Finance

Moda Operandi’s announcement this morning that it would be selling designer gowns seen on celebrities and society mavens direct from next week’s New York Met Ball has really lifted the veil on the extent of the commercialisation of the 21st century red carpet.

The three-year-old company, which made its name offering high fashion looks straight from the catwalk and has widely been touted as one of the few e-commerce start-ups with a real shot at competing with queen bee of the pack Net-a-Porter, first made waves earlier this year by announcing its sponsorship of the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” themed event. Read more

Lloyd Blankfein. Getty Images

The new stubbly look of Goldman Sachs’ chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was the subject of much buzz at Davos last week. Sometimes you have to talk about something besides the Eurozone and exciting new tech breakthroughs, and in so doing, it caused endless irritation for the Goldman communications team – it didn’t see why everyone cared so much.

Do they really have to ask? Methinks that is a bit disengenuous. After all, Mr Blankfein’s new look was unveiled at: 1) the most public gathering of his peers all year, and one he was returning to for the first time in five years; and 2) bore a striking resemblance to the facial hair sported by that most considered and controlled of all aesthetic men, Tom Ford – the man who transformed the role of the designer into an executive position, and became a public figure in the process. Take a look at the pictures and tell me what you think. Read more

IBM monitors electronic conversations to pick up on and predict trends. Getty Images

IBM has gotten into the trend-spotting business. You know that thing designers refer to as “zeitgeist”. Well, it can identify it, track it, determine when it turns from vague mumblings into larger movements, and then sell the information to clients. It’s not an art anymore; it’s a science.

Actually, it’s the Social Sentiment Index, a tool for monitoring the global electronic conversations on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as blogs. When people start talking a lot about a certain topic: bingo. Read more

Today PVH, the large US conglomerate that owns Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Izod (among others) announced it was acquiring Waranco, the large US lingerie manufacturer that makes Calvin Klein undies and jeans, among others, in a deal valued at $2.9 billion.
The acquisition was approved by both boards, and will officially make PVH one of the mega-corps, with revenues of about $8 billion. As important, however, is the fact that by buying Warnaco, PVH is also buying Calvin Klein’s two biggest product categories, which had been licensed to the manufacturer since the late 1990s.
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Yesterday Chanel (the Group, not the brand) announced it would acquire Barrie knitwear, a Scottish cashmere producer whose parent company, Dawson International, went into administration last August due to “a large hole in their pension fund”. This is turning into something of a strategic signature for Chanel. Though Barrie is not part of their “Metiers d’Art” group of nine specialist ateliers bought by their Paraffection affiliate, is it fully in line with what seems to be a Group policy regarding buying up and protecting heritage skills, be it glove-making, embroidery, or knitting.  Read more

Yesterday LNK Partners, a White Plains, NY-based P.E. firm, announced they had closed a second $400 million fund (oversubscribed, natch), specifically aimed at investing in “the consumer/retail sector.” Yes, yet more proof that all of us who thought when Permira sold Valentino to the Qatari royal family, it marked the end of PE’s brief flirtation with the unpredictable world of fashion were wrong. There’s life in that there investment relationship yet. Read more

There’s a piece in the paper today I did about Joseph and Karen Altuzarra, his mother and CEO, and their impressive working relationship and in the course of our conversation, something came up that didn’t make it into the story, but I thought was worth passing on: Mrs Altuzarra is convinced, as is her son, that the fact she didn’t know much about the fashion system when they launched really worked to their benefit, financially. Read more

Vionnet has gone gaga for Goga.

Today the classic French brand that was relaunched by Matteo Marzotto, the ex-president of Valentino, and Gianni Castiglione, CEO of Marni, three years ago, has just entered “Stage Two” thanks to a majority share purchase by Goga Ashkenazi, a London-based Kazakh businesswoman. Read more

Those international Vogues are fast becoming the action heroes of the fashion world.

Only last week they banded together to declare war on underage models, and now Vogue India has now announced it is following in the footsteps of American Vogue, British Vogue, and Italian Vogue and creating its own Fashion Fund initiative to promote the businesses of young Indian designers. Go team! Read more

As I was leaving Italy after Milan Fashion Week, I was chatting to Guglielmo Miani, the young-ish CEO of Larusmiani, a family-owned manufacturer of luxurious materials, when he let drop an interesting fact. Last week the Italian government quietly changed the law it passed in November that banned retail establishments from accepting more than €1,000 in cash. Surprise!

What changed?

Now, retail establishments have no limit on the cash they can accept from foreigners, as long as they take a photocopy of said foreigner’s passport. I’ll say that again: no limit. Italians are still restricted to €1,000. Read more