Monthly Archives: September 2013

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…?”  Read more

Bare essentials

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. Read more

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? Read more

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.

Why? Read more

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. Read more

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’. Read more

I should probably amend that headline to “did fashion kill BlackBerry as we
know it?”

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. Read more

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? Read more

“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? Read more

For all scholars of the Conde Nast kingdom and its inner workings: Anna Wintour has made another move in her new role as Artistic Director of Conde Nast. Last night Milan Fashion Week opening with what will indubitably be the party of the week: a shindig, hosted at La Scala by Conde Nast (the American version) to celebrate the donation of five scholarships to five Italian students in fashion, art, film and journalism. The great and the good were all there, and tenor Vittorio Grigolo sang. When I asked various CN execs about it, most of them said, “It was Anna’s thing” – though CEO Charles Townsend was also key. Either way it suggests a certain kind of strategic thinking that isn’t necessarily just about altruism or opera. Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

The news yesterday that Marigay McKee (left, with Michael Kors), former Chief Merchant of Harrod’s, was moving to New York to become President of Saks was interesting — but not as interesting as the news today that Richard Baker, the new owner of the store chain (and a sudden department store mogul along the lines of Galen Weston: he also owns Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay) was planning a $200 million refit of the flagship. $200 million on one store? If I was a speculating gal – and you know I am – I would guess this means the Fifth Ave branch is going WAY upmarket. WAY upmarket. And you know what that means? We have new strategy in the department store wars. Read more

Five years ago, as New York Fashion Week began, Lehman Brothers began its fast slide into bankruptcy and as the shows progressed so did the sense that the consumer world as we knew it was about to change. The ensuing financial crisis altered not only the economics of fashion, especially fashion in Lehman’s home city, but also its aesthetic course, though perhaps not in ways anyone might have predicted. Or so was apparent from last week’s spring/summer womenswear season.

Print matters

From chequerboards to Greek pottery, kinetic swirls to giant gingham, next summer will be one of clearly defined contrasts. Read more

Given the diversity debate that raged during New York Fashion Week – and which is making its way over the ocean to London, where the shows began today — thanks to a letter Bethann Hardison sent to the fashion councils of the four fashion week cities pointing out, in no uncertain terms, the extreme uniformity of the runway, I thought it might be interesting to keep a scorecard of sorts during NYFW to see if all the talk had any effect. Here’s what I found. Read more

Ok, I know it’s the womenswear season and all eyes are on hemlines in New York (and soon London), but something is happening in menswear to which no one seems to be paying much attention, but that strikes me as worth a stop and think: various Chinese groups are snapping up classic western tailoring brands like they are M&Ms. And the ownership change is reaching critical mass. Read more

Yesterday, at Narciso Rodriguez’s show, close readers of show notes might have noticed a little symbol next to many of the look descriptions in his running list: the Woolmark swirl. It’s the latest example of what seems to me a growing trend of industry suppliers coming out from behind the curtain to promote, publicly, their raw materials as luxury brands in themselves – the luxury behind branded luxury if you will. Aside from Woolmark, the World Gold Council has also launched an up with gold initiative (that’s me paraphrasing), both along the lines of what Saga furs and Swarovski did before them. Want to know why you see what you see on the catwalk? Cherchez les suppliers! Read more

The fashion world loves a ranking – the best-dressed list is a staple of the industry – so I guess it was only a matter of time before someone turned the tables and ranked fashion. That someone is Style.com, and their ranking bears the scarily high-school-like name “The In Cloud.” It’s a genius idea (and a great name), not necessarily because I think it’s reflective of any enormous insight, but because as a way to get EVERY FASHION PERSON checking in with the site on a regular basis – as a traffic-driver and influence-wielder – it’s non-pareil. But it also has certain startling omissions, which are meaningful. Read more

And you thought the recent municipal jockeying to nab a glamourous, potentially global-identity-changing event ended when the IOC announced Tokyo had won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Hah! Apparently, London is still in campaign mode, even post-its successful Olympic Games, and now Mayor Boris Johnson has turned his eyes toward fashion. Read more