Monthly Archives: September 2013

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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! 

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. 

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.