chanel, publicly detested her Roman-born rival Elsa Schiaparelli?

Well, I thought of the mantra of Cinecittà when founded under the yoke of Mussolini and his head of cinema, Luigi Freddi: “Il cinema è l’arma più forte” – “cinema is the most powerful weapon”. How true that rings of

The 6 best fashion books

the focus of fashion may be the here and now, but the best fashion books tend to take a more retrospective approach. Aileen Ribeiro’s A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery (National Portrait Gallery, £24.95) takes a closer look at the clothing and costumes on show in the gallery’s extensive collections. Focusing on such a vast swathe of time means that there are huge changes in dress to chart, while a more recent period proves just how quickly the fashions of today are shifting.

Your coffee table may need reinforcing in order to bear Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue (Phaidon, £100), but it is an investment worth making for a collection of incredible images. This reissue of a tome from 2002 celebrates the work of stylist Grace Coddington – star of the documentary The September Issue – during her three decades at Vogue UK and US. Rather than append more recent work, an accompanying edition is instead slated for release next year. For that, the Anglesey-born Coddington, 74, will again collaborate with the acerbic and insightful Michael Roberts.

Another book that charts a chunk of recent fashion history is Invitation Strictly Personal (Goodman, £30),

best fashion deals

Ready, set, go… Black Friday returns to the UK this year and it’s not all about TV and gadget bargains, the fashion world is excited, too.

On Friday 27 November the post-Thanksgiving shopping event takes place across the globe offering pretty amazing discounts on the high street. The American tradition, which was brought to the UK by Amazon five years ago, will see sales over the weekend, finishing on the so called Cyber Monday (30 November).

We’ve rounded up the best fashion deals from clothing, accessories, jewellery and even swimwear and lingerie, from online and the high street. Happy shopping!

Avenue 32: the online luxury retailer will offer up to 30% across its featured designers, including Alexander Wang, Frame Denim and Isabel Marant.

Barbour: The luxury brand for outdoor clothing will be offering discount on selected items, plus a signature tartan scarf as a gift when you spend £120 or more. (while stock lasts).

Boohoo: The affordable online retailer is offering up to 50% off on everything until the end of Cyber Monday.

ChiChiLondon: The online destination for affordable party dresses and ocassionwear will have 25% for you to get your festive wardrobe ready for the holiday season.

Luxury brands care too much about exclusivity to join in

Tomorrow is Black Friday – which means more in the US, being a kind of Boxing Day to America’s Thanksgiving holiday. And, like Boxing Day, Black Friday means sales season begins. Or, at least, that’s what Boxing Day used to mean. Today, Black Friday has ballooned across the globe, including the UK, whose retailers are battening down the hatches for spending of more than £1bn tomorrow, with the figure set to tally at around £3.5bn across the weekend.

That indicates a voracious urge to acquire – particularly gifts in time for the festive season. But it also indicates a lust for a markdown, and a latent unwillingness to pay full asking price. This reticence is present across retail as a whole – the permanently crossed-out RRP on; the popularity of eBay. However, I’d argue that the fashion world has embraced it with more fervour and willingness than many others.

Perhaps it’s down to the built-in sell-by dates of fashion’s seasons – now at least four a year – sales being a useful way to accelerate the turnover of old product in favour of new. And of course,

Meet France’s first online only retailer Sezane

Brigitte Bardot, Françoise Hardy and Carine Roitfeld are just a few Gallic go-tos for shoppers in search of that particularly Parisian, insouciant sense of style.

While Céline would be the destination of choice to emulate the look in true French manner, few have the budget to afford such luxury labels. The phrase “Let them eat cake” springs to mind when thinking of those zero-festooned pricetags on the Avenue Montaigne.

Those prices, however, are about quality rather than just fancy labelling. It’s a philosophy – let’s call it “Expensiv-tentialism” – that extends all the way down to le high street. Think of the string of premium brands brokering Continental chic: Sandro, Claudie Pierlot, The Kooples.

There are also mail-order companies like LaRedoute and 3 Suisses, which have collaborated with French fashion’s finest, such as Christian Lacroix and Azzedine Alaïa. The latter even created a high-fashion collection inspired by the checkered awnings of hyper-low-cost clothing store Tati.

New to the accessible Gallic marketplace is Sézane, the country’s first online-only retail concept . While the UK has embraced online shopping, it remains a novelty in France, where shoppers prefer the traditional bricks and mortar concept.

Sézane’s website is now open in the UK. Its