Monthly Archives: December 2012

It’s that time again when we think back over the year, the time of a million lists of good and bad, of the best and worst, the time of “Persons of the year”. It’s that time when we begin to make resolutions and then debate the efficacy of these resolutions, and then resolve on either more resolutions or fewer of them.

This will be my last post for 2012, barring an extraordinary luxury industry news event. However, before I don my skidoo suit, I wanted to leave you with two thoughts: one has to do with the new luxury buzzword, and the other with a new kind of luxury group.

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The fashionisation (if you will forgive the term) of life continues apace. After co-opting technology, homeware and pets, the latest everyday products to make the leap from objects to accessories are books. They aren’t just for reading any more. In fact, they are barely for reading at all. They are for looking at.

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Much has been made in the US of Heart magazine’s new “ShopBazaar,” a web site linked to their high-fashion flagship title that allows you to effectively shop most of the pages of the book on-line. While such editorial-commercial links are not exactly new, however, what I hadn’t realised, because they’ve been keeping rather mum about it, is that is only ONE of Hearst’s “experiments” in the space – or so explained Duncan Edwards, President of Hearst International, when we were talking earlier this week. The company had a few different such “trials” going on around the world. Trials? Read more

The annoucement today that Michael Burke, one of LVMH’s longest-serving executives, would become chief executive of Louis Vuitton, LVMH’s biggest brand, was an interesting one. Not because it reflects any Machiavellian planning on the part of the Group — Mr Burke’s predessecor, Jordi Constans, who had joined Vuitton from Danone, was forced to step down for health reasons — but because it’s a very safe decision on the part of LVMH.

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It struck me, looking at the upcoming Givenchy ad campaign, which features FoR (friends of Riccardo – -Tisci, the brand’s creative director) Mariacarla Boscana, artist Marina Abromovic and matador Jose Maria Manzanares, that one of the biggest fashion trends of recent years has been the selling of a quasi-family-reality – but more fabulous and famous, natch, than any of our real families. This seems to be reaching critical mass, and I rather expect it will continue next year. Why?

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Hong Kong’s sizeable British expat community is getting excited about next year’s opening of Topshop in the city’s central business district.

But they are not the only reason why Sir Philip Green has decided to open the British brand’s first permanent outlet in greater China.

The city is a favourite holiday destination for mainland China’s growing middle class, who flock to the tax-free special administrative region to shop, and also an international financial centre passed through by many visitors already familiar with the brand. Locals also have among the highest spending power in the region.

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The news that Silvio Berlusconi, once-and-possible-future-Italian-PM-candidate and always colourful character, is engaged to be married to his 27-year-old girlfriend begs the usual question: not “Wait, isn’t he still married to his second wife?” (yes, they are in the midst of their divorce), but rather, “what will she wear?” Presumably, it would be useful for a woman marrying a political player to dress with patriotism in mind – sic Kate Middleton — but this presents an interesting conundrum, because of all the big four fashion capitals, Italy has been the slowest to embrace that emerging and potentially very lucrative market known as wedding dresses. Read more

The other day I got an email from a colleague entitled “strange question”. This is the sort of email that immediately makes me perk up (it’s always fun seeing what other people consider strange) so I opened it instead of putting it in the “get to later” queue. Given the timing, I was expecting a request for advice on the best charm bracelet, or whether sequins were too much for an office party, or whether it was possible to go tie-less in a tuxedo, but instead what I found was: “Are animal prints – leopard, zebra stripes, and so on – still in?”


One of the many purposes of the terribly confusing fashion season known as pre-fall, which began presentations last week and extends until mid-January and which hits stores around June, is — even more confusingly — to feed the voracious maw that is the Hollywood red carpet during awards season. Yesterday the Golden Globe nominations come out, in front of the actual awards in January, and earlier this week the SAG short list was announced. Stylists everywhere are gearing up. Here are my bets on some of their picks.

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I did a fairly long interview with Francois-Henri Pinault, ceo of PPR, that’s running in the paper next week, about the way he thinks of his luxury brands, but in the process of talking Mr Pinault dropped some titbits I wanted to pass on. Here are three juicy ones. Read more

The Anna-Wintour-for-ambassador rumours that have surrounded the US Vogue editor in chief ever since she became a “super-bundler” for Barack Obama have picked up steam lately: on Monday, even erstwhile presidential non-contender Donald Trump offered his two cents on the matter (“I think she’d be an amazing choice”). But c’mon guys: let’s think about this realistically for the moment.

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The other day I discovered The LiP, aka Luxury in Progress, aka Labelux’s on-line luxury site (launched wholly under the radar), and was struck by how much it resembled Nowness, LVMH’s on-line video site, in the way it separated company values from object. Luxury marketing without product pushing! What an idea. It works, theoretically at least, on four levels.

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PPR’s announcement last night that they had bought a majority stake in baby Chinese jewellery brand Qeelin – it was launched in 2004 by Dennis Chan and Guillaume Brochard– marks the third move on the part of French group with an Asian dimension. You know what that means: I smell a trend. Read more

The news last week that Alexander Wang would be Balenciaga’s new creative director had the fashion world all a-twitter (literally – they were tweeting up a storm).

Despite all the hoo-ha surrounding the choice of the very young New York-based designer, in some ways I was just as struck by the rumoured candidates that didn’t get picked. Because they were, largely, British (or honorary Brits): Thomas Tait, JW Anderson, Mary Katrantzou and Christopher Kane, who had been the rumoured frontrunner. And Balenciaga is not the only recent fashion job opening where the headhunting focus has been on the UK. Stylist Katie Grand just did a niche collection for Diego Della Valle’s Hogan line, while media chief Jefferson Hack did the same for Tod’s. Erdem Moralioglu’s name had been on the shortlist for everything from Dior to Schiaparelli (OK, he was born in Canada but he went to the Royal College of Art and works out of London, is on the schedule at London Fashion Week, is favoured by both the Duchess of Cambridge and Samantha Cameron, and, to most intents and purposes, is considered a British designer). Finally, Italian designer Alberta Ferretti announced that Natalie Ratabesi, a Central St Martins graduate, would be the new (and first) creative director of her Philosophy line.

This is a little embarrassing, but it’s for a very good cause: the FT is auctioning a bunch of us lippy types off as lunch partners to raise money for the Global Fund for Children, and I am on the block. Read more

Two interesting announcements this morning, both of which are worth examining: First Labelux announces instead of embracing (and chasing) hard luxury, it is exiting the segment to focus entirely on leathergoods; then Mulberry rejects the outlet model to take its bags and other products further up-market. The moves are complementary, in the context of general industry strategy. They both indicate that in the highly competitive world of leathergoods, current theory says it’s the most special, elaborate, highly worked pieces that sell.
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The news that LA-based private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners may take a 25% stake in Topshop and Topman has the high street all aflutter, largely because of the billion plus valuations it puts on the brands. However, it makes sense for a lot of reasons, and provides some fun fodder for sepculation. Let’s plunge in! Read more

And then there were six — annual collections, that is. Last season Nina Ricci introduced a capsule collection called “Les Envies” as a sort of lead-in to its pre-spring, and this season they’ve made it official: they now offer spring/summer and autumn/winter (what we see on the runway); pre-spring and pre-fall (mini shows); and pre-pre-spring and pre-pre-fall(aka Les Envies). Monty Python couldn’t have one-upped this if they’d tried. Not that this is a joke: it’s a brave new reality!
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