Aleksandra Dojcinovic, The Name Behind LeiLou

Growing up in a country which is unknown for design, in a family where no one was interested in fashion, she managed to start up a fashion label at the age of 26 and become a well-known designer both inside and outside of Croatia.

12191528_1015975285091446_2650416292631067601_nAleksandra with her new collection Spring/Summer 2016

With the honour of opening the 20th Zagreb Fashion Week, this 34-year-old fashion designer proved once again that she is the most popular designer among Croatian women. The Zagreb Fair Centre, a complex of exhibition pavilions, was packed with numerous celebrities, mostly women, who came to see the new collection for Spring Summer 2016. The new range radiates romanticism with floral patterns, lace and small bows which add femininity distinctive to LeiLou silhouette.

As well as attending Zagreb Fashion week every season, Aleksandra’s elegant and feminine dresses and gowns are regularly featured in editorials of Croatian fashion magazines such as Story, Cosmopolitan and Elle and worn by Croatian and international  celebrities, singers and actresses all over the world. But it’s not just in Croatia where she is applauded. She presented her clothes in many countries including Great Britain, Turkey, Germany and United States. The label was landed in 2007 after a successful trip to Chicago and a fashion show at the luxe hotel Drake. Until then she was just Aleksandra Dojcinovic but for the people of the United States, her Croatian surname was really hard to pronounce, so LeiLou by Alex was born. Without degree in design, mainly self-taught, she mastered dressmaking, but what makes her special is the fact that her dresses are multifunctional, you can wear them at least three ways and most of them as a skirt. Even though she uses fine materials she has managed to make her dresses affordable to every working woman by combining them with less expensive materials.

All of Aleksandras’s dresses have a unique story and they are named after the women in her life, her clients and friends.

Because of the close relationship she has with her clients she was happy to work from her small, quiet atelier for many years until 2012 when she decided it’s time for her first shop in the very centre of the Croatian capital Zagreb. However, the biggest move happened in September 2013 when she expanded her business across the border and opened an international shop in a prestigious district of Stuttgart, Killesberg.

In June 2014, Aleksandra opened her third shop in a town on the Dalmatian coast called Split, and since then her business has grown massively and today LeiLou is officially the best-selling Croatian fashion brand selling in 12 different countries.

But where did it all begin?

“Fashion was my biggest interest from an early age, my mum can confirm that. And I was a big dreamer. I remember we were learning a song in the choir that says ‘you will know that you are grown up when you stop dreaming.’ I told my mum that day that I don’t want to go to choir anymore because they are teaching us stupid things, I will never stop dreaming. During the Art classes at the elementary school, other children were drawing their pets or friends but I was drawing dresses. Those were my first designer steps I think.

Somehow, I knew from the beginning that I will make dresses when I grow up and I was never dreaming about things that girls usually are dream of, like becoming teachers.Things got serious in my teenage years. I was attending Textile Technology High School and for my school project we were supposed to make a shirt so I made one but my teacher was not happy and the shirt didn’t look like the way she imagined it so I got an F.

That didn’t discourage me so I decided to put that shirt on the same night when I went out with my friends and I sold it! And not just that, the girl who bought it thought that this shirt was from a new Calvin Klein collection she saw somewhere when she was travelling abroad. The same night I even managed to sell the skirt I was wearing to her friend. So even though the teacher wasn’t happy about it those girls gave me an A+. I suppose that at that moment I realised that I could make a good business of it. I kept making things during high school and I was selling them to my friends and their mothers. I have to say that even though, neither of my parents were interested in fashion they were really supportive all the way. By the age of 18 I had so many orders that I employed my own tailor to help me with sewing. At 21 I founded my own company and I was designing costumes and uniforms for different companies, sporting events, presentations, events and promotions because back then event business was blooming so I could live very well from that. So I love to say that I’ve been in this business since my childhood.”

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Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: Successful women are my biggest inspiration and by that I don’t mean just businesswomen. For example, one of my inspirations are my friends who successfully balance between their families and jobs, but my other inspiration can also be some random positive and cheerful girl that enters my shop to get a new LeiLou dress. On the other hand, I got inspiration on my trips where I can see so many different street styles and trends. I’m not immune to trends, but I’m trying to dose them, in business and private life.

Q: What do you think, can the Croatian fashion scene compete with World’s fashion scene?

A: In terms of talent it certainly can, but talent on its own is not enough and it will take many more years before Croatian design becomes competitive on world’s market.

On the other hand, the situation in the Croatian fashion today is much better than before, and it’s better organised. Fashion week has helped a lot. It opened a window to the world to those who love to design.

Q: Whose design you love to wear the most?

A: My own (laughing). I have many favourite designers like Kenzo and Christopher Kane

and Gianvito Rossi for shoes, but I created LeiLou on my personal vision of how the fashion should look . Fortunately, my desires coincided with those of our clients and that is why our story is so successful and lasting. I’m happy because dresses that come out of  our workshop defy trends. They are simple in cut but striking in design and made for every woman, with or without curves.

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

A: Because I’m a very simple person, I would say the same for my style. I don’t change my style much. I wear only what makes me feel good. I choose my daily clothes when I get up in the morning, depending on my current mood. I often wear dresses of all lengths and cuts. I don’t wear jeans, never! It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just I don’t like them on me. Also, I love platforms but I can’t really wear them because I’m almost 190cm tall which makes it hard.

Q: What are your plans for future?

A: There are lots of plans, but neither of them  are too big. I have a great team of associates with whom I can synchronise desire and opportunities and make some realistic goals that we can try to achieve together. We managed to place our brand in the Istanbul market very well and now we need to maintain continuity and try to progress further. In this business it is important to never fall behind the others, especially not behind famous designers because today our clients know what is trendy and we have to be ready to offer them that in  our own way but  we also need to remember that this is a small country so we need to adapt everything to that as well. I’m happy. We are achieving this and in the future I’m planning to improve that even more.

Alice+Olivia

Fashion designer, New York native, Ashtanga yoga enthusiast, wife, and mother Stacey Bendet founded alice + olivia in 2002 with a quest to create the perfect pair of pants.

Bendet’s showed her first designs to a crowd of fashion industry insiders and celebrities at the Russian Tea Room that year, a “just pants” collection introducing the label’s signature low-rise, slim-fitting “Staceypants” in bright colors and funky patterns.

Today Stacey managed to expand alice + olivia into a full lifestyle brand to include evening wear, career, footwear and accessories, in addition to the a+o signature collection — all clear expressions of her love of vintage and all things feminine.

Started at New York’s Barneys, now is sold in over fifty countries.

On Tuesday, she presented her new collection for Autumn Winter 16/17. Even though 70’s continued to be big theme this year Stacey always has a dash of that era in her collections but this time, everything was about 70’s.

Some of the looks were punk-inspired  like black and white stripe suit but the rest was just made for the trip to the disco -embossed green leather skirt, an embroidered flare-sleeve coat. Another highlight was a long-sleeve geometric-print gown inspired by Frank Stella.

My favourite look was long floral dress paired with short, patched denim jacket.

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

Untitled-11One hundred years long fashion story written by respectable journalist and captured by lenses of renowned photographers is now displayed at National Portrait Gallery in London.

British Vogue was launched in 1916 in response to the First World War which prevented the delivery of the original magazine from America to Europe. From the very beginning, the magazine has achieved huge success in the past hundred years has established itself as one of the most influential fashion publications in the world.

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The exhibition includes more than two hundred and eighty photographs drawn from the rich archives and some private collections.

British Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman made a statement regarding the exhibition:

‘I am incredibly proud of this collection of exceptional photography and of the whole concept of the exhibition, which shows the breadth and depth of the work commissioned by the magazine as well as Vogue’s involvement in the creation of that work

…The National Portrait Gallery is a wonderful place for this show, which mixes portraiture and contemporaneous artistic style in the same way as much of the Gallery’s own collection. Anybody interested in photography, fashion, fame and magazines will find this an unmissable experience.’

The exhibition is set backwards  so that visitors do return to the past, first introduced to  the best works of modern masters such as David Bailey, Mario Testino and Tim Walker up to the legendary photographer Cecil Beaton last Millenium, Lee Miller and Horst P. Horst.

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Christy Turlington – Patrick Demarchelie, December 1987
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Claudia Schiffer in Paris by Herb Ritts, 1989
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Anne Gunning in Jaipur by Norman Parkinson, 1956
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Cecil Beaton’s ‘The Second Age of Beauty’

Trip To Paris

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Last birthday was definitely the best ever. I got a surprise ticket from my boyfriend that ended up to be Paris for 4 days! It’s definitely magical especially during Christmas and New Year but remember one thing- layers.

Paris is very cold during the winter, and I don’t mean London-like-cold. It’s cold everywhere, even at Metro stations and on the Metro trains there is no heating so you don’t have to worry about passing out on the train like you are most probably are during London rush hour.

On the first day ,we got lucky and we got sunny and pretty mild day so we decided to climb  up to the top of Sacré-Cœur. It’s “only” 300 steps once you actually get to the church. Before that there is almost 100 more. But we made it and the prize was priceless

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I would recommend this to everyone because personally I think that it’s a much better view from here than from Eiffel Tower.

Also don’t miss  popular Laduree, one of the world’s best luxury bakery with the most delicious macaroons and Angelina, the place where you can try Paris’s best hot chocolate.

The queue will most likely be long so you better be prepared.

 

 

If you are into very delicious and expensive dinner head over to Kong, located on the last two floors of Kenzo office, in front of the Pont Neuf, this restaurant is in the sky with a view of the Seine. Halfway between Paris and Tokyo, you’ll be surrounded by Louis XV armchairs, plasma screens, a fluorescent staircase and a carpet of pebbles. Kong is very Parisian, luxurious and so yummy that the bill wasn’t a problem at the end.

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Walking through Jardin des Tuileries can be really relaxing and even though it’s the middle of winter and there is no leaves on the trees, gardens are still pretty amazing. During the summer this place is crowded with people ,enjoying the flowers and sitting on the green chairs which can be found everywhere. This place is great for photographer because on one side you have Big Wheel and on the other is Louvre. One  tip if you want to visit the museum -use the secret entrance to avoid all that crowd at the main, pyramid entrance. You can get there straight from Metro Station or Portes des Liones entrance in the SW wing of the palace.

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Latine Quarter is one of the loveliest places in Paris. It’s a place full of dreamers,thinkers and philosophers where you can see young students reading poetry or doing romantic walks across Paris’s oldest bridge Pont Neuf. Latine Quarter borders two small islands, The île Saint-Louis is a residential village with boutiques and places to eat, while île de la Cite is full of office buildings and iconic monuments like Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle.

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Hotel Ville

 

I realised in Paris everything is more elegant, even Starbucks and H&M but you would never guess this is just Abercrombie and Fitch

 

Those more interested in culture shouldn’t miss Opera Garnier, opera house commissioned by Napoleon that looks stunning from inside and outside. With ornate marble staircases that lead you to the main theater with Chagall mural and bronze and crystal chandelier.

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Even though it was very cold and windy we couldn’t miss to climb up Eiffel Tower and enjoy magnificent view.

While you are in Paris you’ll see Tour Eiffel from everywhere but make sure you see the tower in the evening when it sparkles. Sparkling is on every hour for 5 minutes  from night fall until 1am.

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Pont Alexander III

Although  all the bridges that conect the right and the left banks of Paris are beautiful,the Pont Alexander is the most romantic. The bridge features are nouveau lamps, cherubs,nymphs and gilded statues.

Of course use one afternoon to walk along Champs Elysees, enter famouse designer shops(or Laduree again ) and reach Arc de Thriumph monument. You can even climb the Arc for another view of Paris.

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Arc de triomphe

Even though I saw so many things in four days I feel I missed so much as well so I’ll be back next summer to explore more.

 

Everyone is Wearing: Bomber Jacket

 

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Her majesty leather jacket will have to be satisfied with second place this spring because now it’s all about the bomber.

Originally bomber jackets were made for pilots during the World War I because planes didn’t have a cabin so pilots needed something comfortable and resistant to wind and cold.

Leslie Leroy Irvin, the man who founded the company for design and manufacture of parachutes and an avid fan of flying, knew about pilots needs for a functional garment so he came up with the first bomber jacket lined with warm fur.

From 70’s different subcultures embraced this trend and as the hip hop music gained popularity bomber slowly became part of  the mainstream culture.

Today on the market there are bomber jackets with prices over £10,000 which says enough about the new identity of once military clothing item.

 

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Gucci SS16

 

 

Almost everyone presented some sort of bomber jacket in their Spring Summer 16 collections: Gucci offers a green model embellished with golden and silver thread, McQueen proposed satin one in a color of Bazooka chewing gum, Chloe welcomes the spring with  green bomber jacket decorated with embroidered tiger while Stella McCartney chose girly motifs like flowers and pink horses.

High street also loves this trend so in Zara you will be able to find it in several models, from monochrome to those with flowers and at H&M you will find retro ones decorated with sequins.

Here are some of my favourites