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  • The 10 hottest celebrity looks of 2015

    Stylistically speaking, 2015 had more than its share of bright moments. Granted, some stars shone brighter than others — especially when Beyoncé and Kim Kardashianshowed up to the Met Gala in very similar see-through gowns. Still others — we’re looking at you, Amal Clooney! — finally upped their style game.

    Here are 10 of the best celebrity looks of the last year.

    1. Amal Clooney

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    Photo: light pink bridesmaid dresses

    Mrs. Clooney had a rocky first half of the year, but she won us over in this metallic Lanvin ensemble at the Charlotte Tilbury flagship store launch this month in London. Electrifying!

    2. Beyoncé

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    Bey’s been on the style circuit for some time, but she showed she can still knock the ball out of the park when she wore a sparkling Givenchy gown to this year’s Met Gala. Talk about a work of art!

    3. Miss Asia Kinney

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    Lady Gaga’s French bulldog had quite the year, appearing in a Coach campaign in pearls and with a purple leather satchel. She’s truly a fashion force to be reckoned with.

    4. Lady Gaga

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    Of course, how could we not cite the Lady herself — if only for eccentricity. While at Beso restaurant in Los Angeles with beau Taylor Kinney, Gaga dazzled in a barely-there dress and pasties, a look that recalled Rihanna’s CFDA dress.

    5. Kendall Jenner

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    Jenner had this year’s most liked photo on Instagram, and with good reason. But away from the Internet, the starlet also consistently pulled out all the stops on the red carpets with her style savvy. The Ulyana Sergeenko couture gown she wore to the Vogue Paris 95th anniversary party is no exception.

    6. Olivia Palermo

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    If there’s one thing Olivia can do, it’s dress herself: This socialite has more style in her little pinky than most people do in their entire bodies. The Valentino dress she sported at a Lincoln Center tribute to the designer made her look like a bona fide princess.

    7. Kate Bosworth

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    Though we can’t remember the last good movie Bosworth made, she’s never less than golden on the red carpet — particularly in this ephemeral baby-blue Erdem number she wore to this year’s British Fashion Awards in London.

    8. Alicia Vikander

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    Vikander, Louis Vuitton’s current muse, never shies from bold looks. Witness the black-and-gold Proenza Schouler halter dress she wore at the Toronto premiere of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

    9. Zendaya Coleman

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    She’s only 19, but this model/actress/dancer/singer has an utterly advanced sense of style — and it keeps getting better. Then again, it would be hard to top the Barbie-esque Emanuel Ungaro dress she wore to the American Music Awards in Los Angeles.

    10. Kiernan Shipka

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    No matter where she goes, the young star of “Mad Men” always makes an impression. At the 2015 Guggenheim International Gala pre-party, she stunned in Dior Couture.

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  • Block has made business fashionable for 5 decades

    America Chavez was in a full-blown panic.

    She had not been able to find a dress she liked for her niece’s quinceanera, and time was running out.

    “I was stressing. I’m saying, ‘I can’t find a dress, I can’t find a dress.’ So a friend said, ‘Have you been to this boutique,’” Chavez said as she was shopping at Napadashery in downtown Fairfield on Nov. 12.

    This time, the Napa woman was looking for a dress for her daughter’s quinceanera.

    Chavez said she found the perfect dress for her niece’s coming-out party in February, and was quickly falling in love with a dress she tried on for her daughter’s event. She said four of her sisters and five of her nieces have found dresses at the store as well, several of them were shopping with her that day.

    But it is not always about the dress, Chavez said.

    Marge Block, owner of Napadashery in Fairfield, has worked as a fashion retailer for 50 years. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

    “You can get the same blue bridesmaid dresses everywhere, but the customer service here is great. They are always behind you telling you that it looks good,” added Chavez, admitting though that there are also times when she is told the dress does not work for her.

    Marge Block has been finding the perfect outfits, and accessories, for her customers for 50 years, carefully watching the fashion trends, keeping prices down and making sure the customer has a great experience at the store.

    “We actually started selling (men’s wear) out of a car,” Block said.

    Since then, the 73-year-old San Francisco native has had two storefronts in Fairfield, and has switched from selling men’s wear, to girls teen and now to a women’s fashion store at 814 Texas St. Over the years, she said, the level of fashion has become more sophisticated in Fairfield, and she has had to work to keep up with the latest looks.

    That is why she frequently travels to New York, where she searches for the right clothes at the right prices. Customer service is also a big priority for Block, but she said the key is melding all aspects of the business together.

    “In order to survive, you can’t continue to do what you do year after year. So I am constantly looking for new looks at good prices,” said Block. “If you stay stagnant, you are finished.”

    She said she does not judge any customer for her tastes. She tries to work with them, although she admits she has advised some over the years they needed to keep up with the times.

    “My gift is I can look at anyone and dress them so they are thrilled,” Block said.

    “But it is not just customer service. It is also selection and prices. If you don’t have the prices, and red bridesmaid dresses I have, you can have all the customer service in the world, and still not be successful,” she said.

    Still, Block beams when she sees returning customers come into her store. Some have been shopping with her for decades. Some, she said, come from as far away as Fresno and Redding.

    Susan Bumatay has been shopping at Block’s store for more than 25 years, and said Napadashery is the best-kept secret in Fairfield when it comes to women’s clothing.

    “It is amazing the sense Marge has to put everything together,” said Bumatay, who describes herself now as more of a friend than a customer, though a dedicated customer she remains.

    She said when she leaves the store, she knows it is a complete outfit, from the hat on her head to the shoes on her feet.

    “She knows how to buy and compete with the big stores,” Bumatay said.

    It is not just customers who hang around. She has one employee who has worked for her for more than 20 years, and her bookkeeper recently retired after a 46-year business relationship. The woman’s daughter now handles the books.

    “I am very fortunate to have a wonderful staff,” Block said.

    There is a passion behind the work, and Block said she cannot remember when clothing and fashion did not interest her. The way she tells it, it has been an obsession.

    “My father was in the western wear business in San Francisco on Third Street, and I used to beg to go to work with him,” said Block, who often worked on Saturdays and had free rein to move items around in the store and make other suggestions – even as a young teen. “But they (her parents) wanted me to get an education. That was a big deal with my father, who only went through fourth grade.”

    When Block declared she wanted to major in business when she was heading off to college, her father insisted she study education and become a teacher. And that was what she did.

    “I was a teacher for two years, and I hated it,” said Block, who has a daughter and a son, neither of whom had any interest in the fashion business.

    Since then, Block has been living her dream, and she sees no reason to stop. She knows she will retire some day, but does not see that happening anytime soon.

    “This business has been very good to me. I’ve had thousands of people come in over the years. I have wonderful friends,” said Block, adding she enjoys good health and loves coming to the store every day. “I would not change my life for anything.”

    When Jackie Starr came into Napadashery for the first time, she was not even looking for a dress.

    “I had just got a divorce, and Marge heard my story and said, ‘It looks like you need some help.’ So she hired me for two days a week,” said Starr, who has now worked at the store for six years.

    Starr said it is obvious that Block knows what it takes to be successful.

    “She keeps moving.”

  • winter wedding

    A bride who was told she couldn’t have any more children has walked down the aisle with her ‘miracle’ twin girls at her dream wedding.

    Natalie Whitefox, 27, from Hunsworth, West Yorkshire, said it was ‘beyond all my dreams’ to have 16-month-old Heidi and Halle as bridesmaids as she exchanged vows with husband Ross at her winter wonderland-themed ceremony.

    Doctors had said the mother-of-three, who had previously suffered two ectopic pregnancies and four miscarriages, wouldn’t be able to give birth to the twins after both her fallopian tubes.

    However, against all the odds, the girls survived and attended the wedding alongside their big brother, Harry.

    Natalie, who works as a hairdresser, said: ‘The day was absolutely perfect and I still have to pinch myself that it really happened.

    Natalie Whitefox, 27, said it was ‘beyond all my dreams’ to have 16-month-old Heidi and Halle as bridesmaids as she exchanged vows with husband Ross at her winter wonderland-themed ceremony along with their big brother Harry (pictured together above)

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    ‘For such a long time I never thought I would have any more children, so to have the girls by my side on one of the happiest days of my life was beyond all my dreams.’

    In January 2013, Natalie was told she was suffering an ectopic pregnancy and needed a major operation to remove her final fallopian tube and what she thought was a single seven-week foetus.

    She had already had her other tube removed after two previous ectopic pregnancies, and four miscarriages, believed now all her chances of having any more children had been cruelly snatched away.

    But just 24 hours after the operation to save Natalie’s life, doctors detected a tiny heartbeat.

    Miraculously, just before the surgery the tiny embryo had travelled through to her womb. And it wasn’t just one baby – Natalie was pregnant with twins.

    She said: ‘I was stunned. It was the best news. We had gone from believing we had lost our baby to discovering we were having twins.

    A bride has spoken of her joy after her "miracle" babies were able to be bridesmaids for the Christmas wedding she had dreamed of.

    ‘We had no idea how but somehow our babies had survived. I just sobbed and sobbed but this time they were tears of happiness.’

    Natalie was just 18 when she was diagnosed with endometriosis, which affects the lining of the womb.

    She feared she would never be able to carry a baby to term so was overjoyed when she gave birth to son, Harry, now five, in October 2010.

    Natalie needed further operations but she and partner Ross Whitehead, 30, a data analyst, would not give up hope.

    But over the next two years Natalie suffered two heartbreaking ectopic pregnancies, losing both babies, and resulting in her first fallopian tube being removed.

    Determined not to give up, Natalie and Ross went to see a fertility specialist in December 2012, who carried out tests to see if they were eligible for IVF on the NHS.

    But 24 hours later blood tests revealed that despite the fact that my last fallopian tube had been taken away, I was still pregnant. Somehow the embryo had travelled through into the womb But a month later, Natalie suspected she might be pregnant, and a test revealed her greatest wish had come true.

    A few days later, Natalie was sent for a scan. The sonographer couldn’t find the baby and the next day, Natalie was admitted to St James’s Hospital in Leeds after suffering severe stomach pains.

    Scans showed the pregnancy was ectopic and she needed more surgery to have her second fallopian tube removed.

    Natalie said: ‘I just felt like my world had fallen apart. I just wanted to curl up into a ball and never open my eyes again.

    ‘But 24 hours later blood tests revealed that despite the fact that my last fallopian tube had been taken away, I was still pregnant. Somehow the embryo had travelled through into the womb.’

    But despite being told there was a strong chance Natalie could miscarry, she went on to have Heidi and Halle in August 2013, by a planned Caesarean section. Heidi came first, at 4lb 7oz, and Halle soon after, weighting 5lb 0.5oz.

    Natalie, whose wedding was held at a West Yorkshire country hotel, said: ‘We have been through an emotional roller coaster over the last few years, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have two beautiful little girls as bridesmaids.

    ‘The day was absolutely perfect. We couldn’t have been happier.

    'It felt like all our Christmas’s had come at once. We feel so blessed to have three beautiful children and it meant too much that they were there to help celebrate our very special day.’

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