Womenswear

The general reaction from most laypersons upon seeing a Comme des Garcons show (left) can be boiled down to a single word: “huh?” Or maybe three: “What was that?” Or four: “I don’t get it.” You can kind of understand it, when designer Rei Kawakubo says things like “I was trying not to make clothes,” and it was about “monsters.” And yet Comme des Garcons is a very healthy, $200m business. So how do they get from the extremity of what’s on the catwalk to this commercial reality? Read more

This Sunday is the Oscars, which as we all know is the be-all and end-all of red carpet dressing, and may explain the notable lack of Hollywood celebrities at Paris Fashion Week thus far: they’re all back in Hollywood, juicing in order to get their stomachs flat. Or, in fact – and here’s what I am thinking – there may be something else going on. Something that has to do with changing markets, and marketing. Read more

Today is travel day, as the fashion flock leaves Milan and heads to Paris, the last leg of the four-week marathon that is the womenswear collections, and often the week one that produces the most highs and lows and sheer spectacle. So what are we looking forward to? Four major debuts are taking place this week – more new names at old houses than in any other city. Here are the big ones to watch: Read more

LVMH has confirmed it has taken a minority stake in Young Italian Designer (we will not acronym that for obvious reasons) Marco de Vincenzo, making him the second such up-and-comer to receive such investment from the luxury behemoth, and underscoring the increasing competition among the established groups to identify, and potentially own, new talent. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but there’s no question, it’s putting its money where its mouth is. At least some money. Read more

Rebekah Brooks has finally taken the stand to speak for herself in the British phone hacking trial, now entering its fourth month. And what did she choose to wear for the occasion? A plain sapphire blue dress, cream cardigan, thin gold chain, tights, and low-heeled shoes. No makeup. Famous hair restrained. She looked, in other words, not dissimilar to the stereotype of a home counties matron. She did not look like a master of the media universe. For a courtroom observer, it’s a notable choice – as much because of the selections she has made in the past that were seemingly rejected for the stand. Read more

Yesterday, sitting on the benches beside the Alberta Ferretti catwalk as one does, I got to chatting to my neighbour about London Fashion Week. “It was great,” he said, “But it was all the same people you have already heard of. I hope it’s not losing its edge for new talent as it gets more established.” Well, according to the new talent, he should not fear. Read more

It yet another indication that high end fashion brands see growth opportunity in charging ever-further upmarket, today Ralph Lauren (that’s their most recent show, left) named Valerie Hermann, latterly CEO of Reed Krakoff, as President of a newly created Luxury Division. This follows announcements by Louis Vuitton and Gucci that they see their future on the tippy-top of the luxury pyramid. At the same time, the move puts the Ralph Lauren strategy at odds with that of his fellow American “premium brand,” Michael Kors, whose phenomenal growth has been driven in large part by exploiting the price-point opening left when peers deserted the high end for the highest end. It suggest Mr Lauren is going after European competitors, as opposed to Mr Kors. Read more

Yes, it’s that time again: the time to tally up the celebs to find out which-brand-won-the-red-carpet! I mean, clearly big awards shows are no longer simply about the work, are they? They’re about who wore it best, and whose picture will then get sent out to a quazillion media outlets, and which brand will then get tons of free advertising, and so on. We know this. So let’s take a look at last night’s BAFTA brand-dressed list (not best-dressed list). And the winner was…. Read more

Big Pants
Not the Bridget Jones variety – rather, the wide-legged, generously slouchy, swish-as-you walk kind. Blame it on the overarching trend of the season: a return to comfort dressing – or a simple fashion reaction to the past few seasons of skin-tight rocker trousers. Either way, for autumn/winter the trousers on the catwalk are, finally, almost entirely on the upped-side. This is good news physically (they can hide a multitude of issues) and emotionally too; they have the comfort factor of a good pair of sweatpants. Whether in double-faced cashmere or malleable leather, they can go from office to sofa with just a change of top. Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy would approve.

I know this is heresy of a sort, but sitting in the opening shows of New York Fashion Week, a thought keeps niggling away at the back of my mind: maybe being marketed by Mrs O (because, let’s face it, when she wears your dress it’s free global marketing on an unprecedented scale), is NOT helpful. Maybe, in fact, it creates expectations some designers are simply not ready to bear. Before you rant and rave, hear me out. Read more

It was probably inevitable after the rise of the multi-thousand-square-foot shoe department (Macy’s: 63,000 square feet; Selfridge’s, 35,000 sq ft). After all, you need something to fill that space. You need stars. And the way star are made, in fashion at least, is during fashion shows. Enter the shoe show. Once a specialty of Milan alone, this season it has gone global. New York fashion week is full of them. Read more

Lately it is beginning to feel like for every shopper there is a new technology start-up — maybe because so many new technology start-ups are driven by shoppers trying to solve their own problems. Like, for example, how, when you see a really cute blue blouse by you are not sure who, sold you are not sure where, pinned to someone’s inspiration board, you can find it and buy it. Good luck with googling that one. Which, presumably, is why ASAP54, just raised $3 million from, among others, Carmen Busquets of Net-a-Porter investment fame.  Read more

It’s time to call a spade a spade. Or a tulip skirt a skirt. Or something. As New York fashion week kicks off fashion month today (joy! rapture!) I think it’s about time we face up to certain realities of the form that, for whatever reason, we have seemed unwilling to acknowledge in the past. Starting with Fact #1: designers never want to show in a shared venue. Read more

Calling Bill de Blasio: Just in time for fashion week, New York has been crowned “Top Global Fashion Capital” in Digital Language Monitor’s 10th annual survey of most-discussed fashion cities. For a fashion world nervous that post-Bloomberg the City Hall regime might not be quite as friendly to the industry (smacking, as it does, of elitism), this is good news. After all, New York edged out Paris by a mere .005%, while the 2012 and 2011 winner London fell to third place. And there are more surprises! Read more

What’s the point of fashion week – or maybe more pertinently, are we missing it? I was wondering this last week at couture, as I complained about the lack of daywear and subtlety, and got told off by a young stylist, who said, simply, “Isn’t it all about the red carpet?” Maybe so, given that a Valentino dress just showed up on the Grammy red carpet on Katy Perry (left). Which got me to thinking: maybe the reason we complain so much about fashion weeks is because what we (critics, consumers, viewers) think they are for, and what brands and designers think they are for, are no longer the same thing. Reality doesn’t meet our expectations, because reality is trying to meet different expectations. Adjust the expectations, and you may change your reaction too. As the ready-to-wear shows loom (they start in NYC a week from Wednesday) I think maybe it’s time to try to pin this down. Read more

It is one of life’s great ironies that the Paris couture shows always coincide almost exactly with the World Economic Forum in Davos. While the latter focuses on the looming issues of the day – the growing gap between the super-rich and pretty much everyone else, for example – the former caters to said super-rich and to their willingness to contemplate €20,000 gowns. It’s a stark contrast, in black and white and gold and silver.

And so couture comes to an end. I could tell you it was all about lightening up, or the new names on the schedule, or the rise of the couture trainer (meaning odds are the coming ready to wear season will be full of comfy rubber-soled shoes of whatever variety), but I’ll leave that for Saturday’s review.

Truth is, what struck me most about this season was the off-piste rise of the new runway game: “Which is the Oscar dress?”

See a conjunction of the evolving red carpet economy and timing means that today couture may well generate more Oscar dresses than any other season. And it is changing what’s on the runway. Read more

In Paris for the couture shows, I was tooling around yesterday to some appointments, and stopped by JW Anderson’s showroom to see his pre-fall, pre-Versace (for the latter, if you want to know: Swarovski, skin and very Sunset Boulevard). Anyway, we got to chatting about the change in his life since he signed on as Loewe’s creative director, and LVMH took a minority stake in his eponymous brand, and the YBD (young British designer) reeled off some pretty interesting numbers. Read more

The Taste. This, in case you don’t know, is the cooking reality TV show starring Ms Lawson and co-chefs Anthony Bourdain (the two are also co-executive producers of the US show) and Ludo Lefebvre (plus Marcus Samuelsson in the US) in which they pick teams of unknown cooks and said cooks then compete, under their tutelage, to produce the best-tasting meal.

Stage two in the re-invention of Miley Cyrus has begun, thanks to Marc Jacobs and his new ad campaign. After taking a wrecking ball to her Disney image via Terry Richardson and the twerking with Robin Thicke VMA incident, thus rendering her former self unrecognisable, she is now rebuilding. It’s one of fashion’s talents, after all; the Eliza Doolittle story writ lux. Will it work in this case? Betcha yes. Indeed, the entirely canny one-two-punch of Richardson/Jacobs to recreate Miley seems like strategy at the highest level. I don’t think this all happened by accident. Read more