It's a hard combination to beat — the toughness of a professional athlete tucked inside the femininity of a petite ballerina or grace of a danseur — which is why the art of ballet is poised to execute a glissade to center stage sometime soon. Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" (with tutus by Rodarte) pushed the pirouette into the psycho-thriller genre, but that was just an opening movement. In December, a ballet-themed BCBG Max Azria holiday collection was released, and spring fashion lookbooks for a wide range of labels, including Alice + Olivia and Lover, seem to have been influenced by the belles of the barre.
Adidas might be the biggest brand to bank on the ballerina in the upcoming year, collaborating with Staatsballett Berlin to develop the newest version of its TechFit athletic apparel for women. Several of the company's dancers appear in its lookbook for spring, and one — Alessandra Pasquali — was recently tapped to be a brand ambassador for the company.
After three long years dominated by a recession-muted palette of neutrals, color is clocking back in with a vengeance. The Pantone Research Institute announced this month that a reddish-pink (think Pepto-Bismol) hue that it dubbed "honeysuckle" was its pick for the top color of 2011. But based on what we saw when designers showed their collections for spring-summer 2011 in New York and Europe this fall, fashion is embracing vivid shades all across the rainbow — and not just as accent colors, either. Among the noteworthy names giving the color wheel an enthusiastic spin are Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, as well as Tommy Hilfiger, who showed a brightly hued, neo-preppie 25th anniversary collection during New York Fashion Week in September.
When Prince William put an engagement ring on Kate Middleton's finger, he lit a fuse of nearly round-the-clock news coverage that is guaranteed to burn right up to (and probably well beyond) the royal nuptials, scheduled for April 29. Copies of the $535 sapphire-colored Issa jersey dress she wore when the engagement was announced sold out at Net-a-porter.com in an hour, and variations of the sapphire and diamond engagement ring (which was once Princess Diana's) can be found online from $39.54 to $54,405. Banana Republic is ready to help you "get Kate Middleton's look for less." The handful of official engagement and post-engagement photos on the British monarchy's Flickr stream — yes, the British monarchy has a Flickr stream — were collectively viewed more than 76,000 times in the month following the Nov. 15 announcement. And women on both sides of the pond have reportedly been playing "Copy Kate" as they try to duplicate her look in hairstyles and head gear.
While Middleton is at the center of the royal crush, she's far from the full extent of it. The pendulum swing toward a level of royal infatuation that hasn't been seen since the days of Di includes movies such as "The King's Speech," which pulled in the most Golden Globe nominations of this year, and "W.E." a film about King Edward and Wallis Simpson (directed and co-written by Madonna) that's due out in 2011. Prince Albert of Monaco is scheduled to marry Charlene Wittstock in July 2011. And with London as the host city for the 2012 Summer Olympics, don't expect the popular culture fascination with all things regal to wane anytime soon.
China's been the "it" country for the better half of this century, but it's India, the world's largest democracy, that's poised to finally take a place in America's popular culture pantheon befitting a nation of 1.2 billion people. And not just because President Obama called the Indo-American relationship "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century" during a 2010 state visit there and advocated making the nation a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
Since "Slumdog Millionaire," Hollywood has continued to stoke interest in all things India. NBC's sitcom "Outsourced" is about an American company call center relocated to India, and high-profile Bollywood actors have been cast in upcoming mainstream American movies. These include Irrfan Khan as a villain in the 2012 "Spider-Man" re-boot and Anil Kapoor ("Slumdog's" game-show host) in the next "Mission: Impossible" flick. Mumbai-born Freida Pinto, another "Slumdog" alumnus, will be seen in the "Planet of the Apes" pre-quel due out in 2011.
Celebrity weddings ( Katy Perry and Russell Brand tied the knot near a wildlife preserve in northern India in October, and rumors place a potential 2011 Brangelina wedding in Jodhpur) and high-profile events (the ICC Cricket World Cup and the country's first Formula One race are both scheduled in 2011) promise to put the subcontinent on our pop culture radar for good.
Call it post-steampunk up-cycling, a renewed appreciation of all things retro or new wine in old bottles, but the nostalgic longing for the look and feel of days gone by has resulted in an ever-growing "newstalgia" movement, blending elements of today with yesteryear. Twenty-first century hipsters sport handlebar mustaches. Prohibition-era moonshine is back on the shelves of swanky wine shops. You can put your MP3 playlists on a USB memory stick that looks like an analog era mixed-tape cassette.
And, thanks to the website Telegram Stop, anyone with $6 to spend can send the ultimate newstalgic experience: your electronic message printed out to look like a traditional (and now extinct) telegram, which is then physically delivered (by mail) anywhere in the world, with each period punctuation mark converted to the appropriate uppercase STOP.
Graft newstalgia with the eco-friendly ethos that's been prevalent for the last few years, and you get a hardy forest of wood and wood-toned accents — many of them in unexpected places. In the latter half of 2010 alone we've discovered high-end tool sets and flashlights by Jonas Damon in beechwood, Italian-made luxury wristwatches by WeWood in maple and ebony and a line of wholly functional wooden radios by Magno. That doesn't even begin to take into account enough sustainable-growth hardwood iPad cases and earbuds to keep a small-town sawmill in business.
As more of our daily lives are lived online and away from the outside world, look for the warm glow of wood — even if it's just wrapped around the edges of our computer screens or our eyeglass frames — being used to help conjure up a sense of connecting with nature.