If you were in six blocks of the vicinity of Toronto's Yonge and Bloor this week, then I'm sure you would have heard a stampede of screaming girls and wondered what the heck was going on. Well, Justin Timberlake was going on, as the "Take Back The Night" singer touched down to visit The Bay clothing store.
You see, contrary to reports, JT is still involved in his William Rast clothing line with childhood friend Trace Ayala and, though there have been rumours of slumping sales, the music maestro was happy to unveil his fall collection. Following an introduction by Hudson's Bay Co. vice-chair Bonnie Brooks, the duo took to the stage with Timberlake sporting slicked-back greaser hair, a black blazer, white William Rast logo tee with a cassette tape and jeans. There was then a brief ticket handout (to his gig with Jay Z) and a photo opp, before he was hurried away for on-camera interviews. Boo.
But a bit about the William Rast clothing itself. If you weren't aware, the brand's name originates from combining Timberlake grandfather's first name (William) and Ayala's grandfather's surname (Rast). It's set to expand into all 90 Hudson’s Bay department stores as well as the company’s e-commerce.
"The fall rollout represents a strong commitment to the brand in our stores," said Liz Rodbell, EVP and Chief Merchant of Hudson's Bay Company. She added, "William Rast is a perfect complement to our existing portfolio because it offers a unique casual take on denim drawn from its Tennessee roots."
Yehuda Shmidman, CEO of brand management firm Sequential Brands Group was quick to add to the conversation, telling media that Timberlake and Ayala are still very involved with the brand: “They look at everything. Trace is super on the day-to-day stuff for us. Justin has input on the aesthetic… It’s a true partnership,” with both having an equal stake in its profits.
Timberlake and Ayala now hope to expand into Europe, but success in celebrity clothing lines is a steep slope to climb… as Rihanna, Mischa Barton, Carlos Santana, Lindsay Lohan, Jaime Pressly, SJP, Lauren Conrad, Chris Kirkpatrick and Yoko Ono will all tell them.
With Dion Lee out of the way, the road’s been cleared for Christopher Esber to take home the Australian Woolmark Prize.
We’ve had our eyes on Esber’s meticulous tailoring for years now, and he’s been building a solid international reputation, joining Kym Ellery for a joint presentation at New York Fashion Week last September. But being up against the inimitable Dion Lee, who took home last year’s prize in what was a deserved yet predictable victory, meant his own eyes have probably focused on the 2013 accolade for quite a while.
The prize gives Esber $50,000 cash to be put towards his business and puts him in the running for the International Woolmark Prize. If he wins that, he’ll get a further $100,000 and prime real estate on the floors of Saks Fifth Avenue, 10 Corso Como, Harvey Nichols and David Jones. In that leg, though, he’ll be up against some stiff competition, including Joseph Altuzarra (US), Sibling (London), ffiXXed (Asia) and one TBA label from India and the Middle East.
Esber's winning entry featured a looped wool cream vest with a textural camouflage pattern worn over a black cropped jumpsuit with front and back zips. It was modeled on the exquisite Emma Balfour, who, as always, looks nothing like her 40-something years.
If you somehow managed to miss Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," I'm here for you. The video for the single, which features T.I. & Pharrell Williams, has been accused of being exploitative for featuring lyrics like "[your last guy] didn't smack that ass and pull your hair like that," a giant balloon sign which reads "Robin Thicke Has a Big Dick," and topless female models (Emily Ratajkowski, Jessi M'Bengue and Elle Evans) frolicking for the pleasure of the male performers — and the viewer. I think saying the video is "rapey" might be an overstatement, but I did feel uncomfortable watching it — it's Terry Richardsonesque.
In an interview with GQ, Thicke claimed he had good intentions, but his reasoning is unconvincing:
"We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, 'We're the perfect guys to make fun of this.' People say, 'Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?' I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women.' So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, 'Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.'"
To reiterate: according to Thicke, taking pleasure in objectifying women is an effective way to send-up the objectification of women.
The video, for reference (NSFW):
There are three sane responses to "Blurred Lines": laugh, ignore, make a parody video. Helix, a gay porn company, did the latter, producing an all-male version of the Robin Thicke experience. The result was less porny and more joyous than the original, featuring no nudity, just dancing boys wearing sparkly booty shorts and tightie whities.
It was pulled from YouTube. The Sword, a gay sex site (NSFW, obviously) noticed that the video was removed and reposted it to Vevo (below). (To be clear, YouTube will remove anything when it's flagged by enough people for violating the website's Terms of Service, whether or not the content is objectionable.)
It wasn't the nudity that made me uncomfortable with Thicke's original video; everyone is naked underneath their clothes. I was offended that the men weren't naked too: Thicke and his musician friends were clothed, performing, being funny, having a good time. Meanwhile, the women were bodies at best, a punchline at worst — a portrayal that's depressingly common in pop culture. A parody made by a porn company managed to be less offensive, more human, than the original — and that's because all the performers were having a good time, treated as sexual beings but not objects. Wanting to have sex doesn't preclude wanting other things too. It's crazy that, for once, a porn company got that right, and people still had a problem with it.
Naomi Campbell's reality modeling competition will be back on Oxygen for a second season, and the show is casting this Sunday, July 21 in New York City.
Hopeful contestants must be at least 5'7" and 18 years old on September 1, 2013. (Full eligibility requirements are available here.) I'm guessing it might help to be pretty. Ask your mom if you have a chance, she'll be honest with you.
"We are looking for the complete package," casting director Randy Bernstein told me over email. "Not only should the you look amazing, but you should be able to wow us with your dazzling personality. We will also be looking for somebody as honest, unique and doesn't try to compare themselves to anybody else. We are all different and that's what makes us special — embrace your uniqueness!"
What makes a good contestent, apart from the desire to nuzzle with Naomi? Bernstien emphasizes drive: "We learned that the best contestants are the ones that are confident in themselves and aren't trying to be somebody they're not. The most successful contestants last year were the ones that knew what they wanted and weren't afraid to go after it. The modeling industry is competitive so we will continue to look for girls that are driven, tenacious, and ready to succeed in the sometimes cutthroat world of modeling."
The event will take place at Chelsea Studios (151 West 26th Street, 6th Floor) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Season 1 winner, Devyn Abdullah, will be on-hand for a portion of the event.
(Bernstein was the one to initially cast Devyn for the show: "When I'm casting any show, I always look for the 'it' factor, and when you have 'it,' it usually pops out immediately. Devyn was special and immediately likable. I think that's why we and America ultimately fell in love with her.")
Anyone who can't make it to open casting on Sunday but still wants to be considered can apply online. Applications will be accepted through Monday, July 22.
Virginia Johnson is a Canadian textile designer who creates colourful prints on clothing, shawls, home and children's wear. Her patterns are bright, funky and fun, making them the perfect aesthetic for the likes of J.Crew to scoop up.
"After falling in love with her whimsical illustrations, we recruited Canadian textile designer Virginia Johnson to create this quirky tote just for us. Crafted of sturdy canvas in a remarkably functional — and completely cool — oversize silhouette, this goes-everywhere bag is an unexpectedly fun carryall and a true objet d'art all at once," says the company of her motif beach tote bag that retails for $148 and is available in a navy shark or emerald green lobster motif. Want. Want. Want.
Fans of the Toronto-based designer will be familiar with Johnson's bright and airy space on College near Ossington. Outfitted with a huge front window and cool white walls, the store allows for customers to explore her beautiful shawls, books and bags, which J.Crew couldn't resist including in its summer lineup.
But this isn't Johnson's first collaboration with a big name brand as her textiles have previously been sampled by Kate Spade. That line consisted of journals and stationery, however, J.Crew is keen to include more of Johnson's patterns in additional garments. Maybe her caramel sea turtles and cocoa camel print as a sundress?
In their latest issue, The Daily posted an item insinuating that Vogue editor Anna Wintour just bought up a house adjoining her Hamptons estate so that she wouldn't have to deal with the "wrong kind of neighbors." The four-bedroom house, located on 5.9 acres of land, sold for $350,000 ($249,000 below asking price). As The Daily Mail points out in their coverage, Wintour has not shown herself to be terribly open-minded towards the other residents in Mastic, Long Island: "I just import the people I want," she said, famously, in an interview with journalist Kelly McMasters. "I don't mind the town. It's white trash, of course, but I don't care." Sealing yourself off from the outside world — that's what I call living the dream.