Monthly Archives: September 2012

There are two warring design crowds in Paris this weekend and they’ve got the Champs-Elysées in a logjam. On one side are the fashion folk, who have been here since Wednesday; on the other are the car crowd, who descend on the city today for the Paris Motor Show.

Both are in search of great design moments that will elevate their profession and justify the trip (and give them hope for future consumption patterns). While it’s unclear yet how the car people will do, the fashion people spent day three largely idling.

This has been a good week for Richemont’s fashion brands. Tonight a Chloe retrospective opens at the Palais de Tokyo, and last weekend Lady Gaga gave a shout-out in front of millions of fans at the Stade de France to the designer Azzedine Alaia, calling him a genius. You know what that means: sales! Read more

It seems to me Chanel is fast becoming the Swatch of luxury – and no one is really paying attention.

Today WWD is reporting that the couture house’s affiliate, Paraffection, has acquired French super-glove-maker Causse, which joins the other EIGHT specialist ateliers they have bought up in the past decade including embroiderer Lesage and button maker Desrues. The spin goes: Chanel is preserving French know-how for posterity (and indeed, according to our piece on manufacturing in France, if you don’t, say, use Lesage for embroidery, you would probably need to go to India to find the same skills). But at the same time they are acquiring a monopoly on said skills. Which is where the Swatch comparison comes in. Read more

Aeffe, the Italian fashion and manufacturing group that owns Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, and Pollini and manufactures for names including Jean-Paul Gaultier and Cacharel, has added another brand to its fold: Emanuel Ungaro. After all those Italian houses – Bulgari, Brioni – getting taken over by the French, finally the money is going in the other direction! Read more

Take that, PPR! You’re not the only luxury player on the block that’s recognised the potential of “sports lifestyle” brands (though you may be the only one with an entire division, and strategy, dedicated to the sector). Compagnie Financiere Richemont, the Swiss luxury group that is normally known for its watch and jewellery expertise – they own Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Jaeger LeCoutre, and so on – just announced it has acquired US-based high-end casual clothing/golf brand Peter Millar. The move raises so many interesting questions! Read more

Making the rounds at Milan fashion week this season has been interesting; people keep talking about their Big New Idea to improve the Italian fashion business. Consensus seems to be: something needs to be done. But what? Here are some of the suggestions:
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Diega Della Valle, chairman of Tod’s Group (and known internally largely as DDV, which is what we will cal him for brevity’s sake) is, it turns out, as susceptible to trend as any fashionista – only with DDV, it’s his own trends. Yesterday he was celebrating a new niche collection made by Love editor Katie Grand for his Hogan line, Ms Grand being the second cool British editor DDV has signed up; previously he got Jefferson Hack, aka Kate Moss’s ex, aka founder of Dazed & Confused, to make a small line of shoes for Tod’s. Are your fad sensors tingling yet?
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Honestly, I thought nothing could top the silliness of the Congressional attack on Ralph Lauren for not making all those FREE Olympic outfits in the US, despite the fact the politicians were fine with a Chinese brand sponsoring the diving team, but the mistaken furore generated by a review written by Cathy Horyn in the New York Times during the – yes – New York collections comes pretty close. I kept thinking it would go away, but instead it seems to be picking up steam — to such an extent that I am starting to wonder if it’s time to ask that perennial question: Who benefits?  Read more

I just received what I think has got to be the most egregious example of mutual appreciation that I’ve yet seen on the part of luxury and the tax authorities that benefit from it. Which doesn’t mean it’s not significant. Read more

Oooooh, I sense another Fashion Week trend! After the Qatari sovereign wealth fund bought Harrod’s in 2010, and an un-named Qatari bought a large minority chunk of Anya Hindmarch in August – and following the Qatari royal Family’s purchase of Valentino the month before — now a private equity fund, AGC, backed by Middle Eastern investors, has taken the bulk of the minority stake in UK ready-to-wear brand Amanda Wakeley, a go-to label for the Duchess of Cambridge (that’s her, wearing AW, in both photos below). Does no one else think something significant is going on? Read more

New York Fashion Week? What’s that? This morning – the last of NYFW — London was in the news, as both Burberry and TopShop announced major new technology initiatives. Though they are generating a lot of buzz around the brands, I can’t help but wonder about the direction all of this is taking. Read more

This morning at the Holmes & Yang presentation at Lincoln Center — the brand’s first on the official schedule — co-designer Katie Holmes looked kind of nervous, standing next to her partner, Jeanne Yang. Presumably this was partly due to all the people around them passing judgement on their work. But partly it probably also had to do with the knowledge of the same people passing judgement on their tabloid value. It’s a weird position to be in: wanting people to come see the clothes, and wanting to push some away at the same time.
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The sky is falling! The sky is falling! This tends to be the reaction lately every time a luxury brand reports worse-than-expected earnings. It happened last June with Mulberry, and now it is happening with Burberry. Yet I am not convinced it’s time to call the end of luxury. Read more

One of the biggest trends to come out of New York fashion week thus far has been the use of once-famous, formerly-retired, suddenly-resurrected models. Naomi Campbell opened Zac Posen’s show, followed by Isabeli Fontana; Marimekko had Carol Alt, Pat Cleveland and Carmen Dell’Orefice; and Alexander Wang had Liberty Ross, who now lives in California, and recently made headlines when her husband, Rupert Sanders, had an affair with actress Kristin Stewart. When these women appear on the catwalk they generally get lots of applause, but I wonder who actually is benefitting from the relationship?
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Today’s fashion consumer welcomes global design references, says Diane von Furstenberg. The fashion designer talks at New York Fashion Week to the FT’s Vanessa Friedman about the inspiration of palaces in her latest dress design, China and fighting piracy

My favourite fashion week moment so far, three days into the start of the New York collections, has to be Diane von Furstenberg pulling Sergey Brin out of his front-row seat and onto her catwalk to take her victory bow with her and her creative director, Yvan Mispelaere at the end of her show. And all three of them were wearing Google glass in different colours! I feel a new accessory category coming on. Read more

Mitt Romney wavering between red and blue ties, Paul Ryan’s ill-fitting suits, Barack Obama’s undone knots, Michelle Obama’s move away from Oscar de la Renta and Ann Romney’s embrace of the same – all the sartorial talk during the Republican and Democratic conventions of the past two weeks. Does any of it really matter?

Shouldn’t we focus on the debate, reality and fantasy surrounding the candidates – on Medicare, abortion, taxes, the euro and the renminbi? Isn’t this obsessive litany and analysis of what our public figures wear and how they wear it unseemly, old-fashioned, sexist (there was much more comment on Ann Romney’s red dress than her husband’s red tie) and superficial?

Here’s a small pictorial preview of Anna Della Russo’s accessories collection for H&M, which goes on-sale Oct 4, and which she was wearing at Jason Wu’s show in New York. Read more

In one of those cosmic coincidences of timing, the last night of the Democratic convention, where President Obama talked often about the long hard, road ahead, also coincided with Fashion’s Night Out, that sybaritic extravaganza of shopping and schmoozing (well, mostly schmoozing, if you listen to retailers who Do Not Want to be Named) that also happened to mark the first day of New York Fashion Week. It made for a pretty powerful contrast. STill, my favourite fashion moment was not the Karaoke at Michael Kors, but rather what was on stage at the DNC, from Mr O’s tie to Mrs O’s new designer. Read more