Anya Hindmarch is going to be late. I know this because her office emailed me twice on the day of our dinner to alert me to the probability; she is coming from a meeting with Bergdorf Goodman on 57th Street and we are eating downtown and, well … traffic.
I was struck, when reporting the PPR/Christopher Kane deal, by a comment from Hugh Devlin, a lawyer with Withers LLP who acted as a strategic advisor to Mr Kane. Specifically, Mr Devlin said, “We would anticipate that there will be other investment transactions involving London designers in the coming 12 months.” So let’s have some fun! Let’s speculate about who could be next.
Oooooh, I sense another Fashion Week trend! After the Qatari sovereign wealth fund bought Harrod’s in 2010, and an un-named Qatari bought a large minority chunk of Anya Hindmarch in August – and following the Qatari royal Family’s purchase of Valentino the month before — now a private equity fund, AGC, backed by Middle Eastern investors, has taken the bulk of the minority stake in UK ready-to-wear brand Amanda Wakeley, a go-to label for the Duchess of Cambridge (that’s her, wearing AW, in both photos below). Does no one else think something significant is going on?
Let’s do a quick recap here: in the last two years the Qatari soverign wealth fund has bought all of Harrod’s and a 5.2% stake in Tiffany’s; the Qatari royal family bought Valentino; and yesterday, it was announced that An Unnamed Qatari Investor had bought 38% of Anya Hindmarch. There’s a new luxury player in the land, and he – or she — is spending! But who is this masked man? And why are the Qataris suddenly making such a big play in luxury?
Yesterday Emilia Wickstead, the woman who has been one of the more consistent, and under-the-radar crafters of Samantha Cameron’s image as British First Lady, turned up in my office. She was in town to meet Bergdorf Goodman, with an eye toward breaking the market overseas. So far, so typical for any UK designer with ambitions to extend her association with global power players. But interestingly she had some atypical ideas for how to do it.
If last week saw creative directors playing musical chairs, with Hannah MacGibbon out at Chloe, to be replaced by Pringle’s ex Clare Waight Keller, and Patrick Robinson dumped by the Gap, today it looks like it’s corporate’s turn. British accessory success story Anya Hindmarch has announced a new CEO, its first outside exec ever, in the form of James McArthur, while at Boucheron PPR says Jean-Christophe Bedos is being replaced by Pierre Bouissou, who left as managing director of rival LVMH’s Berluti last year.
Clothes issues can make common cause for us all. How else to interpret The Economist’s sudden interest in (and defense of) the Scottish Fair Isle sweater? The mag has taken up the cause of the Shetland knitters, whose signature snowflake designs have been co-opted — horrors! — by the high fashion industry without proper accreditation.