British royal family

There are plenty of folks in the United States who are excited about Prince Harry's upcoming wedding to actress Meghan Markle.

Of course, she's not the first American to marry into the British royal family. Queen Elizabeth II's uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson -- something unheard of at the time.

The fact that so many in the US already know this shows that America's fascination with the British royal family started long before Harry met Meghan.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, pictured in September 1939.

The popularity of TV shows like "The Crown" in the United States backs this up. British actor Matt Smith, who plays Prince Philip on the show, said he was surprised by the fascination the royals inspire in the United States.

"I had no idea they were so popular here ... until I did this show," Smith said. "They've managed to maintain an air of mystery and celebrity somehow, which I think has allowed them to endure, and that sort of mystery is always appealing on some level."

Across the pond, the royal family is seen as a massive soap opera, replete with love and loss, pomp and circumstance and British accents (Americans love those too).

Sandro Monetti, a British journalist now living in Los Angeles, covered the royal family for five years. He believes that Americans love the royal family more than British people do. "To much of the world, Britain is the royal family," he said. "They are a great PR boon for the United Kingdom."

Former US President Barack Obama acknowledged this when Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, visited the White House in 2015. "The American people are quite fond of the royal family," the President said to Charles. "They like them much better than their own politicians."

Part of the draw is the pageantry and centuries-old tradition, which is unlike anything the US has. The Kennedys are perhaps the closest thing to American royalty but, as a deeply Democratic family, the fanfare may be divided; the constitutional role of British monarchs is to steer clear of politics.

Arianne Chernock, an associate professor in the history department at Boston University, said Americans' interest in the royal family has been apparent since the younger nation was formed.

"It has been alive pretty much since 1776," she said. "Pretty much as soon as we severed ties, we were back to being fascinated -- captivated really -- by the royal family."

Much of this makes sense in light of the special relationship maintained by the two nations. Politically, Chernock said, the bond deepened in the post-World War II era.

"That stems, I think, from our shared paths and this sense that to some extent Americans were part of this narrative, part of this story," Chernock said. On top of that, for some Americans, the ties that bind are British blood relatives.

Nevertheless, Chernock said, the interest isn't constant but peaks around important events like royal visits, weddings, births and coronations. So, no surprise these milestones grab plenty of American eyeballs.

In 2011, close to 23 million Americans woke up early to watch the wedding of Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, according to Nielsen.

In 1981, before cable TV, the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of the most-watched televised events of the 1980s in the United States.

"For the first time, in front of a mass global television audience was the idea of a fairytale princess wedding: Someone who was one of us marrying into the royal family. Everyone could relate to that around the world," Monetti said.

When Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997, about 30 million Americans watched the funeral.

The image of a then 12-year-old Harry and 15-year-old William walking solemnly behind their mother's casket lingered on in the collective American psyche. Like much of the world, Americans want a happy ending for the princes -- especially after watching them endure such pain.

Over the years, Americans have remained curious about the sons of the so-called People's Princess as they grew into their philanthropy, went off to college, served in the military, began dating and, ultimately, left the realm of "eligible bachelor" behind.

Princess dreamsAnd so, we have to address the tiara in some American girls' bedrooms. Many girls in the United States grow up watching cartoons about royalty and dressing up as princesses for Halloween.

While the messaging about princesses has changed over the years to one that's more about female empowerment and less about a prince whisking a lady off into the sunset, being royalty is romanticized from an early age in American pop culture.

"I think Walt Disney had a lot to do with that," Monetti said. "All those ideas in films and books, the princess was the ultimate dream."

You don't have to look further than Immaculate Heart, Markle's high school in Hollywood, to see the excitement of that princess dream in living color -- even though Markle will have a title other than princess. Many of the students at the all-girls' school plan to get up in the middle of the night to watch one of their own marry into the royal family.

"It's just super cool that she came from here, like L.A., and just spread out all over the place," said senior Becky Doyle. "And, you know, who doesn't love a good love story?"

And perhaps it's safe to say a bit of that infatuation goes both ways. After all, Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth II on "The Crown," said many Brits are thrilled Harry is marrying the American actress.

"We're like, 'Thank God! Open the doors!' She's so beautiful, and I just think she says all the right things," Foy said. "She makes the English royal family look ever so slightly ..." As Foy looked for the right word, her "Crown" co-star Smith interjected: "Staged."

Foy agreed, "Yeah, because she's just so relaxed."

After the arrival of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and with another baby on the way for William and Kate, Americans' fascination with the British monarchy will likely only grow to include this new cast of royals.Read more at:red bridesmaid dresses | green bridesmaid dresses


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Should you have your wedding

A Cork couple feature in RTÉ’s new wedding planner show, based around the dilemma of whether to have the event in Ireland or abroad, writes Marjorie Brennan.

Don't Tell the Bride, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Say Yes to the Dress… the list of wedding-inspired reality TV shows goes on, demonstrating how nuptial celebrations and all the associated drama are a perennial source of fascination for audiences.

The latest addition to the genre is RTÉ’s My Big Day: Home or Away, a pilot one-off in which two top wedding planners compete against each other to bring one couple’s dream wedding to fruition. One planner arranges a wedding in Ireland, the other plans a ceremony further afield and the icing on the cake is witnessing the couple tying the knot at their dream location. The couple featured in the one-off show are Kate Browne and Peter Twomey, from Cork, who got engaged eight years ago and kept putting their wedding plans on the long finger.

Wedding planner Tara Fay says she was keen to get involved in the show as she saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate the wide range of skills required in her job.

“We see ourselves more as wedding producers. One of the most important skills required is listening, because it’s not about us, it’s about our client. It’s about asking the right questions, to know how to pull that information from them and to turn that into what they want. It’s not our wedding, it’s their wedding.”

Going up against Fay is Bruce Russell, a London-based wedding planner. Why does he think there is such a demand for reality wedding shows?

“I think it’s because weddings have become so personal, couples now have access to everything regarding design ideas and styling while years ago they were happy to go the traditional route. Now there are no limitations, if you want that Kardashian wedding but you don’t have the budget for it, someone out there somewhere will be able to create it for you.”

While Russell has organised countless weddings where money is no object, he also enjoys the challenge of sticking to a limited budget.

“It forces you to think outside the box and it’s about how you maximise things — you have to think not in terms of ‘you can’t have this’ but to look at options like ‘what if we do it this way?’ or ‘what’s important, can we DIY?’.”

Russell says while things do go wrong, staying calm is the key.

“Everything is about management beforehand so what when we get to the day, it’s a smooth process. There’s a few that come to mind where things went awry; we had a power outage at one and it didn’t come back until an hour before the couple came in, we were almost at the stage of having to relocate at an hour’s notice. That’s not the best

feeling, but from my perspective you have to be the calm and collected person because everyone is looking at you — if you start to panic everyone does.”

As anyone who has done it will testify, organising a wedding can be a very stressful experience. As such, one constant trope of wedding reality shows is the ‘Bridezilla’ having a meltdown. Russell has an empathetic take on the stereotype.

“Put yourself in the bride’s shoes — you’re the one person everyone is looking to for an opinion, a decision, everything falls on you. What I try to do is manage the process, the information, the decisions that need to be made. Communication is key so I try to avoid the bride getting to the bridezilla stage. If I’m doing my job right we don’t necessarily get there, but sometimes it’s a moment, you let them have it and take it from there.”

The bride in this case, Kate Browne, certainly doesn’t appear to be the Bridezilla type when we speak. In any case, she says there was so little for her to do that she didn’t get the opportunity to lose her head at any stage.

“It was fantastic, and I didn’t have to do anything at all. On the day, it hit me how lucky I was. All I had to do was just turn up. Everything was done. It was a real luxury to have a planner to the standard of Tara and Bruce.

“Everything was thought through down to the last detail. The kids were even taken away and looked after in the evening.”

Kate and her husband Peter Twomey are both self-employed — he is a dairy farmer and she runs a boutique, Vanilla, in Fermoy, Co Cork with her sister; they have three children, aged seven, four and three. Their busy lives and financial pressures meant their wedding plans kept being moved down their to-do list.

“I barely have time to have a shower, never mind plan a wedding,” Kate laughs. “Our house is small, and we had to build an extension every time we had a child. How could we spend so much money on just one day? It was never really a priority. Then we decided that all the kids are here now and we would focus on it. I told Peter that I did want to get married this year; even if it was just the two of us inside a registry office, we would have done it at some point.”

It seemed like fate when last year, Kate saw an ad looking for couples who would like someone to plan their wedding. She filled in an application form and things moved quickly after that. Peter wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea to begin with.

“She told me she was doing it and I said: ‘Yeah, yeah’, knowing it wouldn’t happen… then two days later, I was moving stuff out of the shed getting it ready for calving and she says ‘Are you around tomorrow after 11, there’s a fella from RTÉ coming down to film us’.”

Peter eventually came around to the idea, and in the end he was the one who came to the rescue when Kate got cold feet towards the end of filming.

“I got really nervous and said I don’t know if I really want to do this because it was my family involved as well,” she says.

“Peter said: ‘look the opportunity is here, let’s just take it’. I was the one who had instigated it but then I got scared when it became a reality, he pushed it forward so I suppose we balance each other out that way.”

The couple haven’t seen a final cut of the show; they plan to watch it as it airs with friends and family in a hotel in Cork.

“The TV thing is a bit strange alright and I am really nervous about it. You don’t know what way you’re going to be portrayed, how people are going to perceive you and how the editor will decide what to show,” says Kate.

While they are sworn to secrecy about which planner comes out on top, they agree the whole experience was a fantastic one.

“It would suit me down to the ground if no-one ever saw it but it was a fabulous experience,” says Peter.

“It was never going to be a bad scenario. As I kept saying, it was a real first-world problem: pick this fabulous place or this fabulous place. We had to do shag-all, just answer WhatsApp messages from the tractor or the kitchen, two or three phone calls or one or two meetings.”

A dream wedding indeed.Read more at:wedding dress adelaide | beach wedding dresses australia


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Hair Wars

Inside the labyrinth of corridors at MoMA PS1 on a recent Sunday night in New York City, there is human hair, cast in supernatural shapes and ceiling-bound heights, at every turn.

With one hour to go before Hair Wars’s showtime—at 6:05 p.m. sharp (to ensure punctuality, no exceptions!)—stylists are putting last-minute touches on their painstakingly detailed creations. Every nuance counts; this is, after all, the free-form traveling showcase that has, for three decades and counting, fought to put fantasy hair design on the beauty map.

In one corner, Detroit legend Keith Matthews is tinkering with the LED lights on his elaborate Technicolor wigs, while Antigua-born Dave “The Beauty Surgeon” Ray tends to the rhinestone-encrusted hoops of hair suspended above his model’s head. Bedecked in a leather jumpsuit, crocodile cowboy boots, and a sumptuous brown fur coat, veteran performer Wishbone, who is returning to center stage for the first time since 2012, beating cancer in the interim, has just parked his car; he drove more than 500 miles from the Motor City to transport his eight-foot-long, retractable bird wing Black Phoenix headpiece, just one of his many elaborate hair accessories of the day. And then there’s Brooklyn-based first-timer Joanne Petit-Frère, who will be her own model for the show and is braced to festoon herself in a medley of jet-black and white-hot blonde braided sculptures. Overseeing it all is none other than DJ and producer David Humphries, aka Hump the Grinder, who is the wunderkind behind this unprecedented spectacle. “We don’t have any restrictions,” he says. “This is where hairstylists can get crazy.”

In the mid-’80s, Humphries saw a need for a platform that would celebrate the talent of Detroit’s local black hairstylists, as well as encourage them to elevate their visions. He started throwing and emceeing underground parties at downtown nightclubs on the city’s west side, and the high-octane hair happenings, which were infused with runway performances, dancing, and DJ sets, quickly built a loyal following.

Fast-forward to the ’90s, when Humphries began taking the annual show on the road across major U.S. cities. The first stop? Los Angeles. “Hollywood is theatrical, but they can’t do hair like Detroit,” he says with hometown pride, underlining that the city is and will always be “the hair capital of the world,” due in large part to its Motown legacy and the iconic looks that the Supremes and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas pioneered. “Back then, Detroit was a predominantly black city,” he recalls. “It was like a hair show at every bus stop.”

Each Hair Wars player has an unmistakable style and signature: Matthews, a city salon owner and longtime participant, is known for molding towering, multimedia ’dos to scintillating effect; his materials of choice include foam, pipe tubing, and Pringles cans. “I call my method ‘commercialized fantasy,’” he says of his designs, which have incorporated everything from Tootsie Roll candy to classic 45 RPM records and even his own moniker—in bold, glittering fonts. Consider Matthews the Andy Warhol of hair: A man with a skill for weaving playful commentary on pop culture into imaginative updos, his penchant for three-piece suits and matching fedoras not to be overlooked.

It’s the sort of swag that Wishbone, who calls himself the “Michael Jackson of hair,” also has in spades. While his soaring phoenix creation and human-hair fashion garments (think: a miniskirt of free-flowing spiraled lengths) inspire awe during the showcase, so do the audacious dance moves he busts out on the holographic tinsel-strewn runway.

These larger-than-life stylists, including Ray, who describes himself as semi-retired from the hair fantasy game despite his ability to whip up hypnotizing, Garden of Eden–inspired wig creations with just a week’s notice, have helped pave the way for a new generation of hair disrupters. First in line is 30-year-old Petit-Frère, who is most known for the braided, halo-like piece worn by Solange Knowles—and then famously Photoshopped out by the publication—on her Evening Standard Magazine cover. “We’re in the midst of a major movement now with consciousness of hair types, as well as art and imagery, being pushed to fantastical reaches in the digital era,” Petit-Frère explains. “It’s an important time to insert my identity as a hair sculptor.” Although in the case of tonight, she has obscured her own features with those of a familiar alter ego, strutting onstage wearing a peroxided Blondie face mask—a nod, she says, to the lesser-known fact that rocker Debbie Harry bought Jean-Michel Basquiat’s first painting for $200 in 1981. Behind her is a pulsating light show as well as a live noise-rock performance by Brooklyn’s own Vat of Acid.

Thirty-three years since first celebrating the culture, community, and meticulous craft of black hair, MoMA’s stamp of approval is not lost on the Hair Wars originators. But regardless of the venue or number of people in the crowd (there are hundreds), these artists have always served up pure drama. And if this weekend is any indication, the only place they—and their mesmerizing styles—will go is up.Read more at:One Shoulder Bridesmaid Dresses | Beach Bridesmaid Dresses


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This young fashion designer

Some ink, a sketchbook, his dreams, and a love for fashion was all Nick Perez needed to pave his own way into the fashion design industry.

At 19 years old, Perez makes a living off designing bridal and couture gowns and will be the first designer from Corpus Christi to show his line, NICO and compete at Austin Fashion Week April 5.

Perez will compete with about a dozen emerging designers in the BERNINA Fashion Fund.

Awards include a judges’ choice award crowning the official 2018 BERNINA Fashion Fund winner and a people’s choice award. The judges’ choice winner will receive a prize from BERNINA and other brands to allow them to expand their label, and will also go on to represent the BERNINA Fashion Fund at Fashion X Dallas and Fashion X Houston in the Fall of 2018, officials said.

Perez, who is originally from Aransas Pass and living and working out of his studio in Corpus Christi has been designing since he was in high school, he said.

"I've always loved art and loved to draw but when I took a fashion design class in high school and I just fell in love with fashion," Perez said.

He started off designing and making prom dresses for his friends in school and his work and clientele grew from there, he said.

"I went from making street wear and edgy pieces to making couture gowns," Perez said, "I love taking time to make these pieces, I love that there's a story to tell and they're really pieces of art."

Last year, Perez's work was on the South Texas International Fashion and the WERK runways.

"I'm a dreamer. I really am. I come from humble beginings and everything I do is for my family," Perez said. "I love what I do and I'm so happy to know that I can sew and paint for a living.

"Ultimately I want people to know my brand and where these clothes come from. I want everyone to be wearing NICO."Read more at:blue bridesmaid dresses | red bridesmaid dresses


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