Monthly Archives: March 2013

Yesterday I was on a panel at Harvard Business School with some fellow industry folks, and the first question we were asked was for a definition of “fashion.” One of my fellow speakers, who works on the factoring side of the business, said he thought it was “art.” I disagreed; I have never considered fashion art – in fact, a large part of what I think is interesting about it is precisely its non-art-ness; the fact that when you make clothes, they are by definition to be worn.  Read more

After last week’s announcement that Conde Nast International had made a significant investment (for them) in Farfetch.com comes news that Advance Publications, ie the parent company of Conde Nast, just led the latest $20 million fundraising round for Renttherunway.com, the web site that allows consumers to rent a catwalk look for an event. The first move got a lot of play, and this one has been slightly quieter (another investor, Highland Capital, issued the release), but put them together and you get what looks like an interesting picture developing, no?
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Are semi-obscure male celebrities the most effective way to sell men’s scents? I have to assume the answer to this question is yes, because otherwise why would brands spend what must be a significant amount of money signing up so-so male celebrities to front their cologne campaigns? (Celebrities do not come cheap these days, as sic Lisa Jacobson at United Talent Agency. They all see “ambassador” roles as a prime source of secondary income).

After all, news comes today that Australian actors Eric Bana, left, and Simon Baker, below are fronting, respectively, the new Bulgari and Givenchy men’s scent campaigns. Recognise them? Read more

Last night I made my end of fashion week pilgrimage to the atelier of Azzedine Alaïa to see what he has been working on. As usual, Mr Alaïa did not have a show during the Paris collections; he was too busy.

Indeed, he’s got quite a lot to say about the time pressures on designers, and other industry professionals who engage in the catwalk game, to the extent that he’s planning a symposium on the subject. Stay tuned.

Anyway, there’s a lot going on over there.

Starting with the fact he’s not just busy making clothes: he is making the costumes for a French ballet, to debut in April, as well as for a Los Angeles Opera production of the Marriage of Figaro, which will open mid-May. Oh, and he’s getting ready for a major exhibit of his work at the Musée Galliera in the autumn. Read more

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People in Paris are still arguing about Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent show, and whether it showed shocking disrespect for history or was a kind of fun wake-up call.

You can find out where I fall in my review, but in the meantime, I thought I’d pass on this picture, left, that a friend sent from a book on Mr Saint Laurent.

It’s from 1965, when the designer opened YSL Rive Gauche to sell ready-to-wear and said “boo!” to the couture system. The picture above right is Hedi Slimane’s collection. Can you really argue these things are unconnected? Read more

Yesterday Farfetch.com, the ecommerce site that acts like a portal between global consumers and global independent boutiques, both editing their offerings and connecting either side, announced $20m in new funding, largely from Condé Nast International. A few days before, Luxup, a UK-based ecommerce travel site that aimed to create a “club” of tourists eager for insider shopping experiences, ceased trading. When such things happen in parallel, it’s tempting to try to find lots of lessons in the news.

What are they? Read more

We used to do a column on the Style pages devoted to what we called “incredibly obvious innovations”: fashion developments that seemed so “Duh!” when you saw them it was almost unbelievable no one had thought of them before.

For example, straps on the outside of a tote to hold an umbrella so it doesn’t soak everything inside the bag. Or a light on the interior of a purse, so you can actually see what’s inside without having to take everything out first. Well, I have a new candidate, straight from Paris Fashion Week: Neil Barrett’s internal coat strap. Read more

Three years ago in the midst of the financial crash, Sarah Mower, the British Fashion Council’s ambassador for emerging talent and a writer (she was awarded an MBE for it), in conjunction with the British Fashion Council, set up what she called “the London Showrooms”. A temporary salon during Paris Fashion Week for young UK designers not yet ready to pay for their own showrooms around the world, or organise them, but eager to reach those among the international fashion body who might not have made it to the London shows because of budget or time.

It was a big success, and since then she has introduced such showrooms in Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong, as well as another in Paris for menswear, and potentially one in Tokyo this year. Read more