Oooh, the trash talk out of Milan. Having finally woken up to the fact that London Fashion Week is getting buzzier, and that such a development could be a threat to Milan, its collections, and the related economic windfall that comes to a city during showtime, Milanese designers are joining forces to defend their territory – but the infighting has already begun. The gossip and name-calling is fun to watch, but behind it is a real issue currently afflicting every fashion week: the tension between national industry interest and a brand’s self-interest. Read more
Yesterday Kering, the group-formerly-known-as-PPR, announced their Q1 results, and, as with rival LVMH, they were a little…slimmer than usual: up only 3.1% on a comparable basis and 1.0% on first-quarter 2012 (the luxury was up 6.4%, but the sports lifestyle side was struggling). To paraphrase the reaction: shock, horror, luxury slowdown! Except for one thing: the bright spot in the presentation was YSL. This is, of course, the first test of new creative director Hedi Slimane, and despite a large amount of angst surrounding his debut, at least on the part of the industry, he seems to have passed it pretty well. So how did everyone (except the guys who hired him) get it so wrong? Read more
Diego Della Valle has thrown yet another cook into the Schiaparelli mix: after announcing Farida Khelfa as the “face” of the brand and Vincent Darre as the decorator of the Maison, today he has revealed that Christian Lacroix will create a one-off couture collection, to be unveiled in July, that will be an “homage” to the late designer. That’s a lot of opinions and aesthetics under one roof. But there’s more (and there will be more)! Read more
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
People in Paris are still arguing about Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent show, and whether it showed shocking disrespect for history or was a kind of fun wake-up call.
You can find out where I fall in my review, but in the meantime, I thought I’d pass on this picture, left, that a friend sent from a book on Mr Saint Laurent.
It’s from 1965, when the designer opened YSL Rive Gauche to sell ready-to-wear and said “boo!” to the couture system. The picture above right is Hedi Slimane’s collection. Can you really argue these things are unconnected? Read more
We used to do a column on the Style pages devoted to what we called “incredibly obvious innovations”: fashion developments that seemed so “Duh!” when you saw them it was almost unbelievable no one had thought of them before.
For example, straps on the outside of a tote to hold an umbrella so it doesn’t soak everything inside the bag. Or a light on the interior of a purse, so you can actually see what’s inside without having to take everything out first. Well, I have a new candidate, straight from Paris Fashion Week: Neil Barrett’s internal coat strap. Read more
Helen Hunt wearing an H&M gown on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday
On Wednesday H&M is having its first-ever Paris fashion show – in the Musée Rodin, the haute art ex-venue of Tom Ford’s Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano’s Christian Dior. Coming on the back of Sunday’s Oscar moment, when best supporting actress nominee Helen Hunt wore H&M on the red carpet, it seems to indicate more upmarket ambitions for the brand. So, is this a sign of the times or a sign of the decline of western fashion civilisation? Maybe a bit of both.
(Note: it doesn’t seem to be the unveiling of the group’s new, higher-priced brand collection & Other Stories – it’s H&M itself. So it’s not a move to elevate a line to, say, the Martin Sitbon level.)
On one level, it sounds silly. The whole point of great high street brands such as H&M is that it so quickly, effectively and economically translates high-fashion trends for the rest of the world without the frills, hoo-ha and elitism associated with the whole show system, its seating ranks, invitations and exclusionary velvet ropes. It led the revolution to democratise style, and its consumers love it for it. Read more
In a few hours (4pm UK time) Burberry will take to the runway at London Fashion Week (that’s chief creative officer Christopher Bailey with Samantha Cameron at the opening reception for LFW, left), and viewers will take to their smart phones not just to watch the show, which is being streamed on pretty much every part of social media you can imagine, but to order coats and bags… with their names on them! They will arrive on their doorstep in nine weeks, which is much earlier than in stores. Not only that: they will also be able to access video of their product being made, just for them. The knees go weak.
Ok, so that sarcasm was maybe a bit uncalled for. On one level I think offering videos of the customised product is a very smart thing. It pulls customers into the process, which provides an increased sense of ownership and also underscores the hand-made side of things, partly justifying the price and categorisation of Burberry as a luxury brand. But on another, this feels a little smoke and mirrors to me. Read more
Sometimes – often when a new designer takes the reins at a brand, thereby drawing attention to it – a style inexplicably takes off in a viral way, running rampant throughout the fashion world.
This happened after former YSL designer Stefano Pilati’s first collection for the house, when he introduced the high-waisted tulip skirt to widespread scepticism. By the next season, high-waisted tulip skirts were ubiquitous (remember that?), and judging by last week’s New York ready-to-wear shows, it seems like it is happening now with Christian Dior designer Raf Simons’s gown-over-cigarette-trousers style, introduced in his first couture show last July. Read more
As show season kicked off I did an interview with Jason Wu – aka the man who made Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown… twice! – before his A/W show, and two things he said have stuck in my mind:
First, for him, the Flotus effect is felt more in publicity than an actual sales spike. In other words, since Mrs O wore his gowns, everyone now knows his name in a way they might not otherwise, but it hasn’t had much effect on the bottom line.
And second, he makes 90 per cent of his clothes not just in America, but in New York, right down the street from his atelier, not because of any political position (though it’s nice to get credit for that) but because his pieces require so much hand-work – he needs to be close by to supervise. Read more