Monthly Archives: January 2012

After buying Hermes’ 45 per cent stake in Jean-Paul Gaultier last year and talking up its development potential, Spanish luxury group Puig has put yet more money where its mouth is and just announced the appointment of senior luxury executive Ralph Toledano to the newly created position of President of the fashion division. If you want to send a signal to the fashion community that you are intent on being a serious player, this is a pretty efficient way to do it.

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The question of how to balance virtual stores with bricks and mortar stores is a thorny one, with various theories fighting for dominance. Some say it’s all going virtual and point to the search for value (see the FT today, and the report on shoppers deserting the High Street for home pages), while others say things need to be felt to be appreciated, and point to the recent Zappos debacle as something that will also drive people back into stores (see many luxury executives). The only thing that’s clear is the lack of consensus on best strategy going forward, something that was brought home to me pretty tangibly thanks to two recent bits of information I stumbled onto.

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Today my colleague Andrew Hill has written a column about the controversy surrounding internet suffixes — and the companies that exploit them — and reading it I felt a startling sense of deja vue. Yesterday I was at a Financo Retail Seminar listening to Chris Burch bemoan the exact same issue, though from a somewhat different perspective, and in somewhat more colourful language.

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For an industry with its own calendar, that runs on a time six months to a year or more ahead of the norm, fashion in general has proven idiotically obtuse about technology. After being famously late to the etail and social media party, and then engaging in a headlong rush to the virtual when it was clear where consumer tides were going, now they are once again dragging their feet when it comes to mobile applications, as a new study from digital think tank L2 shows.
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If I have anything resembling a resolution when it comes to clothes, it is this: every purchase should have a purpose. It is not enough for me that I like something – in order to buy it, I need to know when I will wear it and what role it will play in my wardrobe.

The electorate in general may be voicing ambivalence about the current administration (though it’s unclear who the alternative will be, or what they will think of him), and Wall Street may be swinging toward Mitt Romney, but one sector, at least, is standing by the current President: Fashion. In this election, as in the last, a number of America’s highest profile designers have stood up to lend their names and creative skills to fund-raising for their candidate. Today Runway to Win, a web site created by the DNC and the Obama re-election committee, is “previewing” products from 23 designers, all working under their own names, not their brand names, whose proceeds will go toward the melee to come.
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In one of the more weirdly fabulous outside-the-box collaborations I have yet heard about, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier has teamed up with Dallas-based Dillon Gage Metals to create…a Gaultier one-ounce gold bar. Forget jewellery; he’s gone straight to the source.
Indeed, this is the first time a fashionista has plunged directly into the world of commodities itself, as opposed to what can be made from commodities. Read more >>

Last night’s various post-nomination speeches in New Hampshire were mesmerising, for a variety of reasons, from the ridiculous quotes (Ron Paul: “We ARE dangerous;” Jon Huntsman: “Third Place we’re on the hunt” — you have to wonder what genius strategist thought that one up) to the way battle for hearts and eyes is shaping up. The Republican stump style is solidifying.  Read more >>

Stella McCarthy Greene Street opening

The opening of Stella McCarthy's Greene Street store was a small, glamourous event

Last night Stella McCartney launched her pre-fall collection as well as a new New York store in SoHo at 112 Greene street — a bigger, more glamourous version of her former 14th street store — with a small, glamourous event: 50 or so people for dinner in the store at a long table with giant ice sculptures of the Empire State building on an island in the centre, surrounded by a river around which little vegetarian dishes floated. They had been “curated” by chef Mario Batali, which I guess means chosen, although it wasn’t entirely clear.

Gallery-owner Tony Shafrazi gave a toast extolling the store’s address as the home of various artists and musicians, and Ms McCartney laughingly apologised for turning the storied space into a “mere store” filled with shoes and bags and dresses. It was all very chic. Read more >>

This morning, looking at pictures of Kate Middleton in the black and white lace Alice Temperley gown she wore for her first royal film premier yesterday (Steven Speilberg’s “War Horse”), I was struck by the fact that it seems the Duchess of Cambridge only wears British designers for dress-up. There’s an interesting choice here.  Read more >>