Atlantic City, Jul 24 (AP/UNB) — There she is. Here she isn't.
Miss America is leaving Atlantic City for the second time, trading one casino town for another in a move that caps a whirlwind of change at the nearly century-old pageant.
This year's pageant will be held at the Mohegan Sun Connecticut in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Miss America Organization said Tuesday.
It will be broadcast on NBC on Dec. 19, in a switch from recent broadcaster ABC.
"The Miss America Organization is proud to partner with Mohegan Sun as we return to our longtime NBC home," said Regina Hopper, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization. "We are looking forward to a fresh take on this historic competition that will showcase the incredible women vying for the job of Miss America 2020."
Ray Pineault, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun, noted the college scholarship money the Miss America Organization provides to contestants.
"Miss America is a storied organization that has a long history of empowering women, providing tremendous educational resources to women and serving the overall public good," he said.
"We're thrilled to be hosting an impactful event like the Miss America Competition in December, and we look forward to working with both Miss America and NBC on what will be a tremendous evening," he said.
The broadcast will be on a Thursday evening from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time, a departure from its longstanding fixture as a Sunday night event.
Announcements by the Miss America Organization and NBC mentioned only this year's competition and did not address whether the pageant was making a multi-year commitment to Connecticut. Messages seeking clarification from pageant officials were not immediately returned.
The pageant began in Atlantic City in 1921 as a way to extend the summer tourism season beyond Labor Day weekend. It became synonymous with the New Jersey seaside resort but moved to Las Vegas in 2005, returning to Atlantic City in 2013.
It had been held at the historic Boardwalk Hall, and a parade in which contestants wore shoes with themes identified with their individual states had become part of the pageant's history.
For decades, the pageant was a part of Americana, and longtime master of ceremonies Bert Parks crooning, "There she is ... Miss America," became synonymous with the pageant.
An email scandal in December 2017 led to the ouster of the pageant's mostly male leadership, some of whom were revealed to have mocked contestants' appearances, intellect and even sex lives.
They were replaced by female leadership including former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America.
But state pageant organizations chafed under the new leadership and launched vocal protests against the new leadership, which vowed to move forward with changes designed to make Miss America more relevant and empowering to women.
The biggest change included the elimination of the swimsuit competition in favor of more in-depth contestant interviews.
Carlson has since stepped down.
The pageant's departure from Atlantic City had been expected since the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority declined to renew subsidies for the pageant following last September's competition.
Over the past six years, the agency spent more than $20 million on subsidies for the pageant.
Connecticut did not provide the pageant with any financial incentives to make the move, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Economic Development said.
Yokohama, Jul 4 (AP/UNB) — Japan's culture of cute makes no exceptions for poop. It gets a pop twist at the Unko Museum in Yokohama near Tokyo.
Here, the poop is artificial, nothing like what would be in a toilet, and comes in twisty ice cream and cupcake shapes, in all colors and sizes.
"The poops are colorful and come out nicely in photos," said Haruka Okubo, a student visiting part of the museum devoted to all-important selfies. "The shape is so round and cute."
In Japan, little poop-shaped erasers with faces and other small items have long been popular items collected by children, and sometimes older folks. As elsewhere, scatological jokes are popular and bodily functions discussed openly: a recent morning variety show by public broadcaster NHK featured tips on how to deal with farts.
Visitors to the museum get a short video introduction and then are asked to sit on one of seven colorful, non-functional toilets lined up against the wall.
Music plays as a user pretends to poop, then a brightly colored souvenir "poop" can be collected from inside the toilet bowl, to be taken home after the tour.
A ceiling-high poop sculpture in the main hall erupts every 30 minutes, spitting out little foam poops.
The "Unstagenic" area of Instagram-worthy installations includes pastel-hued flying poops and a neon sign with the word "poop" written in different languages.
In another room, players use a projection-mapping game like "whack-a-mole" to stamp on and squash the most poops they can. In another game, participants compete to make the biggest "poop" by shouting the word in Japanese, "unko," as loudly as possible.
A soccer video game involves using a controller to "kick" a poop into a goal.
Toshifumi Okuya, a system engineer, was amused to see adults having fun. "It's funny because there are adults running around screaming 'poop, poop,'" he said.
At the end of the tour, visitors get a bag to carry home their souvenir poop. If they want still more, the museum's gift shop abounds with more poop-themed souvenirs.
The museum attracted more than 100,000 visitors in the first month after its opening in March. It will remain open until September.
Sacramento, Jul 4 (AP/UNB) — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Wednesday a bill making California the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination against black people for wearing hairstyles such as braids, twists and locks.
The law by Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, a black woman who wears her hair in locks, makes California the first state to explicitly say that those hairstyles are associated with race and therefore protected against discrimination in the workplace and in schools.
"We are changing the course of history, hopefully, across this country by acknowledging that what has been defined as professional hair styles and attire in the work place has historically been based on a Euro-centric model — based on straight hair," Mitchell said.
Stephanie Hunter-Ray, who works at a makeup counter, says she typically wears her hair braided or in an afro, but one day she showed up to work with it straightened and styled in a bob. Her manager told Hunter-Ray her hair had never looked so normal.
"It bothered me," Hunter-Ray said in an interview at the hair salon she owns in Sacramento that specializes in natural hair styles. "What do you mean by 'normal?' Your normal is not my normal. My normal is my 'fro or my braids."
Alikah Hatchett-Fall, who runs Sacred Crowns Salon in Sacramento, said she's had black men come into her salon asking to have their hair cut off because they can't find jobs.
The law, she said, "means that psychologically and mentally people can be at ease and be able to get the jobs they want, keep the jobs they want, and get promoted at the jobs they want."
California's new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, is significant because federal courts have historically held that hair is a characteristic that can be changed, meaning there's no basis for discrimination complaints based on hairstyle. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case of an Alabama woman who said she didn't get a job because she refused to change her hair.
The issue burst into public view last December, when a black high school wrestler in New Jersey was told by a referee that he had to cut off his dreadlocks if he wanted to compete. California's Democratic governor said the video was a clear example of the discrimination black Americans face.
"His decision whether or not to lose an athletic competition or lose his identity came into, I think, stark terms for millions of Americans," Newsom said before signing the bill alongside Mitchell and half a dozen advocates. "That is played out in workplaces, it's played out in schools — not just athletic competitions and settings — every single day all across America in ways subtle and overt."
Though California is the first state with such a law, New York City earlier this year issued legal guidance banning discrimination against someone based on their hairstyle. The beauty company Dove is part of a coalition pushing for more hairstyle protections, and Mitchell said she hopes other states follow California.
Mitchell's bill adds language to the state's discrimination laws to say that "race" also includes "traits historically associated with race," including hair texture and protective hairstyles. It further defines protective hairstyles as braids, twists and locks.
The term locks, or "locs," is the preferred term to dreadlocks, which has a derogatory connotation.
At Hunter-Ray's studio, Exquisite U, on Wednesday, her stylists and customers reflected on the new law.
Shereen Africa, who was having her hair re-braided by Elicia Drayton, said she used to work at a television station in Mississippi where a black anchor quit after facing resistance to wearing her hair in locks. Africa said she did not wear her hair in braids at the job, even though she wasn't on air, because the environment wasn't supportive of it.
"If I'm in a professional setting, I won't wear my hair in certain ways," she said.
An anchor at a different Mississippi TV station made national news when she said she was fired after she stopped straightening her hair.
"You want to go to work and feel free," Drayton said. "You don't want to have to feel like you have to put on a wig or you have to have your hair straight to please someone else."
Okemos, Jul 3 (AP/UNB) — From Meghan the Duchess of Sussex's recent maternity clothing to Kate the Duchess of Cambridge's love of L.K. Bennett wedges, the women continue to be trendsetters when it comes to their fashion choices. So much so that bloggers have made careers out of tracking who and what they wear.
Susan E. Kelley founded the website What Kate Wore in 2011, when Britain's Prince William got engaged to marry Kate Middleton.
"I had another blog, and anytime I wrote about Kate, there was this huge boost in readership. And so I talked about it with my husband. I said, 'You know, do you think people would really be interested in reading about what Kate Middleton wears?'"
The site really took off when the royal couple took a tour of Canada and the United States a few months after their wedding.
"She's changing outfits multiple times a day, and people loved it. There was this enormous interest in it, and it exploded on Twitter and on Facebook and it kind of rolled on from there," Kelley said during an interview at her home in Okemos, Michigan, near Lansing.
Christine Ross of Lovettsville, Virginia, is co-editor of a website that follows the Duchess of Sussex's style, called Meghan's Mirror . The site actually launched before Meghan started dating Prince Harry, because Ross' co-editor, Amanda Dishaw of Toronto, was a fan of Markle's TV series "Suits."
Once Harry and Meghan were spotted together in public, the actress' profile went up. And so did visits to their site.
"When Meghan was seen at the Invictus Games with Prince Harry in Toronto, it just exploded, and all of a sudden it was like, 'OK, this is serious. This is real. This is happening,'" said Ross. "People were so interested in what she wore and the charities that she worked with and the messages that she was sending, and the site just really took off from there."
So, how exactly do these bloggers figure out who the duchesses are wearing?
Kelley says for official engagements, the Palace provides a minimal amount of information about the clothing worn.
"Kensington Palace will tell reporters at the scene the primary designer she's wearing," said Kelley, adding that the Palace doesn't reveal who made Kate's accessories.
But it also comes down to a study in repetition.
"Kate has designers that she goes to again and again," Kelley said.
For Meghan's Mirror, Ross says she and her team have studied fashion and will examine the Duchess of Sussex's wardrobe down to the tiniest of details to get it right.
"Every time there's a new picture of Meghan, whether it's a paparazzi photo or an official event, there's a mad rush to our computers, and we really just start Googling," she said. "It comes down to a really unique knowledge of the brands that she loves. Meghan tends to stick to the same designers over and over again, and we sit down and analyze things like stitching or buttons. ... We've become very good at (it) as we've learned more about her style."
Ross says Meghan's Mirror considers itself an ultimate resource for fashion info on Meghan, including an archive of anything she's worn in public.
"We've worked really hard to curate our archives where you can find exactly what she's worn and all the details about it, and you can also get mirror Meg styles at a fraction of the cost. So every time she steps out, we really work hard to add everything she's wearing, from the earrings to the shoes to the jacket, all on to our archive so our readers can go on there, click and shop those styles."
They also sell Meghan's Mirror-inspired items, including jewelry on Etsy.com.
What Kate Wore also links to clothing Kelley calls "repliKates," shoppable items similar to something the Duchess of Cambridge has worn.
Tracking the duchesses can be time consuming, especially with the time difference from the U.S. and London. "There are a lot of very early mornings for me," Kelley said. "But the real crunch comes when they go on tour, because multiple tours have been in time zones that were 12, 14, 16-hour time differences. I just know I'm not going to see my husband. We'll pass each other in the hallway."
All in all, it's still fun work.
"We have readers in places where I never thought people would be interested," Kelley said. "There's like 200 countries who have read the blog."
She's also launched sister sites What Meghan Wore and What Kate's Kids Wore .
Paris, Jul 2 (AP/UNB) — Dior went back to the essential architecture of dressmaking, and the late designer's penchant for black, for a brooding display Monday of archetypally couture gowns.
Looking on inside the Parisian house's design studios on Avenue Montaigne were Gal Gadot and Shailene Woodley, who waited for the tardy couple Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, as actress Elisabeth Moss spoke to The Associated Press about women's empowerment.
Dior's designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, meanwhile, was bestowed France's highest civilian award, the Legion of Honor, shortly after the show for her contribution to French fashion.
Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2019 couture collections in Paris.
DIOR GOES BACK TO BLACK
"I could write a book about black," Christian Dior once declared.
Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri used this as a mantra to produce a dramatic display, one that was nearly all in black and featured veiled models in couture that celebrated the power of architecture and the sculptural female form.
Black mesh and sheer catsuits exposed legs, shoulders and arms in sensual transparencies that showed off the body, while dark capes did exactly the opposite and enveloped the body in black taffeta jacquard.
"Designing a collection almost entirely in black, punctuated by rare colors that reveal its power, implies a return to fundamentals, to the foundations of haute couture," explained the house.
Flashes of white provided historic musing — such as one formless ancient Greek tunic in white silk that gained its structure from the curves of the model's body, with "Are clothes modern?" emblazoned across. So too did caryatids, stone sculptures of women that structurally hold up Greek temples, that provided the inspiration for one of the collection's key silhouettes.
Evoking architecture more literally was the final look: A naked model "wearing" a replica of Dior's atelier building made in gold leaf.
This design, which prompted chuckles from guests, was a welcome relief from what was a sometimes heavy and overly repetitive 65-look-collection.
As the star of the hit dystopian series about female servitude 'The Handmaid's Tale,' Moss had much to say on female empowerment before she graced Dior's front row.
Moss has won a Golden Globe for her performance of a woman who is captured and forced to become a handmaid because she is fertile — a cynical narrative which shines a light on society's objectification of women.
The series comes at a time when Dior has, too, shone a light on women's issues by naming its first female designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri, who has made female empowerment an emblem of recent collections.
"'The Handmaid's Tale' is part of the same movement as finally having a female designer at Dior," said Moss, on the sidelines of the show.
"We're talking more about women recently across the board and it's wonderful. Maria Grazia has an empowering vision, and Dior is so much about women themselves, rather than just the clothes," she added.
Chopra and Jonas arrived almost an hour late for the Dior show, forcing actresses such as Gadot and Woodley to wait. Upon arrival, the couple triggered a media scrum inside the already squeezed atelier space.
It provoked grumbles from many invitees.
Chopra and Jonas were traveling through Paris after attending the wedding ceremony of brother Joe Jonas and "Game of Thrones" star Sophie Turner in the south of France.
IRIS VAN HERPEN'S UNIVERSE
Season upon season, Dutch wunderkind Iris Van Herpen plunges her marveling guests into a parallel universe — one replete with creations evoking underwater mollusks, electric shocks, audio waves, and fabrics resembling interlocking parts of crystals.
On Monday, the latest chapter of her world was unveiled amid a giant halo of pearly white organic shell discs designed by American artist Anthony Howe. It set the tone for a fantastical, aquatic spectacle.
The fibers and translucence of jellyfish and deep water life were a key theme in the 19 looks.
It produced beautiful trapezoid silhouettes that blurred the lines between fashion and pure art.
One bustier dress, if it can be called that, was made of interlocking semicircles of sheer fabric with a black fibrous edge.
Its stiff collar, while organic-looking, also evoked the historic ruffs of Elizabethan England in a sublime play in contradiction.
Incredibly, Van Herpen also managed to capture the limp gravity of tentacles moving under water in a series of multicolored three-dimensional gowns with divergent, floating layers.
A watery sheen, achieved by ancient silk moiré weaving, made some guests feels as if they were several leagues under the sea.
SCHIAPARELLI'S DESIGNER DEBUT
Ever since the legendary house of Elsa Schiaparelli was relaunched in 2012, design team changes over a short space of time caused turbulence at the brand that struggled to hone a clear artistic voice.
With the appointment of its third creative director in five years, Daniel Roseberry, who was poached from Thom Browne, the brand hopes to change that.
Roseberry's debut couture collection was sassy, playful and modern — and some reasons why the house should be hopeful.
The 30 creations managed to toe the line between the Schiaparelli signatures — the shocking pink, the 30s elegance, and the touches of Surrealism — with an aesthetic that was contemporary and often very sexy.
A silk bustier dress in marbled segments of eye-popping reds, yellows and blues with sequined cups on the bust was constructed from interlocking strips of material. It flapped playfully at the bottom — part prom-queen, part clown. A long lizard earring only added to the fun.
Elsewhere, a bejeweled python adorned one female model's neck like a shawl on sheer black fabric, exposing the nipples and the vulnerability of human flesh.
CHIURI GETS LEGION OF HONOR
An emotional Chiuri was recognized for her contribution to French culture through her creative platform at Dior just hours after her couture show.
Symbolically, it was French Minister for Equality Marlene Schiappa who presented France's highest civilian honor to Chiuri during a ceremony — instead of the culture minister. Chiuri has made it her hallmark at the LVMH-owned house to trumpet her feminist roots.
Model Natalia Vodianova, who is the partner of LVMH's communications chief Antoine Arnault, told The Associated Press of her joy for Chiuri.
"It's a very happy moment. And I think it's so incredibly deserved for the way she took Dior, not only as a brand, but also as a platform," said Vodianova.
"She helped the movement toward women's equality with everything that she did."