Monthly Archives: November 2011

The news that the dress Amy Winehouse wore on the cover of “Back to Black” just sold for an unexpected £43,200 (four times its estimate) is interesting. Not just because it’s a lot of money for a generally unremarkable, non-provenance, frock, but because of who bought it and what that signifies: Fundacion Museo De La Moda in Chile. Either Ms Winehouse enjoyed a surprisingly amount of popularity in that country, or there’s a new way of valuing fashion in the offing.

 

The powers that be are spinning the British Fashion Awards as the triumph of the women — Victoria Beckham took home designer brand of the year; Stella McCartney, the red carpet award; Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, designer of the year; Mary Katranzou, emerging talent — but as far as I am concerned the real stories are elsewhere. Of the above, only one, Katrantzou, shows in the UK. Meanwhile, two (Tabitha Simmons and Dellal) are actually shoe designers. And a third (Christopher Kane) won a new award invented for this year’s ceremony. Hmmmmm.

 

British Fashion Awards 2011 - London. Sarah Burton with the Designer of the Year award. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Sarah Burton, Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards 2011. Ian West/PA Wire

Take a wild guess who won the designer of the year award at the British Fashion Awards last night. Yup, it was Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. A well deserved win, given her acclaimed royal wedding dress and the sensitive way in which she has interpreted Alexander McQueen’s legacy, but not really a surprise. It was the first of many not-really-a-surprises at the awards, held in London’s Savoy hotel, which is probably a good thing, indicating that there is a consensus behind which British names are ones to be confident about.

Mary Katrantzou, who won the Emerging Talent – Womenswear award, is fast becoming a highlight – if not the highlight – of London Fashion Week. Not only are her bold and unusual prints arresting, they are also tailored to be highly wearable and fairly commercial. The question of when a designer is no longer deemed to be emerging can be a problematic one though; there’s often no clear moment when they become – like a butterfly from a chrysalis – fully formed. 

The flagship superstore is getting yet another special feature: after cafes and restaurants (Armani, Gucci), concert halls (Chanel), bookstores (Marc Jacobs, Armani), and art galleries (LV), comes actual film theatres. Louis Vuitton has announced their new maison in Rome will “house a small cinema show casing art films from contemporary artists.” This is an arresting new development. 

Recently, I got an email from a reader asking: “Do you think things would have been different in Italy if Silvio Berlusconi had let his hair go naturally grey?”

By now it’s a truism of the Facebook age that social media allows relatively small brands or individuals to attain audiences far larger than they would traditionally have reached; the barriers to entry are so low, and the potential users so high. So it’s a bit of a shocker to see the latest study from L2, the digital think tank, which looked at small-to-mid-size European luxury fashion brands and their “digital IQ” (ie, how well they use the digital space for etail/communication/marketing) and discover they pretty much…suck.

 

After the runaway viral success of his YouTube video for the Lanvin autumn/winter collection, designer Alber Elbaz has lent his hand to Claridge’s christmas cheer by creating their holiday tree. I feel a clever brand extension coming on.
 

Yesterday, for the first time, Antonio Tajani, the European Commission’s VP for industry, met with a bunch of luxury companies like Chanel, Dior, Pucci, MaxMara and Harrods to talk about what the brands and the EU might be able to do for each other. Wait — the first time? Yes, weird as that may sound, after two years of lobbying, the ECCIA (European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance) finally succeeded in getting Brussels’ attention. 

The London 2012 Olympics may not start until July, but Stella McCartney’s personal marathon begins in February. The designer, who is creating the uniforms for Team GB, has agreed to return to London Fashion Week for a one-off extravaganza on February 18. This follows a pre-collection presentation in NY in January and a perfume launch, and precedes her usual autumn/winter collection show in Paris. Expect drumrolls of pre-publicity, fights for tickets, clogged thoroughfares — expect, in other words, an effective dry run for the Olympics proper. Especially when it comes to competition.

 

I spend a lot of time harping on the importance of clothes and fashion as symbols we use to communicate various points about ourselves and what we think/believe, but I’m not the only one: recently Liberty, the UK-based civil rights group, nominated a 13-year-old schoolboy from Cambridgeshire for their award for Human Rights Young Person of the Year. The reason? He wore a skirt to school for two days as an act of protest.