The leggings shaming is real and it’s not okay

United Airlines’ recent leggings ban has done much more than anger the online world — it’s sparked an important discussion about the ongoing struggle women face dress in regards to unfair dress codes.

Though the great “should leggings be considered pants?” debate has been around for years, the controversy surrounding women’s dress codes was furiously reignited after Shannon Watts tweeted about two girls being banned from boarding a flight until they changed out of the leggings.

Following the severe backlash, Jonathan Guerin, a spokesperson at United Airlines, assuredMashable that the leggings restriction solely applies to a select group of people: employees and their “pass riders,” friends or relatives of United employees who receive free or heavily discounted travel. All other passengers are invited to wear their leggings onboard United flights.

Why your worries are completely justified

Still, if you’re a woman and you’re flying as a pass rider, you are held to a much higher dress standard than others on your flight — including being expected to leave your comfy, form-fitting leggings at home.

“Women are always damned if they do, damned if they don’t,” Dana Suchow — a writer, stylist, and activist who runs Do The Hotpants, a body-positive blog focused on women’s empowerment — told Mashable. “It seems like women exist solely to be judged by others and that there’s no space in which women are safe in to exist in the way that we want to exist … It goes from policing how much makeup we wear to how our hair is done or if our nails are a certain color.”

Other women agree. They rallied on Twitter to offer support and reflect on the fashion regulations that have made them feel “embarrassed” or “sexualized” by others.

Though United’s official statement casts its response as simply following a procedure that “most companies” also enforce, on Sunday, Twitter user Dana Schwartz explained why the dress code controversy matters so much.

Schwartz encouraged women to vocalize their own thoughts on the incident by sharing an anecdote about her shorts being too short in fifth grade. She also put the problem into visual terms by sharing a powerful drawing of a girl wearing “acceptable” clothing on one half of her body and “unacceptable” clothing on the other half.

As dozens of women opened up about dress code-related pressures and negative experiences they’ve had in their own lives — in schools, during extracurricular activities and even at their  places of employment —  the problematic expectations of women’s fashion and bodies became increasingly clear. The stories shared, which included criticism for too much jewelry and cleavage, or not enough length, fabric or footwear, are nothing new and often straddle the line between enforcing “appropriate” fashion and slut-shaming.

“I want those girls to know they’re not alone,” Suchow said. “Even though it feels like the world and schools and plane companies and every place that spends money are against you, there are people who fighting for you and going through the same things. There are people who love you and know your worth more than what you’re wearing or how much makeup you have on.”

As beautifully displayed on an oversized white T-shirt by Isabella Villegas — an 18-year-old girl who recently came to her 13-year-old’s sister’s defense after she was told her off-the-shoulder top was too revealing — aside from being complete BS, dress codes can also promote objectification, sexualization and blaming the wearer for the actions of others. And though males are also given certain dress code guidelines, the strict and limiting regulations often lead to a feeling of shame amongst women.

In a 2015 interview with The Atlantic, Maggie Sunseri, producer of Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code — a short film featuring interviews with high school students about the negative impacts of dress codes — explained, “I’ve never seen a boy called out for his attire even though they also break the rules … The dress code makes girls feel self-conscious, ashamed, and uncomfortable in their own bodies.”

Airline dress code drama is nothing new

Though United’s latest dress code drama is making major headlines, this is not the first time women have been asked to change their physical appearance or to cover up by airlines.

Back in 2012, Southwest Airlines found itself in hot water after reportedly confronting a woman on her flight for showing too much cleavage in her flannel shirt. According to Jezebel, the woman, Avital, was told her cleavage was “inappropriate” and that she wouldn’t be able to fly unless she buttoned up a bit more.

“I didn’t want to let the representative’s Big Feelings about my breasts change the way I intended to board my flight,” she told the publication, “And lo and behold, the plane didn’t fall out of the sky … my cleavage did not interfere with the plane’s ability to function properly.”

And though the airline reportedly offered her an apology and a refund on her flight, “to add insult to injury,” Avital explained, “the guy sitting in front of me on the plane was wearing a shirt with an actual Trojan condom embedded behind a clear plastic applique and had no trouble getting on his flight.”

She concluded: “Slut shaming, pure and simple.”

Last May, JetBlue delayed boarding privileges for a 26-year-old woman traveling from Boston to Seattle because of her clothing. As Salon wrote, the Seattle burlesque performer, Maggie McMuffin, was reportedly told her shorts were too short and a gate agent requested she “cover up in order to get on the flight.”

“I felt angry. I felt disrespected. I felt disappointed in the company,” McMuffin told the publication, while JetBlue spokesperson, Morgan Johnston, explained the decision was made with families in mind.

“The gate and onboard crew discussed the customer’s clothing and determined that the burlesque shorts may offend other families on the flight. While the customer was not denied boarding, the crew members politely asked if she could change,” Johnston told Salon.

After purchasing a new pair of shorts, McMuffin reportedly boarded her flight without further incident. JetBlue reportedly sent her a direct message on Twitter after seeing her frustrated tweets, explaining the request came from the pilot.

“It’s getting frustrating and exhausting,” Suchow said, reflecting on the numerous dress code regulations and appearance-based judgements women are constantly faced with. “I just don’t know what the ideal dress for a woman is. I honestly believe that these fake rules exist and keep women focused on their bodies and their appearance.”

“It keeps them shopping and it keeps them spending money instead of fighting for equal rights, fighting for equal pay, fighting for a seat at the table where they are treated equally because we’re so focused on our appearance … that’s what society has told us is important.”

But hey, don’t worry, if airlines don’t want you to wear shorts that come above your knees or shirts that drop any lower than your collarbone there are plenty of other amazing fashion alternatives for you to choose from. The New Yorker jokingly defines appropriate female flying attire as “refraining from showing cleavage, too much leg, or the outline of a human body,” and suggests women wear “a baggy tuxedo that looks like it belonged to a nineteen-thirties tap dancer, or a full hazmat suit.”

But rest assured, you don’t need to take things THAT far. In the winter it’s easy to bundle up in ultra conservative sweaters topped with puffy ski jackets to ensure even someone with x-ray vision won’t be able to make out any semblance of a female figure, and when the hot summer sun arrives you can strip down to light layers, like a nice mumu and baggy sweats, or full-length overalls paired with a fashionable turtleneck.

Sounds great, right? Just great.

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Inside Dolce & Gabbana’s exclusive celebration of life, love, opera and couture

In an age of disposable fashion, does couture still matter? That was the question before me on a chilly day in January when, jet-lagged and seeking answers, I wandered the busy streets in this fashion capital where of-the-moment trends are everywhere, passed from luxury designer house to mass-retail shop window at the speed of Instagram. Even the dogs were dressed in puffer jackets, a staple runway item in many recent fall/winter ’17 collections.

I had come to witness a fashion ritual so exclusive that few know of its existence and even fewer can attend. Dolce & Gabbana’s Alte Artigianalità (High Craftsmanship) is the luxury label’s way of showing its most intricate couture designs to some 350 clients from around the world and a handful of invited fashion journalists.

Decades into the life of their Milan-based fashion label, founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana turned their attention in 2012 to Alte Artigianalità, a three- to four-day destination event that now consists of Alta Moda (its women’s couture show), Alta Sartoria (for men) and the jewelry exhibit Alta Gioielleria. Ahead of the frenzy of Milan’s fashion week, when the label’s ready-to-wear collection must compete with Italy’s many other famous fashion houses, Alte Artigianalità is a chance for Dolce & Gabbana to take center stage and showcase the hundreds of hours that go into designing, cutting and sewing its most exclusive designs.

In late January, Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana staged its exclusive Alte Artigianalità in Milan. Here’s a look at the models lined up at the men’s couture show, Alta Sartoria, along one of the balconies of Teatro alla Scala, which dates back to 1778. (Dolce & Gabbana)

The immersive agenda involves lavish dinners, Dom Pérignon toasts, dance parties into the wee hours and, of course, extravagant fashion shows. After experiencing the up-close world of Dolce & Gabbana, clients have the chance to buy the one-of-a-kind garments and accessories, which, like all couture, can cost the price of a luxury car or small house. (Dolce & Gabbana representatives declined to discuss the exact prices of the couture pieces.)

“The Alte Artigianalità are a dream, something made of wonderful clothes, princesses and magical places,” Dolce said. “Our intent was to create a sort of ‘club’ of people who know each other and come together for very special occasions in which the line between fantasy and reality blurs.”

Dolce & Gabbana’s Alte Artigianalità occurs in Milan each January as fashion journalists begin a season of crisscrossing Europe and the U.S. for major fashion weeks. The label hosts another round of couture shows in July at other Italian destinations, which in the past have included Taormina, Capri, Venice, Portofino and Naples.

The Alte Artigianalità are a dream, something made of wonderful clothes, princesses and magical places.

— Domenico Dolce

“The designers are extremely proud and patriotic Italians, and they want their guests to see the best and beauty of Italy,” said well-known couture client Susan Casden, wife of Beverly Hills real estate magnate Alan Casden. After attending previous Alte Artigianalità gatherings, she was asked by the fashion house to model in last month’s Dolce & Gabbana’s fall/winter ’17 ready-to-wear runway show in Milan with her daughter, Alyssa Fung. The show earned high praise for featuring models of all ages and body shapes, people who actually wear Dolce & Gabbana clothes.

“All our collections are the result of our love for fashion, for life and for people who surround and inspire us every day,” Gabbana said. “We try to keep our creativity alive, traveling, watching old movies and doing research. It is a fundamental part of our work.”

In Southern California, Dolce & Gabbana (with its signature sartorial moves — leopard prints, floral prints and appliqué, pajamas and pinstripe suits) has a loyal following. Clients from the L.A. area regularly make the trek to Italy for Alte Artigianalità. And just this week, the label held its millennial-packed party in Beverly Hills, where actress, singer and fashion icon Zendaya made headlines wearing a sheer Dolce & Gabbana bustier and bold skirt.

From left, Zendaya, Dolce & Gabbana model Bianca Balti, Cameron Dallas and Ireland Baldwin attend Dolce & Gabbana’s party on Thursday, celebrating the spring/summer ’17 collections at the brand’s store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. (Dolce & Gabbana)

I also think they are at the top of their game right now — better than ever.

— Susan Casden on designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana

“The designers love to dress women and they appreciate we are not all alike,” said Casden. “I have found their clothes to be romantic, sexy, fun and yet they also make the most wonderfully fitted serious pantsuits. I also think they are at the top of their game right now — better than ever.”

For actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly, another Dolce & Gabbana client, the brand’s clothes have a timeless quality. “In the ’80s, they weren’t making giant shoulder pads,” she said during a recent phone call from New York. “They were doing their own thing.”

Here’s a look at some of the jewelry presented during Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Gioielleria exhibition on Jan. 27 on the rooftop of one of D&G’s buildings in Milano.

Tilly has had a long relationship with the label and was also part of the attention-getting Milan ready-to-wear show. “Back in the ’90s when I was a movie star, I used to go into the showroom and pick out clothing from the look books. These days I’m doing what’s interesting to me,” said Tilly, who still acts but more recently has become known for poker. “I’m really happy.”

And what’s most interesting to her?

“I want to go to Alta Moda shows and play poker,” said Tilly, who owns a pair of Dolce & Gabbana earrings that took her two years to pay off. “It would be my dream one day to have an Alta Moda gown.”

Models from @dolcegabbana’s Alta Moda runway take their final walk during the spectacular Thursday presentation in #Milano.

We love Giuseppe Verdi. We think he is one of the greatest composers of all times. He is a bastion of Italian history and culture.

— Domenico Dolce

While most luxury-brand couture presentations focus on women’s attire and accessories, Dolce & Gabbana added a men’s collection a few seasons into its Alte Artigianalità events.

“It was a natural process,” Dolce said. “It was our customers’ wives and husbands who started asking for custom-tailored Alta Sartoria pieces. Just like women, men today look for special cuts, unique designs, hand-painted prints, special linings or just simple-yet-dreamy lounge clothes.”

Reminiscing about her previous times at the Alte Artigianalità event, Tilly, who missed this year’s gathering, said, “I think that’s what true art is. It’s not, ‘How many units am I going to sell?’ They’re creating art.… It was really the most amazing experience of my life.”


Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the couture pieces presented by @dolcegabbana during Thursday’s runway presentation in #milano.

I discovered this for myself on an afternoon at Laboratori del Teatro alla Scala, the gigantic facility where the opera house has sets and stage pieces built and where Dolce & Gabbana had its Alte Artigianalità women’s couture show, dinner and after-party. There, Dolce and Gabbana, each dressed in casual menswear, walked a few journalists through racks of velvet, chiffon, denim and cashmere garments, explaining their looks and inspiration. The designers, who aren’t strangers to controversies in the media, said the collection was inspired by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.

@stefanogabbana explains some of the background of tonight’s @dolcegabbana Alta Moda show in Milan while showing handcrafted jeans that will be shown on the runway.

“I’m obsessed about details, whether of a piece of clothing, a set for entertainment productions or simply a well-set table,” Dolce said. “It is at once an obsession and a gift I learned from my father, who was a tailor and passed on to me passion for work and the importance of details and discipline.”

I saw for myself how details mattered to Dolce and Gabbana — from the grand staging of the runways to 24-karat-gold suit pinstripes.

Part 1: The final walk at @dolcegabbana’s men couture show #altasartoria. There were 101 looks shown on the runway on Saturday. The collection was inspired by the life and works of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.

“All our collections are the result of our love for fashion, for life and for people who surround and inspire us every day.

— Stefano Gabbana


Hours before the Alta Moda show, their team, many dressed in what appeared to be white lab coats, put the finishing touches on 100 women’s looks, one runway standout after another — a multi-layered corset gown; hand-painted denim trousers with crystals and micro-jet beading; a cape embroidered with fringe; a sweatshirt in cashmere with a chinchilla fur collar and cuffs; and a kimono in silk organza embellished with mink fur detailing and embroidered with sequins and crystals.

For the men’s show, 101 looks were created, among them, a peak-lapel, two-button red floral velvet brocade jacket; a silk twill robe in a print from old playbills of “Otello” by Verdi; a gray velvet tailcoat rimmed with soft astrakhan and embellished with floral motif embroidery; and grey velvet slippers embellished with a silver cross and crystals. Not to mention details such as 18-karat gold round glasses, exquisite top hats and a bow tie made of fringed black jacquard silk. As if this wasn’t enough, by the label’s count about 70 new pieces of jewelry were featured.

As I sat at the Alta Moda and Alta Sartoria (the men’s show was presented on the stage of the grand opera house, which opened in 1778), the relevancy of couture, so often a far-off fantasy, became real for me. In look after look, I saw that fashion is not only art, fashion is life and passion and finding the music in everything. I saw paintings come alive before my eyes on runways. It was as if Queen Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Rihanna had been channeled by Dolce and Gabbana.

And, of course, there was Verdi.

“We love Giuseppe Verdi,” Dolce said. “We think he is one of the greatest composers of all times. He is a bastion of Italian history and culture.”

“We looked into his private life and let ourselves be carried away by his most intimate and refined self,” said Gabbana, who first went to La Scala when he was 8 years old. “The Ricordi historical archive has allowed us access to Verdi’s private world. The archive’s vintage playbills, musical scores, sketches and letters inspired us in the creation of some of the pieces we presented on our runway.”

Gabbana said they ultimately wanted to present an original and perhaps unknown side of Verdi, adding that one of the intriguing discoveries about the composer, who spent most of his life in Milan and lived in a suite at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, was finding out “that his work is very emotionally charged just like our fashion shows and collections.

Verdi may have died in 1901, but through the designers’ homage, I saw his spirit and rediscovered the magic of art and fashion becoming one.

Days after being embedded in Dolce & Gabbana’s world, I thought about how the Italian fashion house I first discovered decades ago (thanks to being a Madonna fan) had built lasting relationships with its clients and how the brand was about family, love and Italian culture. Was I correct at all?

“For sure,” Dolce told me. “And we would add passion and love for our work.”





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Dealman Reviews

Dealman is an online ecommerce company which offer latest fashion wearables like hoodies, casuals, suits, formals, Shirts, jackets, jeans, pants, tees, dresses, footwear and accessories. They provide products which are latest in fashion and top on trend. Here are few customer scenarios which Dealman had to deal with and see how they resolved it to have a satisfied and happy returning customer.

What People Think About the Difference in Pricing

Dealman offers various branded clothes and claims to have cheapest and best deals across. Once a customer came up and complained that he has bought reebok sun glares which were priced at $56 on Dealman however on reebok website it was marked at $50. Dealman customer care personal quickly noticed it and sent it to concerned department. Within two weeks the prices were corrected on Dealman website and refund with a complimentary gift was sent to the respective customer. Customer was overjoyed and came back to Dealman to make more purchases in recent past.

Delayed Delivery Related Issues

A customer recently shared his story on a website where he appreciated Dealman conviction to have a happy customer. He said that he made a purchase on Dealman and the delivery was supposed to be within fifteen days however it was not delivered in thirty days. He then wrote to Dealman customer care and asked for his products. The Dealman customer care representative explained that the product was found damaged while being shipped and so was returned to the store and a new piece was in transition which may reach within next two days. To my surprise just two hour from my conversation with Dealman I got a call from delivery man who handed over some gift vouchers with my package saying that these are credits for your service gesture due to delay in the delivery and inconvenience caused.

On Fastest Delivery

I am a dad of two teenagers and somehow forgot the birthday of one of my daughter. I remembered only fifteen days prior and wanted to gift her something she likes. I have heard them discussing about Dealman and their products. So I went on the website and made certain purchases and order fast delivery which was available for just few dollars. I happened to make a note while ordering the urgency I am in and want no delay. To my surprise , my package was sent within 48 hours to my doorstep and all fresh and fashionable. I could make up for my daughter’s birthday and all thanks to Dealman.


Reviews on Refund and Cancelled Product

Once I ordered a large junk of products from Dealman. I must say it’s just very difficult to stop shopping on Dealman, once you have been on the website you just keep browsing and adding products to your cart for hours without even realizing how long you have been there. They keep updating it so often that every time you would login you would have a whole new set of products. By chance I ordered for around $2000 dollars but put wrong address. The amount got deducted from my bank account. Its only after one week when I wanted to check the delivery status, that I got to know that I forgot to update my address and the products were shipped to my old address. I was horrified and quickly in haste just cancelled my order. I was nervous as it was $2000 at stake. By evening I got an email from Dealman customer representative that my order has been cancelled successfully and I will receive a check for the amount to be refunded. To my surprise within two days a Delivery man called me and submitted me my $2000 check which passed without any trouble.

Thought on Color Mismatch

I ordered an army jacket from Dealman site since it was too much in trend and Dealman was offering the best prices. It was a branded one and I wanted it so much. It took them around fifteen days to deliver my packet. I was very excited and opened the packet as soon as I received it. I tried the jacket, it fitted perfectly. I was to go on a date with my fiancé and decided to wear it with a pair of newly bought jeans. I was wearing it for a while flaunting it all over my house, when my mother pointed out that there was slight discoloration on backside of my jacket. I got upset and called Dealman customer care number mentioned on the bill. The customer care representative very patiently heard the whole story and apologized for the inconvenience. Then she said that one of their representative will visit us within two days and will take back the damaged piece and a new fresh piece will be dispatched to reach me within next ten days. I wanted to wear it on my date, so queried about fast delivery. She said that by paying few extra dollars I can get my package within two days, to which I agreed. To my surprise the new piece was delivered to me within 48 hours and they did not charge me extra dollars as a compensation to my inconvenience. I liked the way Dealman dealt with my problem and understood the urgency and provided a solution plus they know how to make up for their mistakes. I love Dealman.

Refund Processed Reviews

I ordered a few pair of jeans on Dealman thinking they were branded and would be of good quality, but to my surprise I was not satisfied with deal I got and the product seemed to be first copy of original brand. I quickly called customer care and explained my situation. Dealman quickly agreed to refund my amount and it was processed without hassles within two weeks. I am quite impressed with the professional behavior of the site and would be delighted to order again from them for I know if it do not meet my expectations, my money would be refunded. I usually go on their website and order several products at the ease of my home.

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Chechnya’s First Daughter Shows off Fashion Collection

MOSCOW (Reuters) – In a former czar’s palace in Moscow, models display a fashion collection designed by the 18-year-old daughter of Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Russia’s mainly Muslim region of Chechnya.

The designer, Aishat Kadyrova, showcased a collection of outfits in sumptuous fabrics that conform to the norms of dress in Chechnya’s traditional society, with only the face and hands left uncovered.

Her first Moscow fashion show on Friday night was attended by figures from the Moscow fashion world, from the Chechen elite, as well as representatives from Middle Eastern states — which her fashion house sees as a growing market for her outfits.

Ulzana Zadulayeva, a spokeswoman for the fashion house, told Reuters that the outfits were already being shipped to customers as far afield as Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

She said proposals had come in from people attending Friday’s show to stage shows in other locations. “Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, we will be thinking about these,” said Zadulayeva.

She also said the fashion house was hoping to set up stores in Moscow and St Petersburg under a franchise arrangement.

Aishat Kadyrova’s father is a former separatist fighter-turned pro-Kremlin leader of Chechnya. Human rights groups accuse him of overseeing brutal crackdowns on opponents, an allegation he denies.

According to New York-based group Human Rights Watch, Chechnya’s authorities force women to cover their hair in public spaces and buildings, and ignore harassment of women deemed to be dressed immodestly.

In fashion terms, Ramzan Kadyrov is best-known for going out in public wearing camouflage fatigues or track suits, and for occasionally posing for photographs with a lion he once kept as a pet.

His wife, Medni, set up a fashion house some years ago, called Firdaws. Their daughter Aishat has since taken over the enterprise.



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Is This Store the Best-Kept Secret in Fashion?

A shopper browsing at a branch of United Apparel Liquidators, an off-price retailer in the South. Those looking for high-end designer wear can find big markdowns. Credit Kyle Dean Reinford for The New York Times

NASHVILLE — The novelist Ann Patchett, who lives in this city, has said that she brings out-of-town visitors to two places: the Parthenon, the replica of the ancient Greek structure in Centennial Park, andUnited Apparel Liquidators, or U.A.L. as devotees know it. Both are temples of a sort.

The small clothing chain has three stores in the Nashville area. The flagship is also in the city, in a strip mall of no distinction, half-hidden between a nail salon and a Chinese takeout place. Ms. Patchett took the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert, shopping there one day last year, and during a literary talk that night, they dished about the Christian Dior flats that Ms. Gilbert purchased.

“They were so beautiful,” Ms. Gilbert told the audience, “I was licking them in the store.”

Better still, Ms. Patchett noted, the designer shoes were “10 percent of what they had once cost.”

Technically, U.A.L. belongs to the booming retail category known as off-price. But where discounters like Nordstrom Rack and T. J. Maxx have a bargain-basement atmosphere and leftover-seeming merchandise, U.A.L. feels like a designer boutique. Imagine walking into Jeffrey in New York or Fred Segal in Los Angeles and discovering it’s having an everything-must-go fire sale.

The labels offered — Balenciaga, Chanel, Givenchy, Isabel Marant, Public School, Alexander Wang — are dizzying for fashionistas, as are the markdowns. A Thierry Mugler gown that originally retailed for $2,960 will sell at U.A.L. for $740.

A pair of $1,000 Manolo Blahnik leopard-print heels can be had for a relatively paltry $224. U.A.L. marks down 70 percent from full retail as an opening gambit, then slashes further from there.

And yet, many fashion insiders have never heard of the place. Its founders, Bill and Melody Cohen, who run the business with their former daughter-in-law, Stephanie Cohen, are savvy if eccentric businesspeople, who for 37 years have operated what the shopping website Racked called the “best-kept secret” in fashion. They locate their stores in secondary markets in the South, in small cities like Hattiesburg, Miss., and Slidell, La., where one doesn’t expect to find, say, a $10,000 crystal-embroidered Dolce & Gabbana bustier dress for sale next to a pool hall with $2 bottles of Michelob Ultra.

One of six U.A.L.’s founded by Bill Cohen and his wife, Melody. The stores are largely unknown outside the South, yet have become regular pilgrimage sites for fashionistas seeking designer bargains. Credit Kyle Dean Reinford for The New York Times

The Cohens do no advertising, relying on word of mouth, and being in the liquidation trade, they are publicity shy, though T: The New York Times Style Magazine once included the store in Metairie, La., which is now closed, on a list of the world’s best outlets. “We were in there with Antwerp and Milan!” said Melody, who learned of the distinction after a friend phoned her.

Still, bargain hunters in the know flock to U.A.L., crossing state lines if necessary. On a recent Saturday, a crowd of women and a scattering of men rifling through the racks included two shoppers who drove six and a half hours from their home in Charlotte, N.C.

One of the women, Tracy Sanchez, said she discovered the store three years ago during a visit to Austin, Tex., where there is a branch. “I was, like: ‘U.A.L.? I don’t get it,’” Ms. Sanchez said. “Then I walked in, and it was intoxicating.”

Deeper into the store, a blond woman named Bo Clark emerged from the dressing room wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress, an ivory-colored, long-sleeved number with a mile of lace. “I just got engaged two weeks ago,” Ms. Clark said. “It became operation ‘Let’s get great party dresses and cocktail attire.’”

She had eyed the dress on a previous visit, and when U.A.L. announced through its Instagram account a 30 percent off “White Out Sale” on white garments, she rushed over. Ms. Clark reached around and fished out the tag that showed the original price: $3,500. U.A.L.’s price was $733, and the additional 30 percent off.

“If you’re into style,” she said, “this place is the jackpot.”

There are currently six locations: Hattiesburg; New Orleans; Austin; and the three stores around Nashville, including the newly opened store in Brentwood, Tenn. Northerners who discover them have been known to suddenly start visiting family and friends in the South, or checking airfare to nearby cities. Southerners, meanwhile, when in proximity to a U.A.L., will load up on fashion the way visitors to Cuba hoard cigars.

Ms. Clark recalled being in the Brentwood store recently and meeting a woman who had driven from Atlanta to hit all three Nashville-area stores. “She was swiping that card, let me tell you,” she said.

Leora Novick had come from farther away, and 10 minutes in, she’d already found a Narciso Rodriguez dress and several Phillip Lim tops to try on. A New Yorker, Ms. Novick had flown to Nashville to see her friend Lauren Zwanziger, a social visit she has made before, though always with a strict condition. “I insist on a full afternoon” at U.A.L., she said.

A Prada design with a steep markdown at U.A.L. Credit Kyle Dean Reinford for The New York Times

When Ms. Zwanziger first introduced her to the store, Ms. Novick said, “They almost had to sedate me.” A pair of Celine pumps cost her $200 — a price that, she noted with amazement, “sounds like Chinatown in New York.”

After returning home with a stuffed suitcase, Ms. Novick was faced with the predicament that confronts every U.A.L. shopper: tell her friends or keep it a secret?

There’s the cautionary tale, told by Melody Cohen, of the woman who shopped at the Metairie store without informing her best friend about all the bargains. When the best friend read about U.A.L. in the newspaper and told her, the woman had to fess up to shopping there for years. The friendship was never the same.

Ms. Novick decided to tell her friends and colleagues at a Manhattan creative agency, presumably believing the 13-hour drive or two-hour flight to the nearest U.A.L. would discourage a stampede. Instead, her friends have asked her to FaceTime with them so they can shop remotely.

The store they see on their iPhones bears little in common with the burnished interiors of a big-city department store. The flagship more resembles a slightly upscale Salvation Army store: fluorescent ceiling lights hanging on chains; round racks packed with women’s and men’s clothes; heels, flats and pumps advertised by a homely wood sign that says “Shoes.” The high-end European fashion is grouped as “Couture,” though in the strict definition of the term, it isn’t.

Bill and Melody Cohen describe their approach to store location and design as “catch as catch can.” The first U.A.L., which opened in Hattiesburg in 1980, was in an unrentable building 10 feet from the railroad tracks. The rumble of passing trains sent women rushing out of the dressing rooms in a startle. The new Brentwood location was formerly a car rental agency, and for some inexplicable reason, a deep-freezer sits in the back room, which the employees use to store shoes.

Still, all of the stores are skillfully merchandised, and the sales associates are as knowledgeable and attentive as anyone working at Bergdorf Goodman or Barney’s — and noticeably friendlier.

Ryan Skelton is a Mississippi native who worked in the Hattiesburg store in college. He is now a sales manager in New York for the French luxury brand Chloé, and a graduate of the U.A.L. school of fashion. “Melody wants to bring her passion and knowledge of the fashion industry to people who don’t know,” Mr. Skelton said. “To see them buy their first designer garment.”

Mr. and Mrs. Cohen, the founders of U.A.L., are savvy if eccentric when it comes to running their business. They don’t advertise, relying solely on word of mouth. Credit Kyle Dean Reinford for The New York Times

For small-town Southerners with wider aspirations, U.A.L. has served not simply as a clothing store but “a connection to the bigger world,” in the words of one Hattiesburg native, Sylvie Anglin.

“When my sister, Julie, and I were growing up, we were really into fashion,” Ms. Anglin said. “We would go to U.A.L. and recognize the things we saw in the fashion mags.”

Ms. Anglin lives in Chicago now, and happened to be in Nashville on a college tour with her teenage daughter, Ella de Castro, when they unwittingly stumbled on the store near the Vanderbilt campus, and then the flagship, and couldn’t resist doing some shopping.

She laughed recalling how as teenagers in the ’80s, she and her sister used to dress up in their U.A.L. finds and go to the International House of Pancakes and pretend to be French-speaking models from out of town.

After they moved away for college and careers — Ms. Anglin to Chicago, her sister to New York — they would save up their money and wait to shop until they were back in Mississippi, searching out the designers they’d discovered up North.

“So many people who were stumbling into that store had no idea really what it was,” Ms. Anglin said. “It was always pushing the edge of this fairly conservative Southern town in terms of fashion.”

For Mr. Skelton, U.A.L. gave him his first real glimpse of a Dolce & Gabbana dress not in a photograph. Bill and Melody, with their style and charisma and Mercedes sedan, were celebrities to him, he said, like the characters he saw watching Jeanne Beker’s Fashion Television show on VH1.

“I told Melody this,” Mr. Skelton said. “I don’t think she’s completely aware of what she means to people.”

In the living room of their glass-walled, high-rise apartment in Nashville, where they moved from Louisiana nine years ago to open the U.A.L. flagship, Bill and Melody told their riches to rags back to riches story.

She is 64, with short hair the color of a gingersnap and funky round-frame glasses that match her effervescent personality. He is 76 and describes himself as “a picaresque guy” from New Orleans, with artistic tendencies that he channeled into a career as a merchant.

They met, appropriately, in a clothing store, in 1968, when Melody was a high school student in Houma, La., and Bill was the hip co-owner of a boutique called Jeffrey Garrett. She and her girlfriends used to go to Jeffrey Garrett every Friday to pick out clothes for the weekend. She remembers the outfit she bought that day.

“It was a tunic pantsuit, gray, with a little white pinstripe,” she said, smiling.

He said with a laugh, “My first wife sold her the pantsuit.”

“Honestly, he looked like Elliott Gould,” Melody said. “But we didn’t see each other again because I was 16.”

U.A.L. wasn’t born until 12 years later — after the two became a couple, opened their own store, grew wealthy and went broke, at one point sleeping with their infant son in their car on the side of the road because they couldn’t afford a motel.

Throughout the 1970s, the couple ran a popular boutique in Pensacola, Fla., called Bill’s Melody. Melody was “a great saleslady, a great operator,” Bill said, while he had a gift for spotting a deal and anticipating business and culture trends.

But while the couple were having a wonderful time partying with the local beach people on their sailboat, they missed an industry shift. Chain retailers began selling cheaper, mass-produced clothing and steamrollering the independents, and by the end of the decade, their store’s sales tanked. Drowning in unpayable loans, they sold everything and had to move in with Melody’s mother, near Hattiesburg.

A designer shoe display at U.A.L. Credit Kyle Dean Reinford for The New York Times

Out of personal misfortune came a new business idea: They would become liquidators, buying off-price merchandise from other stressed store owners. While Melody ran the first U.A.L. store, Bill went to New York on buying trips and networked with designers and retailers.

He earned a reputation for integrity, and vowed never again to get in debt. “I’d say: ‘Do you have any old stuff in the warehouse? Call me,’” Bill said. “When you’re the little guy and a scrapper, and you do a good job and don’t cheat anybody, people line up behind you.”

The locations in small Southern cities offered two advantages — there wasn’t much competition from big retail chains, and image-conscious fashion labels could “bury the goods,” as Bill put it, far from New York or Los Angeles where they had stores. That’s why, in part, such incredible fashion flows through U.A.L., including in-season styles, and the place feels like a dream store. It also means the West Village in Manhattan or Beverly Hills is unlikely to ever get a store.

The 10,000-square-foot Metairie location closed after Hurricane Katrina. But Bill and Melody regrouped in the French Quarter, their first store in a high-profile district, expanded to Nashville and are currently scouting other locations in the South. (These days, Stephanie Cohen is the company’s creative director and, along with a team of executives, handles the day-to-day operations for Bill and Melody, who are semiretired. Their only son lives in Florida and is not part of the business.)

Melody recalled something Bill had told her in their Florida beach house, when the creditors were closing in and they hatched their new plan.

“He said: ‘You stick with me through this, and I will make us into many millionaires,’” she said. “‘With the way I can buy it now and the way you can sell, we can go anywhere and start something new.’”

She laughed: “He said, ‘As a matter of fact, we can be megamillionaires.’ I said, ‘Don’t overshoot.’”

Fresh merchandise comes to U.A.L.’s stores five days a week from the warehouse in Hattiesburg, and the employees unbox the shipments with the anticipation and surprise of Christmas morning. Two Prada blazers! A pair of Rodarte black leather pants! Twenty striped tees by Edith A. Miller!

Stephanie Cohen, U.A.L.’s creative director, helps handle the day-to-day operations for Bill and Melody Cohen, who are semiretired. Credit Kyle Dean Reinford for The New York Times

What U.A.L. gets depends on the closeout deal, and because the deals constantly vary, there is a randomness and mystery that makes shopping there exciting. You come across a dress with the sewn-in label “Vika Gazinskaya” and wonder who is Vika Gazinskaya, and where did this garment originate, and how did it wind up in a strip mall in Nashville? Bill and Melody are tight-lipped about that last part, to protect trade secrets.

Typically, U.A.L. gets only a few of each garment, so if it’s not your size, you’re out of luck. And you have to be willing to hunt the racks and keep coming back. Some days it’s a gold mine, other times the store feels picked over.

Ms. Clark, who found the Oscar de la Renta dress, said you have to embrace the quirks of shopping there.

“Some people don’t like to look,” she said. “They want everything so-so. I like to hunt. It’s the thrill of the find. And you never know what’s coming in.”

For customers like Ms. Anglin, it’s the deals they find gratifying, the deep satisfaction of “seeing something that says $3,000 and you can get it for $150.”

The overwhelming feeling inside U.A.L. is joy — a guilt-free, unrepentant joy that isn’t typically associated with clothes shopping.

“It’s not curing cancer,” Melody said. “But people do love the experience. And then it’s so cheap and they think, ‘How can this be?’”

She added: “I always tell them: ‘You saved so much. Even if you go in the poorhouse, you’ve spent your money wisely.’”

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Over in Italy’s fashion capital the message is clear: menswear in Milan is a free-for-all right now, with the guys wearing everything from top-notch tailoring to oversized tracksuits. The only rule? There are no rules. We sent our roving street style snapper – the photographer behindThousand Yard Style – to capture the vibe.

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The Top 10 Moments From Milan Fashion Week

Hill & Aubrey/Courtesy of Santoni

Hill & Aubrey/Courtesy of Santoni

1. A Small Presentation Was the Week’s Sleeper Hit

A favorite amongst the fashion set, Marco Zanini — the former creative director at Rochas and Schiaparelli — returned this week with a small collection for the Italian shoe wear brand Santoni. The line, which is titled Edited by Marco Zanini, is comprised of the perfect selection of chic outerwear, colorful knits and elegant shoes. In an industry that thrives so often on more is more, it was a nice break to see a curated selection of really good clothes.

From left: Prada, Gucci, Emilio Pucci. CreditDon Ashby/

From left: Prada, Gucci, Emilio Pucci. CreditDon Ashby/

2. There Were Some Really Great Headpieces

Milan Fashion Week may have the reputation of being all about craftsmanship — which is certainly true — but this season demonstrated there’s also something else the city should be known for: really good hats. Prada showed entirely feathered headpieces — and Gucci sent a model onto the runway in an extra-large straw hat. (Another model had a mesh crystal full body stocking that covered her entire head.) And at Emilio Pucci, wide-brimmed fringed hats looked like giant lampshades that concealed models’ faces as they walked.


Courtesy of Tod’s

3. Tod’s Threw the Chicest Cocktail Party of the Week

To celebrate the release of the brand’s book, “Timeless Icons” — which features some of the most stylish people in modern history — Tod’s president and CEO Diego Della Valle hosted an ultra-elegant cocktail party at the jewel-like museum Villa Necchi, most famous for its appearance in the film “I Am Love.” And the following day, the brand showed its fall/winter 2017 collection in the form of a live installation by the artist Thomas De Falco — starring none other than Naomi Campbell.


4. … But Armani Hosted the Best Dance Party.

Giorgio Armani has its own nightclub — so it’s pretty fitting that it would know how to throw a killer party. The brand hosted a big bash on Thursday, which featured a live performance by La Femme and a D.J. set by Alex Brown — and editors, designers and special members alike danced the night away.

Gucci. CreditVittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Gucci. CreditVittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

5. The Entire Gucci Show Was Spectacular

With a new headquarters and an inaugural combined men’s and women’s show, Gucci opened up Milan Fashion Week with a bang. Violet curtains pulled back to reveal a runway enclosed in a plastic greenhouse that surrounded a mirrored pyramid. The set was like an art installation, and what followed was more like a performance more than a show. With a startling 119 looks, the collection was a mash-up of vintage references, reinvented — and the progression of models was like a show from another time. Now several seasons in, Alessandro Michele continues to evolve — and dazzle us.

Prada. CreditGIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

Prada. CreditGIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

6. Yet Again, Prada Had the Most Artful Set

There is something unique about entering the Prada compound — you walk into the show space ready to be totally amazed. One season, the set was fashioned into a mountain of purple sugary sand; another it was a giant metal cage. Each season, the set alludes to the collection and Miuccia Prada’s complex approach. This time, the show space was constructed into a maze-like bedroom with beds jutting out. With walls covered in stickers and posters, it brought to mind a young girl’s bedroom — and the collection mimicked that youthful state of mind.

Missoni. CreditEli Schmidt

Missoni. CreditEli Schmidt

7. Missoni Sent the Strongest Political Message

So far it’s been a season filled with political statements — but in Milan,Missoni’s was the most overt. As guests filtered into the show, they were given specially designed Missoni pussy hats — and at the end, instead of taking her usual bow, the designer Angela Missoni took to the microphone. With her family around her, she addressed the crowd to make an impassioned speech about women’s rights. “Let’s show the world that the fashion community is united and fearless,” she said.

From left: Alberta Ferretti, Max Mara. CreditDon Ashby/

From left: Alberta Ferretti, Max Mara. CreditDon Ashby/

8. Halima Aden Is the New Runway Star

This season more than ever, runway casting has thankfully been more diverse: Shows have included models of all of many different ages, sizes and ethnicities. In Milan, it was all about Halima Aden, the 19-year-old Somali-American model who walked in the Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara shows wearing her hijab. Let’s hope that Aden — who also appeared in Kanye’s Yeezy show in New York — will be a more regular presence at the shows going forward.

From left: For Restless Sleepers, Sara Battaglia. CreditFrom left: Courtesy of F.R.S, Courtesy of Sara Battaglia

From left: For Restless Sleepers, Sara Battaglia. CreditFrom left: Courtesy of F.R.S, Courtesy of Sara Battaglia

9. It Was a Good Week for the New Generation of Italian Designers

Amongst all the big luxury fashion brands to show during the week, there’s an exciting new crop of independent female designers in Milan. Attico, Sara Battaglia and F.R.S (For Restless Sleepers) are relatively new to the city’s show calendar — but  they’re already paving the way for a new Italian aesthetic. Each brand showed their collections in small presentations at home rather than big runway shows. And each designer makes clothes for women that feels like an extension of their personal style ethos. It’s exciting to see women who are really shaking up Italian fashion.

Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

10. There Was an Emotional Farewell to Franca Sozzani

The shows concluded on Monday with a memorial Mass to honor the late Franca Sozzani, the editor in chief of Italian Vogue who died in December. Held at the most famous landmark in Milan — the Duomo — guests included designers, as well as her great friends and colleagues who bid farewell to the visionary editor.

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