News

Fashion News: Baby bikini onesie is one step too far for parents

The bikini had its 66th birthday this week – and it’s still stirring up trouble. First, the trouble:

Parents in Southaven, Miss., are complaining about a baby onesie on sale at a local department store that’s printed to look like a woman’s figure wearing a bikini. ”It gives people the wrong idea too quickly,” one father said. To think only a couple of years ago, all we had to worry about was tweens’ clothing being overly sexualized, not babies.

Now the birthday: The bikini was introduced to the world by designer Louis Réard in Paris on July 5,  1946, changing the look of women’s swimwear forever. An engineer who also helped run his mother’s clothing boutique, he marketed the garment as being ”smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit.” The only woman who would model his prototype was Micheline Bernardini,  a 19-year-old nude dancer at the Casino de Paris. How times have changed. Fashionista looks back through the years at famous bikinis (like Princess Leia’s slave ensemble and Marilyn Monroe’s suit  in “Something’s Got to Give.”)

The fall couture shows in Paris wrapped up with models wearing beaded face masks at Maison Martin Margiela, textured gowns at Valentino and fantasy one-of-a-kind clothes at Jean Paul Gaultier.
Bette Midler and her daughter Sophie were front and center among viewers of the Gaultier show.
Hedi Slimane’s first two collections as creative director for Yves Saint Laurent were shown only to customers, no media allowed, but word is leaking out that the resort collection he showed in Paris this week hearkened back to the label’s founder with cigarette pants, tuxedo shirts, skinny suits and little silk dresses.

In its August issue, Seventeen magazine plans to run an editor’s letter pledging to use only “real girls and models who are healthy” (i.e., not underweight) and not to digitally alter photos to change a model’s face or body shape. To prove they are sticking to what they are calling the “body peace treaty,”  the staff will post behind-the-scenes images from photo shoots on its Tumblr blog.

Christian Louboutin on Wednesday unveiled the slipper he’s created in honor of  Disney’s planned “Cinderella” Diamond Edition release on Blu-ray this fall. The mini-platform heels are made of white lace and Swarovski crystals — glass would have been kind of dangerous — with Louboutin’s signature red sole. These shoes won’t be available for purchase. Instead, 20 pairs are to be given away. Details about the giveaway are to be announced in August.

China

Posted by admin | China | Tags: | Sunday 5 February 2012 1:12 pm

In China, railing against the rail system

The online train ticketing introduced to shorten long lines was hurt by quirky Internet service.

Twenty hours on a train. Standing room only. No access to a bathroom.

The Chinese have no shortage of indignities to complain about when it comes to traveling home on the nation’s overburdened rail network come spring-festival season.

But it is the country’s new online train-ticketing system that has sparked the indignation of the traveling masses in the run-up to the Year of the Dragon.

Introduced several months ago in an effort to reduce long ticket queues, the website instead buckled under the annual Lunar New Year crush as an estimated 250 million Chinese scramble to get home last month before the national holiday started.

Chief among complaints was that the site’s booking service suffered from long bouts of unresponsiveness. Web users described trying to log on hundreds of times, to no avail. Others reported successfully logging on only to find the tickets they wanted sold out minutes after they were made available.

“I had to refresh the screen many times to get tickets. The website was really bad,” said Annie Lu, 21, a college student standing outside Beijing Railway Station, where thousands of travelers had gathered under the din of a public-address system blaring the revolutionary song “The East Is Red.”

Lu, traveling with a friend to the coastal city of Qinhuangdao in neighboring Hebei province, had scored a ticket online for a “hard seat” – the cheapest possible perch at about $30, notorious for its unforgiving uprightness and inexplicably dense padding.

“A lot of my classmates said they tried the website but failed to get tickets,” she said.

It was a bruising Year of the Rabbit for the Ministry of Railways, one of China’s least popular bureaucracies. The agency’s chief was fired in last February amid allegations of corruption. In July, 40 people were killed after an accident on the nation’s showcase high-speed rail line.

Though the ministry is investing heavily to expand its rail network, it apparently didn’t do enough to bolster its Internet service.

Its website, 12306.cn (a reference to the ministry’s phone hotline in the pre-Internet age), reportedly received a billion visits a day the first week of January, crippling its server.

The number of visits to the site Jan. 9 alone was equal to 0.04 percent of Internet page views globally that day, according to Alexa, an online statistics site. That was when train tickets were made available for Jan. 21, the last day before Lunar New Year’s Eve, when Chinese families share a banquet and set off fireworks.

Critics say the new system has made it even tougher for China’s poorest and least-educated workers to snag coveted train tickets. Buying a seat online requires an e-banking account and access to a computer or smartphone – still rarities among the migrants who toil as construction laborers, custodians, and maids in urban areas.

One migrant worker garnered national media attention for writing an open letter to railway officials venting anger at how difficult it was for him and his coworkers to get home. In the missive, Huang Qinghong, 37, a driver at a hardware factory, likened buying a train ticket to winning the lottery.

“Even if there are tickets left, we still have to have something called ‘online banking’ to make a payment,” he wrote. “We are factory workers, not white-collar workers. How . . . do we know how to open that?”

The Wenzhou Metropolis News, the first newspaper to publish his letter, eventually bought Huang an airline ticket to get home to Chongqing in western China.

At the Beijing Railway Station, Yang Shengshu wasn’t as lucky. The carpenter, 51, faced at least a 13-hour journey to the western Chinese city of Yinchuan on a $25 “standing room” ticket, the only seat available by the time he bought his ticket at the counter. “I’m just not familiar with how to book tickets online,” Yang said.

Rail officials defended the system, saying it reduced by a third the number of people who had to wait in line. Nearly 90 million train tickets were sold between Dec. 28 and Jan. 13, a period considered the busiest for bookings.

Ten million were sold online, 11 million were sold over the telephone, and the remainder were sold in person at ticket booths. An estimated 235 million train tickets are expected to be sold during the spring-festival period, up 6.1 percent from last year.

“We have to acknowledge that despite all of our efforts, it remains an acute problem in buying a train ticket,” said Hu Yadong, vice minister of railways.

However, a new rule that requires ticket buyers to register with their national identification card is credited with squeezing out scalpers.