Florida school shooting prompts bulletproof backpack sales to rise

Bulletproof backpack sales have increased 30 percent since Wednesday's school shooting says one manufacturer.

Parents terrified by the deadly school shooting in South Florida are spending big bucks on bulletproof backpacks for their kids, according to reports.

Massachusetts-based Bullet Blocker — which sells the fortified bags for between $200 to $500 — has seen a 30 percent surge in sales since Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, according to TMZ.

The company sold 500 of the backpacks on Thursday alone, owner Joe Curran told the news outlet, adding that the majority were headed to Florida.

The backpacks, which weigh about 4 1/2 pounds, are lined with Kevlar, a fiber used in bulletproof vests that are used by law enforcement.

Bullet Blocker describes Curran on its website as “a real-life father who wanted to do all that he could to protect his two school-aged children after witnessing the horror of the Virginia Tech massacre.”

The former US Army Ranger, sheriff’s deputy and firearms instructor invented “My Child’s Pack,” the first bulletproof backpack designed for students, according to the company.

One of the backpacks listed on the site is the $330 BulletBlocker NIJ IIIA, which is available in three colors and contains an anti-ballistic panel weighing about 20 ounces.

Bullet Blocker says it’s capable of stopping .357 and .44 Magnum rounds, 9 mm bullets and .45-caliber hollow-point ammo and more.

 

Meghan Markle’s intimate beauty secrets revealed by her former makeup artist

Meghan Markle has never been interested in getting the royal treatment.

The “Suits” actress, who is engaged to Britain’s Prince Harry, has always preferred to maintain her natural features in Hollywood and her former makeup artist and hairstylist insisted the world should expect the same after the American beauty ties the knot later this spring.

“Every time I’d do her makeup, she’d say, ‘Can we just make sure my freckles are peeking through? I don’t want a ton of foundation,” Lydia F. Sellers recently told Refinery29.com. “It was more about the amount of product that went on her skin and keeping it really fresh and dewy, rather than caking it on.”

Sellers, who worked with the 36-year-old for two years before she moved overseas to be with her fiancé, insisted Markle was never interested in looking like the typical Hollywood star.

Meghan Markle greets well-wishers during a visit to Cardiff Castle with her fiancee Britain's Prince Harry in Cardiff, Britain, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville - RC1A273F0ED0

Meghan Markle greets well-wishers during a visit to Cardiff Castle with her fiancee Britain’s Prince Harry in Cardiff, Britain, January 18, 2018.  (Reuters)

“She’s done such a good job of maintaining her sense of self amongst the spotlight,” she explained. “Even now, her look has stayed the same. She’ll throw her hair back in a low bun and it actually looks like she’s done it herself, and it’s beautiful and chic because she’s so confident. That’s the great thing about Meghan – she’s so confident with herself and her look, and she sticks with that.”

Markle also reportedly didn’t rely on a glam squad to ensure she was always picture-perfect. A former lifestyle blogger, Markle knew which beauty products best enhanced her features, whether she was in front of cameras or not.

“Meghan is very in-the-know – she had her blog for a while, so she just gets beauty,” said Sellers. “But her approach is very effortless. She just wants to look like a better version of herself. That’s something she believes firmly in.”

And similar to Harry’s late mother Princess Diana of Wales, Markle preferred a signature look when it came to her hair.

Meghan Markle leaves after visiting a school with her fiancee Britain's Prince Harry in Nottingham, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay - RC154DC1AA20

Meghan Markle leaves after visiting a school with her fiancee Britain’s Prince Harry in Nottingham, December 1, 2017.  (Reuters)

“We’ve stuck to the same sleek look since I’ve known her,” said Sellers. “She’ll say, ‘Just give me a slight bend or a slight wave. Nothing too crazy… We styled her hair down a lot – that’s the look she gravitates toward. It could be straight or wavy or anything else, but she likes it down. So if it wasn’t a royal wedding, I think that’s what she would do.”

Markle herself has spoken out about embracing her biracial heritage in Hollywood. Back in 2017, Markle told Allure her biggest pet peeve was when magazines Photoshopped her skin tone.

“For castings, I was labeled ‘ethnically ambiguous,’” she said. “Was I Latina? Sephardic? ‘Exotic Caucasian’? Add the freckles to the mix and it created quite the conundrum.

“To this day, my pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out of a photo shoot. For all my freckled-faced friends out there, I will share with you something my dad told me when I was younger: ‘A face without freckles is a night without stars.’”

Britain's Prince Harry whispers to Meghan Markle as they watch a performance by a Welsh choir in the banqueting hall during a visit to Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Britain, January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ben Birchall/Pool - RC1A838B7CC0

Britain’s Prince Harry whispers to Meghan Markle as they watch a performance by a Welsh choir in the banqueting hall during a visit to Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Britain, January 18, 2018.  (Reuters)

After the proposal, Harry told the BBC the “stars were aligned” when he got to know the future duchess more during a five-day camping trip in Botswana.

“The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned,” said the 33-year-old. “This beautiful woman just tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life. I know that she will be unbelievably good at the job part of it as well.”

Domestic violence survivor torches wedding dress at garage sale

"This is symbolic of letting go of the past and moving forward to the future.”

Domestic violence survivor torches wedding dress at garage sale

Last weekend, Briana Barksdale welcomed friends and fellow residents of Spring, Tex. over for a garage sale that was anything but ordinary — she was commemorating her divorce made official and celebrating her survival of an abusive marriage.

Barksdale not only sold all the possessions remnant of the relationship, but set her wedding gown ablaze.

“This is for every woman who has ever been in a relationship that was abusive, that hurt, that they shouldn’t have stayed in, that they didn’t know how to get out of,” the 34-year-old mother of two told KHOU before dousing the gown with gasoline on a wooden pyre.

“Burn, baby, burn,” the divorcee sang as the gown burst into flames.

“It was a really rough situation, it was a bad situation — there are still criminal charges pending, so I can’t talk about a lot of it, but yeah, not a great guy,” she told the outlet. “I ended up pretty much with everything, so I’m getting rid of the stuff that was ours and going on with mine.”

According to USA Today, prices at the garage sale ranged from 50 cents to $30, as she sold everything from dishes to a computer to entire furniture sets. Family and friends applauded the symbolic closure of the event.

“I think it’s a good release for her and she needs it to get over with everything she’s been through,” one customer told KHOU. Before Barksdale set the dress on fire, garage sale goers signed the gown, some with more colorful language than others against her ex-husband of 13 years, Mike.

Barksdale told KMOV that her ex-husband cheated on her and was violent. Court records show that Mike is serving seven years of probation and community service after pleading guilty to the assault of a family member, the outlet reported.

“So I joke about it, Was it worth it? Absolutely. Divorce is expensive, because it’s worth it,” Barksdale quipped. “And so, will I be eating Ramen until I’m 50? Probably. But single Ramen is better than married filet mignon.”

The Texas woman isn’t the only funny lady to make recent headlines with to close a divorce with a grand gesture. In recent weeks, one Canadian woman threw a boozy “divorce party” and another New Zealand divorcee auctioned off her wedding gown to a strip club.

All in all, Barksdale wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is symbolic of freedom. This is symbolic of moving forward,” she said. “This is symbolic of letting go of the past and moving forward to the future.”

Designers spill secrets of Olympic figure skating outfits

Designers says there's a whole lot of rules to what Olympians can wear on and off the ice.

This past Tuesday, US figure skater Mirai Nagasu made history. So did a woman named Pat Pearsall.

You might already be familiar with Nagasu: The American skater’s unprecedented triple axel — and fist-pumping, whooping celebration — earned her a top trending spot on Twitter that night. Everyone cheered for the 24-year-old in the ruby-red dress.

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US figure skater Mirai Nagasu made history in a ruby red dress.  (Reuters)

As for Pearsall? Well, she’s the designer to thank for that now-famous costume — and, in a tiny way, for making sure Nagasu nailed that momentous jump.

“With a triple axel in her program, Mirai didn’t want anything weighing her down,” Pearsall tells The Post. “Every stone on a dress, every drop of glue adds up.” So Pearsall, who modeled the look after Halle Berry’s slinky scarlet gown in the James Bond movie “Die Another Day,” exercised some serious sparkle restraint. Whereas a standard skate dress may boast some 5,000 crystals (usually Swarovski), Nagasu’s shimmers with a modest 2,200-ish.

In figure skating, the right costume can make or break a performance. A wardrobe malfunction can trigger a fall or make executing certain jumps and spins difficult, while a dazzling, well-engineered ensemble supports even the trickiest move — and can turn an athlete into an icon.

“The last thing you ever want to do as a designer is do anything to the dress that would affect the skate,” says Pearsall, who’s dressed top toe-pickers for 20 years.

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Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin of South Korea compete in a performance in which her top nearly came off.  (Reuters)

She was horrified when South Korean skater Yura Min almost found herself topless on television during last week’s team skate, after a hook came undone. “When I’m doing closures on a dress, I sew and knot, sew and knot, sew and knot,” Pearsall says. “It’s redundant, but you have to go overboard. I mean, that thing’s not coming off.”

Cloth, too, must be chosen wisely, to allow skaters a full range of motion. “I work with all stretch fabrics, with Lycra in them,” Gail Johnson, who designed Olympian Bradie Tennell’s dresses, tells The Post. They provide the best mobility, and they’re “durable,” she explains. Meanwhile, Lisa McKinnon, whose Olympic-athlete clients include Vincent Zhou, pairs skaters Chris and Alexa Knierim and the ice-dancing Shibutani siblings, is open to nonstretch fabrics — but only if they’re used in the right way.

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Fan favorites Maia and Alex Shibutani are a sibling act.  (Reuters)

“I chose chiffon for [Maia Shibutani’s] short-program skirt because it gives a nice, full look,” which was ideal for their lively Latin-dance number, “but it’s not heavy,” she tells The Post. “She can’t have it swinging her around while she does her twizzles.”

There’s also a dress code to consider. The International Skating Union, one of the sport’s most important governing bodies, sets the terms for Olympic costumes. The rules have changed over time — for example, in 2006, women were granted the right to forgo traditional dresses for trousers and skirtless unitards — but the guiding mandate is that athletes look “modest, dignified and appropriate.”

olympics reuters

Essentially, Pearsall says, judges are concerned about skaters looking “too naked” on the ice. (“It makes sense,” she adds. “They’re often quite young.”) To that end, 50 percent of a performer’s upper body has to be covered during their programs — and flesh-toned mesh, used by almost all designers, doesn’t count toward that.

Even when designers do check all the boxes, that doesn’t necessarily mean a look will pass muster with judges.

“There are rules, and then there are unwritten rules,” Braden Overett, the designer behind Adam Rippon’s Olympic looks.  (Reuters)

“There are rules, and then there are unwritten rules,” Braden Overett, the designer behind Adam Rippon’s Olympic looks, tells The Post. “When you’re an A-list skater, you’re essentially representing the entire sport on behalf of your country, to the world, so there are a lot of systems of feedback in place.”

Overett, who was a competitive skater himself, says that there’s an informal review process before major competitions such as the Olympics, during which judges communicate their preferences. Although judges “don’t mandate” what you can and cannot wear, it’s not something to be taken lightly, either, he says. (He killed a sleeveless top for Rippon a few seasons ago because he heard that judges weren’t feeling it.)

“You can’t please everyone,” he says, “but this sport is about putting yourself together in the best way possible, to do the best you can for the best result.”

Zara accused of cultural appropriation over its plaid ‘check mini skirt’

Zara is being accused of cultural appropriation on social media for its "check mini skirt," which many say looks like a lungi.

Fast fashion retailer Zara is in hot water for one of its newest designs, which is being called out on social media as an example of cultural appropriation.

The store came under fire this week for selling a plaid “check mini skirt,” which the website describes as a “flowing skirt with draped detail in the front.”

However, many were quick to point out on Twitter that the garment suspiciously resembles a lungi, or lungyi, longyi, sarong, etc., traditionally worn by people in India and other South and Southeast Asian countries.

Elizabeth Segran, a reporter for Fast Company who grew up in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, described the lungi as a popular item worn by many people, mostly men, “who wanted something casual, cool and relaxed to wear in the equatorial heat of Southeast Asia. They’re the garment of the masses, a great equalizer, worn by both royalty and day laborers.”

 

Meghan Markle’s outfit at first official evening event sparks debate for breaking tradition

Meghan Markle's Alexander McQueen tuxedo-inspired separates sparked debate for breaking tradition at her first official evening event.

Meghan Markle made her first official evening debut as a soon-to-be royal, attending the Endeavor Fund Awards in London with fiance Prince Harry Thursday night. While the actress has been known to turn heads for her unlikely fashion choices in the past, her outfit for the evening’s formal event sparked debate for breaking customary royal protocol.

The former “Suits” star wore none other than a suit to a gala at Goldsmiths’ Hall celebrating “the achievements of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women who have taken part in remarkable sporting and adventure challenges over the last year,” according to The Royal Foundation.

Markle’s tailored separates surprised many, who were expecting her to wear a more traditional dress for the occasion. Instead, she chose a tuxedo-inspired black Alexander McQueen blazer and cropped trousers, along with a Tuxe Bodysuit blouse, Manolo Blahnik heels and Prada clutch, Vogue U.K. reported.

Many people took to social media to express their disappointment in Markle’s outfit choice, calling it “underwhelming.”

THE BALLET DANCER BRINGING MOVEMENT TO FASHION

Jordan Robson has a talent for alchemy. With a trained background in classical ballet, he discovered how to make clothes move as a model. The connection between fashion, dance and photography that he witnessed happening on sets inspired him to explore movement directing, a form of choreography that focuses on the natural ways our bodies inhabit spaces.

As a performance artist with London’s Theo Adams Company and a self-made movement director of his own right, Robson channels his creative energy into helping images and video come to life. Robson works with a wide range of creative types, models, dancers, actors, performers and photographers. As he says, “You don’t have to be trained. Everyone can learn to move in a different way.”

We caught up with Robson to chat about dance, fashion, femininity and why London is a darker place than New York:

When did you start dancing?

I actually started quite late for a dancer, I was 15 or 14. And I just started once a week, doing contemporary class. And then I always said I was going to be a lawyer, and I didn’t realize I could have a career in dance until I was about 16 or 17. After school I got a job offer at a company in London, called Ballet Boys. Terrible name, but good company. So at that point, I thought, “Oh my god, all of my dreams have come true.” I always wanted to be a dancer, go on tour and travel the world.

And then, something like last year, maybe even a bit before that, I stopped and took note that maybe this isn’t what I wanted. And then I did a shoot with Tim Walker, along with Emma Watson for Vanity Fair. There were all these huge looks, and Emma was in the changing room for a long time, for personal time if she wanted to read or take a nap or something. First I was employed as a dancer, but then because there’s all this free time and we wanted to be productive, we started staging what was going to happen next — where Emma would go and what it’s going to look like. I was kind of astounded, almost, just talking about it and being creative with him. I really loved it. It was kind of a happy accident; a push into a new direction. From there I decided that it was the next step.

What was is about a dance career that you realized wasn’t appealing to you?

It’s hard work, but I think that you’re prepared for that in the beginning. I think as a dancer you spend so long trying to get somewhere. Training, and auditions — it’s quite ruthless. And you get there, and you’re expected to do something else, but you’re always working for somebody else. I think dance is a super personal thing, and for me it was not having much say or any input, and I wanted to get my creative juices flowing. I didn’t have that much input at all, or any artistic expression.

How did that epiphany on the Tim Walker set translate into what you’re doing now?

I got really interested in working with films and videos, because that’s where I think a lot of stuff is headed, and photography is never going to not do that. More and more, you see dance in music videos, all over television, and in the background of singers and performers. And then I’m also really super inspired by the old McQueen shows — there’s so much movement. Runway shows aren’t what they used to be anymore. They used to be so spectacular. Now a lot of the time it’s just white walkways and walking around.

They say the best models are the ones who can dance. 

I think for people that want to sell clothes, you’d want to have somebody that can move and show it off the best. Because it’s the way you move in clothes, or the way your clothes move when you’re in them. It’s so special to have it crossover.

And now you’ve moved into the performance art space.

For such a long time I just said that I was a dancer, and not that there’s anything bad with being just a dancer, but I felt like I just wanted to do more. Now I do a lot of performance art with a company in London called Theo Adams Company. They’ve worked with Louis Vuitton in Tokyo and Fiorucci, and we just did a thing with Halpern in London. There is a dark side, but it’s fun. When you say dance, people tend to think ballet or contemporary, well mostly ballet, or hip-hop, and it’s very niche. But I feel like performance art to me, you can be more of an artist.

Are there certain themes that you find yourself coming back to often?

Yeah, that’s kind of the result of London. It’s also part of the reason why I’m so obsessed with moving here. The dark side of London, which sounds so dramatic, is really fun, but it is quite a negative place overall, at least that’s how I feel, and I’ve lived there for five years. You come here, and the energy is so much more positive, there’s just so much more energy in general. So much flow to things.

To New York specifically?

Yeah, to New York. But, on the other side of that, there’s such a difference in humor, I think, between London and New York. I think that darker side is more accepted in London. With this company, Theo Adams, we do a lot of crying and staring into the audience and screaming. Lots of lip syncing, but it’s very angsty in a way that’s quite disturbing, and I feel like that caters toward London. If we brought it here, it would be like, what the hell is going on? I mean, I’m sure some people would love it as well, but as a general audience, I don’t know.

Hey, maybe New York needs that.

Yeah! Personally, when I do it, I always come back to femininity. Just because like, for this photoshoot we did, I wanted to explore skirts and dresses, and the movement qualities of that. It’s such a cliché that everyone’s mother is such a strong woman in their lives, but mine especially was, so I always feel like I’m drawn to that. I think it’s because I’ve been so pigeonholed as that, for such a long time, being the manly dancer onstage.

Did you feel restricted in that role?

Yeah, especially in my last company. It was an all-male troupe. It caters to the audience, but it was quite commercial, and they wanted hyper masculine strength. Even from before then, I wanted to get away from that.

Was that the ballet company?

Yeah. So, I think it’s just trying to go against that and again, trying to find a crossover. Because in dance you have to be strong and you have to be slow and graceful, but it’s still boxed into “male dancers do this, female dancers do that.”

Do you have any role models?

I think the great thing about it is that there have been movement directors forever, and I’m really inspired by Les Child especially, who did all the old McQueen shows. And Stephen Galloway in New York does a lot of stuff here in fashion. I work quite a lot now with Ryan Heffington, who produces all of the Sia music videos and many other things. So there are definitely people that inspire me, but there are I think three or four that I know of that do this job. There’s not a lot in comparison to the amount of photographers and videographers. There’s definitely people that inspire me, but I hope the way I do it will feel a little bit new.

Sustainable fashion: Students tackle Singapore’s textile waste

One garment at a time, fashion students from Raffles College of Higher Education are helping to cut Singapore’s 150,000 tonne textile and leather waste footprint through a collaborative upcycling project.

While Singaporeans rush to buy new clothes to replace old ones in the run up to Chinese New Year, fashion students from the Raffles College of Higher Education in Singapore will instead spend the next few weeks working to upcycle donated clothes.As part of their school project, tertiary-level students and senior lecturers in fashion design and fashion marketing are collaborating with real estate developer City Developments Limited (CDL) and Eco-Business to collect, process and resell donated items for EcoBank, a charity initiative by the two firms.

During a recent session held at City Industrial Building in eastern Singapore, students and lecturers spent hours categorising donated items and select clothes that were suitable for upcycling. 

Upcycling involves unstitching old garments, combining and reconstructing them; a process which not only demands the creative input of adding the students’ ‘own touches’ to the designs, but also the logistical task of maximising the materials used in each garment, to reduce waste.

Fashion design students told Eco-Business that making a complete set of clothes alone will take between three and four days, if they work really hard. They expect the entire project to take a few weeks given the volume of donations.

“People don’t realise that clothes are part of what’s killing the world.”

Maria Angelica Torres Cruz, fashion marketing student, Raffles College of Higher Education

Yet, the big pile of donations in the room is a small proportion of Singapore’s fashion waste footprint. In 2016 alone, 150,000 tonnes of textile and leather wastewas generated, of which only 7 per cent was recycled.

Maria Angelica Torres Cruz, a fashion marketing student at the Raffles College of Higher Education, told Eco-Business that “people don’t realise that clothes are part of what’s killing the world. You think you have to save electricity, save oil, save water, but nobody thinks about saving your clothes.”

Fashion consumers don’t think about how it hurts the environment. They just think about what they want now, and what’s on trend,” added Torres.

Pointing to a pile of clothes, Torres emphasised that most of the donated clothes were of very good quality. Some even had their price tags on.

To raise awareness about the need for socially responsible fashion, the fashion marketing students are documenting their upcycling project and will commence their multimedia campaign today, on Eco-Business’s Facebook and Instagram page.

The campaign seeks to encourage consumers to apply the 3Rs—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—to fashion, and to call on clothing manufacturers to produce sustainably designed clothes. Noting the lack of a textile recycling plant and recycling bins for clothes in Singapore, Torres said it is high time for the future of fashion to be sustainable.

Fast fashion companies such as H&M have developed initiatives to reduce their environmental impactsuch as allowing the exchange of old clothing for discount vouchers in many of its stores, but acknowledged that the technology for recycling is limited. “For this reason, the share of recycled materials in our products is still relatively small,” H&M reported.

Anisa Johnny, senior lecturer in Fashion Marketing and Management, noted that one constraint for producers in Singapore is the price sensitivity of consumers. But she challenged producers to innovate: “Think of sustainable textiles. Doesn’t end up in landfills but doesn’t cost too much for the customer to support.”

Johnny continued that the onus does not only fall on producers. “We’re all involved in fashion waste, every single one of us.” She thus encouraged consumers to buy less, buy better and fix things instead of throwing them away.

Creating a sustainable fashion business is precisely what her students seek to do. The upcycled clothes will be on sale at the upcoming EcoBank bazaar, held at City Square Mall from 2 to 4 March 2018, giving them a second life.

Recognising the difficulty her students faced in the project, Johnny said: “I know it’s tough for them. But it’s really important when you see [fashion waste] upfront, then you think ‘I’m going to do something about it’. It’s so powerful.”

She added: “I wish we can get more adults to volunteer, and more companies involved. It would suddenly hit home.”