Monthly Archives: March 2013

It’s Easter, which perhaps explains my recent fixation with the new Pope. After all, for the past week he has been conducting the rites of Holy Week, which will culminate in Sunday’s mass, where thousands will once again throng St Peter’s Square, listening to his words, being led by his example … and checking out his outfits for a sign.

By David Hayes

With all the ballyhoo of a major Hollywood production, the Gucci-founded charity, Chime for Change, today launched its headline event for 2013, The Sound of Change Live, to be held at Twickenham on June 1.

Hosted at the screening room of a swish central London hotel, the media event didn’t hold back on pizzazz: Salma Hayek Pinault (wife of PPR’s François-Henri Pinault, resplendent in a figure-hugging deep red dress), Oscar winning documentary maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (in a waft of oyster chiffon and satin), Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter John Legend (in sensible leather jacket) and, drum roll, a larger-than-life on-screen Beyoncé delivering a special heart-felt message.

What was all the fuss about? The recently created charity, Chime for Change (say it with a comedic Italian accent and, geddit, it almost sounds like “time for change”), with Gucci’s Frida Giannini, Beyoncé and Salma on the founding committee, is a new global campaign to raise funds and awareness for the empowerment of girls and women in the developing world. Read more

What does it mean to be the face of a movement? Well, it means, literally, that your face (not to mention the body below it) is a symbol. It means, like it or not, having to take responsibility for how the cause looks – ie, how you look.

And yet as far as I can tell, Sheryl Sandberg, author of the much-ballyhooed third-wave feminist book/exhortation Lean In, does not seem to have realised this – despite putting herself on the cover of the book; despite the fact that she is also on the cover of this month’s new Cosmo Careers magazine supplement because of it; and despite the fact that everyone else is more than happy to discuss it for her.

Yet another small Italian family-run fashion firm has been snapped up by an outsider: Today NEO Capital, the London-based private equity firm, announced it had acquired a majority stake in Italian luxury accessories brand Valextra.

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Tomorrow French luxury and sports lifestyle Group PPR will announce it has a new name. Earlier this week, journalists received a mysterious evite to a meeting in Paris Friday to unveil the “new” PPR, one which has finally shed its old retail/catalogue arms, FNAC, Conforma and Redcats, to become a pure two-sector player. According to an insider, this unveiling is, in fact, the unveiling of the fact it is no longer called PPR. So far the Group has refused to divulge its new title, though it has registered at least two alternatives. Let’s see if they are any good.

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Following Vanessa’s blog post on the topic last week, a great conversation unfolded both here and on Twitter contemplating the validity of fashion as art – and vice versa.

Whilst definitions centred largely upon the design and craftsmanship components of garments, plus shared characteristics of the two forms like innovation, self-expression and artisanship, another major part of the debate – the increasingly prevalent use of fashion logos within art works and how big luxury brands react to it – didn’t really get a look in.

Perhaps it should. Whilst the use of commercial branding in art as a mode of social commentary is hardly new – take a bow Andy Warhol and other assorted members of the Pop Art massive – it’s currently a seriously hot topic, particularly for the legions of draconian lawyers employed by the industry A-team to take many of the artists in question down, often with heavy-handed accusations of defamation and trademark infringement. Read more

So you thought the fashion weeks were over for now, and that you did not have to hear about catwalk shows for at least another three months or so (until June, anyway, when menswear begins again). Sucker!

There ain’t room for all of them in this here town. That, methinks, is what etailers are increasingly thinking. Hence, as small ventures stumble upon good ideas, the big players snatch em up, the better to dominate the space. Case in point: the announcement today that net-a-porter will start doing beauty.
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The finalists and honorees of the CFDA awards are out, and it’s a surprising list. Actually, that’s not true: it’s a totally predictable list, but it’s also an instructive one. It both shows how meaningless it is to define an “American” designer in a world where Americans design for foreign houses, and foreigners show in America, and how, despite the fact that the fashion schedule gets ever-more crowded, there still seems an extraordinarily thin layer of internationally recognised talent. Which points up yet another truth: there is a major flaw in the time logic of the awards system itself.
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Actually, that’s not true: Anna Wintour, aka editor of US Vogue, is, in fact, being promoted to “artistic director” of Condé Nast . It’s not Oz, and it’s not ambassador to the UK, but it’s definitely a step up.

Getty Images

Leaving aside the weirdness of that title, which makes it sound like she is running a ballet company (and exists because CN already has an “editorial director” – Tom Wallace – though that role has become more operational than content-focused, apparently; fun for Mr W), this means, along with her current job at Vogue, she will essentially weigh in on the creative side of the stable of magazines, as well as their personnel.

Here’s how CN explained it in the announcement: “The establishment of an artistic director is a reflection of our commitment to preserve and champion all that exists ‘Only at Condé Nast’. In today’s business environment, it is critical to promote and foster our established creative authority. This is the ideal time to leverage Anna’s extraordinary vision and leadership to amplify and elevate the profile of Condé Nast US both domestically and abroad. Anna is an icon in the worlds of fashion, business and the arts, she has the foresight and wisdom to influence the major trends of our society and is respected globally as an accomplished businesswoman.”

However, in a New York Times report on Ms Wintour’s promotion, what interested me most was her statement that the job “isn’t about a machine or an iPhone or an iPad. It’s about people.” This is telling. After all, for the last few years Ms Wintour has been most famous, intra-fashion world, not for her reportedly chilly personality or even her anti-animal-rights-activists body guards that like to push everyone out of the way when she exits a fashion show, but for the games of chess she plays with brands and designers. She has probably done as much, if not more, to shape the fashion world as to shape her magazine, and as much as any of the big groups. We hear she is a wiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was. Because because because because, because of the wonderful things she does. Read more