Monthly Archives: November 2010

Oh, the tangled web these luxury moguls weave. We all know about Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault, but how about those Reimanns? Granted, the name doesn’t rhyme as well with their rivals, but the German billionaires are creeping down the luxury acquisition warpath led by executive Peter Harf.

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The New York Times magazine had a bumper package yesterday entitled “Shop China Shop!” Actually, the shopping story turned out to be subordinant to a bigger, Chinese economy story, but I guess it made a better cover. I hoped what was inside could answer a pressing question I’ve had about the lifespan of blingy luxury in emerging markets.

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Antoine Arnault, Bernard Arnault’s 33-year-old son from his first marriage, is stepping into the management hot seat. Though it has not been officially announced, insiders have confirmed he is leaving his current job as Communications Director of Louis Vuitton to become managing director of Berluti, the luxury shoe brand that LVMH bought in 1993, in the new year.  Read more

It’s been somewhat amusing to watch the reaction to the December American Vogue, wherein the magazine mistakenly reveals, hidden among other exciting things (like how Angelina Jolie feels about Brad Pitt), a notable political incorrectness. Read more

Yesterday marked a sudden surge in spending — not just on stuff, but on companies. According to the investment bankers with their eye on the retail and fashion sector, Christmas itself has come early: J. Crew has been sold for billions to private equity! Gymboree has gone to Bain! Coty has bought Philosophy from the Carlyle Group! (Remember: three=trend.) Action! The engine has restarted! And so on.

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So, re my post yesterday, apparently I am not the only one who has taken note of the action in the virtual fashion space. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, those Tweet-savants, as well as Nina Garcia of Project Runway and Marie Claire magazine fame (and – full disclosure – another old Elle colleague) have all invested in a Series A fundraising round for Fashism.com, a virtual gaming site/app where players post photos of themselves, and other users get to vote on whether or not they should buy the pictured outfit.

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It’s starting to seem like practically every week there’s some new digital love story happening with fashion, and hey — you’ll be happy to know this week is no exception! There’s a very good piece this morning on BusinessofFashion.com about the rise of Tumblr as the platform of choice for the fashion world, and the company’s decision to make fashion a central core of their community.
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All comments and reactions appreciated. Read more

Last night I went to the Pierre hotel in New York to see a Lanvin loves H&M fashion show. They – by which I mean H&M, since this was clearly their gig to fund, though it had been given a Lanvin make-over — had taken over a jewel-like ballroom in the luxury hotel and erected a catwalk; outside was a red carpet.  Read more

The other day a very successful middle market etailer came to see me, to talk about her company’s growth and plans for the future. Aside from adding a magazine editor to pump up the content (this is a major trend in fashion web sites), said etailer is also renaming what they sell: instead of “accessible luxury” they are going to offer “everyday luxury.”

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All is revealed! Google has posted the following announcement/explanation of their fashion site, courtesy of Munjal Shah, product management director. And, because companies tend to dress up such statements, I’ve done my best to parse the patterns underneath:

“The way we shop for fashion is different from how we buy cameras—especially online. With fashion, reviews and specs are less important; fashion shopping is about discovering something that fits your taste and feels right.”

Wait! I thought fashion shopping was about trying things on and sharing them with your friends to get comments? Isn’t that what other sites have been selling? Google is telling us whatever dot com we’ve been visiting is wrong.

“The web works well for buying cameras and other hard goods but for soft goods, such as clothing and accessories, it’s not the same as shopping in a store.”

Have they been talking to the luxury guys? This is their rap. Read more

Daniella Issa Heyalel, aka the Brazilian founder and designer of London-based fashion label Issa, just shot to the top of the Who-Will-Make-Princess-Catherine’s-Dress list; turns out not only did she make the blue dress Kate Middleton wore to a friend’s recent wedding, she made yesterday’s official engagement announcement dress — which was ready-to-wear. Read more

And so the frenzied speculation about who will make the next royal wedding dress — and reap profits from it — begins. Today’s official announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton may have romance novelists swooning and traffic cops in a frenzy, but British fashion designers have pound signs in their eyes and ka-chings in their ears (Ms Middleton has to wear British, after all). Read more

So Google is moving from search to shops. Rumours have been circulating since last week, when Save the Date invites started going out about a party being held in New York Wednesday, hosted by the search company and theoretically filled with fashion people, and now Women’s Wear has confirmed: plans are in the works for boutiques.com (that seems to be the working name, anyway), a new Google site, where you can set up your own virtual boutique, and then, if you like the stuff you’ve picked (or if you mom likes it, or your best friend, and thus approves of your choices), click through to the source of the product – ie Gucci — and buy it yourself.  Read more

Yesterday Ruth La Ferla wrote a provocative story in the NYT about the rise of the fashion editor as star. That’s a big deal, but what she didn’t say was what this meant for the glossies that employ them: bad news.
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Gianfranco Ferre collection. Image by catwalking.com

Gianfranco Ferre collection. Image by catwalking.com

It’s all executive change at Gianfranco Ferre and Brioni. Yesterday Paolo Romani, Italy’s recently nominated minister for economic affairs, approved the purchase of the first by the New York-based merchant bank Prodos Capital Management LLC, which had been pending since September when this newspaper first reported the presence of Prodos’ chairman, Douglas Song, in Ferre’s front row. Ferre, along with former parent company Ittierre, has been in administration for the past two years. The Prodos purchase, which WWD reported at between $13.8m and $20.8m, is effected partly through agreements with Samsung (still to be finalized) and the Greek shipping company Salmar Shipping Ltd. Read more

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its next great Costume Institute theme: Alexander McQueen! And the underwriter of show as well as the opening night party, aka the Party of the Year, aka the ultimate nexus of fashion and celebrity and society (chairs are Stella McCartney, Colin Firth and Anna Wintour; honorary chairs are PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault, owner of McQueen, and his wife, Salma Hayek), is…Alexander McQueen! What a surprise.

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As George W. Bush, the former 43rd president of the United States, aka “the Decider”, embarks on his book tour, the sartorial totems of his time in office – his good ‘ole boy cowboy boots and denim, which the President employed to demonstrate 1) his understanding of regular people; and 2) his frontier toughness (well, everything in relative) – have been nowhere in sight.
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Valerie Wilson Plame, the subject of the new movie “Fair Game,” which features costumes by Giorgio Armani, has confessed to WWD that when she had to testify before Congress she went out and bought herself some… Armani. Think they had to drag it out of her?

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I am the keynote speaker for a big medical conf. The audience is mostly old WASPy types who wouldn’t hire me because I was a woman. It’s a weird moment for me. I need to wear something HOT but also confident and classy.  Read more