Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Worn again: second-hand fashion

A new breed of second-hand fashion specialists makes high style a steal. Phong Luu browses for the best of them.
Christian Dior Forties New Look dress £4,750, Vintage Seekers; Photo: Zac Frackelton
This ruffled, all-kinds-of-fabulous Mulberry skirt (see below) costs £390 - yet, brand new, its price is £1,500. And what about that cashmere-and-silk Dolce & Gabbana vest tucked into it? Yours for £25. Readers, we present the smartest way to shop designer: second-hand. Alright, second-hand (usually classified as newer, pre-worn items) and vintage (pieces that are at least 25 years old) shops have been around for aeons, but what's changed is that some have climbed right to the top of the luxury ladder. What that means is that you no longer have to sift through a mountain of tat to get to the good stuff; here, the mountain is the good stuff.

Susie Archer, founder of Arch Label Agency, the pre-owned dress agency in Lincolnshire where that Mulberry skirt and Dolce top come from, has stacks of elaborate Louboutin heels from £150 a pop (basic black costs £400 brand new) and classic tweed Chanel jackets for £500 (they nudge £2,000 fresh off the rack) - all in mint condition. "I don't take in anything that's worn - everything is pristine," says Archer, who also helps you sell your unwanted purchases if you can't be bothered to eBay. "A lot of items are still new with tags on." Style Sequel's USP is sold-out pieces: at the moment, it has a pair of Isabel Marant's trophy wedge trainers. Should you desire an original Christian Dior New Look dress, Vintage Seekers has several.

Chloé jumpsuit, £349.99 (left), Style Sequel; Mulberry skirt , £390, and Dolce & Gabbana vest, £25, Arch Label Agency;
A non-negotiable criterion in our selection was relevancy. But that doesn't mean it can't be decades old. Take a look at the black Dior dress pictured and tell us it isn't modern or wearable. "Good vintage needs to look contemporary," says Carmen Haid, founder of vintage e-tailer Atelier Mayer. "Any 'too vintage-looking' pieces or items in bad condition I don't touch." In our selected shops here, you won't find any démodé Chloé Paddingtons. What you will find are ultra-desirable, unique, quality pieces, often at a fraction of the original price.

It stocks Chanel and YSL, but it's the "cool labels that fashion editors love", as one fan puts it, that makes the schlep to Susie Archer's word-of-mouth phenomenon in Lincolnshire worth it. Immaculate-condition Marni, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Jil Sander, Céline, Proenza Schouler and Tom Ford from recent seasons can be found at basement prices. A current cross-section of its perusal-only website (customers can order by phone, 01780 764746) includes Stella McCartney belts from £30, Gucci silk scarves for £50 and a Givenchy bag for £390.

Archer calls her shop an agency, but the hushed white decor has more of the Matches boutique about it than Cash Converters: "A lot of people don't realise that it's an agency and request items in certain sizes," says Archer, who set up the business with redundancy money from her old marketing job. You can also make a tidy sum selling your unwanted designer purchases to her to sell on.

Style Sequel's modus operandi is sold-out contemporary fashion: the red Alexander McQueen dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the Diamond Jubilee, Isabel Marant's popular wedge trainers, and a star-print YSL dress that Kate Moss modelled in the spring/summer 2008 ad campaign have all passed through its (virtual) door.

Most of it is sourced from founder Emma Allen's contacts in London, and about 20 per cent comes from sellers overseas (Kate's McQueen dress came from a seller in Australia). Everything is sold online ("editor's pick" and "collectibles" tags serve as handy pointers), mostly via auction (its website is linked to eBay), which can be frustrating if you spot a piece you like, as you have to play the waiting game. On the plus side there's potential for snaffling a bargain: a beautiful silk draped Lanvin orange dress is currently up for auction at just over £100. The most in-demand pieces aren't cheap, however, and can sell at as-new prices.
It also does a selling service; if you've got pieces by Christopher Kane, Erdem and Mary Katrantzou, Allen reckons you're sitting on a gold mine. "There was no second-hand market for Christopher Kane two years ago. In fashion circles, he was popular, but in the public consciousness he wasn't quite there yet. Now that he's on his way to becoming a household name, people want to buy him second-hand. People aren't letting go of Mary Katrantzou's pieces yet, because she's relatively new. It may be worth more in a few years."

Céline Seventies dress, £260, Atelier Mayer; (left). Elizabeth Taylor Nineties Falcon earrings, £395. Elizabeth Taylor Nineties Vine necklace, £595 (chunky chain). Givenchy Eighties gold-plated necklace with coloured cabochon, £295. Elizabeth Taylor Nineties Vine bracelet, £395 (right). Chanel Eighties wide logo bracelet, £995 (left), all Susan Caplan;

"A commercial, yet inspirational, mix of luxury vintage fashion," is how Carmen Haid describes her online company Atelier Mayer, named after her late grandmother, Klaudia Mayer, a haute-couture seamstress in Vienna in the Thirties. With its chic web design, slick packaging and spot-on edit, we say it's the Net-a-Porter of vintage fashion. There's often a bohemian-ish feel to her selections - maxi lengths, opulent prints and high necklines: "I glamourise the Sixties and Seventies and particularly love YSL and Lanvin from that time. I also favour Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, Ungaro, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Pucci," says the ex-fashion PR. A signature Atelier Mayer piece would be "something in impeccable condition, with beautiful craftsmanship".

Haid also works with upcoming designers such as Rafael López, who's dressed Emma Watson, on exclusive vintage-inspired capsule collections, and stocks a nice line of homewares; we've got our eye on a beautiful blue YSL tea set from the Eighties: "I could just trade in Hermès and Chanel, but that's too limiting and boring. I like to offer a wide variety of treasures to people."

Jewellery can make even the simplest outfit sing - especially if they come from Susan Caplan. Her e-boutique houses stunning old-school baubles with a modern feel. Caplan's great eye for detail comes from working in the antiques trade for 20 years (she mainly bought Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces) and growing up in a family of art collectors. "A lot of the styles and shapes are the inspiration for much of what we see on today's catwalks," explains Caplan, who stocks pieces from the Thirties through to the Nineties, starting from £8.

The most memorable item she's sourced is a Versace body piece, although labels don't particularly interest her: "I buy because I love the design, not the designer." She's curated a cheaper, fashion-led collection for Asos, which does a hot trade with younger fans, while her more luxurious selections are carried by Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Fenwick. "There is a huge demand for vintage jewellery. It isn't a transient trend - it really is here to stay."

Vintage Seekers, founded by Lucy Evans and partner Rob Keylock, specialises in collector's items for a super-discerning clientele. If you've got a couple of thousand spare to blow on a Dior New Look dress or an original YSL Le Smoking, Vintage Seeker's your kind of place. "That Dior dress is almost museum-quality standard (pictured above)," says Evans of the silk faille piece from the Forties. "Everything we have is at that level."

Evans and her team source from private collectors worldwide: "There's a lady who lives in Milan who has a huge collection of Valentino. One of her family members worked for Dior, so she has couture that was especially made for her. She also has Lanvin, Gucci and Pucci - it's incredible. Those pieces will be coming to the site soon. Another lady in Ibiza was the wife of a famous rock star and had amassed a wardrobe fill of Alaïa." Also worth a punt are the more accessible costume jewellery and soon-to-launch vintage sunglasses.

If clothes aren't your thing, Vintage Seekers also do rare books ("We got cleaned out of first-edition Bonds a fortnight ago"), posters, furniture, cars, boats, watches and wine. Something specific in mind? They'll hunt high and low to find it - for free.

Fashion Fallout – designer rail sale in Dublin 2, Sunday, November 4th

I feel like a short few years ago, a rail sale was a rare and almost unheard-of occurrence; now, they crop up as often as Jodie Marsh does at an envelope opening. But for anyone who loves a good rummage, their ubiquity can only be a good thing!

This Sunday, November 4th, stylist Courtney Smith is holding the inaugural Fashion Fallout event in Krystle Nightclub in Dublin, from 12pm to 6pm. Entry is free, but donations at the door will go to the Dublin Simon Community, a Dublin-based charity that fundraises for homeless services in the area.
On the day, top stylists, models and slebs including Rozanna Purcell, Lorna Weightman, Glenda Gilson and Jennie McGinn, as well as shops Fran & Jane and Shutterbug vintage, will be hosting rails full of clobber on sale to the public. And you know what they say: one woman’s trash . . . Courtney will also be doing hourly fashion shows with top Irish models, and Pamela Laird will be doing attendees’ nails on the day.

All in all, it sounds like a pretty fun, fashionable day out. If I weren’t going to be in Iceland (you heard me), I’d be there with bells on.

Navjot Singh Sidhu from field to fashion, howzzat?

Navjot Singh Sidhu Every season of the reality TV show Bigg Boss has its share of glamorous girls, fashion forwards and wholesome entertainers. While it's usually the ladies who compete in the fashion department, this time its Navjot Singh Sidhu's crisp dressing that has topped the style score board, beating all the other inmates.

Besides being the peacemaker in the show, Sidhu has also earned himself the tag of the fashion superior, looking sharp and impressive all through the day. It seems like the 48-year-old ex-cricketer has clearly packed a suit case of all fashion essentials for the duration of his stay, from his bright turbans, edgy sportswear to handy accessories.

His comical one-liners can be credited for his popularity but this time it's Sidhu's sartorial fashion choices that sets him apart. Lifestyle decodes his stylish side.

It's in the details

While the men in the house are seen wearing jeans, shirts, tees and shorts, Sidhu has mostly been taking the traditional route with his coloured kurtas and pathani suits. Later in the day, he changes into trackpants and jackets that are also well- matched and colour coordinated.

While he pairs his ethnic wear with formal leather shoes, he teams his sporty gear with sneakers. Giving attention to every detail, it’s almost impossible to sight a crease on his clothes or spot him looking shabby.
With neon turbans a big hit on both Indian and international runway, the trend has clearly travelled to wardrobes of the many fashion conscious. Many stylistas are swapping their trendy floral fascinators with uber- cool and uncoventional turbans. Not to miss this style, Sidhu has also been sporting this trend inside the house by accessorising every outfit with a bright turban, especially in tones like lime green, fluorescent orange and vibrant blue. This pop of colour looks great with both his traditional dressing and his relaxed western wear.
Subtle style
Inspite of all the bright colours and rich clothing, Sidhu escapes falling into the OTT category. The neons are tastefully paired with light hues and the solid tones are worn with dull colours. His look has been bang on throughout without sporting too many accessories. His simple yet sharply tailored clothes are statement pieces in themselves, especially the crisp pathanis that he has got tailormade especially for the show. Besides his clothes, it’s also his confidence and personal style that works in his favour.

Legs that go for miles! Alessandra Ambrosio kicks off Sao Paulo Fashion Week with all eyes on her killer pins

An assortment of lovely legs are sure to be on parade at Sao Paulo Fashion Week.

But Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio made sure hers were the first to spark interest among guests when she arrived in the Brazilian city. 

The 31-year-old revealed just how slender her figure is by slipping into a patterned frock which rose to the top of her thighs.
Legs eleven: The Victoria's Secret supermodel showed off her muscular pins in the Brazilian cityLegs eleven: The Victoria's Secret supermodel showed off her muscular pins in the Brazilian city
Legs eleven: Alessandra Ambrosio showed off her muscular pins in Brazil on Tuesday

She teamed the ensemble with staggeringly high black strappy heels which only made her 5’ 10” frame more intimidating.

She also emphasised her tiny waist with a thin black belt.

Ambrosio – who is a mother of two children – offered up her figure from every angle as she worked around an area of the ground taped with a ‘X’ sign.
Strike a pose: Alessandra did her best catwalk poses as she was photographed outside of the event
Strike a pose: Alessandra did her best catwalk poses as she was photographed outside of the event

The star wore her brunette locks loose and wavy for the occasion.

Before jetting off to the style region, Ambrosio was spotted in Brentwood, California wearing a statement T-shirt.

She donned a top which read ‘Don’t Worry Be Sexy’ as she left the gym, which is easy for a woman of her appearance to say.
Brunette beauty: Alessandra Ambrosio arrived at Sao Paulo Fashion Week on Tuesday looking great
Brunette beauty: Alessandra arrived at Sao Paulo Fashion Week looking great

Her face didn’t seem to have any make-up enhancements and her hair was simply slick back into a ponytail as she carried her car keys and a water bottle from the building.

The clothes horse wore black trainers on her feet and had on skimpy shorts which revealed the gaping space between her skinny legs.

It’s difficult to remember she has four-year-old daughter Anya and five-month-old baby son Noah with fiancé Jamie Mazur.
Staying toned: She was spotted in Brentwood, California after leaving the gym before her Brazil trip
Staying toned: She was spotted in Brentwood, California after leaving the gym before her Brazil trip

'Don't Worry Be Sexy': She wore a statement top and tiny shorts
'Don't Worry Be Sexy': She wore a statement top and tiny shorts

Sao Paulo kicks off winter Fashion Week

paolo---SAO PAULO: Sao Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW), the top such event in Latin America, kicked off Monday to showcase joyful and colorful designs of its 2013 winter collection.

Unlike in previous years when it was held in the cavernous Biennal pavilion of the city's Ibirapuera Park, the show featuring 20 Brazilian designers is being held at a new venue: the Villa Lobos Park.

"Brazilian fashion continues to show a fresher outlook, a lighter way of seeing things and this has something to do with our DNA," SPFW's creative director Paulo Borges, told a press conference.

"It has something to do with colors, transparency, lightness and joy. What is the DNA of Brazilians? There is much talk of happiness and I strongly believe in this. It is a trend," he added.

The Osklen label will get the show rolling with a presentation hosted by a leading art gallery in this huge metropolitan area of 20 million people, the financial hub of booming Brazil, the world's sixth largest economy.

Ronaldo Fraga, Tufi Duek, Ellus, Joao Pimenta, Colcci, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Forum and Reinaldo Lourenço will then take center stage with presentations at the Villa Lobos Park venue.

Organizers have also altered the show's dates to adjust it to the international calendar and give designers more time to roll out their collections.

Thus, the SPFW's winter collection will from now on take place in October-November instead of January and the summer collection in March-April instead of June.

Borges explained that the aim was to extend the interval between the launch of collections and delivery to retailers in a bid to "professionalize" the industry.

"The Brazilian fashion industry is young.

The Brazilian economy is young and only recently found a way of establishing a world presence," he said, noting that 95 percent of the country's fashion output was for domestic consumption.

According to TexBrasil, the Brazilian Fashion Industry Export Program, this Latin American giant is the fifth-largest textile and fourth-biggest apparel producer in the world.

European fashion buyers look to Nigeria

A model displays a creation by designer Weizdhurm Franklyn, during the MTN Fashion and Design Week in Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012.
European fashion buyers look to Nigeria  LAGOS, Nigeria -- A model struts the runway wearing a flowing newspaper print gown in this African megacity where international high-end fashion buyers are looking beyond the country's bleak headlines to uncover the next new thing.

There have been steady efforts to turn Lagos, a city with a fearsome reputation, into a fashion destination. They reached new heights at the MTN Lagos Fashion & Design Week that ran from Oct. 24 to 27 and drew European high-fashion brands such as the United Kingdom's Selfridges & Co. and Munich-based to Nigeria for the first time.

Ituen Basi's newspaper inspired Spring/Summer 2013 collection was among 39 collections spotlighted at the city's latest major fashion week. The Nigerian label's collection evoked fun and glamour through its use of print and color -- characteristics which have come to define the vibrant local fashion scene.
With local brands seeking wider platforms and international retailers hungry for novelty, designers and buyers see opportunities for collaboration.

"There's something about the fresh, the unknown, the possibility of seeing a new brand springing forth into the limelight. ... These are becoming interesting to people outside Nigeria," said Omoyemi Akerele, the fashion week's founder and creative director.

An encouraging response to African-inspired designs by top Western labels gives buyers confidence that designs straight from the continent will also sell.

"Over the past few seasons, there's been a strong trend for print," said Bruno Barba, the brand public relations manager at Selfridges. "If you look at the collection of Burberry inspired by Africa last year; there was also Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith. ... They've made that inspiration quite mainstream now. So, for us, it was interesting to take that trend and take it from its roots in Africa."

Online retailer, which ships top designers' clothes including Miu Miu, Givenchy, Lanvin and Isabel Meron to clients in 120 different countries, is also looking for products in Nigeria that will sell well. The company hopes that will set it apart from the competition in a fast-paced industry.

"For me, Nigeria represents a fun individualism," the company's buying director Justin O'Shea said. He also said that was looking to work closely with designers and adapt products for their clientele if needed.

Previously, several Nigerian designers have helped put the West African nation on the global fashion map.
Deola Sagoe has gained recognition from U.S. Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley and Oprah Winfrey. London-based Duro Olowu is considered one of Michelle Obama's favorite designers. Maki Oh has dressed American singer Solange Knowles and Hollywood actress Leelee Sobieski from her Lagos workshop. Jewel By Lisa, who has also dressed celebrities, designed limited edition BlackBerry mobile phone skins and jeweled cases for Canadian manufacturer Research In Motion Ltd.

While looking to Nigeria could bring much-needed novelty to clothes targeted to global audiences, it could also endear a Nigerian clientele. Though the majority of the nation lives on less than $2 a day, the nation's wealthy elite have a growing appetite for top-shelf brands. Luxury goods stores are increasingly opening in a country where seemingly gratuitous displays of wealth are the norm.

"Nigerians are part of our Top 10 highest-spending foreign customers," Barba said. "It felt right for us to try and find a response that would appeal to them, excite them and be over and above what they already buy, almost as a recognition that they're an important part of our consumer base."


Fashion week after fashion week, Lisa Folawiyo, the creative director of Jewel By Lisa, is a consistent Nigerian designer. She recently started retailing at the New York-based online luxury store Moda Operandi and continues to draw attention from international buyers and labels looking for a modern interpretation of African style.

Her Spring/Summer 2013 collection is named "Fula" after the Fulani women it draws inspiration from. The Fulani are a nomadic people spread across several African countries, including Nigeria.

Their women typically have fine traits and slender frames, not unlike the models that took to the catwalk with soundtrack that crossed the high-pitched melody of the African guitar and the heavy bass of house music.
The Jewel by Lisa collection turned traditional loop earrings into a motif that repeated itself throughout her satin fabrics across stunning color combinations.


Anita Quansah London is a prolific one-woman operation based in a London workshop. The Ghanaian-Nigerian designer describes her work as a "labor of love." She sells to a global market including Asians and Europeans. She says she is now in talks to build a diffusion line to meet up with the growing demand of her work that has caught the eye of such designers as Christian Delacroix.

Her Spring/Summer 2013 collection is dramatic for "ladies who want to make a statement when they walk in to a room."

Her show-stopping bib necklaces are embellished with intricate bead work. The beads include imitation coral beads used for traditional outfits in southern Nigeria. Some bibs are lined with chicken feathers which also evoke traditional heirlooms.

Her dresses were understated and mostly in solid black, ceding the limelight to the jewelry that included suggestive chain designs inspired by bondage. Quansah said she wanted to show "women that weren't afraid to be sexy."


Designer Lanre DaSilva Ajayi is well-known in Nigeria's fashion scene for her love of 40s elegance. International buyers such as Selfridges & Co. expressed interest in her designs for retail at their UK stores.
Her ultra-feminine collection used a color palette ranging from cool nude and turquoise to warm orange and gold.

She showed flowing silhouettes and easy-to-wear maxi dresses, using chiffon, raw silk lace and the lace used in traditional Nigerian outfits to carve European shapes.

Her clothes are for the woman on the move, bold and sophisticated.


The MTN Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2013 was also the culmination of a months-long competition for new talent. The competition winner was menswear designer Josh Samuels, an architect turned designer that offered a geometric collection.

"I like things organized and appropriate," said Samuels who won the equivalent of $25,000 and the opportunity to be stocked in some Nigerian boutiques.

His collection called "Casanova" included finely tailored suits with classic checkered and houndstooth patterns and matching string ties.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Understanding the nexus between traditions, culture

It is a widely accepted practice that you do not answer your phone when you are in the toilet to avoid telling lies to the caller that you are busy in a meeting. On the one hand, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a custom as a practice common to many or a particular place or class. Tradition, on the other hand, is defined as an inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action or behaviour, such as a religious practice or a social custom. In essence, a tradition tends to be representative of a person’s culture. Also, a tradition can be widely practised, and will usually be passed down through generations, families or other institutions.

A critical distinction, however, between traditions and culture lies in the fact that whereas culture, as a way of life, evolves with time, and does get modified or adapted to changing technologies, traditions, by contrast, seem to remain static. Oftentimes, traditions try to defy changing technologies, resisting societal or individual efforts at modification. Unlike some progressive cultures, many traditions are very slow to change or to adapt. To that extent, certain elements of our culture that represent traditions tend to resist change.

However, mindful that studies on matters of ‘culture and tradition’ are often a preserve of the disciplines of anthropology and sociology, it would be helpful here to stray into some pertinent aspects of these disciplines. Very often, we hear people using phrases such as ‘Kaili, it’s the kacha…’ (i.e. It is the culture) or ‘kacha yali cinja pa Zambia’ (i.e. Culture has changed in Zambia).

Let us take the following examples to get a better sense of what we are talking about. Why do men often wear suits when they are going out on a dinner date? Is there a law that requires them to wear suits for such occasions? Or, does this have to do with culture or tradition? And what about those young ladies that like to expose their bare waist with African beads stringed around the waist? Is that a new kacha or what? Have African traditions on discreet wearing of beads now evolved or what? Besides, do traditions change that easily?

Many years ago, I had dinner with a vice-chancellor of a certain leading university in Europe. As we were enjoying our dinner, the man asked me if I knew of a certain famous academician. I responded that I knew the academician very well. And the vice-chancellor continued: “I like that guy. When he applied for a professorial chair at this university, I asked our university registrar to contact him to arrange for an interview. But when the registrar contacted him to ask for his availability, the man told the registrar that he thought that he had applied for the job and not for the interviews!” We all burst out laughing, knowing the great sense of humour of the academician that the vice-chancellor was talking about.

Then, the vice-chancellor added: “Of course, he came for the interviews, and that is how we got him to join us here.” Now, understand this: it is correct to say that the man had applied for the job, and not the interviews.

Unless the job advert had specified that only suitable candidates would be invited for interviews, why should he be asked to attend interviews when he had applied for the job? One would easily imagine that only a confident candidate who truly knows what he or she is worth can have such guts! You can only make such jokes if you know full well how good you are. Yet, tradition requires us all to conform, submitting ourselves humbly to the authorities.

I can only imagine that someone else would have thought of the famous professor in the example above as arrogant and not worthy considering any further. But he was damn good at what he does, and could thus afford to pull such a light-hearted joke that could have been easily misunderstood by many.

Closely related to the foregoing, is there a law that requires people to wear suits when they show up for a job interview? If the job advert does not specify the dress code for the interviewees, why do we still want to show up in a suit? What is it that has conditioned us to think that job interviews are partly about impressive clothes? I recall sitting on an interview panel, and one of the interviewees showed up in jeans, T-shirt and sneakers. But he was damn good at the interviews, and he knew his field of expertise very well.

The other panellists voted him down simply because they all felt he was inappropriately dressed for the interviews. I then asked them if they had specified in the job advert the preferred dress code for the interviewees. They all responded: “Come on…it is obvious! He should know.” But we can’t be making such assumptions. People come from different cultural backgrounds. What is considered formal dress code in some culture may not be acceptable in another culture.

Likewise, in some cultures, it aint a taboo for an elderly person to break the wind loudly and audibly in the presence of young people. They all will laugh about it lightly, and life continues. Yet, in some cultures, such as where many of us come from, if someone elderly fouls the air silently it is the young ones who will be blamed. And they are not expected to deny. Again, is this about tradition or culture?

A Caucasian friend of mine married to a Zambian lady in Norway could not understand why his Zambian in-laws would not sit with him at the dinner table when having dinner. And one day, he woke up in the morning with only his underwear on. He went to sit on the patio to enjoy the rising summer sun. Unknowingly, his mother-in-law was also headed for the balcony when she found him seated outside with underwear only. She collapsed! They had to call medical emergency to resuscitate her from the shock. It was then that I had to explain to my Caucasian friend some pertinent aspects about culture, customs and traditions. I had to offer him a crush-course in Anthropology 101.

Even in some churches, some of the things that we practise or follow have very little to do with the Word of God. We are often overburdened with traditions! And these traditions are created by fellow human mortals. Traditions are not divine wisdom. They are simply church traditions established by fellow human mortals. Period! We must distinguish church traditions from the actual Word of God. The Pharisees, for example, were experts primarily in church traditions. But their understanding of the Word of God was arguably exposed at times by our Lord Jesus Christ. And they hated Him for that!

A nephew of mine once asked me: “Uncle, why is it that elderly people have to wash their hands first before everyone else at the dinner table? Why can’t it just be democracy that whoever arrives first can wash his or her hands, and then start eating?” Before I could answer, the boy’s father, who was seated nearby, interjected: “It’s kacha and good table manners for you to let elders wash their hands first!!!” The boy looked at me quietly, and we both went silent. The boy then asked me again: “Uncle, OK, let us assume that Dad is right by saying young people should allow the elders to wash their hands first, can I still be allowed to start eating if I can run and overtake the elders before they get to the dinner table?”

I looked at my nephew, and smiled: “No, son, you cannot do that. There is another rule to follow. You must first wait for the elders to get seated at the dinner table and to take their meal potion before you can make any attempt at the food…” My nephew was quick to respond: “But is that not selfish? At school, they teach us that young people should eat more healthy food in order to grow up. What if the elders get all the good pieces of chicken, as they often do, and they leave for the children an ugly foot of a chicken or a chicken wing with only large gallons of soup?” Before I could answer, the boy’s father cleared his throat, and put down his newspaper. He ordered my nephew to go outside and play with his friends. I kept wondering to myself: the boy had a point! But why did his father chase him away? The reason is simple: the boy was challenging traditions! It is called marshalling a paradigm shift.

Even in corporate organisations, as an employee, you are not expected to challenge traditions. You will not get away easily with that. Serious consequences and repercussions can follow. And so it is with certain churches and other institutions. There is no sitting on the fence. In the end, we find that human beings become enslaved with traditions, constantly seeking to be accepted by society and institutions. But some traditions and cultures can rob you of your happiness! What to do now? Rebel, and face the consequences?

* The interpretations and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the author. They do not represent the views of any institution, person or body to which the author is affiliated. For feedback on the article, the author can be reached electronically at:

Indigenous meeting brings people together

Desert meets the rivers Desert meets the rivers

A group of around 30 Aboriginal women from remote South Australia have left the Mildura region after ten days of cultural exchange.

The women, from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands, travelled from the remote corner of north-east South Australia to meet in Dareton, in south west New South Wales.
The event was called 'Desert Meets River', and was aimed at re-educating local Aboriginal people around cultural and spiritual stories that connect both parts of the country.

Chairman of the Kulka community and member of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) executive council, Millyika Paddy, says the event was about sharing the knowledge held by a very traditional group of women with local Aboriginal people.

Speaking through a translator, Ms Paddy says the Aboriginal community in Dareton have been forced to forget a lot of their traditional laws and culture.

"It is hard for people here, because they have forgotten a lot. And they haven't been able to learn from their grandparents, the grandparents were not allowed to pass on that knowledge. And all that they've been able to learn is white fella law."

"It's difficult for people here, and that's why we want to come and help them, and support them as Aboriginal people."

She says the community has been responsive to their dances.

"They're listening to what we have to say and they're learning, and what we are saying is that the law from our country comes down through here too," she says.

One of the key stories they came to teach is called the Seven Sisters dreaming, which Ms Paddy says is a shared law between the communities.

"Us ladies, we danced that dreaming at the opening of the Olympic Games, and we're going to dance that dreaming at the centenary of Canberra next year, and we're dancing that same dreaming here in Mildura, because this is an important place."

A long-term resident of Namatjira Avenue, where most of the dancing has taken place, John Handy says the teachings have been a highlight for him.

"This is one of the best things that will happen. All around Australia, I've heard that they go from one town to another trying to unite us all as one lot of people and know the same story," says Mr Andy.

"We all one people, no matter where we come from or what part of the land, Australia, we all one people," says Mr Andy.

Mr Andy says locals have been slow to come around to the idea of the educational meeting in Dareton, but trusts that more will get involved in the future.

"We've just got to get more information out to them to let them know this is what will be happening every year," he says.

Namibia: Chinese Culture of Gratitude

A CULTURE of gratitude is regarded as an encouraging factor to increase productivity, to strengthen unity and promote harmony in the workplace nowadays.

Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, a culture of gratitude or appreciation plays a pivotal role in interpersonal relationships.

Chinese culture fosters a strong sense of gratitude and indebtedness as we can see from the following Chinese expressions 'gan en dai de' (bearing a debt of gratitude for one's kindness), 'gan en tu bao' (feeling grateful for a kind act and planning to repay it) and 'ni jing wo yi chi, wo jing ni yi zhang' (you honour me a foot, and I will in return honour you ten feet).

There is another Chinese expression indicating that Chinese, more than any other cultures, do value grateful attitudes in their communication and relationships no matter where they are, abroad or home. This expression is 'di shui zhi en dang yong quan xiang bao' meaning 'to repay a spring of gratitude for a drop (little) of favour'. It is not hard to visualize how many drops of water a spring contains. Such a contrast therefore demonstrates how grateful Chinese feel for a kind act, be it material or emotional or spiritual or even just a warming attitude.

This culture furthermore establishes the Chinese way of interpersonal rule: mutuality and reciprocity that require mutual benefits and reciprocity to the people who offer a kind act.

Chinese clearly understand that no matter what assistance or support or favour they receive and that whether or not such assistance or support or favour will meet their satisfaction or needs or 'taste', they are definitely indebted to the favour-senders for their kindness.

Belonging to High Context Culture, Chinese seek to maintain the social relationships of long term.
They need to have the assurance that a foundation is laid for enriching and deepening such relationships, and mutual benefits have been reaped and that both sides are satisfied with the deal.

As the results of collectivist cultures, Chinese in their business activities value mutual face concerns, seek a win-win business strategy and show gratitude to business partners from whom they receive a kind act, such as a piece of good advice, a loan offer, timely help, a preferential policy, assistance to solve a problem, a warm reception, generous attitude or a favour in any other form. Such values are ingrained in the minds of Chinese.

In China, the expression of gratitude and appreciation to a teacher, a guardian, parents, kin, schools (universities), village community (home town) and motherland are always highlighted, praised and valued whereas a person of ingratitude is spurned and condemned by the public.

The Chinese community in Namibia has also demonstrated this virtue of culture by showing their appreciation of and gratitude to the kind acts of support and assistance from Namibian individuals and the government, authorities and institutions at large.

A great number of Chinese individuals or companies have actively participated in charity programmes or volunteered to offer what they can to help those needy Namibians or orphans or school kids including those in SOS and kindergartens.

Some companies donate winter clothes and bedding; some provide food to those marginalised groups. Some companies or individuals simply provide cash to those needy people.

Education is a key player in a nation's social and economic development. Today's school attendants are the future builders of their nation.

Regarding educational investment, which is the most potential one as they do in China, the Chinese community makes it a priority to offer helping hands to Namibian school learners.

Given the financial constraints many Namibian parents are facing, the Chinese community in Namibia has long been managing to help quite a number of school learners with school fees by digging into their own pockets because China and Africa enjoy the same cultures of sharing, caring and universal brotherhood and because Chinese are aware that it is Namibians who host them by providing all necessary assistance to the Chinese community.

Some companies have set up assistance mechanisms of long term and pledge to support school students. An example of this is the six-years scholarship programme of NA Construction cc and Bright Future Import and Export cc for the school learners in Omuthiya starting from 2007.

What is even more worth highlighting here is the grateful attitude and generous acts from the Chinese Loving Heart Organization, a non-profit organization. This organization is the most outstanding Chinese institution providing scholarships for Namibian students to do medical studies at Nantong University, Jiangsu China. To repay the Namibians' kindness and support for the Chinese community is the core operational value of this organization.

The organization has done this work for two years running and 2012 is the third year this organization has offered full scholarship covering tuition fees, accommodation, meals (equal to N$1 600 per month), airfares (every two years) and medical insurance in China.

The whole medical course costs the sponsor N$400 000 per student, which is very rare in scholarship offer history in Namibia and elsewhere. (Up to now, this organization has sponsored 20 Namibians, which means N$8 million will have been offered at the end of their medical courses.)

Three months of intensive selection work impressed the writer that many young Namibian learners cherish a dream of going to China for medical studies. (In fact there are many Namibians studying medicine at several Chinese medical universities already, like Dalian Medical University and Ningbo Medical University).

Another impression the scholarship applicants left me is that those whom I interviewed all pledged to return to Namibia to serve the health section to repay their motherland. Repaying one's motherland is the most important gratitude, especially in Chinese culture because it is the motherland that brings you up like a mother rears her child.

This also explains why Chinese, including those overseas Chinese are always grateful to their motherland of China and that also explains why all Chinese united themselves as one whenever China has suffered natural disaster or foreign invasions.

A culture devoid of gratitude is a lost culture with no bright prospects. A person devoid of gratitude is hopeless and can not be expected to serve his/her community or motherland.

Enjoying the same culture of gratitude as Chinese, Namibians also demonstrate their appreciation to the favour senders. Those who were selected and offered the scholarships this year instantly expressed their thankfulness to me and to the organization as well by emails, texts or calls once I informed them of their being admitted by the university.

Helena Abed, a 19-year-old girl, said: 'You won't know how important this is to me, to my family and to my country where a doctor is badly needed. I will live up to your expectations. But no words can describe my gratitude to you.'

Some parents also joined their kids in sharing their happiness while expressing their heartfelt appreciation to the great noble deeds this organization has been doing in Namibia.

However, those who were not selected still feel indebted to this organization. One of the applicants said in her email, '...But I am still very happy because your organization has made such a great contribution to Namibian learners by providing them with such huge amounts of scholarships.'

Such a 'gratitude attitude' is a great value worth preserving, promoting and advocating.

Time to rethink culture of violence in sports

There's one silver lining in the black cloud of the NHL lockout.

Not so many players getting their brains scrambled by the assorted infractions of blood and mayhem over which the league clucks, scolds and wags its apparently impotent finger.

True, the NHL polices the kind of play that leaves injured players brain-addled for weeks, months, or years, ends careers early and is linked with later dementias, cognitive and behavioural disorders from having brains slammed around inside skulls.

But enforcement has been inconsistent and half-hearted, accompanied by a brutish chorus about sissifying the game, fighting being part of hockey, that big hits are part of a contact sport and blah, blah, blah.
If players consent to the violence, it's their choice, say some. But whenever two dolts decide to prove their manhood with fisticuffs in the pub parking lot, the police break it up and charges are laid - regardless of mutual consent. Should one suffer a severe injury, then the penalty can be 10 years in prison, whether the victim agreed to the fight or not.

At a time when there's outrage over bullying after the inexpressibly sad recent suicide of a teenager, it's astonishing so few seem to associate online bullying with the broader culture of bullying that permeates social institutions - like sport.

Look, this isn't an attack on robust contact sports. But let's be honest. There's a big difference between a hard, clean defensive check that's intended to separate an attacking player from the puck and the kind of brutality intended to intimidate. That's what bullying is - intimidation - and sport thrives on it.

We're not going to educate the invertebrates of professional hockey or fans who see the game as a surrogate for the Roman arena any time soon. But perhaps we can do something about changing the culture gradually by eliminating such stuff from minor hockey, where parents and the public have a say.

Why don't we start with the littlest players, as Charles Tator, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto and founder of Think First, a national non-profit dedicated to preventing brain and spinal cord injuries, advocates in a recent letter to the Rick Hansen Institute forwarded to B.C. Hockey.

He wants bodychecking tossed from all peewee hockey. Others argue there's convincing medical evidence that hockey should ban the bodycheck until 14 or even older. Apologists for bodychecking argue players must be exposed early so they can learn to cope with it when they get to the NHL.

Give me a break. There are about 700 players on the active NHL roster at any given time. Only one out of every 3,000 minor hockey players survives two seasons in the NHL. That means 99.9 per cent of the 535,000 or so kids who register for minor hockey each year will never have professional careers. By what logic do we expose recreational players to unnecessary brain damage to prepare them for a professional payoff that eludes all but one tenth of one per cent?

"There is now compelling scientific evidence that children are at higher risk for head and neck injuries (i.e. concussions, spinal cord injuries) when bodychecking is allowed," Tator says. "We believe bodychecking should not be allowed at the atom and peewee levels."
He goes further, arguing for more rigorous grouping of players into appropriate age and size groups.
For example, grouping players separated by two years - as happens in some minor leagues in B.C. - is a bad idea because age differences result in weight, strength and speed differentials that put smaller, younger players at greater risk of brain and spinal cord injury.

"Based on my medical experience and recent research findings" - this is one of Canada's leading brain surgeons speaking here - "I believe it extremely unwise with respect to player safety and injury prevention to mix players of more than one year age difference at this early stage of their development."

Tator urges elimination of all bodychecking from peewee, including rep play, and to divide atom and peewee rep play into one-year increments rather than the two years currently used.

I was at a junior game the other night and watched a 100-kilogram 18-year-old put a 75-kilogram 16-year-old out of the game with a blindside hit. This is the kind of culture we should actively discourage as a sports climate for youth - even if that's the kind of player for which the NHL wants minor hockey to stream.

Bullying doesn't build character, it just creates a toxic social environment. So those of us worried about bullying on Internet sites should be broadening our perspective and contemplating how this concern should inform our attitudes toward the culture of sport at both minor and professional levels.

Of reviving Kerala culture and integrating Gulf Malayalis

Of reviving Kerala culture and integrating Gulf Malayalis
He quit India's space agency many years ago to spur a revival of India's cultural traditions across the world. Today, Nataraja 'Soorya' Krishnamoorthy is busy trying to rejuvenate Kerala's age-old arts, enable folk and theatre artists to live a more dignified life and also integrate Malayali artistes living outside Kerala, especially those in the Gulf countries.

Krishnamoorthy, the brain behind the reputed Soorya Festival, is determined to use his position as the current Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi chairman to make a difference by recognising "the genuine artistes" in the state and the contribution of Pravasi Malayalis - those living outside it.

"I want people to know who the genuine artistes are. All these years I have been doing it through Soorya, now I will use my position to implement it," Krishnamoorthy, who has been a member of the expert committee of the Indian government's Department of Culture, told IANS in an interview here.

And by genuine artistes, he refers to those practising classical dance, music, theatre, Vaadyam (the percussionists of Kerala) and Kathaprasangam (the centuries-old art of storytelling that is high in satire and carries messages of social reform), apart from other folk and ritualistic arts.

"If these people are full-time professional artistes, they are poor. They are unable to earn money from their arts," said Krishnamoorthy, who quit the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after putting in 27 years as an engineer-scientist.

Thus, the first step he took within months of assuming office last year was to get the artists medical insurance with help from several well-wishers, including top Malayalam movie stars.

"Their health is a priority. They are unable to go to hospital or buy medicines. So we are now providing them mediclaim upto Rs.100,000. They can get admitted to any hospital, hire an ambulance and buy medicines. And I haven't taken money from the government to pay the insurance premium. Several people like (actors) Mohanlal and Mammootty have given huge amounts because of their friendship. So also B.R. Shetty, the CEO of UAE Exchange."

Krishnamoorthy has also secured them life insurance policies in case of accidents.

"These artists often have to drive home at night after a performance in faraway towns. And this many times leads to accidents and death. In such cases, Rs.200,000 will go to their family."

Krishnamoorthy's biggest link to the Gulf countries is Shetty, also the chairman of the NMC healthcare group and the chief patron of the Soorya Festival. He hopes to now integrate more Pravasi Malayalis through culture.

"Gulf Malayalis miss their culture so they preserve it better. So they must be recognised," he stressed, referring to the over 25 lakh Malayalis in the region.

"I thought Pravasi Malayalis should also get some benefit of the Akademi. They have never been recognised so far."

Krishnamoorthy also has the support of Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy. "The chief minister said that with half the effort, you will get double the benefit in Gulf countries.
Having held meetings with several Malayali organisations in the Gulf, his aim is to unite them through the Akademi, cutting across communities and religion.

"It's a great dream to bring together the Malayali associations in the Gulf," He said.

Krishnamoorthy wants three awards, equivalent to the Akademi award in Kerala, to be given to artistes in each Gulf country. He has also started the process of holding theatre competitions in the Gulf countries.
The move to assimilate the Gulf Malayalis comes close on the heels of reaching out to those living in different parts of India.

"We have made four zones with headquarters at Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. We are trying to give five Akademi awards to artistes living outside Kerala."

Krishnamoorthy is the founder of the 36 year-old Soorya Stage and Film Society, which has chapters in 36 countries, including Britain, Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. The Soorya Festival, which has been recognised as the longest running festival in the world by the Limca Book of Records, has now become a 365-day event spanning several Indian cities.

Having spent decades promoting Indian culture, Krishnamoorthy is disillusioned at the way artistes are treated by the government and the people.

"Our tradition says artistes are not for entertaining others. Artistes are very close to god. But Bollywood stars and sportspersons get Padma awards at a very young age but artistes who give their whole life to art and culture get no recognition," Krishnammorthy lamented, citing eminent Malayalam playwright Thoppil Bhasi and poet P. Bhaskaran among those who truly deserved more honours.

Asked why he quit his well-paying ISRO job to promote cultural traditions, he attributed this to an "inner calling"."Even if one person gets enriched with each of my efforts, I get a sense of satisfaction," Krishnammorthy said.

Friday, October 19, 2012

FIAC Art Fair Opens in Paris

A woman jumps on ‘‘Sacrilege, 2012’’ by Jeremy Deller, on  the Esplande des Invalides in Paris.

PARIS — Comparisons may be odious, but they kept cropping up as FIAC — the French acronym for the International Contemporary Art Fair — opened its doors Wednesday for a V.I.P. preview under the glass dome of the Grand Palais here, hard on the heels of London’s Frieze show last week.

The quick spin of the global contemporary art carousel has put the Paris-London rivalry in ever sharper focus, particularly since 2006 when FIAC moved into the vast light-soaked arena of the 112-year-old Grand Palais, bolstering its appeal.

“Much better than Frieze,” said Anke Kempkes, director of New York’s Broadway 1602 gallery, who volunteered the comparison without being asked. “London was too full, too hectic, too much going on. Collectors want quality, they want concentration.”

Despite a sluggish economy and the threat of new French taxes on works of art, the early turnout for FIAC — which runs through Sunday — was strong. By Wednesday evening, a throng of well-dressed special guests was pressing its way in and around 180 stands, from 24 countries, spilling into a newly renovated space on the Grand Palais’s upper floor, known as the Salon d’Honneur.

“I overheard someone say, ‘Everyone is here,”’ said Jennifer Flay, FIAC’s director. “Everyone.”

The suggestion, of course, is that some big-name collectors — from Europe and beyond — had already been through. By late Wednesday, several gallery owners were reporting positive results.

The Tornabuoni Arte gallery reported four early sales — including works by Lucio Fontana and Dadamaino, one for €250,000, or $326,000. An unnamed museum had already expressed interest in a large map of the world, made of stitched pieces of cloth, by Alighiero Boetti, the Italian artist honored this year by a retrospective show this year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Continua gallery of Italy reported that a 2006 work by the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei — a large ceramic bowl filled with pearls — had sold for €300,000, and a work of sculpted figures by the Cameroon-born artist Pascale Marthine Tayou had gone for €85,000. A mesmerizing sculpture by Anish Kapoor in translucent red alabaster, priced at £750,000, or $1.2 million, was still unsold.

At the other end of the scale, more modestly priced works were also going fast: cut-outs artfully made from book covers by Georgia Russell, a Paris-based Scottish artist, displayed at the Karsten Greve gallery, of which three were already sold by Wednesday, at prices between €16,000 and €18,000.

As in other years, FIAC has spawned a host of outdoor works across the city. This year, a giant inflatable Stonehenge, a work entitled “Sacrilege,” by the British artist Jeremy Deller, has proved to be an attraction for all ages on the Esplanade in front of Les Invalides.

Sculptures, conceptual installations and performances will be held at several outdoor Paris locations, including at the Jardin des Plantes, and at the Tuileries Gardens, where a 14-seat cinema inside a shipping container, known as a Cinéphémère, will show a dozen films by artists daily during FIAC.

A number of galleries at the Grand Palais took the opportunity to exhibit high-priced works by Pablo Picasso (seven in all), Joan Miró (five), Alexander Calder (10), Kurt Schwitters (five) and other modern masters.

At the stand of the Paris-based Galerie Denise René, a painting by Josef Albers, with overlaid squares in tan, gray and turquoise, was quickly reserved for €600,000, according to the gallery director, Franck Marlot.

“We have more important works this year,” Mr. Marlot said, “perhaps fewer, but more important.”

FIAC has long mixed its contemporary offerings with works of early modern art, an historical approach, which until now, had distinguished it from the Frieze fair in London. This year, however, Frieze added its own look at the past, with Frieze Masters, a separate show at a different location, which exhibited works made before 2000.

In years past, FIAC too had juggled with two locations, the Grand Palais and the Cour Carrée at the Louvre. Since last year, the fair has regrouped. “The galleries want to be together,” Ms. Flay said.

Gary Waterston, a London-based director of the Gagosian gallery, which this year brought a 1946 Picasso, a Frank Stella and a painting by Andy Warhol made from sprayed urine to FIAC, said the Grand Palais is a key attraction.

“All galleries enjoy this experience,” he said, waving his hand toward the 45-meter, or 150-foot, ceiling. “You have a real sense of location. You know you're in Paris.”

The addition of the Salon d’Honneur, opened this season for the first time since 1937, has been used to focus on a subset of galleries from different countries that have been in existence for 15 to 20 years.

“They are the tastemakers, the people known for discovering artists,” Ms. Flay said. Among the exhibits in the Salon are a pair of fast-spinning carwash brushes, a work by Lara Favaretto at the Franco Noero gallery’s stand, and an installation of a bathroom, complete with a half-empty wine glass, a bubble bath, spilled face powder and other detritus from a night out, by Mac Adams at the GB Agency of Paris.

On the upper floor, in galleries linked to a grand staircase by a newly accessible walkway, a younger generation of artists from all over the world — including this year, from Dubai, Turkey, Hungary and Romania — were showing less established, sometimes riskier works.

It was the Reena Spauldings Fine Art gallery’s first time at FIAC, with a special showing of abstract art by the Cologne-based artist Michaela Eichwald, who had hand-carried her large canvases to Paris from Germany.

“I thought everyone was playing it very safe in London,” said John Kelsey, a director from Reena Spauldings, which is based in New York’s Chinatown. “We wouldn’t have done this show there. It’s too risky, there’s no consensus on the work. In London, you have to calculate everything.”

“Here in Paris, we don’t worry,” he added. “We just brought an artist that we love.”

Stolen art can be burden without connections

The burglars dashed out the back door with seven masterworks, then sped on screeching tires into the night. Now comes the hard part: The thieves have to unload the paintings, instantly recognizable pieces by Picasso, Matisse and Monet worth millions.

PARIS -  If the thieves who robbed Rotterdam’s Kunsthal exhibition this week don’t have a plan, the stolen art could quickly become a burden. Paintings, sculptures and other cultural treasures can be hard to match with a buyer willing to overlook questionable provenance. Just ask the trafficker who lucklessly tried for 20 years to sell a statue head of Nero’s mother stolen from Pompeii before its recovery was announced on Thursday.

But, experts say for criminals with connections, it’s a low-risk, high-reward job, especially for lesser known pieces.

Art theft is the third most lucrative crime in the world, after drugs and illicit arms sales, according to Interpol and the FBI. Films glamorize it, and the punishment for those who are caught is too light to be much of a deterrent.

Stolen art disappears into the underworld quickly. Much of it is never found. Paintings have been buried, stashed in storage units, given as gifts to the unwitting, traded for drugs, held for ransom, hung on the walls of criminals, and sold on eBay.

Straight cash transactions appear to be rare - at least for high-profile thefts like the one in Rotterdam. Anyone legitimate enough to demand where a painting came from is going to come across it in news stories and databases of stolen artwork.

“We either see artwork being recovered very quickly after the theft or decades later, very little in-between,” said Chris Marinello, executive director of the Art Loss Register, whose job it is to track stolen art after the police trail has run cold.

But it’s been 22 years since the theft of $300 million in works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston - the largest single property theft ever. The case is unsolved and none of the 12 paintings has been recovered.

“It’s easy to steal artwork, and that’s why you see it happen, but it’s not easy to sell it. You steal a car, you steal a watch, there’s a market for that.  You steal a Rembrandt, you steal a Picasso . It’s too recognizable,” said Geoffrey Kelly, the FBI agent leading the Gardner investigation.

That means many stolen works end up getting dumped. Five works stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art in 2010 may be gone forever. According to one French report, the thieves couldn’t quickly resell the works and their fence panicked after a series of arrests, destroying the canvases and throwing away the remains - a Picasso, a Braque, a Modigliani, a Matisse and a Leger.

In another case, Marinello said, a British woman whose boarder gave her a painting years before contacted him to determine its worth, only to learn it was stolen. She was innocent, an unwitting victim of someone who couldn’t unload his loot.

And in Ireland, IRA thieves plundered the art collection of Sir Alfred Beit in the 1970s, demanding ransom and freedom for political prisoners.

Their demands weren’t met and the works were found in the trunk of a car. Beit’s collection was stolen again in 1986. This time, the thief buried 11 paintings while trying to sell them. He eventually traded two for drugs and stashed one behind a couch before the collection was recovered.

Then there is “The Scream,” one of two Edvard Munch masterpieces stolen from  an Oslo museum in 2004 and recovered in 2006.

Police have never offered details  on the painting’s whereabouts for those two years, but by the time they were found, they had sustained water damage and tears. Not a sign of a theft commissioned by a connoisseur.
Despite the complications of fencing stolen art, it clearly can be done, especially by thieves with connections. Estimates range from $6 billion to $9 billion in global sales - a sign of both how lucrative the market is and how little known.

It’s anyone’s guess what happened to the Gardner paintings, for example - or  whether anyone still alive even knows. The $5 million reward hasn’t brought them to light, nor have promises of immunity.

“It’s easy to move around, easy to enter the black market,” said Anthony Roman, a New York-based security expert. And, he said, even though the returns on the black market are a fraction of what the art could fetch on the open market, “There is still a fortune to be made. The risk of getting caught is very, very low.”

Prosecutions generally fall under burglary, extortion or - at most -robbery statutes. Sentences are relatively short.

“Art theft is not murder, but still the penalties could be enhanced a bit to  discourage people,” said Marinello.

In one infamous case, a compulsive French art thief named Stephane Breitwieser told a court he stole more than 200 works from small museums across  Europe, keeping most of them at his home purely for his own enjoyment.

He was sentenced to 26 months in prison in 2005 - and then was arrested again in 2011 after investigators said they found 29 works of art at his apartment.

Insurance companies absorb most of the losses. In the Rotterdam case, the payout is likely to climb to the tens of millions of dollars - but that causes costs to rise in the future for everyone in the art world, said Coco Soodek, a Chicago laywer who specializes in the field. And it makes private collectors more reluctant to put their works to go on public display in the future.

“The more the art world becomes the target for theft,” she said, “the more expensive it is to insure the product.”

Khuhro hails art exhibition highlighting ray of hope in Sindh

Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Ahmed Khuhro on Thursday inaugurated ‘Sindh Artists Exhibition-2012’ organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP), which the organisers said was its first-ever exhibition in which over 50 artists and sculptors, mostly youngsters belonging to different districts of the province, participated.

The exhibition will continue till 25th October when the winners will be awarded handsome cash awards.

The speaker said he was happy to see that the artists had creatively highlighted the good things of life such as education, the ray of hope, hard work and unity. He added that it was good to see that the artists had not shown violence in their work, which had made the life of ordinary people miserable. “Thus, in a way, this work was a protest against the ugly aspect of the society,” opined Khuhro. He said if any artist had shown ‘Jhompri’ (makeshift abode) it was painted in a beautiful way, which was refreshing for everyone. “These are the real things, which reflect our inner voice and protest against ugly things.”

Khuhro said both senior and junior artists had put their work on display. The speaker suggested the artists should be appreciated and hoped that times would come when art and culture would be promoted in the country like it was in other parts of the world, where biddings worth millions of rupees took place at exhibitions. He lauded the ACP for encouraging such healthy activities. Khuhro hoped that more creative minds would emerge to highlight the good things of life.

President ACP Muhammad Ahmed Shah said fine art was neglected at the arts council for some time, but now they had taken up this issue to promote exhibitions. He added that a new building was being built where three art galleries would be established. The president ACP said on the last day of the exhibition a grand finale would take place and the judges would select the best paintings and sculptures for awards.

Ms Qudsia Akbar, chairperson of the ACP’s Fine Art Committee, said they had held such exhibitions in the past but this practice was discontinued for some time.

She said now they had restarted artists’ exhibitions to encourage young and emerging artists to promote their creative work. Qudsia said for the first time cash awards would be given to the artists. She said the important thing was that seniors had placed their paintings and sculptures on display, without being a part of the competition. She pointed out that the young artists had displayed around 100 items. She opined that promotion and protection of art and culture was a sign of civilized and forward-looking nations.

Goulding goes El for leather in the States

Ellie Goulding At the height of success ... Ellie Goulding sports sky-high heels to plug new album Halcyon in LA

ELLIE Goulding risks a broken ankle as she steps out in a pair of skin-tight leather trousers and matching clodhoppers.

The singer, 25, showed off her perfect pins in the super-skinny trews teamed with the platform boots while promoting new album Halcyon in LA yesterday.

She wore a chic white sweatshirt, a chunky gold necklace — and multi-coloured beanie hat — to complete the look.

Ellie Goulding wearing a colourful wooly hat and gold necklace Hat's a good look ... Ellie Goulding

Her long blonde locks were tinted pink and she sported a glowing complexion as she teetered around the city’s outdoor shopping centre, The Grove.

After appearing on entertainment show Extra, she gave her feet a rest by hitching a lift on a golf buggy with her assistant.

Ellie Goulding rides on the back of a golf buggy in Los Angeles Chauffeur ... resting her feet in a golf buggy

Yesterday the star uploaded a sexy black and white snap to Twitter.

The steamy shot – a preview for a Twelv magazine shoot — shows her wearing black leather gear and covering her breasts.

A sexy snap which was Tweeted by Ellie Goulding Leathered ... Ellie tweets sexy snap

Ellie’s album shot straight to number two in the UK albums chart after being released last Sunday.

And the Herefordshire lass has been making her mark Stateside recently and this week performed on hit US chat programme, The Ellen Show.

She tweeted: “My album is top ten in America and Canada … Amazing so happy x”.

Looks like she’s striking Gould worldwide ...

Make-up free Emma Watson looks berry beautiful

Emma Watson is shown exiting her trailer on the set of Em-pressive ... actress clutches healthy snack of strawberries and granola

STUNNING star EMMA Watson flaunts her flawless complexion as she takes a make-up free snack break on the set of her latest film.

The 22-year-old actress was snapped carrying strawberries and granola back to her trailer in New York, where she's shooting the new Noah's Ark film with Russell Crowe.

The healthy snack must be the secret to her perfect skin - as she managed to look immaculate without any cosmetic help, dressed down in a comfy grey cardigan and jeans.

Emma plays Noah's adopted daughter Ila in the film - which also stars Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connolly and Ray Winstone.

The role has given her the chance to reunite with actor Logan Lerman, her co-star in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, who plays her brother in Noah.

Emma Watson looks just perfect without make-up on the set of Noah Skin-credible ... Emma looks just perfect without make-up

And the actress was thrilled to get the chance to rekindle their friendship.

Emma said: "Logan and I have a very deep sense of trust with one another which, as actors, is amazing because I know that whatever I do, he’s going to be there to catch me and vice versa.

"We spent so much time together making the movie. Our chemistry was really good in Perks I think Darren saw that and wanted that for Noah.

Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky, is due for release in 2014.

X Factor's Tulisa launches first fashion collection

X-citing news: Fashion has become a major part of Tulisa's life since joining X Factor

Tulisa Contostavlos launches her TFB fashion range tonight, with a focus on clothing that's "fun, sexy and full of attitude".

TFB by Tulisa for Bank is the first collection from the X Factor judge, with its name standing for her tagline: "The Female Boss".

And, the N-Dubz star revealed, it was starring on the show that sparked her interest in fashion: "In the past I wasn't that interested in fashion, but being on The X Factor has made me become much more aware of my own personal style."

The range is instantly striking, with a host of dresses, skirts, and leggings in bright block colours and intricate prints. A series of photos, released for the launch, show Tulisa modelling them.

To me, fashion is about having fun and experimenting," Tulisa explained.

"Girls often ask me where I get my clothes so I thought I'd create my own collection, something that's fun, feminine, full of attitude and that reflects my personality."

The launch will take place tonight at London's Westfield shopping centre. Earlier today she tweeted the news:

Cheryl: "Doing this 10 years on is incredible"

Something New: Cheryl and Girls Aloud release new material after three years apart.

Girls Aloud have reunited after three years apart, and for Cheryl Cole just being able to perform together ten years after Popstars: The Rivals is "an achievement in itself".

Speaking at today's highly anticipated press conference, Cheryl and the girls - Nicola, Kimberley, Sarah and Nadine - announced a new arena tour to coincide with their upcoming greatest hits album Ten. It follows on from the release of Something New, their first single in three years.

"I think its incredble that we're getting to share ten years - a decade - in music," she said. "The fact we can still be doing this ten years on is incredible. That's an achievement in itself. We still are achieving."

Cheryl also revealed that although they haven't been seen together recently, Girls Aloud have never lost touch.

She said: "We haven't been seen publicly together for three years, but we've actually been socialising the whole time, so it wasn't like: 'wow, we're together'.

"But it was emotional to talk about the fact that we're ten years down the line, and even able to be together on tour, so that was always going to be emotional."

And Nicola Roberts revealed that the girls made the decision while staying together at the same hotel they were in when they first got into the band.

With the full list of tour dates now announced, the girls were also delighted that they no longer faced the pressure of performing as solo artists.

Cheryl said: "When you're on tour sometimes you're just exhausted, so you can afford to chill a bit on the performance when theres four other people to turn to."

Kimberley added: "You dont think about it. You forget a line, someone else will sing it. You forget a move, someone else will nudge you."

7 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams

Dream Scape
You are getting sleepy, very sleepy. When your head hits the pillow it’s lights out for the brain and body, right? Not if you consider the brain cells that must fire to produce the sometimes vivid and sometimes downright haunted dreams that take place during the rapid-eye-movement stage of your sleep.
Why do some people have nightmares while others really spend their nights in bliss? Like sleep, dreams are mysterious phenomena. But as scientists are able to probe deeper into our minds, they are finding some of those answers. Here's some of what we know about what goes on in dream land.

Dreams are meaningful If you dream about winning the lottery or having an accident, should you prepare? If you answered "yes," you’re not alone, according to a study published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The researchers ran six experiments, finding that not only do we put stock in our dreams, we also judge dreams that fit with our own beliefs as more meaningful than ones that go against the grain.

"Psychologists' interpretations of the meaning of dreams vary widely," study researcher Carey Morewedge, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said in a statement. "But our research shows that people believe their dreams provide meaningful insight into themselves and their world."

In one study, 182 commuters in Boston imagined one of four scenarios had happened the night before a scheduled trip: national threat level was raised to orange; they consciously thought about their plane crashing; they dreamed about a plane crash; or a real plane crash occurred on the route they planned to take. Results showed a plane-crash dream was more likely to affect travel plans than either thinking about a crash or a government warning, while the crash dream also produced a similar level of anxiety as did an actual crash.

In another study, 270 men and women completed an online survey in which they were asked to remember a past dream they had about a person they knew. People ascribed more importance to pleasant dreams about a person they liked than they did a person they didn't like. And they were more likely to report a negative dream as more meaningful if it was about a person they disliked than one about a friend.

Violent dreams can be warning sign As if nightmares weren't bad enough, a rare sleep disorder causes people to act out their dreams, sometimes with violent thrashes, kicks and screams. Such violent dreams may be an early sign of brain disorders down the line, including Parkinson's disease and dementia, according to research published online July 28, 2010, in the journal Neurology. The results suggest the incipient stages of these neurodegenerative disorders might begin decades before a person, or doctor, knows it.

Night owls have more nightmares Staying up late has its perks (as long as you can hit the snooze button the next morning), but light dreams is not one of them. Research published in 2011 in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms, revealed that night owls are more likely than their early-bird counterparts to experience nightmares.

In the study 264 university students rated how often they experienced nightmares on a scale from "0," (meaning "never") to "4" (meaning "always"). The stay-up-late types scored, on average, a 2.10, compared with the morning types who averaged a 1.23. The researchers said the difference was a significant one, however, they aren’t sure what's causing a link between sleep habits and nightmares. Among their ideas is the stress hormone cortisol, which peaks in the morning right before we wake up, a time when people are more prone to be in REM, or dream, sleep. If you’re still sleeping at that time, the cortisol rise could trigger vivid dreams or nightmares, the researchers speculate.

Dreams help us solve puzzles Scientists have long wondered why we dream, with answers ranging from Sigmund Freud's idea that dreams fulfill our wishes to the speculation that these wistful journeys are just a side rapid-eye-movement, or REM, sleep. Turns out, at least part of the reason may be critical thinking, according to Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett who presented her theory in 2010 at the Association for Psychological Science meeting in Boston. She has found that our slumbering hours may help us solve puzzles that have plagued us during daylight hours.

According to Barrett, it's the visual and often illogical aspects of dreams that make them perfect for out-of-the-box thinking that is necessary to solve some problems.

"Whatever the state we're put in, we're still working on the same problems," Barrett said, adding that while dreams may have original evolved for another purpose, they have likely been refined over time for multiple tasks, including helping the brain reboot and helping us solve problems.

Men dream about sex No surprise here, men are more likely than women to dream about sex. And comparing notes in the morning may not be a turn on for either guys or gals, as women are more likely to have experienced nightmares, according to doctoral research reported in 2009 by psychologist Jennie Parker of the University of the West of England.

In her study of nearly 200 men and women, ages 18 to 25, Parker found that women's nightmares could be broadly divided into three categories: fearful dreams (being chased or life threatened), dreams involving the loss of a loved one, or confused dreams.

"If women are asked to report the most significant dream they ever had, they are more likely than men to report a very disturbing nightmare," Parker said. "Women reported more nightmares, and their nightmares were more emotionally intense than men's."

This doesn't mean women have no fun in their dreams. A study presented in 2007 at a meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) revealed that of about 3,500 home dream reports about 8 percent contain some form of sexual-related activity. The most common sexual dream involved sexual intercourse, followed by sexual propositions, kissing, fantasies and masturbation.

You can control your dreams If you're interested in lucid dreaming, you may want to take up video gaming. Both represent alternate realities, according to Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. Of course they aren't completely the same. While video games are controlled by computers and gaming consoles, dreams arise from the human mind.

"If you're spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it's practice," Gackenbach told LiveScience in 2010. "Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams." Her past research has shown that people who frequently play video games are more likely than non-gamers to have lucid dreams where they view themselves from outside their bodies; they also were better able to influence their dream worlds, as if controlling a video-game character.

That level of control may also help gamers turn a bloodcurdling nightmare into a carefree dream, she found in a 2008 study. This bar of sorts against nightmares could help war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after combat, Gackenbach reasons.
Dreams can take the edge off Taking the edge off may require, not a stiff drink, but a trip to la-la land. UC Berkeley scientists report in the Nov. 23, 2011, issue of the journal Current Biology that during the dream phase of sleep (also called REM sleep), participants' brains showed decreased levels of certain chemicals associated with stress.

"We know that during REM sleep there is a sharp decrease in levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical associated with stress," study researcher Matthew Walker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, said in a statement. "By reprocessing previous emotional experiences in this neuro-chemically safe environment of low norepinephrine during REM sleep, we wake up the next day, and those experiences have been softened in their emotional strength. We feel better about them, we feel we can cope."

The findings, Walker and colleagues say, may explain why people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as war veterans, have such a tough time recovering from painful experiences and suffer reoccurring nightmares. They also provide at least one explanation for why we dream.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Paris Hilton to perform at Goa fashion fest

International socialite Paris Hilton is set to visit India again and this time she will perform as a disc jockey (DJ) at the India Resort Fashion Week (IRFW) in Goa, starting Nov 28.

"Yes, Paris Hilton is performing at IRFW 2012. She has been brought to India by E-sense Entertainment and shall be performing on Dec 1," Aman Swetta, creative show director, IRFW told IANS.

The heiress, who visited the country last year to launch the Fall-Winter designs of her handbags, made her debut as a DJ this summer during a music festival in Brazil.

Before this, Hilton made her entry into the music world in 2006 as a solo artist with "Stars Are Blind" and also released a self-titled album in the same year.

The four-day fashion extravaganza is scheduled to take place on Goa's popular Candolim Beach.

With huge statement skirts and tiny corseted waists, Vera Wang brings back the princess look at Bridal Fashion Week

Just six months ago, Vera Wang showed a bridal collection full of dahlia red, scarlet, rust, crimson and vermilion. Last year her wedding gowns were black.

But for the designer's latest collection during Bridal Fashion Week yesterday, she took it back to basics with an all-white show of tight bodices and princess-worthy voluminous skirts.

Traditional romanticism reigned during the fall 2013 bridal collections, with dramatic flowing skirts walking next to sleek column silhouettes, all prettily decorated with delicate lacework or tulle tiers; and in an ode to Anne Hathaway, veils were replaced by statement headpieces.

Vera Wang: The designer's latest collection during Bridal Fashion Week took all things 'I do' back to basics with an all-white show of tight bodices and princess-worthy voluminous skirts

Marchesa, synonymous with celebrity red-carpet gowns, paid homage to the Devil Wears Prada star, showing wide lace headpieces along with Jenny Packham, and Reem Acra.

Also alluding to Ms Hathaway's Valentino wedding gown, which was dipped in blush pink, was Marchesa's use of blush peeking through hand draped and embroidered bodices, which were finished with ball skirts and metallic details in gold and silver.

Inspired by 'the heart of the Iris and Bulgarian Rose,' according to Marchesa's show notes, the collection's Indian-inspired details like the intricate crystal and pearl drop beading, gave a refreshing pause to anything too overly traditional.

Bigger and better: Ms Wang described her collection as a 'study in femininity and romance [that] celebrates the wedding gown in a new take on classicism and ornamentation'

Traditional romanticism: The fall 2013 bridal shows were full of dramatic flowing skirts all prettily decorated with delicate lacework or tulle tiers, as seen at Vera Wang

Princess worthy: Embroidered bodices were finished with ball skirts, as seen at Marchesa, a collection inspired by the heart of the Iris and Bulgarian Rose

Meanwhile a model at Temperley London presentation walked down the runway in a gown with sheer, beaded sleeves reminiscent of Natalie Portman long-sleeved wedding dress, designed by Rodarte.

Generally, the bridal looks across the board told a story of either grandeur or tradition, with voluminous gowns walking right next to corded Chantilly lace and lace-trimmed cathedral veils.


Well beaded: Intricate crystal and pearl drop beading gave a refreshing pause to anything too overly traditional at Badgley Mischka (left and right), and Marchesa (middle)

Back to front: Indian-inspired details at Marchesa (left) and traditional floral lace at Badgley Mischka (right) adorned the backs of wedding gowns

Ms Wang, for example, described her more cliched than usual collection as a 'study in femininity and romance [that] celebrates the wedding gown in a new take on classicism and ornamentation.'

But because not every bride wants to say 'I do' in an elaborate gown, a welcome disregard to the often-strict bridal code was the obvious scattering of above-the-knee dresses.

Away with the veil: In an ode to Anne Hathaway and her recent Valentino weeding gown (left), veils were replaced by statement headpieces, as seen at Marchesa (right)

And Carolina Herrera, the queen of creating wedding looks that cater to various different sensibilities, included a peplum-style lace gown directly modelled after a red and white number from her resort collection, just repurposed for the bridal world.

She traded in the red lace overlay for an all-white version with a slightly more voluminous tulle skirt.