Monthly Archives: March 2012

Should first ladies dress for themselves or their country or their
husband’s agenda? This is what I thought last night when Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron made their much-anticipated appearence at the White House’s “official” dinner for the British Prime Minister.

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There is a tendency, among political leaders, especially of the UK-US variety, to engage in sartorial covert diplomacy during state visits; for the visitor to effectively mirror the dress of the visitee in order to suggest a discrete sort of understanding of the agenda — at least as far as photo ops go. Yesterday, however, when David Cameron showed up for his current US trip, the changed nature of the relationship seemed to be reflected in his wardrobe. One day in, there’s been zero matchy-matchy.

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Tod’s has finally spoken! They just released a rather brief statement that seems to confirm Derek Lam will leave his position of creative director – but not until his contract expires at end September. In fact, the statement is so brief, and frankly weird, I’m going to reproduce it in full here:

“Following the rumors of an alleged termination of the collaboration between Tod’s and Derek Lam, the company confirms that the agreement between the parties is set to terminate on 30/9/12. In the meantime, Tod’s is in the process of evaluating its options, considering that, based on the company’s future development plans, the role of the Creative Director of Tod’s will be central and even more important. The choice will therefore be directed toward an individual with great creative talent and able to commit the necessary amount of time to the success of the brand.” Read more

I’m telling you: ides of March. Rumours have spread like wildfire that Derek Lam, the American designer who has been creative director of Tod’s for the last six years, has parted ways with the brand. The Tod’s folks are have been hiding from all emails and phone calls since last night, but they aren’t denying it. If it’s true, it has interesting implications for the future of luxury.  Read more

Don’t know about you, but it seems to me the economics of fashion are becoming increasingly abstract — and I’m not talking about the highly subjective concept of “brand value” (yes, I know there are equations to convert this into numbers, but boiled down to its essence it’s in the eye of the beholder, no?). I’m talking about celebrity endorsement investment, and a new concept I discovered last week: retail endorsement investment.

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The flight to the highest-end continues. I know it doesn’t come that close to Hermes’s million euro bejeweled handbags, but yesterday news landed of eye glass frames for $2,950, courtesy of Tom Ford. If ever there was illustration that luxury brands are convinced their customers not only still exist, but are demanding ever-more extreme iterations of their products, I think this is it.

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Azzedine Alaïa

Azzedine Alaïa autumn/winter collection. Image by Vanessa Friedman.

What’s next? This question does not refer to the continuing rumours about which designer is going to which house (though as I left Paris the Marc-Jacobs-to-Dior gossip received a new lease of life thanks to the fantastic Louis Vuitton not-quite-a-retrospective at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, and a story in UK Vogue). It refers to clothes.

And though today, in my final review of the season, I wonder about the answer, last night, I saw a conclusion of sorts, so I thought I’d write this addendum.

Watching the Paris shows I was struck by two things:

  • though I liked the clothes, mostly, that I’ve seen for the past few weeks, they are almost entirely focused on dressing for the now, as opposed to the future
  • the relatively naked influence Azzedine Alaïa’s couture show in July had on the rest of the industry.

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Hedi Slimane, pictured in 2007. Getty Images.

So the expected has come to pass and today Yves Saint Laurent announced the appointment of Hedi Slimane as overall creative director of the house. This one has been a long time coming.

Mr Slimane was the much-feted men’s wear designer at YSL from 1996-2000 (even Mr Saint Laurent thought he was terrific).  He left after Tom Ford bought the brand for Gucci Group, and became the widely-praised designer of Dior Homme, departing over contract issues in 2007. During his tenure not only Bernard Arnault, LVMH chieftain, but pretty much every other LVMH executive wore his suits. Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld liked them so much, they inspired his dramatic 100lb weight loss in 2001 (in his diet book he wrote “I suddenly wanted to dress differently, to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane”).

Since leaving fashion, Mr Slimane has had a very successful career in photography, has been living in Los Angeles, and has been the subject of perennial suggestions that YSL get him back.

Satisfaction! Read more

Tomorrow the folks behind yoox.com and thecorner.com, two leading etail ventures, are launching store number three. Unlike the first two sites, which are ready-to-wear boutiques that offer, respectively, less expensive last-season merchandise and cutting edge fashion, this one has a particular focus: shoes. Specifically 1000 styles of shoe, retailing for between €180-1,000. That’s a lot of footwear.

When I asked Federico Marchetti, chief executive of the Yoox Group, the obvious question — is there really such a big market for shoes and only shoes, or is this a niche sideline? — he responded with some pretty striking numbers. Read more

Yves Saint-Laurent’s designer, Stefano Pilati, holds his last show for the line today in Paris, just a week after Raf Simons put on his farewell collection in Milan for Jil Sander with a triumphant display that was about as much of a diss to those who let him go as I’ve ever seen, demonstrating as it did what they were giving up.

These two departures have caused a lot of navel-gazing in the fashion world (and yes: mea culpa, by writing this I know I am guilty too) about the tensions between the creative and business sides of the industry, the demands of the cycle and designers being dumped.
Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, wrote about this last week. Then, yesterday, Cathy Horyn, the New York Times’ fashion critic – and another fellow fashion week traveller and friend – also weighed in on the topic: Read more