Menswear

Look: it’s me and mini-me! Or me and not-so-mini-me! Ok, actually, it’s Barack Obama and Senegal’s President Macky Sall, in matching outfits, from the light blue ties and white shirts down to the two-button suits.  Read more

Can it be a coincidence that the start of the summer cultural season – ie, that time of year when blockbusters hit big screens and beach reads land on bookshelves – has been heralded by two launches that, while they don’t necessarily celebrate consumerism, certainly have it at their core?

Between The Bling Ring , Sofia Coppola’s dramatisation of Nancy Jo Sales’ magazine piece about brand-and-celeb-obsessed teenagers and the criminal lengths they reach, andCrazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan’s novel about lux- and status-obsessed Singaporeans, it’s hard to escape the idea that this will be the summer of stuff. Read more

Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana may not have been in Italian court earlier this week when the judge handed down a sentence for tax evasion, but they were in London last weekend. The evening before the London menswear shows began, Dolce & Gabbana held a tailoring presentation at one of their Bond Street stores. To all intents and purposes, it was a catwalk show. Here’s what happened. Read more

So now we are deep in the London menswear , the beginning of a three-week cycle through Milan and Paris, and I thought in honour of the start of the run, I’d share some astonishing facts I was told recently by the Brioni folks about employment and spend.

 Read more

Once upon a time, to most people, “the woman in red” meant a mediocre 1980s comedy starring Gene Wilder and Kelly LeBrock. Not any more. These days, the phrase is shorthand for the protests in Turkey over the past two weeks. That the latter has so overtaken the former is testament to the power of the image in the age of social media. And clothing has a lot to do with that power.

Just as pre-fall appears in stores, pre-spring (aka resort) appears on runways. But how to make sense of a season that spans from November through to May? The answer for a number of designers: skin. Sometimes yours, sometimes an animal’s, sometimes something that looks like an animal’s.

We all know menswear is seen as a Great Luxury Hope, what with the Chinese market being driven by male consumers with money. Hence the Kering acquisition of Brioni; LVMH focusing on Berluti and buying French made-to-measure tailor Arnys to make apparel; Hermes and Coach opening mensonly shops, and so on. Now, however, it seems the on-line folks are also thinking along these lines. Yesterday MenInvest, the slightly cringe-worthy-named Paris-based e-commerce group bought the even odder named upmarket UK site Oki-ni.com, which specialises in “cutting-edge” menswear, for an undisclosed sum.

 Read more

American Vogue may have Michelle Obama as their cover coup, but L’Uomo Vogue, Italian Vogue’s men’s fashion arm, has, on their April issue…Mayor Michael Bloomberg! I kid you not. It’s a little left-field as a choice, no? For both of them (the cover model and the magazine). So what’s the rationale here?

 Read more

It’s Easter, which perhaps explains my recent fixation with the new Pope. After all, for the past week he has been conducting the rites of Holy Week, which will culminate in Sunday’s mass, where thousands will once again throng St Peter’s Square, listening to his words, being led by his example … and checking out his outfits for a sign.

The finalists and honorees of the CFDA awards are out, and it’s a surprising list. Actually, that’s not true: it’s a totally predictable list, but it’s also an instructive one. It both shows how meaningless it is to define an “American” designer in a world where Americans design for foreign houses, and foreigners show in America, and how, despite the fact that the fashion schedule gets ever-more crowded, there still seems an extraordinarily thin layer of internationally recognised talent. Which points up yet another truth: there is a major flaw in the time logic of the awards system itself.
 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

Last week was menswear week in London – see Charlie Porter’s review – but in New York, it was womenswear everywhere. On Monday I saw eight “pre-fall” collections. Tuesday I saw another and, on Wednesday, I saw a 10th. What did I see? Well, tailored wool jackets. Mini-skirts. Prints – leopard and cheetah and floral and what Carven’s Guillaume Henry described as “sort of layered posters for Françoise Hardy albums”. Tuxedo dressing. And evening gowns. Lots and lots of evening gowns.

But the latter aren’t for pre-fall – that is, from next June/July until November, when this ridiculously named “season” is stocked in shops. The gowns are for tomorrow.

Strong sales of men’s suits boosted business at Ted Baker by more than a fifth over Christmas.

The British fashion retailer reported a 20.9 per cent uptick in total sales for the eight weeks to January 5 compared with the same period last year, while its store footprint grew by 13.9 per cent to 273,340 square feet.

 Read more

Roubi L’Roubi (left) and Pierre Lagrange. Image by Guy Hills

They may not be showing in the current London men’s fashion week, but Savile Row tailors Huntsman are making news nonetheless – in womenswear.

New owners Roubi L’Roubi, a British womenswear and costume designer (he made the clothes for the upcoming Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana) and his partner, hedge fund manager Pierre Lagrange, who just bought the brand for an undisclosed sum from undisclosed former owners, have outlined their vision for the storied bespoke brand; and it is female-centric. Read more

It’s that time again when we think back over the year, the time of a million lists of good and bad, of the best and worst, the time of “Persons of the year”. It’s that time when we begin to make resolutions and then debate the efficacy of these resolutions, and then resolve on either more resolutions or fewer of them.

Benjamin Franklin was clearly not the present purchaser in his family. Presumably, in the late 18th century, that was women’s work. Otherwise, the founding father might well have amended his famous aphorism to read not, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – and that every November grown men and women will spend hours wandering adrift in megastores and surfing the internet in search of the perfect gift for loved ones” – or something like that (Mr Franklin might have put it more felicitously).

Of course, finding a perfect gift takes consideration, understanding, empathy, energy. And in the interests of trying to alleviate some of the burden, beginning this week and for five weeks following, we offer our succinct suggestions for 10 really good presents – five for men, five for women – in six different categories, beginning with “plan ahead”.

This is not a trick question. The English supermodel and the American President have, however, adopted a similar approach to dressing. Read more

If anyone is in doubt about how President Obama will look tonight, during the last debate of this increasingly close election, here’s a clue, courtesy of Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair profile. Read more

Two men: both in dark suits, white shirts, little flag pins; one in red tie, one in blue tie.

One week later: same men, dark suits, white shirts, little flag pins; one in red tie, one in blue tie. Read more

Sorry – that title is a bit misleading. I am not suggesting Jochen Zeitz, the chief exec of PPR-owned sportswear brand Puma, is in favour of counterfeiting. Rather, I was struck by comments he made as reported today in the FT regarding the benefits of synthetic fabrics vs leather in ye olde sneakers, and how the former were significantly better for the environment than the latter. This is something you actually hear a lot from various environmentalists, and it seems to me most consumers would consider it surprising. They also might be surprised to learn that fashion, whether driven by eco concerns or just the lust for the new, is fast going in the same direction.

 Read more