Luxe leathers, tribal printed t-dresses meet corrugated, wooden changing cubicles and Japanese minimalism at the brand new Louis Vuitton temporary store in London’s Dover Street Market, writes Eve Simmons

In October The Met will open its doors in New York on a showstopping new exhibition of works which, when given to the museum last April by cosmetics billionaire Leonard Lauder, set the record for the largest single art donation in history.

The 78-strong collection of Cubist masterpieces – which includes 33 Picassos, 17 Braques, 14 Légers and 14 works by Gris – is widely considered the most eminent of its kind in the world. And the price tag? A cool $1.1bn. 

Those ubiquitous double-G Gucci bags are not whirring retailers’ cash registers as they once used to.

Sales at Gucci, the crown jewel in French luxury group Kering’s portfolio, weakened further in the first six months of the year amid tepid demand for its logo-heavy handbags. 

Interesting news surfaced last night: according to Reuters, flash sale site Rue La La is putting itself up for sale with a price tag of $400m and has hired JP Morgan as advisors for any potential deal. This grabbed my attention for a number of reasons.

 

Earlier this week Hermès’ womenswear designer Christophe Lemaire announced his impending exit from the ultra-luxe label to focus on his namesake collection.

This news, coming just days after the company undershot expectations in its latest quarterly performance, got me thinking about the rapidly evolving status quo forming for one of the star brands in the luxury galaxy. 

So Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder and self-anointed hero of media freedom, is adding yet another headline-grabbing feather to his cap this September: modelling at London Fashion Week.

The Australian, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the best part of two years, will appear in a show modelling a collection inspired by Clint Eastwood by Ben Westwood, son of the industry’s most famous designer anarchist, Dame Vivienne.

“My view about Julian is that he is a popular hero and he’s done a great deal to change public opinion. I think it’s a citizen’s duty to stand up for justice and freedom of speech,”

said Mr Westwood about his decision to make Mr Assange a fashion model.

“I want to highlight his plight. What happened to him is totally unfair. Julian’s been in the embassy for two years and it’s important that he doesn’t slip into obscurity.”

 

Another day, another high-profile auction house hits the headlines with a juicy legal scandal. Weeks after a 6-month siege of the Sotheby’s boardroom by Dan Loeb ended in a trip to the courthouse and the activist hedgie getting a seat at the top table, Christie’s is facing a $60m lawsuit filed by a rival for allegedly poaching its luxury handbags experts.

Does this mean that accessories could be the new flashpoint in the fight for market share in the auction world?

Papers were filed in Manhattan last Friday by Heritage, a Dallas, Texas-based company that specialises in auctioning ultra-luxe accessories. It was behind the sale of the world’s most expensive handbag in 2011 (this $203,150 scarlet red crocodile skin Hermès Birkin bag below in case you are interested, and the price included a juicy buyer’s premium of almost 20 per cent.) 

I read an interesting note to investors from the luxury analysts at Exane BNP Paribas last week, exploring the idea of measuring brand temperature.

Rather than focusing on the elements over which a brand has complete control, the team looked at the ‘hot’ or ‘not’ variables which it can only influence remotely via its marketing efforts.

Comparisons included equal marketing spends by one ‘hot’ and one ‘cold’ brand, then monitoring the spontaneous global marketing and editorial coverage triggered, as well as the potentially increased brand recognition in the minds of consumers. 

Fashion, just like the tech world, is borne from, reflective of and defined by the cyclical and cultural trends that continually evolve and adapt around it.

Both are businesses that are high-risk and tricky to be in, balancing books around supply and demand. But, more specifically, the real art that defines leaders from the pack is preemptively being able to guess what people want and need before they manage to recognize it for themselves. The best at this are making billions, both in fashion and tech.

But there’s one overlapping sector which both the titans of Silicon Valley and tastemakers of London, New York, Paris and Milan are still struggling to get en vogue.

Wearables. 

In a world where online control of both brand name and territory is considered increasingly essential, it is of little surprise that digital land-grabbing by luxury’s biggest players stepped up a notch last week with the launch of a new top level domain name – .luxury

Think it sounds a little gimmicky? That perhaps it won’t take off?

Then maybe think again – because some of the industry’s biggest players in the industry appear to be more than happy to pay the relatively modest $699 annual fee in order to take a stake in this new luxury e-space.