Monthly Archives: July 2013

Today Lyst, the fashion site that allows you to personalise your own wanna-be closet, is adding a feature that its founder, Chris Morton, hopes will throw a big wrench into the e-shopping experience as we know it, and change the status quo. Specifically, it is introducing a universal shopping cart. Imagine it: you surf the web, find stuff from all over, and buy it in one place, with one card, in one stage.

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So after the Louboutin vs YSL tangle over the use of red soles, we have Thomas Pink vs Victoria’s Secret over the use of pink. See, Pink likes to refer to itself as…well, PINK. And VS, since 2001, has had a secondary line aimed at tweens and 20somethings called (under 32 different trademarks, including “Pink Beach,” “Aolha Pink” and “Oh what fun is Pink”) VS Pink. And therein lies the conflict.

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Today, downtown at the Pace Gallery, Tamara Mellon finally unveiled her new brand – not mention plans for the business, which is based on a model that that rejects a lot of the basic conventions of the fashion industry. It tosses, for example, the whole idea of seasons out of window, as well as shows.
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News that the Hudsons Bay Company is buying Saks Fifth Avenue for $2.9 billion may take many by surprise (recent rumours focused on Neiman Marcus and NY real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht), but it also throws a new light on Canada’s relationship to the luxury industry.

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Regular readers will know that every once in a while I like to pause for a moment from tracking the visual economy and think, instead, about another phenomenon I call the fashionisation of life. This is the tendency of those outside the fashion industry to apply its principles to their own products, whatever they may be.

Forget reality TV; nothing has been more mesmerising than the Dolce & Gabbana soap opera of summer. I mean, first they were convicted of tax fraud. Then they appealed. But not content to appeal to the court, they also appealed to the court of public opinion, closing their Milan stores “in indignation,” and announcing they would be bankrupted if they had to pay their fine.  Read more

President Obama has just nominated Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg as the ambassador to Japan. Assuming the Senate confirms her, you know what this means: the crowning of a new style icon. It’s not quite as big a deal as a royal baby, but it’s going to take Prince George awhile to grow into his Look and start influencing clothing sales, while Mrs Kennedy-Schlossberg will have to unveil her own pretty soon. Let the who-will-dress-her wars begin!

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So the other day I was talking to Josh Abram, who was showing me around his new luxury co-working venture Neuehouse and whom I have decided is potentially the most-quotable person I have yet met, when he mentioned that the guiding principle of Neuehouse (or one of them, anyway), was the opportunity to combine the best of the hospitality industry with the drive for co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. It gave me a weird sense of déjà vue. Because lately, I feel like almost every luxury strategist I run into keeps bringing up hospitality as the secret sauce of their success.
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If ever there was an event that highlighted the complicated politics of fashion nationality in a global world, it was something that happened last night. Specifically, there was a big party in Medellin attended by the mayor, his wife, the First Lady of Colombia, and other assorted luminaries in honour of designer Haider Ackermann, who held a retrospective catwalk show to mark 25th anniversary of inexModa, Colombia’s fashion and textile industry showcase, and who was given the keys to the city. Now, Mr Ackermann was born in Colombia, but adopted as a baby by a French couple who raised him all over the world, but mostly in the Netherlands,trained in Antwerp, and has based his brand in Paris where he shows. Which makes him…what exactly?

Apparently a potential pawn in the fashion game of a number of countries.

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Today Style.com is expanding its contributors list by about oh, say, 10 times, adding 60 new names at one blow (to its 6 person edit staff) by introducing a whole new section that presumably it hopes will 1) set it apart from all those other sites that now have on-line magazines; and 2) reposition it as not just a fashion news site, but a creative hub. Fine; we hear this sort of thing all the time. But what’s really interesting about this is what it reveals about the celebrity-fashion paradigm, and the way the web may be changing it. Read more

Christiane Amanpour is the chief international correspondent for CNN, host of an eponymous interview programme, and is also global affairs anchor of ABC News. She grew up in Iran and in Great Britain and joined CNN after university. As a reporter, she has covered many conflicts as well as interviewing heads of state such as Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad and the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

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It’s been almost a week but I am still processing the succession of outfits that appeared on the great and good at the recent Sun Valley conference. The annual gathering of media and tech executives offers possibly the most concentrated examples of how moguls dress when they dress down.

You know that saying about “dress for the job you want”? Well, for anyone who wants to look like a power player not just in the office but out of it (or while pretending to be out of it but still thinking about it), Sun Valley provides a primer in what to wear. Which is what? According to Forbes’s style file, “attendees wear luxurious, casual, low-profile attire, but still aim to look stylish”. Serial participant Diane von Furstenberg, who also has a small pop-up shop during the conference, says: “Everyone makes a point of being as humble and as laid-back as possible. We get some T-shirts and sweatshirts and most guests wear them.” Read more

I did an interview in tomorrow’s paper – it will be up soon on-line – with Christiane Amanpour, the ABC anchor, CNN correspondent, war reporter, mother, and all-around very impressive woman, that I really hope everyone will read (and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever written those words in a blog). Not because I wrote the piece, but because for the first time I can remember, a really powerful woman has been secure enough in her own intelligence and position; secure enough in the level of respect she commands; to be absolutely comfortable talking, at length, about clothes.

Specifically her clothes, and why she wears what she wears when, say, she is in the field, or in the studio, or interviewing various Presidents, or going to the White House Correspondents’ dinner. It’s a breakthrough, and I don’t say that lightly. Read more

Floriane de Saint Pierre, one of the most powerful luxury headhunters in France (she’s the go-to people placer for Kering), is spearheading yet another fashion award, Eyes on Talent, along with ITS (International Talent Support, an on-line platform) — this one specifically geared toward bringing up and coming design talent to the attention of big brands. Well, they just announced their 2013 winners, and guess what? Of the 13 awards, sponsored by brands like Yoox, Diesel and Swarovski, almost half the winners came from major new markets: South Korea and China. Think this is a coincidence? I don’t.
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There’s something rotten in the state of e-tail – or so it seems. In the last week, both Kate Bostock, the old retail hand filched with great fanfare from M&S by ASOS.com, and Sarah Curran, the founder of My-Wardrobe.com, have left their respective e-ventures – both departures coming just after Aslaug Magnusdottir left her job as CEO of ModaOperandi.com, which she helped launch, last May. Three high-profile executives leaving three of the more successful (and established) fashion etailers in two months? This strike anyone else as weird?
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Just as her former Presidential First rival is inaugurated as the face of Bulgari, Valerie Trierweiler, current First Partner of France, also upped her lux ante, appearing during Bastille day ceremonies not just in a bright pink ensemble, but with a Christian Dior bag – one with little dangling C and D charms no less. Check it out by her feet, left. These things in these situations don’t happen just by-the-by. So what do we make of this? Read more

As the royal babywatch enters what are presumably its final days (or even hours) I admit: I cannot wait for the Royal Windsor baby to be born – not because I’m actually panting to see said heir, but because hopefully it will stop the flood of emails I get every morning heralding yet another fancy baby product. Now, I get that this seems an extraordinary opportunity for the high-end baby market, which is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the high-end fashion market, with brands from Dolce & Gabbana to Gucci, Burberry, and Fendi launching kidswear. I get that the Duchess of Cambridge is one of the most influential figures around when it comes to moving product. But what I don’t get is why everyone thinks she is going to move really expensive product. Read more

One of the more notable moments of the recent Paris couture week occurred at a very fancy party hosted by Bulgari in a former palace now used as the Chamber of Commerce on Avenue Friedland. As attendees milled around the gardens, swilling champagne, snacking on stuffed tomatoes and chatting to the various executives – outgoing chief executive Michael Burke (who has moved to Vuitton), incoming chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin and Francesco Trapani, head of watches and jewellery at LVMH – models sporting elaborate jewels mingled with guests such as Milla Jovovich, Alexa Chung and Bradley Cooper.

Of all the executives, models and celebrities in attendance, however, none drew as many sideways glances and surreptitious whispers as the new face of Bulgari’s Diva collection and the star of its forthcoming ad campaign, resplendent in black trouser suit and 43-carat sapphire necklace – France’s former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Read more

During the couture shows the hottest topic of conversation runway-side was, unquestionably, whether or not Marc Jacobs (left, at the last Vuitton womenswear show) was going to stay at Louis Vuitton – and if he wasn’t, if Nicolas Ghesquière, late of Balenciaga, was going to get the job. Well, since then, the rumour has only gotten stronger on the blogosphere — google “Marc Jacobs leaving Louis Vuitton” and you get over 3 million responses. But amid all the speculation, there’s one fact no one seems to know.
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The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists were just announced, and on the ten-brand list is one – Veronica Beard – that seems increasingly emblematic of a new trend in fashion: women entrepreneurs who want to Be Like Tory. Read more