Monthly Archives: January 2011

There’s a big Tom Ford interview in this month’s interview magazine, by the artist and FoT John Currin, in which Mr Ford makes two pretty provocative statements.

 

Does retail need retailers? This is not a rhetorical question. Mark Lee, the CEO of Barney’s, has finally appointed his Woman’s Fashion Director, thus completing his makeover of the store’s executive suite.  

I’m interested in the news that Prada has decided to hold its long-postponed IPO in Hong Kong, though not only for the reason everyone else seems to be (namely that it marks the beginning of what will become a flood of western brands listing in HK). Personally, I’m more interested in what this suggests about the Chinese consumer. 

The couture shows, which ended yesterday, were lovely, but not particularly buzzy; even Jean-Paul Gaultier’s decision to make Andrej Pejic, the boy model who looks kind of like a girl model, his bride, didn’t elicit more than slightly raised eyebrows from his audience: “Oh, him again?” Instead, the most-talked-about award goes to a 25-year-old Parisian called Maxime Simoens, whose clothes are fine – they are actually very high-end ready-to-wear, and involve well-cut little dresses in interesting prints, pieced long gowns, the occasional feather or leather applique – but whose strategic mind, when it comes to building a modern fashion business, is really interesting. 

I think you could have guessed at the message of unity and compromise (kind of) even before President Barack Obama opened his mouth last night. Or any art major could.

Instead of opting for his classic signature tie in that nice shade of True Blue (worn at least 90 per cent of the time over the last two years during public appearances, the meeting with Hu Jintao last week being a rare exception), or swapping sides entirely to wear Reagan Red in a direct appeal for fellowship to Republicans, he opted for a sort of bluish lilac shade.

Or, as one friend wrote, “Wisteria.”

And, if you look at the two guys behind him – Biden in blue stripes, Boehner in pink – and then combine the colours of their ties, you get….sort of a bluish lilac.

Compromise! A little of his agenda, a little of their’s! 

Image by Catwalking.com

I suppose it’s a natural extension of the high/low give and take that currently fuels fashion: if H&M and Zara can be inspired by what they see on branded catwalks, and ready to wear brands can make their own premium jeans, why can’t couture?

Well, one might say, because, paying couture sums (the average couture dress or suit clocks in over €10,000) for jeans is just – dumb. But apparently Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s designer, has a little PT Barnum in him, and is out to prove there’s a sucker born every minute, because today he showed faded, skinny jeans with diamante ankle buttons as part of his couture. 

I spend yesterday at the DLD (Digital Life Design) conference in Munich, and was struck by two things, one I found amusing and one that was just very smart: 

Gosh, fashion pundits are cranky these days. Following Bridget Foley’s treatise on the dumbing down of fashion in WWD, Imran Amed, the guy behind the site www.businessoffashion.com, has taken out his critical stick and started wacking the Milan men’s wear brands: he says they don’t understand jack about the digital world. 

I admit: at first, when I saw pictures of Michelle Obama at last night’s state dinner in her Alexander McQueen dress, I got excited. It marked her second english designer outfit in as many days during Hu Jintao’s state visit (she wore Roksanda Ilincic for their arrival), and seemed to suggest an end to the conventional use of dress in such occasions, which says the First Lady has to either fly the national flag and wear a local designer, or, if she wants to be rebellious, only go so far as to wear a designer from the country of her guest (ie, Naeem Khan to the India state dinner).

 

The start of NY fashion week, which begins the fashion marathon that swings from here to London, Milan and Paris (and truncates the years of those of us who run this hamster wheel to 10 months instead of 12), may also be the start of a new trend — or what one American accessories designer hopes is a new trend: crowdsourcing the fashion show stylist.