Monthly Archives: April 2011

And so we have ourselves a new style icon. On Friday Catherine Middleton became a princess, walking through the doors of Westminister Abbey not just into royal history, but sartorial history too – whether she likes it or not, and whether the international fashion police like what she wore or not. Not that she has much choice in the matter. When you are a public figure, especially a female public figure, you are judged on what you wear.

We all know now that Alexander McQueen’s fortune has been made thanks to the fact their designer, Sarah Burton, was chosen to create the royal wedding dress, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Indeed, there are a number of other brands and sectors that will benefit from having a product in the royal wedding. Starting with:

1. Cartier: the French brand made the tiara that was the subject of much will-she-or-won’t-she speculation pre-wedding, conventional wisdom dictating that a jewelled headpiece would be too old-fashioned an option for the new-fangled bride. Well, lo! She went with tradition, borrowing the “halo” tiara made in 1936 and bought by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his wife (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother), who then gave it to The Queen for her 18th birthday. Expect a tiara resurgence, and a Cartier spotlight. Read more

Since this is a royal wedding, every little bit of the royal wedding dress actually has symbolic meaning, and roots in different parts of British industry.  Read more

So the answer is in: Sarah Burton did indeed make Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. A major British brand for a new British royal.

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Well, Prince William fooled us all. For weeks, while speculation has roared around his bride, everyone said with great certainty he would wear a RAF uniform by Gieves & Hawkes. But he just appeared in…the red uniform of a Colonel in the Irish Guards.  Read more

Royal Wedding Day minus 1 and slowly the sartorial chips are falling into place. Read more

Lately I can’t seem to escape stories in which various clothing manufacturers brag – publicly, with names – about how fast they are going to rip off the royal wedding dress as soon as Kate Middelton takes her first steps down the aisle at Westminister Abbery, and they can actually tell what she is wearing. But why is this so celebrated/accepted?

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I had an interesting lunch the other day with Jason Wu, a young Taiwanese-American designer in the uptown mode who shot to fame in 2009 when he designed the one-shouldered white gown Michelle Obama wore to the Presidential inaugural balls. Anyway, Mr Wu had some interesting observations about the experience, and advice for whomever ends up designing Catherine Middleton’s dress.
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Today may be Easter Monday, but it is also – zing! – RWD minus four (aka Royal Wedding Day, for those who aren’t up on their acronyms), so we will finally wade into the royal wedding dress fray, and take a moment to wash the Augean stables of gossip clean – or at least cast a calm look at the odds of the various designer names floating about.  Read more

When the celebrity hair mogul Vidal Sassoon – or, to be entirely accurate, when the celebrity hair mogul Vidal Sassoon’s people – told me he wanted to have lunch at the Monkey Bar in Manhattan, my cynical self leapt to certain conclusions: that, for example, Sassoon had chosen this restaurant because of its fame as a people-watching schmooze fest, thanks to owner Graydon Carter, aka editor of Vanity Fair magazine and the host of a mega Oscars party, who presides over meals from a banquette; that Sassoon would take a walkabout as he entered, past regulars such as author Fran Lebowitz and TV anchor Charlie Rose, meeting and greeting. In conclusion, that the whole point of choosing this place was to demonstrate, in the short space between hostess and table, the extent to which Sassoon has transcended shampoo to become a celebrity.

Last Tuesday, when Burberry’s share price hit a record high of £12.15, Angela Ahrendts, its 50-year-old chief executive, was on her way back from hosting a fashion show in Beijing, featuring the British rock band Keane and large digital images of Big Ben. But rather than celebrating her company scaling the financial heights, she was looking to go even higher via Burberry’s largest Asian store yet.

Not long ago the editor of the FT was hosting an internal event and told a story about a recent trip to Japan in which he met chief government spokesman Yukio Edano and broke the ice by asking him about Edano’s ubiquitous blue jacket. No, I am not giving anything away here – I asked permission to reveal the event, because I felt the point of the episode went much further than the jacket. It spoke to the state of the country, of course, but it also struck me that the narrative of Japan since March 11 has, in part, been a story told through clothes; a drama in three sartorial acts.

The Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world is out and guess what: there’s only ONE fashion person on it: Tom Ford.  Read more

The grand British fashion historian and critic Colin Macdowell has just written a rather incendiary, and I think alarmist, essay on the bussinessoffashion that (I think) has made the connection between the government forcing English students to pay for education and the death of English fashion. Read more

It struck me, reading the peppy results releases from Burberry and LVMH yesterday and today about their financial performance in the six months ending march 31, 2011, and first quarter 2011 respectively (Burberry revenue up 30%; LVMH revenue up 17%), that Japan barely figured in the reports.

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Euromonitor has a new report out, and this one’s a doozy: it says Poland is the world’s fourth fastest growing luxury market behind China.  Read more

Next Friday is Earth Day. It’s also Good Friday, but that’s a random calendar coincidence. While it will be easy to recognise the latter, I’m not sure I would know about the former if it weren’t for the avalanche of e-mails over the last few weeks raving about a new bamboo-fibre or sustainable shopping bag – if there wasn’t, that is to say, a consumer opportunity in every cause, and marketing to push it. In this, Earth Day seems to rival Christmas for fashion enthusiasm. But how deep does it really go?

LVMH has severed its last employer-employee ties with John Galliano, and fired him from the brand that bears his name, a source confirmed today. Of course, Mr Galliano still owns shares in his eponymous company (LVMH just has a majority), so they’ll have to maybe sort of work together, unless they sell it, a natural next step, and pass the tarnished-name-problem onto someone else. Not that the LVMH folks are talking.

Officially, there is “No release, comment or anything on the record” (this from a spokesperson).

Well, it had to happen sooner or later: after all the Prince William/Kate Middleton brouhaha of the last few weeks, the issues of Vogue (British) and People (American) devoted to the devoted couple, the unending speculation about what she will wear and how she will wear her hair and whether it will be flowers or tiaras at dawn (ok, 11 am), finally a few grumpy old souls are stepping forward and saying “enough already.” Read more

The ongoing controversy over Muslim girls’ rights to wear headscarves in schools in various European countries has produced acres of column inches, protests, and state/church punditry, but next week, for the first time, it will also produce – a fashion show. Read more