Over 1000 costume lovers paraded through Morelia in Mexico yesterday dressed as the cultural icon of death, La Calavera Catrina. Held on the first day of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), families, friends and foreigners flooded the city’s streets for the second year running to see the spectacular congregation of elegant skeletons march towards the central Cathedral.
“Death is democratic, because in the end, the mother, the brunette, the rich or the poor, all the people end up being skulls” – José Guadalupe Posada
La Calavera Catrina was an illustration created by the Mexican political print maker Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913). Published in local papers the early 1910’s at the start of the Mexican Revolution, the elegant looking skeleton was designed to mock Mexico’s Euro-centric elite, who were believed to be abandoning their indigenous heritage by starting to emulate the fashions and mannerisms of Europeans from Paris and London.
Today La Catrina has been fully absorbed into Mexico’s annual festival of the dead and can be seen on everything from t-shirts to porcelain dolls, reminding everyone that no matter how beautiful we are on the outside, we will all end up looking the same in the grave.
The costume is traditionally characterized by painting ones face and body as a skeleton before dressing in turn of the century tailoring (for men) or elegant evening wear (for women) but today a combination of contemporary fashions and ethnic mexican styles have also been incorporated.
Have you been to Mexico for Day of the Dead? Where is your favorite destination to experience the festival? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.
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Halloween or All Hallows Eve is by far our favorite annual celebration. Traditionally a Pagan turned Christian holiday for remembering the dead, today Halloween is a fully fledged festival treading the fine line between fun and fearsome. It’s a wonderful holiday that encourages people to embrace creativity, let go of your inhibitions and celebrate inner fears. Here’s Haute Culture’s top five global Halloween parties on our blood filled bucket list.
1. GREENWICH VILLAGE HALLOWEEN PARADE, NEW YORK CITY, USA
The NYC Halloween parade is the biggest in the world. Sexuality, politics and pop culture infuse through many of the costume designs and all combine to create a hedonistic spectacle of epic proportions. This year, 60,000 participants are expected to attend. The 2016 parade included a papier mache Trump, whilst the 2001 parade was themed ‘Phoenix Rising’. A phoenix puppet led the parade to represent the strength of New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11. A troupe of dancing rod-puppet skeletons always lead the way, dancing through the streets of the city for one day of the year, celebrating the life and soul of NYC.
31st October 2017
2. DIA DE MUERTOS, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO.
Whilst The Day of the Dead is not a Halloween celebration, it falls from 31 October – 2nd November and embodies the spirit of the traditional meaning. During the three-day celebration, the thin veil separating the spirit world from the living is said to lift. There are massive Day of the Dead celebrations across Mexico. We recommend San Miguel de Allende, which marks the celebrations with the weeklong Festival La Calaca (Skull Festival). On Janitzio island in Michoacan, locals hold a meditation on the dead and carry offerings to their graves, keeping vigil until dawn. Mexico City also now holds a Day of the Dead parade, thanks to James Bond’s Spectra which shows a fictional depiction of the festival in a parade.
Dates vary, 28 October-5 November
3. WHITBY GOTH WEEKEND, WHITBY, ENGLAND
Held in England’s spookiest town, this massive coming together of goths on the North coast is like one big family gathering. Whilst the name can seem inclusive, it is essentially a celebration of anything counter culture, alternative or ‘weird’. Scores of bands play music over the weekend against the hauntingly beautiful back drop of Whitby Abby, which was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for his novel Dracula in 1897. There are plenty of strong styles on display, with many drawing influences from Steampunk and Gothic Victoriana. You can also pick up your fashion and costume wares at the Bizarre Bazaar which runs over the weekend.
27-28th October 2017
4. CARNIVAL OF LOST SOULS, DERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND.
Whilst Derry in Northern Ireland may not seem like the most obvious choice for a huge Halloween celebration, locals say it makes sense. Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient festival Samhein, when the dead returned to walk the earth for one night before the Celtic New Year on 1 November. The whole city now throws itself into the celebrations, which run from 28 October and culminate in a massive parade with fireworks on the 31st. Amongst the festivities are Jack-o-lantern competitions (you can carve an Irish turnip or pumpkin), immersive ghost hunting walks and a monster funfair. It was even voted the Best Halloween Destination in the World in 2016.
28-31st October 2017
5. NEW YEARS EVE OF THE VAMPIRES, BRAN CASTLE, ROMANIA
How does spending the night with Dracula and friends at his castle in Transylvania sound? Er, yes please! Bran Castle in Romania holds a fully immersive Dracula themed Halloween party where actors recreate scenes from the book and the guests are all a part of the performance. Extravagant dress is a must, and there are prizes for the winners. Vlad the Impaler, who was known for using stakes to impale his victims, is said to have stayed at the castle in the 15th century. Vlad inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character and both shall make an appearance on the night. Guests can choose to flee the castle after a midnight tour, or continue to dance with the vampires till dawn at a party in the grounds.
28th October 2017
Do you love Halloween as much as us? Where is your favourite destination to get your freak on? Please share your experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.
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Did you know that there are countless cafes in Tokyo’s Akihabara district where school girls are paid to serve and perform in flirtatious french maid costumes? I didn’t. Feeling inquisitive, astonished and awkward as hell, heres what happened when I visited one of Tokyo’s most popular Maid Cafes @Home Cafe and the disturbing reality why you should avoid them.
What Is A Maid Cafe?
Young Girl dressed in French Maid costume.
Naively, at first, I thought that the experience might be similar to that of the subculture practices of the “Sweet Lolita
” girls from Harajuku
. I pondered whether maybe a Maid Cafe was a place where teenage girls hung out dressed up as french maids for fun (who knows? It’s Japan after all), but alas it turns out that I was wrong. Maid cafes are in fact restaurants that employ teenage girls to dress up as French maids, thus to provide entertainment and service to their customers.
Kyoto is the center of Kimono culture in Japan. Everywhere you look, both Japanese and international tourists can be seen parading proudly around the former ancient capitol in a variety of colourful Kimonos on a daily basis. But what is a Kimono, why is the traditional dress so popular in Kyoto, and where can you get one from?
WHAT IS A KIMONO?
A Kimono is a loose, ankle length, T shaped robe made from one bolt of fabric, cut into 6 rectangular panels. Traditionally worn for formal occasions in Japan, the word Kimono directly translates into “Thing to Wear” in Japanese language.
Kimono is normally worn together with juban (Kimono underwear), a koshi himo belt, datejime sash and a broad decorative belt called a Obi, as this prevents to kimono from opening up and trailing on the floor.
Wearing a Kimono properly can be a complicated task and often requires assistance, especially for a beginners or if you are wearing a ceremonial kimono for a special event. The final look is then completed with white tabi socks and geta shoes. Watch the video below to see what this process looks like in super speed. Continue Reading
A fun, fashionable and fastastical list awesome KAWAII things to do in and around Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Harajuku is a MUST see destination in Tokyo for any fashion fanatic interested in alternative and downright crazy subculture trends, shopping and street style. I spent one week hanging out Harajuku and surrounding Shibuya and Jingumea with Tokyo Way tours in order to uncovered the best shops and most secretive spots that will give Haute Culture readers the most authentic experience when visiting Japan’s fashion capitol.
1. Take a walk down Takeshita street
The beating pulsing flamboyant kawaii heart of Harajuku. Takeshita street has escalated from a small time subculture hangout to a glittering mega brand shopping sensation. Each weekend the 500 meter pedestrian ally is pounded by tens of thousands pink clad teenagers looking to stock up on more cheap and cheer full pink accessories, pink candy floss and pink flavored crepes. I reckon it’s the most pink place in Tokyo. This is the by far the best shopping spot for fun fashion, toys, glitter, costumes, hair accessories, candy, fake eyelashes and sunglasses.
Opposite end of Takeshita street before reaching Jingumae district
Candy covered octopus on the roof of a shop in Takeshita street
Spinns popular fashion shop for vintage and fun fashion
My faves from Harajuku, crazy fashion, crepes, ACDC ensemble and comic covered stairs
I wanted to buy this unicorn soooo bad
Harajuku street style, even the tourists want to look their best
Metallic foil skirts for sale in Spinns, I bought a gold one to wear to the Robot Resturant
Japanese satin bomber jackets were all the rage in Tokyo
ACDC is a youth fashion institution and must visit shop
Silly souvenirs for sale on the main strip
Santa Monica Crepes
Harajuku district in Tokyo is renown as the cute, crazy and cool capital of fashion subcultures around the world. Every week 1000s of fashion fanatics, shopaholics and costume connoisseurs from all over Japan and beyond flock to Haraduku’s lanes, boutiques and malls. There they stock up on the latest trends, spy on emerging street styles and strut their stuff around local landmarks with high hopes of having their portrait papped for the fashion press.
The Lolita look is one of the original and still most popular styles amongst teenage girls in Japan today, as it symbolises everything sweet and “Kawaii” (cute) that Japanese culture obsesses over. On my 2nd morning in Tokyo I headed straight to Maison De Julietta who are acknowledged as the leading Lolita salon. Based in the heart of Harajuku’s most famous shopping center Laforte, they offer a wide range of Lolita’s most popular fashion brands and styles, cosmetic makeovers (including wigs and eyelashes), in-house fairy tale themed photo shoots and most importantly, an insight into the sugar coated style secrets of Japanese youth culture. How could I resist?
Watch the magical makeover in under 2 minutes
Last month Vogue published Tim Walker photography and Karen Elson’s epic expedition into the Kingdom of Bhutan. The editorial explores the striking Himalayan scenery, astonishing Asian architecture and the colourful composition of the countries rich cultural costumes.
Titled “The Land of Dreamy Dreams” the shoot explores a folkloric journey into the wilderness of the beautiful Bhutanese landscape. Couture collections from Céline, Loewe, Prada & Valentino are theatrical styled by Kate Phelan to embrace the drama of the costumes worn in the Cham dances of the monthly Tscheu festivals.
Traditionally part of Tibetan Buddhism (where the Tscheu festivals are now banned), the Bhutanese festivals are large religious social gatherings held on the 10th day of every lunar month. Seen as a form a meditation, Cham dances are performed by Buddhist monks who chant sacred mantras from beneath their costumes. Different dances tell the tales of local gods, myths and legends and are caricatured through garish, comical and often horrifying costumes and masks.
Tim Walker: Karen Elson wearing Gareth Pugh for Vogue May 2015
Tim Walker: Karen Elson for Vogue May 2015
Tim Walker: Karen Elson wearing Simone Rocha for Vogue May 2015
Tim Walker: Karen Elson wearing Alexander McQueen for Vogue May 2015
Photography TIM WALKER
Styling KATE PHELAN
Makeup SAMANTHA BRYANT & hair DUFFY
Model KAREN ELSON
Karen Elson ‘In the Land of Dreamy Dreams’ by Tim Walker for Vogue UK, May 2015
A few months ago I was invited to join a photography project exploring the identity of international residents living in Hanoi. The only mandatory obligation was that the model must wear a headdress of some kind in a bid to disguise their traditional appearance. Intrigued I agreed to participate as I saw it as a rare opportunity to appropriate my Vietnamese hill tribe accessories with contemporary fashion trends for a credible cause. (reading time 10 minutes)
About Babylon 21 Transcending Ethnicity
“This series of photographic portraits by Alisher Sharip represents the diversity of Hanoi, an amazing ethnic and cultural melting pot that is home to people from all around the world.
Moving from portrait to portrait, the viewer’s eyes go on a journey of individuals shaped not only by the communities in which they grew up but also by life in cosmopolitan Hanoi, an environment that often triggers creativity and allows a person the chance to develop abilities otherwise repressed by the demanding social-economic reality of the places they came from.
Life in Hanoi challenges identity at all levels, professional, social, religious and cultural. By stepping out of the stream of daily routine and creating unconventional images, the participants question the concept of ethnicity itself and demonstrate how contemporary cities eliminate ethnic boundaries and create global citizens.” For more information visit the event page on Facebook.
Interview with photography Alisher Sharip
- Can you briefly describe your background and experience in relation to working creatively and living in a multicultural society.
In a way I’ve lived in a multicultural societies for all my life. Born in a mixed family in Uzbekistan (USSR at that time), I grew up in Belarus, did my MA and PhD in St. Petersburg, worked in the US and Vietnam. In all those countries I’ve always been a foreigner occupied in creative fields like icon painting, copywriting, journalism, TV production and scholarly research. The camera has been my working tool since early 2000s and a few years ago I started to make a living as a freelance photographer.
- How did the project start? Are there any personal experiences that inspired the project?
It started spontaneously. I was working on a series of portraits of Mai Khoi the singer, and one day we were having a session with her and another singer, Dong Lan, they both wore scarves on their heads and I was amazed how the beauty of their facial treats stood out. Combining headpieces with ethnic clothes, I experimented the concept with a few other people. Hoang Minh Chau suggested making more similar portraits for an exhibition.
- You previously named the project Ethnica, why did you change the title to Babylon 21: Transcending Ethnicity?
Ethnica sounded too broad. At some point I started thinking how to narrow it down and focus on the national and ethnic diversity of Hanoi. Then the metaphor of Babylon popped out in my mind and I decided to use 21 as a reference to both 21st century and the number of participants that equally distributes gender presence.
- How many people from different cultures and ethnicities are involved in the exhibition?
There are people from different Asian countries, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Quite a few people in the series have mixed ethnic origins.
- What is the significance of the cultural costume, headdresses or props in the portraits?
My idea was to take people out of their everyday context, make them look different but still the way they wanted to look. So I asked them to prepare any sort of ethnic outfit they could think of – not necessarily representing their ethnicity but anything they associated themselves with. It was interesting to observe how some of them preferred their traditional costumes and others experimented putting together various national elements of costume, accessories and props to construct their identity.
- Working in fashion design and specialising in cultural costume I understand that our first impressions are often heavily influenced by the way individuals dress, do you think Babylon 21: Transcending Ethnicity challenges social stereotyping?
In a way it does. When we see a person dressed like that we are puzzled for a moment trying to classify what we see. Traditional “hippie” label doesn’t always work these days so we might have to think of a new decoding system to read people’s style.
- As a participant for me the project aspires to explore, challenge and combine the visual identity of the diverse ethnic and cultural community currently residing in Hanoi, would you say this is a accurate perception?
Yes and no. I didn’t try to show what people really wear in Hanoi in order to create or highlight their identity. It was rather an attempt to change the frame, get rid of conventional brand clothes that we usually wear without thinking twice. I wanted people to look different. And I liked the transformation. Human beauty shines when our ordinary perception is shaken a bit, when we visually slapped in the face and puzzled for a moment. I can’t wait to see participants at the opening, browsing among their portraits, taking selfies next to their framed images and comparing themselves with their photographic doubles.
- Will you reveal the portrait participants true ethnicity or will the observer have to guess?
I decided not to reveal their ethnic identities. Let it be a little hide and seek for the audience.
- How do you think multicultural communities have changed the creative scene in Vietnam over the past 10 years?
Dramatically. I came here 8 years ago and couldn’t find a joint with live music. Vietnamese artists were trying to create new forms coming up with something that had been out of date at the Western art scene for decades. I observed the emergence of the musical groups and was myself a part of it for a few years. I remember how traveling musicians Jason and Luke started Cinemusic Wednesdays and Phuong Dang was a part of it too and the place was always packed with local and foreign listeners. Now you can just open Grapewine or TNH and pick a gig where to go every day. It’s a completely different world and huge part of this change is multicultural influence.
On Wednesday 3rd June 2015 my portrait and 20 others will feature in a photography exhibition titled Babylon 21, exploring how contemporary multicultural living in the 21st century can challenge, change and create continuous conversation questioning who we perceive people to be based on their appearance.
Babylon 21 photography exhibition opens on Wednesday 3rd June 2015 at 6pm at Chula 43, NHAT CHIEU , 396 LAC LONG QUAN, Hanoi, Vietnam.