Monthly Archives: April 2013

I’ve been fascinated recently by the game of semantics being played between “showrooms” and “flagships” – and wondering whether the evolution of the second into the first is actually the future of commerce. Or put another way, the place e-commerce and bricks and mortar commerce merge.

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Moda Operandi’s announcement this morning that it would be selling designer gowns seen on celebrities and society mavens direct from next week’s New York Met Ball has really lifted the veil on the extent of the commercialisation of the 21st century red carpet.

The three-year-old company, which made its name offering high fashion looks straight from the catwalk and has widely been touted as one of the few e-commerce start-ups with a real shot at competing with queen bee of the pack Net-a-Porter, first made waves earlier this year by announcing its sponsorship of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” themed event. Read more

I guess the non-disclosure has ended (well, it’s about six months since he left). The Businessoffashion has an excerpt from ex-Balenciaga Nicolas Ghesquiere’s first big interview – in the newly launched System magazine — since he quit the house he made famous last November, and it’s a doozy. Effectively, the designer is taking on the entire executive side of PPR-about-to-be-Kering, the Group that owns Balenciaga. The interview is sure to ignite the always-burning flames of the creative vs. corporate debate, which flared high post-John-Galliano’s implosion, but have of late been simmering rather lower.

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The recent move by President François Hollande to make cabinet members disclose their holdings and net worth has created something of a ruckus in France, though it has also received enough positive attention that David Cameron is suggesting the UK does the same. We may get to know, as we do with some of Hollande’s crew, all about their houses, art, boats, cars, bicycles and jewellery. What we won’t know about, however, is their clothes.

And yet clothes, especially for those in public office, require real investment these days.

Yesterday Kering, the group-formerly-known-as-PPR, announced their Q1 results, and, as with rival LVMH, they were a little…slimmer than usual: up only 3.1% on a comparable basis and 1.0% on first-quarter 2012 (the luxury was up 6.4%, but the sports lifestyle side was struggling). To paraphrase the reaction: shock, horror, luxury slowdown! Except for one thing: the bright spot in the presentation was YSL. This is, of course, the first test of new creative director Hedi Slimane, and despite a large amount of angst surrounding his debut, at least on the part of the industry, he seems to have passed it pretty well. So how did everyone (except the guys who hired him) get it so wrong?  Read more

Ever since its launch, Net-a-Porter has been the gold standard in e-tail: the high-end market leader, with a profit margin far ahead of the pack. And ever since then, entrepreneurs have been chasing its market share. Now Carmen Busquets, one of Net’s original investors (she is still a minority shareholder) thinks she’s found the answer:, a gifting site that provides a host of high-ish-end targeted alternatives to orchids and artisanal chocolate for events from weddings and baby showers to weekend visits. And she’s raised $5 million from US investors, including venture capital firm NEA, and a group of HNIs, to launch in America next September. Read more

PPR-about-to-be-Kering is on something of another spending spree. In the last two days they have announced two (count ‘em) acquisitions in Italy: the jewellery brand Pomellato, and the porcelain house Richard Ginori. The first buy is getting the most press, but it’s the second that really interests me. See, it wasn’t officially bought by Kering, but by Gucci (though this could be semantics, since Kering owns Gucci), and the purchase is being spun as the rescue of an important “Made in Italy” brand. Add that to two other Gucci intiatives, and it seems an image change is in the works, and no one has really noticed. Read more

So Reed Krakoff, executive creative director and president of Coach, the man who – along with CEO Lew Frankfort – built it into the $4.76 billion brand, is leaving after almost 16 years. Or will be leaving soon: officially, he steps down in June of 2014 when his current contract is up, which also happens to be just after Mr Frankfort retires as CEO (last September he announced he was leaving at the end of this year). Those are the facts; so what do they all mean?

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Ledbury Research is releasing its latest Luxury Market Insights report, which includes a CEO Outlook study tomorrow, and guess what? Those chief execs aren’t totally convinced the Chinese consumer demand for luxury, which has been slowing, will zoom back, despite what they often say.

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The official Parson’s statement about the rationale behind hiring John Galliano to teach a Masterclass, scheduled for sometime this spring, has landed! Here it is in full, followed by some student reactions.

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He dipped a pinky back in the fashion world – now he’s adding big toe. After working behind-the-scenes at Oscar de la Renta’s atelier, John Galliano is coming out into the open: Simon Collins, Dean of Parsons, the New York fashion school, has confirmed that Mr Galliano, aka the disgraced former Dior designer, has been hired to teach an upcoming Masterclass at the school. It’s an interesting move, seems to me, on Parsons’ part – presumably part of its bid to become the pre-eminent NY Fashion school, over FIT and Pratt. Way to make news! But is a smart move?

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This Monday is Earth Day, which for people like me means that for the past few weeks emails have been flooding in touting this new eco-friendly line and that new sustainability initiative; this new textile recycling opportunity and that new clean water commitment. Their arrival at this time each year has in recent times become a truth as reliable as death and taxes, and the fact that after hemlines go up, they come down.

As reliable is that, as the above starts happening, my own temperature starts to rise, and I begin muttering and banging the keyboard and otherwise acting highly irritated by fashion’s muddling of the issues. My pet peeve is lexicographical flabbiness (sustainable manufacturing, for example, being different from sustainable business, though you can have an entire conversation with someone about “sustainability” before it becomes clear you are talking about two separate things), but it’s also hard not to make snide comments about the fact that so many websites seem to equate Earth Day with the opportunity to create slideshows of models posing naked for Peta. I know it’s no worse than Mother’s day or Father’s day or Valentine’s day, but still. It seems like this cause, of all causes, should not be reduced to a marketing opportunity.

Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World is out, and there are three fashion names on it: Michael Kors, Jenna Lyons (of J Crew), and Tadashi Yanai (of Uniqlo). Notice anything similar about them?

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No, this is not about Michelle Obama’s Get Fit campaign. The issue of size – of one’s body, as measured by the clothes one wears – has always been a touchy matter, not because of national epidemics of obesity, but because of our global individual body dysmorphia. Fashion has been an enabler of this all, not in the way you might think – not because of skinny models, or the deification of youth, for example, though it is certainly a factor in both – but because of its collusion in a less-discussed but equally problematic issue: the total elasticity of size. For fashion, size has become a tool of perception and subconscious seduction – oooh, look, this brand thinks I am so slim! I love it! – as opposed to reality. Except now one company, Alvanon, wants to change all that. And I wonder: Do we really want to know the truth? Read more

Diego Della Valle has thrown yet another cook into the Schiaparelli mix: after announcing Farida Khelfa as the “face” of the brand and Vincent Darre as the decorator of the Maison, today he has revealed that Christian Lacroix will create a one-off couture collection, to be unveiled in July, that will be an “homage” to the late designer. That’s a lot of opinions and aesthetics under one roof. But there’s more (and there will be more)! Read more

I know most people aren’t thinking about this – they are thinking about hedge fund managers and how much they may, or may not, lose on their bets – but yesterdays’ dramatic drop in gold prices is going to have an interesting knock-on effect on jewellers and watch makers. Not because it will make their products, which have been creeping upwards over the last decade along with the price of their raw materials less expensive – but because it WON’T. It can’t. Here’s why.

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Yesterday the Salone del Mobile, aka the Milan Furniture Fair closed, and with it Milano Moda design, the side event created by the Camera Nazionale (Milan’s governing fashion body) dedicated to “events and initiatives of the Houses of Fashion which present Home Design Collections and organize special events related to Design.” This area is growing. Why? Well, partly because of the psychology of shopping: (apologies to Thomas Harris): “How do we begin to covet Clarice?…We begin by coveting what we see every day.”
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When it was announced earlier this week that Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister and the first female leader of a major western power, had died, the tweets and slideshows came fast and fulsome. Of course they did; she was a historic figure. And yet, for all the times that someone said, “She changed the world,” and referred to the Falklands war, and her war on unions, and the end of the cold war, there were as many others who referred to her clothes.

“Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher. Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today’s politics,” tweeted Boris Johnson, mayor of London. Katherine Haddon, in an obituary for AFP, wrote: “Behind the bouffant hair, trademark handbag and schoolma’am voice was an uncompromising Conservative who regularly cut her male colleagues and opponents down to size with a sharp tongue and even sharper political brain.” Meanwhile, the slideshows went up almost immediately: “Margaret Thatcher’s style remembered” (HuffPost); British Vogue and Grazia UK did them too.

This weekend marks the opening of designer Marc Jacobs’s first feature film. A “social media thriller” directed by Henry Alex Rubin and entitled “Disconnect”, it stars Jacobs (as well as Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard and Andrea Riseborough) in a supporting role as an sort of e-pimp who provides runaways with shelter and employment doing internet porn. Judging from the trailer he’s pretty good – and really looks the part. In other words, he seems like a legitimate actor, which takes the whole fashion/film thing to a new level. It is a fluke or the future? That si the question. Read more

LVMH, the largest luxury group in the world by an exponential margin, has a dumb blonde problem: it seems to be the winner in the sector, so it gets attacked and mocked most of all. For a long time, the Group’s reaction to the situation was frustration, retreat, and confusion (or sulking, depending on how you want to spin it). This week, however, they have gone on what appears to be something of a charm offensive.
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