I just got an email inviting me to a super-secret announcement over lunch tomorrow — which is rumoured to be an announcement of their partnership with Vente-Privee, the french flash sale site that was at the forefront of the current etail consumer phenomenon.

If this is true, it will be the third in a rash of investment in the latest fashion fad that began at the end of April with Ideeli’s raising $40 million of Series C funding, followed tuesday by Gilt Groupe’s raising $168 million. And you know what they say: three examples of anything is a trend. Welcome to the new internet investment bubble: shopping!
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In one way, the answer to the above question is a definite yes. Yesterday Patrick Robinson, the brand’s creative director and a man whose arrival after stints at high-end brands like Paco Rabanne and Perry Ellis seemed to signal a new, fashion-forward direction for the mass market name, was ousted from the company.

“After spending the last three months in New York with the Creative team, I’ve made the decision to make a change within our Gap Adult design team,” said Pam Wallack, head of the Gap Global Creative Center in New York.

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That’s pretty anodyne.

And thus ended Mr Robinson’s brief era – he joined in 2008 – where Gap engaged in mini runway shows, staged presentations for glossy magazine editors and last year actually sponsored the Met’s Costume Institute ball, dressing Diane Kruger, among other celebrities. Is this the end of that approach?

Though there was some buzz post-Met, it never coalesced into a specific image for the brand. Mr Robinson himself is relatively mediagenic, but whilst GAP at first seemed interested in the idea of a frontman to represent them, a classic strategy of high-end brands that use their designers to humanise their name and connect it to consumers, they never seemed fully committed to the approach. Read more

You can understand why Pierre Cardin thought this would be a good time to put his eponymous company on the block (and it’s not just because at 88, and the CEO/sole designer, he’s getting tired). Read more

The grand British fashion historian and critic Colin Macdowell has just written a rather incendiary, and I think alarmist, essay on the bussinessoffashion that (I think) has made the connection between the government forcing English students to pay for education and the death of English fashion. Read more

Along with their 2010 results today Gucci Group announced some big changes – starting with the fact there is no Gucci Group any more. Now there is the “luxury division” of PPR. So: new look/new logo, or something more significant?

Well, along with the name change, come corporate changes: all the GG – oops, no, can’t say that – the LD (?) CEOs will report directly to PPR chieftain Francois-Henri Pinault, and the former CEO of GG, Robert Polet, who just last year moved from London to Switzerland for the Group (starting gossip on the street about all this), will move on yet again, this time to the fabled “new challenges.” Read more

There has been much talk at the beginning of New York fashion week (whoopee!) about the incredible shrinking of the shows. Not the number of shows themselves, which is still alarmingly high, but the shrinking of the show spaces: the purported embrace of new, intimate catwalks that only allow a few hundred, instead of many hundred, attendees.

Y-3, for example, has a “new, intimate” venue downtown instead of the Park Avenue armoury; ditto Yeohlee Teng, who only has room for – count ‘em – 50, as opposed to 500. This is being blamed, variously, on: Read more

Yesterday I got an irate email from a reader, upset that on Saturday we published a first-person account by Charles Finch of a store he was opening in London to sell some stuff he had made. It’s Chuc’s Dive and Mountain. Read more

I’m interested in the news that Prada has decided to hold its long-postponed IPO in Hong Kong, though not only for the reason everyone else seems to be (namely that it marks the beginning of what will become a flood of western brands listing in HK). Personally, I’m more interested in what this suggests about the Chinese consumer. Read more

I spend yesterday at the DLD (Digital Life Design) conference in Munich, and was struck by two things, one I found amusing and one that was just very smart: Read more

Barneys, the department store currently owned by Dubai-based Istithmar that was as close to synonymous with a way of life as any department store ever came, is getting a new creative identity: out with the old, ironic, insider, kitsch-meets-cool force of Simon Doonan, who has been “promoted” from creative director and the man behind the store’s windows (effectively its primary interface with the outside world) to “creative ambassador-at-large” (a minister without portfolio title if I ever heard one) and in with the new vision – whatever that may be – of Dennis Freedman. Read more

Today the AMF, the French securities regulator, approved the defensive plan of a group of Hermes family shareholders to pool their stock to create a holding company for over 50% of the company equity without having to make a public tendor offer for other minority shareholdings. Given that the holding company has been engineered solely to make it impossible for LVMH, which before Christmas announced they owned over 20% of Hermes shares, to acquire a majority of the heritage brand, this seems to me to imply the belief that 1) the AMF accepts Hermes’ position that LVMH does not have the best interests of the brand at heart, but just Wants To Make Money (horrors!); and 2) Hermes has somehow transcended product status to become synonymous with France, or a certain French heritage/craftsmanship, and the regulators think this deserves protection like any monument.
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Just in time for the new year, Boston Consulting Group has come up with a new definition of the luxury industry. It’s mega.

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Yesterday marked a sudden surge in spending — not just on stuff, but on companies. According to the investment bankers with their eye on the retail and fashion sector, Christmas itself has come early: J. Crew has been sold for billions to private equity! Gymboree has gone to Bain! Coty has bought Philosophy from the Carlyle Group! (Remember: three=trend.) Action! The engine has restarted! And so on.

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So, re my post yesterday, apparently I am not the only one who has taken note of the action in the virtual fashion space. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, those Tweet-savants, as well as Nina Garcia of Project Runway and Marie Claire magazine fame (and – full disclosure – another old Elle colleague) have all invested in a Series A fundraising round for, a virtual gaming site/app where players post photos of themselves, and other users get to vote on whether or not they should buy the pictured outfit.

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Gianfranco Ferre collection. Image by

Gianfranco Ferre collection. Image by

It’s all executive change at Gianfranco Ferre and Brioni. Yesterday Paolo Romani, Italy’s recently nominated minister for economic affairs, approved the purchase of the first by the New York-based merchant bank Prodos Capital Management LLC, which had been pending since September when this newspaper first reported the presence of Prodos’ chairman, Douglas Song, in Ferre’s front row. Ferre, along with former parent company Ittierre, has been in administration for the past two years. The Prodos purchase, which WWD reported at between $13.8m and $20.8m, is effected partly through agreements with Samsung (still to be finalized) and the Greek shipping company Salmar Shipping Ltd. Read more

LVMH’s recent filing with the French regulatory authorities re its purchase of shares in Hermes over the weekend was notable as much for that fact that the Giant Globe-Straddling Luxury Group admitted they may, in fact, want to buy another chunk of Hermes, as for their disclosure that they had finessed their first purchase through equity swaps. Read more

Apparently owners of fashion and luxury stocks are as susceptible to trends as owners of fashion and luxury products. Post-LVMH’s purchase of a stake in Hermes, Women’s Wear Daily notes stocks in LVMH and Hermes were up 5% and 8% respectively on the Paris Bourse; PPR was up 1.5%.  Read more

Be still the beating hearts of luxury analysts everywhere. The rumours turned out to be true, the predictions were fulfilled, and today LVMH announced they had bought 15,016,000 shares of Hermès International, the jewel in the French luxury crown — or 14.2% of the share capital of the company. With intentions to increase their stake. Read more

Should fashion be a family affair? At the beginning, it often has to be — where is a young designer going to find an executive who believes unreservedly in his or her talent, is happy to do the backroom work so they can have their creative freedom, and will toil away at all hours for little or no money, other than at their breakfast table, or childhood home?  Read more

Tonight, Tamara Mellon is being honoured by the Elton John Foundation at their 9th annual “Enduring Vision” benefit, for having raised $3.5 million for the charity. It’s a big deal. Still, as much as I admire Ms Mellon’s accomplishment, as I mull over her appearance this evening and consider the piece in today’s FT about the fact women have made surprisingly few incursions into contemporary boardrooms, I can’t help thinking that in many ways, her real pioneering achievement has to do less with monies raised (where she’s successful, but not singular) and more to do with, well, appearance. Specifically, challenging accepted ideas of how a female member of the c-suite needs to appear.  Read more