Another day, another case of cultural appropriation from a high fashion designer. This time, an embroidered blouse from Isabel Marant’s Etoile Spring 2015 diffusion line is the subject of a complaint from a group of Mixe women from Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec in Oaxaca, Mexico. The women say that Marant’s $290 dollar blouse is uncomfortably similar to the traditional blouses they wear and that the designer outright plagiarized their tradition spanning centuries.
The Tlahuitoltepec women claim that the piece in question “contains the graphical elements specific to the Tlahuitoltepec blouse, a design which has transcended borders, and is not a novel creation as is affirmed by the designer.” But Isabel Marant isn’t the only one in battle over the design. According to the Guardian, Antik Batik is also challenging Marant, as it claims they have ownership over the blouse design. So now, we have two western labels fighting over the intellectual property of a people whose history spans back centuries. On the Batik website, the Italian-born designer Gabriella Cortese is described as one with “a spirit for traveling in her soul,” so it’s clear that she gets “inspired” by other cultures quite often. The hashtag #miblusadetlahui is trending on Twitter, taking Marant to task for her alleged plagiarism.
At the very least, Marant admits that she did get a little too inspired by the aesthetic of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec. “She has presented submissions which expressly point out that these designs come from the village of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec in the province of Oaxaca, in Mexico,” Marant’s people said. “Moreover, Ms Isabel Marant, after tracing the true origin of these clothes, officially informed the court: ‘For her part, Ms Isabel Marant does not claim to be the author of this tunic and these designs’.”
The women of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec are imploring Marant to stop selling the blouse and to acknowledge where it came from, which is the very least she can do, considering she’s profited off the art and culture of these people, who likely will not see a dime of what Marant has made appropriating their aesthetic.
It is always a delight to see Johnny Weir, the stylish two-time Olympic figure skater with a penchant for the theatrical. Whether he’s hitting the Kentucky Derby in an eye-popping floral headpiece or adding a bit of bling to the lapel of his suit jacket, Weir is not one to shy away from fashion and definitely loves to take risks with his outfits. We had to know what inspires his looks and last night, Weir revealed all to us as he made his way down the Fragrance Foundation Awards red carpet.
“I love beautiful things. I love to feel great when I’m out. I buy things and work with designers that I know will do that for me,” he told us, noting that his sartorial proclivities come from a place many of us who didn’t grow up rich can relate to. “I am from a lower middle class family and I worked my whole life to be able to buy these beautiful things that I’m able to wear. I want [my clothes] to reflect hard work, to reflect beauty and the art of what fashion is. I like to do things a little bit differently.”
And he certainly does. Last night, Weir made his grand entrance in a rubber top by young Malaysian designer Moto Guo, shorts by Mikio Sakabe and a pair of Chanel wedges with a cut-out at the heel housing a pearl ornament. He topped off his look with an Hermès bag. “I have touch-up materials, my phone, mints, I have a bottle of water and Haribo peaches,” Weir dished to us when we asked him what he could be carrying in such a large bag. With all those effects, we think he chose his carryall wisely – after all, there’s nothing like a few delicious Haribo peaches to get you through a long awards show.
Fragrance was the theme of the evening and Weir harkened back to some aromatic memories of his own, namely growing up with the smell of his mother’s perfume filling the house every morning. “I always love to remember my mother getting ready for work. I was still in bed, and she was going to wake us up any minute to go to school. The smell of her makeup, the smell of the Youth Dew fragrance by Estée Lauder she’s worn for years – that scent of my mother preparing to start her day will stay with me forever.”
He also reminisced about the very first fragrance he owned, Obsession by Calvin Klein. “I was just a little 13-year-old dude and it was too strong and masculine then, and it still is.”
What do computer nerds know about fashion, you ask? Maybe a little more than you think. A pair of computer scientists, Raquel Urtasun and Sanja Fidler, have developed an algorithm that promises to make your #OOTD postings that much more stylish. “Our goal is to learn and predict how fashionable a person looks on a photograph and suggest subtle improvements the user could make to improve her/his appeal,” they write in a paper describing how their magic formula works.
The algorithm breaks down a photo of someone in an outfit, taking into consideration a few factors, including the kind of garments the wearer has on, the wearer’s physical characteristics and what setting the person is in, as well as the “fashionability” of the image and the country/city the wearer is in. If such data is available, they also factor in how many “likes” a photo has.
To help create the formula, the pair collected 144,169 posts from chictopia.com. Urtasun and Fidler agree that fashionability is subjective – it varies depending on the person, where that person happens to live, etc. But their algorithm focuses more on what generally seems to be popular among those who consume fashion and live for #OOTD posts. If anything, their formula will allow people to be able to tweak their shared images in order to cater to a mainstream ideal of what is attractive, though fashion die-hards can argue that real fashionistas say screw all that and march to their own beat.
Quartz notes that the algorithm can be useful in helping companies analyze trends, which, given the parameters by which the formula calculates the fashion factor, makes perfect sense. Still, we can’t count on such equations to measure “fashionability” outside the generic realm. “Whether a person on a photograph is truly fashionable is probably best decided by fashion experts. It is also to some extent a matter of personal taste, and probably even depends on the nationality and the gender of the viewer,” Urtasun and Fidler’s paper reads.
Of course, there are a few kinks to work out – Fidler and Urtasun hope to diversify the selection of images and branch out to other sources in order to get a calculation more reflective of trends. But so far, it seems the pair have been able to, at the very least, create a new tool for people to use in order to determine what is cool to the general public. It will never be a replacement for the keen eye of a fashion editor, but it will likely help at least a few people figure out how to improve their #OOTD posts.
InStyle failed to impress with its Mindy Kailing cover and now tries to win us over with the July 2015 issue. Zoe Saldana graces the cover of the magazine’s newest offering, wearing a dress by Dolce & Gabbana as she flashes an energetic smile and plays with her hair for photographer Paul Maffi. But forum members slammed the image for its lackluster styling, hair and makeup.
MON was the first forum member to get the discussion started. “Something is awfully wrong about that cover. Not to be mean but she looks tired like she’s saying ‘I haven’t had enough sleep but I have to smile for this magazine.’ Also, that lipstick looks fake! Photoshop some more!” he complained.
“I could not write it better,” laughed GlamorousBoy in agreement.
“What bothers me most is the lack of production values. It really looks like they dropped by her place and shot this in a rush. The dress is unremarkable, hair is too simple for a cover. This wouldn’t look out of place on Easy Living. She just doesn’t look polished enough for my liking,” added an underwhelmed Benn98.
“Zoe’s ed is actually pretty good. Nothing outstanding but it’s cozy, she’s lovely and I really like the softness these pics convey,” admired Aby, the moment Saldana’s cover story surfaced.
But Benn98 wasn’t having any of it and returned to the thread, voicing, “Cannot bear to look at Zoe Saldana’s edit. She’s not the most captivating subject. There’s literally no styling and the photography is just lazy and contrived. I hope this won’t be the new direction for future editorials. Bring [Giampaolo] Sgura back!!” he cried.
Check it out for yourself and join the discussion here.
Image: DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES
Emma Hill, Mulberry’s ex-creative director is back and this time, she’s blessing us with the bounty of her accessories. Hill has announced the launch of a new label, Hill & Friends, an accessories label that will make its big debut come September during London Fashion Week.
Good news for Hill fans – you won’t have to wait much longer to get your hands on the new line either. According to WWD, though the Spring 2016 line will show during LFW, Hill will also offer a capsule collection of pieces that will be available for purchase the very next day on its website and on Net-a-Porter.
Hill partnered with former Mulberry brand director Georgia Fendley for the project and promises that the company is still growing, letting aspirations of moving into ready-to-wear be known. They are also looking to open retail locations in London and New York.
We can’t wait to see what Hill has in store for her latest line. Summer just started, but September simply can’t come soon enough.
E.L. James surprised Fifty Shades of Grey fans two weeks ago when she announced a soon-to-be-released new book in the series, this time told from Christian Grey’s point of view. Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian retells the story of the relationship between the title character and Anastasia Steele, set over a period of time from May 9, 2011 to June 9, 2011.
It is already the #1 Kindle order for 2015 and folks are going off on social media about the newly-released tome.
While some fans are gushing over the new installation of the Grey saga, others are a bit more skeptical about the book and are not holding back on letting folks know how they really feel about E.L. James’ latest. Twitter user @estherannaa is livetweeting reading the entire book (where do people even get all this free time?) and her commentary is nothing short of hilarious. If you don’t have time to read the book yourself, her tweets will help you get the gist of the tale.
Happy reading, y’all.
[h/t Daily Mail]