A Russian Ballet Dreams of Isadora Duncan

Los Angeles is famous for its movie premieres. In recent years, the vitality of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Opera Company have also attracted their share of premieres. Still, I was excited to attend the world premiere of a ballet, Isadora, inspired by the life of Isadora Duncan, choreographed by Vladmir Varnava with Royal Ballet Principal dancer Natalia Osipova in the lead role, as performed a few weekends ago at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

Sergei Danilian, the Sol-Hurok-like impresario who brought Russian dance and Russian dancers to the Segerstrom in past seasons, was instrumental in developing this ballet for its premiere at the Segerstrom. Danilian had worked with Varnava and the Mikhailovsky Theater in the past, and Varnava had appeared at Segerstrom as a dancer in one of Danilian’s productions. Danilian encouraged Varnava to develop as a choreographer and create an original full ballet with supported from Segerstrom donors and other like-minded balletomanes.

Natalia Osipova, formerly of the Bolshoi, and known for her emotive performances as Giselle, had wanted Varnava to create a work for her. When Osipova and Varnava discussed creating a new ballet, Osipova spoke of her love for Profikiev’s Cinderalla score. Varnava was interested in the story of American modern dance icon Isadora Duncan, particularly her connection to Russia. So Varnava decided to choreograph what he calls, his dream of Isadora, to Cinderella.
Osipova has said that Cinderella, the theme of transformation is “not unlike that of Duncan and magic she performed on the world of dance” and that they are both stories about “a young woman who searches for beauty and sense of individuality amid tremendous tragedy.”

Osipova is right to recognize in Duncan’s life a maverick independence as well as great tragedy. Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was born in California. Her father lost all the family’s wealth and then left the family itself. Isadora, already rebelling against the strictures of classical ballet supported the family by offering dance classes. Duncan found expression in classical Greek poses, adopting the flowing robes of the ancients instead of the corsets and tutus of ballet. Personal expression and personal freedom was central to Duncan. She danced barefoot and searched in her movement to create a modern dance idiom from more natural movement. Duncan was unconventional in dance and in her personal life. By the time she was 20 she had traveled to Europe been acclaimed and inspired followers and admirers. Among the admirers was the sewing machine heir Paul Singer, with whom she had two children out of wedlock. Tragically, the children were in a car with their nanny when the driver lost control and plunged the car into the Seine drowning them.

Structure your wardrobe: how to dress like an architect​

This autumn, looking as if you have a deep understanding of Bauhaus and brutalism is only a pair of heels away

here is a phrase popping up as frequently as oligarchs’ penthouses on the London skyline. The expression “dressing like an architect” has become the ultimate fashion compliment. People who wear Prada, or Marni, or Issey Miyake are often said to dress like architects. So, too, are those who wear structural shift dresses from Cos.

Mules (top to bottom): £69.99, Zara; £69, Topshop; £65, M&S. Cos clothes: culottes, £59; top with rib sleeves, £55; poplin shirt, £59.

There are Mumsnet threads devoted to the art of architect dressing: “You need to decide on a ‘look’ and then rigidly stick to it, no matter what life throws at you. Lots of black, structure and red lipstick. Hair is either bobbed or short with a quiff,” advises one post. New York magazine suggests that the look is merely a Maison Margiela draped blouse away. For inspiration, visit the How to Dress Like an Architect board on Pinterest, which has almost 186,000 followers, and is a sea of black, white, camel and grey.

This autumn, the high street is embracing a trend for architect-appropriate shoes with structural heels. Zara has sleek, black mules with heels the shape of a protractor, while M&S will, from the end of September, have slingbacks with bulbous heels reminiscent of wooden pillars. Topshop has a range of shoes and boots with heels that look a bit like the Berlin television tower, while Asos has shoes and boots that balance on futurist silver spheres.

If these do not satisfy your urge to look as though you have a deep understanding of 3D modelling software, going full architect is easier than ever. According to the Guardian’s architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, you don’t even have to wear neutral colours. “With the resurgence of postmodernism, there has also been a rise of very brightly coloured clothes among architects,” he says. “One young partnership, Space Popular, dress in amazing rainbow shades; their appearance has become a big part of their reputation.”

Although many brands favoured by architects are expensive (Wainwright mentions Margaret Howell and Studio Nicholson), no shop is more relevant than Cos, he says. While popular culture might suggest that all architects are super-rich, in reality, most are not very well paid. “Instead, there is a lot of ingenuity in the way they buy clothes,” says Wainwright. “These are often cleverly layered garments that you might not look at twice from a distance, then you realise have interesting textures. Materials are something architects obsess over in their jobs, and they dress the way they design.”

Dressing like an architect means dressing mindfully. The influential Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas keeps his phone in his sock, says Wainwright. He reaches down to his ankle every time he gets a call, such is his dedication to maintaining the line of his trousers.

Coco Chanel said: “Fashion is architecture – it is a matter of proportions.” Dressing like an architect, on the other hand, seems to be a matter of mastering all the small details at once.

How Becky Sharp’s wardrobe in Vanity Fair reflects her social rise and fall

Vanity Fair episode 42 still

There’s no one quite like Becky Sharp. Coming of age in the heyday of the Austen heroine (typically good, kind, humble and determined to do the right thing), William Makepeace Thackeray’s arch, cynical and self-serving Becky provides quite the contrast.

Her wardrobe gives her away: the colours are a little too bold, the jewels too many. Becky isn’t the girl next door or an ingénue but a femme fatale. She’s smart, determined, driven. In this Regency setting – and with the prettily, softly dressed Amelia Sedley for contrast – Becky stands out. She demands too much; she is too much.

For many contemporary readers, she was an anti-heroine, but two centuries after her creation – and with a new ITV adaptation bringing her story vibrantly to life – it’s to Becky that we relate. And as we follow her rags-to-riches-and-back-again story, her clothing communicates every social rise and fall along the way.

The only way is up
From the first glimpse we get of Becky, leaving behind her position as a teaching assistant at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies, she is firmly in control. Yet it’s a scene that also wordlessly communicates her place on the social scale. As an ‘articled pupil’ who has to work for her education, she sits far lower than the wealthy girls whom she teaches French.

Dressed in cold shades of grey – a colour of work, not play – her wardrobe tells of humble origins and works to keep her firmly in her place. Meanwhile her pupils, the daughters of the gentry, parade down the stairs two by two in saccharine pinks, yellows and blues – the colours of childhood and innocence – trimmed in feathers, ribbons, silk flowers and frills.

Suranne Jones as Miss Pinkerton in Vanity Fair

“In the early 19th century, there was a huge amount of etiquette around what you were allowed to wear,” says Lucinda Wright, the costume designer for the series. “It would tell people what class you were, what your personality was like; it really spoke volumes. You would be shunned in society if you tried to overstep the mark.”

Regency revolution
The brightly hued fripperies of Becky’s pupils form a symbolic barrier into another world, reserved not just for those who could afford them, but for whom they were a birthright. Yet for bright, determined and utterly anachronistic Becky – ever challenging the norms and pushing boundaries – they are a red flag to a bull. “I think she was just hell-bent on getting up that social scale,” says Wright. “By hook or by crook she would have got there.”

In contrast to the lace and powder that had come before, fashions in the Regency era were decidedly relaxed, especially for young women. The empire silhouette dominated. Named after Napoleon’s First French Empire, and his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais who helped popularise the style, it featured a higher waistline, set just below the bust, often with shorter, puffed sleeves.

Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley in Vanity Fair

This offered women a sartorial reprieve of sorts, and though the style still called for short-stay corsets that lifted the bosom, these didn’t extend to the waist, offering women a new level of physical freedom. Some women ditched corsets altogether, opting instead for a boned or ribbon-tied chemise.

Gone, too, were heavy brocade fabrics and the complicated infrastructure of hoops and panniers. Gowns fashioned in lighter cloths would hang completely free or with a single petticoat. There were other changes too. Mornings were spent in ‘undress’ (from the French déshabillé): loose comfortable gowns worn until noon. The vogue for young society women to go out for walks together in parks, seaside resorts or country retreats – essentially to be seen in the fashions of the day – led to the creation of ‘promenade’ or ‘walking’ dresses, which were trainless and had shorter hemlines. The low necklines and nearly sheer fabrics worn in the evening seem almost risqué, even by modern standards.

The fabric of society
Yet while the styles of the time may have seemed comparatively liberating, perhaps even hinting at a French egalité, there was little real emancipation for women in the Regency era. While Mary Wollstonecraft had started to fan the flames of feminism, Fanny Burney had achieved overnight fame as a novelist (of all things) and trailblazers such as Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot (who gave us champagne) were proving themselves in the world of business, the position of women in English society remained perilous.

The law precluded them from any kind of inheritance, so the pressure was on to marry well. Becky doesn’t just recognise this, she embraces it with ruthless practicality, pragmatism and honesty. And by faking it till she makes it, she can ensure the best match possible.

Becky Sharp

As she steps over the threshold of the Sedley household, Becky embarks on her ascent in society and, with each rung she climbs, adds some little piece of finery to her outfit. On that first day, Amelia wraps a cashmere scarf around her arms, a gift that’s quickly followed by a dress in pastel pink.

Becky’s status can be tracked by her wardrobe – a reflection of society at the time, when women truly wore their pasts on their sleeves. Or, in Becky’s case, her past as she would like to paint it.

Is It Real—And Does It Matter? How Korea’s Counterfeit Culture Shaped My Style

“Grindr: The Opera” taps into debates about desire and big tech

IF FACEBOOK were represented on stage, it might take the form of a huge house party, where podgy babies, perfect prom queens and advertising executives jostle for attention. Twitter could be a tree filled with birds, chirping a discordant cacophony day and night.

What about Grindr, a dating app used by millions of men looking for men for sex and romance? In Erik Ransom’s musical production, directed by Andrew Beckett at Above The Stag Theatre in London, the app is depicted as something between a god and a siren. In black feathers, a leather corset and a cape, the character (Christian Lunn) is unnerving and ever-present. He neither interjects nor directs the human drama. He lingers behind the protagonists as they have sex.

Presenting the app in this form works well. It draws on the incarnations of destiny and fate common to Greek mythology, and ensures that the “opera” (the show actually features a range of musical styles, from baroque to contemporary pop) is more than just a jolly romp through the world of casual gay relationships. Grindr, in humanoid form, is a reminder of something important—that behind seemingly omnipotent technologies are people, ideas and code. Many tech entrepreneurs downplay the fact that their platforms and algorithms are built and moderated by people with biases: they like to claim that their inventions are just tools that simply help humans to solve problems. “Grindr makes life easier,” said Joel Simkhai, the app’s founder, in an interview. “These technologies…don’t get in your way or make you jump through hoops. They’re there to facilitate your life.”

But technology and algorithms are never neutral; Grindr asks users to categorise themselves into one of 12 “tribes”—such as “jock” or “geek”—which are hardly objective categories. Accordingly, there is nothing about Grindr on stage that suggests neutrality. He is as full of motivations and desires as his human peers. He entices his users to fornicate; when they get into trouble he does not wince with guilt. He shrugs it off, a fallen angel delighting in the drama.

Here Grindr cares little about users’ wellbeing, and more about creating a habit. The production neatly captures the ubiquity and stickiness of such apps. “They think they leave me when they delete me,” he intones, “but I still lurk in the corner of their minds. I am addiction, their affliction.” Users are dragged back time and again, coaxed by Grindr to leave their partners and spend time on their phones to find new ones. He stretches out his spindly fingers to beckon them into fresh temptation and debauchery.

If this compulsion seems inevitable, so does the very creation of the app in the first place. Grindr appears almost by surprise in the lives of the four main characters, and yet they seem to have been waiting for him all along. At the beginning of the show, their laptops are carried away and replaced with glittering smartphones, a progression as natural as evolution ending with upright man. “I am technology and nature combined at last,” Grindr sings. “It’s in the genes of every man to get his rocks off where we can,” he croons, suggesting that when smartphones met with geo-technology, an app helping gay men to locate each other was a matter of time.

Presented on stage in Mr Ransom and Mr Beckett’s opera, this inevitability is both hilarious and thoughtful. The show is rightly not a moral crusade against the app: characters’ lives take both positive and negative turns as a result of using it. Humour is used to comment, to observe and to probe, parodying modern dating and sex dramas in memorable songs. And as with all the greatest operas, it is a tale of humanity struggling with love in all its forms. “It’s the oldest game,” Grindr sings, “but the rules are new, and the best we can do, is muddle through.”

Rebels in Corsets

In 1845, more than a century before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, a 24-year-old school teacher, boarded a streetcar in New York City. She forgot to check whether African Americans were allowed to ride it. When she was asked to dismount, she refused because she was running late for church. She clung to a window frame before a police officer threw her off. Graham filed and won a lawsuit against the Third Ave Railroad, receiving $250 dollars in damages. Her actions led to the eventual desegregation of railroads in the city.


Graham has been identified as one of the “Rebel Women” of Victorian-age New York City” — a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit is small, concise and well designed, the walls painted a unique dark green that showcases 19th-century portraits and prints.

‘Rebel,’ is often associated with our pop culture references to it: a leather jacket-clad, cigarette-smoking James Dean in Rebel without a Cause, David Bowie’s memorable line, “Rebel, rebel, you’ve torn your dress,” or Bikini Kills’ early ’90s punk hit, “Rebel Girl.” It is hardly the character-type we associate with the Victorian women of the New York bourgeois scene.

From this exhibit, we learn that rebellion comes from even the smallest transgressions of social norms — no need for fishnet stockings or leather of any kind. While many of the things the featured women did would not be considered “rocking the boat” today, women in that era could be considered rebellious simply by speaking out in the public sphere.

In the first half of the 19th Century, due to Queen Victoria’s strict moral code, “true womanhood” was marked by four core components: domesticity, religious piety, sexual purity and submissiveness.

The exhibit begins with an examination of this “true womanhood,” a concept many women still struggle with today. Many of the fashion expectations, for example, seem shocking. There is a display of a rib-crushing corset, gloves that needed “stretchers” to put on, dresses so heavy that the wearer would have to lean far forward in order to keep balance, (then known as the “Grecian Bend”).

In an opposing example, there are a pair of bright red, button-up shoes displayed. To wear these during the day would have been a sign of rebel status, as women were meant to be demure and not attract physical attention.

While at first, the fashion sense of “true womanhood” seems outrageous to the modern person, we still consistently grapple with women’s clothing choices. Whether we are ‘allowed’ to vie for physical attention or if doing so means we are “sluts”; whether wearing “fashionable” clothing means we’re adhering to a certain type of patriarchy or if it means we can find a certain kind of personal empowerment in it; whether certain ‘non-feminine’ clothing shows our rebelliousness against mainstream notions of femininity or if our choices in clothing ultimately mean very little.

The most fascinating aspect of this exhibit is the way in which it makes the viewer feel far away from what we perceive as crazy, antiquated misogyny and then quietly shows parallels to modern-day gender issues. In two long lines down what feels like a hallway, the exhibit goes through various “rebel women,” their names scrawled in over-the-top Victorian fonts. The women contend with birth control issues, being in control of their own bodies and being taken seriously in the workplace and in politics.

Some of the women chosen to represent the rebels are commonly read about in history textbooks: social reformer heavy-weights like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are included — their attitudes towards women’s suffrage are considered some of the most rebellious of their time. Of course, we also find Nellie Bly among the rebels, looking cool and calm while doing her investigative reporting for New York World.

But the exhibit also crucially includes lesser-known, nonwhite, lower-class rebels who are often forgotten but were no less important to the 19th century female-rebel movement.


Mary Jones, born as Peter Sewally, was an African-American woman who, as the exhibit explains, asserted her right to wear “feminine attire despite the rigid gender binaries that governed Victorian society.” Madame Restell made her reputation as the most successful, and infamous, birth control provider of her era. Margaret Fuller, a leader of the Transcendentalist movement of the 1830s, took a virtually unheard of intellectual, anti-religious stance, and also became one of New York’s first national news columnists. Actress Adah Isaacs Menken wore scandalous (body-hugging) outfits and hung out with the likes of Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens. She noted, in reference to the times in which she lived, “Good women are rarely clever and clever women are rarely good.”

The news media openly reinforced a standard of exclusion of “unfeminine” women who were too opinionated or who defied Victorian values. Many of these women were villainized in sexist prints in newspapers (a means of public shaming), featured throughout the exhibition. Madame Restell, after making an income from her abortion services, was described as “The Wickedest Woman in New York,” depicted as having a satanic bat in place of hands. The bat is eating an aborted fetus. Victoria Woodhull, a “Free Love” advocate who believed women had the right to marry — and divorce —whoever they chose was depicted as a devil by Harper’s Weekly.

There an uneasy feeling permeates throughout the exhibit, a subtle nagging that overarching, repressive social norms are still essentially the same for women two centuries later. But it also offers hope. We often view Victorian women as demure and rule-following, yet this exhibit shows how cracks in social fault lines can spread in even the most oppressive of societies.

The label’s autumn-winter collection has an eye for womanly shapes

The runway at Gaysorn Village was a spectacular tribute to the mysterious charm and beauty of women with its elaborate dresses and evening gowns of contrasting shadow and radiant light.

“Tale of the Luminaries” came to a truly remarkable close with the appearance of superstar Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund, wearing a wonderful outfit.

The curvy, feminine shapes were typical of Poem, and here they lent themselves to visions of the moon in tiny corsets, deep-neckline dresses, trousers and circular skirts designed for maximum grace and comfort in movement.

“I did this collection in January, when people of my generation for the first time witnessed one of the greatest celestial phenomena – the superblood blue moon,” Chavanon explained.

“I wanted to interpret the wonderful, subtle and mysterious beauty of the moon and of astrology, in which I’ve always been interested. The power of nature is revealed in many dimensions, such as the lunar eclipse, which can be compared to feminine emotions. Every woman has her own individual mystic charm in their way.”

Chavanon said advanced technology aided in the application of a new technique – 3D digital sublimation – in printing the “ombre” shades of moonlight in the perfect combination. “Such techniques require precision to control the amount of pigment absorbed by the material.”

The print of the season was generated in white and black tones as a houndstooth pattern. Other hues featured included super-black, navy blue and midnight blue to evoke water and pink, red and maroon for fire.

There was also Poem’s refined tailoring, ensuring timeless classic-yet-modern looks in a velvet sheath dress and a deep-neckline long-sleeved top for daily wear.

A mesh body suit was matched with a soft mesh tulle skirt for comfort and a shower robe of wool fabric looked lightweight and warm – and also enhanced the curves.

“My mother, who set up the brand in 2006, used to be a tailor and her main expertise was in boutique-style French garments,” Chavanon said.

“She would measure the body in centimetres for the perfect cut so that the clothing would emphasise the customer’s beautiful shape. This was the look of the 1950s, the period I like most. Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn were fashion icons.”

Chavanon, who studied architecture, has nonetheless modernised the designs with multiple perspectives in the patterns, structure and lines based on female curves. He was thrilled to have Yaya in the show.

“The beauty of Yaya is surreal – she’s like a hologram, but she’s real! I think she represents the women of Poem perfectly – beautiful and smart.

“Her fabulous gown weighs 15 kilograms, with lots and lots of mesh cloth layered for a circular silhouette.”

Other celebrities participating included Sikanya Sakdidej Bhanubhandh, Onchuma Durong- dech, Napaporn Bodiratnangkura, Kornkanok Yongsakul, Yuwared Sarutanond, Parva Nakasai, |Piraya Singha and Kerika Chotivichit.

 

This Detail Will Make You Love Kylie Jenner’s Dress Even More

If we were allowed to have one look at Kylie Jenner’s closet, here are the things that we would see: incredibly sexy bikinis, hypnotizing heels, and mini dresses that perfectly show off her famous curves. So when the 21-year-old star stepped out in a little bodycon number by Alexander Wang, we weren’t necessarily surprised. Well, until we took a closer look at her ensemble, that is.

For a night out in New York, Kylie wore a fiery red minidress that featured black spaghetti straps. While at first glance it could have looked like any other little red dress, the young star stood out thanks to the brocade detailing that covered her outfit. She finished her ensemble with long pendant earrings, black strappy heels, and a handbag covered in diamante. Ahead, get a closer look at Kylie’s Alexander Wang dress, and then shop similar options for yourself.

Period costume-makers need both fashion designer and historian skills

French designer Sylvie Facon crafts clothing from materials including book spines, sheet music and an actual violin.

Got too many books piled up at your house? Here’s an option for recycling them that I never thought of: this strangely beautiful fairy-tale dress from French designer Sylvie Facon, with a bodice made of leather book spines. Facon, whose Instagram is a delicious rabbit hole of fantasy gowns (other materials include sheet music, painted landscapes on fabric and a dress featuring an actual violin), crafts clothing that tells stories — in this case, quite literally. Now, how would this look if made from worn-out paperbacks?

The Sexiest Bikini & Costume Photos Of Jessica Nigri ‘Queen Of Cosplay’

Jessica Nigri, the “Queen of Cosplay,” has repeatedly been voted as one of the best and sexiest cosplayers on the planet, per Cosplayer Network. Nigri burst onto the scene at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con when she officially debuted one of her most famous cosplays, sexy Pikachu. Nigri showed up as just another convention attendee, but when people got a look at her, she became the center of attention, far more than many of the celebrities and panels that people actually paid to see. Overnight, she became a viral sensation and set in motion the modern cosplay era.

Nigri took advantage of her overnight notoriety and used it to help develop a solid online following. Based on the strength of that, she launched a successful YouTube channel, accrued over 3 million Instagram followers, and cemented herself as American cosplay royalty.

The Pikachu cosplay that started it all is not a literal representation of the character, but rather Nigri’s interpretation of the way she sees it. Even taking just a quick glance, it is easy to see why so many people descended upon her at that first comic con. Lines of people formed, wanting photos of and with her, and making her the talk of online forums for weeks to come. People at that con might not remember what celebrities appeared, but they do not forget that it was Nigri’s coming out party.

In 2012, Nigri began modeling professionally. She initially began taking gigs that were centered on cosplay, but soon she began getting more mainstream offers, and some niche work that continues to keep her busy and well paid. Her ability to mimic almost any look a photographer wants, as well as reputedly being good to work with, keeps her in high demand.

Despite mainstream work and success, Nigri has never forgotten her roots and continues to cosplay. If anything, her heightened level of success has actually helped her expand her cosplaying universe to include Game of Thrones, as well as her take on popular TV shows and movies that aren’t always thought of but many cosplayers, such as Baywatch, even if it just to try out a new wig.

Still, some of her best received work online centers around almost anything in which she is wearing lingerie, such as the next photo. She calls this one “Black Cat.” It’s not really cat woman, and it isn’t necessarily even all that reminiscent of a cat, but it looks great and all that matters is that she and her fans enjoy it. If you can think of something that is popular in geek culture, the odds are she has done something that is at least loosely connected to it.

As a final bit of fun, her holiday elf is a fan favorite. Every Christmas, fans look forward to who, or what, she will be to celebrate the season. So far, she has not disappointed, whether it be an elf, Santa, or naughty Mrs. Claus. It is definitely a departure from some of her Gears of War 3 cosplays, that she made some nice coin to help launch the game according to Cosplay News Network. Whether someone likes video games, movies, comics, or any kind of cosplay, there is a good chance Nigri has done it, and done it well, or has it on her radar for an upcoming event. It’s why she is the “Queen of Cosplay.” she delivers what her fans want.