Monthly Archives: August 2012

Despite having displayed an admirable consistency during the campaign thus far, dress if not policy-wise, yesterday night Mitt Romney gave up the sartorial fight, and switched sides. Yes, like so many of his winning predecessors before him, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush (once), for his speech accepting the Republican party nomination for President, he wore…a red tie. Why do we care?
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A number of questions were answered about Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s VP pick, during his speech last night at the Republican Convention last night. Would he come out fighting? Check. Would he address the Medicare issue? Kind of. Would he make winning jokes about his new boss? Check. Would his famously ill-fitting, too baggy suits, which Esquire likened to a trash bag, be given a Sarah-Palin-type makeover? Nope. Now the question is: why not?
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Oscar de la Renta, the designer who was for decades the bipartisan go-to man for first ladies from Nancy Reagan to Hillary Clinton to Laura Bush (he even made Jenna Bush’s wedding dress), but who has been somewhat sidelined during the Obama years, stepped back onto centre stage last night in Tampa — metaphorically speaking — thanks to Ann Romney, whose brilliant, very Republican red, belted dress came from the brand. It was a meaningful choice, alluding to Washington tradition as well as the LA-NY-DC financial/social nexus, for whom Mr De La Renta is a go-to name. And it put Mrs Romney in pretty stark opposition to Michelle Obama. Read more

Ok, well, those political pundits had to talk about something when the first day of the Republican convention got cancelled. So on what have they focused their searing analytical eyes? The news that Glamour magazine, the elephant (yes, the Republicans have a creeping influence on our linguistic sub-conscious) in the Conde Nast stable, has snagged an interview with President Obama. The general reaction: Glamour ergo fluff. But is this fair? Read more

What’s been happening over the last two weeks? What’s the news we can use? Here are my top three recent titbits — the ones that at first glance don’t seem so important, but on second look have outsize implications, from NY Fashion Week’s first casuality to Prada’s new super-expensive perfume, and the rise of the magazine brand as star.
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Is it possible to call an election based on clothes? This is the kind of question that occupies my mind as I sit idly by the pool on vacation in the weird fallow period before the next big political event begins in the US: the presidential race.

Weird, I know. Some people watch clouds and see ice-cream cones and bunnies; I watch clouds and see donkeys and elephants. But I know I’m not the only one.

What are we to make of the fashion industry’s focus on ageing women?

First came the book Advanced Style by photographer Ari Seth Cohen, a visual ode to the beauty of the over-60s. Then came the revelation that the Parisian brand Lanvin was featuring Jacquie ‘Tajah’ Murdock, an 82-year-old model, in its autumn/winter campaign. Read more

Isabella Rossellini, model, actress, film-maker, daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, and a woman who has lived most of her life in the public eye, does not like being observed.

She does not like being judged. She does not like having to explain herself. She does not like the red carpet. She does not like (of course she does not) being interviewed. She does like, however, animals, bugs and their reproductive weirdnesses, which can make for an unlikely conversational stew.

I tried to avoid it as long as possible. I stuck my head in Olympic hoo-ha and refused to pull it out. I thought Lycra, Lycra, Lycra instead of lust, lust, lust. Even when the news hit that Fifty Shades of Grey , the tripartite saga of smut and spanking in Seattle that has become a publishing phenomenon, had surpassed Harry Potter as the bestselling book of all time on Amazon UK, I rolled my eyes and shrugged: nothing to do with me. This book is about getting rid of clothes, not analysing them.

How wrong I was. If any proof were needed that a blockbuster bestseller equals a sartorial spin-off waiting to happen, this is it.

Reading my newspaper over coffee this morning, I almost fell out of my chair while perusing a tech story on Google, Amazon et al, which ended with the following observation: “Google, Microsoft and Amazon all have the potential to adopt Apple’s vertical model of combining software, services and hardware to gain complete control over the design and function of future mobile devices.” Because the thing is, dear reader, it’s not “Apple’s approach” exactly – or it is, but Apple got it from somewhere else first. And where would that be? Fashion, of course.
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Last May, Johan Rupert, Richemont’s chairman, issued what is still my favourite quote on the subject of China and luxury, the implication of which was: China is a volcano, and it’s gonna blow. But when? This is, numerous luxury brand H1 results now in, the question bedevilling analysts, investors, and the brands themselves. Read more

Anna Piaggi, the embodiment of the fashion editor-as-eccentric, has died it was announced yesterday. She was 81. Ms Piaggi, who created famous double page spreads for Italian Vogue that were as idiosyncratic as she was, remained most famous outside her country and industry for her own personal style: closely cropped hair with a swiggle of locks, often dyed blue or pink, in the front; wild hats; lipstick; and a colourful mish-mash of cuts, designers, and vintages. Her eye-catching looks made her the original Street Style star — long before the term even existed. Read more

The announcement that a plutonium-powered robot named Curiosity has landed on Mars has created great excitement among space-o-philes and NASA-nicks and the rest of the science world. However, along with the frisson of expectation, I also feel a slight sinking of the stomach. See, the ready-to-wear show schedule is such that while the rest of the world is preparing to go on vacation propelled by the news, the fashion world is preparing to sit down at their desks to start creating their spring/summer collections. With space travel at the front of their minds.
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Let’s do a quick recap here: in the last two years the Qatari soverign wealth fund has bought all of Harrod’s and a 5.2% stake in Tiffany’s; the Qatari royal family bought Valentino; and yesterday, it was announced that An Unnamed Qatari Investor had bought 38% of Anya Hindmarch. There’s a new luxury player in the land, and he – or she — is spending! But who is this masked man? And why are the Qataris suddenly making such a big play in luxury? Read more

Allow me to toot our own horn here for a moment, and note there’s a very interesting piece today in the FT by my colleague Stephanie Kirchgaessner on various industries and the presidential candidate they support. Romney seems to have come out on top in a bunch of them, at least as far as donations go but at least one other industry that wasn’t on the list skews very heavily BO (unfortunate initials, I know): fashion.
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Yesterday LNK Partners, a White Plains, NY-based P.E. firm, announced they had closed a second $400 million fund (oversubscribed, natch), specifically aimed at investing in “the consumer/retail sector.” Yes, yet more proof that all of us who thought when Permira sold Valentino to the Qatari royal family, it marked the end of PE’s brief flirtation with the unpredictable world of fashion were wrong. There’s life in that there investment relationship yet. Read more

Vanity Fair has released its annual international best-dressed list a few days earlier than the September issue where it appears, and though it is rife with the usual suspects (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Jay-Z; Diane Kruger) what’s really interesting is who is NOT on it.Michelle Obama, for example, who was on it for the last few years. Christine Lagarde, who made it in 2011. And any titan of business or banking other than super-social hedge fund czar Arki Busson, and Matteo Marzotto, who owns Vionnet, a fashion brand. This strike anyone else as implausible? Read more