Umit Benan Steps Back—Cautiously—Into the Fashion System

Two-and-half years ago Umit Benan held a great Fall 2016 show in Paris—and then that was apparently it. The Swedish-raised, German-born, Turkish-lineaged designer of much-loved menswear dropped out of view. Later today, cautiously, he’ll be stepping back into it. From his new Milan home and studio he’s presenting a see-now buy-now collection called God is Black (pt. 1), and serving pasta. You can see a few of the collection images here, and they’re probably already up on the Umit Benan webstore.

To get the collection you need to know where he has been. Benan said yesterday that after years of loving them, the show process started to grind him down. Plus the more responsibilities he took on as his company grew, the less he was able to engage with the process of designing. “So it felt like too much. And it felt like the people who were coming to the shows were feeling that too: I mean you guys sometimes see 10 shows a day, for a month.”

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During his time out Benan underwent a course of therapy—“200 hours in total, up to 5 hours a day, intense!”—and said he rediscovered his belief in God. His reconnection with his Muslim identity sparked the journey that led to this collection. He added: “I was also inspired by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Tupac Shakur: African Americans who made a difference.” So perceptions of race and perception of religion—and how those perceptions become skewed into racism or religious intolerance by those doing the perceiving—are the two main notions Benan was exploring here. The result include takkes (or taqiyas) hand-knitted by Benan’s mother Hulya, as well as caftans, track suits, and Cuban shirts. His clothes remain beautiful, and as Benan said: “I’m always working to try and make conversations as I design.” It’s good to see him make a return to above-the-line fashion.

Bella Hadid Takes Cannes By Storm in Naughty-But-Nice Off-Duty Style

Bella Hadid is living her best life along la croisière this week in Cannes. After stepping out in Dior Haute Couture earlier this week for the Ash is the Purest White screening on the red carpet and channeling executive realness in Alexander Wang’s bossy tailored jacket and dress, tonight Hadid turned heads in a peekaboo top (by Fleur du Mal) and cool-girl jeans.

Hadid’s look was one of her most composed off-duty ensembles to date. The top’s crisp collar and slightly monastic shoulder treatment made a prim first impression, while a décolletage-baring keyhole and corset construction lent a sultry element. The jeans’ raw, uneven hems were ideal to show off Hadid’s strappy Off-White c/o Jimmy Choo sandals. A vintage Dior bag with a heart charm and BaubleBar hoop earrings were sweet and stylish finishing touches.

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Plaits, Please! The Best Festival Braid Inspiration From the Vogue Archives

Music festival season is fast approaching with Coachella kicking off this weekend and Bonnaroo to follow soon. And while you may have given thought to the perfect breezy crop top or eye-popping tangerine aviators, it’s high time to strategize on a desert-friendly hairstyle—one that can go toe to toe with the California heat and humidity. This spring, consider the braid—and not just any pair of plaits but a far more creative twist, pulled from the Vogue archives.

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See a sun-drenched Sasha Pivovarova with two shimmering fishtails hanging over her shoulders, or Taylor Hill sporting a triple French braid, the back wound together with a pink bungee cord. FKA twigs, too, transformed the popular off-duty look by plumping the top of each twist into a cool-girl knot, while María Elena Marqués went full Heidi in the ’40s for legendary lensman Horst P. Horst, exuding geek-chic appeal ahead of her time.

There’s Amanda Burden copping Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic wedding hair, a thick Rapunzel-like rope stuck with white teacup roses—a dreamy alternative to the flower crown. Elsewhere, Twiggy’s golden, knee-grazing mane plays with a romantic proposal—unfurl each braid at the bottom, letting the ends ripple. For a touch of ease, Kirsty Hume’s scattering of small tails, haphazardly dotted around the head, and German model Charlene Högger's loose ribbon-accented plait offer two simple yet chic ways to rock the braid at your next festival and beyond.

How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Turned the Scrunchie Into the Ultimate Power Play

Today, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg turns 85. As we commemorate her battle against gender discrimination and her ascension to one of the most powerful political positions in the world, why not also take a moment to salute her sartorial choices—be it the infamous dissent collar or her signature black robe and lace doilies, which inspired the costumes of many a feminist-in-training this past Halloween. But though these accoutrements have come to symbolize the heroine, there’s one above-the-neck constant that predates even her 24-year tenure: the tried-and-true scrunchie.

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There it was, bright and blue, holding back her ever-perfect ponytail as she accepted the nomination for Supreme Court Justice in 1993, and there again during her confirmation hearing a month later. At a 2000 black-tie gala, Ginsburg wore a silver-striped variation—one that reappeared eight years later when she and then-President Barack Obama shared a moment together at the Capitol. Whether dark and demure or patterned and prismatic, the circlet has continued making appearances throughout her career—most recently at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where Ginsburg, the subject of a new documentary, once again uttered the words that have now become so revered: “As long as I can do the job full steam, I will do it.”

And while the polarizing scrunchie has surged in popularity as of late thanks to the likes of Selena Gomez, Bella Hadid, and Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, who recently released a $195 leather version, it’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG, who can be thanked for proving that no matter the occasionally tongue-in-cheek cultural sentiments towards the hair accessory, it will always be a power play in its own right. Here’s to fighting the good fight—scrunchie in tow.

Jennifer Lopez Turns To Cozy "Guccy" For Shopping Trip

Leave it to Jennifer Lopez to amp up the cozy cardigan. The singer stepped out for some shopping with boyfriend Alex Rodriguez today wearing Gucci's chunky cable knit cardigan with varsity-themed embroidery. The oversized style features the label's signature red and green webbing, as well as a playful "Guccy" logo, which is a play on the house name that creative director Alessandro Michele found inspiration from via tags on Instagram. So, no, that isn't a typo.

To give the look a more casual feel, Lopez wore the statement sweater with ripped denim jeans, Timberland boots, a burgundy bag and oversized sunglasses. Large hoop earrings — a J.Lo signature — rounded out the outfit. While she and Rodriguez didn't match ensembles for their outing this time, the couple do have a history of coordinating clothes. Earlier this month, the duo stepped out in his-and-hers turtlenecks. Perhaps they were shopping for their next matching looks on this shopping field trip?

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Elle Fanning Finds a Lovely Alternative to Holiday Party Sequins

 

It’s the most wonderful time of year— holiday party season —and that means sequins, sequins, sequins, right? Not necessarily. Here to offer an alternative to the omnipresent embellishment is Elle Fanning: When the actress stepped out last night to attend the L’Oréal Women of Worth awards in New York, she wore a lacy little Miu Miu frock that felt just as festive—and much more elegant.

The demure tea-length hem balanced out the barely-there spaghetti straps, and the dress’s slight transparency gave it a weightless feel. Matte satin pumps with a sculptural stiletto punctuated the look, while a coordinating velvet clutch added texture. To be fair, there was some sparkle in the mix, except instead of the usual glitter, the neckline of her dress came stitched with delicate 3-D floral finishings and a light dusting of pearls. The fanciful details matched her party earrings, which was all she needed to shine.

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Exclusive: Sabrina Claudio, Rising R&B Stunner, Steps Into the Spotlight With “Stand Still”

Sabrina Claudio sticks out like a sore thumb. Nestled in the corner of an English leather couch at the back of the Hudson Hotel’s Library Bar in Manhattan, she’s sitting still as people swirl around her, drinks in hand or shooting pool. Set against the dimly lit, dark-wood space, the rising R&B singer, who just released her second music project About Time this month, acts as the perfect foil to her surroundings, dressed in all white. Still, she looks right at home. She’s practiced at carving out spaces for herself: First in Miami (where she was born and eagerly wanted to leave), then in Los Angeles (where she relocated to pursue a music career just two and half years ago), and now in New York (which she’s only visiting for a whirlwind two-day trip).

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It’s fitting, then, that the 21-year-old sought to capture a similar juxtaposition in her music video for “Stand Still,” one of the twelve songs on About Time. On the track, Claudio addresses the way that time stops moving when she and a lover fail to communicate what they want, not realizing that they ultimately share the same feelings. “Time stands still / While we stand here / Don’t wanna fight you / I need the same as you,” she croons with her smooth, haunting voice in an attempt to reassure her partner. Yet, the video, which is premiering exclusively today on Vogue, shows the singer dancing fluidly across a sprawling loft in Downtown L.A. at different times of the day. “It wasn’t interesting to me to do something that was too on point,” she says. “The song is about time standing still and pretty much being frozen in a certain moment, so I wanted to represent the opposite.”

It’s a simple concept, but one that extends beyond “Stand Still.” Specifically, “movement” may seem like a one-off idea explored in a very physical way through dance, but “moving”—both figuratively and literally—is what has allowed Claudio to chase her career and what sets her apart from other singers. As a teenager in Miami with Hispanic roots—she’s half-Cuban and half–Puerto Rican—she grew up listening and learning how to dance salsa and merengue. “Dancing was what I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life,” she explains. Claudio ultimately put dancing aside when she began covering songs on YouTube and Twitter at the age of 14 (a quick search produces covers of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” Willow Smith’s “Female Energy,” and Beyoncé’s “Heaven,” among many others), but salsa and merengue’s sensual rhythms had stuck with her by that point. “I love the type of music that comes out of Miami, but it’s not the artist that I want to be,” she says. “Still, growing up in that environment helped me musically because it influenced certain sounds [in my music]. I would find a random instrumental that I thought was super dope, and I would fit the melody over it.”

It took a relocation to L.A. for her first music project, a seven-song EP of original music titled Confidently Lost, to materialize. “When I think back to Miami, it’s a whole other life for me because I was so unhappy there, and it’s not because of Miami. It was just because of me as a person,” she says. “I was working with people from Miami that were always trying to influence me to go down a different genre [than R&B], and I was always like, ‘If I don’t leave Miami, I’m not ever going to get to do what I want.’ I feel like L.A. is my actual home.” With About Time, she’s comfortably come into her own by writing the majority of the music on the project and conceiving the visuals for her music videos on her own—two efforts that have ultimately rewarded her with a 27-stop North American tour with 6lack this fall.

Beyond her music, moving across the country also allowed her to shed her former image—living in Miami meant exploring different phases without really feeling comfortable in one. “I went through a gothic phase at one point,” she remembers. “All black: black lipstick, purple lipstick. It was very weird, and then I went through a phase where I wore shoes with no less than a three-inch platform.” She now gravitates towards pieces that strike “timeless, sexy, and simple” tones. This means opting for silk slip dresses, body-hugging separates, and gilded accessories from West Coast brands like Reformation, LabNo25, Haati Chai, and Revolve. She observes, “Going from Miami to L.A., it’s such a different scene. In L.A., it’s always dressing to impress. Miami is not, unless you go to South Beach. [Miami] style can be very generic. It’s very casual.”

Claudio also credits her stylist, Kristine Urzua, with cultivating her newfound interest in fashion. Though interestingly enough, she and Urzua do not share the same sense of style. “It’s funny, I always tell [Kristine] that if I didn’t know her, I’d think she’s from Miami. She’s free-spirited,” Claudio laughs. Where Urzua gravitates towards a colorful palette and bohemian pieces for herself—Miami style staples—Claudio prefers to keep it low-key. For her own wardrobe, the singer and her stylist tend to stick to a palette of neutrals. ”Blacks, browns, grays, whites,” Claudio says. “Anything that you don’t really have to think about when it comes to matching or putting something together. Muted colors. I don’t do bright ever in life.”

For the “Stand Still” music video, this philosophy was briefly set aside for a forest green bubble-sleeve wrap top and a sunray-pleated pair of pants, both from Keepsake the Label, which were meant to evoke a high-fashion editorial. “When I told my movement coach what the outfit was, she was like, ‘Really, you want to wear that?’ Because the top and the bottom have so much material,” she recalls. But it’s precisely this outfit choice, with its draping and its flowing fabric, that lets her demonstrate her fearlessness and free spirit. Yes, she may have found a new look to embody her new lifestyle, but her willingness to deviate from it for the sake of exploration highlights Claudio’s defining quality: Whether musically, emotionally, or sartorially, she refuses to stand still.