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Fashion returns to catwalks as Dior takes over Athens ancient stadium

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The 2,000-year-old Panathenaic stadium in Athens was able to hold 70,000 on marble seats for the first modern Olympics in 1896. So there was plenty of room in the front row at Dior’s catwalk show at the venue this week, where the guest list was capped at 400.

Despite most international buyers, editors and clients watching from home on their laptops, Dior’s Cruise collection was a blockbuster live event. The brand was keen to point out that the ancient stadium made for a responsible choice of venue, being well-ventilated and spacious. It was also undeniably grand, especially when backlit by fireworks and soundtracked by a full orchestra. A mostly Greek and Italian audience were joined by the Greek president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and the actor Anya Taylor-Joy.

The catwalk show remains fashion’s most powerful lever for generating attention and prestige. For luxury brands who are watching profits dwindle – and observing with envy, as the cult leggings label Lululemon announces 88% revenue growth in the first quarter of this year – there is a strong business case for keeping the catwalk alive.

But there is more at stake here than luxury brand profits and designer egos. Catwalk shows are symbolic of fashion’s identity as a creative art as well as a business. They give fashion a voice in wider conversations. It is in this spirit that Kerby Jean-Raymond, the first Black American designer to show at Paris haute couture, will next month livestream his Pyer Moss catwalk show from Villa Lewaro, the elegant Hudson River estate built by Madam CJ Walker, the African American entrepreneur who was America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Now designers are pulling out all the stops to lure hearts and minds away from trainers and drawstring waists and back to dressing up. Dior’s Athens spectacular is just one of a raft of upcoming fashion blockbusters. Earlier this week, Louis Vuitton staged and filmed a space-tourism themed catwalk show outside Paris, without a live audience. Max Mara are taking their catwalk to the Italian island of Ischia next week, while Valentino and Saint Laurent have announced catwalk shows in Venice in July.

For the Dior designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri, each catwalk collection is “an immense atelier for research and imagination. For a creative person, it is a beautiful thing to do, an opportunity to collaborate”.

Chiuri used the Athens show to explore how the relationship between a prestigious Parisian fashion house and the global cultures and traditions which appear as references on its catwalk has evolved. In 1951, a famous set of pictures by the photographer Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini showed models in Christian Dior ballgowns posing in front of the sculpted female figures of the Caryatids of the Acropolis, mirroring their graceful poses. Seventy years later, Chiuri is aware that a French fashion house using an ancient Greek monument as mere stage props for its latest silhouette would not fly with modern sensibilities.

“As a designer, if you are careless, then you diminish beauty and culture so that it becomes a cliche,” she said. “That is what we work to avoid – we were very focused on what is contemporary to Greece now.” The collection shown on this catwalk will provide work for Greek fashion businesses, with houndstooth pieces woven at the Silk Line, an Eastern Macedonian factory which uses traditional Greek jacquard techniques. The Greek fisher’s caps on the catwalk were made by Atelier Tsalavoutas, which has manufactured the caps since the 19th century. In a statement, the house of Dior emphasised their respect for the iconic venue, where they “worked hand in hand with Greek archaeologists to ensure the site’s complete and unconditional preservation”.

Travel is a fantasy for most people right now – but billionaires have had a very different experience of the pandemic. On 20 July, the 11-minute inaugural staffed flight of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket will inaugurate the era of space tourism. If it is a success, the 1% will soon be needing a new holiday wardrobe.

So for Louis Vuitton’s latest catwalk show the house’s creative director, the lifelong space travel enthusiast Nicolas Ghesquière, created the ultimate new season capsule wardrobe: a space capsule wardrobe. Images of an escalator leading up to a planet, surfers on an moonscape beach, and a motel car park in an alien landscape were emblazoned on to spacesuit-quilted trousers, Courrèges-style futuristic flat boots, and gravity-defying ovoid silhouettes. “It is a fantasy that has become real, now that it has turned into a competition between titans,” said Ghesquière in a videocall after the livestream of the show, which was filmed without a physical audience. The designer is keen to make a trip himself. (“But not the first flight. I’m not that brave.”)

Louis Vuitton catwalk, detail
Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière has created a ‘space’ capsule collection as inspired by imminent era of space tourism. Photograph: LV PR

The allure of space has always been a metaphor for adventure. This show was as much about the millions pining for a few days on a beach, as about what to pack for a Blue Origin flight. Think parachute-silk sundresses, chunky flat sandals, and miniature suitcases fashioned into handbags. The show was filmed on the Axe Majeur, an art installation on the edge of Paris which takes the form of a futuristic, architectural landscape garden. With its grand scale, modernist colours and airy urban minimalism, the location shares an aesthetic with previous Louis Vuitton show locations such as the Miho Museum in Japan, and the Niterói Museum in Brazil. “We are all missing places we can’t go to, but sometimes exoticism is not so far away,” said Ghesquière.

“A beautiful catwalk show is a celebration that brings to fashion the visibility it deserves,” he added. He is hoping to return to a catwalk with audience in October. “But I also want to be an agent of change now.” Ghesquière intends to keep hold of “the spirit of 2020” in reducing fabric orders, scaling back prototypes, not overproducing collections. “It’s about small decisions that we make every day and being careful that we keep going in the right direction, rather than thinking always of expansion.”

Lockdown dress codes made themselves felt on the Dior catwalk in the chunky white trainers and logo-stamped sport socks that were worn with fluid white goddess dresses. “After the pandemic, everyone wants to feel like they can move,” said Chiuri.

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Today at the Olympics: Russia’s women triumph over U.S. after Biles exit

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By Euronews with AP

Russian Olympic Committee's artistic gymnastics women's team, from right, Liliia Akhaimova, Viktoriia Listunova, Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova celebrate.


Russian Olympic Committee’s artistic gymnastics women’s team, from right, Liliia Akhaimova, Viktoriia Listunova, Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova celebrate.

  –  
Copyright 
Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Russia’s gymnasts took gold in Tokyo on Tuesday in one of the biggest upsets of the Olympics so far.

Barred at the Olympics from using its name, flag, or anthem over a systemic doping scandal, the team hung their medals around each other’s necks to the music of Russian composer Tchaikovsky.

Although the Russian team’s triumph was attributed to the departure of U.S. gymnastics superstar Simone Biles – who withdrew from the tournament, citing a ‘medical issue’ – they won by 3.5 points, a large margin.

Here are today’s results:

Women’s triathlon

The first gold medal of the day went to Flora Duffy of Bermuda who won the women’s triathlon.

It’s the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the small island of about 64,000 inhabitants and the first medal of any kind since 1976.

The 33-year-old Duffy had never finished higher than eighth in her previous three Olympic triathlons.

Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown won the silver medal and American Katie Zaferes won bronze.

Swimming

Great Britain pulled a one-two in the men’s 200m freestyle with Tom Dean capturing gold and teammate Duncan Scott taking silver.

Australia got its third gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics when Kaylee McKeown swam to victory in the women’s 100m backstroke.

Athletes from Russia ended the US hegemony in the men’s 100m backstroke with Evgeny Rylov taking gold and Kliment Kolesnikov claiming silver. American Ryan Murphy settled for the bronze. It was the first backstroke defeat for the U.S. men at the Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Games. They won 12 straight golds at the last six Olympics.

But Lydia Jacoby, 17, quickly rallied for Team USA by taking gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke event.

Shooting

China’s Pang Wei and Jiang Ranxin defeated the Russian Olympic Committee’s Artem Chernousov and Vitalina Batsarashkina to take gold in the 10m air pistol mixed team.

Ukrainians Oleh Omelchuk and Olena Kostevych beat Serbia’s Zorana Arunovic and Damir Mikec in the bronze medal match.

Surfing

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira became the first-ever surfer to win an Olympic gold medal after beating Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi in the men’s final.

Australia’s Owen Wright is going home with the bronze medal after defeating top-ranked Gabriel Medina from Brazil.

On the women’s side, Carissa Moore, 28, won gold for Team USA

Moore is a child prodigy from Hawaii who grew up to be the youngest world champion surfer. She beat Bianca Buitendag of South Africa, who won silver. Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki took home bronze after handily winning her heat against American Caroline Marks.

Diving

China’s Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi have won the gold medal in the women’s 10m synchronised event.

Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell of the U.S. took silver while Gabriela Agundez Garcia and Alejandra Orozco Loza of Mexico earned bronze.

Women’s mountain biking

Swiss athletes dominated the tough course, the hardest yet of any Olympics with a vertical height difference of 150m, to claim every step of the podium.

Gold goes to Jolanda Neff, with silver and bronze going to Sina Frei and Linda Indergand respectively.

Women’s K1 canoeing

Germany’s Ricarda Funk takes home the gold medal. Fellow European Maialen Chourraut, from Spain, is the silver medalist. Australia’s Jess Fox, the event’s favourite, won the bronze.

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Chanel suit finds new fans in Gen Z channelling 90s nostalgia

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The Chanel suit, an outfit typically associated with ladies who lunch, has an unlikely new set of fans – Generation Z.

This month Olivia Rodrigo, the 18-year-old singer of hits including Driver’s Licence and Good 4 U, chose a pink and black vintage version for a visit to the White House to meet the US president, Joe Biden. Global fashion search platform Lyst said that following the appearance, searches for vintage Chanel rose by 200%.

Chanel suits have also been worn by Simone Biles on the cover of WSJ magazine, and by the cast in the Gossip Girl reboot. Jennie from the band Blackpink, meanwhile, wears the luxury label so much that she is sometimes called “Human Chanel” by fans.

Scene from Gossip Girl
The reboot of Gossip Girl. Photograph: BBC/PA

Rodrigo’s choice was a nod to First Lady style – its most famous wearer being Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the 60s – but the 90s are the focus of this revival. The singer’s suit is from Chanel’s spring/summer 1995 collection.

The references being made by the suit’s new Gen Z fans are more likely to be a young Helena Christensen on the catwalk in a Chanel suit and bikini top, Hilary Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or Cher Horowitz from the 1995 film Clueless. Instagram account @chanel_archives is a popular source for Chanel catwalk images from this era, whose high-profile followers include Ariana Grande and Tavi Gevinson.

Clueless
90s inspiration: Cher and Dionne in 1995’s Clueless. Photograph: Alamy

Chanel is, of course, a luxury brand and therefore expensive. Vintage suits on sites like Farfetch have prices starting at about £2,000. Those without rock-star budgets get the look with Chanel-like pieces on Depop, the resale app that Rodrigo uses herself, for as little as £25.

Depop’s global curation lead, Viviana Attard, who studies trends for the company, pinpoints the style as part of the rise of preppy look. “[Rodrigo] visually expressed a vibe that’s been gaining more traction lately – we’ve seen an increase in interest in listings and searches for the typical preppy look, recently brought back into fashion with the Gossip Girl reboot.”

Lyst’s content editor, Morgane Le Caer, argues that the different associations of the Chanel suit – the fact that it can signal preppy, first ladies, the 90s and the 60s – is a concept that appeals. “Gen Z style is … about creating a very personal world – or mood – through the juxtaposition of visual elements,” she says.

Ryan McMahon, who runs @chanel_archives, says he particularly likes the “kitsch” collections that Karl Lagerfeld produced for Chanel between 1990 and 1997.

“I think we’re in a generation of nostalgia, and everyone seems to be obsessed with looking back in fashion and remembering a time when fashion wasn’t so serious. Chanel in the 90s is a perfect example of this,” he says.

“Hopefully from my account people are discovering ways to style the Chanel suit in a fun and fresh way that can be youthful, which a skirt suit isn’t always assumed to be.”

Both Le Caer and Attard argue that the sustainability factor of vintage is important – and Rodrigo represents her generation here too. “[She] is a huge secondhand and vintage fan and makes environmentally conscious decisions with her fashion choices,” says Attard. “It’s no surprise she chose to wear vintage for such a high-profile and momentous occasion like visiting the White House.”

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Brows beaten: 10 of the best brow gels

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Some people are blessed with naturally full, exquisitely shaped brows, the kind of luscious gift that keeps on giving – . If that’s you, come back next week. Everyone else, keep reading. Brows frame your face, but getting the right size, shape, colour and density demands skill. Too thin or thick, wrong shade or shape, and your face looks off kilter. Thankfully there is help. Professional threading is great for keeping brows tidy. If they are sparse, a brow tint will provide an illusion of fullness. Alas, it doesn’t last very long. For longevity, head to Daxita Vaghela, aka “The Lash Queen” who now also does microblading – the tattooing technique that adds hair strokes to your brow. It has a realistic finish and lasts up to 18 months. If you don’t fancy anything permanent (or have a low pain threshold) stick to products. Many swear by brow pencils, they are great for filling in gaps and creating sharp outlines, but for a natural finish, you need a steady hand and a light touch. An easier option for great volume and density is a brow gel. You simply brush the product on to your brows and you’re done. For a full but natural and glossy look, try the clear variation. For a bolder brow, try colour – the Anastasia Beverly Hills range is excellent. Brow gels are fail safe. Just don’t waste time trying to make them look identical. Remember, brows are siblings, not twins.

1. Hourglass Arch Brow Volumising Fibre Gel £27, spacenk.com

2. Benefit Gimme Brow + Volumising Eyebrow Gel £22.50, benefitcosmetics.com

3. Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel £23, cultbeauty.co.uk

4. L’Oréal Paris Unbelievabrow Long Wear Top Coat £10.99, boots.com

5. Chantecaille Full Brow Perfecting Gel £34, libertylondon.com

6. Too Faced Brow Wig £18, toofaced.co.uk

7. Charlotte Tilbury Brow Fix Sculpting Gel £19, charlottetilbury.com

8. BareMinerals Strength & Length Serum-Infused Brow Gel £18, bareminerals.co.uk

9. UOMA Beauty Brow Fro Volumising Brow Gel £23.50, beautybay.com

10. Kevyn Aucoin True Feather Brow Gel £22, lookfantastic.com

Follow Funmi on Twitter @FunmiFetto

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