Monthly Archives: December 2011

It’s been a weird past few weeks for me, probably because of the constant need to nominate the top five of this, or person of the year for that. Now, it’s time to think of other things.

This is my last post of the year. Though I have been hanging on in terror that some perverse power play on the part of Dior will cause them to announce their designer WHEN EVERYONE IS AWAY FROM THEIR DESKS – hah! Panic in the fashion newsroom – I have finally decided to turn off the computer, and in a few hours I’m off to the not-entirely-frozen north and the great Canadian woods to hang with the coyotes. The real kind, not the metaphorical human kind. I will leave you with one of the few virtual cards I received this Christmas that actually made me smile.

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Anyone else notice anything surprising about the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearance yesterday at a homeless shelter in a 350 GBP Ralph Lauren polo-neck dress? Let me repeat that: a GBP350 RALPH LAUREN polo neck dress. Ralph Lauren? An American designer on the Princess-to-be? Shocking!

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Cheering emails have been landing in my in-box with a noteworthy regularity this week – and I am not referring to, as you might expect, those idiotic e-christmas cards that seem to be the latest trend. Rather, I mean actual bits of news that are like stocking stuffers of gifts because of the optimism they engender. What are these glittering gewgaws? Proof that luxury is taking a more pro-active approach to ever-greening their business.
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The other day I got a nice email informing me that Marigay McKee, formerly Harrods’ Fashion & Beauty director, had been promoted to “Chief Merchant Officer,” a relatively new title in the luxury world as far as I can tell (and one not to be confused with that other CMO, chief marketing officer), but one that, I think, reflects not just a titular promotion, but a systemic change in industry thinking.  Read more

Here is a Christmas wish, courtesy of Diane von Furstenberg, who issued it during a conversation last friday: Bernard Arnault should take his place as the elder statesman of fashion (after all, he pretty much invented it as an industry) and solve the fashion week date problem once and for all. Read more

‘Tis the season for … pre-fall. Hah! Bet you thought I was going to say something about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But no. For while outside it might be all bell-ringing santas and frost-covered store windows, in showrooms from New York to Paris it is next June. Or May, in some cases.

The Spant

As I’ve been making the (endless) pre-collection rounds I’ve noticed a few trends/innovations I wanted to pass on. Here they are, from most original to most accessible:

1. The Spant

This could also be called a “skant,” though since scant is an actual word already, I think it risks confusion and “spant” is better. As to what this exciting new hybrid is, think silk palazzo pants-meet-long-skirt, so what looks like soigné trousers from the front swish like a train in the back.

The garment comes courtesy of Olivier Theyskens at Theyskens Theory, and though it may sound weird, paired with a tank top or t-shirt (though it’s called “pre-fall”, it hits stores in June) it also may be the coolest new proposal for how to dress up for evening. Also — just say the word. “Spant.” Spant. Fun, right? Read more

Image by Getty

We know celebrity sells clothes, but does it also sell stocks? The news that Michael Kors, which began its life as a public company today, was the biggest IPO in American fashion history, suggests the answer is yes. It sold more shares than expected in a deal that will value the company at nearly $4bn.

After all, Mr Kors has talent — specifically an ineffable ability to make a cashmere pencil skirt and polo neck look like a platonic ideal — and a very good business (majority shareholders Silas Chou and Lawrence Stroll are masters at creating a base of accessories and a second line that broadly support the high-end rtw). But he also has the benefit of a potent tv personality. Read more

Looking back over 2011, which I am currently doing for a Christmas Eve column, I’ve been struck by the fact that one trend dominates all others by a significant margin, having held true from last March through year end: the IPO. Read more

Today WWD heralded LVMH supreme Bernard Arnault as their Man of the Year, thanks to his Bulgari deal; relaunch of a new leather house (Moynat); shake-up of his exec ranks; and willingness to let Dior be designer-less until he found the right person to replace John Galliano – who was fired in March. Generally, I agree with their choice, mostly because of Arnault’s smarts in taking advantage of other luxury brands’ scardey-cat timidity in the face of economic crisis (they see consumer slowdown; he sees opportunity to grab market share). My only question is about Dior. I think this is becoming a problem.

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This is the time of year when I start to worry that I have tinnitus, thanks to a constant refrain in my ear caused by those in search of party dresses and presents: “What should I buy? There is so much to buy. But there’s nothing to buy. Why is there nothing to buy? What should I buy? There is so much to buy … ”

I had a very interesting conversation with a Calvin Kleiner this morning as we were waiting for the company’s pre-collection show to start. He had just come back from their latest store opening — at a mall in Toronto.

“Toronto?” quoth I, dubiously. “Is that a big market for Calvin Klein?” Read more

Fashion has given us many exciting terms, most derived from odd combinations of already existing discrete words – skort (skirt/short); murse (man/purse); jeggings (jean/leggings) — that have made their way out of the closet and into the public lexicon, but today I heard another combo term I actually think deserves to become part of all of our conversation: “Causesumerism.” It’s a pretty succinct way of describing a growing trend.

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And so, to the long and illustrious tradition of leaders and their instant semiological indicators, from Margaret Thatcher and her handbags to Ronald Reagan and his red tie, George W. Bush and his cowboy boots, and Silvio Berlusconi and his tie knot, we add, of of yesterday, Elio di Rupo, the new prime minister of Belgium, and his red bow tie. So is this an example of sartorial laziness? Is it a refusal to wear a tie like other ties, but only his own tie? Or is it a political strategy? Personally, I lean toward the latter explanation.

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Forget live-streaming fashion shows or three-dimensional etail; yesterday I went to the “ribbon-cutting” ceremony of the Valentino Garavani virtual museum. Though this is a private venture by Valentino-the-man, not linked to Valentino-the-brand (now owned by Permira) my guess is it will have knock-on-positive results for not only the individual but the house he created, and perhaps the industry in general. In the short term, however, from being generally perceived as relatively un-web-savvy compared with such titans as Burberry and Gucci, Valentino has just vaulted to first place in fashion’s technology race. Read more

Who is fashion week for? The fact that this is a pressing question has suddenly become as clear as the plaid on a kilt thanks to British Vogue’s web site, which today launched a new initiative: “On-line Fashion Week,” which points up a growing schism in the fashion world.
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Getty Images

Hillary Clinton isn’t the only politician smart enough to let her clothes do the speaking: German chancellor Angela Merkel also demonstrated great fashion fluency when she wore strict, unrelenting, unforgiving, unapologetic black for her speech to the Bundestag. Things were tough, she said, and they were going to get tougher. She wasn’t going to lighten anything up — or distract from her message — by adding a pastel or a pattern to leaven her words. Read more

Hillary Clinton’s historic trip to Myanmar, which began on Wednesday and ends today, was an example of many things, from Obama-era outreach to real politik, but as far as I am concerned, it was also a primer on effective sartorial diplomacy. What lessons can we learn?

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Francois Lesage, widely acknowledge as the greatest couture embroiderer and an iconic figure inside the fashion world, died last night at age 82. M Lesage’s death will reignite the debate about the purpose of the sartorial art form, and its role as an expression of French culture.
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