Festive Silver - Decor for the Holidays

RELIGION - Whether you're into Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, the Winter Solstice, Yuletide or New Years the "in colour" this year isn't really a colour. Its silver.

Move over red and green – neutrals, metallics and peacock shades are the hot holiday hues of 2008.

This year’s decor is taking a cue from the runways. PARA Paints chose a royal-inspired festive palette of plumy purple, flat silver, icy white and cream and, the season’s rising star, cobalt blue.

For traditionalists, deep blue paired with silver and white is stepping up as a wintry alternative for the now oh-so-passé combo of red and green.

Metallics, including classics like silver, gold and bronze, are also popular again this season. Metallics in a not-too-shiny, midtone finish are particularly hot this year and mixing metallics isn't as hard as it sounds.

For the more adventurous host or hostess you may want to embrace the monochromatic trend. A combination of white, cream and silver can evoke a warm but wintry feel, while copper, beige and brown creates a natural-yet-chic atmosphere.

You don’t have to spend a gazillion dollars

When money is tight, holiday decorating doesn’t have to mean placing a single white candle on the table. Getting the house ready for the holidays on a budget simply means being a little resourceful, decorating experts say.

Carefully revamping or creatively using what you already own can create lush looks in lean economic times. Objects found in the home can be used to create a sense of richness and warmth in a family room. The idea is to convey a sense of abundance.

ie. Find a clear glass bowl and fill it with ornaments of a single bright colour for an eye-catching display.

Set a budget and follow it closely, reuse your stash of decorations, bring in the great outdoors, and remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Paint or glitter can refresh the decorations pulled out of closets and basements and spray paint can be your best friend.

Try buying a large roll of wide ribbon and making bows that can be placed on trees, garlands on staircases and gifts. Making your own bows is cheaper than buying new ones.

You can make wreaths look new by attaching new fake berries, sprigs or pine cones.

Try using nature to update your decor, for example, by gathering twigs, pine cones, branches and pine boughs and arranging the items in a vase, as though they are part of a flower arrangement. Spray painting the cones festive silver can also work wonders.

Teenagers cutting back on Fashion

FASHION - American teenagers are being forced to cutback on fashion this holiday shopping season. Why? Because their parents are cutting back on spending, and this means allowances are being cut, parents are reining in on their children's credit cards and teens are being told to GET A JOB whenever they ask their parents for more money.

All of this is the result of the current recession and credit crisis in the United States.

THE GOOD NEWS: The holiday sales this season are EXTREME. All the companies are DESPERATE for cash, afraid of going bankrupt and are offering 70% sales or better. This means for those of us who do have spending money we can stretch our budget a bit farther and buy more clothes (or more quality) than we normally do.

Australian Fashion Week dumps 14-year-old model

FASHION - Last April 14-year-old Polish girl was dumped from Australian Fashion Week (AFW) after organizers bowed to public pressure to adopt a minimum age of 16 for its fashion models.

The controversial decision to feature 14-year-old Monika Jagaciak in the major Sydney fashion event was reversed "in light of industry and community concern regarding the acceptable age for models".

"Effective immediately, both male and female models participating in Rosemount Australian Fashion Week will need to be at least 16 years of age and must be represented by a model agency," AFW said in a statement.

Monika, who was to have been flown to Sydney for the event which begins on April 28, has previously fronted a campaign for French fashion house Hermes and has been photographed in a white swimsuit being sprayed by a shower jet.

Vogue magazine added to the pressure for an age limit of 16 to be adopted, saying it would not feature Monika in its AFW coverage.


Obamachic and Obamamania

FASHION/POLITICS - Like Barack and Michelle Obama's fashion sense? You're not alone.

Barack Obama is not just the next president of the United States. He's also the new face of fashion.

Thanks in part to sightings of A-listers like Ryan Phillippe, Brad Pitt, Beyoncé and Kanye West wearing Obama T-shirts, as well as the constant and prominent display of the politician's handsome face on the big screen at the recent MTV Europe awards, his image has reached the status of an international pop culture icon.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Toronto designer Kingi Carpenter, of the quirky label Peach Berserk, is making stuff emblazoned with Obama's face. Carpenter makes silkscreened hoodies, dresses, T-shirts, skirts and scarves... all with Obama on them. One woman even bought Obama pillows for her house.

The designer, a self-admitted political junkie, follows American politics obsessively and is an Obama fan. But her inspiration for the Obama items arose out of Canadian history. She once saw a dress from the Trudeaumania era emblazoned with the image of the famously attractive prime minister and was fascinated with what it meant.


Every time Michelle Obama wears one of her unusual dress selections on television, the item flies off the shelves.

The famous $148 sundress she wore on The View and the J.Crew yellow suit she wore on Letterman were huge hits with shoppers, while the red dress she wore on her first visit to the White House sold out within a week.

For women it will be Michelle who will be setting fashion and cultural trends when the couple reaches the White House.

Michelle Obama also nixed getting a designer pooch like a stupid chihuahua, saying her kids would adopt a rescue dog, and will continue this thrifty, socially conscious pattern throughout the term.

Obama's American-made family car, a Ford Escape hybrid, is a perfect example of this, as it is both patriotic and environmentally responsible. It sets an example Americans can live by.

This doesn't always work: Jimmy Carter tried to get Americans to wear sweaters during the energy crisis of the '70s and, even though he happily sported a cardigan, the style was only adopted by a few. On the other hand, he says, Ronald Reagan's love affair with the colour brown was widely adopted in men's clothing.

When fashions were adopted, such as Jackie Kennedy's clothes and J.F.K's refusal to wear a hat, the fashion fads were widespread throughout the U.S., regardless of political affiliation.

Michelle Obama's wardrobe differs greatly from the "very European and Anglo Saxon" outfits worn by Cindy McCain and Laura Bush, but instead features a more globalized chic.

Barack Obama's preference for white shirts and dark suits sends a message that he's honest and straightforward. We can expect white dress shirts to get a popular surge. Everything about the new First Family will be scrutinized and copied by an adoring public. Together their White House style will fit in with the new era of austerity, but will still have sparkle and energy.

Its definitely an improvement over George W. Bush and his shoulder pads.

Karolina Kurkova is the world sexiest women

Fashion Riot for Comme des Garçons

FASHION - Imagine if you will going to an H&M store at Toronto's Eaton Centre and standing in line for 12 hours waiting for the store to open... and then when the store does open a riot breaks out and people start fighting over the clothes.

That is what on November 13th 2008.

210 people + Limited edition designs by avant garde Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo for fashion label Comme des Garçons = RIOT.

Kawakubo, the founder of Comme des Garçons, is often credited with being one of the first to introduce a predominant use of black, asymmetrical hems and frays seams when she first launched the label in Paris in the early 1980s.

Rei Kawakubo is untrained as a fashion designer, but studied fine arts and literature at Tokyo's prestigious Keio University. After graduation, Kawakubo worked in a textile company and began working as a freelance stylist in 1967.

In 1973, Rei Kawakubo established her own company, Comme des Garçons Co. Ltd in Tokyo and opened up her first boutique in Tokyo in 1975. Starting out with women's clothes, Kawakubo added a men's line in 1978. Three years later, she started presenting her fashion lines in Paris each season, opening up a boutique in Paris in 1982.

Comme des Garçons specialises in anti-fashion, austere, sometimes deconstructed garments. During the 1980s, Rei Kawakubo's garments were primarily in black, dark grey or white. The materials were often draped around the body and featured frayed, unfinished edges along with holes and a general asymmetrical shape. Challenging the established notions of beauty she created an uproar at her debut Paris fashion show where journalists labeled her clothes 'Hiroshima chic' amongst other things. Since the late 1980s her colour palette has grown somewhat.

Rei Kawakubo likes to have input in all the various aspects of her business. Rather than just focussing on clothes and accessories. She is greatly involved in graphic design, advertising and shop interiors believing that all these things are a part of one vision and are inextricably linked. Her Aoyama, Tokyo store is known for its sloping glass facade decorated with little blue dots. This was designed in collaboration between Rei and a Japanese architect. Rei published her own bi-annual magazine, 'Six' (standing for 'sixth sense'), in the early 1990s. It featured very little text and consisted mainly for photographs and images that she deemed inspiring. In 1996 Rei was guest editor of the high art publication Visionaire.

Rei Kawakubo is known to be quite reclusive and media shy, preferring her innovative creations to speak for themselves.

How to Convert a T-shirt into a Dress

FASHION - Ever wanted to turn an old t-shirt into a dress? Well, with a little help from a Fashion MacGyver (GiannyL.com) you can, and its not that hard.




Chocolate Fashion

CANADA - Using pounds and mounds of chocolate, 10 local designers created outfits – ranging from a hat, to a bikini, to a wedding dress to jeans – incorporating the decadent dark stuff for a runway show at the Carlu in Toronto on Wednesday night.

It was the fourth annual Cadbury Chocolate Couture Collection that sees the confectionery company invite fashion designers to each create an outfit – under the direction of a chocolate artist – comprised of 70 per cent of the sweet stuff.

This year's theme was the global passion for chocolate and each look referenced a different international culture.

Some of the designers seemed to subscribe to the true chocolate aficionado's credo: go with gusto and eat the whole bar, and choose only the really good stuff. While some creations looked merely spray- painted with Dairy Milk, others seemed gleefully and wonderfully overindulged.

Izzy Camilleri's African Queen was influenced by the continent's royal tribes, with a costume featuring a bodice made of twigs executed entirely of chocolate. Even stacks of arm bracelets were chocolate-dipped.

Design duo Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, of red-hot label Greta Constantine, took the silk route with their Thai Temptress, which incorporated six metres of stringed, solid-chocolate beadwork.

Milliner Karyn Gingras of Lilliput Hats fashioned a towering chapeau in the shape of the famed Sydney Opera House.

At the reception that followed chocolate fountains and chocolate martinis helped soothe chocolate cravings.

Spa and Masseuse Do's and Don'ts

When visiting a spa to get a massage here are some helpful do's and don'ts when it comes to spa etiquette.

/FASHION - Arrive at least fifteen minutes early for your appointment, to give yourself time to check in and get into your robe. If the spa has special facilities like steam or sauna or whirlpool baths, you should arrive even earlier to enjoy them.

You will usually undress completely for massage and body treatments, but your therapist will keep your body draped in dry services and only expose area to be worked upon. Some spas use draping in wet treatments like body scrubs, while others do not.

Give the therapist feedback as to your comfort and special troubled areas. You can talk or be quiet, and he she should follow your lead

Relax, enjoy and allow others to care for you.

Understand that you are getting therapeutic massage, which is not a sensual experience.

Don't talk loudly in the public areas.

Do not bring children and leave them unattended.

Gratuities of 15-20% are typical.

If the therapist says, "take your time getting up," it means not to get up so fast that you get woozy. You generally have five or so minutes. The room must be prepared for the next client unless she or he says otherwise.

Give honest feedback to the therapist, owner, receptionist, etc., as operation personnel cares to know if your spa experiences was as expected.

Finally, and this is a big must, avoid eating gassy foods before getting your massage! The last thing the masseuse wants is for you to break wind in their face.