Monthly Archives: February 2012

CEOs say the darnedest things. Recently I was chatting with Frederic Torloting, the new co-owner of Courreges, as we examined their first collection of re-issued dresses from the archives in new materials and slightly new proportions, when he mentioned that he believed all these people buying up old houses and relaunching them thought about the product in the wrong way.

“This isn’t a dress,” he said, pointing at a – well, it looked like a dress to me. Albeit one with very cool clear vinyl circles inserted at various points along the side. I raised my eyebrows. “It’s a design object,” he said. “And it needs to be marketed as such.” Read more

As I was leaving Italy after Milan Fashion Week, I was chatting to Guglielmo Miani, the young-ish CEO of Larusmiani, a family-owned manufacturer of luxurious materials, when he let drop an interesting fact. Last week the Italian government quietly changed the law it passed in November that banned retail establishments from accepting more than €1,000 in cash. Surprise!

What changed?

Now, retail establishments have no limit on the cash they can accept from foreigners, as long as they take a photocopy of said foreigner’s passport. I’ll say that again: no limit. Italians are still restricted to €1,000. Read more

We Are All Guilty for this Mess,” according to Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune. In a heartfelt piece in her newspaper, my fellow Fashion Week traveller and friend took the fashion industry (herself included) to task for the very public soap opera that is the current round of designer switcheroos, in which bystanders gossip and place bets and tweet about real jobs and real people like they are characters in a reality television game.

It’s tough and honest and has people buzzing at the shows, and I recommend you read it, but I’m also not sure I entirely agree with it. I think she’s right about the situation, but doesn’t fully get to the cause. Read more

Stefano Pilati

Stefano Pilati. Image by Getty.

And so yet another designer departure is official: Stefano Pilati is leaving Yves Saint Laurent. Finally, the years of rumours about his impending demise (at the house, natch, not really) can stop! They are no longer exaggerated!

The timing of this announcement was as weird as that of Raf Simons’ recent departure from Jil Sander – this one comes a full week before Pilati’s last YSL show. My guess is the reasons were similar: news had leaked, gossip was rampant. Word on the street (and in my ears) was Hedi Slimane, who long ago ran YSL men’s wear to much acclaim, was on the way back. WWD published it. When I emailed Paul Deneuve, YSL’s chief executive, he made non-committal noises about “rumours,” and didn’t corroborate – or actually deny – any of it. Read more

Raf Simons may have left the Jil Sander building, but he went out with the
sort of audience reception normally granted rock stars or George Clooney:
the audience stampeded the catwalk, and stood cheering and clapping,
refusing to leave until a security guard made the tearful designer
return to take a bow. The last time I saw this sort of thing was when
Tom Ford left Gucci and YSL. Read more

It’s a funny time to be in Italy looking at high-end clothes. On the one hand, the last thing anyone wants to communicate in a country that turned to a non-elected technocratic government last November to fix its economic woes is business as usual; on the other hand, on the catwalks it’s – well, business as usual. Kind of.

During fashion show season, which is any time between January’s men’s wear shows and this weekend, when their women’s wear collection is shown in Milan, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana don’t go out to lunch.

Jil Sander in Japan, 2010 (Getty)

So, the rumours were true: Jil Sander the woman is returning, for a third time, to Jil Sander the brand. I find this so mind-boggling — does no one learn from history? — I am going to let them explain the situation, kind of, themselves. Here’s the official announcement, with some comments from the sidelines:

“JIL SANDER SpA herewith announces the appointment of Ms. Jil Sander as Creative Director of the JIL SANDER Group, effective on the 28th of February 2012.”

That is, three days after the next collection, designed by current creative director Raf Simons; that’s going to be a hard sell to retailers, but guess they decided it was worth swallowing the loss. Read more

Maybe we should have expected this from someone who has built their business on cashmere and other super-soft, swaddling fabrics, but I was still somewhat taken aback when Brunello Cucinelli, the Italian luxury lifestyle entrepreneur who began his €250m business hand-dyeing sweaters, told me yesterday that he was excited about his planned IPO in May because he wanted “investors who would help take care of the company into the future.”

He had children, he continued as we were looking at his A/W collection, and he was in his late 50s, and soon they would need partners that would walk alongside them and help them nurture their brand.This is, in my experience, not the view most brand executives take on the benefits of going to market. They usually get excited about opening multiple stores in Asia or something. Read more

Yesterday, two days before his much-anticipated women’s wear show taking place this Saturday in Milan, it was announced that designer Raf Simons was leaving Jil Sander, the brand he joined five years ago and effectively resuscitated, for…parts unknown. And that he would be replaced by…creative director to come. This strike anyone else as weird?

 Read more

Most fashion houses are understandably cagey about who they are dressing for the Oscars, the most lucrative red carpet marketing event of the year, which takes place this Sunday in Los Angeles. However, as I’ve been making the rounds of the Milan shows, some bits and bobs of information have come leaking out. The fear, of course, in spilling the beans is that in the end you are proved wrong (see post on Adele at the Grammys). The dressing game isn’t over until the celebrity actually exits the limo, but a few designers were willing to go on the record. Read more

More fashion lexicon news: Apparently, at least in the US, men are into accessories, but not into the nominally feminine words used to describe accessories. They love bracelets – but not the name. They are into tote bags, but not the appellation. So what have retailers done? They are inventing new language to make their clients happier about their purchases.
 Read more

Alastair Carr, design director, and Benoit Duverger, managing director, at Pringle of Scotland talk to Carola Long, FT deputy fashion editor, about the rebel teenager who inspired their Autumn/Winter 2012 look, the brand and the commercial importance of showing at London Fashion week.

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One of the weirder pieces of news to emerge from London Fashion Week so far comes not from a boldface fashion name, but a Savile Row tailor, Cad and the Dandy: it has just gifted a suit to Kim Jong-eun.

Yes, that is correct: North Korea’s new leader. Forget Alexa Chung and other front-row stalwarts seen at shows from Mulberry to Matthew Williamson. This puts a new spin on celebrity dressing, not to mention penetrating the Asian market. Read more

As New York Fashion Week began, news came that Mitt Romney had won the Maine Republican caucuses. And during the next few days, as the autumn/winter collections continued and the fashion pack trekked from Lincoln Center to various art galleries in Chelsea and back, the talk was of Rick Santorum’s rise as an alternative, and how serious any of it was.

Interestingly, this morning, the day after the PPR 2011 annual results announcement, I received another earnings notice, this time from Bottega Veneta – and about the first half of 2011, not the second. It was good, to be sure, but more than that, it was singular. And that is interesting. Read more

For anyone wondering why a few days ago there was another post on this blog about Jimmy Choo’s new bridal collection — and then there wasn’t: mea culpa.

There’s an industry truism which holds that fashion brands should focus, publicly at least, on their “fashion” lines — the ones that change every season, demonstrate their “vision” and drive consumers into stores — as opposed to their more commercial endeavours (e.g. bridal). Read more

Amid the frenzy backstage prior to their NY fashion week AW/12 show, the designer duo behind the industry favourite tell the FT’s Vanessa Friedman about the inspirations, outside input and design processes that have gone into the latest collection.

A trompe l'oeil contrast colour collar by Victoria Beckham at New York Fashion Week (Getty)

Yesterday, as I was sitting next to Victoria Beckham during the presentation of her Victoria line (a companion to her main collection composed entirely of easy dresses), she leaned over and whispered, “I can really see my kids’ influence creeping in!” and giggled.

Though Mrs Beckham seems very involved with her children, they have never been part of her fashion life, so this observation surprised me. (Her baby daughter, Harper, travels with her and stays with her backstage, but they have never been front row at a show, or trotted out for pictures in the myriad profiles of her that have appeared in magazines like Vogue.) Read more

You know something is up when all the talk runway-side at a fashion show is about how a brand is NOT doing an IPO.

The Facebook listing has tech companies everywhere flirting with Wall Street (latest under discussion: etailer Gilt Group), but Michael Kors’ blockbuster public offering of last year, which saw his company attain a market capitalisation of $6.41bn, has not had the same effect on his fashion peers. Or so the folks at Tory Burch, whose a/w collection bowed this morning, might lead one to believe. Read more