From Mayo to MoMA

From Mayo to MoMA: the iconic Aran jumper heads to New York

When an early Aran handknit from 1941 goes on exhibition in MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York next month it will take its place on a world stage alongside more than a hundred items considered powerful and enduring examples of 20th century clothing and accessory designs.

They include the little black dress, the Breton sweater, the biker jacket, denim jeans and the sari. “Fashion is unquestionably a form of design with its pitch struck in negotiations between form and function,” states the museum.

The first thing to be said about this emblematic piece of Irish clothing from the Aran Islands that will arrive in New York from Mayo’s Museum of Country Life, is to nail the old canard that drowned fishermen could be identified by their sweaters. Tim Robinson wryly noted in Stones of Aran referring to a male model at a Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris in 1985 decked out in a handknit Aran sweater, tight knit trousers, scarf and cap in snow white wool, “that the outfit certainly would have identified him if he had been washed ashore drowned”.

This pervasive myth no doubt has helped the industry, but has no bearing whatever in fact. The Aran sweater as we know it is a 20th century phenomenon which emerged on the islands somewhere between 1900 and the late 1920s. Unlike Harris tweed whose name is protected and whose tweed can only claim provenance from the isle of Harris, the word Aran is now a generic term used to describe any patterned sweater with relief decorations – a garment that can be made anywhere.

When I was researching the history of the Aran sweater for my book on the subject, the first port of call was UCD’s Department of Folklore. The section on boatbuilding was extensive and thorough, but under cniotail (knitting) there was barely an entry. Women’s work was not considered that important. Yet, studying the early examples of the richly cabled, intricate and decorative handknits of the early 20th century from the Aran Islands is to be awed not only their calibre and beauty, but their mathematical and technical achievement.

To understand the complexity of some of the early handknits is to realise that they were often composed of horizontal lines of some 400 stitches in rough homespun wool in which 12 stitches or 20 rows made up roughly one inch. Each stitch on every row had to be correctly worked to ensure the correct motif. Each pattern such as a cable or diamond had a specific number of stitches which gives some idea of the arithmetic involved let alone the decorative and topographical skills required to arrange and realise a series of designs successfully. And this creativity was within the knitters’ heads and hands, all from memory and not written down or codified until the late 1940s when the first Aran pattern was published by Patons.

The influence of the Aran and its survival as a prime example of good design has been pervasive and widespread – popularised by the Clancy brothers, by images of stars like Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly in their snow white sweaters. Sean O Casey had his sent to Cornwall from Ireland. In various guises it has been seen on a long line of celebrities – Kate Bosworth, Oliva Palermo, Nicola Roberts and Gwneth Paltrow,Claudia Schiffer to name but a few.

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the Kardashian Empire

Kylie Jenner Is Now the Richest Member of the Kardashian Empire

When entertainment outlets started reporting that Kylie Jenner‘s beauty line, Kylie Cosmetics, has made nearly $1 billion in 18 months, seasoned industry observers collectively rolled their eyes. It sounds like the laughably unfeasible boast of a PR person who’s bitten off a bit more than her matte-lipped mouth can chew.

One skeptic of this storyline is Dan Barker, a London-based e-commerce and retail expert. “The numbers feel unrealistically large,” he says. “My gut instinct is not to trust them.” So Barker went in search of the real story.

The claim from Jenner’s mom, Kris, is that Kylie Cosmetics has sold $420 million worth of product since its launch 18 months ago. Barker puts this suggestion into context by comparing it to Burt’s Bees’ last publicly available figures. Those showed $250 million in annual revenue, just before the company was acquired for $925 million.

Is it possible Kylie Cosmetics is already doing twice as much business as one of the beauty industry’s stalwart brands? According to Barker’s research, there are strong indicators that Kylie Cosmetics’ success is such that the notoriously shy baby sister is now worth more on paper than anyone else in her family.

Assuming Kylie’s sales have trended evenly—no spikes or dips—for the last 18 months, her revenue for 2017 would total $280 million. But numbers cited elsewhere indicate that business has not plateaued at all. Indeed, forecasts showing Kylie Cosmetics on-target to sell $390 million worth of products this year reveal that the company has continued to drive massive growth. “A big chunk of sales seem to come through the Kylie Cosmetics website,” says Barker—sales on which the company would likely make a higher margin versus sales from intermediary retailers.

If the same margins and acquisitional market that applied to Burt’s Bees were applied to Kylie Cosmetics, the company’s valuation would be well over $1 billion. As unbelievable as it may sound, her booming brand further indicates that Kylie Jenner is on course to become her family’s first billionaire. At that point, she will have a higher net worth than her sister Kim Kardashian-West and Kim’s husband Kanye West combined.

Not bad for the quiet, socially awkward little sister in a family full of brazen hustlers. And not bad for a beauty brand that, apart from Jenner’s own occasional pop-up shops, isn’t even sold in retail stores. So how did she do it?

The first smart move Jenner made was partnering with brand incubator Seed Beauty. Helmed by Laura Nelson, Seed puts traditional celebrity licensing deals to shame. Rather than slapping a celeb’s name and face on a white-label product, the company works with them to build the brand and its products from square one. Another Seed-built brand is ColourPop, which brings on-trend, affordable products to consumers within days of identifying a new fad. The fact that Seed took ColourPop from concept to launch in three months is an indication of how quickly their model progresses growth.

Luckily for Jenner, Seed is able to produce products at breakneck speed. According to Barker’s research, Kylie Cosmetics has sold at least 10 million products since launch. “The average price of an item from Kylie Cosmetics is roughly $36,” he says. “The most expensive product is $325. To make $420 million, the brand would had to have sold 11.7 million average-priced products—or 1.29 million of her most expensive product.” Assuming a mix across the range, Barker’s estimate seems conservative.

That means that Jenner’s brand has sold approximately 560,000 units per month—or 18,250 products every day. “Over the whole 18 months, Kylie Cosmetics has sold an average of one product per five seconds or less,” Barker reports. That’s more than a dozen products sold every minute.

But is this kind of meteoric growth something Jenner and the Seed Beauty team can maintain? Barker’s research indicates that interest in the brand has recently declined somewhat (though perhaps the billion-dollar company story will fix that). He examined how consumer interest in Kylie Cosmetics is tracking against other major beauty companies, low-budget and luxury brands alike. Despite the slight downward trend, Barker concludes, Kylie Cosmetics is still roughly on par with competitors like NARS in terms of monthly searches. Unsurprisingly, the same data shows interest in Kylie Cosmetics has spiked to more than 100 percent more than that of more traditional brands like Burt’s Bees.

The proof of the brand’s stability will come over the next quarter, Barker predicts. “Holidays and big launches are usually the most crucial periods for brands like this. It looks like Kylie Cosmetics launches in 2017 have been a little less in-demand compared to last year, at least within Google Trends’ data. So the holiday season will be a key period to see whether the brand will pick up or see its growth taper off.”

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Fashion Weekend Summer ’17

What You Missed From Denver Fashion Weekend Summer ’17

For the first time ever, Denver Fashion Weekend (DFW) showcased a brand new summer event at Wings Over the Rockies. The event took place this past weekend on August 5 and 6, featuring multiple local designers and boutiques. The talented participants showcased their latest fashions on a 170-foot runway — our longest runway yet. The new venue certainly made an impression on the guests with large airplanes looming overhead. We wanted to take a look back at the best moments with a recap of this year’s summer DFW 2017.

An exhibition of Leonardo DaVinci’s Machines kept guest entertained during a cocktail reception. The exhibition took inspiration from some 45,000 sketches DaVinci left after his death, revealing detailed machines and inventions he created. DFW guests were able to enjoy over 65 hand-crafted inventions built from DaVinci’s designs. Many of the machines on display were interactive, kept guest busy and gave them a glance into the mind of one of the world’s greatest inventors.

However, when the fashion hit the runway all eyes were on the models as they showed off their skilled walks and the latest fashions. Night one, which took place on August 5, featured contemporary designers and shops from the Denver area as well as veterans designers like Rachel Marie Hurst and Kotomi Yoshida. Night two featured something different, with our very first children’s fashion. The show brought out the cutest faces and garments Denver has yet to see.

Night One

Night one brought a traditional fashion show featuring Denver’s hottest designers and boutiques including W Boutique, Insyre Boutique, Steve Sells, Tyne Hall, Kotomi Yoshida and Rachel Marie Hurst. The long and spacious runway was enough to get guest talking, with hundreds attending the first night. The show started off with a bang as models made their way down a scenic runway. Opener W Boutique, went with floral looks both casual and dressy for their show. Looks were great for the summer with transitional elements showing wearers how to make it a fall look.

Another designer that hit it out of the park was Tyne Hall with a lace and leather collection. While some looks were very feminine with lace and sheer white themes, there seemed to be something darker underneath with black and leather accents. After the show Hall shared the inspiration for her collection, which is about a girl who seduces a voodoo priestess’s lover. “The collection starts very sweet and gets darker signifying the transition from chaste and innocent to seductress,” she said. Also inspired by Victorian New Orleans, she insisted that the collection was very romantic, which we could see in her choice of cuts and fabrics.

Menswear designer Kotomi Yoshida made sure that the men had some time in the spotlight as well. Her collection featured themes of masculinity versus feminity with flowing fabrics. However, ripped fabrics resulted in exposed body parts that caused tension in the garments. Some males had their faces partially hidden adding a sense of mystery, which played off a recognizable theme she has played with in past seasons.

Well known Denver designer Rachel Marie Hurst got the crowd talking with her pastel collection inspired by the idea of female power. The collection featured a soft color palette of blushes, pinks, flesh tones, creams and golds. She even went a step further as to include hints of olive. According to Hurst, “The collection was inspired by a blazer I had made, so I deconstructed parts of that look to incorporate them into the collection in a subtle way. Mixing feminine and masculine pieces that feel like an army of goddesses is what I hope will come across.” The night ended with everyone feeling fabulous and inspired by all the DFW summer fashions.

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a Vogue Model

Lindsay Lohan's Little Brother Is a Vogue Model Now

Who's that boy?

With his shock of orange hair and freckled face, Dakota "Cody" Lohan, the youngest of Dina and Michael Lohan's children, bears a striking resemblance to big sister Lindsay, 31. Those looks didn't go unnoticed — in 2016, Cody, 21, signed to IMG models, and earlier this week, Lindsay revealed that the youngest bro-han landed a spread in Vogue China.

"Proud of my little brother in Vogue China," wrote Lindsay on Twitter alongside a photo of Cody in an oversize sweater and a Victorian-collared blouse. The 21-year-old isn't new to the modeling realm. In 2005, the littlest Lohan hit the runway in a full Indian headdress for Child Magazine at Olympus Fall Fashion Week and turned on his swag again for the publication's 2006 show.

According to his IMG profile, Cody is 5 feet 10.5 inches tall and has hazel eyes. All of the Lohan siblings, including middle children Michael Lohan Jr. and Ali Lohan, have dipped their toes in the world of show business — not to mention, they appeared alongside mom Dina on the short-lived reality series Living Lohan, which aired for one season in 2008.

When she's not tweeting about the accomplishments of her little bro, Lindsay can be found on her new lifestyle site, hosted on Preemium, and on traditional social media channels, where she's recently been teasing a jewelry line and taking selfies with Steve Aoki.

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Wedding Rules

Wedding Rules

As recreational marijuana becomes legal in more states and the stigma around its use continues to diminish, its presence at even the most traditionally conservative events seems to know no bounds. The latest place weed has been making an appearance? Weddings.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, couples in places like Colorado and California have been incorporating the heady herbal refreshment into their nuptials at a growing rate, driving a whole new economy of weed-related wedding services. Couples can hire wedding planners who specialize in cannabis coordination, bow tie–clad “budtenders” to man the open bud bar, and even high-end transportation companies that come complete with a joint-rolling concierge. And for those who just need a little inspiration, there are whole websitesdedicated to the art of creating a chic, cannabis-infused event.

Though most couples aren’t forgoing traditional alcohol bars, industry experts say there are plenty of benefits to offering cannabis in addition to cocktails. For one, it’s relatively affordable—and can even help curb costs. As a grower who spoke to Bloomberg quipped: “There’s a lot more buzz for the buck in cannabis than in alcohol.” (One does wonder, however, if the catering bill might be higher thanks to munchie-driven snacking?) And Tomer Grassiany, of artisanal cannabis-chocolate company To Whom it May, says that guests who trade booze for bud “are much more likely to be well behaved, less likely to be aggressive.” Plus, “an event that replaces alcohol with cannabis is generally a much cleaner one,” he adds. “Alcohol spills, is sticky, and leaves stains.”

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Below, a few things to take into account if you’re thinking of adding cannabis to your own nuptials.

1. Consider Location

Don’t assume that because recreational marijuana is legal in the state you’re marrying in every venue will be fine with guests openly sparking up at the reception. Be honest with the venue about your plans for a cannabis-infused celebration up front and be specific about how you plan to serve it. “Offering vaping instead of joints goes a long way by taking away most of the stigma that’s associate with smoking cannabis,” says Grassiany. “Vaping means there is no smell and no dense smoke clouds filling the event.” Once you’ve established the terms, be sure you get the specifics in writing.

2. Consider Consumption

Beyond vaping, many couples choose even more subtle ways to incorporate cannabis. “For those who oppose anything that looks like the act of smoking, the best option is edibles,” says Grassiany. “They can be a very discreet way of consuming cannabis, without affecting other guests.” Just be sure you’re clear with your guests about the dosage of the treats on offer. “For guests who aren’t used to consuming marijuana, you may want to offer very small portions or treats that are infused with just a small amount THC,” one expert edible eater advises. Bottom line: Guests can always eat more, but it’s pretty hard to eat less, so make it easy for everyone to consume mindfully.

3. Consider Presentation

“A chocolate bar is always a favorite, and is the best option for venues that are not open to smoking or vaping of any kind,” says Grassiany. Most experts recommend placing the bar in its own corner away from the rest of the festivities—especially useful if you have underage or un-approving guests on the list.

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