Monthly Archives: January 2013

John Galliano. Getty Images

So Oscar de la Renta has invited John Galliano, the ex-Dior designer whose fall from grace in 2011 for anti-Semitic remarks rocked the fashion world, back into the atelier. His atelier, to be precise. According to WWD, Mr Galliano is going to do a three week “designer in residence” stint in Mr de la Renta’s studio, beginning – well, soon. What do we think of this idea?

On the face of it, it is a surprise. But really, it’s very smart.

The surprise comes not from the fact Mr Galliano is beginning to stage a comeback (that’s been mooted for a while, and every friend of John I’ve talked to over the past year has mentioned it), but the fact he’s doing it under the auspices of Mr de la Renta. The two have never really been public collaborators before. Indeed, the classic New York society designer, favourite of first ladies, always perfectly dressed in suit and tie, and the British rebel who demolished and rebuilt an old couture house and costumed himself every season, are pretty different types. I mean, check out their portraits. Read more >>

The FT’s first New York mini Business of Luxury summit is taking place this afternoon at the Plaza, and I hope all of you will join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FTLuxury13 or following @FTLuxury360.

I’m moderating a panel on developments in counterfeiting with Katrina Burchell, the first group head of intellectual property for PPR, Shirley Cook, chief executive of Proenza Schouler; and Harley Lewin, the lawyer who recently helped Christian Louboutin, so it should be… lively. What Mickey Drexler likes to call “passionate discussion”. It will include how the internet has changed the situation (we can no longer say, as Potter Stewart did, that we know it when we see it) and the greatest threats (3D printing anyone?) . Read more >>

IBM monitors electronic conversations to pick up on and predict trends. Getty Images

IBM has gotten into the trend-spotting business. You know that thing designers refer to as “zeitgeist”. Well, it can identify it, track it, determine when it turns from vague mumblings into larger movements, and then sell the information to clients. It’s not an art anymore; it’s a science.

Actually, it’s the Social Sentiment Index, a tool for monitoring the global electronic conversations on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as blogs. When people start talking a lot about a certain topic: bingo. Read more >>

Financo – a New York-based boutique investment bank that specializes in consumer retail – held a seminar yesterday with a CEO panel that showcased some of fashion’s most successful kingpins. Coach chief executive Lew Frankfort gave his two cents to the assembled suits, as did Juicy Couture and VF CEOs Paul Blum and Eric Wiseman, plus hospitality supremo Danny Meyer.

But the most vocal man in the room by far – J Crew’s chief executive Mickey Drexler – wasn’t sitting on the stage.

In a rather unexpected (and uninvited) twist at the tail end of an otherwise predictable dissection of retail strategy, lifestyle brands and the importance of the emerging markets, Mr Drexler sensationally hijacked the discussion from the floor, to the acute embarrassment of Financo’s head honcho Gilbert Harrison. Read more >>

I was struck, when reporting the PPR/Christopher Kane deal, by a comment from Hugh Devlin, a lawyer with Withers LLP who acted as a strategic advisor to Mr Kane. Specifically, Mr Devlin said, “We would anticipate that there will be other investment transactions involving London designers in the coming 12 months.” So let’s have some fun! Let’s speculate about who could be next. Read more >>

Getty Images

It doesn’t rain but it pours! Following Swatch’s purchase of Harry Winston, PPR has announced it has bought 51 per cent of hot young British brand Christopher Kane. That’s him, left, with stylist Caroline Seiber.

This marks the third British ready-to-wear brand owned by the French Group (it also has a joint venture with Stella McCartney and 51 per cent of Alexander McQueen), the first such young brand acquisition by a major luxury group since the recession, and the third in a series of PPR purchases: first Italian menswear brand Brioni, then Chinese jewellery brand Qeelin, and now Kane. It is up to something, no question. Where some see risk – buying a luxury brand at a time when consumer attitudes towards luxury itself are uncertain and China, aka the promised land, is experiencing a slowdown – they clearly see opportunity. Read more >>

And just like that – OK, just like that with $750 million plus the assumption of up to US$250 million of pro forma net debt – Swatch becomes a major luxury jewellery player. Today they announced the acquisition of the luxury arm of Harry Winston Diamond corporation. It is an image-changing buy.
 Read more >>

Last week was menswear week in London – see Charlie Porter’s review – but in New York, it was womenswear everywhere. On Monday I saw eight “pre-fall” collections. Tuesday I saw another and, on Wednesday, I saw a 10th. What did I see? Well, tailored wool jackets. Mini-skirts. Prints – leopard and cheetah and floral and what Carven’s Guillaume Henry described as “sort of layered posters for Françoise Hardy albums”. Tuxedo dressing. And evening gowns. Lots and lots of evening gowns.

But the latter aren’t for pre-fall – that is, from next June/July until November, when this ridiculously named “season” is stocked in shops. The gowns are for tomorrow.

Getty Images

I did a Lunch with the FT with Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, (looking snazzy, left), which is running tomorrow, and in our long – and fun – conversation, the thing that struck me most was the revelation that he limits his technology interaction largely to his professional life. Yup: no Facebook, no Twitter. It’s a work-only thing.

Why is this interesting? Well, because Mr Bailey has been a driving force behind Burberry, which is streaming its men’s show tomorrow on numerous social media platforms from Europe to China, becoming the number one high-end fashion company in the digital space.

And the Burberry flagship on Regent Street was revamped, under Mr Bailey’s direction, with an astonishing number of screens that can do such things as show you how your trench coat would look in the rain. Read more >>

Tiffany & Co. Getty Images

The post-Christmas gloom in parts of the US retail sector deepened on Thursday as Tiffany & Co, the jeweller, and Aéropostale, a fashion retailer, reported weak sales that sent their shares falling.

But, in a reminder that the sector still contains some winners, two other stores that sell fashion to young people – American Eagle and Urban Outfitters – reported strong sales growth.

 Read more >>