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Photographer Oliviero Toscani returns to Benetton for new inclusive campaign

London - United Colors of Benetton has never been shy about integrating political and social issues in its advertising campaigns. While some fashion brands chose not to mix politics and fashion, the Italian fashion brand has carved out a name for itself thanks to its racy and provocative campaigns, which openly tackle subjects such as racism, sexism, poverty, and environmentalism. Now the iconic photographer behind some of United Colors of Benetton most iconic campaigns, Oliviero Toscani, has returned to the brand for its latest campaign.

The new Benetton campaign shot by Toscani renews a recurrent theme - integration - one which the brand stand firmly behind. The campaign depicts a racially diverse Italian classroom of twenty-eight children from thirteen different nationalities from four continents, smiling and learning together. In one photograph, ten children, from countries such as the Philippines, Italy, and Senegal, all gathered around their teacher who is reading to them and smiling because ‘they have a future.’

Photographer Oliviero Toscani returns to Benetton for new inclusive campaign

United Colors of Benetton unveils new campaign shot by Oliviero Toscani focusing on integration

“Integration is a major issue in our world today,” says Toscani. “The future will hang on how, and to what extent, we use our intelligence to integrate with others and to overcome fear.” In the current divided socio-political climate, the Italian fashion brand aims to start a discussion surrounding integration and diversity in society. The new campaign launch, which starts with the release of two images on December 1, marks the start of a much larger project on the subject of integration. Toscani is set to work on the project at Fabrica, Benetton Group’s communication research centre.

The current social and political issues within society are part of the reason Toscani decided to join forces with Benetton once more, after nearly two decades. “It’s the reason I’m back here,” said Toscani in an interview with BoF. “More than ever, there are problems in the world and this is what interests me. I think it’s now time for brands to get smarter. I don’t think they should go to agencies, because they won’t produce anything new. They should be free from market research, think about modern society and do something that hasn’t be done.”

The new campaign launch comes as Luciano Benetton , one of the founders of the fashion brand, announced his return to the company to help turn the company around. The first stages of Benetton’s revival are linked to the campaign. Toscani will also be involved with reimagining the overall image of the United Colors of Benetton brand, starting with a product campaign set to launch in February 2018. “We will make this picture to make a statement and then the next step is to [improve] the product, the shops and the lighting in the shops to bring back the magic of Benetton," added Toscani.

"It’s not a luxurious brand, but it embraces everybody.”

Photos: Courtesy of United Colors of Benetton

Jean-Paul Gaultier announces ‘Fashion Freak Show’

Flamboyant French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier is to celebrate 50 years of pop culture seen through his eyes with a new stage musical, Fashion Freak Show that will premiere in Paris next October, before going on an international tour.

Gaultier renowned for his theatrical catwalk shows, will be incorporating his “eccentric, scandalous, and provocative” personality into a stage show that combines cabaret with a fashion show at the at the iconic Folies Bergere theatre in Paris.

“This show is the story of my life, things I have experienced, seen and loved. And also stories that I have never told before!”

Jean-Paul Gaultier

The show will feature everything from his childhood to his early career, including his greatest fashion shows to “wild nights” in Le Palace and London, as well as pay tribute to artists that have inspired him including pop icons Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Mylène Farmer to film directors Pedro Almodovar and Luc Besson, and dancers Régine Chopinot and Angelin Prejlocaj.

“This show is the story of my life, things I have experienced, seen and loved. And also stories that I have never told before!” explains Gaultier. “I discovered the entertainment world at the age of nine while watching a Folies Bergère revue on TV and I found out what a fashion show was through Jacques Becker’s film, “Falbalas”, in which Micheline Presle falls in love with a fashion designer played by Raymond Rouleau. With the Fashion Freak Show, I intend to bring these two worlds together. It is very exciting to be given the opportunity to stage the revue in the Folies Bergère.”

Jean-Paul Gaultier to stage musical and fashion show in Paris from October 2018

For the ‘Fashion Freak Show’, which is described in the press release as a “grand party” where Gaultier “will surprise us yet again”, will feature ten new exclusive outfits designed by the French designer to incorporate within an exuberant scenography.

Gaultier has written the show, and will co-direct and produce the set design, in collaboration with actress, scriptwriter and director Tonie Marshall, who co-directs the show, and Marion Motin, who has worked with Madonna, on the choreography. The cast will be actors, dancers and circus artists, who will take to the stage and play “outlandish, passionate, larger than life, rude, sexy, sassy creatures and personalities”, explains the designer, while the music will range from disco to funk, pop and rock, basically the playlist of his life.

Describing what the show will cover, Gaultier said: “I will tackle new issues such as plastic surgery and the creatures it spawns, or the vanity fair of social media. All that has been an inspiration for a number of new costumes. Clothes can say so much about their time, the way we relate to femininity and masculinity, sexuality, about what we consider different and where the limits of society are.

“I want to show difference. For there is beauty to be found everywhere, it all depends on how one chooses to look at it. I’ve always loved freaks, weirdoes, agitators, the mixing of different aesthetics, the unexpected encounters. This transgressive energy will be on show for all to see. It will be about joy and dreams, I would like every member of the audience to leave in a happier mood than when they arrived. It’s going to be a huge party! I hope that the audience will enjoy the show just as much as I did when creating it.”

The ‘Fashion Freak Show’ will premiere on October 2, 2018, with tickets going on sale today, November 9 with tickets priced from 39 euros.

Image: courtesy of Jean-Paul Gaultier/Fashion Freak Show

Exhibit at New York's MoMA looks at iconic garments

The Museum of Modern Art is staging an exhibit of iconic clothing and accessories to examine the relationship between fashion and society.

On display are 111 high-impact items like Levi's 501 jeans, the little black dress, the sari, the pearl necklace and even tattoos -- all part of the cultural heritage of the West and elsewhere in this century and the 20th. In MoMA's first exhibit on fashion since 1944, the show features garments that seem timeless, like the Panama hat.

But it also includes items from everyday life or those denoting religious affiliation, such as the yarmulke for Jewish men and the headscarf for Muslim women. The exhibit is called "Is Fashion Modern?" It opens Sunday and runs through January 28.

It provides a chance to recall how certain garments symbolized what was considered modern in a given period of history. Although curators say the show is about objects, rather than their designers, the influence of Yves Saint Laurent permeates. His "Le Smoking" -- the first tuxedo for women, introduced in Paris in 1966 -- crystallized the evolution of women's status and their aspirations in life. Saint Laurent's signature black boots and espadrilles are also on display. Modernity was also the very 1960s futuristic aspiration of Paco Rabanne and his aluminum dress, and that of Pierre Cardin as seen in his bold Cosmos dress.

Fashion is also modern simply because it reflects the spirit of the times. This show looks at fashion's relationship to everyday street life and all that it inspires. The best illustration, however, is the powerful world of sportswear, born far from the catwalks of New York and Paris but now nestled intimately in every layer of society.

To wit: Converse All Star sneakers, sports jerseys, Lacoste polo shirts and track suits are all part of the show, and basics of many people's wardrobes. To accompany the exhibit, MoMA commissioned the manufacture and marketing of several garments based on beloved clothing from the past, such as a Breton sailor-style shirt by Armor-Lux of France and a seamless sweater by Issey Miyake. (AFP)

Photo: Jackie Mallon for FashionUnited

Key Dates in Yves Saint Laurent Life

Ahead of the opening of museums in Paris and Marrakesh dedicated to the work of Yves Saint Laurent, here are some milestones in the life of the fashion icon.

Starting out

  • He is born on August 1, 1936 in Algeria's Mediterranean city of Oran and named Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent.
  • In his late teens, he moves to Paris in 1954 to study design and wins three of the four first prizes in the prestigious International Wool Secretariat competition for rising fashion talent.
  • In 1955 Saint Laurent is hired as a design assistant by Christian Dior. Two years later, when Dior dies unexpectedly, he is appointed chief designer.
  • Making a name

  • His first solo collection for Dior, in 1958, is the Trapeze Line of narrow shoulders and wide skirts that receives rave reviews, launching his name. The same year he meets future lover and business partner, Pierre Berge.
  • He and Berge start living together in 1961 and found the Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) luxury couture house.
  • His 1966 spring show features the first tuxedo for women, upending the rules at a time when most women did not wear pants. The first Saint Laurent ready-to-wear shop opens on Paris' Left Bank the same year.
  • The "safari look" and first see-through dress cause a sensation at his spring collection of 1968.
  • 1971, in his mid-thirties, he poses naked for an advert for his first fragrance for men, "YSL pour Homme".
  • His perfume for women, "Opium", is launched in 1977, to become an enduring worldwide success.
  • In 1983 Saint Laurent becomes the first designer to have a retrospective dedicated to his work in his own lifetime. The exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is visited by a million people.
  • Towards retirement

  • YSL is sold to French industrial group Elf-Sanofi in 1993 for $650 million.
  • Gucci completes a takeover of Sanofi, parent company of YSL, in 1999 and appoints Tom Ford as creative director.
  • Saint Laurent marks the 40th anniversary of his fashion house on January 22, 2002, and formally announces his retirement, bringing down the curtain on an unparallelled career.
  • He dies on June 1, 2008 at his home in Paris, aged 71, suffering a brain tumour. His funeral is attended by celebrities and some of the biggest names in fashion.

(AFP) ​

Photo: Musee Yves Saint Laurent ​

Museums give peek into secret world of Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent was one of greatest yet most private fashion designers of the 20th century. Now only weeks after the death of his partner and lover Pierre Berge, the hard-nosed business brain behind the legend and the keeper of the flame, some of the creator's innermost secrets are coming to light.

The first of two new museums dedicated to his memory opens in Paris on Monday as a raft of new books and documentaries -- including one on his erotic drawings -- attempt to decode the mysteries of the painfully shy man who revolutionised women's fashion.

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The Paris mansion where Saint Laurent shook up the dress codes for more than three decades has been turned into a museum for his haute couture creations. A much larger museum, also paid for by the foundation set up by Berge to safeguard his partner's legacy, opens next month in Marrakesh, the Moroccan city the couple loved and where Saint Laurent would often first sketch out his collections.

"Coco Chanel liberated women, but Yves Saint Laurent gave them power," Berge once said, by appropriating the symbols of power from the male wardrobe -- dinner jackets, safari suits and jumpsuits -- and remaking them for women.

Inner sanctum

"I had noticed men were much more confident in their clothes," Saint Laurent once said in a rare interview. "So I sought through trouser suits, trenchcoats, tuxedos and pea coats to give women the same confidence." His black tuxedo for women, known as "Le Smoking" -- often wore over bare flesh -- caused a scandal in 1966, with the New York socialite Nan Kempner dropping her pants when she was told by a Manhattan restaurant that women in trousers would not be admitted.

Saint Laurent would later design a jacket as a thigh-skimming mini dress just as Kempner, one of his best customers, had worn it. The heart of the new Paris museum is Saint Laurent's studio, the inner sanctum where he would work night and day in the run-up to his shows. It remains just as he left it in 2002, his desk festooned with photos of his inner circle of glamorous female friends which included Catherine Deneuve, Bianca Jagger and Paloma Picasso.

Pride of place, however, goes to a New Year's card he made from a painting his friend Andy Warhol did of his French bulldog Moujik. One wall of the room is completely mirrored, which allowed Saint Laurent to work directly on his live models so he could see his creation from all angles as it progressed.

The museum also gives revealing insight into Saint Laurent's creative process, developing his clothes from very basic sketches into complex designs that, in the case of some of his haute couture creations, could take thousands of hours to make.

Berge's enduring devotion

"Unlike many other designers Saint Laurent began systematically archiving his work in the early 1960s -- encouraged by Berge -- and so we can follow the evolution of each item," said a spokesman for the museum, which holds a treasury of 5,000 prototypes for his creations. Other rooms in the museum are given over to Saint Laurent's inspiration and the "imaginary voyages" his collections often took to Asia, Africa and most famously Russia.

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But other than his sojourns in Morocco -- which reminded him of his native Algeria where he was born in 1936 while it was still French -- the designer was not much of a traveller. With Berge he built up a considerable art collection and he borrowed liberally from artists like Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh, most famously with his Mondrian dress, which became an instant pop icon when it hit the catwalk in 1965.

Berge always believed that Saint Laurent -- who had begun his career by stepping into the shoes of Christian Dior when he was just 21 -- was nothing less than an exceptional artist, calling him "the greatest designer of the second half of the 20th century". Having "spent all my life helping Yves Saint Laurent build his work, which I want to last", Berge died earlier this month, just weeks before the museums opened.

His husband, the American landscape artist Madison Cox -- whom he married this summer -- told AFP that "10 days before he died he told me that 'I am going to die totally at peace', and I think that was true. He was a very determined man and he had put everything in place." Cox said the museums were also a tribute to Berge's work supporting and protecting the fragile Saint Laurent, who was haunted by drug and drink addictions.

"Of course I and the whole team are profoundly sad that he will not be here," added Cox, who now heads the pair's charitable foundation. "But he would have wanted that we go on." (AFP)

Image: Studio KO, Musee Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakesh

Brazil's Candomble religion pushes back against intolerance

Rio de Janeiro - When Brazilian fashion designer Rogeria Ferreira was told to remove the turban she wears as a member of the African-inspired Candomble religion for an ID picture, she decided to fight back: the turban was her identity.

"For many people, it's just a piece of cloth, or fashion," said Ferreira, 36. "But this turban represents my ancestors. If I go outside without one, I feel naked. I feel humiliated." She had no choice last year when she was told to remove the headgear, since she urgently needed a new Rio de Janeiro identity card. But in Candomble, the turban serves to protect the "ori," which is the head but also the person's sacred force.

So she took legal action, claiming "racial and religious prejudice," and in March had her prayers answered when the Rio state prosecutor general said that any headgear "worn for reasons of religion conviction" will now be allowed in official photographs. That victory was just a small battle in what Candomble faithful say is growing oppression against a religion based on traditions brought by African slaves that incorporates aspects of Catholicism.

Only 0.3 percent of Brazilians identify with Candomble, according to state statistics, but it holds a rich place in Afro-Brazilian culture. With their white clothes, music and special dances in which worshippers traditionally believe they are possessed by Candomble gods called "orixas," Candomble faithful are part of the popular imagination. At New Year's, huge crowds of Brazilians dress in Candomble white and perform a ritual on beaches, while another Candomble festival honoring the queen of the sea Iemanja is also widely attended.

Evangelical backlash

But there's been a series of ugly incidents that illustrate rising intolerance against the minority religion. In late August, a 65-year-old woman from an African-inspired faith had stones thrown at her in the Rio suburb of Nova Iguacu. More recently, two videos emerged on social media showing apparently evangelical men forcing Candomble worshippers in Rio to destroy their sacred objects.

In early September, thousands of people from different faiths protested next to Rio's Copacabana beach against the attacks, which some blame on Brazil's ever-growing evangelical Christian community. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Rio, Cardinal Orani, supported the Sunday march, as did representatives of Jewish, Muslim and other faiths. "We are all equal before the law and in the eyes of the Creator," said a big placard at the protest. Some link the darkening mood to the new mayor of Rio, Marcelo Crivella, who is also a bishop in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, an evangelical megachurch founded by his uncle. In the past, he has spoken harshly about gays and Catholics, and since taking office he has been seen as unfriendly to both Candomble and the city's annual carnival.

"Our country is secular, but we are returning to a time of the Inquisition," Adriano, a Candomble priest, said at the protest. Evangelicals also took part in the march to support religious tolerance. Attacks are done by "minorities," said Edson Garces, 30, who belongs to a Baptist church in Baixada Fluminense, a strongly evangelical area outside Rio. But Garces said the mayor, who was elected last year, needs to show leadership. "Although he doesn't appear as promoting this absurd intolerance, he creates a favorable atmosphere for the ignorance behind it," Garces said. (By Carola Solé / AFP)

Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP

"Beyond Seeing" explores sensory fashion design

What does fashion feel like, smell like and sound like? With "Beyond Seeing", a research and exhibition project, the Goethe-Institute Paris explores innovative ways of fashion design that brings together the students of four renowned fashion schools from Germany, France, Sweden and Belgium and blind and visually impaired participants. The resulting works are stunning creations in between fashion and art, which will be presented for the first time at the ESMOD Graduate Show in Berlin on 14th September.

"The project is intended to make fashion discernible beyond the visual stimuli through interaction of sensory perceptions. Different target groups who never met before - students of design, blind and visually impaired participants as well as experts of different artistic disciplines - will be brought together for the first time in order to develop innovative design concepts," states the project's press release.

Given that sight provides 80 percent of all human perception, the research project explores the question of how blind and visually impaired people perceive fashion under those circumstances, being excluded from a whole universe of mass media images of fashion. 'How do they deal with the fact that they cannot see what is worn on the streets or how other people will react to the clothes they are wearing?', 'How do they experience colours, fabrics and surfaces?', 'What do they perceive that we fail notice or no longer do?', 'What does the term beauty mean for them?' and 'How can fashion be experienced with other senses than the visual one?' are some of the other questions "Beyond Seeing" explores.

"Beyond Seeing" explores sensory fashion design

The four participating fashion schools are ESMOD in Berlin, IFM – Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris, La Cambre in Brussels and the Swedish School of Textiles in Boras. Altogether, 50 sighted and non-sighted people came together to participate in the project, which was kicked off with an incentive conference in October 2016 in Paris. Experts from various disciplines – seeing or not seeing – introduced the participants to the overall project in talks and lectures. The project was initiated by Silvia Kadolsky, founder and CEO of ESMOD Berlin, and Katharina Scriba, program curator at Goethe-Institut Paris, while Francine Pairon is the educational and artistic direction.

"Beyond Seeing" explores sensory fashion design

In February and March 2017, research workshops took place in all participating countries to develop in a participatory and dialogical process creative approaches of how fashion can be experienced beyond the sense of vision. A creation workshop in Berlin marked the third phase, in which the design and fashion students developed innovative concepts together with the seeing and not-seeing participants.

The fourth stage of the project focuses on the participants presenting their creations in a transdisciplinary and interactive exhibition with the aim of creating a multiple sensory experience. The visitors – seeing or not seeing – will touch, hear, smell and taste as well as experience and interpret fashion beyond the visual aspect.

In addition, a large program of events is planned. In January 2018, "Beyond Seeing" will be presented for the first time in a transdisciplinary and interactive exhibition at the WIP at the Parc de la Villette in Paris. After the opening event in Paris, the exhibition will be shown in Borås, Berlin and Brüssel in 2018.

Photos: courtesy of Beyond Seeing
‘Christian Dior, Dream Couturier’ opens at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

A huge show about the fabled French fashion house Christian Dior which opens Wednesday has had a galaxy of stars making the pilgrimage to Paris.

With Hollywood actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kristen Stewart already in town for the label's haute couture show, Stewart's "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson queued with models Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne to get a sneak peak of the retrospective at the city's decorative arts museum.

While Dior -- celebrating its 70th anniversary -- has become synonymous with classy highly feminine glamour, fashion was not its founder's first love. Christian Dior came to clothes through art after setting up a Paris gallery to "champion the most avant garde of artists", said the exhibition's curator Olivier Gabet.

‘Christian Dior, Dream Couturier’ opens at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

"It was he who gave Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti their first shows" in the French capital, he added. And it was his friendships with artists Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob and Pablo Picasso that helped sustain him through a difficult decade after his gallery closed in the Depression.

Dior, a talented artist, began designing theatre costumes and from there took his first steps into couture.

Superstitious

Hugely superstitious, he only made the final leap after a tarot reader told him he would head his own fashion house. Two years later in 1947 his "New Look" revolutionised fashion, throwing wartime austerity out the window, trailblazing a new femininity.

Tarot and astrological motifs would later become one of Dior's trademarks. Historian Florence Muller, who co-curated the show, said the "New Look" became "emblematic", with the show tracing how the six designers who came after Dior subtly adapted it -- and how rival houses still "reference" it to this day.

The spectacular exhibition -- which includes more than 300 haute couture gowns and dresses -- documents how Dior became the go-to brand for stars from Lauren Bacall to Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. It also reveals that Dior named his famous Bar suit after the bar of the Plaza Athenee hotel next to his headquarters on Avenue Montaigne between the Champs Elysee and the River Seine.

Ever the artist, Dior spent much of his time in the country drawing, leaving the nitty gritty to Marguerite Carre, who headed his studio. "I think of my work as ephemeral architecture dedicated to the beauty of the female body," he said.

It was, however, to prove far from ephemeral. When Dior died suddenly at the age of 52 from a heart attack in 1957 his mantle fell on his timid young assistant Yves Saint Laurent, who was only 21 at the time.

Yet in his very first collection Saint Laurent invented the "trapeze dress" which became a runaway success, and he was quickly dubbed the "little prince of fashion". However, the leather jackets of his "beatnik" show were just too much for some of the brand's conservative clientele and he was bundled out the door in 1960.

'Forgotten man'

He was replaced by Marc Bohan, who despite running the house for a record 29 years, became the "forgotten man" of Dior, according to Muller. "The extravagance of his successors Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano overshadowed a lot of what he did," said Muller even though his "Slim Look" exemplified by models such as Twiggy was highly successful.

Ferre brought an exuberance back to the label in the 1980s with flowers, feathers and rich embroidery while Gibraltar-born Galliano -- then fashion's punk rebel -- brought a strong dose of British eccentricity and theatricality, she added.

"Even so Galliano had a strong connection linking him with Dior in his vision of strong femininity, with tight waists and ample hips," she told AFP. The Belgian Raf Simons stepped up to the mark in 2012 after Galliano was sacked following a drunken rant in a Paris cafe.

Muller said the show demonstrates that Simons' work was less minimalist than his reputation might suggest. "You can get the impression it's quite simple but close up you can see the complexity," she said citing organza cut by laser and a dress make entirely of tiny feathers.

The exhibition ends with the Italian Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior's first female artistic director who took the reins last year. "This exhibition is not just about Dior. It is about women in every era which is fascinating for me," she said. "Christian Dior, Maker of Dreams" runs until January 7. (AFP)

Photos: Alain Jocard, AFP
Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts DécoratifsIN PICTURE

In the midst of Paris Couture week, the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs will open the doors to their largest retrospective dedicated to fashion, marking the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior.

‘Christian Dior, Dream Couturier’ is spread over 32,000 square feet and was designed by interior architect, Nathalie Crinière. Featuring 300 haute couture gowns, along with documents such as photographs, sketches, illustrations, letters and advertising - the exhibition follows the Haute Couture house from opening in 1947 to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s artistic direction in 2017. The exhibition was inaugurated by the French fashion house at the end of Chiuri’s autumn/winter 17/18 Paris show yesterday afternoon and will be opened for the public on Wednesday.

Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

The exhibition explores how the six artistic directors that succeeded Christian Dior have continued to shape the couture house - with six galleries in succession dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and today Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Oliver Gabet, Director at Les Arts Décoratifs curated the exhibition with Florence Müller, who worked on ‘Espirit Dior’ in Beijing, 2012. Gabet told WWD that “the idea was to show that the universe of the Christian Dior house is extremely sophisticated and cultivated, drawing inspiration from many different sources”.

Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

The extensive exhibition borrows many unseen artefacts from the Dior Héritage archive as well as from museums and galleries including The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent.

“One of the purposes of this exhibition is for people to really understand the level of detail that goes into these haute couture creations, because they go by too fast in a catwalk show, which very few people attend, and it doesn’t come across in photographs,” Müller noted.

Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

The exhibition begins with a classic gown from 1947 - representing Dior’s ‘New Look’ - the silhouette that created the post-war ideal of an hourglass figure. Continuing through the six successors designs, with stand out pieces including Galliano’s full-length python dress with accompanying Egyptian death mask.

The retrospective comes to end with Maria Grazia Chiuri’s defining pieces. Which she added to in her haute couture show on Monday in the garden of Paris’s Hôtel des Invalides - paying homage to female explorers such as the aviator Amy Johnson with a one piece shearling flying suit.

Photos: Alain Jocard, AFP

'Trad is swag' in Africa's fashion capital, Lagos

Leggy dancers in tight shorts, bottles of Moet champagne and flashy cars feature in Nigerian pop icon Wizkid's bling-bling music videos. But the singer himself has now swapped the Versace T-shirts and low-slung jeans that show his underwear for traditional African dress -- a new youth trend in fashion hub Lagos.

Last year, Vogue voted Wizkid "Nigeria's best-dressed pop singer", a particularly coveted and prestigious title in a country where appearance is all important and competition is fierce.

Clothing that used to be considered only for the old or for people out in the provinces is setting the trend in fashion, from the Yoruba agbada, a large, triple-layered robe worn in the southwest, to the Igbo "Niger Delta" embroidered collarless shirt from the south, and the northern Hausa babariga, a long tunic worn with an embroidered asymmetrical hat.

In recent years, this traditional clothing -- or "trad" as it's dubbed -- can be seen in offices as well as nightclubs, and at weddings and business meetings. "It's the in-thing now," Wizkid told Vogue magazine. "When I'm back home, all I wear is African fabrics. I get material from different parts of Nigeria -- north, west, south -- and I mix it up," said the 26-year-old superstar.

Lack of space in Lagos, a sprawling megacity of 20 million inhabitants, has meant there are few shopping centres and ready-to-wear clothing stores are hard to find. Economic recession and the free fall of the naira currency has put paid to wealthy Nigerians' shopping sprees in Dubai, Paris and Milan. Instead, they've had to make do with what's on offer locally, sending the popularity of roadside tailors soaring.

'Trad is swag'

In 2012, Omobolaji Ademosu, known as B.J., left his job in a bank to set up his own line of men's clothing, Pro7ven. In two tiny workshops in Ojodu, on the outskirts of Lagos, his dozen employees cut, sew and iron a series of orders to the sound of a diesel generator.

B.J. calls his style "African contemporary". His work includes magnificent made-to-measure agbadas with embroidered collars, which can sell for up to 150,000 naira ($475, 420 euros) each. "Trad is swag," smiled B.J.

"Any day, I can switch from Yoruba to Igbo to Fulani, I'm rocking it! It's the Lagos spirit, there is no barrier, we are one." When attending professional meetings in business and politics, dressing in the ethnic outfit of your host is a sign of respect that can really pay off -- or at least win big contracts.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's election campaign in 2015, for example, featured him in a variety of traditional outfits from across the country. With more than 500 ethnic groups, Nigeria is able to draw from a huge catalogue of fabrics, styles and jewellery. The beauty of each ethnic look is a source of pride, which has begun to extend beyond Nigeria's borders.

In early May, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a spokesman for South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters party, posted a picture of himself on Instagram, dressed in a dark "Niger Delta" outfit, complete with wide-brimmed hat and gemstone necklace. His numerous and enthusiastic female fans were quick to comment with emoji hearts, affectionately calling him "Igwe" -- an Igbo prince.

Retained 'African pride'

"Even in Paris, young people from the diaspora want to present themselves as African princes now," said Nelly Wandji, owner of MoonLook, an African fashion boutique in the upmarket Rue du Faubourg St-Honore.

"Nigeria is clearly the leader in fashion in terms of style, creativity and number of recognised designers," she said on a recent visit to Lagos. "Lagos Fashion Week has dethroned Johannesburg. Nigerians have remained much more authentic, they have retained 'African pride', whereas South Africa is very Europeanised."

Wandji, who is French of Cameroonian heritage, said the fashion trend was due to the African diaspora, of which Nigerians were the main ambassadors by sheer weight of numbers.

"Young people from the diaspora are the drivers of African fashion, they have reappropriated their culture and made it trendy because it's seen in Europe or the United States," she said.

Gloria Odiaka, a petite woman in her 50s, is the successful owner of a luxury traditional fabric shop in Lekki, a well-heeled Lagos neighbourhood. "The young generation are into native wear and they look gorgeous," she said.

"My sons study in Canada and when I go visit them they say, 'Please, Mommy, buy us some trads, I'm done with Canadian T-shirts'," she said with a laugh. (AFP)

Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP