Stars Gemma Chan, left, and Sienna Miller, right, bring the chainmail look to this year’s Met Gala, while Tilda Swinton is stunning in Cannes, centre. Composite: Getty/Rex Shutterstock Call it the Game of Thrones effect. Chainmail, once the preserve of medieval knights, 1990s supermodels and 1960s style icons, has won fashion’s favour this season, roaring back on to the catwalks and dazzling on the red carpets. But beware: it’s not for the faint-hearted. In the past month Tilda Swinton wore a chainmail dress in Cannes, while Sienna Miller and Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan brought the look to the Met Gala. On the small screen, Brienne of Tarth put her chainmail to the test more than once during the fantasy epic G oT , which came to a dramatic end last week. Chainmail’s ability to embody both disco-ball frivolity and battle-ready ferocity has made it a hit with online retailers, too. At Asos and Boohoo it appears in the form of slip dresses, strappy tops and slinky earrings. According to fashion search engine Lyst, searches for “chainmail” have gone up 28% since the beginning of March. A necklace reminiscent of a camail – a piece of neck armour designed to prevent the wearer from having their throat slit – by the fast-fashion brand Nasty Gal is also “getting all the attention”. Valerie Steele, director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, credits G oT with bringing chainmail back. “That show has been such a phenomenon that even if, like me, you’ve never watched a single episode, you’ve seen a million images of these weaponised women,” she says. Chainmail also featured on the spring/summer 2019 catwalks – from Saint Laurent to Christopher Kane. At Paco Rabanne, a label that has chainmail woven into its history, it appeared on gold and silver tunics offset with frills – proof it isn’t all about battening down the hatches. According to Natalie Kingham, buying director at Matches, which stocks chainmail from a number of labels, “with brands like Paco Rabanne taking the look further and playing with the fabric for more demure gowns it … feels very relevant.” For some, however, it never went away. The 1960s French singer Françoise Hardy wore Paco Rabanne’s chainmail shift dresses, while Jane Fonda opted for it in the 1968 film Barbarella . Versace produced his 1994 Chainmail collection, while Donatella walked down the catwalk with the 90s “supers” in 2017, each of them dressed in variations on the theme of a gold chainmail dress. From left, Game of Thrones’ Brienne of Tarth played by Gwendoline Christie, Paco Rabanne on the catwalk, and Jane Fonda in 1968 film Barbarella. Composite: HBO/Getty Images Chainmail was present throughout the Britpop decade – see a young Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in chainmail dresses and, in the noughties, Paris Hilton made it “hot” once again. Earlier this month she also revisited the chainmail look she wore to her 21st birthday party circa 2002. With 1990s and 2000s styles currently back with a vengeance, chainmail is following suit. Tobias Capwell, curator of armour at London’s Wallace Collection, isn’t surprised that fashion keeps drawing on chainmail. “It’s endlessly fascinating and visually wonderful,” he says. Chainmail’s battlefield history – it was developed by the ancient Celts as early as the 3rd century BC – means it is often used by designers as a visual signifier of strength, according to Capwell. Although, as he points out, today’s fashion chainmail wouldn’t be much good on the battlefield. It toys with sexuality, too, something Capwell says comes from armour’s dual ability to hide and expose – which “is what sexuality in any clothing is about”. Steele, who in 2006 curated an exhibition called Love and War: The Weaponised Woman, agrees: “It’s armour but it’s open, the chains have holes in them.” Today’s iterations often appear on skimpier garments, from bikinis to barely-there frocks, but they can still be read as shorthand for power. “In a modern fashion context [chainmail] resonates as an image of female empowerment,” says Capwell. It fits that Alexander McQueen, famously set on designing clothes that spoke to female strength, had a chainmail moment for autumn/winter 1998 with his Joan of Arc collection. And the Joan associations of chainmail certainly endure; see actor and singer Zendaya, whose custom Versace chainmail gown drew instant comparisons at the 2018 Met Gala. Yet, according to Rowena Archer, a lecturer in medieval history at Oxford University, Joan of Arc would “never actually have been seen dead in a bit of chainmail”.
Prada’s Milan store. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Italian fashion house Prada has announced it will stop using fur in its collections. The ban will come into effect this September for its spring/summer 2020 women’s collections, although items that have already been made will continue to be sold.The move has come about in collaboration with the Fur Free Alliance, an international coalition of more than 40 animal protection organisations working together to end animal cruelty.Miuccia Prada on the catwalk at Milan fashion week men’s last year. Photograph: WWD/Rex/ShutterstockIn a statement released yesterday, Miuccia Prada, the artistic director of the fashion house that includes Miu Miu, said: “The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy is an extension of that engagement. Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design, while meeting the demand for ethical products.”Prada joins a host of other brands that have vowed to go fur-free in the last few years, largely in response to changing consumer attitudes towards animal welfare. The list now includes Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, Versace, DKNY and Coach. Last September, London fashion week also committed to banning fur, making it the first of the big fashion weeks to do so.It has been months since any of the other big players still using fur has made a similar move, leading activists to hope this will reignite the movement. Among those brands still to go fur-free is Fendi, which, like Prada, is owned by the French luxury conglomerate LVMH.Speaking to the Business of Fashion, Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group’s head of marketing and communications, cited low demand as another catalyst for the move, saying: “Fur has never been part of the main pieces of Prada.” With fur making just 0.1% of materials used in production, the site reported that the ban “won’t have much impact on Prada’s bottom line … but it will likely give the luxury brand a marketing boost”.The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals put out a statement yesterday celebrating the news, but also calling on the house to go one step further and “follow in Chanel’s compassionate footsteps by also removing cruelly obtained exotic skins – including crocodile, lizard, and snake skins – from future collections”.The shift to fur-free alternatives is not without its pitfalls: the environmental impact of sourcing alternatives such as synthetic faux fur is now in the spotlight.
Amelia Windsor ‘ticks all the trend boxes’ ... if that trend is dresses Fergie would have rejected in her day as ‘a bit sloney’. Photograph: Tim Rooke/Rex/ShutterstockAm I having a funny turn or are people saying a fashion statement was made at a minor royal’s wedding? Shelley, by email Put down the Zoloft, Shelley, you are indeed correct: a fashion moment happened last weekend at a Windsor’s wedding, exactly the kind of event where, usually, fashion goes to die.A bit of context here first: let’s push to the side the ludicrously excitable coverage about Kate Middleton and the obvious outlier that is Meghan Markle. The royal family is, when we get down to brass tacks, a bunch of sloanes. Now, fashion, by its very nature, is all about changing with the times and reflecting the zeitgeist and being modern. But sloanes, by their very nature, are all about looking and behaving exactly the same as they would have done in 1983: they wear unflattering dresses, date men called Tobes, are friends only with their classmates from prep school, drink overpriced cocktails in Fulham and think that going to Peter Jones is a hoot. For all these reasons and many more, one does not turn to, say, Princess Beatrice, or Sophie-the-one-that’s-married-to-Edward, or anyone else with the surname of Windsor for fashion moments. It’s like asking a camel to please step through the eye of this needle. It’s just not fair on the camel. Or the needle.But then this weekend someone called Gabriella Windsor got married and the fashion magazines got very excited. Not over Gabriella’s dress, which was fine, but over the outfit worn by her guest Amelia Windsor (feel free to use diagrams to keep up). “Lady Amelia Windsor is our inspiration for wedding-guest dressing,” cooed Harper’s Bazaar, while Elle decreed that her dress “ticks all the trend boxes”. Does it indeed? And on a Windsor, you say? Please, describe it, Elle: “This linen dress has a sweetheart neckline, voluminous sleeves and an adorable floral print.” Riiiight. So, just so we got this straight, an oversized linen dress with big flappy sleeves that Sarah Ferguson would have rejected in her day as “perhaps a bit sloaney” now “ticks all the trend boxes”? Have I taken a ride in a Delorean or what?What we are witnessing here, folks, is the backlash against bodycon dressing. For the past two or so years, going out looking as if you’re wearing a full-body bandage has been the uniform for modern young female style, thanks to the Kardashians, who have yet to start a trend that looks good on anyone. This became not just a victim of its own success, but overly associated with cheap knock-offs by ubiquitous brands such as boohoo.com, Quiz Clothing and PrettyLittleThing. And so, we see, once again, the natural life-cycle of a trend, as something that was once edgy starts to look just a bit downmarket. So hold up that Lycra minidress you bought for £15 from Asos.com as the sun sets and sing with me as one, people: it’s the circle of life! The cirrrrrrrcle of liiiiife!Fashion is not known for its sense of moderation, or common sense, so it’s inevitable that the reaction against bodycon would be an overcorrection, which means sack dresses. Call it Laura Ashley chic, prairie dress style or the return of the tent dress, but what we are really talking about is women wearing a load of old curtains.Now look, I utterly loathed the bodycon trend. But there is something pretty hilarious about the reaction against them, which has gone so far that a royal sloane wearing a textbook example of a sloaney dress is now deemed the dernier cri in fashion. I mean, I can’t bear the Kardashians, but if the choice on the menu is between the Kardashians and 1980s Sloane Square then I’d like to speak to the chef, please.And we haven’t even reached rock bottom, folks. Probably the label most associated with the prairie dress look is the New York brand Batsheva, designed by Batsheva Hay, which sells oddly childlike dresses for adults – or, as the website puts it, “plays with American styles of feminine dress, from Victorian to pioneer, from housewife to hippy”. Truly, nothing more fashion forward than taking inspo from a Victorian housewife! This week, on Instagram, Hay posted a photo of some Amish women with the caption: “Winning street style”, which felt like a joke but also, you know, not. Because if 19th-century dresses are held up as a modern fashion statement then why not the Amish? Why not nun’s habits? Why not go full Gilead? Let’s just take all explicitly anti-feminism clothes, call it punk and Instagram ourselves while the world burns. That’s fashion, folks!
SINGAPORE — Yes, sustainability and ethical shopping are a thing. It’s time to shake-up your shopping habits and look for clothes, beauty and homewares that are not only good for you, but good for the world.
As the royal mother-of-three makes a case for & Other Stories, we revisit some of her most affordable high street looks to date.
Supersized dresses seem to be having a moment. The red carpet at Cannes Film Festival 2019 is covered in frothy, attention-grabbing gowns, with stars including Indian film star Deepika Padukone and Thai A-lister Sririta Jensen posing for photos in outrageously over-sized creations.
NET-A-PORTER unveils the largest JET-A-PORTER shop to date, featuring 59 exclusive capsules and 32 new brands from everyday essentials to cocktail dre
A different strip: Nigel Farage and Donald Glover in pinstripe suits. Composite: Getty Images Nigel Farage, who is now threatening to make an eighth bid to become an MP, was pictured this week in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, in his usual pinstripe suit. And he’s not the only one – the stripe is making a fashion comeback, but with a twist this time. Traditionally a sartorial by-word for power, the pinstripe has its origins in the banking world, worn as a way of distinguishing workers at different Victorian banks based on the distance between the thin white lines on their suits. “The pinstripe is a very smart look, one really appropriate for business,” says Peter Smith, of the Savile Row tailors Richard Anderson. So, in wearing it, Farage is attempting to say that he means business. But, as with so many other things, Farage is very much out of step. In recent years, the pinstripe has been reclaimed from stuffy devotees such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Gordon Gekko-style financiers and dictators such as Kim Jong-un. “Pinstripe is the fabric that refuses to die,” says Charlie Baker-Collingwood, founder of Henry Herbert tailors. “We used to sell lots of pinstripe in the 80s, then the demand went down in the following decades, but now we’re back to selling it again. The cloth has reinvented itself since then, though. People shouldn’t be afraid of its business or even rightwing connotations – you can even pair it with trainers. It’s a conspicuous fabric, so make sure you don’t over accessorise, and let the design work for you. If all else fails, look to David Beckham. He always wears a pinstripe very well.” In addition to the former footballer, recent converts include the actor, writer, musician, activist and general cultural polymath Donald Glover, who was sporting a slick Gucci rendition at the Emmys. The fighter Conor McGregor had a custom pinstripe made for his match against Floyd Mayweather, with the stripes spelling out “Fuck you” in a very tailored provocation of his opponent. For politicians, the wearing of a pinstripe is a deliberate separation from the “centrist blue suit” – the navy blue cut so beloved by politicians such as Barack Obama and David Cameron in seemingly simpler, pre-Brexit, pre-Trump times. Pinstripe, in contrast, is an attempt to hark back to an age of haughtiness and tradition. Yet, as Baker-Collingwood says, this is fruitless. “The pinstripe used to be about greed, but you can carry it differently now – and you should. The old assumption that it is a banker’s suit has changed – even pop stars are wearing it now. The pinstripe has reinvented itself.”
From Blake Lively's string of fairytale-worthy frocks to Lupita Nyong'o in *that* Gucci dress, feast your eyes on the most memorable fashion moments to date.
SINGAPORE — Today (14 May), DIVA channel has announced its new local production Style Me Now, which will premiere on May 20, Mondays at 8.25pm.
From spotlight-stealing couture to a long-standing love of Alexander McQueen, take a look back at the actress' most dazzling red carpet looks.