Michelle Obama did something last night at the State of the Union address she had never done before – in fact, I think odds-are she did something no First Lady had ever done before. It was pretty radical.
Almost a month after the death of Nelson Mandela, every talking head has weighed in with their own memoir or eulogy so what is there to add? Fair question.
Let me simply say that this is a new year’s column – a look forward, not a look back – and it is about a lesson I think worth taking from Mandela and applying in 2014, a lesson not included in the many “Lessons from Mandela” written in recent weeks. Most of these were concerned with choosing reconciliation over revolution, while this is to do with clothes. It may seem like a frivolous topic where someone such as Mandela is concerned, except he clearly took clothes – and their power – seriously, and perhaps we should, too.
John Galliano, left, is once again making clothes, but this time in a slightly different incarnation. Mr Galliano is going to design the costumes for Stephen Fry’s production of “The Importance of Being Ernest” – including the looks that Mr Fry himself will wear as Lady Bracknell in the production, which will involve some gender-bending, and open at the Theatre Royal in the autumn of 2014. So what do we think? Is this comeback, unlike the last three comeback attempts, going to work? My guess: possibly. I think it certainly has the best chance thus far.
Pity the poor luxury CEO in Francois Hollande’s France: no sooner is your wife speaking to a foreign real estate agent than the rumour mill is rife with speculation that you are about to flee the country (and maybe all those proposed wealth taxes), and set up home somewhere else. What else to conclude from the recent furore over the sight of actress Salma Hayek, aka Mrs Francois-Henri Pinault, aka wife of the CEO of Kering, the second largest French luxury group, lunching with a UK broker earlier this week?
Just as the Chinese government cracks down further on luxury spending at home, and more company results demonstrate a flattening of the local market causing fear and trauma in heritage luxury brands with major capex in Asia, enter Antonio Tajani, EU Vice-president and commissioner for industry, to attempt to stem the pain. Their hero! Mr Tajani, aka luxury’s friend in Brussels, has “an action plan on the competitiveness of the European fashion and high-end industries”. Or a kind-of action plan. A beginning action plan? A small movement plan? You know what I mean. The point is: there’s a plan.
One of the weirder moments in the already surreal event that was the public confessional/press conference Toronto mayor Rob Ford held yesterday to admit smoking crack cocaine was, it has to be said, his tie. Unlike most such accessories sported during such penitent moments, which tend to dark, drab, night-of-the-soul shades and prints (see pretty much any white collar defendant in court) — or at the very least, a peaceable blue (see pretty much any banker testifying before a government sub-committee) – Mr Ford wore a souvenir number, spotted by brightly coloured logos from NFL teams. It provoked an immediate reaction. And therein lies a lesson. Really.
And you thought the recent municipal jockeying to nab a glamourous, potentially global-identity-changing event ended when the IOC announced Tokyo had won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Hah! Apparently, London is still in campaign mode, even post-its successful Olympic Games, and now Mayor Boris Johnson has turned his eyes toward fashion.
The great and witty Simon Doonan has a new book out next week – “The Asylum”, about the fashion world, natch – and in the process of promoting it has gotten up on the hustings to mount a campaign against writing about politician’s clothes, most recently in an interview with The New Republic. You can read it yourself, but here’s the thing: in taking this stand, Mr Doonan is missing a crucial point.
Fashion month is fast approaching – the NY shows start (gulp) on Sept 5, which means it’s also time for the now-standard action piece about why there are no black models on the runway. This season’s call to action comes from the New York Times, though there have been similar pieces over the years, from various different outlets including Vogue. Here’s my question, though: if we are really going to look at this issue in a serious way, and we should, no question, why stick to the runway? For truth is, rack my brain though I do, I can’t think of any luxury CEOs, at least of the mega-brands, who aren’t white. Or designers at the head of mega-brands, for that matter. We’re focusing on the wrong place.
Today Michael Kors announced that Hillary Clinton would be the first recipient of the God’s Love We Deliver Michael Kors Community Service Award at the big GLWD awards shindig in October. The gong will be presented to her by…guess who?…Michael Kors! In case anyone needed any more re-inforcement of the fact that if HRC does decide to declare her candidacy for President, the industry will be right there in her corner.