Recession

OK, that headline is a bit of an exaggeration; luxury still loves its LA brand ambassadors. But when it comes to fashion week, it’s a legitimate question. Looking at the reports from last night’s Emmy awards, it suddenly hit me that there have been almost no Hollywood moments during Milan Fashion Week. Even given the date clash, and the fact that some may have had to be in the awards auditorium, there are plenty of movie stars who would have been available. No to mention rock stars. So I wonder: Have we finally come to the end? Has the luxury/celebrity balance of power finally shifted? Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 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.

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The other day I was talking to Geraldo da Conceicao, Sonia Rykiel’s new creative director, about his plans for the brand, when he said something that surprised me. “I want us to be an accessible luxury brand,” he announced. Hmmm, I responded: “So you are dropping your price points?” He looked confused. “No, not at all. In fact, they are probably going up.” Now it was my turn to be puzzled.

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What’s up with Oscar de la Renta? The man is creating news – and potential controversy – right and left. After paving the way for John Galliano’s return to fashion, a move that was both welcomed and castigated by the fashion set (depending on who you asked), today Mr de la Renta, America’s pre-eminent couturier of uptown society thanks to his way with a gown (see actress Jennifer Garner, pictured), announced he was creating a collection for The Outnet, Net-a-porter’s cut-price platform, that will be more “accessible” than his normal line. Effectively, he is remaking old patterns in old fabric and pricing down. The way the company puts it is, to paraphrase, along the lines of “taking out the originality mark-up”.

Actually, this is interesting for a more macro reason than linguistic gymnastics. Mr de la Renta’s move, combined with the recent launch by Barneys NY of its own stand-along cut-price web site, barneyswarehouse.com, to sell end-of-season merch, effectively creates a luxury strategy face-off over the issue of outlets: good or bad? Seems to me we are heading towards stilettos at dawn. Read more

The FT’s first New York mini Business of Luxury summit is taking place this afternoon at the Plaza, and I hope all of you will join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #FTLuxury13 or following @FTLuxury360.

I’m moderating a panel on developments in counterfeiting with Katrina Burchell, the first group head of intellectual property for PPR, Shirley Cook, chief executive of Proenza Schouler; and Harley Lewin, the lawyer who recently helped Christian Louboutin, so it should be… lively. What Mickey Drexler likes to call “passionate discussion”. It will include how the internet has changed the situation (we can no longer say, as Potter Stewart did, that we know it when we see it) and the greatest threats (3D printing anyone?) . Read more

The Anna-Wintour-for-ambassador rumours that have surrounded the US Vogue editor in chief ever since she became a “super-bundler” for Barack Obama have picked up steam lately: on Monday, even erstwhile presidential non-contender Donald Trump offered his two cents on the matter (“I think she’d be an amazing choice”). But c’mon guys: let’s think about this realistically for the moment.

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Good golly Miss Molly: there’s a whole new untapped consumer segment out there itching to spend money. Such is the basis, anyway, for a new web site launching next month directed specifically at these “recession-busting” individuals. Check ‘em out! Read more

Today Ledbury research is publishing their “CEO Sentiment Indicator,” an exciting document in which they chart the words of luxury execs as they reveal the thoughts of said execs about how things are shaping up for the future. They gave us an exclusive peek at it before release. And guess what? They are not feeling the love.

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Wandering around the Paris presentations you pick up some interesting facts. Here are three I wanted to pass on, which have to do with accessories (prospects for the future of), and which surprised me. Read more