Monthly Archives: May 2012

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.  

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.
 

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.
 

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. 

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

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! 

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.