Christiane Amanpour is the chief international correspondent for CNN, host of an eponymous interview programme, and is also global affairs anchor of ABC News. She grew up in Iran and in Great Britain and joined CNN after university. As a reporter, she has covered many conflicts as well as interviewing heads of state such as Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad and the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
It’s been almost a week but I am still processing the succession of outfits that appeared on the great and good at the recent Sun Valley conference. The annual gathering of media and tech executives offers possibly the most concentrated examples of how moguls dress when they dress down.
You know that saying about “dress for the job you want”? Well, for anyone who wants to look like a power player not just in the office but out of it (or while pretending to be out of it but still thinking about it), Sun Valley provides a primer in what to wear. Which is what? According to Forbes’s style file, “attendees wear luxurious, casual, low-profile attire, but still aim to look stylish”. Serial participant Diane von Furstenberg, who also has a small pop-up shop during the conference, says: “Everyone makes a point of being as humble and as laid-back as possible. We get some T-shirts and sweatshirts and most guests wear them.” Read more
One of the more notable moments of the recent Paris couture week occurred at a very fancy party hosted by Bulgari in a former palace now used as the Chamber of Commerce on Avenue Friedland. As attendees milled around the gardens, swilling champagne, snacking on stuffed tomatoes and chatting to the various executives – outgoing chief executive Michael Burke (who has moved to Vuitton), incoming chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin and Francesco Trapani, head of watches and jewellery at LVMH – models sporting elaborate jewels mingled with guests such as Milla Jovovich, Alexa Chung and Bradley Cooper.
Of all the executives, models and celebrities in attendance, however, none drew as many sideways glances and surreptitious whispers as the new face of Bulgari’s Diva collection and the star of its forthcoming ad campaign, resplendent in black trouser suit and 43-carat sapphire necklace – France’s former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Read more
It’s too bad EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht wasn’t at the couture shows last week. It would have given him lots of ammunition during this week’s EU-US free trade talks (presuming they go ahead) when the question of the French exception culturelle is raised. After all, the fashion industry is not covered – not even the made-to-order highest end of it, as invented and perfected in Paris. What became increasingly clear during the collections is that, other than location, couture no longer seems to have much to do with France.
Part of this is literal: of the big brand names still on the couture schedule, only one, Jean Paul Gaultier, is actually designed by a Frenchman. The rest are created by Belgians (Dior, Martin Margiela Artisanale), Dutch (Viktor & Rolf), German (Chanel), Italians (Versace, Armani, Valli, Valentino), Russians (Ulyana Sergeenko) and Lebanese (Elie Saab). But most of it is aesthetic.
That headline doesn’t say “take his time,” it says, “takes on time,” because that’s what Azzedine Alaia is doing: After years where he has gotten more and more passionate about what he sees as the single Great Problem of Fashion he’s decided to start a public debate on the subject. “Public” being the key word.
An interesting side show is taking place at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo during couture: Net-a-Porter is unveiling a new initiative involving five artists commissioned to make five one-off pieces of clothing, which you can think of as couture or art, depending, and which will be sold in September in New York – though whether they are to be worn or to be hung on a wall is unclear, as is the price. What is sure, however, is they will be very, very expensive. Take that, Moda Operandi and Farfetch and every other pretender to the throne! Net has just seen your bid for their spot in the e-verse and raised you by a factor of ten. Read more
Finally, some female executives at fashion brands. Yesterday Kering named Francesca Ballettini CEO of Yves Saint Laurent and then Lanvin announced Michèle Huiban was being promoted to CEO from the deputy general manager spot. This practically doubles the number of female CEOS in fashion. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s also a valid generalisation.
Does anyone think just taking a picture of a celebrity in your stuff – or taking a picture of a celebrity in your stuff and making a video of the picture-taking – or even taking a picture of an artisan making your stuff, is enough to convince today’s super-suspicious-of-all-marketing consumer of the integrity of a brand? Burberry clears doesn’t think so, and their just unveiled Autumn/Winter campaign is their response. It’s multi-layered! It’s referential! It has history! It has retail! It goes way beyond the usual. Is it a harbinger of what’s coming? Probably.