Saturday, 14 April 2012


Most beautiful eyes

Photo by Steve McCurry.

This famous picture was clicked by photographer, Steve McCurry, of that very young, simple and uniquely beautiful Afghan village girl in 1985 named Sharbat Gula.  She was only 12years old then.  The photo was so captivating that it made headlines in National Geographics and many other journals.

If you now follow the photos below of Sharbat when she was first photographed at age 12, and then again when Steve went to Afghanistan more than 16 years later, he again found Sharbat and photographed her with the permission of her husband.  By then Sharbat was in her late 20s or 30.  Still very, very young but her extremely hard life robbed her beauty and made her look years older than her age.  That's how easily beauty can be destroyed if one is unfortunate.

The girl became an orphan at age 6 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  She fled to a refugee camp in Pakistan with her 2 siblings and grandmother.  This refugee camp closed in 2002 and Sharbat returned to Afghanistan sometime before that.  She lives in the mountaineous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan.  

The Search for the Afghan Girl

A team from National Geographic, including photographer Steve McCurry went back to Pakistan to try and identify the girl from the 1984 picture. The team had no success until someone said he knew her brother. "The second I saw the color of her brother's eyes, I knew we had the right family," said a member of the team.

After Sharbat's family granted permission for her to meet with the man who photographed her 17 years ago, McCurry knew immediately, even after so many years, that he had found her again. "Her eyes are as haunting now as they were then," he said.

She married and had four daughters, one of whom died in infancy. She has returned to anonymity and lives according to the customs and traditions of her culture and religion. She will not give another media interview and she wishes not to be contacted.

Photo by Steve McCurry. Beautiful children are all over the world, suffering every day, every minute.

What do we do to prevent it?

Steve McCurry and his team "finally located Gula, then around the age of 30, in a remote region of Afghanistan; she had returned to her native country from the refugee camp in 1992. Her identity was confirmed using biometric technology which matched her iris patterns to those of the photograph with almost full certainty. She vividly recalled being photographed—it was the first and only time she had ever had her picture taken. The fame and symbolic character of her portrait were completely unknown to her."

When Sharbat agreed to have her picture taken for the second time in her life, she came out from the secrecy to tell her story. She wanted the people around the world who knew her face to know that she survived the refugee camp in Pakistan. 

Before and after

Time and hardship.  Hers has been a hand-to-mouth existence. She had not been photographed since Steve McCurry made her portrait in 1984, and she only agreed to be photographed again—to appear unveiled, without her burka—because her husband told her it would be proper. She is a private woman, uncomfortable with the attention of strangers. A devout Muslim, she attributes her survival to the “will of God.” 

With her husband and 2 children.  She remembers her wedding day, when she was perhaps 16, as a happy one—possibly, her older brother told the Geographic team, the only happy day of her life. She became an orphan and refugee of war at about age six. Soviet bombing killed her parents, and her grandmother led her and her brother and sisters on foot, in winter, to Pakistan, where they lived in various camps. 

McCurry’s image was made world-famous on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic, and is the magazine’s most recognisable photograph.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Most Beautiful Sleeved Wedding Dresses in History

After years of being traumatized by poufy sleeves which were bigger then their faces, brides have made a sharp turn away from wedding gowns with sleeves. Sleeves have gotten a bad rap as being dated, fussy, and just plain over-the-top. However, after years of bridal banishment, sleeves are finally starting to make a comeback. Don’t worry: you will look nothing like Princess Diana in the newest wedding gowns with sleeves. This is how the trend towards bridal gowns with sleeves showing up in some of the prettiest weddings around.

Traditionally, brides always wore wedding dresses with sleeves, at least for the ceremony portion of the event. There was the expectation that the bride astatine a church wedding would cover her shoulders to show respect in a house of worship. That custom has pretty much been derelict in most, though not all, houses of worship. Over time, however, the spiritual reasons for wearing wedding gowns with sleeves have faded, and the strapless gown is by far the most popular option for brides. In fact, if a bride wanted to wear a wedding gown with sleeves, whether it was for religious reasons, to cover tattoos, or just a matter of personal preference, she often had to resort to having a gown custom made or wearing a jacket over a sleeveless gown.

1. Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump’s regal gown was the essence of feminine beauty, and even Vera Wang commented on what a pleasure it was to see a bride wear a classic gown with sleeves after seeing so many strapless gowns. Ivanka accessorized her gown with a classic all white nosegay bouquet and fabulous bridal jewelry. As the neckline of her gown was too high to wear a necklace, she opted for spectacular earrings and an telling bracelet as her bridal jewellery.

  • The McQueen label is known for its edgy looks, but it appears the maverick designer and elegant Middleton met halfway for the stunning dress, which is reminiscent of the one that Grace Kelly wore during her wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco.
  • Middleton's drop diamond earrings were designed by Robinson Pelham.
  • Kate Middleton travels in a Rolls Royce to Westminster Abbey.
  • Clutching champagne colored flowers as she stepped out of the Rolls Royce with her father, the soon to be Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, stunned and drew cheers.  The Sarah Burton wedding gown is befitting for the young and modern bride has always been humble and respectful of tradition.  The gown had a demure v-neck with the decolletage and arms delicately covered with French lace.  The train of Kate Middleton’s wedding gown was modest but still dramatic.  The bride’s sister and maid of honor, Pippa, also wore a white body-conscious sleeveless gown by Alexander McQueen

    4. Lauren Bush 

    Jenna’s cousin, Lauren Bush. Incidentally, Lauren married David Lauren, son of designer Ralph Lauren. Her legal name is now Lauren Bush Lauren, which I find delightfully amusing. David and Lauren’s September 2011 wedding took place at the Lauren family’s ranch in Colorado and had a vintage western theme. The photo below looks as if it could have been taken a century ago!

    Lauren’s long-sleeved wedding dress, designed by Ralph Lauren, was made of tulle, lace and crystals. The gown reportedly took 3,000 hours to make, with 100 craftspeople hand-embroidering pearls, small flower motifs, and scroll designs in ivory silk thread.

    5. Lilly Allen

    Lily Allen wedding dress Delphine Manivet.jpg

    Lily Allen celebrity wedding dress 2

    The wedding dress drew its inspiration from the vintage-style, with intricate lace complemented by a lace cap to create a turn of the 19th Century look. Shoes were by Rupert Sanderson.

    Lily Allen celebrity wedding dress

    Bridesmaids wore peachy coloured slips (for the grown ups) with the children wearing miniature lace outfits to match the bride’s wedding dress. Lily is the daughter of actor, Keith Allen, who gave the bride away, however there was a surprise announcement for the assembled guests and public – Lily announced she is pregnant and the couple are expecting their first child.

    lily-allen-wedding-dress delphine manivet 5
    Lily Allen in Lace Wedding Dress with her proud father, Keith Allen

    6. Princess Margaret

     HRH Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones
    May 6, 1960

    Picture dated 06 May 1960,  shows Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband,  waving from Buckingham Palace in London on their wedding day.


    Margaret may have shared a wedding dress designer with her sister (Norman Hartnell), but she walked down the aisle in the polar opposite of her sister's traditional dress, sweeping in a whole new decade of royal style in her wake.  This was also the first royal wedding ever televised, and was watched by over 300 million viewers worldwide, so her effect on ushering in the sleek styles of the 1960s could very well have stretched far beyond the royal family.

    White silk organza with a satin-bound silk tulle veil and not a stitch of embroidery in sight.  The whole design was made to accommodate the princess's short stature, including the tiara:

    7. Zeina  Shaban - Jordan 

    Prince Rashid bin El Hassan of Jordan and Zeina Shaban
    July 22, 2011
    Amman, Jordan

    Prince Rashid is the son of Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal and Princess Sarvath El Hassan. His bride, Zeina, is a table tennis champion who represented Jordan in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.

    The bride wore an a-line dress with a lace top and button closure down the back. Her lace-trimmed veil was topped with a diamond tiara belonging to her mother-in-law, Princess Sarvath.

    Though it seems that anything involving lace these days will garner comparisons to the Duchess of Cambridge these days, for me, this one most closely resembles Princess Claire's wedding gown with its lace overlay top.