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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.