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  • Manuela set to light up the Miss Universe stage for Singapore

    The lights wrap around the structure, which fans out via a backpack, and are just one of the architectural elements in the Miss Universe Singapore 2017 winner's two-piece national costume inspired by Gardens By The Bay's Supertrees.

    It also consists of a green bralet and matching hipster panties worn over flesh-coloured tights, with Vanda Miss Joaquim flowers cascading across her left shoulder and down her right leg and making up the headpiece.

    This is also the first time LED lights are used as part of Singapore's national costume for Miss Universe. They even change colours whenever Manuela walks.

    Designer Moe Kasim told The New Paper at Manuela's final fitting at his costume store Moephosis Concepts last week: "Most of the time, when we want to present Singapore at Miss Universe, it's usually a multi-racial costume, but nothing has been done that is architectural or structural."

    Mr Kasim has been creating costumes for various pageants for about eight years, including the Peranakan-inspired one worn by Miss Universe Singapore 2016 winner Cheryl Chou

    The 47-year-old hopes the LED lights will garner the votes of the judges determining the winner of Miss Universe national costume segment.

    "So far, I haven't seen LED lights that change colours on any of the Miss Universe national costumes, so I really hope they like it," he said.

    "Last year, the costume was mostly covered up, so this year we'd like to show a bit more skin and show off Manuela's figure."

    The costume took about 40 man hours to construct, with the bulk of the time going into making the structure that symbolises the Supertree branches.

    The costume costs over $1,500.

    The entire ensemble weighs 6kg. Made of wire and wrapped in maroon velvet, the structure is equipped with two 12-volt battery packs on either side that allow Manuela to turn on the LED lights herself.

    Not surprisingly, it proved to be Mr Kasim's biggest challenge.

    "I had to consider that the LED lights require quite a strong power point, but it couldn't be too heavy for Manuela," he said.

    THRILLED

    Manuela was thrilled when she saw the finished product.

    The 24-year-oldartist, who flew to Las Vegas last Saturday, told TNP: "When I first saw the sketch five weeks ago, it was beautiful but I didn't know what to expect. I was definitely excited that Singapore was presenting something that wasn't a dress or a typical skirt. It is nothing like we've ever seen before.

    "The most exciting part for me is the structure... to see it transform into the idea of the Supertree."

    She added: "I think we've taken the whole idea of a national costume to another level, which is something Singapore doesn't usually do. This year, we're really doing something outstanding."

    This includes waking up at 6am daily so she can clock in one to two hours of exercise at the gym or at home, before she gets "dolled up" to start her day at 9am.

    Apart from working out, she is also watching what she eats.

    Manuela, who has been cutting down on carbohydrates and increasing her protein intake, told The New Paper: "If I want a piece of chocolate, I'll have a piece of chocolate... It's not so much about losing weight, but more of watching what goes into my body, and becoming stronger."

    She added: "Obviously, I don't want to just do the national costume justice, but also the whole of Singapore and myself proud. I want to be in the best possible shape to present the costume the best I can."

    The Supertrees-inspired costume is close to Manuela's heart because she feels that certain parts of the costume are very much like her.

    "It's different, the same way I'm different and I'm not the stereotypical idea of what Singapore would represent and that's what will make me stand out," she said.

    Ironically, the 1.64m-tall beauty, whose father is German and mother a Singaporean of Portuguese descent, hopes that her height will allow her to stand out.

    "Amongst all the tall girls, (my height) will draw attention to me... I'm also all about breaking the idea of what the stereotypical beauty queen is," said Manuela, who will be packing four- to six-inch heels for the trip as it is standard practice.

    "I think that's the beauty of Miss Universe - being able to find your strength and playing to it," she added.

    While in Las Vegas, Manuela will also be wearing a fully Singapore-designed wardrobe sponsored by eight to 10 local designers, including Joanna Lim, who presented at the Swarovski X LASALLE graduation show earlier this year, and jewellery brand Charmed Forces.

    "It's about giving young Singapore talent the opportunity to place their work and designs on an international scale," she said.

    On what she is most looking forward to in Las Vegas, Manuela said: "Knowing that I have a place beside all these beautiful women from every single country."Read more at:formal dresses | marieprom

  • Inside LVMH's Executive Reshuffle

    Today’s game of musical chairs does not involve fashion designers, but rather the business minds leading the commercial charge.

    In what is perhaps the greatest executive reshuffle to occur in the industry in some time, LVMH has announced that longtime chief executive of Christian Dior Couture Sidney Toledano is stepping down, and will be replaced by Fendi chief executive Pietro Beccari. Meanwhile, Toledano will step into the shoes of Pierre-Yves Roussel, becoming chairman of the LVMH Fashion Group and Roussel will transition into the role of special advisor to LVMH chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault, effective January 2018. In due time, Roussel will assume “new operational responsibilities” within the LMVH executive committee, of which he has been a member for 14 years, although the details of his new role have yet to be disclosed. Beccari and Toledano will also join the LVMH executive committee. A successor for Beccari, who has led Fendi since 2012, has not yet been named.

    According to Arnault, Beccari’s appointment signals “a new era” at the house of Dior, which was integrated into the LVMH group earlier this year through a two-part deal worth $13 billion. "Having been an integral member of our group for 12 years, Pietro has an excellent track record,” he said in a statement, citing Beccari’s work as marketing director of Louis Vuitton and the growth experienced by Fendiduring his tenure. “He will be an excellent leader who will steer Dior towards ever greater success in the future."

    "[Beccari] has done extremely well at Fendi," said Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas. "It is one of the brands on the ‘front foot’ in the global soft-luxury landscape."

    “It will be difficult to find low-hanging fruits because the job has been exceptional, and therefore there is a need to be even more careful,” Beccari told BoF in an exclusive interview, when asked about his strategy for Dior. “I need three or four months to feel the house, feel the values and start from there.”

    Beccari, who will report directly to Arnault, is a natural choice for Dior, given his tenure within the group and ​his shared Italian heritage with women's artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri​​. “I never had the chance to work with her, but we’ve sat at a few tables together at dinner,” Beccari said of their personal rapport. “We have a good energy together. I hope that this good energy will be able to create the connection necessary for the maison to perform. I think the relationship between the creative director and the CEO has to work for the house to work. The fact that we are both Italian, and the fact that we both have experience at Fendi, may make it easier for us.”

    That good energy may prove invaluable. While the company says Chiuri’s early collections ​generated a strong response at retail, they have been met with chilly reviews from the fashion press and ​some industry​ observers have questioned whether the designer is a good long-term fit for Dior.

    “I think it’s definitely a plus, but I believe the fact that I know the group from the inside and [I know] the mechanics of the group is very important,” said ​Beccari​. “We’re living in a very interesting period in the industry in which there are big losers and big winners. What is true today is not true the day after tomorrow. It’s a very challenging moment in a way; you have to be better than the others and get market share from the others in order to survive. I think innovation and speed are exceptionally important in the market today.”

    Dior's prosperous fragrance business, Parfums Christian Dior, will continue to be led by Claude Martinez.

    Executives from Céline, Givenchy, Loewe, Pucci, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Rossi Moda and Nicholas Kirkwood will now report to Toledano, whose tenure at Dior began in 1994, when he was named director of leather goods. Under his direction, Christian Dior released the Lady Dior handbag in 1995, one of the industry’s first “It” bags, which helped to catapult the couture house into a global brand.

    He was named president and chief executive of Christian Dior Couture in 1998, ushering in an era of significant growth across categories including fragrance, cosmetics and accessories as well as men’s and women’s fashion. In 2016, the house generated almost €1.9 billion ($2.2 billion) in sales, a 5 percent increase from the year before. Toledano has also managed several creative turning points, including the rise of Hedi Slimane as men’s artistic director in the early 2000s, the sudden departure of longtime womenswear designer John Galliano in 2011, the three-year tenure of Raf Simons and the appointment of Chiuri.

    "Sidney Toledano is the driving force behind the huge success of Christian Dior Couture across the world," Arnault said. "Over the past 25 years, he has done an outstanding job of developing the exceptional house of Christian Dior Couture and promoting its elegance and modernity through its highly talented team of designers."

    “This long, long journey at Dior has been full of success and turbulence, but I believe Dior Couture is on the right track. There has been robust growth and the building blocks are there,” Toledano told BoF. “For me, it was a moment to say, ‘What is the next step?’ If I have to make a change, it’s now, because I am full of energy. All of those brands, most of them have huge potential. When Bernard Arnault asked me to do this, I didn’t hesitate. I think it will be good for LVMH. I think Pierre-Yves did a great job, and now we’ll see how we can continue on. For me, it’s an exciting, new experience.”

    In his new role, Toledano — known as a seasoned executive — hopes to continue building on Roussel’s foundation by advising each house leader on operations, brand positioning and brand integrity. “We’ve had success at Dior because of the talent of the designers, but also because of how we merchandise ready-to-wear, bag, shoes and retail,” he said. “I believe that experience is important. It’s easy to make mistakes; it’s not enough to have a hit bag or a hit shoe. You have to reinforce the knowledge.”

    Toledano, who mentored several of the industry’s top executives during his tenure at Dior, said that he looked forward to serving as a sounding board for executives who operate within the group. “I want to give guidance,” he said. “I don’t want to do it myself. At Dior, I was so hands on. I want to help them. This is my objective.”

    Roussel, who joined LVMH in 2004 as executive vice president of strategy and operations, was promoted to chief executive of the Fashion Group in 2006. His tenure has been marked with significant growth in the Fashion Group, in part thanks to his reinvention of several of maisons, including Givenchy, which saw tremendous acceleration under the creative direction of Riccardo Tisci; Kenzo, where he installed Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, who ushered the brand back into the cultural conversation with great financial success; Loewe, revitalised by J.W. Anderson designer Jonathan Anderson; and, perhaps most importantly, Céline, transformed by the highly influential work of creative director Phoebe Philo. He also led the acquisition or investment in emerging labels — including Anderson’s J.W. Anderson and Nicholas Kirkwood — and managed the sale of Donna Karan International to G-III in 2016.

    “Thanks to his leadership, the Fashion Group's various brands have achieved remarkable success over the last 10 years. In particular, he has played an instrumental role in the selection of the best creative talent and in introducing innovative strategies and high-performance teams within the different houses," said Arnault.

    A decade ago, Roussel was tasked with scaling the fashion businesses beyond Louis Vuitton and Dior, the company’s cash cows. He was involved in the hiring and scouting of both executives and creatives, and has moved several women into chief executive positions. (Currently, Loewe, Kenzo and Céline are all run by women on the business side.)

    “We need the mega brands and we’re really happy with the success of those brands, but I was also convinced that alongside those mega brands there would be an appetite for more,” Roussel told BoF. “It’s been a cycle of 10 years. We tried many things: some things worked really well. If you look at the size of all those brands, many are five, six, seven times the size that they were.”

    Roussel's decision to step down may also fan the flames that one of his star recruits, Philo, may be exiting the company at the end of the year. In October, BoF reported that LVMH is interviewing replacements for Philo and rebuilding the design team in preparation for her eventual departure from Céline.

    In 2016, LVMH’s Fashion and Leather Goods Group — which includes every fashion maison besides Christian Dior Couture — accounted for nearly a third of the overall business, generating €12.3 billion ($14.3 billion), up 5 percent from €11.7 billion ($13.6 billion) a year earlier and 137 percent from €5.2 billion ($6 billion) in 2006. “We make more profit now at Céline and Givenchy than we were making in sales 10 years ago,” Roussel said. Investments have also paid off. J.W. Anderson had £2 million ($2.6 million) in turnover when Roussel brought it into the LVMH fold. It’s now 10 times that size. “It’s not a question of putting money into it,” he said. “I’ve built an organisation that’s capable of grooming a small brand.”

    Today’s announcement also underscores LVMH’s expertise in grooming and retaining executive talent. “They are good at breeding a long-and-strong senior management bench,” Solca said. “They didn’t have to go outside to fill a most important position.”

    Next up, of course, is finding the right replacement for Beccari at Fendi. “It will be key,” Solca added.Read more at:http://www.marieprom.co.uk/royal-blue-prom-dresses | http://www.marieprom.co.uk/white-prom-dresses