• eeeAbAXc 553d8

    Everyone thinks they know Tan France. As the fashion expert on Netflix’s Queer Eye, he’s famous for his sharp style and wit, which has earned the designer legions of fans—and has positioned his signature touch, the French tuck (tucking your shirt in, just in the front), firmly in viewers’ lexicons. But in the 36-year-old’s new memoir, Naturally Tan (St. Martin’s Press), he demonstrates just how much we don’t learn about him on the show. If you want to know his real story, you’re going to have to hear it the way it’s best told: in his own words.

    “When it comes to telling my own personal story, I realize you probably don’t actually know much about me,” he says of his readers once we’re seated after his BUST photo shoot. “There are many stories of gay white men. But there haven’t been any of my people. And so I felt like it was my responsibility to make sure that it was told in my way.”

    In his memoir, France chronicles what it was like growing up gay and Pakistani in a small, predominantly white town in South Yorkshire, England, before moving to Salt Lake City as an adult and marrying the love of his life, who persuaded him to audition for Queer Eye. There are also, of course, tons of fashion tips, but if you know anything about France’s style advice, it’s about much more than just following trends. “I’ve spent my whole life understanding the importance of style on my mood, and it’s so nice to be on a show where I can share this with people and say, ‘Just pop something on that makes you feel good. I promise it’s going to change the way you view yourself,’” he explains. “I think people see fashion as such a shallow thing, and it’s not. It means so much more than getting dressed in the morning.”

    Readers also learn all about France’s friendships with his castmates, and his surprise at the show’s breakout success—but these days, the Queer Eyebuzz is no longer a shock to anyone. The program’s third season dropped in March, and the latest installment shows the boys at their best. In one of the most moving episodes yet, the Fab Five works with Jess, Queer Eye’s first lesbian makeover subject, and according to France, it was crucial to showcase her story. “So many times, people who are not part of our community assume that we all know each other’s struggle. We’re all individuals, every one of us—your experience coming out was different from Jess’ experience, and my experience, and Antoni [Porowski of Queer Eye]’s experience,” he says. “I’m hoping that soon, gone are the days when people just assume LGBTQ means we’re all the same. I want to highlight that every one of our stories is different, and we should be open to listening to those stories.”

    As for publishing his own story, France tells me it was never necessarily a life goal of his to write a book—but he’s excited that he did. Because right now, he says, “this story isn’t told enough. These stories aren’t told enough.”

    By Lydia Wang
    Photographed by Yudi Ela // Styled by Heather Newberger
    Top photo: Suit by David Hart // Polo by Rag & Bone // Shoes by Gola

    This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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  • ring 4160a

    Cuffing szn is here, but forget all that when you can rock these rings designed for every stylish badass out there! Find them all, plus more, at the BUST Craftacular on December 9th and 10th at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

    Galaxy Ring by Kate Koel, $54.00


    This beautiful ring is out of this world, and its galactic design is handmade, created with pyrite, glass crystals, and eco-resin, and each is made to order. Kate Koeldesigns jewelry with a little bit of herself in everything she creates and works to include her hopes and dreams in her work.


    Atom Ring by Mesc Designs, $65.00


    This atomic ring is essential for all nerds, and the labradorite stone in the center is sure to catch all eyes. Mesc Designs is created by Mary E.S. Cox from Philadelphia, and she uses nature and natural materials as her influence. She “appreciates how pieces interact with wearers” and her jewelry and art designs definitely showcase this!


    Infinity Ringby Elyse Designs, $35.00


    This subtle, minimalistic ring by Courtney Miller’s Elyse Designs is one of her edgy and elegant creations. Having a passion for fine art, Elyse Designs focuses on using metalsmithing and experiences making jewelry with cement and patina.


    Feather Ring by Amy Fine Design, $48.00


    Float on from fall into winter with the adorb feather ring, and choose whether you’d like a black or brown base. Amy Fine Design was created with an obsession with jewelry designing that goes back 15 years, and Amy views color designs the same as being a kid in a candy shop!


    Wholeness, Love, and Happiness rings by AuH2O, $10.00, $12.00, $10.00


    Use these words of wisdom on your hands as a reminder to make every day a happy one full of love to balance the highs and lows. Vintage is a must for every budget, and AuH2O is a curated thrift and vintage boutique based in East Village that provides that. Owner Kate Goldwater features recycled handpicked clothing, shoes, and accessories to fit every style. Even better, more stuff is under $25, and she even features $5 and $10 racks! Macklemore has nothing on this.


    Vampire's Ball Ring by 5one7 Design, $48.00

    Catch attention with this unique, handmade ring that is made per order! New Jersey-based designer Danielle Petoukoff started making jewelry in 2008 and created 5one7 Design where she focuses on hammered brass celestial designs. You should check out her Instagram for her latest creations.

    Vintage Turquoise Ring byMaren Dunn Studio, $75.00 


    Jazz and class up any outfit with this stunning ring, featuring amethyst and turquoise, and a vintage silver base believed to be from the 70’s. There’s definitely something alluring about wearing something with a mysterious, secret history behind it. Maren Dunn Studio also creates beautiful healing jewelry, incorporating chakra stones and crystals in her various necklace, rings, and bracelets.


    Cin Ring by Mary Gallagher, $185.00


    Having pretty jewelry is one thing, and having a ring that you take part in the design by choosing all the components you’d like is another. You choose your material and stone from choices like garnet, blue moon quartz, and more. Mary Gallagher found inspiration from New England beauty and history, and enjoys nature with its symmetry decay: there’s something graceful about a fallen bird or a receding coastline. Mary’s influence of symbolism religion can be found in her creations, and all pieces are made right in Brooklyn!


    Ring 70 byFleurs Jolie, $35.00

    Allow this ring to do all the talking for you, because what speaks louder than Swarovski rhinestones on a handcrafted rose?! Fleurs Jolie recognizes that everyone has something special about themselves, and works to create jewelry that emphasizes that. Inspiration is found in sunsets, and her design style is making button jewelry from the 1930’s-50’s. For those that inquire about these rings, all floral jewelry has been made with vintage acetate flowers that were imported from Japan during the '50s!

     Check out these vendors and countless more at Bust's Annual Holiday Craftacular @ Brooklyn Expo Center! Tickets are available online, make sure to see which of the 100s of Creative Living classes being offered interest you the most, and get ready to get down to a female-fronted music festival!



    1. Kenyan AA Whole Bean Coffee by Ajiri Tea, $17.00

    Ajiri: To Employ

    In the city that never sleeps, coffee becomes our best friend, and there’s no better way to begin a good day than with the perfect cup of Kenyan Coffee. Ajiri Tea offers whole bean Kenyan Coffee, perfectly paired with subtle citrus and berry flavors to begin a morning in good taste! Ajiri Tealives up to the translation of their name: this company donates 100% of their profits to orphan education, their coffee and tea is cultivated in Kenya and every label is individually hand-designed by Western Kenyan women on dried banana leaves. Help support the effort to create an independent, self-sustainable community that isn’t functioning on unreliable international sponsorship. Ajiri now fully sponsor 29 orphans – so give the gift of giving this holiday, and help this company support even more kids! 


    2. Run For Office Necklace by Activated NYC, $38.00

    This bracelet speaks for itself (literally) and its message is most important in today’s age. Remind your loved ones that their voices must be heard, and that it’s time to wake up and resist! Gift awareness and motivation to those important to you. Activated NYC specializes in feminist jewelry, creating pieces to spread solidarity with this uplifting accessory for every outfit. Whether you’re resisting the policies of “Not My President” or just generally supporting women (as you should), show your voice in style.


    3. Purple Peacock Polymer Clay Feather Pendant by Artifacts Everyday, $65.00

    Celebrate and share the story of Aztec Goddess Xochiquetzal with this handmade clay necklace! Boston-based Artifacts Everyday creates beautiful pieces from polymer clay.  Whether it's a wave choker or a Cleopatra headpiece, designer Elle Marrone's pieces are sure to catch attention and start conversations.

    4. Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate by Dalloway, $9.00

    Share and savor the flavors of currant and sour cherry in this chocolate bar hailing from the Dominican Republic! Dalloway Chocolate is a Brooklyn-based company that swears by the power of cacao and the love it spreads. This is the first coffee company that's owned by a queer couple with a passion and mission for "building love and community with chocolate." Help spread the deliciousness of the message of love while supporting the LGBTQ community and gift these tasty chocolate bars this year.

    5. "Witches Against Hate" Button byChloe L Wilkinson$3.00

    Help witchy feminists fight against all types of hate with this pin. Adorned with sage and the moon, every focal equalist can show racists and prejudicists what's really going on without speaking a word.Chloe L Wilkinson is a New York-based artist who uses Surrealism and Victorian influences to design art prints, pins, and patches. Herphotographyis stunning and focuses on the true wonders of nature.

    6. Busy Bitches Candle by SugarBush Babes$15.00

    Show your girl you support her nonstop hustle bustle with this "Busy Bitches" candle. SugarBush Babes offers this hand-poured vegan soy wax candle. This candle offers enticing scents of green tea and lemongrass to offer a relaxing solace to the go-getter bitches. True bosses never slow down or care enough to stop, and this is a message SugarBushBabes supports and promotes.Creator Dianna Pena, a previous Motorcycle Company apparel buyer, is all about strong women who flourish in their freedom, confidence, and style. Plus: all NYC biker babes, come check out her bike garage in Ridgewood! There's storage, shopping, and a technician to assist with repairs.

    7. Nectar Fire Tonic by Hany's Fire Tonic, $15.00

    Give the gift of good health available fromHany's Fire Tonicwith this Nectar Fire Tonic.  Apple Cider Vinegar is known for its health benefits, and owner Hany has created the perfect recipe infusing this into recipes perfect for all taste preferences and lifestyles.Hany's Fire Tonic has four delectable flavors to choose from that have been handcrafted in Brooklyn. You can check out their blog to learn even more about all their tonics and learn which one is perfect for you!

    8. Designer Pussy Tee by Geneva Diva$25.00

    Help your girls let all suitors know what they're really dealingwith this shirt! This silkscreen shirt is handmade and is one of the outspoken pieces available from Geneva Diva. Whether you're in search of keychains, spunky thongs, hoodies, or crop tops, don't hesitate to scroll through theirInstagram to see what other badass products are available.

    9. Long Black Gloves by LamiaDesign, $101.00

    These open-fingered gloves from Lamia Designsare showstoppers to step up any outfit to the next level. Show off your sassy manicure or new ring collection with these, all eyes are sure to be drawn right to it! Lamia Designs has worked for years in the fashion world, and is open to your own ideas for different design ideas or material choices to make your dream gloves your own reality. Check out her blog here to see all the different styles she's mastered!

    10.Awaken the Scorpion Ring byMERCURY HOUR, $110.00

    This breath-taking ring is sure to startle some, but let it be a forewarning to foes of your true strength within. Mercury Hour incorporates the strength of power and rebirth into this ring, and have been incorporating all that scorpions stand for into their masterpieces since 2014. This ring holds a story itself, and there's little better gift than an incomplete story to partake on a journey. Plus, labradorite, the stone of transformation, is embedded in the center, making sure to guide and protect your friend to holding their consciousnesses strong. See all the stunning work done by Scarlett C. Dancer in her lookbook!

    11.The Dark Amethyst Crown byJudy & Madeleine, $44.99


    Become the literal feminist goddess that you are with these magical and mystical crowns from Judy and Madeleine. These handcrafted headpieces are inspired by infamous paintings, films and books and every piece is made-to-order. This means that you can be the envy of everybody and anybody while wearing your unique headpiece as you strut down the runway of the city streets and smash the patriarchy with every step. 



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  • emma df768

    From the Regency era to the end of the 1860s, there was no fashion accessory as versatile and ubiquitous as the shawl. Available in all weights of fabrics, including silk, lace, muslin, and cashmere wool, and priced for all budgets, shawls graced the shoulders of women in every strata of society. They were no less well-represented in art and literature of the day. Shawls were referenced in the novels of such literary luminaries as Elizabeth Gaskell and William Makepeace Thackeray. They were also featured in countless portrait paintings, draping the figures of fashionable 19th century ladies of every age.

    portrait of olimpia c582osiowa 1818 1820 c5bc9Portrait of Olimpia Losiowa, 1818-1820

    The lightweight Empire-style gowns of the Regency era provided little protection against the elements.  As a result, shawls and wraps were a practical necessity. In Jane Austen’s novel Emma (1815), Miss Bates insists that her mother wear a shawl when she goes visiting. Miss Bates and her mother are not wealthy by any means. For them, the shawl as an accessory is purely utilitarian. As Miss Bates explains to her guests:

    I made her take her shawl—for the evenings are not warm—her large new shawl— Mrs. Dixon’s wedding-present.—So kind of her to think of my mother! Bought at Weymouth, you know—Mr. Dixon’s choice. There were three others, Jane says, which they hesitated about some time.

    portrait of an unknown woman by alexander molinari 1800 517ddPortrait of an Unknown Woman by Alexander Molinari, 1800

    For those ladies of means, a shawl could be as fashionable as it was eminently practical. The 1806 edition of La Belle Assemblée describes the current fashion in shawls as follows:

    Large shawls of silk or mohair were also much worn, and in various shapes; some in the form of a flowing mantle, appending from the shoulders, with a hood; others à la Turque; others again square.  But the most elegantly simple style of either the shawl or Egyptian mantle that arrested the fancy, were those of plain or japanned white muslin, with a large Egyptian border of deep green, in tambour or embroidery.

    a variety of wearing shawls in early 19th century france lithograph 1802 1814 768x658 c7f33A Variety of ways of Wearing Shawls in early 19th century France, Lithograph, 1802-1814

    The fashion in shawls changed little over the years. A plain background with a variegated border was still the ideal. The 1812 issue of La Belle Assemblée reports that for winter dress fashions:

    …a fine cashemire [sic] shawl, with brown background, and richly variegated border, is generally thrown over the dress, in which is united both comfort and elegance.

    And for the spring dress fashions:

    …over these is thrown, in elegant drapery, a long Indian shawl of the scarf kind, the colour of the palest Ceylon ruby, the ends enriched by a variegated border…

    portrait of a young lady in a red dress with a paisley shawl by eduard friedrich leybold 1824 768x967 d707aPortrait of a Young Lady in a Red Dress with a Paisley Shawl by Eduard Friedrich Leybold, 1824.

    Throughout much of the 19th century, cashmere (or Kashmir) shawls were at the forefront of elegant fashion in scarves and wraps.  Made from the wool of the sheep in the Kashmir region of India, they were as luxuriously soft as they were warm. In William Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair (1848), Amelia Sedley’s brother Joseph brings her back two white cashmere shawls from India. These shawls are much coveted by Becky Sharp. Thackeray writes:

    When Rebecca saw the two magnificent Cashmere shawls which Joseph Sedley had brought home to his sister, she said, with perfect truth, ‘that it must be delightful to have a brother,’ and easily got the pity of the tender-hearted Amelia for being alone in the world, an orphan without friends or kindred.

    portrait of carolina frederica kerst by charles van beveren 1830 768x926 a8b56Portrait of Carolina Frederica Kerst by Charles Van Beveren, 1830.

    As the century progressed, ladies' fashions evolved. Skirts grew bigger and so did sleeves. Waistlines lowered, and instead of a single petticoat, a lady now wore several. One might expect shawls and wraps to have become less popular. Women were surely warmer now in all their layers. However, as a fashion accessory the shawl continued to be as vitally important to a woman’s dress as it ever had–and those shawls and wraps from India still reigned supreme.

    In Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South (1855), Margaret Hale is asked to model her aunt’s collection of “beautiful Indian shawls.” Gaskell writes:

    [Margaret] touched the shawls gently as they hung around her, and took a pleasure in their soft feel and their brilliant colours, and rather liked to be dressed in such splendour— enjoying it much as a child would do, with a quiet pleased smile on her lips.

    a lady in a white dress and shawl before a viennese landscape by ferdinand georg waldmc3bcller mid 19th century 36b85A lady in a white dress and shawl before a Viennese landscape by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, mid-19th century

    The shawls in North and South had been given to Margaret’s aunt upon her marriage and were now being given to Margaret’s cousin, Edith, upon hers. A generation had not diminished their value. As one guest says whilst admiring them:

    Helen had set her heart upon an Indian shawl, but really when I found what an extravagant price was asked, I was obliged to refuse her.  She will be quite envious when she hears of Edith having Indian shawls. What kind are they? Delhi? with the lovely little borders?

    portrait of elizabeth wethered barringer by federica de madrazo 1852 f3791Portrait of Elizabeth Wethered Barringer by Federica de Madrazo, 1852

    Shawls and wraps are well represented in all the works of Charles Dickens, from the “pinched bonnet and poor little shawl” of Miss Flyte in Bleak House (1852) to the grand aspirations of Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations(1860). In the latter novel, Pip relates a conversation with Herbert which gives us some insight into the continuing popularity of the Indian shawl:

    "I think I shall trade," said [Herbert], leaning back in his chair, "to the East Indies, for silks, shawls, spices, dyes, drugs, and precious woods.  It’s an interesting trade."

    "And the profits are large?" said I.

    "Tremendous!" said he.

    I wavered again, and began to think here were greater expectations than my own.

    portrait of fanny holman hunt by william holman hunt 1866 1867 724x1024 a615cPortrait of Fanny Holman Hunt by William Holman Hunt, 1866-1867

    By the 1870s, the popularity of the cashmere shawl was in decline. This had less to do with the dictates of fashion and more with global politics and famine. As Sir Walter Roper Lawrence writes in his book The Valley of Kashmir (1895):

    The shawl industry is now unfortunately a tradition—a memory of the past. The trade received its deathblow when war broke out between Germany and France in 1870, and I have been told by an eye-witness of the intense excitement and interest with which the Kashmiri shawl-weavers watched the fate of France in that great struggle—bursting into tears and loud lamentations when the news of Germany’s victories reached them.

    He goes on to write that any hope of the shawl weaving industry being revived was dashed when famine visited the Valley of Kashmir in 1877-1879. According to Lawrence, none suffered so greatly during that famine than the poor shawl-weavers.

    This did not mean that shawls and wraps as a whole were unpopular. Whether made of gauze, silk, or lace, a well-draped shawl was still an integral part of women’s fashions well into the 20th century. Even today, shawls and wraps have their place in the wardrobe of any well-dressed lady. And as you can see from the portraits I have included, precious little about the patterns and draping of shawls has changed since the early Regency.

    the shawl by charles sprague pearce 1900 bf8eaThe Shawl by Charles Sprague Pearce, 1900

    In closing, I will add that for an author of historical romance a shawl can be a wonderful prop. How many times has a critical conversation been overheard by a young lady who has returned to a room to retrieve the shawl she had left behind? And how many times has a gentleman been sent out to the carriage or back into the house to fetch his lady’s forgotten wrap? There are impoverished characters who disguise an old gown with a decorative shawl and wanton characters who greet their lover wearing a shawl and nothing else. Classic literature provides us with countless examples of how to utilize a shawl as a prop or plot device and historical romance novels provide us with many more. The only limit is your imagination.

    Top Image: Emma (1996)

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  • Reactions Cardi B Money Music Video 867c1

    Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, better known as Cardi B, has partnered with Los Angeles-based affordable fashion brand Fashion Nova to give away $1 million to those “directly affected” by COVID-19.

    In an Instagram video posted to the 27-year old rapper’s Instagram page on Wednesday, April 8, Cardi B shared that she’s received “a lot” of DMs from people struggling during this time of crisis, so she decided to partner with Fashion Nova to give money to those who need it most. 

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Cardi B (@iamcardib) on

    “We are going to give out $1,000 an hour for the next 42 days,” the rap star pledged.

    By the end of the 42 days, May 20, Fashion Nova and Cardi B will have donated $1 million to those in need.

    "Many of you are struggling to pay bills, feed your families, and take care of your overall essential needs. #FashionNovaCARES & I are giving away $1,000 EVERY HOUR until we’ve given away $1 MILLION DOLLARS to those directly affected by this crisis," she wrote in the video's caption. "Tell us how the $1,000 can help you during these times. We’ll be reading your submissions and selecting stories everyday so enter now by visiting Also PLEASE make sure that your Instagram is public, because I will also personally be looking thru these submitted pages."

    All people have to do to apply for aid is fill out the online form on Fashion Nova’s site with their email address, phone number, Instagram handle, and a personal story.

    “We love you guys and we are so grateful that you have been supporting us for so long,” Cardi B said in the video. “It’s time for us to support you guys back.”

    With 24 people a day receiving $1,000 checks, the initiative has already sent relief funds to 26 people. The number is only growing by the hour.

    “Don't be shy. Sometimes you gotta motherfucking ask for help," the Grammy Award-winning rapper said before belting out, “Lean on me when you’re not strong,” a line from the popular Bill Withers song "Lean on Me."

    For more information and the form, check out the Fashion Nova Cares Initiative website.

    Top photo via YouTube / Cardi B

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  • Briana 0185 b4212

    In our Fashion Nation series, we talk to people about personal style.


    San Leandro, CA


    Tell me about this look.
    I love pairing this Forever 21 top with this skirt from ModCloth because the print is similar and the colors clash. The booties are from ASOS. The Rebecca Minkoff necklace is my go-to for high necklines.

    What fashion era are you inspired by?
    I’m constantly looking for ways to reinvent traditional fashion with color and texture, but as a base I love the shape of the midcentury silhouette.

    Briana 0313 2a7d3

    What does body-positive fashion mean 
to you?
    It’s about discarding the mold that doesn’t serve us. Rules that say we have to accentuate a waist or appear taller, leaner—all the stuff they taught us on What Not To Wear can be thrown out the window. Find an aesthetic that makes you feel visible in a pleasurable way.

    Do you prefer to match or clash your lip color with your outfit?
    Clash. My looks can be matchy, but too much monochrome is a pet peeve. I love pairing opposite color primaries, like yellow and cobalt, red and green.

    Has motherhood changed your style ?
    As a new mom, I adapted my style to low-maintenance mode. I did a lot of thrifting to find comfortable things that were still eye-catching. Once I was more independent from my baby, I brought back my less comfy pieces, like tulle and lace. Slowly but surely, I’ve started to reclaim my slightly higher-maintenance style.

    Do you have advice for people who are developing their personal style?
    My inspiration is street style. Go downtown or get online to see what people are wearing. You also don’t have to look at people with your body type. If you see a different type wearing something you like, you can find a way to work it! 



    Work it your way with some of Briana’s color-clashing picks!

    hernandezcopycat 0bca4

    1. ASOS DESIGN Wide Fit Minny Flat Shoes in Leopard, $29,
    2. Polka Dot Birdcage Midi Skirt by Who What Wear in Blue/Black,
    3. Brushstroke Marissa Wrap Top, $59, and Pant, $72,
    4. The Eugene Pant by ModCloth in Multi Stripe, $65,
    5. The Babysitter’s Sweet Can Dress, $93.24,


    By Allie Lawrence
    Photographed by Corina Marie Howell
    This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine.Subscribe today!



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  • Emily Ratajkowski photo credit Credit Katherine Mendenhall 5894b

    Emily Ratajkowski is famous. Like, really famous. Like, 28-million-Instagram-followers famous. The supermodel is so famous that street sightings of her dog Colombo, a husky/German shepherd mix, get shared on celebrity gossip feeds like Deuxmoi, even if she’s not the one walking him. One day, she was doing catalogue work and posing free for indie magazines just for the exposure; the next, she was the strikingly sultry girl in Robin Thicke’s viral “Blurred Lines” video that everyone was talking about, dancing goofily, red-lipped, and frequently topless. And then she was everywhere—magazine covers, supporting roles in TV and film, major ad campaigns—as her notoriety snowballed. Especially since it came with a side of outspoken politics. In a world that mostly views models as living mannequins, she’s been determined to rise above the stereotype. Now she’s a regular at the Met Gala, takes selfies with Kim Kardashian, and has strutted the catwalk for just about every major designer including, most recently, Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Fashion Week show. 

    Ratajkowski also considers herself a staunch feminist. In 2018, she was arrested while protesting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. She appeared in the September 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar flaunting a full armpit of hair (unheard of in a magazine that mostly pretends women don’t have any). Later that year, she walked the red carpet for the Uncut Gems movie premiere with “Fuck Harvey” Sharpied on her arm after news broke that the movie mogul had settled out of court with his accusers, circumventing admission of any wrongdoing. She officially endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election, citing the attacks on Roe v. Wade as one of her main motivations. And yet, that endorsement was followed by a GQ cover featuring Ratajkowski sporting Bernie’s famous “Rage Against the Machine” shirt—with nothing but undies underneath. And that’s where things get tricky. Her rise to fame, and even her maintenance of it, can sometimes feel decidedly un-feminist. It’s a contradiction best inadvertently captured by a 2016 article on The headline reads, “All the Times Emily Ratajkowski Fought the Patriarchy,” just above a photo of her very famous body in a very tiny bikini. 

    The 30-year-old knows she’s a polarizing figure. She also knows that her level of fame is why people listen when she talks about feminism and the issues women face in the first place. It’s something she delves into deeply and intimately in her new book of essays, My Body, which came out November 9. “I wouldn’t have been able to write any of these and be really honest with myself had I thought about what the world would think of them,” she admits, when we chat over Zoom. That’s probably because much of the book is personal and revealing, chronicling her childhood, her budding adolescent sexuality (and sexualization), and the casual degradation she sustained in her early modeling days. She also turns a thoughtful eye on herself, investigating her desire for attention, the power it has both afforded and taken from her, and how her feminism has evolved in its wake. 

    Emily Rjpg 5c3d0

    “Would anyone care to read what I write if I hadn’t impressed men like you?” she writes in the essay “Men Like You,” an excoriating admonishment of Steve Shaw, the editor of erotica magazine Treats, the cover of which featured a nude, 20-year-old Ratajkowski. In the essay, Ratajkowski recounts how the shoot’s photographer, Tony Duran, tried to send her home, seeing nothing special in her. But knowing she needed more editorial work to forge a successful career, she appealed to Shaw, engaging him in conversation until he suggested she undress. When she did, he gawked at her body, then walked her right back to the photographer. “I suppose that, from your perspective, this should be the moment I thank you for. When I was younger, I would have thought so, too,” she writes. “Besides, some part of me figured, I love being naked, who the fuck cares? I’d just started to learn that, actually, everyone seemed to really, really care.

    I was beginning to understand that I could use this attention to my advantage. I wanted to test the waters: What is the power of my body?”

    She soon found out. It was this cover that caught the eye of Diane Martel, the director who then cast her in the project that would catapult Ratajkowski to fame: Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video. The song was inescapable in 2013, sparking a firestorm of backlash against its rape-y, objectifying lyrics, and the video fanned the flames. In it, Ratajkowski, along with two other models, is mostly naked, dancing around Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I., while also cuddling…farm animals? In the essay “Blurred Lines,” she writes that at the time, it felt like an empowering project, dancing and owning her sexuality on a set that was made up mostly of women.

    But then she recounts how a too-drunk Thicke groped her breasts on camera, a violation of her autonomy it took years for her to fully acknowledge. “Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt the coolness and foreignness of a stranger’s hands cupping my bare breasts from behind. I instinctively moved away, looking back at Robin Thicke,” she writes. At the time, she was embarrassed, “desperate to minimize the situation…I was also ashamed—of the fun that, despite myself, I’d had dancing around naked. How powerful I felt, how in control.” But as she writes, now she can see it for what it was: “With that one gesture, Robin Thicke had reminded everyone on set that we women weren’t actually in charge.”

    “[My shift in thinking] came with age and experience. What I want to capture in that essay is the two sides of the coin—there was this joy in the experience of shooting that music video, a kind of silliness and fun, but it was not power in the way that I thought it was,” she says. “It wasn’t until I got older that there was an unhappiness that I had to address in the way I saw myself—the way I internalized some of the work I had done—and the way that the world saw me, that made me have to take a harder look at what my experience was like.” 

    Ratajkowski grew up in Encinitas, CA, raised by creative, progressive, political parents—her dad is an artist and high school art teacher, her mom is an English professor who taught Women’s Lit and Gender Studies classes. “[Feminism] was just a part of my life,” she says. “But I didn’t really feel like I understood.” It wasn’t until later, when puberty hit, along with all its patriarchal trappings, that feminism felt personal. “I started to understand that there were things that made boys notice me, but I also needed to cover up. That was where the root of a lot my early ideas about feminism started. I was mad that there was a dress code, that a vice principal could snap my bra strap because it was slipping out of my tank top, and that that was allowed. There was all this shame around my body. And I felt very headstrong about [subverting that]. It was also a way for me to emotionally protect myself as I started to model. It was a way to say, No, I wanna do this stuff, it’s going against this puritanical way [society’s] telling me I’m not allowed to [look]. Like, I wanna have agency over what my sexuality is and how to use it, and I like that. That feels powerful.” 

    That’s what she calls “point A” of her feminism. Now, after more than 15 years of modeling, some acting (including roles in Gone Girl and I Feel Pretty), marriage (her husband is film producer Sebastian Bear-McClard), motherhood (she gave birth to her son Sylvester in March), and a meteoric rise to fame, she realizes it’s not that simple. “In my early 20s, it had never occurred to me that the women who gained their power from beauty were indebted to the men whose desire granted them that power in the first place,” she writes in “Blurred Lines.” “Those men were the ones in control, not the women the world fawned over.” This idea gets at the crux of Ratajkowski’s collection, and seemingly, the next stage of her feminist evolution: What does it mean to feel empowered within a disempowering system? 

    This evolution has played out beyond the pages of Ratajkowski’s book, into real life, and even into the courts—shifting her idea of what empowerment truly means as she fights to assert ownership over her own image. In 2016, Ratajkowski was sued by a paparazzi photographer for posting a photo he took of her to her Instagram stories. A couple years before that, she found out that she was the subject of two “paintings” in a show by artist Richard Prince—images from her Instagram feed that Prince had commented on (“Were you built in a science lab by teenage boys?” he wrote on one), blown up, and printed on huge canvases that sold for $80,000 apiece.

    Even more violating was the succession of “art” books released by Jonathan Leder, a photographer who shot a magazine spread she’d posed for early on in her career. An essay she wrote for The Cut, “Buying Myself Back” (which also appears in My Body), details the sketchy encounter she’d had with Leder, during which the photographer convinced her to strip, got her drunk, and sexually assaulted her. Once she became famous, and without any consent from Ratajkowski, he took all of the shoot’s outtakes, many of them nudes, and published them. “That experience was one I was super humiliated by and felt really responsible for and had so much shame around,” she says. “I felt like, Oh, I didn’t make the right decisions in my life and that’s why these things have happened to me. Like I was stupid. It took a lot for me to offer myself a little bit of generosity and compassion.” 

    MyBody new 38c87

    All those decisions have brought her to where she is now. A woman with a global platform and the ability to make a difference. I can’t help but ask if continuing to capitalize on her looks while catering to the male gaze feels contradictory to what she ultimately wants to accomplish. “I think it’s a really great question. It’s not unlike capitalism, which I think a lot people agree is really bad for the majority of people, but we continue to want to succeed in the framework that we live in,” she says. “I do not judge any woman for trying to hustle her way through this system, because one of the truths of my life and of the book is that people wouldn’t necessarily read my words and [care about] my experience had I not commodified my image in the way that I did. It’s up to personal choice whether you want to use your sexuality to get ahead or not. But ultimately, you’re a woman living within very specific confines and the people who have power are generally men, and that’s that. It’s like, don’t hate the player, hate the game.” 

    One of the reasons she wants people to read her words is to jumpstart the cultural conversation around the topics in My Body—sexuality, consent, objectification, control, and power dynamics. “I’m really interested in nuance. I think there are a lot of complex things that are part of being a woman in today’s world,” she says. “I feel like those conversations happen in very quiet, private moments between women who trust each other, and I want those conversations to happen on a larger stage, and I want men to be a part of them, too.”

    Top headshot photo by: Katherine Mendenhal

    Middle: Courtesy of Emily Ratajkowski

    This article originally appeared in BUST's Winter 2021/2022 print edition. Subscribe today!


  • janeth1 0c73b

     In BUST's Fashion Nation series, we talk to women about their personal style. 

    Janeth Gonda
    BUST Event Planner and Musician
    Brooklyn, NY


    Tell me about this outfit.

    This is one of my favorite shirts. I love how sexy it is, revealing yet mysterious. I really like how much it makes me feel like a woman. I’m just starting to become in tune with my body, my age, and my womanhood.

    How would you describe your personal style?

    Definitely gothic and sleek. I like to wear a lot of lace, a lot of straps. Pretty much everything I wear is black, but also comfortable. I have to be able to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing, which makes me feel confident.

    How has your personal style evolved?

    My fashion over the last few years has just gotten a lot sexier. For a long time, I don’t think I really felt like I could be so bold or sexy. It is only recently that I realized I can, and as I’ve grown into more of a woman, my fashion sense has grown up, too.

    janeth2 d9c77

    What do you wear when you hit the stage with your band, Espejismo?

    It depends on the show, really. I actually have a handmade belly dancing outfit that I wear a lot, but if we’re playing more of our heavier songs, I’m usually wearing high boots with black pants, something that makes me feel like I’m in command.

    Do you have any go-to places to shop around Brooklyn?

    I like affordable things. I have a lot of luck with thrift stores like Beacon’s Closet. Most of my favorite clothes are actually from Colombia, where I’m from. I really love the style that they have in Bogotá, and you can get really high-quality things at a fraction of the price you’d find here. If it looks good and it feels good, then I like it.

     copycat 9e641


    Copy Janeth's wild style with these badass buys:

    Faux Leather Satchel, $27.90,

    Life II Necklace, from $130,

    NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in “initiator”, $9 for a set of 3 colors,

    Super High Waist Denim Skinnies in Black, $29.99,

    Alexis Buttoned Up Bodysuit, $19.99,

    Mossimo Supply Co. Women’s Brianna Platform Booties, $37.99,

    By Lydia Wang

    Photographed by Seher Sikandar

    Hair and makeup: T. Cooper/crowdMGMT using ECRU New York

    This article originally appeared in the February/March 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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  • large bal beyonce announces world tour including baltimore date in june 20160207 eac50

    Need more feminine rage and lovely outerwear in your Instagram feed? Look no further.

    BUST friend and contributor Sara Benincasa has created our favorite new Instagram account of the week, @excellentcoatsonirritatedwomen. At only five days old, the account already has over 6,000 followers and shows no signs of slowing growth. The pull? Fierce women and fierce coats.

    The account began with a picture of Nancy Pelosi. "Pelosi's Max Mara coat became my burnt sienna North Star the other day. It was great to see Democratic leadership step up and throw Trump's crap right back in his face," Benincasa told BUST. "I tweeted that it was a great day for excellent coats on irritated women, and some folks suggested it should be a motto or a website or something. I decided it should be an Instagram account."

    nancypelosicoat 7fdd9


    Other current political figures can be found on the page, as well as political figures from yesteryear. Women from the arts also grace the page, and so you can scroll from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Rosa Parks, Beyoncé to Bette Davis. Little-known male-passing pirate Mary Read is also featured with drawings from the 18th century.

    Benincasa's favorite coat, though, is the cloth coat donned by Dolores Huerta. "In that photo, she's doing extraordinary work on behalf of marginalized people who work their asses off, and this is a woman who still works her ass off today. I admire her so much, so of course that's influencing her decision," Benincasa said. "But it just looks like the right coat for the job."

    Check out a just a few from Benincasa’s growing collection below.

    ocasiocoats 9e697

    rosaparkscoat d7f3d

    partoncoats e1a7b

    angeladaviscoats 95a68

    Benincasa seeks out submissions over Instagram DM or email (

    All photos from ExcellentCoatsOnIrritatedWomen on Instagram.

    Published December 17, 2018

    By Casey Seline and Lydia Wang

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  • fashionillo 561e0
    The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, or FIT, is one of the best-known fashion schools in the country. Timed to the recent reckonings that people have had with institutions and inclusivity, such as the call from black artists in Hollywood to invest in black creators, FIT students have also made calls for more inclusivity in their programs.

    With a petition made by Bronwyn Goldschneider, an incoming sophomore at the school, students are calling for more inclusivity in FIT fashion illustration classes. This isn't a problem exclusive to FIT, but one that permeates through the fashion industry as a whole. In fashion, we mostly see models who are white, tall, thin, cisgender, and able-bodied.

    The petition demands that the classes “teach the rendering of a wide variety of human skin tones and diverse body types, rejecting the backward status quo of solely illustrating pale-skinned, super-thin models to the exclusion of all others.” It states that the models used by FIT fashion illustration classes are almost exclusively white and size zero models, and goes onto say that “while there are many other areas where fashion design pedagogy contributes to vicious cycles of racism and size discrimination in the industry, fashion design illustration is fundamental and an important starting point for change.”

    The petition is calling on the school to make this change as the Spring 2020 New York Fashion Week was the most racially diverse season. It’s often been said that everything starts with education, so it makes sense that students are calling on the school to make this change so that the school can help change the future designers of the world and reflect the world we live in.

    According to the petition, professors told students in fashion illustration classes to use only pale and light-colored markers to color the models and dismissed calls to change their lack of inclusion. Students also argue that FIT perpetuates harmful size discrimination when it comes to models, which can often affect a model’s self-image and mental health severely.

    The petition concludes by demanding that FIT “must lead the way in establishing fashion design curriculums that reflect the world we live in today. We, the undersigned, believe it is necessary that fashion illustration classes be led by professors who believe that all people are equally worthy of being cherished and represented. We want to change a toxic fashion industry that perpetuates white supremacist attitudes and body-shaming, all the while profiting from the pain of so many. We want learning how to render all skin tones and body types to be a PERMANENT part of the fashion design program.”

    Multiple students have spoken up anonymously through Goldschneider’s Instagram account, sharing their experiences with the lack of inclusion and diversity in fashion illustration classes at FIT.

    Sign the petition here.

    Header image by Bronwyn Goldschneider / @bronwyng_

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    Gabi Gregg, aka GabiFresh, fashion blogger and co-founder of Premme with Nicolette Mason, has been redefining the boundaries of plus-size fashion for years. With her latest collaboration with Swimsuitsforall, GabiFresh has assembled nine newcomers to modeling. Each woman represents a different size, but they all exude confidence, happiness, and beauty.

    The ten-piece swimwear collection comes in a variety of styles and colors, ranging from a subtle palm leaf print one-piece to a neon yellow mesh bikini, which means that there is something for everyone. Sizes range from a size 10 to a size 26, and cup sizes D/DD to G-H. Prices range from $78 to $115.-

    “I am constantly motivated and inspired by my followers. Their support means the world to me and to have so many people come out for this casting call was truly a mind-blowing experience,” Gabi told Ebony. “This collection is all about bringing to life the fun, flirty, playful spirit of summer. These nine women had no problem showing that side of themselves! My hope is that this campaign, featuring such a beautifully diverse group, will encourage others to feel confident and have fun in a swimsuit, regardless of their race, size or shape.”

    Gabi and all of the women in her campaign photos and video look amazing and have us ready for beach weather and new swimsuits!

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.32.14 PM e8b69

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.33.44 PM 3475cCarnival Underwire Bikini, $102.00, Gravitron Swimsuit $114.00, and Water Slide Underwire Bikini, $102.00

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.31.31 PM e9581Ferris Wheel Dress, $78.00, and Roller Coaster Black Underwire Bikini, $102.00

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.33.56 PM f1a68

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.19.49 PM 1de20

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.33.03 PM 497e1Scrambler Underwire Bikini, $102.00

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.34.09 PM b90d5

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.31.45 PM e0e5f

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.31.57 PM fa5cc

    Screen Shot 2018 04 04 at 12.30.39 PM 89019Roller Coaster Orange Underwire Bikini, $102.00

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    GabiFresh Launches New Swimsuits For 2017 And They're Gorgeous



  • crinoline1 3efb7

    Unfortunately, discussion and dissection of women’s clothing is something of a historic tradition – and many aspects of what it is to dress like a women having remained the same for centuries. Here’s just a glimpse into how women were expected to dress throughout history.

    Beauty is pain

    To be beautiful is to be in pain, a fact anybody who has ever worn heels for more than 3 hours can attest to. This is, of course, nothing new, from bruise-inducing heavy fabrics to mantuas that required hinges to allow for the wearer to get into and out of carriages (and don’t even start on managing doors!).

    Being really bloody uncomfortable goes part in parcel with being on trend. Of course, these trends have also proved deadly. Yes, the thing that makes you beautiful can also be a weapon: corsets, of course, are famed for their organ-mangling powers, but crinolines were also a very lethal culprit.

    Unsuspecting wearers would catch themselves on a candle and the whole crinoline would go up in flames. To make matters worse, the crinoline’s design prevented the victim from putting the fire out themselves, and any crinoline-clad bystanders were also hampered down by their large skirts and rendered powerless to help – all they could do was watch their friend burn alive within their dress. In 1864, one Dr. Lancaster reported a supposed 2,500 people in London alone suffered this fiery end.

    3 fire at ballet 1861 660x448 be44bThis actually happened in 1861 in Philadelphia: 9 ballerinas died. Crinoline fires, arguably worse than chip pan fires.

    You are what you wear

    When you read any book about the wives of Henry Vlll, you will quickly realize the wives’ hoods are an indicator of who they are as people: Anne Boleyn with her rule-breaking and saucy French hood, Jane Seymour trying to appease with her plain and ungainly English hood, etc., etc., etc. The clothes are packaged as an integral part of these women’s core identity.

    anne boleyn 231x300 c5665

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    Even executions of women in this period turn into a (blood-soaked) runway. Catherine Howard, newly conservative but still glamorous in dark velvet; Lady Jane Grey, pious in black; and Mary, Queen of Scots, working rebellious martyr chic in crimson. What you wear is who you are, even if that could not be further from the truth.

    Margaret Cavendish, forerunner of Science Fiction, poet,and one of the first philosophers to really dive into the gender divide was maligned by her peers. She was seen as a bimbo.

    image091 2fe59

    Cavendish loved fashion and dressed vividly and eccentrically. Samuel Pepys described her as ‘conceited and ridiculous’ and her ‘dress so antic’: one of the greatest minds of her time overlooked, because her dress was a bit out there. But don’t worry, Pepys also describes her as a ‘good comely woman,’ so everything’s fine, really.

    The sex is in the heel

    If you are a woman then, at some point, you will have been told that you are dressing too provocatively (you bitch) or not provocatively enough (you bitch). Yes, the debate on putting it away vs. putting it out there is long and aged and something everyone, apparently, has some kind of stake in.

    What is permitted for women to wear is somewhat cyclical. There is a fine line between what is seen as ‘attractive’ and ‘slutty’ but it is a line that keeps on fucking running all over the pitch.

    For example, if you were a woman in the court of Charles ll, then your neckline would be low to the extent that nipple paint would be a thing in your life – go and find any portrait of a bright young thing of this court and you will find an image of a woman barely containing her breasts (if they aren’t just out and roaming free). It seems like the birth place of liberal love for the raw female form, free the nipple and all that…but, for the love of Christ, don’t show an ankle, because a naked breast was one thing but a naked ankle was seen as scandal itself.

    Sexual fetishization was also ripe in Victorian England. What we now think of as the a bastion of sexual repression was actually incredibly sex-obsessed (seriously, Victorians LOVED their porn). But, like today, sexuality was a nuanced minefield.

    Take our old friend the corset. It was seen as key to maintaining the ideal female figure: a waspish waist, curvy hips, and breasts. A narrative was created around this fashion, and it became a sign that you were someone, feminine, rich, desirable, demure, and sophisticated all at once. Yet at the same time, the corset became a symbol of loose morals: it pushed up the cleavage and alluded to the hips and vagina.

    To dress like a woman is a myth and one far more complicated than I have been able to touch on in this (another time, perhaps). It is an ever-changing goalpost built on cultural expectations and outdated stereotypes. It exists…it clearly very much still exists (hey again, Mr. President!) but it doesn’t have to be something we adhere to. We can look at history and notice the rule breakers, the women that created their own fashions and lived how they chose. 

    This article originally appeared on F Yeah History and has been reprinted with permission.

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  • jBdlDDuA f4b2a

    In each issue's Fashion Nation, we talk to a sartorial trailblazer about their personal style. 

    Amy Mills (@rococo_witch)
    Musician, photographer, designer, luthier

    Brooklyn, NY 

    What can you tell me about this outfit? 

    The vibe I’m going for is Rococo witch. The dress and the hat were both made by my friend Kelsey for her label, I Do Declare. The shoes are from Long Tall Sally, which is a store for taller women with larger feet. The belt is from VooDoooDolly, who makes beautiful jewelry and accessories. The harp guitar was made by Chris Knutsen in 1912. I’ve always been inspired by historical photographs, especially of women who play guitar, and incorporating these beautiful instruments into my style references that. 

    What else inspires your style?

    At the core of my style is a hyper-feminine aesthetic, which has always come naturally to me since I was little. The different elements of my looks take influence from a variety of historical periods—especially Rococo, Lolita, and classic representations of witches. I’m interested in photography, music, lacemaking, textiles, and fashion history, so I pick and choose from what I find beautiful and bring it all together. I’ve found projecting a high level of femininity in my style can make some people feel uncomfortable, especially working in the male-dominated industries that I do, but it definitely also brings others joy. I think both are equally important. 

    74sv2X6A 64cae

    Is projecting your femininity what excites you the most about fashion?

    That is certainly a big part of it! From a purely aesthetic standpoint there are so many feminine garments that are just incredibly beautiful and wonderful to wear. But as a queer femme, it’s a big part of who I am. I think taking up space with femininity is a really important thing to do in today’s political climate. I like that I can challenge people’s ideas of where feminine people exist, which I get to do at work on a daily basis!

    What else do you want people to know about you?

    I’m trans. Being trans and being out in the world and representing that community is really important to me.   

    unnamed fce9a


    1. Heart Shape Full Frame Sunglasses, $4.20,
    2. One-Of-A-Kind Handmade Crown, starting at $40,
    3. White Bise Dress, $250,
    4. Antaina Tea Party Glitter Lolita Shoes, $45.99,
    5. Buckled Witch Hat, $110,

    By Sarah Boyle
    Photographed by Yudi Ela
    This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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  • Screen Shot 2020 10 02 at 2.32.28 PM e0b4e

    Rihanna took socially distant fashion shows to the next level in Savage x Fenty Vol. 2, featuring a strong line up of celebrity guest stars such as Lizzo, Demi Moore, Willow Smith, and more. The show aired on Thursday night and had Twitter and other platforms completely abuzz. Rihanna’s epic hour-long production can now be streamed on Amazon Prime.

    Since the Savage x Fenty show last year, which set new standards for lingerie in a diverse display of body positivity, Rihanna has also included a men’s line and new segments on meditation and sexuality. This year’s production, originally in the works pre-pandemic, has adapted to the shifting tides and taken on new heights. As the camera pauses on performers such as Shea Coulee and Gigi Goode, doing a 360 around them and following closely as they strut the runway, the viewer experience perhaps feels more intimate, more alive than ever. In an interview with the New York Times, Rihanna said, “There’s a lot riding on this… It’s new territory for everyone, including Amazon Prime.”



    Rihanna’s Vol. 2 designs are drawn on in her handwriting with xoxos, hearts, dollar signs, yin and yang symbols, and smiley faces, which are inspired by her relationship to diaries. “I never really had a journal,” Rihanna told the New York Times. “I didn’t even know what I would write in a diary besides doodles.” Her writing, seen on bras, underwear, and briefs, is another way Rihanna is making her mark.


    In addition, the new men’s line brought in guests such as Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, and Bad Bunny, straying away from Rihanna’s former feminine-focused shows. Yet, with this shift, certain issues did come up, such as the fact that women performers such as Rosalia, Lizzo, and Ella Mai sang in lingerie while Travis Scott and Bad Bunny wore full pants. But Rihanna makes clear her intentions when it comes to gender, sexuality, and empowerment, telling the New York Times, “Sometimes [sexuality is] tainted because you’ve had horrible experiences or been robbed of your own power.” It becomes something “that has to be owned or earned.”

    Savage x Fenty Vol. 2 radiates a particular power compared to previous shows. It adds more depth and nuances to the bodies seen on-screen, angling below, above, and around them, following them. Mirrors, a reoccurring prop in the show, symbolize the perceptions of self and the projections of others, warping reflections but also offering a window into one's truest form. Rihanna reimagines lingerie as a distinct catalyst for power.

    Top image: Screenshot from Amazon Prime's Savage x Fenty Show Vol. 2

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  • imgonline com ua resize gt3gdi71pfk6e a1924

    We all know that history is littered with dresses that wanted nothing more than to kill their wearers (shoutout to fire-loving crinolines and organ-squishing corsets!), but it wasn’t just dress engineering that could led to (a v. fashionable) early grave; the color of your dress could also lead to a veeeery nasty end! I present to you Scheele’s Green, a hue with a mission to kill every Victorian it could.

    kermitPreach Kermie (via giphy)

    Arsenic was an everyday item in Victorian England. It was just one of those things you had in your house, like soap, cosmetics, even playing cards. (Actually, arsenic was used to make all of these…)

    The industrial revolution brought a boom in the arsenic industry as ways to manufacture the element became easier. Due to this, the Victorians started to use arsenic in literally everything! They used it in furnishings, sprayed it on vegetables and meat… even coated toys in it. It sounds super deadly…and it was…BUT all this arsenic was in pretty small doses; you’d literally have had to lick all the toys in London to die from it (still don’t try it at home, though).

    Then, a guy called Carl Wilhelm Scheele entered the arsenic scene. 

    carl wilhelm scheele inventor of scheeles green a toxic arsenic pigment used in clothing wallpaper and even sweets e1502826437928 3d188

      Scheele wanted to create a long lasting, bold green hue. So, using copper arsenite as the key ingredient, he created what he called "Scheele’s Green," also known as Paris Green (the actual full name is CuHAsO3, for the science nerds out there).

    Now, you might think that having a green pigment with such a high arsenic percentage would put people off…but you made shit look sooo green. Like soooooooo green though!!!

    And so Victorians popped Scheele's Green in everything they could think of. Wallpaper? Yeah, shove some arsenic on that bad boy! Clothes? Yes, that totes needs a shade of death! Sweets? Yes…I’m sorry to say that some cavalier confectioners dyed their sweets with Scheele's Green, which did result in a tiny bit of child death.

    sorry bout that c9311Er yeah, sorry to have bought in child death so early... but it's kinda a death post (via giphy)

    Now, having arsenic in wallpaper is bad enough, so imagine how bad wearing arsenic is for one's health!

    At the time it was estimated that one ball gown made using Scheele's Green would carry an estimated 900 grams of arsenic.

    It takes 5 grams to kill an adult.


    Luckily for the ladies wearing these dresses, they were covered in layers of petticoats, linings, corsets, and crinolines, so they didn’t actually come into much contact with the deadly fabric. The same cannot be said for the poor sods making the dresses.

    arsenic dress 683f1Scheele Green, corset, and a bustle, that's like the trifecta of deadly dress!!!

    In 1861, a 19-year-old paper flower maker named Matilda Scheurer started convulsing and vomiting green liquid. The whites of her eyes turned green and so did her fingernails.

    Matilda’s job was to brush powdered green pigment onto fake flowers, which were then sold to adorn wealthy ladies hats and dresses. As you’ve probably guessed, the green powder was a type of Scheele’s Green and obviously contained all of the arsenic.

    After inhaling high levels of arsenic every day of her working life, Matilda died a slow and very painful death. She wasn’t the only one. French physician Ange-Gabriel-Maxime Vernois wrote that after visiting a fake flower factory (similar to the one Matilda worked in), the daily contact with arsenic wrought havoc on the bodies of the workers, with the arsenic literally eating away at their flesh.

    screaming 2b5c4I repeat: eating away at their flesh!! (via giphy)

    The death of Matilda led to an upper class uprising against the use of Scheele's Green. With ladies' societies campaigning against the substance's use and making it clear they felt other women’s use of Scheele’s Green dyed attire made them little more than murderers.

    This, combined with the public becoming more aware of the dangers of products based heavily in arsenic, caused the use of Scheele’s Green and other arsenic-based hues to fall sharply out of fashion – because nobody wants to die, no matter how haute couture the dress.

    too much fashion 72997You heard it here first, folks!!! (via giphy)

    This was interesting! Where do I find out more?Well if you enjoyed finding out how fashion killed Victorians, you’ll love finding out how tons of other stuff did too!! Suzannah Lipscomb’s series on hidden killers is a great watch, covering several eras in history. It’s online and you can also buy episodes to watch on Amazon.

    This post originally appeared on F Yeah History and is reprinted here with permission.

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  • Fran Matisse 99166

    The recent internet frenzy of ’90s nostalgia have brought Fran Drescher’s titular character from The Nanny to our current pop-culture lexicon. One could argue that Fran’s sartorial choices were their own character in the show, thanks to the talent of costume designer Brenda Cooper. Visually centric social media apps such as Instagram and Pinterest provide the perfect home for Fran Fine’s show-stopping ensembles thus making her a viral sensation.

    One particular Instagram @thenannyart is exemplifying notions of fashion as wearable art by comparing Fran Fine’s looks with fine art.

    Fran Mondrion 31978Fran as a Piet Mondrian

    Brussels-based independent curator and founder of, Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte recalls watching the show as a teen and being inspired by the “beauty in the artifice of this over-the-top-sitcom.” After seeing a still shot of Drescher’s character looking over her shoulder in a red and white patterned jacket, he was struck by how much the image resembled Gerard Richter’s 1988 painting, Betty. Using his keen eye for making visual connections, Van Eeckhoutte has curated an impressive gallery of images that combine Fran’s outfits with contemporary art.

    Fran art ad493The one that started it all: Fran as a Gerhard Richter. 

    Additionally, Van Eeckhoutte’s juxtaposition between the “high culture” of the art world and the ’90s camp of the sitcom addresses the show’s narrative, in which the class difference between Fran and the Sheffields was a defining theme. The lady in red from Queens and her over-the-top, tell-it-like-it-is persona contrasted with the Sheffields' refined, jaded existence on the privileged Upper East Side.

    Fran Jester c820aFran as a Picasso

    Fran water melon fe464Fran as a Josh Smith

    Images courtesy of Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte of @thenanny art via Instagram

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  • La Mode 1836 Fashion Plate via Met Museum e1520885776519 81424

    In the Victorian era, perfumed products abounded. In addition to perfume, cologne, and toilet water, there were scented soaps, scented pomades, and even scented mouth waters and dentifrices for the teeth. But how much scent could a lady or a gentleman wear without being offensive? It’s a question many of us puzzle over even today. Fortunately for the Victorians, books and articles on proper etiquette offered plenty of advice to guide the unwary.

    An article in the 1894 edition of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine quotes a passage from an 1811 book of etiquette in which the author advises young gentleman on their personal scent, stating: “You ought to make it your care neither to smell too sweet nor the contrary; for a gentleman ought neither to be offensive like a he-goat nor perfumed like a civet-cat.”

    Useful advice, to be sure. Then again, a fairly large gray area exists between the offensive scent of a he-goat and the stink of a civet-cat. In his 1874 publication The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, Cecil Hartley offers advice that is more specific. Instead of dousing their bodies with scent, he instead recommends that gentlemen engage in “frequent bathing.” As far as fragrance, he writes: “Use but very little perfume, much of it is in bad taste.”

    Journal des Tailleurs Gazette of Fashion 1862 menswear plate via met museum e1520885870417 76933Journal des Tailleurs, Gazette of Fashion, 1862 (Met Museum)

    Some etiquette experts advised that gentlemen forego perfume altogether. According to the 1884 edition of James McCabe’s Household Encyclopaedia of Business and Social Forms, “perfumes should be avoided as effeminate.” However, if a gentleman insisted upon wearing scent, he was cautioned to use it only on his handkerchief. As McCabe explains: 

    “If used at all, for the handkerchief, [perfumes] should be of the very best and most delicate character, or they may give offence, as persons often entertain strong aversions to peculiar scents.”

    Advice for women followed much the same lines. While perfume was not strictly prohibited, it was considered offensive to wear an excess of strong scent. Instead, a lady was advised to wear only a hint of delicate fragrance—often on her handkerchief. According to the 1880 edition of The Manners That Win: “It is in bad taste for a lady to use strong perfumes. A hint of a delicate perfume is quite enough.”

    La Mode Illustre Women 1877 Plate 010 via Met Museum e1520886483719 65ac9La Mode Illustre, Women, 1877 (Met Museum)

    But what qualifies as a hint of perfume? Was it a merely a light dab behind the ears or a spray of vapor from an atomizer? In her 1881 etiquette manual Gems of Deportment, Martha Louise Rayne provides the best description of just how delicate a delicate perfume should be, writing:“A perfume should be so delicate, so daintily used, and so lingeringly fragrant that no one could define it as any thing but the ghost of a sweet scent, a faint, clinging memory of sweetness.”

    Today, we have a far wider range of fragrances available than ladies and gentlemen did in the Victorian era. However, I believe much of the above advice on the use of perfumes still applies. Whether a man or a woman, when it comes to applying scent, a light hand is often the best.

    This post originally appeared on and is reprinted here with permission.

    Top image: La Mode, 1836 (Met Museum) 

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