To Quote, or Not to Quote

If you look closely, inspirational quotes are everywhere. From billboards to campaign slogans, we can’t escape a motivational quote. But is it becoming too much?  

By Susan Devaney

To Quote or Not to Quote

How many inspirational quotes have you read on Instagram alone in the past week? Maybe 20? Possibly 50? I’m willing to bet over 100. Uploading a ‘quote of the day’ is quickly becoming our way of saying ‘this sums up how I’m feeling’ or ‘read this and you’ll feel better’. From Facebook to Twitter, we’re picking and posting motivational quotes to promote on our newsfeeds. 

Have we become obsessed with quotes? 

To Quote or Not to Quote

In 2013, Forbes ran a list of the most influential people on social media. People who topped the list all had one thing in common: they posted and promoted motivational content. (Even when you log onto Forbes.com you’ll be greeted with their ‘quote of the day’.) It's social media that’s providing a solid platform for it. Currently, one of the top trending hashtags is #QuoteOfTheDay. If you type it into Instagram you'll be met with over 10 million results. Could it be a strategic marketing tool or a motivational mind game? 

Gonzalo Arzuaga, an internet entrepreneur sold his company GauchoNet.com for several million to fund his new business Inspower (as in: inspirational power). Selling motivational packages to businesses, from inspirational thoughts plastered across their mirrors to a motivational prep talk in the lift. He also runs Inspirational Quotes, a Twitter account – with an estimated reaching power of over two million - with a tag line of: ‘We love inspirational and motivational quotes. Every person has got a quote that helps them be the best they can be.’

Celebrities are in on it too. Whether they’re posting encouraging lyrics from their own songs or quoting an inspirational leader, they too find a sense of hope in a quote. The site QuoteTags.com - operated by a company in Santa Monica - endorse trending quotes online. From funny to heartbroken to relationships, the site categorises inspirational quotes by celebrities on Instagram and their current ratings. The Kardashians are prime examples in leading the way with their motivational snapshots. From Kendall to Khloe, they love to channel the encouraging thoughts of someone else. Someone – but whom, who is doing the quoting? That’s the problem. All across Pinterest, Instagram and on our Facebook walls are quotes from nameless individuals. 

All images courtesy of Instagram.

From the backs of our shampoo bottles to our kitchen tea towels, they’ve seeped into all corners of our lives. A motivational quote can be beautiful, but being forced to read them on a daily basis is dampening the ‘stop and make you think’ effect. Quotes may give some of us a sense of hope and strength, but less is always more. 

To Quote or Not to Quote

Music in Film: The Leading Ladies

Following the release of the documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? we take a glance at the leading ladies in films inspired by music.

By Christopher Prince

 

Music in Film The Leading Ladies

/1. What Happened, Miss Simone?
Liz Garbus

The latest addition to the ever-growing Netflix catalogue sees Nina Simone brought to life through the eyes of director, Liz Garbus. Combining unreleased footage of Simone along with interviews with her family – namely Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, who served as the films executive producer, and accounts from friends, What Happened, Miss Simone? is a poignant tale of one of America’s most celebrated jazz artists.

Simone not only transcended the music industry, but also the lives of her supporters as she championed the African-American civil rights movement through much of her recordings and live performance repertoire. The singer recorded more than 40 albums in her career fusing the sounds of gospel, pop, jazz and classical music during her peak years from the late fifties to the early seventies.

Music in Film The Leading Ladies

/2. Florence Foster Jenkins
Stephen Frears

The upcoming American dramatic film based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins may have an undetermined release date, but with a leading cast boasting Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, the film has already been discussed as a shoo-in for the Academy Awards. Charting the true story of Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) - a wealthy socialite who used her family's money to promote herself as a legitimate opera singer despite being ridiculed by the public for having a terrible voice - the film, directed by Stepehen Frears (The Queen (2006), Philomena (2013)) will focus on Foster Jenkins' career in New York between the 1930s and 40s. 

Music in Film The Leading Ladies

/3. Amy
Asif Kapadia

Much of what has already been written about Asif Kapadia's touching documentary Amy, based on the life and times of jazz phenomenon Amy Winehouse, focuses on the demise of the singer during her final days. Yet Kapadia's deft attempt at portraying Winehouse as both a social and culture figure of our time is perhaps one of the most successful elements of this 2015 musical love letter.

Through passages from family and friends, inclusive of unearthed camera footage and behind-the-scenes clips, the film challenges Winehouses's see-saw attempt of trying to balance the price of fame with the naivety of her intrinsic talent. Debuted at this year's Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim, Amy will be released worldwide next month.

Music in Film The Leading Ladies

/4. Ricki and the Flash
Jonathan Demme

Though not a music documentary as such, Jonathan Demme's direction of Ricki and the Flash, set to be released this August, showcases the troubles an artist faces when deciding between family and fame. Meryl Streep crops up again in the film's leading role as Ricki, an ageing rockstar who abandoned her family to seek success. Alongside Streep is her daughter Mamie Gummer - the third time both mother and daughter have starred together (Heartburn (1986), The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Evening (2007)) - as Julie, the divorced daughter of Ricki and Kevin Kline (Sophie's Choice (1982) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988)) as Ricki's ex-husband.

Much of the film centres on Ricki's damaged relationship with her estranged son Joshua (Sebastian Stan), and her attempts to navigate a life she has never been a part of.

Female music protagonists have been the subject of numerous films over recent years. Take the 2010 revival of The Runaways - a rebellious, rip-roaring account of the 1970s all-girl rock band of the same name starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. Marion Cotillard's leading performance as Edith Piaf in the critically acclaimed French biographical film La Vie en rose (2007), garnered her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Bill Condon's musical Dreamgirls (2006) adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name and loosely based on American Motown group, The Supremes, also won Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The two standout musical biographies from the nineties saw Selena (1997) and What's Love Got to Do with It (1993) chart the fame of Selena (Jennifer Lopez) and Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) respectively as global music icons.

Cannes: 10 Things you Didn't Know

MOJEH.com have found 10 things you didn’t know about your favourite Cannes films, from original castings to screen debuts and dramatic makeovers – the festival’s movies have more behind-the-scene surprises than the event itself.

By Jemma Walker

Cannes 10 Things you Didn t Know

1. In the dark comedy The Lobster, Jason Clarke was originally cast as the protagonist, but was later replaced by Colin Farrell after having to drop out due to conflicting schedules.

2. In Mad Max: Fury Road Charlize Theron shaved her head, featuring as Furiosa the one armed, female survivor of the apocalypse; she then had to wear a wig while filming her next movie A Million Ways to Die in the West.

3. Some of the filming for The Sea of Trees took place near Mount Fuji - also known as the ‘suicide forest’. It’s rumored to be haunted by Japanese ghosts called ‘Yurei’ known for their anger at their own untimely deaths - 'Yurei' weren't the only ones moaning about Gus Van Sant's American drama.

4. Sicario translates to 'hitman' in the Spanish language.

5. Marion Cotillard replaced Natalie Portman in Macbeth, as Portman dropped out just before filming started - with the Shakespeare adaptation emerging as the thespian hit of the festival - it was a blessing in disguise. 

Cannes 10 Things you Didn t Know

6. Louder Than Bombs is the first Norwegian film to feature in the main competition at Cannes Film Festival in nearly 40 years.

7. Amazingly over 80 percent of the stunts, set, make-up and practical effects in the post-apocalyptic action movie Mad Max: Fury Road were done in-camera without the aid of digital post-production. CGI effects were only used to increase the realism of Charlize Theron’s character’s prosthetic hand and to enhance the landscape.

8. Palme d’Or winner Dheepan’s protagonists Dheepan played by Jesuthasan Antonythsan and Yalini played by Kalieaswari Srinivasan, both made their screen debuts in the film that won Cannes Film Festival’s most prestigious award.

9. There’s only 97 shots in Chronic which last under a minute each.

10. Film4 boss Tessa Ross fought for a staggering 11 years to get the film Carol made.

Spending Power

Laura Beaney

November 15th 2017

Why buy a Chanel Boy wristwatch when Timex’s offering serves the same function? Veblen was among the first to describe how the wealthy used their purchasing choices to display their wealth and power and he theorised that certain products could defy the economic laws of gravity by garnering greater demand through ultra-high prices. Why buy a Chanel Boy wristwatch when Timex’s offering serves the same function? To assert power and status, claims Veblen. And while today, status remains central to our societal norms, conspicuous consumption, which became deeply embedded in much of 20th Century material culture and is present in everything from the latest AED3,673 iPhone X to a croc-skin Hermes Kelly, is now at a crossroads.

Thanks to Veblen, status was previously associated with owning things, but now almost anyone can do that. Manufacturing has become cheaper, while credit cards, installment plans and loans enable those in the West to access expensive items that might have previously been out of reach. In her recent research into the decline of conspicuous consumption among wealthy Americans Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, James Irvine chair in urban and regional planning and professor of public policy at the Price School, highlights that while conspicuous consumption had increased for low-income households between 1996 to 2014, it had actually declined amongst the wealthiest.

Indeed, luxurious goods in the traditional sense have become democratised, affording them with less exclusivity and allure but the ways we consume, contribute and interact are also changing and this has been fuelled by the confluence of two major factors that have spurred a transformation in our priorities as buyers. Firstly, populations have soared globally, which has led to an influx of dense urban areas, placing importance upon sustainability to counter shrinking resources. Secondly, technology and its ubiquitous connectivity means that people are now more connected than ever before. These new dynamics work in unison to ignite a fundamental shift, altering how and where we, as customers, want to spend.

So as conspicuous spending becomes passé what are the current markers of status? In her book The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class, Currid-Halkett humourously describes the new elite as those that care more about discreet, inconspicuous consumption like ‘eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes’. “They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children’s growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates,” she quips.

Luxurious goods in the traditional sense have become democratised, affording them with less exclusivity and allure

A study in The Journal of Marketing published by academics Vargo and Lusch, also argues that the world’s dominant economic logic based on the exchange of ‘goods’ had been supplanted by a new, more intangible dominant logic based on the provision of services and co-creation. “A lot of consumption patterns are still based on the status of owning ‘stuff’ – otherwise the luxury industry would have gone out of business – but people do tend to place a high, intrinsic value not just on the thrill of having a unique experience, but being able to share and distribute that experience across social media and within their network,” explains Paul Kemp-Robertson, co-founder and editorial director of Contagious Communications, a multi-platform marketing resource, who recently gave a TedTalk on Bitcoin and the future of branded currency.

“We referred to this as 15 Megabytes of Fame, rather than Warhol’s 20th Century version: Your 15 Minutes of Fame,” he continues. Kemp-Robertson believes that the key markers of social status today involve having access to unique, exclusive, time-sensitive, experiences that make you “look like a maven” on social media or the private ‘dark social’ platforms, like Snapchat, Whatsapp and SMS. “People seem to get a bigger kick out of being their own carefully-curated media channel than owning the latest gadget,” he suggests.

OneFineStay take the home-sharing sentiment to new levels of luxury
OneFineStay take the home-sharing sentiment to new levels of luxury

Typically our wants and needs haven’t changed that much. We still watch movies at home, need local transportation and want to connect with others. But the early adopters that foresaw how technology could transform these desires, namely Netflix, Uber and Whatsapp are now taking ownership of these sectors. Indeed technology, in particular mobile technology which is responsible for everything from online banking to transportation of goods, restaurant bookings, accommodation, work-sharing and of course communication, is a driver behind the current trend towards owning less ‘stuff’.

Being a ‘two-car household’ was once a signifier of status, but now millennials are challenging and contesting this definition, attaching more status to being a one or even zero-car family, utilising services like Careem, and Uber, and looking to concepts like Udrive, a UAE-based service that lets users rent a car by the minute. It’s seen to be far more savvy to use a vehicle exactly when and where you need to.

“I think today we are ripe for re-fragmentation: escaping some of the illusion of ownership,” says Raja Haddad CEO at DOLO, a location- based message board app for socialising and discovering what’s happening around you. “You can start placing Uber and AirBnB into moves toward re-fragmentation and taking back individual desires and whims. They are ephemeral experiences based on my needs of the moment. I don’t need to own a big structured world, I just need to own my here and now, in a way that leaves me more fulfilled, more flexible, more fluid to evolve as I wish.”

And rather than populating our personal space with more and more ‘things’, sharing platforms unleash potential in objects and spaces that once were idle. “I come from Lebanon, a country known for its strong family and friendship bonds where it’s rare that you find yourself in need of something that someone can’t lend to you,” says Krystel Hoche, founder of Yo Neighbor!, an application that lets users rent and share everyday items ranging from camping equipment to DIY tools within their own community. “After spending a few years in the same building in the UAE I barely knew anyone, therefore whenever I needed anything, even if I only needed to use it once,I had to go and buy it and then find storage space for it,” she continues. “I figured a lot of people were in the same situation with either an occasional need for an item or owning items they rarely use. Then it came to me – what if we can rent instead of buying those items.”

Outside of Lebanon’s famed hospitable and interactive environment there had to be a cultural shift in order for us to be comfortable with sharing our cars and homes and borrowing other people’s things. But it seems that we are ready, and even with the sharing economy there are still different levels of engagement. “I don’t think sharing economies will challenge class divides because there are still so many tiers and options in each of these categories that cater to almost all socioeconomic segments of the population,” says David Hay, founder of Spacegrab - a service which allows business owners to enter or exit from a leasehold in a seamless manner. Go to AirBnb, for example and for AED260,000 a night you can rent out an entire country, namely the principality of Liechtenstein that comes complete with customised street signs and a temporary currency.

From task handling to home lending, co-working, & vehicle sharing, the sharing economy is rapidly opening up in surprising ways

And then there’s AirBnb’s grown up, highly-polished opponent, Onefinestay. Run under a similar sharing model, Onefinestay offers exclusive access to premium properties across the globe in hotspots like LA, London, St Lucia, Japan, and Vietnam. Their database is rigorously assessed and villas and apartments are managed - stocked with the bed linens, grooming products and towels that one would expect to find at a five-star resort. One fundamental difference that might make this all the more appealing for those pushed for time is that there is no interaction between the homeowner and the guests. Instead, they are received into the home by a Onefinestay employee.

From task handling to home lending, co-working, and vehicle sharing, the sharing economy is rapidly opening up in surprising and diverse directions that see us spending and sharing in ways that even Veblen could not have predicted. Luxury, as we once knew it, is transforming. Jets, yachts and Malibu villas can all be rented by the hour and are becoming increasingly accessible, while the wealthy favour inconspicuous, efficient and experience- driven acts of spending. Embodying the current climate for accessibility over ownership, sharing, in all its guises taps into what is often labelled as the greatest luxury of them all – time.

Generation Y Job-Hop

The once insatiable enthusiasm for the profession you committed to in your Twenties has dwindled. After years of experience fine-tuning skillsets and developing knowledge about your chosen area of expertise, dashing in-between work meetings and coffee runs, you find yourself wondering: is this really what I want? Women in their Thirties and Forties often face a series of momentous life decisions – most of which impact our professional careers – and in an era where opportunities are plentiful, Future Workplace estimates that 91 per cent of Generation Y expect to stay in each job for less than three years.

Generally speaking, transitional job-hopping involves at least one company change after 12-36 months, and while the younger generation gets bad press because of this tendency, the stigma is quickly losing steam. “There has been a shift in attitudes towards one’s life and career in the last 20 years,” insists Zeta Yarwood, a qualified NLP career and life coach. “It used to be a case of simply finding a job that pays well, looks good on paper and offers job security for life.” Nowadays women are more likely than their predecessors to job-hop, according to a LinkedIn study, and in an increasingly interconnected world, a career change can seem tempting.

Hallie Crawford runs her own boutique career coaching firm. “Job-hopping is becoming more common because it’s a way to change your location, company culture, earn more money or get a promotion. It’s more common because people are able to work remotely, and more people want to find a job that they truly enjoy versus staying at one position that’s not a good fit.” It’s not uncommon for women to feel that they’ve achieved most of what they want from their career after a decade or so of working full-time. By the time they’ve logged on to start their job search, some will quickly dismiss the idea as wishful thinking, but for many, changing careers is exciting and achievable.

The Way We Work photographed by Vivienne Balla MOJEH Issue 40
The Way We Work, photographed by Vivienne Balla, MOJEH Issue 40

Debra Wheatman, founder and president of Careers Done Write, is a certified résumé writer. “It’s incumbent upon each of us to actively manage our own careers. Gone are the days of lifetime employment with one employer.” Be that as it may, while companies are sympathetic to the plight of twenty-somethings who’ve worked multiple jobs in the hope that they’ll break into their desired field, will an experienced candidate’s history of short-term employment be held against them? Wheatman doesn’t think so. “Changing roles is essential to staying fresh,” she insists. “Years ago, managers wouldn’t look at a résumé that’s peppered with short-term stints.  These days, spending more than three or four years in the same role will get you the side-eye.”

After all, the bulk of today’s workforce are both the pioneers and guinea pigs of the digital age; better connected than any generation that’s gone before them. It’s no surprise that these tech-savvy workers are functioning differently to their foregoers, and instant gratification, argues Yarwood, makes Generation Y more likely to chop and change. Online dating websites immediately introduce us to new love interests, while search engines have replaced perusing old libraries for research. “Technology has created a world and perception that we must be happy all the time, and we can be in an instant. But this also means as soon as people become bored or unhappy in their jobs, they quit.” It seems that for job-hoppers to be successful, they must give an adequate explanation for their professional manoeuvres when asked, because ultimately changing jobs regularly results in a higher salary and an increase in control. “It [job-hopping] allows you to experience different fields, industries, companies and locations. This helps you identify what you enjoy and what you’re good at, and can give you a more rounded skillset,” says Yarwood, before adding that an international increase in opportunities for women has also influenced women’s professional development. “In previous generations, many women were raising children in their Thirties and Forties, with their careers temporarily taking a back seat. Now, more and more women are putting off having children and are making their career a priority.”

After all, personal responsibilities result in expense: marriage is often followed by buying a house, raising children, paying for a mortgage, as well as school fees, and family vacations. A steady paycheque and company benefits were formerly essential, but nowadays women are more able to react to the rich and lucrative job market. Marriage and home ownership are at historically low rates among today’s adults, and new posts can offer luxurious relocation packages and more money. “A woman’s range of options in previous generations were fairly limited,” reminds Wheatman, whereas now she pursues opportunity. “She actively keeps an eye out,” says Wheatman, “and networks aggressively. She never lets her career go on cruise control.”

The notion that workers should force themselves to stick it out at a job that they’re unhappy in, because future employers might spurn them for multiple short-term jobs or a considerable career change, is antiquated. After all, why should we let our career languish at a company in which we’re slow moving, albeit successful? The fear of the unknown binds unsuspecting employees to dead-end positions, and subsequently many are neglecting their quest for career happiness. No matter one’s profession or title, work gives a person an identity and while there are no guarantees, it’s important to find work that’s meaningful and engaging. To do that, you must be willing to take the risk.

Chanel In Capri

While Chanel is revered for its monochromatic charm this newly opened boutique space in Capri offers the brand’s cult-following something altogether new. When in Capri over the summer it’s a must-visit destination.

Bulgari x Bistrot Bagatelle: Diamonds For Dinner

Bulgari, an opulent maison of refined luxury and high jewellery, has released a plethora of deliciously decadent images showcasing their exceptional handcrafted creations. The location? Bistrot Bagatelle, one of Dubai’s most fashionable and exclusive dining destinations.

Cannes Film Festival: MOJEH’s Edit

For 70 years, Cannes Film Festival has brought the international community an exclusive insight into the glitz and glamour associated with Hollywood and, subsequently, the finest successes in film making. It’s easy to forget that the various groundbreaking documentaries and feature films showcased on the silver screen are taken just as seriously as the star-studded red carpet appearances. As such, here’s MOJEH’s edit of the most acclaimed film releases from the annual event’s 70th edition.

Les Fant mes d Ismael stars Mathieu Amalric Marion Cotillard and Charlotte
Les Fantômes d'Ismael stars Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg

Les Fantômes d’Ismaël

Arnaud Desplechin’s latest production stars brunette beauty Marion Cotillard alongside James Bond villain Mathieu Amalric and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Entitled Les Fantômes d’Ismaël, Desplechin’s release had the privilege of opening this year’s highly anticipated festival; somewhat fitting considering that the then-budding director and writer’s feature debut, The Sentinel, played in competition exactly 25 years ago. Known for his thought-provoking and culturally relevant productions, diplomacy and foreign affairs are recurring topics present in much of his work. Les Fantômes d’Ismaël is no exception, and follows a filmmaker whose life descends into chaos following the return of a former lover.

Inspired by a screenplay by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou The Killing of the
Inspired by a screenplay by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, The Killing of the Sacred Deer is a thriller-horror

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The 70th edition of Cannes Film Festival has boosted longstanding actress Nicole Kidman’s reputation as a critically acclaimed household name. Things have certainly taken a turn for the better since she wowed in this year’s release, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Kidman’s last performance at Cannes was back in 2014, when she starred in the box office flop, Grace of Monaco. She’s since come out on top, after even the most hard-to-please critics praised her platinum-streaked performance in the Yorgos Lanthimos’s production. An intriguing, but equally disturbing, thriller boasts a nail-bitingly tense orchestral score. Kidman’s co-star Colin Farrell also enjoyed overwhelming praise for playing a successful cardiac surgeon whose withdrawn and introspective mannerisms elude to a simmering tension.

120 Beats Per Minute is a 2017 French drama film directed by Robin Campillo
120 Beats Per Minute is a 2017 French drama film directed by Robin Campillo

120 Beats Per Minute

MOJEH’s editor in chief Mojeh Izadpanah attended the exclusive screening of arguably the most eagerly anticipated film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. 120 Battements Par Minute (120 Beats Per Minute) explores the complex and, often, disastrous relationship between France’s HIV-positive youth and the country’s pharmaceutical companies who were responsible with providing effective medical treatment in early-Nineties Paris. “Robin Campillo’s Cannes competition film gracefully, sharply humanizes a historical tragedy,” Richard Lawson writes for Vanity Fair. “[The] deeply effective 120 Beats Per Minute is half sober and surveying docudrama, half wrenching personal illness narrative.”

Something Borrowed

Laura Beaney

May 17th 2017
Before the ceremony the bride posed for official wedding portraits in a series
Before the ceremony, the bride posed for official wedding portraits in a series of Elie Saab couture gowns

It was China’s most highly anticipated wedding that saw the actress and singer wed Huang Xiaoming, another of the country’s young, shining stars. Their extravagant ceremony reportedly cost AED 92,000,100, a figure on par with that of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The bride wore a six-figure, six-carat Chaumet diamond ring, and had recently returned from Paris, where she posed in a series of Elie Saab couture gowns before the Eiffel Tower for her official wedding portraits. The lavish affair is symbolic of China’s new generation with new attitudes towards nuptials. While nearby India is known for boasting an extravagant wedding scene of its own, its opulent affairs tend to stay true to practices of the past, with gowns relying on traditional handwork and produced locally. China, on the other hand, proposes a new approach, taking contemporary cues from the West while upholding age-old traditions – its wedding industry is estimated to be worth between AED 183 billion and AED 293 billion.

The rise in China’s burgeoning wedding market can be attributed to several factors. “Today’s millennial bride is usually an only child with both sets of parents available to contribute financial resources,” says Ling Ying, who founded Weddings by Ling in Los Angeles in 2009. Ying quickly entered into the Chinese market due to its rapid development and need for high-end planners. China’s one child policy began to be phased out in 2015, but for the vast majority of today’s couples, there are no siblings to contend with, and wedding funds are often boosted further by four sets of grandparents. Second to this, China’s middle class is rising at an exponential rate: In 2000, just 4 per cent of the urban population were considered middle class, but according to a study by McKinsey & Company, 76 per cent will be in this group by 2022. 

As China’s new generation of brides and grooms continue to find their feet, creating their own traditions, there is an opportunity for designers and planners to codify these unique cultural drivers

“Today’s modern Chinese brides aspire to have a Western wedding,” says Ying. “Living in the digital world, it’s easier for brides to have access to information and trends from leading wedding markets like the US, making them more informed and trend-savvy. She knows what brands she wants to purchase, and what styles and colours are in for the season.” What makes China’s current industry so fascinating is its East-meets-West aesthetic. Often in puritanical republics, there’s a sense of yearning for the gilded ways of the overthrown aristocracy and in China, this is infused with a thirst for technology and a fascination with Hollywood; they’re also a nation that loves to shop abroad, and China’s citizens are enamoured by America’s TV-ready lifestyles and luxury brands.

The result is a Western-style ceremony with Chinese rituals. In the past, Chinese weddings were highly concerned with customs, from pre-wedding practices hailing from the Han dynasty, such as the selection of an auspicious wedding day based on the lunar calendar, and tea-pouring ceremonies. “Now they often add in a Western touch at the banquet, such as a wedding cake-cutting ceremony,” says Baileys of Vera Wang and Central Weddings Hong Kong. Western weddings tend to be a more intimate affair, with a focus on religion. “We often refer to it as the ‘Ceremony of God’,” says Ying. “By contrast, traditional Chinese weddings come across more like a production. They can be more glitzy, loud, and larger in size.” But, today’s couples tend to more selective, taking on traditions in-line with their taste and budget. “Most of them just want their wedding to be completely different from their friends and relatives,” says Ying. “It’s all about impressing their guests.” With Chinese weddings, the volumes are vast.

Regardless of whether you’re in the East or West, we somehow have the same expectation for our wedding to be one of the most beautiful moments in our lives

Guo Pei

They are weddings ‘for the people’, with guest numbers ranging from 200 to over a thousand, or in the case of Angelababy, 2,000. Dining comes in the form of an eight-course banquet, typically served with dish names that convey well-wishes for the newly-weds.

As well as audience, costume also comes into play when considering the magnitude of these weddings. The Chinese bride must consider several changes, starting with the Qua, a traditional Chinese wedding gown. “It’s usually in red, gold or silver embroidery, with dragons and phoenix designs,” explains Kalam Chu, a makeup artist who has attended over 700 Chinese weddings. The bride then usually wears a white dress as her main gown, followed by two to three evening dresses. “They prefer A-line and ball gowns, and also like a lot of embellishment,” explains Baileys, whose boutique houses designers like Vera Wang, Marchesa, and Monique Lhuillier. “I have once helped a couple of brides who had six outfits for a 12-hour wedding: the traditional Qua, two wedding gowns, a Chinese Zhipao and two evening gowns,” says Chu.

Like Angelababy, China’s elite are proud to assert their national identity and spending power. And, while she wore Dior couture as her main gown, the couple looked to the virtuosity of Guo Pei’s needlework for their tea ceremony. “Around five years ago, I made a gown for a client that was worth AED 1,066,866,” says Guo Pei, whose fine gold-threaded designs and themes of porcelain, fans and scrolls convey the sense of China’s longing for imperial grandeur. However, Pei maintains that ‘lavish’ is not a term she associates with the weddings of her region. “People with economic means do like to have high demands in terms of aesthetics. One of the reasons is because they are wealthier than before, but mostly it is because Chinese people have a strong sense of family and they take the ceremony seriously.”

Intriguing from more than just a cultural perspective, China presents a huge opportunity for Western designers to meet its growing demand. White dresses, honeymoons, cake- cutting and diamond engagement rings are becoming ubiquitous, but there’s still a strong sense of importance placed upon the past. As China’s new generation of brides and grooms continue to find their feet, creating their own traditions, there is an opportunity for designers and planners to codify these unique cultural drivers. “I once was a bride,” smiles Pei. “Regardless of whether you’re in the East or West, we somehow have the same expectation for our wedding to be one of the most beautiful moments in our lives.” 

The Art Of Colour

The Art Of Colour

Yesterday we got a glimpse at the long-awaited Dior, The Art of Colour exhibition fronted by supermodel Bella Hadid. The 20-year-old stunner was in the company of Dior’s creative and image director Peter Philips, the mastermind behind the incredible exhibition. Paying homage to Dior Beauty, largescale images taken from the fashion House's book were mounted against pristine white walls. Dior, The Art of Colour is a retrospective of the extensive and dynamic history of brand, as well as its close relationship with makeup - a partnership that began in 1967, when Christian Dior commissioned Serge Lutens to create a beauty line. Some of the most iconic images from Lutens are documented in the book along with many other stunning shots. The exhibition is currently on display at The Dubai Mall until April 23.

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