Fashion Forgery by Cinthia Contreras


opying and imitation are nothing new in Fashion. No matter what guise it takes, getting ‘inspiration’ from others or ‘interpreting’ their ideas in a new way all comes down to the same thing - one brand using another’s concepts and therefore making the original idea less recognizable (as shown in “The imitation game” post a few weeks ago). Now that we are all slaves to images and social media, recognizable aesthetics are the new currency.  

Levi’s has reportedly accused Kenzo of trademark infringement for using labels on the back pockets of its jeans - something usually associated with Levi’s. Off-White is (some would say rather ironically) suing online merchants selling fakes. The list goes on and it’s no surprise. After all since mass production became a thing and audiences have been hungry to get their hands on the latest designs at rock bottom prices, copies and counterfeiting have soared. Chains such as H&M and Zara have actually built their businesses by unashamedly and openly reproducing designs from the catwalk (and elsewhere…). And their goods literally fly out of stores.

So what exactly does this mean? It means that now more than ever, brands and designers have to move mountains to guard their designs and more importantly, the features that make their products stand out. Because much as a lawsuit might call a brand out, once the ideas have been copied, the damage is already done. So everything from conception to marketing has to be orchestrated in such a way that people recognise the original product as the original, even when other brands (try to) poach and pimp it. In an age where secrets are almost impossible to keep, it also means that it is going to be increasingly hard for brands to be and stay unique...

BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

Fashionably Fooled by Cinthia Contreras


One of the things that surprises people most when they see or meet people in the public eye is the fact that 95% of the time, they don't look like they do in pictures or social media. With the current widespread use of filters and the much beloved Photoshop, the difference between a glossy image and reality has never been more stark, ridiculous...or deceiving.

It really is as easy as ABc. Wrinkles are smoothed away, skin defects are eliminated, extra pounds disappear and an ungracious duckling is miraculously turned into an elongated swan. Hell, after everything is done, you’d be hard pressed to recognise the person who has been altered.

So, who really cares if some celebrity or zelebrity wants to make others believe that they are prettier/ thinner/ taller than they really are? No-one. But constantly being bombarded with perfect doctored images both in the press and social media fools people into believing that perfection is attainable when we know that it isn't. Many people compare themselves to what they see, feel that they aren’t up to scratch and sometimes even resort to drastic measures to try and resemble the doctored images.



Even though we all know most of these images are fake, they affect us in different ways. And they really shouldn’t because allowing ourselves to be fooled only perpetuates the problem. So next time we're staring at whoever's perfect whatever, we should remember that IRL, they're probably as flawed as the rest of the world.

BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC


All Fashionably Shook Up by Cinthia Contreras


As Fashion season marches mercilessly on, one thing is clear: a change is clearly coming. Designers and brands are gradually daring to challenge the established parameters and shake things up. Some are doing so by showing their men's and women's collections together. Others are scaling things down by going for more intimate venues and offering fewer pieces. The most brazen - and some would say brave -  are completely throwing the rulebook - and the established Fashion Calendar - out the window. They will now show what they want when they want.

 A while ago, such moves would have seemed like brand suicide but as time goes on and the number of brands grows, brands are deciding to set and play by their own rules. This, of course, allows them to stand out and take control of how and when their new designs will be revealed but it is also injecting some freshness to proceedings. And most interestingly, it is opening up the industry by showing that doing your own thing does not necessarily mean doom.

 Things had become a bit safe and samey when it came to Fashion Week. These new changes from both bigger and smaller brands mean that the whole system is going to get a much-needed shake up. There will be drops to look forward to throughout the year, brands will pop up where and when we least expect them and collections won't mechanically be reeled out because "it's time". In short, things should start getting interesting again. We'll just have to watch and see how this evolving liberation plays out...

BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

The Imitation Game by Cinthia Contreras

The saying goes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But as time goes on, it just seems as though imitation is nothing but some taking credit (and gains) for others’ work and inspiration -  and getting away with it. It’s happening everywhere but when it comes to Fashion, that phenomenon seems to have spiraled way out of control.

Often, bigger brands and outlets are pilfering ideas or designs from smaller brands, “revising” them in some way and if possible passing them off as their own without so much as a nod to the original creators. That is how many small brands and designers have suddenly discovered that their designs are available for purchase - even though they had absolutely nothing to do with it. A few months ago, a friend of a friend who owns a small successful jewelry brand found herself staring open-mouthed at one of her signature designs in Zara. They’d never been in touch with her and never asked for her input but they felt they could comfortably and fearlessly steal her work.

Sometimes we can’t be sure exactly what has gone on but the similarities are too vivid and time lapses too short for any resemblance to be a mere coincidence. Just under a month ago during Paris Fashion Week, shoe brand Diego Vanassibara decorated their Paris showroom in foil - sofas, tables, stands, the lot. It was a shiny foil extravaganza. Then today, up popped the MM6 Instagram feed - with a decor all bedecked in, you guessed it, foil. Sure, no-one owns the idea of covering things in foil and Martin Margiela created foil jewelry in 2010. But honestly what were the chances of two foil decors occurring within three weeks of each other eight years later? It truly is more than worthy of a little eyebrow raise and it’d be laughable if it weren’t so rife and alarming. What are small brands supposed to do? Hide their brilliance in fear of being ripped off by bigger ones?

Conclusion: Imitation is no longer the sincerest form of flattery. It’s just absolute proof that those imitating have run out of ideas and anything original to say.

No Supermodel by Cinthia Contreras


It’s Fashion season and the catwalks are teeming with girls walking in the latest designs. If there’s one thing that Fashion loves, it’s a supermodel. A real one. So now that every Tina, Donna or Harriet who has ever taken a picture wants to claim model status and media outlets love to brand anyone who has ever walked down a catwalk a ‘supermodel’, one can’t help but raise an eyebrow (or two).

Models used to have a certain status. As for supermodels, they were like unicorns: unique, formidable and once in a lifetime fantastic. But now 95% of models are disposable. The scene is swamped and unless there’s something really special/ weird/ attention-grabbing (not necessarily in a good way) about them, they’ll disappear almost as quickly they appeared.

It’s harsh but true. Supermodels - the true 90s originals - worked Fashion and worked it their way. Today’s models are merely used by Fashion. If they do manage to find success, chances are they won’t be around long enough and wield enough power or status to really be ‘super’. They might acquire a huge social media following but chances are that most of their followers will also move on once something new comes along.

And that is exactly why it is ridiculous to brand any old model a supermodel, especially those who are just starting out or those who only got there because of their name or their perceived popularity. A few months ago, Donatella Versace reunited the original supermodels to mark the 20th anniversary of Gianni Versace’s death - and they were magnificent. How many of today’s models will be around in 3 years, let alone 20 and still command the same amount of wow? Enough said.

BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

Past fashion by Cinthia Contreras

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With all the brands out there and all the new directions, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of why you started liking a particular brand in the first place. Until something comes along which reminds you of exactly why you wanted in to start with.

An experience, a conversation or even a simple image can be enough to get you feeling all excited and hyped up about it again. The Louis Vuitton "Volez, Voguez, Voyagez" exhibition which ended its stint last week in NY is a good example of that. It kept you just on the right side of nostalgia whilst reminding you that there is more to LV than monograms and hype collaborations.

The great thing about this particular retrospective was that it gave you insight into the brand as well as into the Vuitton family's personal inspirations and possessions. Indeed, much as a brand can be interesting for its prestige and luxury status, what is truly captivating is how its designs and its approach have changed over time.

Looking back at a brand’s past gives you a renewed appreciation for it but it also makes you realise that brands should be more about craftsmanship than banal status symbols. And as Fashion Week season is now upon us, that’s definitely worth remembering.

BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r


IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

See you later Colette by Cinthia Contreras

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They say all good things come to an end and in a couple of days, Parisian luxury concept store Colette will be shutting its doors for the last time. Since it opened in 1997, Colette has been a must for every fashionista and cool-hunter visiting Paris. As well as carrying certain lines that couldn’t be found anywhere else, the store was also famous for its endless collaborations - from Balenciaga to Barbie, Chanel to Comme des Garçons and McDonald’s to Mira Mikati.

Even though many saw it as a holy grail and hordes of people considered it to be the temple of cool, for others it came to represent institutionalised hype. But regardless, love it or hate it, there was no denying that thanks to its careful selective curation, Colette was a pioneer in its genre and a forerunner in the field. Many emerging designers would have given their right arm and sold every existing family member to get their designs through the rue Saint-Honoré doors.

But in a few days, all this will wind down and the instantly recognisable white and blue bags will be laid to rest. Well almost. Indeed, this is Fashion and as we all know, once you’re in the game you never really leave. The store is closing but there are rumours that it will maintain some kind of online presence. So let’s not bid Colette a teary au revoir just yet. It might be back sooner than we think...

BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

Fashion Cloning by Cinthia Contreras


We’re constantly being encouraged to follow some kind of Fashion ‘example’. Whether it’s online, in magazines or on TV we’re bombarded with celebrities (or should that be zelebrities) we’re supposed to take as role models and try and copy.

Sure, some stuff might be appealing but there's a big difference between highlighting someone's look and breaking it down item by item in a bid to encourage the world and his brother to go and buy them - to be like someone else.

All sorts of people from the sublime to the truly ridiculous are held up as worthy of being copied simply because of their so-called great style. Wearing a nice dress doesn't suddenly make the most ridiculous or trashy person in the public eye, interesting. And it certainly doesn’t instantly turn them into any kind of a role model. So why would anyone want to dress like them? If anything, one would want to avoid wearing absolutely everything they are seen in.

We are of course all influenced by those around us but influencing is one thing, carbon copying is quite another. It is of course up to each person to decide if they want to copy said media-proclaimed fashion gurus and whether they want to imitate rather than innovate. But really it should be a no-brainer. After all, what’s the point of dressing like someone else instead of yourself?


BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

In Unacceptable Fashion by Cinthia Contreras


Over the past few weeks, abuse and harassment revelations have been hitting the headlines left, right and centre at an increasingly alarming rate. From cinema to politics, people have been stepping forward and telling their stories through the media or #metoo campaigns and as this has shown, Fashion is no exception.

Many stories have emerged of actresses, actors, models and employees in and out of the public eye being abused, pressured or coerced into things they absolutely did not want to do. Or in any other cases, such as the now notorious Weinstein affair, unscrupulous people using their influence and wielding their power to treat people unacceptably - to say the least - and further their brands and causes. And it’s all absolutely nasty.

Not just because it’s happening but because in many cases, several insiders were aware of the situation and said nothing due to a code of silence and also out of fear for their positions amongst many other things including financial pressures, previous links, pending projects, vested interests...). It’s also extremely troubling because it feeds into an idea that this sort of behavior is to be expected on some level as it ‘comes with the territory’.

Fashion is often seen as an amoral industry full of shallow people willing to do whatever it takes to make it. Covering any disgusting happenings for whatever reason would certainly be part of that. But is that a fair assessment? We’ll have to see how the industry reacts to these revelations and whether or not anybody, if anybody will be held to account. If it’s just business as usual in a few months and all is forgiven, we’re really going to have to start asking ourselves even more very uncomfortable questions.


BarbedChic | Wonder$t⭐r

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

Fashion Fast Track by Cinthia Contreras

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It's never easy starting something. Rectification, it's never easy starting something new in Fashion. Whatever the area, you know you're facing an uphill battle - unless of course your family/ your friends/ some 'fortunate' acquaintance  can cut you a way in and let you jump the unending queue. But is all this making Fashion lose it standards?

Many creatives toil away for ages doing all sorts of things they don't want to just so they can pursue their Fashion dreams. They slug away, work their guts out until they finally make it - if they're lucky. But whilst they're doing what they have to do to make it happen meet, another type of player looms ahead. Often all this player knows is that they like pretty things, luxury and they really want to work in Fashion. Like reaaaally. Cos it looks good right? A few months and a few connections later said player is 'modelling'/ starting a clothes line/ doing PR for X much to the disbelief of the exhausted overworked creative.

Fashion has always worked by connection but there used to be some kind of standard which ensured that those in the game respected it as the Art form it is. They had worked in some shape or form to get there. Now it's often all facade and no substance. That only brings the game down for all and could even discourage creatives from actually giving it a go. And that would be Fashion's loss.

There's nothing wrong with getting a helping hand. But there's a big difference between receiving help and being parachuted in. At the end of the day when placed side by side, most people know which kind of creative they'd rather deal with, who the players truly are - and how they really got there.



Barbed Chic

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

Fashionably Predictable by Cinthia Contreras

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With all the different types of Fashion available to us now, there's so much stuff to get hooked on. On an individual level but also on a collective level - after all 'trends' aren't created in a vacuum. But does everyone focusing and embracing certain trends make the whole game too samey?

Let's be honest, at any one given time there are all sorts of go-to brands, designers and pieces. They might not always be the most beautiful or the best but they all have one thing in common: they all have something that appeals to the masses. You see them everywhere and they are on everyone's lips and in everyone's wardrobes until the next big fresh thing comes along.

And of course when the next big fresh thing does come along, the same thing happens until the cycle starts over again. It'd be great if we could resist the trend/ popularity bandwagon but it's always been an unavoidable part of Fashion. So the only thing one can do is try as it so it your way.

Barbed Chic

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC


Leaps Of Fashion by Cinthia Contreras

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Few things are as uncertain as Fashion. You can be up one minute and down the next, in one season and mercilessly cast aside the next. Time and time again, all those in the industry put their fates in the hands of the Fashion gods and wait to see where the chips will fall. But what exactly keeps us taking Fashion leaps of faith?  

Designers are the best example of this. Every season they unveil their collection s and wait for those reviews and reactions from the powers that be. For the bigger names, it's mostly a done deal but for smaller brands, it really can be a matter of fashion life and death. They place all their fate in their work with absolutely no guarantee of a positive result.

Any new Fashion venture also requires many leaps of faith and yet every season, many new creatives choose to take the risk. Their motives might vary but they all share a passion for the creativity and expression Fashion allows.

Only time will tell whether or not our Fashion leaps of faith were worth it but until then, we'll just have to keep going in the hope that in the end, the Fashion gods will reward our courage.

Barbed Chic

IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

W(hat) T(he) F(ashion) by Cinthia Contreras

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The Fashion “game” has undergone some major changes in the past few years. Some are good, some aren't so good and some just leave you wondering wtf happened and if the Fashion world has lost its mind - and its overall mojo.

In some cases, it isn't so much that the script has been flipped - it's as though some anonymous loon took the unwritten handbook, burnt it and set up a whole parallel universe that makes zero sense and only serves to cheapen and debase everything the industry used to be.

In this (un)brave new world, all the positive potential and cool exciting possibilities evaporate into thin air. And it often seems like we're all getting sucked in and dragged along (willingly or unwillingly) into a rather unsavory Fashion vortex.

So what options are there if you're totally bored or just plain unsatisfied of the status quo? Break it. Then make something new.


IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

Fashion Talks by Cinthia Contreras

It can often seem as though Fashion is merely to do with clothes, style, trends, glamour and one's increasingly important look and ever-pervading style. But one of the most important and interesting things we often overlook or rather forget to acknowledge is the power and importance of speech and words in Fashion.

During the creative process, talking and exchanging with others helps to sort out ideas. Through conversations and discussions, you think of new angles, gain new perspective and sometimes decide to radically change, scrap or rework things. At times, the right chat can even cause you to make a complete U-turn - and come up with something totally fresh and new.

Once creation is done and the designs exist, we then love to talk about them, write about them and discuss them. We wax lyrical, toy with adjectives and depending on their depth, explore nooks and crannies of collections and pieces that excite us or trigger things in us - good or bad.

So no matter how shiny and glamorous and gorgeous the industry can be, let's always remember that even though it might be able to exist without them, words are an integral part of Fashion and make it richer in every way.




IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC


The Fabric of Fashion by Cinthia Contreras

From the outside it can be tempting to think of Fashion as one-dimensional. It's all about clothes. But if the naysayers care to look a little deeper they will soon see that Fashion is full of interesting leads on so many fronts - social, cultural and political amongst others - worth investigating. So why then is the art of Fashion often boiled down to mere fabric?

In our time, it's probably because the focus in Fashion has mostly been on the product/ result and less on all the work that goes into making a piece: the research, the mastery, the influences. Of course not all garments have such qualities worth looking into but they are often even overlooked in notable pieces.

Movements and trends are seen as seasonal and all the meaning infused in some pieces is lost. Result: Fashion loses its informative revelatory potency and it's suddenly all about swooshing fabric. But as history and studies have shown, it's so much more than that and must be recognised for its social litmus value. And that is something that needs to be reaffirmed, now more than ever. After all, a piece is never just a piece.


IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC




Luxury redefined by Cinthia Contreras

Back in the beginnings of 'Fashion', luxury was mainly synonymous with couture. If it didn't reek of dollar, hadn't been crafted by nimble-fingered nymphs or wasn't by one of 'those' brands, luxury it was not. But (some) things have changed and luxury has taken on a whole new twist. So what exactly does luxury mean to us today?

It really can be anything. Luxe living, luxury dining, luxury streetwear. You name it, it's been luxed up. In some cases it means that the quality has improved but in others, it's merely a question of smoke and mirrors. Because as every fan of all fine things has discovered at one time or another, when it comes to what one really would describe as 'luxurious' - especially in Fashion terms - the devil is always in the detail.

More than anything, today's definition of luxury is very individual and personal. One aficionado's limited edition sneaks are another man's bespoke handcrafted boots. So when it comes down to it, luxury is now more a matter of preference and taste than just overt ostentation. And in an industry where creativity and expression are key, that can't be a bad thing.




IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC

You WILL respect my DMs by Cinthia Contreras

Like many people who are into them, I love my Doc Martens. Something about these puppies makes me feel invincible and like I could take on anything and anyone. They can take all sorts of beatings and only get better and more comfortable with age. What's not to love? But recently, I have noticed an extremely irritating pattern that must be addressed and nipped in the bud ASAP - DM disrespect.

Let me explain. As a fan of the brand, I own several pairs, styles and colours. And I have noticed that due to their reputation as a tough, hardwearing, can-take-all-the madness-you-throw-at-them brand, some ill-bred ill-heeled folk think they can mess with other people's DMs with no fallout.

You know the drill. You're out. Some rude random walks by and steps on your shoes. But instead of apologising, they stop, look down and keep walking. The attitude being "Aah, I don't need to apologise, they're DMs, no harm done.” Harm done! When I step on someone's shoes I say sorry, regardless of whether or not their shoes can 'take it'. Know why? Cos they're not MY damn shoes!!!**

I'm not a violent person by any stretch of the imagination but that little trite "oh it doesn't matter cos they’re Docs" look people get after stepping on your boots before walking away literally makes my blood boil - and totally makes me want to rethink my usual live and let live attitude. So if you're one of the *@$&×+# who does this, stop it. Now. For your own sake.

**All of this is part of a wider problem - swag disrespect - but more about that another time.




IG/ T ~ @The_Life_MC


Off the Fashion grid by Cinthia Contreras

As Paris Fashion Week takes over the French capital and the well-heeled run from show to show, certain Fashion folk watch on perplexed. Not because they don't get it or because they aren't interested, but because they have *gasp* decided to do their own thing. But why exactly do they want to break free of the approved Fashion line and operate off the Fashion grid?

Fashion Weeks are fun and brands put on a good show. However, those who choose to breakaway and do their own thing aren't interested in what they see as lots of peacocking that is increasingly less about the designs and more about courting attention. They want to concentrate on other things and are focused on producing pieces that are true to whichever path they have chosen. Indeed, being off the ‘official' Fashion grid means freedom and with freedom comes possibility.  

When it comes to Fashion, possibility is a wonderful thing. All those that are part of the system - classic houses, big renowned brands. Fashion Week staples - are conventional, no matter how hard they try to be ‘different’ (sometimes with disastrous/ embarrassing results).  That is why brands that stay off the official grid are just as interesting and far more exciting than conventional ones - even if they don't make it within ten miles of a Fashion Week. And in truth, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The Chicutopian (@barbedchic)

Mysterious disappearing LFW events by Cinthia Contreras

London Fashion Week has come and gone. It was 4 days of the usual madness,  exhaustion and of course, fun. Indeed, it all requires a lot of liaising and legwork, so at the end of a long day on the trail, who can resist the temptation to party?

Brands pull out all the stops to organise events that'll get everyone oohing and aahing. They're a fun way of mixing business and pleasure but they are definitely not the be all and end all. That's why it's hard to understand why this season, a new happening reared its ugly head: the phantom event.

Indeed, in an odd sequence of events, announced events 'disappeared' without a trace or a flick of notice. Guests heading to a presentation/ party in Soho were greeted with a closed venue. Luckily, it was just a matter of moving on to another event down the road but the collective irritation was palpable. If there's one thing you don't during FW, it's waste people's time. Then there was an announced so-called 24-hour event where attendees were poured back onto London's streets at *drumroll* 10 p.m! And even more mysteriously, no-one at the venue had heard of the brand's 24-hour event (later implied to have just been a lure to ensure maximum attendance). Then a couple of days later there was a similar scenario - a drinks reception this time - that stemmed from a glaring blunder that was neatly brushed under the Fashion carpet.

Only the Fashion gods know what happened. One can only hope this isn't a new warped strategy. But next time an invitation appears from any of the brands involved, it's highly likely that many will give them a royal skip and go get their kicks - for real - elsewhere.

The Chicutopian (@barbedchic)

In with the (fashionably) new? by Cinthia Contreras

In a few days, London Fashion Week will be back with its array of shows, presentations, parties and unavoidable shenanigans. After New York, people from all over the world will descend on the British capital to discover what we'll want to rock or avoid next season, which trends will persist and as ever, what's new in the never-samey world of Fashion. The Fresh. The Unseen. The New. But can we really expect to see radically new offerings and collections?

The world's numerous Fashion Weeks are always the focus of intense media attention. Industry insiders and enthusiasts attend shows and/ or pore over pictures of upcoming collections like archeologists digging for treasure. But the more one looks, the more one often starts to realise that even though X design might not be in stores and shelves for a few months yet, 'new' isn't exactly the first adjective that springs to mind to describe it. Indeed, it can sometimes seems as though we are dealing with the same elements bounced about time and again with each mind creating a variation on a common given theme. And that's when things are going well.

In the worst case scenarios, 'new' collections are either thinly veiled attempts at plagiarism (self or others) or cringe-worthy stabs at appropriation. Of course it's hard to keep coming up with endless ideas and in an area such as Fashion, 'inspiration' is often cyclical. However, the sad truth is that very few brands are really bringing something 'new' (and by that understand something extremely original, fresh and seldom seen before - not just a random feature designed to make people go 'oooh') to the racks.  

Creative boundary-exploring Fashion mavericks might be heavily outnumbered by their  safer more consensual counterparts but their presence shows that despite appearances, there are innovators operating behind the scenes. And in a city such as London, that's exactly what we hope to see during London Fashion Week.

The Chicutopian (@barbedchic)