Monthly Archives: July 2013

The burning questions of: 1) whether Anna Wintour’s new big job at Conde Nast will mean she steps down her maybe-possibly-political ambitions and involvement; and 2) to whom she will lend her formidable bundling skills to now President Obama is in his second term have both been resoundingly put to rest – by Ms Wintour herself. Finally! we can sleep at night.

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So instead of buying Tiffany or Burberry, as long rumoured, LVMH has snapped up Italian brand Loro Piana, known for their baby cashmere and vicuna, which take soft to a whole other level. It’s a strategic move, on many levels that go far beyond quantifiable profit, even in a world obsessed with putting a number on that amorphous thing known as “brand equity.” There are a lot of reasons why, but if I had to pick the most important, I’d settle on the following: family.  Read more

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic were not the only two men working at Wimbledon yesterday; Prime Minister David Cameron (left) and Labour leader Ed Miliban (below) were on the job too. At least they looked as if they were: in dark suits and their respective party-tone ties (light blue and red), they seemed as if they were on their way to Prime Minister’s question time, not the hottest men’s tennis final in years (and I mean “hot” in both senses of the word). What to conclude?  Read more

It’s too bad EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht wasn’t at the couture shows last week. It would have given him lots of ammunition during this week’s EU-US free trade talks (presuming they go ahead) when the question of the French exception culturelle is raised. After all, the fashion industry is not covered – not even the made-to-order highest end of it, as invented and perfected in Paris. What became increasingly clear during the collections is that, other than location, couture no longer seems to have much to do with France.

Part of this is literal: of the big brand names still on the couture schedule, only one, Jean Paul Gaultier, is actually designed by a Frenchman. The rest are created by Belgians (Dior, Martin Margiela Artisanale), Dutch (Viktor & Rolf), German (Chanel), Italians (Versace, Armani, Valli, Valentino), Russians (Ulyana Sergeenko) and Lebanese (Elie Saab). But most of it is aesthetic.

That headline doesn’t say “take his time,” it says, “takes on time,” because that’s what Azzedine Alaia is doing: After years where he has gotten more and more passionate about what he sees as the single Great Problem of Fashion he’s decided to start a public debate on the subject. “Public” being the key word.

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An interesting side show is taking place at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo during couture: Net-a-Porter is unveiling a new initiative involving five artists commissioned to make five one-off pieces of clothing, which you can think of as couture or art, depending, and which will be sold in September in New York – though whether they are to be worn or to be hung on a wall is unclear, as is the price. What is sure, however, is they will be very, very expensive. Take that, Moda Operandi and Farfetch and every other pretender to the throne! Net has just seen your bid for their spot in the e-verse and raised you by a factor of ten. Read more

Finally, some female executives at fashion brands. Yesterday Kering named Francesca Ballettini CEO of Yves Saint Laurent and then Lanvin announced Michèle Huiban was being promoted to CEO from the deputy general manager spot. This practically doubles the number of female CEOS in fashion. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s also a valid generalisation.
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Does anyone think just taking a picture of a celebrity in your stuff – or taking a picture of a celebrity in your stuff and making a video of the picture-taking – or even taking a picture of an artisan making your stuff, is enough to convince today’s super-suspicious-of-all-marketing consumer of the integrity of a brand? Burberry clears doesn’t think so, and their just unveiled Autumn/Winter campaign is their response. It’s multi-layered! It’s referential! It has history! It has retail! It goes way beyond the usual. Is it a harbinger of what’s coming? Probably.
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Diego Della Valle on Monday unveiled the first collection for the House of Schiaparelli: 18 pieces created by guest designer Christian Lacroix. They’re not for sale. They’re just to look at.

Yes, you read that right. Admittedly, given one outfit pairs a goat’s hair top with a 40lb skirt (pictured) you can perhaps understand why. Still, during couture week, anything is possible.

 

Goat's hair top with 40 lb skirt by Christian Lacroix

Mr Della Valle is attempting to rethink the whole idea of a fashion house. He’s trying a few experiments, hence the idea of a once-a-year “homage to Elsa” that will be concept, not commerce, driven. After Mr Lacroix’s collection (below), which may live at the Maison at 21 Place Vendôme, next year a photographer or musician or filmmaker may be invited to add their interpretation of the brand (no, they won’t make clothes – they’d do a film etc), chief executive Camilla Schiavone said. Read more

There has been some confusion in the e-verse after the news that last week I joined Twitter (@VVFriedman). I’d like to clear this up.

Some thoughtful souls have pointed out I actually joined in 2009, tweeted once, and then fell silent for four years after writing a column about how confusing I found the platform. This is true – kind of. I did join, as @VVF67, to find out what my friends were so excited about, but in a personal capacity, not as a fashion professional. I did find all the personal tweets a bit odd. When it became clear Twitter was a fashion issue, I wrote about it. Read more