The general reaction from most laypersons upon seeing a Comme des Garcons show (left) can be boiled down to a single word: “huh?” Or maybe three: “What was that?” Or four: “I don’t get it.” You can kind of understand it, when designer Rei Kawakubo says things like “I was trying not to make clothes,” and it was about “monsters.” And yet Comme des Garcons is a very healthy, $200m business. So how do they get from the extremity of what’s on the catwalk to this commercial reality? Read more
Regular readers of this blog will know that I like to top off my fashion month with a visit to the Alaia atelier to see what the designer is doing and experience the fashion equivalent of a cleanse: Mr Alaia, after all, works exactly as he wants, shrugging off the demands of seasons and showing and trends. Ayn Rand would have loved him. Read more
Humility has not always been a word associated with either the name Louis Vuitton (the powerhouse of the LVMH luxury engine) or Nicolas Ghesquiere (the ex-Balenciaga creative director who got in trouble for bad-mouthing his former employer in an interview). Yet humility was exactly the way Mr Ghesquiere approached his first collection for Louis Vuitton. Read more
It’s interesting, in all the breathless reports about Fast Retailing’s maybe-possibly-hope-so acquisition of J Crew, Andrew Rosen has not really figured. It’s all about Fast’s chairman, Tadashi Yanai, and his desire to acquire, along with the accessible luxury brand, its CEO, Millard “Mickey” Drexler (though presumably creative director Jenna Lyons is also a plus). Yet Mr Rosen, who is a group senior vice-president of Fast Retailing, and instrumental in their US operation, being the CEO of Theory and Helmut Lang (which Fast bought fully in 2009), happens to be very, VERY (I could say that again, but won’t, because I think you get the point) good friends with Mr Drexler. See where I’m going with this? Read more
By Vanessa Friedman and Elizabeth Paton
Once upon a time it was all so easy: everything rode on who had the prettiest dress.
That shot would go around the world, making the brand that made the dress lots and lots of money in free editorial. But today, the red carpet has become a major marketing vehicle.
Not only is EVERY possible item that goes on a celebrity’s body on awards night – be it jewels or shoes or makeup -being identified, dissected and therefore promoted, but celebrities themselves are also monetizing their appearances by cutting exclusivity deals. This means it is getting harder and harder to call a winner.
Because its not just about who looks good anymore. Its about which brand has the most pulling power, and the deepest pockets to snag the most stars who will in turn benefit the most from their investment in the evening. Read more
“What was that designer thinking?” This is the sort of question that gets asked a lot when faced with, say, a languorous evening dress from Hussein Chalayan decorated not with multicoloured beads or paillettes but fake nail tips (brilliant repurposing of basic beauty object?) followed by a smoky organza gown with a peekaboo panel opened in the front to reveal the bustier that lies beneath (here is what you do not see?).
Blame Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel (or maybe even the eight female ministers that make up half of the cabinet of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s new prime minister), but these days trouser suits and women in power just seem to go together like, well, jackets and pants.
This Sunday is the Oscars, which as we all know is the be-all and end-all of red carpet dressing, and may explain the notable lack of Hollywood celebrities at Paris Fashion Week thus far: they’re all back in Hollywood, juicing in order to get their stomachs flat. Or, in fact – and here’s what I am thinking – there may be something else going on. Something that has to do with changing markets, and marketing. Read more
Today the FT is reporting that Blackstone is the clear leader in the race for the Versace minority stake – which is surprising on the surface, given that the private equity firm has never made any forays into high fashion, and private equity as a sector has had mixed results in the sector, sic Permira and Valentino, and TPG and Bally. So why the mutual attraction? I was speculating with a colleague recently, and she mentioned what is probably the magic word: hotels. Aka the Next Big Brand extension of luxury. Read more