Monthly Archives: September 2011

Is it a tongue twister? No, it’s an acquisition. Sometimes during fashion week it’s what happens when you aren’t looking that’s most interesting.

Fung Brands Limited, the private luxury investment arm of Fung Capital Europe, has bought Delvaux, the Belgium equivalent of Hermes. This follows Fung Brands April purchase of Robert Clergerie, the famous French shoe maker that had almost faded from view.

In other words: since Fung Capital is owned by the Fung family of Hong Kong (aka the Asian retail and distribution powerhouse that owns Li & Fung), the prophesy that western luxury brands will go east, not just for consumers but corporate owners, has once again come true.

The choice of Delvaux is both smart and telling — the latter because it marks a new approach to making east meet west when it comes to luxury. Read more

After Fashion 4 Development, the UN initiative involving Michelle Obama and Carla Sarkozy and geared toward supporting industry in developing countries, after Fashion Ambassadors (where celebs and socialites are paid to wear a brand’s clothes out and about), comes…Ambassadors 4 Fashion, a new, unofficial initiative launched this week in Paris.

I say “unofficial,” because I just made it up. But what else to think after the quartet of invitations I have received. To be specific: Read more

In the “can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-giant-branded-oak-tree” category I would like to nominate all luxury industry watchers (myself included), who have been so distracted by Burberry’s public assumption of tech-God status, recently met by Gucci, that they have TOTALLY OVERLOOKED the real challenger to both those thrones: Estee Lauder.

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For everyone who was super-hyper-over-excited about the recent rumours, sparked this weekend by a report in the IHT, that Jil Sander’s Raf Simons was going to take over for Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent – well, Paul Deneuve, the chief executive of YSL, just told me it wasn’t true. Read more

After the Versace/Missoni condos, and Fendi yachts comes this exciting titbit: Condé Nast International is likewise embracing the lifestyle concept, and opening a Vogue café in Kiev, and a GQ bar in Istanbul. Well, if the companies they cover can do it, why shouldn’t the publishers? Isn’t Vogue as much a brand as the brands in their pages?
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Designers – especially, it seems, Italian designers – are busily embracing all sorts of aesthetic product opportunities beyond the runway. Both Missoni and Versace have teamed up with Century Properties in Manila to create the interiors of new high-rise developments, and Fendi just completed a boat with Princess Yachts. We have trend, people.
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Last week Altgamma published a report aiming to get a handle on the digital life of 187 luxury brands, which together have revenues of E60bn. The conclusions are pretty jaw-dropping. Read more

Pirelli – it’s not just about tyres and tastefully sexed-up calendars anymore. As of this week, it’s also about fashion, as a new 1,500 square metre store, on prime real estate off ur-shopping drag Montenapoleone, demonstrated. It features rubber! A lot of it.
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It being Milan fashion week, I have Milan news on the mind, and here’s something interesting: I’ve just learned Yoox Group, the Italian etail experts who build and manage about half the fashion world’s etail outlets, are about to make a move of their own. Next week,, their high-end multi-brand boutique, will become the first multibrand etailer to launch in China. The floodgates are opening! Let the race begin.

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Tomorrow Gucci will become the first big kahuna to show on day one of Milan Fashion Week – OMG! OMG! — but they’ve already jumped the buzz-generating gun by sending out a curtain-raiser of an announcement: they’ve found a way to make the sci-fi technology of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film “Minority Report” real, and they are putting it in stores.

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Some of the world may be obsessed with fashion that hasn’t yet happened – ie, the stuff currently appearing on runways – but the folks at eBay are much more interested in the profit potential of immediate gratification. How else to think about their new venture, the eBay Fashion Outlet. It’s like Bicester Village or Woodbury Common, but open 24/7 and delivering all the time! Read more

The fact that New York fashion week began on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (OK, it began a few days earlier, but the international heavy hitters didn’t come out until the 11th) at first seemed an unfortunate happenstance, but actually served to highlight one of the more essential fashion truths: with its tendency to plunder and play with the costumes of the past, fashion has a very skewed sense of history, one that focuses on mythology as opposed to actual events.

By Isabel Gorst

Our nominee for oddest moment of the just-ended New York Fashion Week came courtesy of an Uzbek.

Although the city has largely embraced foreign designers — Victoria Beckham and Preen, both British labels, show here, as do Brazilians Carlos Miele and Alexandre Herchcovitch and there was a special Korean fashion show this season — it was interesting to see IMG, the organizers of the week, buckle under pressure from human rights groups and cancel a show by the designer daughter of Islam Karimov, the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan. Read more

What is with these French fashion houses? Do they not get enough attention?

New York fashion? What’s that? Read more

In the category of make-big-news-seem-so-unimportant-people-might-just-miss-it, I would like to nominate today’s press release from Louis Vuitton, entitled “LVMH announces that Jordi Constans will join Louis Vuitton.”

Now, say that arrived in your inbox. What would you think? Who is Jordi Constans? what will he do? Does this matter to me? Read more

Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre, September 13, 2011. Image by Getty.

Whether you think the new the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre is a job generator, sign of rejuvenation in London’s East End and general source of economy-boosting shopping convenience or a hubristic temple to mammon sullying the pure spirit of the Olympics taking place next door, (and during a downturn to boot) it’s here. And it’s gigantic.

The opening day, Tuesday, was not the best time to evaluate such a behemoth with a cool head, because it was absolutely swarming with shoppers. Some were buying, but most were mouths agape at screens showing former Pussycat Doll singer Nicole Scherzinger, who was performing at the opening ceremony. Also any comprehensive review would take until 2012 because it’s huge, and schlepping round it is akin to an Olympic marathon. Read more

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright. Image by Vanessa Friedman.

Maybe, by watching the world’s most fashionable First Ladies, we’ve all been paying attention to the wrong high-profile women, at least as far as clothes go. Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, put in a surprise appearance at Vera Wang, and as far as I am concerned, she left fellow celeb guests Serena Williams and Beyonce in the shade. Read more

J. Crew show. Image by Vanessa Friedman.

At the J. Crew fashion week presentation, which had bright-messy-luxe, sequins-and-slouchy, pretty-is-cool-ness (all of which, in its hands, manages to somehow not seem an oxymoron), I started chatting to Mickey Drexler, the company’s chief executive. Mr Drexler was standing with three of his board members, and all of them were wearing blazers and button-down shirts, no tie.

Anyway, we were talking about the show and the board, when Ikram Goldman, the owner of Chicago mega-boutique Ikram, and the woman who originally put the Obamas in J. Crew, came up to say hi to me. Then she turned to Mr Drexler. Read more

Dress from the Victoria line

Dress from the Victoria collection. Image by Vanessa Friedman.

Not her personally — her company. This summer Victoria Beckham expanded both her family and her family business, and in New York she unveiled both results on Monday.

The first, Harper, her new baby, sat happily on her mother’s lap as VB showed the second: not a diffusion, not a licence, but a lower-priced, looser-fitting, all-dress line called Victoria. Maybe the best way to think of it is as an alternative sartorial personality.

“I think it is!” She said of the easy crepe dresses inspired by the cartoon character Emily Le Strange and printed with line drawings of cats, the colour bloc shifts and memory jacquards curved à la sac dress at the back. “It’s the other side of my wardrobe.” In other words, there are no corsets, the basis of her signature collection, here. “Sometimes you don’t want to worry about the tummy area,” she acknowledged. Read more

New York skyline on September 11, 2011.

New York skyline on Sept 11, 2011. Getty Images.

I asked last week whether New York Fashion Week would mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The anniversary was a difficult day and I found the psychological dissonance created by observing fashion shows on the anniversary of 9/11 while my children watched the memorial ceremony at Ground Zero — seeing a product about the future, on a day about the past — jarring.

As that rare thing, a native New Yorker, I had found it odd that, until yesterday, NY fashion had seemingly done so little to deal with, or even acknowledge the events of 9/11. Read more