Anna Wintour

For all scholars of the Conde Nast kingdom and its inner workings: Anna Wintour has made another move in her new role as Artistic Director of Conde Nast. Last night Milan Fashion Week opening with what will indubitably be the party of the week: a shindig, hosted at La Scala by Conde Nast (the American version) to celebrate the donation of five scholarships to five Italian students in fashion, art, film and journalism. The great and the good were all there, and tenor Vittorio Grigolo sang. When I asked various CN execs about it, most of them said, “It was Anna’s thing” – though CEO Charles Townsend was also key. Either way it suggests a certain kind of strategic thinking that isn’t necessarily just about altruism or opera. Read more

The fashion world loves a ranking – the best-dressed list is a staple of the industry – so I guess it was only a matter of time before someone turned the tables and ranked fashion. That someone is, and their ranking bears the scarily high-school-like name “The In Cloud.” It’s a genius idea (and a great name), not necessarily because I think it’s reflective of any enormous insight, but because as a way to get EVERY FASHION PERSON checking in with the site on a regular basis – as a traffic-driver and influence-wielder – it’s non-pareil. But it also has certain startling omissions, which are meaningful. Read more

Today Michael Kors announced that Hillary Clinton would be the first recipient of the God’s Love We Deliver Michael Kors Community Service Award at the big GLWD awards shindig in October. The gong will be presented to her by…guess who?…Michael Kors! In case anyone needed any more re-inforcement of the fact that if HRC does decide to declare her candidacy for President, the industry will be right there in her corner.
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The burning questions of: 1) whether Anna Wintour’s new big job at Conde Nast will mean she steps down her maybe-possibly-political ambitions and involvement; and 2) to whom she will lend her formidable bundling skills to now President Obama is in his second term have both been resoundingly put to rest – by Ms Wintour herself. Finally! we can sleep at night.

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Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World is out, and there are three fashion names on it: Michael Kors, Jenna Lyons (of J Crew), and Tadashi Yanai (of Uniqlo). Notice anything similar about them?

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Actually, that’s not true: Anna Wintour, aka editor of US Vogue, is, in fact, being promoted to “artistic director” of Condé Nast . It’s not Oz, and it’s not ambassador to the UK, but it’s definitely a step up.

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Leaving aside the weirdness of that title, which makes it sound like she is running a ballet company (and exists because CN already has an “editorial director” – Tom Wallace – though that role has become more operational than content-focused, apparently; fun for Mr W), this means, along with her current job at Vogue, she will essentially weigh in on the creative side of the stable of magazines, as well as their personnel.

Here’s how CN explained it in the announcement: “The establishment of an artistic director is a reflection of our commitment to preserve and champion all that exists ‘Only at Condé Nast’. In today’s business environment, it is critical to promote and foster our established creative authority. This is the ideal time to leverage Anna’s extraordinary vision and leadership to amplify and elevate the profile of Condé Nast US both domestically and abroad. Anna is an icon in the worlds of fashion, business and the arts, she has the foresight and wisdom to influence the major trends of our society and is respected globally as an accomplished businesswoman.”

However, in a New York Times report on Ms Wintour’s promotion, what interested me most was her statement that the job “isn’t about a machine or an iPhone or an iPad. It’s about people.” This is telling. After all, for the last few years Ms Wintour has been most famous, intra-fashion world, not for her reportedly chilly personality or even her anti-animal-rights-activists body guards that like to push everyone out of the way when she exits a fashion show, but for the games of chess she plays with brands and designers. She has probably done as much, if not more, to shape the fashion world as to shape her magazine, and as much as any of the big groups. We hear she is a wiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was. Because because because because, because of the wonderful things she does. Read more

John Galliano. Getty Images

So Oscar de la Renta has invited John Galliano, the ex-Dior designer whose fall from grace in 2011 for anti-Semitic remarks rocked the fashion world, back into the atelier. His atelier, to be precise. According to WWD, Mr Galliano is going to do a three week “designer in residence” stint in Mr de la Renta’s studio, beginning – well, soon. What do we think of this idea?

On the face of it, it is a surprise. But really, it’s very smart.

The surprise comes not from the fact Mr Galliano is beginning to stage a comeback (that’s been mooted for a while, and every friend of John I’ve talked to over the past year has mentioned it), but the fact he’s doing it under the auspices of Mr de la Renta. The two have never really been public collaborators before. Indeed, the classic New York society designer, favourite of first ladies, always perfectly dressed in suit and tie, and the British rebel who demolished and rebuilt an old couture house and costumed himself every season, are pretty different types. I mean, check out their portraits. 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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What is on-line fashion week? It is the UK-equivalent of Cyber Monday (which is today!): five days of super-special offers and special brand titbits organised by British Vogue to prompt holiday shopping, albeit with a charitable component (a percentage of sakes goes to the Oxfam Girls Education Project, the “official” charity partner) and a branded gloss. In other words, it doesn’t actually have much to do with fashion weeks as we know them at all, though the name is catchy. Even more notably, however, this year, which is its second year, for the first time on-line fashion week will be sponsored by…Amazon! That’s what made little old me sit up and take notice.
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Allow me to toot our own horn here for a moment, and note there’s a very interesting piece today in the FT by my colleague Stephanie Kirchgaessner on various industries and the presidential candidate they support. Romney seems to have come out on top in a bunch of them, at least as far as donations go but at least one other industry that wasn’t on the list skews very heavily BO (unfortunate initials, I know): fashion.
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For so long, fashion was so good for the Obamas: it clothed them, made Mrs O into a celebrity whose every outfit was lovingly tracked, and won them kudos for promoting new business and helping young entrepreneurs. The way they looked – the labels they wore — positioned the First Couple as global, youthful, daring: a new brand to rebrand the country. And then, this week, it bit them. Read more

Tonight Jeff Bezos, a man generally pictured in jeans, jackets, and no tie, will stand at the top of the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a tuxedo, shoulder-to-shoulder with designer Miuccia Prada and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. This either speaks to the growing belief among the tech and fashion worlds that on-line is the treasure chest of the future, even if no one if sure what shape it will take, or suggests a desire to go upmarket on the part of what most consider a virtual “wal-mart.” Or both, of course. Read more

Tonight is the beginning of what is being billed as the biggest Fashion’s Night Out ever, although it’s more like Fashion’s Afternoon Out: a noon-9pm (Saturday) shopping extravaganza in Japan launched by an evening pre-shopping gala, with some of the proceeds presumably going to benefit earthquake relief efforts. But that’s not the half of it.

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After the Versace/Missoni condos, and Fendi yachts comes this exciting titbit: Condé Nast International is likewise embracing the lifestyle concept, and opening a Vogue café in Kiev, and a GQ bar in Istanbul. Well, if the companies they cover can do it, why shouldn’t the publishers? Isn’t Vogue as much a brand as the brands in their pages?
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The first thing I thought when I heard the news a few weeks ago that Conde Nast had signed a 25-year, $2 billion lease for a million feet in the new One World Trade Center building was: but where will they shop? Where will they eat? What will they do with their free time? Today the question was answered: they will shop at the new mall in the World Financial Centre!  Read more

According to the NY Post, Aerin Lauder, the current family standard bearer of the Lauder cosmetic empire (so much so that she actually was the face of the relaunch of her grandmother Estee’s favourite fragrance, Youth Dew), as well as an SVP, is Leaving the Company to Start her Own Brand. This is a big deal. Read more

Last night Bloomberg TV contributed a whopper of a show to the Anna Wintour hagiography (which also includes the WSJ magazine’s recent story “Brand Anna”) as part of their “Game Changers” series. Well, it’s true she’s doing her darnedest to change the way fashion is played.  Read more

After the much-publicised sell-out success of their pre-xmas collaboration with Lanvin, high street megalith H&M has announced their next partner: Elin Kling, a Swedish fashion blogger and stylist.

Yup. The bloggers have moved from commentators to creators.
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its next great Costume Institute theme: Alexander McQueen! And the underwriter of show as well as the opening night party, aka the Party of the Year, aka the ultimate nexus of fashion and celebrity and society (chairs are Stella McCartney, Colin Firth and Anna Wintour; honorary chairs are PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault, owner of McQueen, and his wife, Salma Hayek), is…Alexander McQueen! What a surprise.

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Something interesting is percolating up in Milanese fashion, and it has nothing to do with runways.

It has to do with things like “sustainability” and “long-term thinking” and “self-preservation” – also “procreation”, with emphasis on the latter part of the word.

To be specific, it has to do with the industry finally thinking about its own future, and the fact that if it’s going to have one, it has to start working on the logistics. Which means, at its most basic level, supporting young designers. Read more