Monthly Archives: May 2012

How important is a creative director? This question has plagued the fashion and luxury world ever since Tom Ford walked away from Gucci in 2004, and has been as subject to trend as any dress.

From believing that star designers (designer, creative director, artistic director and chief creative officer all being synonyms) were crucial to the success of a brand, the pendulum of industry wisdom has swung in the opposite direction.

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Does anyone else feel like suddenly everywhere they turn, another erstwhile satisfied luxury brand is re-christening themselves a “luxury lifestyle” brand, talking about their “global universe” and otherwise attempting to own every aspect of a consumer purse? It’s like The Birds: you see one example circling and think, “oh, that’s interesting,” and the next thing you know the whole flock has obliterated the sky.

But here’s what I want to know: why? And what, exactly, do these brands mean when they attach the word “lifestyle” to themselves? Read more

If there were an Olympic medal for retail (and why not, given the ever-burgeoning sponsorship opportunities?) Stella McCartney would win the first one by a mile.

British athletes, triple jumper Phillips Idowu (L) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis (R) pose with designer Stella McCartney (C) as they unveil the new British Olympic Team GB kit. Getty Images

British athletes, triple jumper Phillips Idowu (L) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis (R) pose with designer Stella McCartney (C) as they unveil the new British Olympic Team GB kit. Getty Images

While the rest of London is complaining about queues at the airport, queues for the tube, and queues for queues, the “Creative Director” of Team GB’s kit is leveraging her moment in the athletic sun far beyond her competitors. Indeed, I’d venture to say a new record has been set that will be a benchmark for years to come. Read more

I am now going to write something I have never written before; something, in fact, I never would have thought it possible I would write. But here goes: OMG – the shoes!

The shoes worn by Valerie Trierweiler, partner of the new French president François Hollande. To be specific, Trierweiler’s towering Yves Saint Laurent platform shoes; her black suede peep-toe Palais pumps, and her brown leather strappy Tributes, the latter being every fashion editor’s favourite pair of shoes thanks to their ability to give you both extreme height and relative comfort, but not anywhere near the type of shoe normally favoured by a First – what?

Prada CEO: “We don’t want to be a brand that nobody wants to copy.” This is a quote from an interview Patrizio Bertelli, aka Mr Prada, gave yesterday to Bloomberg TV, and it is probably going to set off something of a hoo-ha in fashion, which has of late become very publicly litiginous when it comes to copying. Read more

“2% of the population under 30, and 2% of the population under 40 are millionaires who are not being catered to by the men’s knitwear market,” So said Jean-Victor Meyers to me yesterday, explaining his new men’s cashmere business, which aims to change all that. Read more

Introducing the best argument I’ve heard yet about why skinny models are not, actually, ideal selling agents for fashion brands – -and the only one that may actually have some effect on the industry. Read more

Vionnet has gone gaga for Goga.

Today the classic French brand that was relaunched by Matteo Marzotto, the ex-president of Valentino, and Gianni Castiglione, CEO of Marni, three years ago, has just entered “Stage Two” thanks to a majority share purchase by Goga Ashkenazi, a London-based Kazakh businesswoman. Read more

Today is the first day of Green Week, the EU’s biggest eco-conference, and to celebrate it LVMH, the EU’s biggest luxury group (in fact, the world’s) has stepped out and announced it, too , is going green, and is going to, “encourage its more than 90,000 employees to adopt state-of-the-art environmental practices.”

Why is this significant? You ask. As far as I remember, it’s the first time I’ve heard LVMH publicly commit to green goals and assume the green mantle. “Public” being the operative word here. Read more

I mean this title literally: yesterday at the G8 summit, Ms Trierweiler strutted out next the other First Ladies, all in their sensible mid-height heels, in YSL Tribute sandals – the shoe I would characterise as the designer-brand luxury stiletto of the noughties. Do we sense a contradiction here? Read more

No – I am not talking about the Facebook IPO (though everyone else seems to be; poor Graff, planning their own listing in HK and valued at a notable $3-4billion, is being totally overshadowed). I’m talking about a new, otherwise unexploited, area of dressing with potentially enormous returns. What is this mystery space? Larger size dressing.  Read more

You know what they say: if the mountain won’t go to Muhammad….After building enormous flagships, after importing elaborate couture shows, fashion has entered yet another stage in its relationship with that great source of sales, China: tomorrow the Istituto Marangoni, aka one of the most important fashion schools in European luxury (alma mater, for example, of Domenico Dolce and Franco Moschino), is announcing the creation of a Shanghai outpost.
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What high-end brands do those unpredictable but desirable, virtually-enabled, live-life-on-Facebook twentysomethings like? This is a question that obsesses luxury — after all, some chunk of said twentysomethings will become the luxury purchasers of the future, and knowing what they respond to is one of the great mysteries of today and potential cash cows of tomorrow. The other day I had an experience that gave me some clues as to the possible answers. And it’s not what you (OK, I) might expect.
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Watching Francois Hollande be sworn in as French president today, I was struck by how incredibly color-coordinated the hand-over of power was. I know it wasn’t planned — the Hollande and Sarkozy camps are not that friendly – but Tim Gunn couldn’t have styled it better if he’d tried. Read more

Many — ok, mostly musicians it seems: Paul Simon, Bono — have tried; can fashion succeed? In changing Africa’s image, that is. The secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, seems to think the answer may be yes, as demonstrated by his appearance as the cover boy on this month’s L’Uomo Vogue, aka Italian men’s Vogue, on an issue with the cover line “Rebranding Africa,” and contents devoted to the same.

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Forget Easter parades, with their flower-bedecked hats and pastel prints. Forget May day, and dancing around a ribbon-strewn pole among the crocuses. Forget those few days in April when the mercury suddenly hit shorts-wearing heights and all the tulips came up. It’s not until I hear the words “Cannes Film Festival” that my mind truly turns to summer style.

By now we hold these truths to be self-evident: that the extreme resilience of luxury brands in the face of European economic turmoil can be traced largely to the traveling luxury consumer heralding from Asia, Brazil and Russia; that this trend is probably going to continue; and that the smart luxury brand will shift its retail strategy accordingly. What else to make, anyway, of two new initiatives geared specifically toward making money from the phenomenon?

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After Nicole Kidman, after Audrey Tatou, after Carol Bouquet, comes…Brad Pitt? Chanel has just announced the latter will be the new, and first male, face of their cash cow product, aka the perfume Chanel No 5, aka the one of the best-selling perfumes in the world — since it debuted 1921. Now, that’s a surprise. Mr Pitt’s appointment, not the success of the scent.

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Those international Vogues are fast becoming the action heroes of the fashion world.

Only last week they banded together to declare war on underage models, and now Vogue India has now announced it is following in the footsteps of American Vogue, British Vogue, and Italian Vogue and creating its own Fashion Fund initiative to promote the businesses of young Indian designers. Go team! Read more

Mayor Bloomberg said it in his speech: “this is the Oscars of the East Coast.” Tom Ford said “There’s more fashion here than at the Oscars.” They were both talking, of course, about last night’s Met Gala, which raises an enormous amount of money for the museum’s Costume Institute (most of its annual operating budget, according to a spokesperson), works as highly effective advertising for all the fashion houses that participate, and, this time, also provided an unprecedented launch pad for a new brand. And you thought it was just a party. Hah.

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