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Spring Picks: Fashion’s Greatest Reads

Meghan Markle: The Biggest Influencer of All?

As the former actress Meghan Markle steps onto the global stage, The New York Times writes that she “has the potential to change the perception of fashion brands, the royal family and much more”:

In today’s influencer culture, when an individual’s ability to ignite far-reaching trends simply by dint of her own appeal is more effective than any advertising campaign, and a photo can carry a message round the world more powerfully than any words, it is beginning to seem as if Ms. Markle could be the most influential of all.

Inside The Fake News Campaign To Smear Russia’s Biggest Fashion Influencers

Refinery29 reporters Connie Wang & Valerie Stivers write about the massive fashion smear campaign against some of the biggest Russian fashion influencers. It very nearly worked, too, building on Western skepticism of everything Russian and dubious information from a group calling themselves “Kiev Fashion Resistance”.

…it seemed that whoever was behind the “Kiev Fashion Resistance” was capitalizing off America’s newfound anti-Russia frenzy. Between Trump, Putin and the widely held belief that Russia used Americans’ love of Facebook, viral videos, and memes to pull off one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in American history, the fear around Russian influence is at once real and also mysterious […] has led to a climate particularly ripe for spreading conspiracy theories.

The article also discusses the double role of fashion reporters as influencers and their eagerness to jump the moral gun:

Beyond just commenting on straightforward fashion news — seasonal trends, designer switch-ups, new collections — influencers have also become crucial drivers of call-out culture, pointing out instances in which creatives have been insensitive or lazy with their designs and marketing. “Fashion influencers are primed for righteous indignation,” said vice president of journalism school The Poynter Institute Kelly McBride. “They get a lot of social reward for taking on causes and calling out bad guys.”

The spectacular power of Big Lens

Almost everyone wears glasses at some point in their life. Or as Sam Knight of The Guardian puts it, it is hard to think of “another object in our society which is both a medical device that you don’t want and a fashion accessory which you do.” It can also be surprising to discover that you perceive the world thanks to two giant companies that you have never heard of: Essilor, which makes the lenses, and Luxottica, which makes the frames.

Around 1.4 billion of usrely on their products to drive to work, read on the beach, follow the whiteboard in biology lessons, type text messages to our grandchildren, land aircraft, watch old movies, write dissertations and glance across restaurants, hoping to look slightly more intelligent and interesting than we actually are. Last year, the two companies had a combined customer base that is somewhere between Apple’s and Facebook’s, but with none of the hassle and scrutiny of being as well known.

Now they are becoming one. On 1 March, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for the world’s largest optical companies to form a single corporation, which will be known as EssilorLuxottica.

The article explains how big a deal the merger really is:

It will have knock-on consequences for opticians and eyewear manufacturers from Hong Kong to Peru. But it is also a response to an unprecedented moment in the story of human vision – namely, the accelerating degradation of our eyes.

A History of Festival Style—and How Beyoncé Just Changed It Forever

This is a terrific run-down of festival attire history, leading up to,

The pseudo-hippie, loose but groomed festival style canon emerged at the turn of this century, epitomized by willowy “boho” blondes like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, who tromped around England’s famed Glastonbury Festival in mud-spackled Wellies and flimsy sundresses. […] To this day, the “festival style” sections of retailers like H&M and Forever21 are filled with bohemian garments that look pulled from the stage wardrobes of Janis Joplin or Mick Jagger, filtered through Miller and Moss’s glossy ideal.

Beyoncé to the rescue. At the Coachella festival she showed that fantasy doesn’t have to be escapism. You don’t have to go to a musical festival to imagine something that never existed; you can use it to imagine something that does not exist yet.