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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?