There’s no shortage of bankruptcy-inducing English brands on the market. From Burberry and Alexander McQueen to Paul Smith and Dunhill, these established high-end luxury labels are as desirable as they are decadent.
But here’s something to get excited about: a UK designer label that’s both sumptuous and socially conscious.
Old-time English luxury label, John Smedley (established 1784), best known for their opulent knitwear, have teamed up with Better Thinking Ltd. to come up with the perfect tee. The shirt is touted as “Luxury Redefined” — and with two years in the making, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better made garment.
As China enjoys a period of rampant industrialization on an unprecedented scale, lowly paid factory workers are churning out mass produced textiles behind the scenes to meet the global demand. Contrast this with Chinese “anti-designer” Ma Ke, who detests assembly lines and opts for design on her own terms — which includes unique methods such as “burying the clothes in dirt to allow nature and time to (add) the finishing touches”.
Worlds away from the factory workers of Guangdong, Ma Ke employs artisans who hand loom all her sustainable materials in sunny studios. A pioneer of sustainability, Ma Ke’s designs truly reflect the seasons — from the flowing asymmetrical jersey dresses of spring/summer and the layered knits of fall to the structured jackets and coats of winter.
The name of world famous French designer Philippe Starck first entered my lexicon back in 1999. I had just set foot inside the newly opened Starck-Schrager boutique hotel, St Martins Lane, and I was smitten. A combination of modern, baroque, minimalism, wit and irony, it was a design like I’d never seen before. Next came the lavishly luxurious Sanderson, which is best described as a “surreal Cocteau-like dreamworld”. Stateside, you’d already been spoilt by NYC’s Paramount, Miami’s Delano and LA’s Mondrian — but at that time in London, the Starck influence was epic.
Once on my radar, there was no stopping me. I greedily devoured everything Starck from the ambience of Cafe Costes in Paris and the stunning interiors of the Felix restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong to the cult Juicy Salif he designed for Alessi.
39” 19” 33”. No, Pamela Anderson hasn’t had (another) rib taken out. These vital stats belong to another impossibly proportioned buxom blonde: Barbie. The slogan is just one of the straight-forward social messages of the new high-end T-shirt line, Social Atelier.
Sick and tired of the sight of your old jeans? Do the shirts in your closet no longer thrill you, but you don’t have the money to buy a new wardrobe? Don’t throw them away just yet. Try turning them into something new and exciting.
Ecoganik is a California-based manufacturer of funky fashions that are as easy on the eyes as they are on the planet. With the youthful energy of design duo Mallary Sante and Genevieve Cruz at its helm, Ecoganik is a sweet, savvy and ethical label with a fabulous future.
We caught up with Mallary, who says the label came about because the owner, David Chau, wanted “to make the world a better place. He wanted something that would stand out amongst other green labels. Something more chic, fashion forward, and stylish.”
Want to wear armadillo? No? How about slip on some raccoon? Or my personal favorite, the beaver? No smirking… I’m talking about your feet. These are all styles of shoes by MINK, with animal names that are clearly tongue-in-cheek.
As a matter of fact, MINK’s custom designed “G” Shoe Line shuns leather and animal products all together, without sacrificing creativity or style.
Polish born actress Dominika Wolski is the new face of ethical jewelry line Froote. With her lean physique and penchant for sports, the 28-year-old actress is often compared to Cameron Diaz and Uma Thurman. And she’s not a bad actress either. Wolski has been a mainstay of the West Coast Vancouver film scene since her big screen debut in 2001.
Wolski traveled to Mozambique on the request of director Ed Zwick, where she to visited the set of “Blood Diamond”. She later wrote on the Huffington Post, “My own choice to be a ‘face of Froote’ instead of other brands represented how much visiting the set of ‘Blood Diamond’ and learning the history of one aspect of a glamorous icon had influenced me.”
Dominika can be seen in the Canadian series jPod which premieres this month.
Want to know about the sartorial trifecta that’s guaranteed to leave any fashionista pleased as punch? Take a dozen-plus perfect pairs of jeans. Add ridiculous quantities of shoes (so much that you have sneak new pairs into wardrobe). And finally, throw in basics so luxurious you’ll never take them off. With that last point in mind, allow me to introduce you to Australian label Skin and Threads.
Crafted from finest natural and organic fabrics, Skin and Threads’ line of “edgy designer basics” allows women to look and feel beautiful. While traditional types may opt to wear them as is, the more adventurous among us can layer them for a truly fashion-forward aesthetic. Skin and Threads’ Winter 2008 collection provides a dazzling array of desirable, versatile dresses, tops, legging and cardigans in just the right color palette — from muted pastels and grays to electric blue and a splash of fuschia.
A friend of mine once told me that you can get away with dressing like a tramp in L.A. as long as you had a nice watch, nice sunglasses and a nice car. Sound advice. Now add to that a nice face — and by nice, I mean young. Looking old in the City of Angels is plain unacceptable. This city is home to countless movies stars, models and celebrities whose very existence revolves around the superficial. They, in turn, are extensively documented in trashy magazines, trashy websites and trashy TV, which puts immense pressure on the rest of us unwitting trash addicts.
What is the green obsession with giving plant-based things meaty names: tofu become tofurky (which sounds just like turkey, geddit?); vegetarian nut pâté is often written up on the menu board as tuna-free (huh?); and finally a shoe store that bans leather calls themselves Moo Shoes (okay, now I’m thoroughly confused).
I mean, isn’t it all rather counter intuitive?
Despite being flummoxed by the name of the latter, I’m happy to embrace the concept — shoes. Owners, sisters and non-meat eaters, Erica and Sara Kubersky found it easy to find food that fit their philosophy while clothing and shoes proved a little more elusive. So, they took matters into their own hands, and in 2001, Moo Shoes was born. With their flagship store now located on Manhattan’s lower east side, the girls stock their store with cruelty-free bags, T-shirts, wallets, books, accessories and, of course, shoes. (Though with all these crazy names, I guess it wouldn’t surprise me too much if Moo Shoes carried everything but shoes.)
All the coolest organic skincare lines come from Iceland these days – think Taer, Dr Bragi, Skyn and Hannesdottir. The reasoning being, if herbs can survive an Icelandic winter (and the latest Bjork record), then they sure must be packed with potency. And then there’s all the geothermal perks too. Blue Lagoon boasts a high end skin care line consisting of masks, scrubs, creams and serums loaded with algae and minerals. But it’s much more than a set minimally packaged, super effective lotions and potions, it’s a destination.
Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, and it’s easy to see why. The lagoon is filled with six million liters of geothermal seawater, piped directly from the source, which is renewed every 40 hours. Guests can enjoy the pristine environment, fresh air and pure Icelandic drinking water while benefitting from the geothermal waters active ingredients including minerals, silica and algae “designed to purify, protect and revitalize the skin”. The medicinal benefits are such that sufferers of the skin disease psoriasis will find comfort in the natural healing powers of the water, which are, let’s face it, a lot more appealing that a tube of topical cream.