Real Women on the Runway

FASHION - Its not that fashion models and supermodels aren't real, its just that they're not realistic compared to average working women these days.

Today Vancouver Canada based fashion designer Cheri Milaney created a first-of-its-kind runway show that stitches together real women and high fashion. She's chosen 22 average-sized non-models from a variety of careers to display her Fall/Winter 2009 collection tonight at LG Fashion Week.

The women he's trained are mothers, artists, teachers, entrepreneurs and cancer survivors.

"It's not just a runway show," says Milaney. The concept is intended to shake up the notion of ideal beauty, she says. "It's about bringing life to the clothing."

While not professional models, the models have each been given practice sessions on the catwalk by Ben Barry, the author of 'Fashioning Reality' and a modelling consultant.

Milaney hopes her stance will give the younger generation role models to look up to.

The name of Milaney's Fall 2009 collection, Viola, which means purple in Italian, also represents an instrument that can be associated with the natural curves of women.

To make the clothes fit women sized 2 to 16, Milaney takes into account the rise in the pants, the seams on the jackets and the way they drape over the body, details that both flatter the models and looks great.

Fashion Brawl in Manhattan

FASHION - Supermodel Tyra Banks says producers of America's Next Top Model are "doing everything we can" to see all the women left out of auditions after a weekend melee in Manhattan.

Three people were arrested and six injured in New York on Saturday afternoon when an audition lineup for America's Next Top Model turned into a brawl.

Thousands of women had been waiting overnight outside the Park Central New York hotel for a shot at stardom on the hit television reality show created and hosted by former supermodel Tyra Banks when the chaos broke out.

Two people were taken to hospital, but four others refused treatment.

Its believed the riot started when a fight between two women broke out. Matters were made worse when a man charged into the crowd attempting to steal handbags.

Police canceled the day's auditions and two women and a man were arrested on charges of inciting the riot and disorderly conduct.

The street outside the hotel was littered with shoes and clothing from people who had tried to escape the melee.

Tyra Banks, who is also the show's supermodel executive producer, has said she created the show to counter stereotypes about beauty. The current auditions were open only to women no taller than five feet, seven inches tall, which is shorter than the industry's conventions.

"It is so important to me to redefine beauty, and make sure that everyone gets a fair chance to pursue their dream," says Tyra Banks. "I am beyond excited for Cycle 13; for the first time ever, young women 5'7" and under have a shot at becoming America's Next Top Model! I encourage each girl to come out ready to rock the runway and show off their fiercest pose. I'm rooting for all of you!"

Tryouts are being held around the United States this month.

Luxurious Earth Tones

FASHION - Love earth tones but don't want to blend into the background?

Think luxury.

When picking earth tones to wear, the trick is to look at the clothing and imagine if Marilyn Monroe was wearing it. Would it look elegant, luxurious and sexy? Or would Ms Monroe toss it to the side and look for something else.

If it can't pass Monroe's standards, why would it pass yours?

FOR REFERENCE: Earth tones is a color scheme that draws from a colour palette of browns, tans, greys, greens, and even some reds. The colours in an earth tone scheme are muted and flat in an emulation of the natural colors found in dirt, moss, trees, rocks and minerals. Many earth tones originate from clay earth pigments, such as umber, ochre and sienna.

Earth tones has a very natural, sexy look.

Depending on the fabric, the cut of the fabric or what you mix it up with, earth tones can also look rustic, festive, warm and soft. It breathes sensibility, sexuality and it slimming. Earth tones also brings out your unique qualities and compliments your skin tone.

After all, why get stuck with the little black dress in a room filled with little black dresses, when you can wear something that is both slimming and unique.

When picking clothes, regardless of what colour(s) it is, I always take into account Three Things:

#1. When/where am I going to wear this?

#2. What can I wear with this? What will it match?

#3. Will I still be wearing this 2 years from now, or 5 years from now?

And if you're on a budget, you can add a 4th: Cost.

With earth tones its really easy to accessorize and it matches with a lot of the clothes you already have (hence why brown leather jackets have stayed hot throughout the ages). Add a fedora, bandanna or long gloves and you can create a very unique look.

Brown doesn't have to be boring however.

It can be very elaborate, elegant and vibrant. Mix it up with some golds/reds/greens it becomes even festive.

And don't think for a second this is just for Winter, Spring or Autumn. A brown bikini can be quite sexy, because it matches your skin tone very well.

Red Alert: Fashion Entering the Red Revolution

FASHION - For almost 30 years black has maintained a stranglehold on fashion, even in Paris the avant garde capitol.

But there are growing signs that things are changing and that red... isn't dead.

In the early 1980s purist Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto claimed black was dense with meaning and subtext.

They rejected colour and focused on form and shape. Colours were frivolous and only to be used as accents, if absolutely necessary.

Black was existential, smart, artsy and serious. Wearing it meant separating yourself (like goths do) from the rest of the overly colourful society.

For Kawakubo, black was a feminist colour because she felt it desexualized the female form.

These days everyone wears black, but the high-mindedness and theory has gone stale. Now black is a cliche and is "so two decades ago".

Women today who wear black will defend it by arguing it's easy to co-ordinate and that it visually flattens unwanted curves.

Even now as the fall/winter 2009 Paris collections unfold, black continues its death grip on the runways, from the outrageous puffy black gowns at Junya Watanabe to the dark elegant suits at Lanvin and the black rocker dresses at Balmain.

But long ago red was the hot ticket and now red may be positioning itself for a comeback.

Red is also the symbolic colour of economic failure, of blood, love, passion, hate, ambition. It is the colour of revolution, danger, bloodshed and change.

Red has so much more meaning, its bolder and more likely to land you the job when you go for the interview.

Barack Obama is here and change is in the air. The United States is the only place where change is taking place. We can almost taste it like a blood-red steak that hasn't been fully cooked.

Heck, Michelle Obama (the latest and kewlest fashion icon) is wearing red and so are her kids.

In Paris red is everywhere. From the scarlet hair of Sonia Rykiel to the discreet red soles of a Christian Louboutin shoe, even for the famous tourist trap the Moulin Rouge, red has always figured prominently.

An exhibit on display until November at Les Arts Décoratifs reminds visitors of the importance of red and its relationship with cultural subversion and political strife. The exhibit, called "Aussi Rouge Que Possible," pays its respect to the colour red as a symbol of life, danger, luxury, sex and fantasy.

Over two floors at the museum on Rue Rivoli, the exhibit chronicles the role of red in all of the visual arts, from art history to furniture to fashion.

It examines the part red has played in political struggles (revolutions from Ché Guevara [by photography Alberto Korda] to China); in eroticism as in red-light districts for prostitution; and in the pomp of military uniforms.

Even Little Red Riding Hood would seem inappropriate in any other colour.

The truth is, red may never regain its former glory. But right now, red is for people looking to be hot and cool at the same time.