Moscow, Nov 21 (AP/UNB) — As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering an old winter staple — felt boots called valenki.
Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country.
Dating back to the times of nomads in the windy steppes of southern Russia, valenki didn't become widespread until the 19th century, when they started being produced on an industrial scale. They were quickly adopted by all classes and everyone wore wearing valenki — from the czar to the peasant in the most remote village.
The felt boots, however, went out of fashion in the 1950s, when Russians got wider access to warm, Western-style footwear.
These days, Russians still wear valenki on trips in the countryside, and one can spot a pair of "designer valenki" on a cold day in Moscow. The Russian military and law enforcement personnel still get them as part of their standard gear.
A recent exhibition in the Russian capital displayed historical footwear, like the valenki worn by Marshal Georgy Zhukov as he led Soviet forces throughout World War II, as well as the boots as cutting-edge fashion items.
Geneva, Nov 15 (UNB/AP) - A large, drop-shaped natural pearl pendant sold for more than $36 million Wednesday at a rare auction of jewelry that once belonged to French Queen Marie Antoinette, which Sotheby's is calling a record price for a pearl at auction.
The "Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl," a diamond-and-pearl pendant, was among the highlight offerings on the block at the Sotheby's sale of jewelry from the Bourbon-Parma dynasty in Geneva.
Sotheby's billed the sale as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to scoop up heirlooms and jewels that have been held in the Bourbon-Parma dynasty for generations. Some of the Marie Antoinette jewelry hadn't been seen in public for 200 years — until now.
Like many of the 10 former Marie Antoinette pieces up for sale, the pendant obliterated the pre-auction estimate — in its case, $1 million to $2 million. It sold for a hammer price of 32 million Swiss francs ($32 million), but with the buyer's premium and fees, the total sale rose to more than $36.1 million.
The buyer wanted to remain anonymous, the auction house said.
All told, the Marie Antoinette pieces reaped nearly $43 million.
The diamond and pearl jewelry of Marie Antoinette that went under the hammer epitomized the aloof, pre-Revolutionary opulence of French royals brought down by the uprising. The wife of King Louis XVI, she was executed in France's revolutionary fervor in 1793.
Before falling to the guillotine, she had secretly smuggled abroad some of her most treasured possessions to her relatives amid rising the revolutionary fervor that ultimately marked the beginning of the end of France's centuries-old monarchy.
"The Marie Antoinette pendant is simply irreplaceable," Eddie LeVian, CEO of jewelers Le Vian, said before the sale. "This is about far more than the gems themselves: Marie Antoinette's jewelry is inextricably linked to the cause of the French Revolution."
The queen's jewelry also included a set of pearl and diamond earrings, a diamond brooch, and a natural pearl and diamond necklace. A monogrammed, diamond-set ring bears a lock of Marie Antoinette's hair.
Nearly all of those lots far outstripped the pre-sale estimates, a testament to the difficulty in assessing the value of such rarely available jewels.
"It was really the Bourbon-Parma factor, plus certainly the Marie Antoinette factor," said Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby's chairman for jewelry in Europe. "Prices really rocketed. Some items sold for, I think, 20 or 25 times more than the presale estimate."
Added Andres White Correns, senior director for jewelry: "We had said when we did the press conference for this sale that this was going to be the sale of this century — and I think that the results tonight prove that this is the case."
New York, Nov 14 (AP/UNB) - A solid 70 percent of Americans plan to shop on Black Friday this year, according to a recent NerdWallet study conducted by The Harris Poll.
But the nature of a day centered around shopping can almost inevitably lead to overspending.
Here are three ways to tell whether participating in Black Friday is really right — or actually wrong — for you.
CONSIDER WHAT YOU'RE BUYING
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for long lines, big crowds and low prices.
And while the shopping holiday often does deliver unbeatable deals on things like electronics, certain items are cheaper at other times of the year.
Clothing is generally a bargain on Black Friday, but some clothing reaches its lowest price off-season, according to Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Shop It to Me, a sale alert app.
"If you're really penny-pinching, you can find better deals when items go on clearance outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday," Graham says of some apparel.
Think buying swimsuits at the end of winter or sweaters in the middle of summer.
TIP: Consider the items you want this Black Friday and write them down. Then, check Black Friday ads to see if those products will be on sale. Retailers usually release their ads ahead of time — online, by email or in the mail. If you don't see what you want at the price you want, think about waiting to buy.
CONSIDER WHY YOU'RE BUYING
Of those who plan to shop in stores this Black Friday, 42 percent said they plan to do so because they enjoy the in-store hype (e.g., doorbuster deals, camping outside of stores the night before), according to the NerdWallet study.
Enjoying this annual tradition is one thing, but going shopping "just because" isn't always a good idea. Even if you've set a budget before putting on your comfiest sneakers and standing in the cold, you may be susceptible to making additional purchases once you're among the merchandise.
On Black Friday, retailers compete for a share of your wallet, says Jeff Inman, a marketing professor at the University of Pittsburgh and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Consumer Research.
Traditionally, retailers draw in Black Friday shoppers with a few great deals — called "loss leaders" — and hope they'll buy additional items as well. Imagine going for a TV and leaving with clothing and Christmas decorations, too.
While Inman says he hasn't always seen shoppers with huge baskets on Black Friday, he does point to toys as one category where shoppers may spring for something even if they didn't see it in a Black Friday ad.
For example, while in the store, you may come across a toy and decide to buy it for your niece for Christmas. This isn't necessarily an impulse purchase; you already planned to buy a gift for your niece. But since you didn't know the exact item you wanted to buy, he calls selecting this toy an "impulse allocation" of your holiday shopping budget.
This isn't a problem if you can afford it, but be conscious of this possibility when you step foot in the store.
TIP: Think about why you want to shop on Black Friday, and whether you're financially prepared. If you're not sure you can resist the temptation to overshoot your budget, consider skipping.
CONSIDER WHEN YOU'RE BUYING
Finally, plan your timing. With deals launching earlier each year, some Black Friday sales really happen the whole week of Thanksgiving, according to Graham from Shop It to Me.
"To compete with each other, the retailers have been pushing their sales earlier and earlier during that week," Graham says.
Because of this, sometimes shoppers can get Black Friday-level prices before Black Friday.
TIP: Although this might not be true for every product category, monitor sales in the days leading up to Black Friday for an early shot at a good deal.
TO STAY OR TO GO?
Once you decide the what, why and when of your Black Friday shopping, you'll be able to decide whether you should join the crowds or stay on the couch.
Arteixo, Spain, Nov 12 (AsiaNet/UNB) - Zara's global women's men's and kids' collections will be available online to customers in Bangladesh from November 8.
Zara will launch online sales through a dedicated worldwide online platform - http://www.zara.com/ww - thus bringing its fashions to customers in Bangladesh.
The http://www.zara.com/ww platform, which is available in English and
French and is supported by dedicated customer service similarly available in
both languages, will feature new items from the women's (including the Woman,
Trafaluc and Basic lines, men's and kids' collections twice a week.
The simple and intuitive browsing experience, configured for all devices, has been designed to enable the brand's collections to be shopped as entire looks, thanks to its Corner Shops, which organize the ranges into curated collections(such as the current Dress Time theme), and Stories, which take shoppers on a visual tour of capsule collections and trends.
Zara customers in Bangladesh will also be able to shop the brand's Join
Life range,a selection of garments made from more sustainable raw materials and using more environmentally-friendly processes. In this specific section of the http://www.zara.com/ww platform, consumers can find out more about the stringent sustainability, environmental and quality standards that govern everything Zara does in order to generate value beyond profits.
Zara website (http://www.zara.com/ww)accepts widely used online payment methods such as PayPal, as well as all the main credit cards. Orders will be processed in euros, grossed up by the corresponding delivery and customs charges, and fulfilled from Zara's online platform in Spain; they will be received within three to seven days.
Zara targets shoppers who are looking for the latest fashion trends at responsible prices. This vision, coupled with the feedback obtained from customers from our stores and online platform all around the world, fuels the constant updating of its collections. Twice a week the stores receive new fashions embodying the standards of quality and responsibility that set Zara apart.
The brand was born in 1975 in La Coruna, in the northeast of Spain, where it is still headquartered today. It currently has stores in 96 countries and sells its fashions in 202 markets.
Paris, Oct 1 (AP/UNB) — As Paris Fashion Week heads toward the finish line, Sunday's shows went up a gear as L'Oreal Paris claimed to have staged the first runway show in history on the Seine River.
The star-filled extravaganza that drew crowds and halted traffic was held on a 60-meter floating podium.
Uninvited guests clambered around barriers to get a free glimpse at Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and actress Eva Longoria who took turns as models, alongside Andie MacDowell who talked ageism to AP.
Here are some of the day's highlights:
L'OREAL GOES IN-SEINE
The clothes were designed by some of the great houses of Paris fashion including Balmain, AMI, Off-White, Giambattista Valli, Elie Saab.
Yet this fashion show, much like L'Oreal's display on the Champs-Elysees last year, was always more about the show than the fashion.
A giant floating board was this season's runway — flanked by hundreds of champagne-sipping VIP guests on the river bank and others peering out from the deck of a specially-hired boat.
Drones, meanwhile, buzzed overhead to stream the action via social media to 30 different countries, and traffic along the Seine was halted for the duration of the spectacle.
The display began to cheers as a speedboat that splashed down the Seine docked some glamorous freight: out stepped model Doutzen Kroes.
L'Oreal ambassadors then flooded the runway.
British signer Cheryl appeared in provocative thigh-high boots and a one-shoulder split-leg minidress with reflective paillettes that sparkled in the blazing sun.
Elle Fanning smiled sweetly as she walked in a pastel shoulderless embroidered gown and bright red heels.
Meanwhile, American actress Aja Naomi King made her L'Oreal modeling debut in a draped pink number.
But the king and queen of the show had to be Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Eva Longoria.
The "Desperate Housewives" star stepped out in a regal, layered gunmetal mini-gown — with 2-meter-long train.
Coster-Waldau, meanwhile, was all smiles but looked slightly nervous to be there modeling to the crowds in a long-tailored coat and white shoes.
"I was surprised to be doing a catwalk. I never thought I would see the day — neither did my children!" Coster-Waldau said.
ANDIE MACDOWELL TALKS AGEISM
Ahead of the L'Oreal show, Andie MacDowell, 60, spoke to AP about ageism and her longevity in being a L'Oreal ambassador, a post she'd held for some three decades, and counting.
"I think the timing right now is really fiery as far as acceptance. And ageism is part of that acceptance," the American actress said.
"I have to say you have to give L'Oréal credit for being one of the first people to take on all ages and to take on mature people like Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton ... and keeping me," she added, humbly. (Fonda and Mirren modeled in last year's Champs-Elysees show.)
MacDowell praised the Paris cosmetics giant for being a trail-blazer when it came to "recognizing that there is no expiration date on beauty."
In "how we treat women as they get older, I think it's important to be inclusive and also have a deep respect for them," MacDowell added.
"A work in substraction," so said the house, was the spirit behind Pierpaolo Piccioli's accomplished — and pared down — display for Valentino.
Cactuses and cleanly shaped plants lined the foot of the runway, presumably in reference to the clean lines and minimalist styles that opened the show.
Deceptively simple black looks began the collection: a shoulderless baggy jumpsuit with cape and Elizabethan-style sleeves and a gown with an exaggerated peplum hem.
Their beauty lay in the subtlety of detail.
An unstructured minidress with giant flounce looked beautifully off-kilter as it hung delicately from the model's shoulder, as if it could fall off at any given point.
White looks then came, and were, alongside black, a dominant theme — speaking to the ubiquitous spring-summer trend.
Artistry was plentiful in some of these white looks: gowns with delicately-pressed pleats that seemed to fan around the belly button.
But Valentino is a couture house at heart, and despite this being a ready-to-wear show, the work of the "petites mains," or seamstresses of the age-old atelier, was on display.
An oversize, veiny wicker hat composed of billowing feather possessed a delicate organic feel, and had guests understandably reaching for their cameras.
FREIDA PINTO FINDS TIME TO STEP OUT
Indian actress Freida Pinto rocked a beautifully tailored menswear jacket look on the Valentino front row — the first time she's been seen at one of the couture house's displays.
"I'm super excited. This is really my style. It makes me feel really comfortable," she said.
"This is my first ever Valentino show... We've been trying for some time to make it work but with my schedule it's been hard," she added.
Pinto, who shot to fame with "Slumdog Millionaire," blamed her busy schedule on several "exciting" films she's starring in.
It includes the British-American fantasy adventure "Mowgli," based on the Rudyard Kipling fable set in India, in which she plays Messua, who decides to adopt the wild Mowgli, believing that he is their long-lost son Nathoo. It also features Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett.
GIVENCHY'S SLIGHT GEOMETRY
An unfathomably long laser beam led cautious guests through the pitch black to the Givenchy show inside Paris' storied Palace of Justice.
The historic stone building that housed Marie Antoinette in the last days before her execution still possesses an eerie quality that designer Clare Waight Keller nicely exploited in her nighttime show.
Thumping and gritty bass music creative a hard atmosphere, alongside the raw warehouse curtain decor.
The clothes themselves weren't quite so eerie.
There was a slight hardness to the graphic quality of some geometric bodice straps, or in the interlocking V-motif on a high collared, ankle-length gown in black.
But there was much more softness among the 59 men's and women's styles, owing to the frequent fluttering of full silk skirts, sometimes in optical print, and the soft colors.
It's hard to be gritty, after all, if you're wearing a spring-like palette of light sky blue, bluebonnet, pigment and cadmium green, and corn yellow, (balanced with off-white and on-trend black).
Some of the simpler looks — such as a series of one shoulder gowns — didn't feel like the talented British designer, alas, was pushing the envelope much this season.
But the styles ended on a high note when Waight Keller got her disco on and served up a silver, Art-Deco style column dress with armor-like shoulders.
COMMOTION AT VALENTINO
When fashion insiders tried to leave the Valentino venue at the Army Museum inside Les Invalides around 6:00 p.m., a commotion beyond the metal barriers on the street forced the security to close off the exit.
As the crowd of fashion guests swelled into the hundreds, one French editor muttering she was too important to wait pushed past angrily.
After vocal protests over being squashed, an employee of KCD PR agency explained that the police had given them instructions to stop the guests exiting the show, after someone in a vehicle had tried unsuccessfully to swerve into people on the street.
Two police officers on the scene who wouldn't give their names said an unknown person in a vehicle had tried "to ram" police officers outside the Valentino show, but didn't hurt anyone and was detained.
The fashion crowd was directed to exit via the south entrance, past the big Celine show venue with the rival house's name in huge lettering — in what was unfortunately bad optics.
ANDREAS KRONTHALER HITS THE STREET
Celebrity drag queen Violet Chachki and Milk from "Ru Paul's Drag Race" held court in a warehouse at Andreas Kronthaler x Vivienne Westwood's show.
The warehouse was an appropriate setting for an eclectic assortment of styles that riffed on the "street" in streetwear. The models, both men and women, rode skateboards and scooters.
Prints sometimes resembled graffiti, and there were sneakers, sweatpants and even the odd dog collar.
Andreas Kronthaler, 52, who took over the creative reins from his 77-year-old wife and design partner some years ago, mixed the draped gowns that are a Westwood signature with thigh-length menswear shirts, prints and text.
One of the best looks was a giant pile of fabric bags that were wrapped around the torso of a female model, perhaps a statement about the hectic pace of daily life.