Finance

During fashion show season, which is any time between January’s men’s wear shows and this weekend, when their women’s wear collection is shown in Milan, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana don’t go out to lunch.

Maybe we should have expected this from someone who has built their business on cashmere and other super-soft, swaddling fabrics, but I was still somewhat taken aback when Brunello Cucinelli, the Italian luxury lifestyle entrepreneur who began his €250m business hand-dyeing sweaters, told me yesterday that he was excited about his planned IPO in May because he wanted “investors who would help take care of the company into the future.”

He had children, he continued as we were looking at his A/W collection, and he was in his late 50s, and soon they would need partners that would walk alongside them and help them nurture their brand.This is, in my experience, not the view most brand executives take on the benefits of going to market. They usually get excited about opening multiple stores in Asia or something. Read more

Yesterday, two days before his much-anticipated women’s wear show taking place this Saturday in Milan, it was announced that designer Raf Simons was leaving Jil Sander, the brand he joined five years ago and effectively resuscitated, for…parts unknown. And that he would be replaced by…creative director to come. This strike anyone else as weird?

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You know something is up when all the talk runway-side at a fashion show is about how a brand is NOT doing an IPO.

The Facebook listing has tech companies everywhere flirting with Wall Street (latest under discussion: etailer Gilt Group), but Michael Kors’ blockbuster public offering of last year, which saw his company attain a market capitalisation of $6.41bn, has not had the same effect on his fashion peers. Or so the folks at Tory Burch, whose a/w collection bowed this morning, might lead one to believe. Read more

By far the most exciting thing I saw last week during the couture in Paris wasn’t couture at all, but a web site that is launching today: www.honestby.com. The brainchild of Belgian designer Bruno Pieters, late of Hugo Boss, it is the most subversive etail initiative I have ever seen. I think it has the power to transform the fashion industry.  Read more

The other day I got a nice email informing me that Marigay McKee, formerly Harrods’ Fashion & Beauty director, had been promoted to “Chief Merchant Officer,” a relatively new title in the luxury world as far as I can tell (and one not to be confused with that other CMO, chief marketing officer), but one that, I think, reflects not just a titular promotion, but a systemic change in industry thinking.  Read more

Looking back over 2011, which I am currently doing for a Christmas Eve column, I’ve been struck by the fact that one trend dominates all others by a significant margin, having held true from last March through year end: the IPO. Read more

The news that the dress Amy Winehouse wore on the cover of “Back to Black” just sold for an unexpected £43,200 (four times its estimate) is interesting. Not just because it’s a lot of money for a generally unremarkable, non-provenance, frock, but because of who bought it and what that signifies: Fundacion Museo De La Moda in Chile. Either Ms Winehouse enjoyed a surprisingly amount of popularity in that country, or there’s a new way of valuing fashion in the offing.

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After Fashion 4 Development, the UN initiative involving Michelle Obama and Carla Sarkozy and geared toward supporting industry in developing countries, after Fashion Ambassadors (where celebs and socialites are paid to wear a brand’s clothes out and about), comes…Ambassadors 4 Fashion, a new, unofficial initiative launched this week in Paris.

I say “unofficial,” because I just made it up. But what else to think after the quartet of invitations I have received. To be specific: Read more

The fashion industry has plenty of tactics for confronting economic turmoil, especially when it comes to conflating need and desire. Witness the fact that the ante has been upped on “investment pieces”, and they’re now referred to as “forever pieces”. Beyond imaginative vocabulary, though, decorative escapism, or even bright colours to lift the mood, there’s another more obvious tactic retailers could employ to sustain sales: focusing on career-enhancing clothing. Read more