Monthly Archives: August 2011

So, back from my August vacation two days late thanks to Hurricane Irene, to discover, at least as far as NY fashion goes, things seem pretty much business as usual — except for Marc Jacobs, who apparently has decided he has to move his show from its usual slot at 8pm Monday the 12th, to a new closing slot on Thursday the 15th at 8:30 pm, thus extending the show week for a good five hours. Apparently, needed the extra sewing time thanks to the hurricane, which reveals a lot about the last-minute nature of what goes on the runway.  Read more

As summer draws to a close (wah!) and September looms, with all its related back-to-school and back-to-work associations, I have a prediction to make for those who may still be at the beach/in the woods (yours truly) but are nonetheless getting a jump on things and readying themselves mentally and organisationally for The Return: this will be the autumn of Elizabeth Taylor.

The stylistas attending Milan Fashion Week next month will find themselves with a spare 45 minutes to say, drink 10 espressos in a row, or add up the cost of Vogue’s Anna Dello Russo’s latest look. The reason behind this sudden gap in the schedule on September 25? Brioni’s women’s wear show has been cancelled, because more dramatically, the Brioni women’s wear line has been cancelled.

After speculation on Monday, the label released a statement on Wednesday confirming the news:

“This strategic decision has been made in order for the company to re-focus its resources on the men’s market, which is recently becoming both increasingly competitive and global.”

Brioni spring summer 2011 collection

Brioni spring/summer collection 2011. Image by Catwalking.

Brioni’s women’s wear line was far smaller than its luxury men’s wear business, and enjoyed nothing like the same level of cachet. However, the fact that the label hired designer Alessandro Dell’ Acqua to revamp its women’s wear range in May 2010 means the closure will surprise many.

While Dell’ Acqua’s shows weren’t exactly setting Milan Fashion Week on fire in creative terms, like a Prada or Jil Sander, Brioni showed many stylish pieces rendered in the extremely luxurious fabrics for which the label is known. A highlight of the spring/summer 2011 show was elegantly tailored high waisted red trousers worn with a pussy bow chiffon blouse. Autumn/winter’s tailored trousers were sleek and  flattering. The women’s brand could potentially have forged an identity as a go-to label for classic, but not staid tailoring that didn’t feel aggressive, masculine or corporate. After all, Alessandro knows how to do femininity. And where there’s a women’s brand, however small, if the name is big enough then there’s the potential to launch a fragrance and accessories… Read more

A shoe by Christian Louboutin

Image by Getty

Shoe designer Christian Louboutin’s continuing legal fight to protect his signature red soles from imitators is fascinating. Can you really own a colour? Can the designer really uphold such a simple- but oh-so-effective-USP? Christian Louboutin certainly hopes so. A spokesperson for his eponymous label confirms that the designer plans to appeal a New York judge’s decision last week to deny Louboutin’s bid to block Yves Saint Laurent from producing red-soled shoes in its 2011 Cruise collection.

The story so far: in 2008 Louboutin trademarked a lacquered red sole on footwear ( Pantone No. 18-1663 TP, or “Chinese Red,” FYI). In April this year Louboutin filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in New York saying that YSL had breached its copyright by using the red sole, in July the judge heard preliminary evidence – with YSL’s representative arguing that no brand should have a “monopoly on a colour”- and last week Judge Victor Marrero denied Louboutin’s atttempt to block YSL’s shoes. Read more

The fashion industry has plenty of tactics for confronting economic turmoil, especially when it comes to conflating need and desire. Witness the fact that the ante has been upped on “investment pieces”, and they’re now referred to as “forever pieces”. Beyond imaginative vocabulary, though, decorative escapism, or even bright colours to lift the mood, there’s another more obvious tactic retailers could employ to sustain sales: focusing on career-enhancing clothing. Read more

August in the UK is the silly season (well, not so much this year – this year, things are looking rather serious – but traditionally). It’s when everyone goes on holiday and the definition of “news” gets stretched but, even by those standards, among the silliest, as well as the strangest, events of this summer is the elevation of Pippa Middleton to style icon status. Every month I think it will go away – and every month I discover I am wrong.

Dunno about you, but I thought debates were useful in part because they help voters distinguish between candidates. Yesterday in Iowa for their first showdown in the bizarrely important early primary state, many of the Republican wanna-be presidents seemed to have forgotten that tenet, and instead dressed to be indistinguishable – not only from each other, but from President Barack Obama,  Read more

Recently I was at the unveiling of the new line of UGG Australia boots – you know, those squishy sheepskin booties that looks like slippers and became hugely trendy after movie stars like Kate Hudson started wearing them with shorts to get their Starbucks. Anyway, these UGGs were not those UGGs. These UGGs were all Made in Italy, mostly sporting very high heels or wedges, and priced not an average of $150, but an average of $1095. Yes, UGG, one of the defining styles of modern mass market cool, wants in on luxury. But does luxury want in on UGG?
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It seems Goldman Sachs is not the only financial powerhouse interested in investing in what they have termed the “N-11” countries. This morning Kleiner Perkins, the Palo Alto-based venture capitol firm that has become synonymous with internet investing has announced it is fronting $13 million worth of series four money funding for, the fastest growing, biggest fashion etail site in Turkey. This has some very frightening implications for traditional designers and retailers. Read more

Pity the poor jewelers of this world. As the price of gold soars and investors hoard bullion, the price of one of the luxury industry’s prime raw materials goes through the roof; suddenly, what was the base metal of high-end adornment has become as precious as the sparklers it normally holds. The unknown now becomes how consumers will react to this change; whether their idea of what gold jewellery represents (glamour, a special indulgence, an investment), will catch up to commodities reality, and they will see gold jewellery as an even better place to put their money, or whether they will run from the inflated prices. Read more

And so the McQueen blockbuster has finally come to an end, the most successful fashion show the Metropolitan Museum has ever put on. So where, inquiring minds want to know, will it go next? No where. Apparently, unlike almost every other cultural arena, from theatre to musicals to music to books to film to other museum shows, a sell-out fashion show is not a transferable proposition. Yeah, right. And I have a bridge I can sell you. Read more

Hoo-ha in the US yesterday not just about plunging stocks, but plunging model ages, as Good Morning America discovered that French Vogue and other such mags have been putting a 10 year old -gasp – in their pages. Now what was once a rumbling within fashion has burst out into the world of public opinion and opprobrium, but what the critics should be asking is not “Is this appropriate?” but rather, “Does the sort of shoot actually do what it is supposed to do — move product?”

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Is the fact that IMF chief Christine Lagarde has made Vanity Fair’s International best-dressed list good or bad for the image of bankers? Though at first I was excited about the news — yay! A female banker has finally been acknowledged for sartorial prowess; the “boring” stereotype is broken — after sleeping on it, I actually think this one could backfire.

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If you don’t know Nicola Formichetti, aka the artist formerly known as Lady Gaga’s stylist, you will very soon. He has plans for world domination. Not I didn’t say fashion world domination. He’s gone way beyond that.

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If ever a man tried to telegraph the fact he was stuck between two competing factions via his tie, it’s Barack Obama.

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Sir Isaac Newton said it first (actually, he said it third, if we are being specific): for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So it should come as no surprise that after the soaring popularity of internet sale sites such as Gilt, Rue La La, and Ideeli, to name a few of the much-talked-about, cut-price, get-it-now-or-lose-out-forever-etailers, comes a new raft of sites geared not toward making high-end goods accessible to the masses, but rather helping the very few become even more elite. Read more

Is there a difference between European and American luxury? And if so, does it have to do with aesthetics, or markets? I’ve been pondering this ever since the news broke that, after a year of rumours, Andrew Rosen, the great NY garmento who founded Theory and re-invented Helmut Lang, and John Howard of Irving Place Capitol (a fashion-focused private equity fund) finally bought Permira’s stake in US brand Proenza Schouler.
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