Monthly Archives: March 2012

Anyone looking to drop a few million dollars on some jewellery, and get a warm, fuzzy virtuous feeling at the same time, should look no further than the upcoming sale of philanthropist Lily Safra’s gems at Christie’s.

A diamond, pink and green tourmaline Poppy flower brooch

A diamond, pink and green tourmaline Poppy flower brooch

All the proceeds from the collection belonging to Safra, who was married to the late banker Edmond J Safra, will be donated to 20 different charitable causes, including the Claude Pompidou Institute for Alzheimer’s disease and the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda.

Jewels for Hope: The Collection of Lily Safra was unveiled at Christie’s on Thursday ahead of the auction in Geneva on May 14 when it’s expected to make in excess of US $20m. A highlight of the sale is the largest single owner selection of pieces by JAR, the jeweller to the jet-set, also favoured by Liz Taylor. 

Years in fashion have taught me never to use the phrase “You can’t be serious”. I’ve learned, for example, that saying, “Patrick Thomas, chief executive of Hermès, you can’t seriously expect someone to buy that €1.5m diamond-covered gold handbag?” will prompt both a pleased grin and the perplexed response, “Yes, of course, why not?” And I’ve learnt that noting how all the models in a catwalk show have been reimagined as birds and transformed with moulded headpieces, and how the designer can’t be serious about expecting any woman to wear that, only means that said look is more than likely to appear on Rihanna a few weeks later.

Fashion and satire have never been easy partners. The problem is that although fashion seems like a world ripe for mockery, its very absurdity – the extremity of appearance and, values and language that makes outsiders think it should be a perfect subject of satire – actually makes it impossible.

Looking at the yesterday’s impressive Hermès results, it’s hard not to wonder if the much-bemoaned 22% stake that luxury conglomerate LVMH built up in the group has actually been good for it – as opposed to the end-of-the-world/ barbarians-at-the-gate scenario the Hermès folks were painting. Why has to do with pretty basic psychology.

By Carola Long

Stella McCartney with athletes in the Adidas British Olympic kit. Image by Getty

Stella McCartney with athletes in the Adidas British Olympic kit. Image by Getty

The unveiling of Stella McCartney’s kit for the British Olympic team today was billed as the “official reveal.” With flashing lights,  heartbeat, baseline music and a podium-like set — all designed to build up suspense — there was a whiff of the TV game show about the event. Specifically, the 1990s British TV show Gladiators.

Staged in a marquee in the Tower of London, the tone veered from an incredibly slick marketing campaign to a moving celebration of British talent, to moments of slight absurdity ( a gymnast rising from inside a podium on a horse- the gymnastic,  not equestrian variety.) 

The news this morning that Kraft had decided to re-christen its snack food group “Mondelēz International” has got me thinking about names, and the point or power therein. My first reaction, after all, upon reading the word was to make a face and roll my eyes and think: “ridiculous.” Yet who am I to talk: my particular industry is full of often unpronounceable, hard to spell, and apparently odd names — Proenza Schouler, Thakoon, Meadham Kirchhoff, Mary Katranzou, Prabal Gurung — that don’t seem to have hurt the brands themselves one bit.

And so, enter George Osborne with the 2012 UK budget in its little red box (at least symbolically). It strikes me that this photo op has to be one of the weirder moments in UK political imagineering.


Having done a few posts about diamond-covered handbags, suddenly I am being inundated with information about more of the same. It’s hard not to think sometimes it’s a bit of a joke. Yesterday, for example, I received news of a limited edition of a new Roja Dove perfume being sold with a diamond covered Faberge egg (£17,029), a Johnny Walker malt whiskey from 1952 in honor of the Queen’s jubilee being sold in a diamond-shaped baccarat decanter with a silver collar set with a ½ carat diamond, and a diamond-covered laptop sleeve.


When the iPad 3 went on-sale at midnight last friday night it provoked the usual frenzy — miles of lines, ecstatic buyers — as well as one very interesting blog that somehow seems to have fallen through the cracks over the weekend. It takes a good, analytic look at the general perception that Apple is a luxury brand and points out that it does tick all the luxury boxes save one: exclusivity. But here’s what I wonder: is exclusivity really a luxury value these days?


It never rains but it pours, and so on. In those terms, this month the fashion world is experiencing a deluge. After the departures of Stefano Pilati and Raf Simons from YSL and Jil Sander respectively, and the expected departure of Derek Lam from Tods at September and the end of his contract, come two more announcements: Lucy Yeomans is leaving as editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK and Amanda Brooks has left as fashion director of Barneys New York. This is, as they say, a moment of change.