My favourite rumour of the day comes courtesy of WWD, which suggests that ex-Burberry CFO Stacey Cartwright, beloved of the City and regarded as a key player in that brand’s financial success, may find a new C-suite seat as CEO of UK department store Harvey Nichols. Current CEO Joseph Wan, who has been running the store for over a decade, “denied an appointment had been made.” Which doesn’t mean one isn’t coming. So let’s play my favourite game for a moment: “What if…?”
Blame it on Michelle Obama’s elegant arms and the related tricep/bicep workout craze, but women want to show off their upper limbs like never before and there are few ways to do so as stylishly as in a one-shoulder top. Once upon a time, a bare shoulder was almost a synonym for disco nights, but these versions are altogether more grown-up, polished and accessible.
It is one of the great ironies of the digital age that, in order to get people’s attention, the best way to do it is with a physical product. Last night, in Paris, the web site the Business of Fashion hand-delivered, ‘round midnight to a big chunk of the fashion crowd, a thin, matte paper magazine entitled “The BoF 500,” aka the Fashion 500. Catchy title, no, for those all obsessed with the Fortune 500? What do you think THEY’RE going to be reading at breakfast/in the car/on the bleachers while they are bored waiting for shows to start (which is when you normally see a spike in Twitter traffic)? Way to grab some eyeballs! Way to be part of a trend! So what is it exactly?
News yesterday that Value Retail – Europe’s most successful luxury fashion outlet operator and owner of the UK’s wildly popular Bicester Village – was launching another high stakes expansion effort in China adds yet another twist to the tale of Western retailers looking east.
The move comes hot on the heels of the group’s earlier announcement this year of their first Chinese outlet opening – the $100m Suhzou Village – which opens its doors in early 2014 about 50 miles from Shanghai.
Wednesday’s unveiling of 540,000 square ft Shanghai Village however, is considerably larger in both ambition and investment. And the decision to locate it directly opposite the country’s new Disney World resort – which will also open in 2015 – only makes this decision more of a game changer.
Yesterday LVMH announced it had signed up YBD JW Anderson to be the new designer of Loewe, and taken a minority stake in his brand. Anyone notice anything funky about this? No? It was expected? Well, kind of. But what shouldn’t have been expected, but seems to be increasingly the case, is that while they hired him to be the creative head of one of their not-quite-there-yet brands, they allowed him to keep his own line. And therein lies a change in strategy.
To kick off the Paris shows, the final leg in the marathon that are the modern ready-to-wear collections, Louis Vuitton did something I can’t ever remember them doing before: they announced the name of their new accessories designer with all the hoo-ha and accolades that usually come with the unveiling of a new creative director. Step forth Darren Sapziani. In the luxury power structure, things they are a-changin’.
I should probably amend that headline to “did fashion kill BlackBerry as we
I mean, I know what literally caused the situation that led to the sale of BlackBerry to a private Canadian consortium, and the probable end of its role as a handset provider: plunging profits and dropping share price. But those plunges and drops were due, in large part, as my colleague Matt Garrahan wrote recently, to the fact BlackBerry products were no longer cool – indeed laughable.
OK, that headline is a bit of an exaggeration; luxury still loves its LA brand ambassadors. But when it comes to fashion week, it’s a legitimate question. Looking at the reports from last night’s Emmy awards, it suddenly hit me that there have been almost no Hollywood moments during Milan Fashion Week. Even given the date clash, and the fact that some may have had to be in the awards auditorium, there are plenty of movie stars who would have been available. No to mention rock stars. So I wonder: Have we finally come to the end? Has the luxury/celebrity balance of power finally shifted?
“I wanted to be nasty. I’m fed up with everything.”
So said Miuccia Prada after her emphatic spring/summer show, which looked at the debate over women’s roles without flinching.
I know it’s a political discourse,” said Mrs Prada, “but I wanted to say what I could through clothes.”
It’s rare, if not unheard of, these days for a big global brand to take a stance on any issue; worried about inadvertently offending potential consumers and losing a lucrative revenue source, they waffle, avoiding commitment. Hemlines are high – or they are low. Trousers are tight – but they can also be wide. Coats are light as air – except when they are fur. Shoes are sky high – and completely flat. And so on.
Take that Kering. You have a hot young British designer? Now WE have a hot young British designer. Today LVMH announced it has purchased a majority stake in UK shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood for an undisclosed amount (that’s actress Rooney Mara wearing his shoes, left), making him the second YBD this year to get snapped up by a big brand, following Kering’s acquisition of Christopher Kane. As one British style watcher said, “they’re buying like it’s 1999.” So what’s going on?