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.
Many — ok, mostly musicians it seems: Paul Simon, Bono — have tried; can fashion succeed? In changing Africa’s image, that is. The secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, seems to think the answer may be yes, as demonstrated by his appearance as the cover boy on this month’s L’Uomo Vogue, aka Italian men’s Vogue, on an issue with the cover line “Rebranding Africa,” and contents devoted to the same.
Fashion has given us many exciting terms, most derived from odd combinations of already existing discrete words – skort (skirt/short); murse (man/purse); jeggings (jean/leggings) — that have made their way out of the closet and into the public lexicon, but today I heard another combo term I actually think deserves to become part of all of our conversation: “Causesumerism.” It’s a pretty succinct way of describing a growing trend.
The other day, sitting waiting for a show to start, I was chatting to the man next to me about the sudden plethora of Louis Vuitton events scheduled for the end of Paris fashion week: Monday, a party celebrating the brand’s history as a reflection of the history of Paris at the Musee Carnavalet; Tuesday, a concert and art exhibit to celebrate Africa hosted by Edun’s Bono and Ali Hewson and Louis Vuitton; and today, Wednesday, the show, at the Louvre.
“I met with the Vuitton people not so long ago to do something,” my bench-mate noted. “But it was a small project, and they said they only like to do things in a big way: put lots of money, and get lots of results.” Guess so. But I’m more interested in the invisible knock-effects of all this spending.
When LVMH, the elephantine luxury group bought 49 per cent of Edun, the high-minded business-for-Africa-driven fashion line started by a few years ago Bono and his wife Ali Hewson, eyebrows were raised. But judging by the chumminess Ms Hewson and LVMH Inc chief executive Mark Weber were demonstrating backstage before their first show on Saturday (full of designer Sharon Wauchob’s rough-edged crisp white shirts and bloc print silks), the partnership is peachy-keen. Consider the verbal Rodgers/Astaire tango:
“Any company starting out needs an infrastructure, and that’s a lot of what we’ve been providing,” said Mr Weber, standing with Ms Hewson. “All the stuff you don’t really want to think about when you are committed to a mission: human resources, legal issues.”
“We were spending a lot of our time running from one fire to the next, putting them out,” said Ms Hewson. (Translation: LVMH helps with the boring corporate stuff!)