Christopher Kane

Take that Kering. You have a hot young British designer? Now WE have a hot young British designer. Today LVMH announced it has purchased a majority stake in UK shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood for an undisclosed amount (that’s actress Rooney Mara wearing his shoes, left), making him the second YBD this year to get snapped up by a big brand, following Kering’s acquisition of Christopher Kane. As one British style watcher said, “they’re buying like it’s 1999.” So what’s going on? Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

How nice, as fashion week begins, to see a new brand getting some money. Today Kering, the French luxury group formerly known as PPR, announced they were taking a minority stake in young American brand Joseph Altuzarra (that’s Joseph, left, with model Stella Tennant in Altuzarra). This makes their second recent investment in a new name – they bought a 51% stake in British brand Christopher Kane last January – and their first in a US designer. Read more

So yet another Brit has landed atop a fashion brand, adding fuel to the idea that London is having a moment not seen since its Cool Britannia heyday. Coach, the billion-plus American accessible luxury handbag line that is in the process of trying to become a “lifestyle brand” (like, dare I say it, every other brand on the planet), has announced that they have poached Stuart Vevers (below) from Loewe, the LVMH-owned Spanish leather house, to be its new executive creative director. Start date still TBD. But ooooooh, already the implications are huge!

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The other day a man who had recently bought a famous fashion trademark, Mainbocher, with interesting plans for reinvention came to see me. It turns out he bought the marque from a man whose father had been very canny in snapping up these defunct-but-aromatic names, and still in the vault is Paul Poiret, among others. Which means that post-Worth and Vionnet and Schiaparelli, there are still a bunch of once-famous fashion houses that are potential relaunches. But should they be? Increasingly, I think that the old arguments in favour no longer hold true, largely because of the Brave New World of social media.

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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. Read more

Getty Images

It doesn’t rain but it pours! Following Swatch’s purchase of Harry Winston, PPR has announced it has bought 51 per cent of hot young British brand Christopher Kane. That’s him, left, with stylist Caroline Seiber.

This marks the third British ready-to-wear brand owned by the French Group (it also has a joint venture with Stella McCartney and 51 per cent of Alexander McQueen), the first such young brand acquisition by a major luxury group since the recession, and the third in a series of PPR purchases: first Italian menswear brand Brioni, then Chinese jewellery brand Qeelin, and now Kane. It is up to something, no question. Where some see risk – buying a luxury brand at a time when consumer attitudes towards luxury itself are uncertain and China, aka the promised land, is experiencing a slowdown – they clearly see opportunity. Read more

Oooooh those PPR folks are making the gossip waters churn. Today reports say NY hipster designer Alexander Wang is the top candidate for the artistic director job (artistic director, creative director, designer – does no one else wish these companies would regularise their titles?), while rumours are that Christopher Kane, the erstwhile favourite for that spot, is actually being looked at in the context of buying his eponymous brand! Good gosh and golly. Two young designers at once! Both would be surprising moves, however, seems to me.
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As if the Jubilee and the Olympics weren’t enough, this June London fashion will inaugurate its first ever dedicated men’s wear – well, not week. Three days! You have to start somewhere.The announcement marks an interesting evolution in British fashion thinking. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t go far enough.

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The powers that be are spinning the British Fashion Awards as the triumph of the women — Victoria Beckham took home designer brand of the year; Stella McCartney, the red carpet award; Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, designer of the year; Mary Katranzou, emerging talent — but as far as I am concerned the real stories are elsewhere. Of the above, only one, Katrantzou, shows in the UK. Meanwhile, two (Tabitha Simmons and Dellal) are actually shoe designers. And a third (Christopher Kane) won a new award invented for this year’s ceremony. Hmmmmm.

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