Much hoo-ha this week about Marks & Spencer’s announcement they hired photographer Annie Leibovitz for their autumn/winter ad campaign – mostly because Ms Leibovitz is famous for her creative high-celebrity portraiture (as seen in Vanity Fair), and M&S is famous for…well, not reaching for quite such exclusive stars. And I mean that both literally and metaphorically. The pictures, which feature famous British women from actress Helen Mirren to artists Tracy Emin and model/singer Karen Elson, are very pretty, but I still wonder if, for a company that has been making headlines because of falling clothing sales, this was actually money well spent. Read more
The great and witty Simon Doonan has a new book out next week – “The Asylum”, about the fashion world, natch – and in the process of promoting it has gotten up on the hustings to mount a campaign against writing about politician’s clothes, most recently in an interview with The New Republic. You can read it yourself, but here’s the thing: in taking this stand, Mr Doonan is missing a crucial point. Read more
How much does Lady Gaga really matter, in a quantifiable way, to fashion? — this is what I want to know. I mean, the Gaga juggernaut has been in full flow this week in the run-up to the Spring/Summer collections, which begin in NY next week; practically every day a new email lands in my in-box with a designer or brand touting the pop singer’s appearance in their wares. Presumably, they think she’s a marketing dream – hence the news – but I wonder: given her brand profligacy, does this actually work to promote any name other than her own? Read more
Seems to me the big question hovering over Apple and Tim Cook – should they or should they not introduce a cheaper iPhone next month, perhaps for the China market? – is actually obvious, or would have been so to Mr Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs. Yes, they should, and it shouldn’t necessarily be for China. Or not just for China. Why do I think this? Fashion, my dear Watson.
And you thought it was all about self-promotion, or changing the (highly male) image of silicon valley, or positioning herself as the anti-Sheryl “I will never talk about anything as frivolous as clothes” Sandberg. Pshah. That super-controversial Marissa Mayer profile in the very enormous September issue of Vogue, which has ignited all sorts of hoo-ha on the internet, was actually about long-term Yahoo content creation, in an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kind of way. Who’s the canny chief executive now, naysayers?
In the never-ending hoo-ha around New York mayoral candidate and disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, I have been transfixed – not so much by the “how-can-she-stick-with-him?” Good Wife debate, or the “are-these-the-politicians-we-deserve?” metaphysical questioning of assorted talking heads, or even the “is-this-what-porn-hath-wrought?” essays of Gloria Steinem – but rather with the fashion profit-and-loss statement involved. As the mayoral primaries enter their final month (voting is September 10), I have been totting up the cost.
Sometimes, reading about brand expansion plans makes you long for the good old days when designers big market grabs had to do with sunglasses and fragrance. Today Marc Jacobs’ opened his new all-beauty store on Bleecker street in Manhattan, bringing his stores on the block to five. But why stop there? CEO Robert Duffy “hinted” that the future could hold “fine jewelry and furniture.” I bet he’s not the only one at LVMH who thinks so.
Fashion month is fast approaching – the NY shows start (gulp) on Sept 5, which means it’s also time for the now-standard action piece about why there are no black models on the runway. This season’s call to action comes from the New York Times, though there have been similar pieces over the years, from various different outlets including Vogue. Here’s my question, though: if we are really going to look at this issue in a serious way, and we should, no question, why stick to the runway? For truth is, rack my brain though I do, I can’t think of any luxury CEOs, at least of the mega-brands, who aren’t white. Or designers at the head of mega-brands, for that matter. We’re focusing on the wrong place. Read more
As fashion weeks proliferate around the world (I blame IMG, which alone owns 14 different fashion weeks from Milan to Mumbai), and it gets harder and harder to get excited about them or even remember why we should care, I have been struck by the way, of all the fashion weeks not on the original NY-London-Milan-Paris calendar, Copenhagen Fashion Week alone has both understood and attempted to solve the problem. They’ve made a big bet on an identity differentiator that – and this is key – actually doesn’t have anything to do with design. Think that’s ridiculous? it’s actually very clever.