If anyone should understand the dangers of stereotyping based on appearance, it is someone in the fashion world, which is predicated on the way image can deceive. Yet, after many seasons spent next to the Pucci runway watching Peter Dundas, the brand’s 6ft 2in Norwegian creative director, redefine the house that print built into a sex-and-strut style for the modern jet set, I admit I made certain assumptions about the man.
I assumed, for example, that when I called him to propose writing about what he does in his spare time, he would choose something high-octane like kitesurfing, salsa dancing or poker. It never crossed my mind that Dundas – fans of his slinky dresses cut down to here and up to there include Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry – would choose something as … well, old-fashioned as baking.
Just as e-tailers have come to realise that a virtual store in not enough, and are increasingly adding bricks and mortar storefronts (or, as folks like Warby Parker and Bonobos tend to call them, “showrooms”) to their offering, so, too, are e-sites. Last year Style.com launched style.com the magazine, a twice-yearly collection-focused oversize print book, and now Mark Sebba, CEO of net-a-porter, has announced they are planning a print magazine.So what is this? Nostalgia for ye olden days? I thought the brilliance of digital was that we were free of so many of the nagging costs and limits associated with the physical world and its products. I thought magazines were seen as dying media. What do they have that e-zines don’t?
Oooooh those PPR folks are making the gossip waters churn. Today reports say NY hipster designer Alexander Wang is the top candidate for the artistic director job (artistic director, creative director, designer – does no one else wish these companies would regularise their titles?), while rumours are that Christopher Kane, the erstwhile favourite for that spot, is actually being looked at in the context of buying his eponymous brand! Good gosh and golly. Two young designers at once! Both would be surprising moves, however, seems to me.
I was struck last night at the British Fashion Awards by Samantha Cameron’s appearance to present the New Establishment award to Erdem Moralioglu (that’s them, below). This marks Mrs C’s third time at the awards — she’s actually officially an “ambassador” for UK fashion — a record that is unequalled by any First Lady in any other country; certainly, any other country where fashion represents a meaningful part of industrial exports. So here’s what I wonder: why hasn’t Mrs Cameron had more impact on fashion? Or rather, on the global perception of UK fashion?
What’s up with YSL these days? Post-designer Hedi Slimane’s weird tweet rant at NYT critic Cathy Horyn, which came after her review of the on-line pictures of the show she wasn’t invited to (if you can follow the absurdity of that chain) the brand’s CEO has gotten in on the action. Yesterday YSL chief exec Paul Deneve wrote an “Open Letter” to WWD complaining about a story they wrote recently comparing Raf Simons’ Dior debut to Hedi Slimane’s at YSL. Mr Deneve didn’t think the WWD folks had been fair, he said, and they should stop trying to invent a rivalry that isn’t. At first glance, this seems like an executive kicking sand. But Machiavelli might have a different point of view.
What is on-line fashion week? It is the UK-equivalent of Cyber Monday (which is today!): five days of super-special offers and special brand titbits organised by British Vogue to prompt holiday shopping, albeit with a charitable component (a percentage of sakes goes to the Oxfam Girls Education Project, the “official” charity partner) and a branded gloss. In other words, it doesn’t actually have much to do with fashion weeks as we know them at all, though the name is catchy. Even more notably, however, this year, which is its second year, for the first time on-line fashion week will be sponsored by…Amazon! That’s what made little old me sit up and take notice.
Note to any woman considering her dressing plans as we approach the party season: the single most suggestive body part to flash these days is not cleavage (despite what those Victoria’s Secret angels say), not legs and not even the slices of side that certain fashion designers are pushing with their weird cut-out dresses. No, it’s a well-muscled arm. Stockings have nothing on biceps when it comes to shocking.
In holiday time, an acquisition-minded company turns to thoughts of…fine jewellery. Why just buy it for the one you love? Buy it for the ROI! I mean, what else are we to make of the fact that juts over a week after Investcorp’s recent purchase of Georg Jensen, another fine jewellery name is changing hands: Gemfields, the coloured stone miner, has just announced the acquisition of Faberge, the recently revived jeweller-to-the-czars.
For absolutely riveting reading, let me recommend the first ever World Handbag Report. It’s a collation of 120 million internet searches in 10 markets via four search engines (Google, Bing, Bai du, etc) by the Digital Luxury Group, and is it full of surprising facts – most notably, how incredibly imbalanced the handbag market is. The brands with big market share of search have BIG market share. The rest, well…have piddly squat.
Any doubts that the Middle East is the new angel investor in luxury should be put to rest by today’s announcement from FSI, the Fondo Strategico Italiano or Italy’s strategic investment fund, and Qatar Holdings that they are setting up a JV called “IQ Made in Italy” (oooh, the word play!) to invest up to €2 billion, shared equally, in “in Italian companies operating in some of the sectors of so-called ‘Made in Italy’” – aka “sectors of excellence of Italian economy and key contributors to Italy’s exports.” Ka-ching!