Monthly Archives: January 2014

OK, giant luxury conglomerates: time to think even more broadly about brand extensions. According to a new report from Boston Consulting Group, the luxury experiences market is now worth a whopping $980 billion (luxury experiences being defined as cars, art, home, tech, dining, hotels, travel, spas, yachting, etc.). Aka almost $1 trillion. By comparison, the personal luxury goods market is a piddling $390b. Now, where would YOU put your investment? Read more

Oh, yay! Another list! The Fast Company 1000 is out, a list of the 1000 “most creative people in business”, aka the ones “behind the world-changing, inspiring and, yes, even whimsical, ideas that are moving business in new directions today.” There are 30 fashion people on it, including models and editors. You can probably guess who some of them are, but there are some startling omissions. Read more

Michelle Obama did something last night at the State of the Union address she had never done before – in fact, I think odds-are she did something no First Lady had ever done before. It was pretty radical. Read more

Well, finally: Google glass has made the leap from nerd-wear to pretty acceptable actual glasses. They just unveiled four new styles of titanium frames – lightweight black numbers that range from a kind of sexy secretary style (my personal favourite) called Curve to a thick-rimmed architect look (Bold). They can take both prescription lenses and non. The weird Google viewer that, when worn alone as previous turned people into Star Wars-geeks, attaches to one side. It’s still a little odd, but not odd enough to cause the sort of double-takes it did on its own. It could actually pass as…a fashion statement. Read more

What’s the point of fashion week – or maybe more pertinently, are we missing it? I was wondering this last week at couture, as I complained about the lack of daywear and subtlety, and got told off by a young stylist, who said, simply, “Isn’t it all about the red carpet?” Maybe so, given that a Valentino dress just showed up on the Grammy red carpet on Katy Perry (left). Which got me to thinking: maybe the reason we complain so much about fashion weeks is because what we (critics, consumers, viewers) think they are for, and what brands and designers think they are for, are no longer the same thing. Reality doesn’t meet our expectations, because reality is trying to meet different expectations. Adjust the expectations, and you may change your reaction too. As the ready-to-wear shows loom (they start in NYC a week from Wednesday) I think maybe it’s time to try to pin this down. Read more

It is one of life’s great ironies that the Paris couture shows always coincide almost exactly with the World Economic Forum in Davos. While the latter focuses on the looming issues of the day – the growing gap between the super-rich and pretty much everyone else, for example – the former caters to said super-rich and to their willingness to contemplate €20,000 gowns. It’s a stark contrast, in black and white and gold and silver.

And so couture comes to an end. I could tell you it was all about lightening up, or the new names on the schedule, or the rise of the couture trainer (meaning odds are the coming ready to wear season will be full of comfy rubber-soled shoes of whatever variety), but I’ll leave that for Saturday’s review.

Truth is, what struck me most about this season was the off-piste rise of the new runway game: “Which is the Oscar dress?”

See a conjunction of the evolving red carpet economy and timing means that today couture may well generate more Oscar dresses than any other season. And it is changing what’s on the runway. Read more

All that stuff we’ve been hearing about the Chinese market moving toward the exclusive, the subtle, and the non-logo? It’s happening in beauty too. The other day I was chatting to Christophe Robin, the Paris hair colourist, and he mentioned that his line of products had really taken off in China. They’re called “Christophe Robin.” Heard of them? No? Well, that’s the point. “Last year sales were up 53%, and this year we think it will be 70%,” he said. Given that Bain reported luxury market growth of about 2.5% in China last year, that’s saying something. Read more

Bet corridors were buzzing over at Hermès yesterday when LVMH announced Francesco Trapani, the executive who engineered the sale of Bulgari to the French Group and was then elevated to head of LVMH’s Watch & Jewellery division, the better to ease the family firm’s incorporation into the LVMH fold, was stepping aside. He is to become a “senior advisor” to LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault, and keep his seat on the board. LVMH didn’t say much about the move, other than to suggest the decision had been Mr Trapani’s, and that it was prompted by Bulgari’s successful integration – ie, his operational job was done. In the press release, though there was a quote from M Arnault about Mr Trapani’s contribution, Mr Trapani himself did not say anything at all, which was a little weird. Read more

In Paris for the couture shows, I was tooling around yesterday to some appointments, and stopped by JW Anderson’s showroom to see his pre-fall, pre-Versace (for the latter, if you want to know: Swarovski, skin and very Sunset Boulevard). Anyway, we got to chatting about the change in his life since he signed on as Loewe’s creative director, and LVMH took a minority stake in his eponymous brand, and the YBD (young British designer) reeled off some pretty interesting numbers. Read more

Vanessa Friedman

So, after all the breathless waiting for Diego Della Valle to name a designer to the house of Schiaparelli, after Christian Lacroix’s guest stint at the last couture, after the newly decorated Schiaparelli atelier on Place Vendome was unveiled and Farida was introduced as the house’s ambassador – after all that build-up, how was Marco Zanini‘s debut as the official designer of the House of Schiaparelli, not to mention his debut as a couturier, not to mention Schiaparelli’s first couture show since 1954?

Not so shocking. Read more

To change an image, first you destroy it. Only then can you rebuild: this is the lesson of fashion, and it is the lesson of Miley Cyrus. Who ever thought those two words would reside in the same sentence? My guess is Cyrus herself or her handlers. I think they figured this out long ago.

Just after Burberry’s nice third quarter results prompted a rash of headlines (including in this paper) about positive returns “easing [the industry’s] China slowdown fears,” especially when combined with similar happy stories from Swatch and Tiffany, today we came down to earth with a bump courtesy of Richemont. In their third quarter trading statement, things looked not so rosy in China. In fact, they looked pretty doldrum-like. Read more

There’s an interesting note on Francois-Henri Pinault’s official bio page on the Kering website – after a the usual title/school/professional background stuff, the last line is “He takes a personal and professional interest in sustainability and the development of e-business.” It’s the last bit that struck me, given that yesterday M Pinault, through his holding company Artemis, became a meaningful investor in Square, the mobile payments company started by Twitter guy Jack Dorsey. M Pinault was staying mum about the private share purchase, but it makes sense to me on many levels, besides the obvious one above. And I think may hint at some tantalising possibilities for the future. Read more

Ok, I know the numbers are nearly as big as Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest, but still, it’s worth noting: yesterday Groupon, the deal site, bought Ideeli, the fashion-centric flash sale site, for $43 million. Interpreted in the most positive way, this is a vote of confidence in flash sales, which have been under a bit of a question mark recently, and another indication of a more accessible site wanting to get into fashion, a la Amazon. Of course, it could also have been just a really opportunistic punt, since at $43 million Ideeli is relatively cheap (compare it to the $270 million Nordstrom spent on flash sale site HauteLook in 2011 for example). Still, $43 million is $43 million. And while it makes sense to me in the short-term – both Groupon and Ideeli are about making consumption of all kinds accessible – I’m not sure about it as a long-term play. After all, by buying Ideeli, Groupon may have bought entree into fashion, but they have not bought that most elusive and powerful driver of consumer loyalty: a point of view. Read more

If there is any doubt that menswear is now the Next Big Hope of luxury, let that be put to rest by last night’s Golden Globes. This morning, waking up as one does to the quazillion emails from brands trumpeting their celebrity “gets,” I was struck – as if by a 10-foot-pole – by how bigged up the men were. This can mean but one thing: glossy fashion brands, historically known more for their womenswear than menswear, are putting even more marketing muscle behind growing the male side of the business.  Read more

The Taste. This, in case you don’t know, is the cooking reality TV show starring Ms Lawson and co-chefs Anthony Bourdain (the two are also co-executive producers of the US show) and Ludo Lefebvre (plus Marcus Samuelsson in the US) in which they pick teams of unknown cooks and said cooks then compete, under their tutelage, to produce the best-tasting meal.

Following Vogue (“The September Issue”), Gucci (“The Director”), Bergdorf Goodman (“Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s”), and Kate Moss (Paris Premiere’s upcoming “Looking for Kate”, which airs this Sunday), the latest fashion/luxury brand to get the documentary treatment will be Tiffany’s. Matthew Miele, who wrote and directed “Bergdorf’s” is at work on a full-length, fully authorised, documentary about the company, starting back in the day. Anyone else feel their trend-spotting bells a-ringing? Read more

Stage two in the re-invention of Miley Cyrus has begun, thanks to Marc Jacobs and his new ad campaign. After taking a wrecking ball to her Disney image via Terry Richardson and the twerking with Robin Thicke VMA incident, thus rendering her former self unrecognisable, she is now rebuilding. It’s one of fashion’s talents, after all; the Eliza Doolittle story writ lux. Will it work in this case? Betcha yes. Indeed, the entirely canny one-two-punch of Richardson/Jacobs to recreate Miley seems like strategy at the highest level. I don’t think this all happened by accident. Read more

So the rumours were true, and Stacey Cartwright, the ex-Burberry CFO who left that brand last February, has landed at Harvey Nichols as CEO. She’ll start next month. Goody. After all, Ms Cartwright’s appointment underscores two important trends in the fashion industry: first, the action in the department store world, where the fight for consumer attention and wallets is escalating to new heights; and second, the rise of the female executive in a world that, ironically, has long been run by men. Read more