Monthly Archives: February 2011

Ever since Coco Chanel it’s been a truism of female designers that they create for themselves: that their collections are inspired by what they feel is lacking in their wardrobe (men, it is said, design for some ideal in their own mind). Such is the case, anyway, with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, the child-stars-turned-very-convincing-designers who have always said they got into fashion in search of the perfect t-shirt. (Like Victoria Beckham, their fashion line still gets talked about, for no good reason, with “gee whiz they can really do this!” surprise; really both the Olsens and Mrs Beckham should just be characterised as designers now, and, if need must, former actors/singers.)

Anyway, this “I’m-just-designing-for-my-needs” stuff can seem like a bit of a line the 200th time you hear a female designer spouting it, so I was kind of charmed today to see Ashley Olsen sneaking off by herself at the presentation of The Row, aka the brand created by herself and her sister. As Mary Kate and their communications team talked various editors and buyers through the excellent collection of cashmere “pajama” suits, knit mink jumpers, and tunic dresses, Ashley pulled a midnight blue devore velvet bathrobe dress off a hangar and started layering it over her clothes, checking herself out in the mirror. Then she saw me watching her and shrugged: “it’s one of my favourite things,” she said. 

Here is an rather interesting excerpt from Derek Lam’s show notes today:

“As prices for pure raw materials become more and more expensive; cotton, cashmere, merino wool, and silks prices have rose (sic) dramatically in the last two years, many of the mills have responded by mixing less precious yarns into the compositions….Cotton is combined with canepea, a fibre similar to linen…Silk poplin is woven with nylon to take a plain cloth and give it a washed and warm look….Viscose is added to silk twill….Cupro added to satin silk yarns….” 

No, that is not a snarky reference to Ms Beckham’s fourth pregnancy; I’m talking about her collection. Last season she added bags to her eponymous line, and today she introduced…wait for it…coats! It’s not a child, but given the nine month gestation time from design to retail, it’s close.

As it turned out they were worth waiting for. Simple wool designs with narrow arms, high buckled polo necks, hidden closures, and seams that curved around the breast bone to create some give in the body, they were elegant and smart, both in terms of style and launch. 

Today’s Edun show, all African-inspired swirly silk prints, safari-tinted earth tones, and touch, bush-wacking-cool clothes, was not only a nice sartorial stride forward for the trade-for-Africa-directed brand, but may be the third leg of an eco/ethical strategy currently being deployed, slightly under the radar, by the brand’s majority shareholder LVMH.

Consider: two days before the Edun collection, Belvedere vodka (one of the LVMH drinks brands) unveiled a new collaboration with (RED), the prevent AIDS-in-Africa charity, consisting of a limited edition (RED) bottle launching at the Grammy’s – the first such initiative ever taken by a drinks brand. 

I just received the following email: “‘m contacting you on behalf of Muscat Fashion Week in Oman… Muscat Fashion Week is the first of its kind in Oman, and will feature all Middle-Eastern designers. It will be the first fashion week that reflects Arab fashion heritage. Muscat Fashion Week takes place from the 22nd to 24th of February, so it’s just around the corner and unfortunately clashes slightly with London and Milan.”

Here’s my reaction: YERGGGHH!! 

There has been much talk at the beginning of New York fashion week (whoopee!) about the incredible shrinking of the shows. Not the number of shows themselves, which is still alarmingly high, but the shrinking of the show spaces: the purported embrace of new, intimate catwalks that only allow a few hundred, instead of many hundred, attendees.

Y-3, for example, has a “new, intimate” venue downtown instead of the Park Avenue armoury; ditto Yeohlee Teng, who only has room for – count ‘em – 50, as opposed to 500. This is being blamed, variously, on: 

Forget all that stuff about old media fashion editors being threatened by the presence of bloggers in various fashion show front rows – that was SO last season. This season, as New York fashion week kicks off (whoopee!!! ), it’s all about old media taking on old media. 

Today The Square, that little plastic device Twitter founder Jack Dorsey invented about a year and a half ago to allow anyone to accept credit card payments via their smartphone, is having a makeover.  

Seems rumours of the It bag’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. It hasn’t expired; It has just moved: countries and genders. From being a western woman thing, it is now a chinese male thing.  

Turns out, while LVMH’s mouth was busy with its results announcement last week, insisting once again they had nothing but cuddly-wuddly intentions toward Hermes, their hands were busy shelling out for Ole Henriksen, the LA-based “botanical beauty brand.”