Monthly Archives: November 2013

I expected many things when I first heard Somerset House in London was planning the exhibition Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore, which opens next week with more than 100 pieces from the late style icon’s wardrobe.

What is it with the Vogue franchise and its inability to figure out how to handle the power women of Silicon Valley? First US Vogue comes under fire (as does its subject) for photographing Yahoo chieftain Marissa Mayer (left) reclining glamorously in full fashion regalia on a chaise, and now UK Vogue is being castigated for the mistaken (that’s my take, not theirs) decision to label Ms Mayer et al “SWAGs:” Silicon wives and girlfriends.  

The latest global luxury CEO survey from Ledbury Research and Departures magazine contains some interesting nuggets of information from the 70 unnamed chief executives who talked — the un-named bit slightly undermining the survey’s results, it must be said, though also underscoring the a) super-secretive and controlling nature of many of these companies; and b) suggests they may be telling the truth about some things that are perhaps a wee bit controversial. Like, for example, two things in particular. 

Phoebe Philo (that’s her, left) is in New York thanks to Celine’s support of the MOMA’s Isa Genzken retrospective, which opens tonight, and we were chatting about it when she revealed some exciting news: she had decided NOT to bring her pre-collection to New York, but was just going to show it in Paris, and she had decided NOT to post it immediately on-line on such sites as style.com, but to keep it behind the scenes until just before the clothes actually were delivered to stores. That’s some pretty active swimming against the tide there. 

Much drumroll comes around the world from China, where Chinese Vogue is celebrating its 100th issue (left), which also happens to be its first “all-Chinese” issue — by which they appear to mean all-Chinese models and subjects issue, as it was also all shot by Mario Testino, who is, of course, Brazilian. Still, it’s interesting, both for the content, and for the sheer fact that for 100 issues it hadn’t happened. I mean, the magazine was founded in 2005. What took them so long? Before you say “why do we, who do not necessarily read Chinese Vogue, care?” I offer you this: the advent of the all-China Chinese Vogue is less about China itself than about the relationship between China and Western fashion, and where exactly the balance of power lies. 

It has been a week of trans-oceanic change, from Nicolas Ghesquière taking the design chair at Louis Vuitton in Paris to Virginia abandoning its traditional Republican loyalties and electing Terry McAuliffe as governor and New York voting for Bill de Blasio to replace Michael Bloomberg in Gracie Mansion. Of the three events, it’s the latter that strikes me as the most potentially subversive. And probably not for the reasons you think.

The analysts are not happy. Chairman Yves-André Istel’s statement at the Richemont earnings report today that “No disposals are under consideration at this time or for the foreseeable future.” has been met with grim reaction in the city, which was hoping that Johan Rupert’s sabbatical, and the new leadership of co-CEOS Bernard Fornas and Richard Lepeuwould opt for a rationalisation of the Group, where the fashion brands – Chloe, Alfred Dunhill, Lancel, Shanghai Tang, Alaia – have always seemed an anomaly. Clearly, there’s something of a perception gap here between internal and external players. Why? 

There’s a new competitor in the etail space, with a relatively original hook. This is, of course, the brass ring of on-line selling, where it is increasingly apparent that the first to a new idea (or a newish permutation of an old idea) wins big, and everyone else – well, seems to implode. So what is this Next Big Thing? Blake Mycoskie, the founder and CEO of Tom’s – the footwear and now eyewear company with a 1:1 selling/giving model – has launched an on-line department store called Marketplace that showcases 200 products from 30 brands founded with a charity component as part of their modus operandi. Think of it as Nordstrom’s – or Selfridge’s – meets Chime for Change. 

One of the weirder moments in the already surreal event that was the public confessional/press conference Toronto mayor Rob Ford held yesterday to admit smoking crack cocaine was, it has to be said, his tie. Unlike most such accessories sported during such penitent moments, which tend to dark, drab, night-of-the-soul shades and prints (see pretty much any white collar defendant in court) — or at the very least, a peaceable blue (see pretty much any banker testifying before a government sub-committee) – Mr Ford wore a souvenir number, spotted by brightly coloured logos from NFL teams. It provoked an immediate reaction. And therein lies a lesson. Really. 

Having now spent an entire evening mulling over Nicolas Ghesquière’s move to Louis Vuitton – OMG! Time to think! Such a radical concept – I can’t help feeling a little tinge of regret that M Ghesquière ended up at another major brand, instead of opening his own house. Sure, I’m excited to see what he does at Vuitton, and how the brand gets re-imagined with a new team, both corporate and creative, but at the same time, the fashion world feels smaller, rather than larger: instead of adding a new brand, and maybe a truly new designer to an old brand, which would create two new opportunities, we’ve simply engaged in yet more musical chairs. And I keep wondering why?