French Beret return with force to Paris fashion

File photo showing a model wearing a french style classic beret, May 3, 2016.(Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2018
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French Beret return with force to Paris fashion

PARIS: What do Rihanna, Che Guevara nostalgics, and the Kardashian clan all have in common?
They are all bonkers about berets.
The Frenchest of hats is now also the hippest, with makers struggling to keep up with demand from everyone from pop stars to the crowned heads of Europe.
Since Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri sent out every one of her 68 models wearing one in her first autumn winter show last March, the humble Pyrenean shepherd’s hat has become the epitome of cool.
“I love berets because they’re the T-shirt of hats,” said Stephen Jones, the British master milliner who helped create the cult Dior line for Chiuri.
“Young, old, rich, poor, male, female — the beret suits everybody,” he said.
The black leather Dior version Rihanna wore to the show with such badass Black Panther attitude flew off the shelves and now sells for $999 (812 euros) on eBay.
Style icons as diverse as the Hadid sisters, the Jenner-Kardashians, the Duchess of Cambridge — a longtime fan — Meghan Markle and Princess Charlene of Monaco have all been photographed sporting berets.
Fashion critics also rejoiced at the beret’s revival with The Guardian declaring that it “may finally free us from our beanies.”
Gucci and Marc Jacobs have also got in on the act, while Laulhere, the last historic French beret maker, has been at full stretch to keep up with demand.


It has even opened a shop in Paris’ ritzy Rue St. Honore between Hermes and Prada, where sales manager Mark Saunders said some of “our bestsellers, which are covered with pearls or finished in extraordinary leathers and satins, retail at between 450 and 500 euros.”
Its more traditional “heritage” felt berets made to protect Basque and Bearnais peasants from winter snow and the summer sun sell for a much more modest 35 euros.
But retailer Sebastien Reveillard said such is the demand from fashionistas that he can never keep enough of them at his Paris est Toujours Paris (Paris is always Paris) boutique in the French capital.
“Many customers buy two and three at a time. They cannot make them fast enough for us to sell them,” he told AFP as Paris fashion week began in earnest Tuesday.
“We have sold out of some colors and if I could get my hands on more I would sell them too. Everybody — young and old — wants them.
“Not only is the beret always chic, but you can wear them for every occasion. And they last forever, the Laulhere ones are made for life,” he added.
Saunders admitted that the modest Laulhere factory, which nestles in the foothills of the Pyrenees at Oloron-Sainte-Marie, is stretched, but insisted that there were no quick fixes to meet demand.
“It takes two days to make a beret and there is an incredible amount of hand work involved. It is a very complicated process, 80 percent of it by hand.


The felting process alone takes between 11 and 18 hours, Irish-born Saunders said, using the “water from the Gave d’Aspe river right next to the factory.
“It is not easy recruiting people in such a rural area but if we moved the factory somewhere else we would not have the water which is full of minerals from the mountains.
“When you touch a finished beret you can feel them, and we would lose that.”
Saunders said the beret’s renaissance is no passing fad, but has been gathering since its present owners, Cargo, rescued Laulhere from the brink of bankruptcy in 2012.
“We realized we had something quite amazing in our hands, something that was both a fantastic fashion and luxury item which also had an incredible history and cultural importance.”
Having more than doubled the workforce to 55, Laulhere last year sold more than 300,000 berets.
With stores in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and now China clamouring for its hats, Saunders said this year they will sell even more.
“We have calls every day from shops all over the world,” he said.
Reveillard said the beret’s timeless appeal was because they were “so hugely practical. You can wear it as a kind of cap, like the farmers do, backwards like Rihanna to show the label or sideways” at a rakish angle.
A fact that was confirmed when AFP questioned beret wearers on the freezing streets of the French capital.
Florence, a 33-year-old charity worker, said you “will never look like an idiot in a beret, unlike those people who wear woolly hats in cold weather.”
Twenty-one-year-old Zulu Cecile from Bordeaux said the beret was the quintessential symbol of French style. “It is lovely to wear, goes with almost everything, and is very fashionable at the moment. What is not to like?“


Royal runway: Bahrain's Dana Al-Khalifa walks for D&G

The Dolce & Gabbana fashion show took place on Sunday in Milan. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Royal runway: Bahrain's Dana Al-Khalifa walks for D&G

  • Sheikha Dana Al-Khalifa walked the runway during the Dolce & Gabbana show on Sunday
  • She wore ankle-length dress with a flower pinned in her hair

DUBAI: Sheikha Dana Al-Khalifa of Bahrain walked the runway during Dolce & Gabbana’s show at Milan Fashion Week on Sunday.

The royal, entrepreneur and fashion blogger took to the runway in an ankle-length dress with an oversized red flower pinned her dark hair.

Al-Khalifa was joined on the catwalk by plus-sized US model Ashley Graham and an array of 1990s-era supermodels and celebrities as the Italian fashion house presented its opulent “DNA” spring-summer collection.

VIPs also studded the audience at one of the last shows of Milan’s fashion week, with singers Stevie Wonder, Cardi B and Liam Payne surrounded by young influencers in the front row, according to Reuters.

Church bells rang as a solemn procession of women dressed in black and veiled, carrying candles, opened the show. The curtain rose to reveal a cast including models Eva Herzigova and Helena Christensen and actresses Monica Bellucci and Isabella Rossellini.



In the brand’s bid for inclusion, they sent grandmothers with granddaughters, husbands and wives and even a baby down the catwalk.

Herzigova wore a black ruffled dress with a train resembling those worn by flamenco dancers. Bellucci strutted in a black and white off-the-shoulder polka-dot dress with metallic sandals. Rossellini walked down the pink runway with her family.

Italian opera and traditional music, sung by late tenor Luciano Pavarotti, was the soundtrack to the show.


For the first time in years plus-sized models walked a major show in the Italian fashion capital, with Graham dressed in a figure-hugging animal print dress leading them.

English supermodel Karen Elson closed the show wearing a wide dress that seemed to be made of flower-patterned and metallic papier mache.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana incorporated elements seen in many previous collections, with tassels, embroidery, lace, flowers, Sicilian prints, religious iconography, roses, cartoons and more combined in a blaze of color and creativity. Models wore elaborate headpieces, stiletto heels or sneakers, fishnet stockings and tight black dresses.

Spring flowers featured as hair accessories and as prints and embellishment on long ruffled dresses. One girl wore a flower crown and a layered skirt with straw tassels, while another was wrapped in jute with flowers in her hair.

The elaborate collection by Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana displayed the designers’ unrivaled aptitude for over-the-top looks with a something-for-everyone range, the Associated Press reported. There were pretty layered floral dresses with jeweled sandals, bejeweled biker jackets with tuxedo tails, raw jute fabrics in fringed day suits and tiered dresses in sparkly organza.

While the collection incorporated the duo’s well-known motifs, including prints of the Madonna, Sicilian references and floral prints, there was also a pointed message on one netted top: “Fatto a Mano,” or “handmade,” to underline the commitment to craftsmanship.