Menswear

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.

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On Wednesday night, after the last show of the spring/summer 2013 season, after the last dinner (almost after midnight) I trucked up to Azzedine Alaïa’s atelier to see what he was working on. Mr Alaïa often shows the week after the Paris collections are over (which is also when he sells to stores), and I often stop in for a preview, but this season he wasn’t doing a mini-presentation at all, except for buyers. So, as one does, I asked him why? Read more

It seems to me Chanel is fast becoming the Swatch of luxury – and no one is really paying attention.

Today WWD is reporting that the couture house’s affiliate, Paraffection, has acquired French super-glove-maker Causse, which joins the other EIGHT specialist ateliers they have bought up in the past decade including embroiderer Lesage and button maker Desrues. The spin goes: Chanel is preserving French know-how for posterity (and indeed, according to our piece on manufacturing in France, if you don’t, say, use Lesage for embroidery, you would probably need to go to India to find the same skills). But at the same time they are acquiring a monopoly on said skills. Which is where the Swatch comparison comes in. Read more

If anyone still doubted the fact that the Obama camp is embracing former President Bill Clinton and vice versa, last night’s convention put an end to it, not only because of what the former President said, very eloquently, but because of how the two men looked. I mean – this is like high school: they’re almost matching! Read more

Last night at the DNC, during a pre-speech convention interview, First Lady Michelle Obama (then wearing DVF) told Deborah Norville , who was excitedly asking her what she was going to wear on stage, that she didn’t know, and she would pick what she likes. Frankly, after seeing her choice — a dress by an African-American female designer from Detroit, Tracy Reese — I believe this like I believe gullible isn’t in the dictionary. Read more