John Galliano, left, is once again making clothes, but this time in a slightly different incarnation. Mr Galliano is going to design the costumes for Stephen Fry’s production of “The Importance of Being Ernest” – including the looks that Mr Fry himself will wear as Lady Bracknell in the production, which will involve some gender-bending, and open at the Theatre Royal in the autumn of 2014. So what do we think? Is this comeback, unlike the last three comeback attempts, going to work? My guess: possibly. I think it certainly has the best chance thus far.
Yesterday LVMH announced it had signed up YBD JW Anderson to be the new designer of Loewe, and taken a minority stake in his brand. Anyone notice anything funky about this? No? It was expected? Well, kind of. But what shouldn’t have been expected, but seems to be increasingly the case, is that while they hired him to be the creative head of one of their not-quite-there-yet brands, they allowed him to keep his own line. And therein lies a change in strategy.
So the other day I was talking to Josh Abram, who was showing me around his new luxury co-working venture Neuehouse and whom I have decided is potentially the most-quotable person I have yet met, when he mentioned that the guiding principle of Neuehouse (or one of them, anyway), was the opportunity to combine the best of the hospitality industry with the drive for co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. It gave me a weird sense of déjà vue. Because lately, I feel like almost every luxury strategist I run into keeps bringing up hospitality as the secret sauce of their success.
According to a new report published today by the Digital Luxury Group, Chanel has ousted Louis Vuitton for the first time as the most-searched-for luxury brand in China (that’s their Beijing store, below). Rock our little velvet-lined world. Especially because why is one of the best arguments I’ve yet heard for why a brand needs to hit every luxury market segment.
In more LVMH news, after Stuart Vevers announced his departure from Loewe, Delphine Arnault (below), Bernard Arnault’s eldest child, announced her arrival at Louis Vuitton. Lose some, add some. Ms Arnault is being moved from deputy managing director of Dior to deputy managing director and executive vice-president (the latter title for use in the US; the former for France) of LV, in charge of products, especially leather goods, aka the profit-generator of the brand. Now let’s read the tea leaves!
So much for that public image rehab. After the excitement, pro and con, generated by Parson’s announcement that disgraced former Dior designer John Galliano would be teaching a masterclass, they have called the whole thing off. On reflection, I think this is too bad. Not because Mr Galliano necessarily belongs in the classroom, but because I think part of the material for the class – a “candid” discussion about his career — would have been valuable for students. We learn from failure often more than we learn from success, after all. Not to mention public implosion.
I’ve been fascinated recently by the game of semantics being played between “showrooms” and “flagships” – and wondering whether the evolution of the second into the first is actually the future of commerce. Or put another way, the place e-commerce and bricks and mortar commerce merge.
He dipped a pinky back in the fashion world – now he’s adding big toe. After working behind-the-scenes at Oscar de la Renta’s atelier, John Galliano is coming out into the open: Simon Collins, Dean of Parsons, the New York fashion school, has confirmed that Mr Galliano, aka the disgraced former Dior designer, has been hired to teach an upcoming Masterclass at the school. It’s an interesting move, seems to me, on Parsons’ part – presumably part of its bid to become the pre-eminent NY Fashion school, over FIT and Pratt. Way to make news! But is a smart move?
Today the third in a series of World Luxury Index BRIC reports from the Digital Luxury Group (and the Luxury Society) is released – after Russia and China, we have Brazil, and the “Top 50 Most Searched-For Brands”. Guess what? One of these things is not like the other ones! Though conventional luxury wisdom says emerging markets always look to the obvious, in-your-face icons of luxury first, Brazil seems the exception to the rule.
Helen Hunt wearing an H&M gown on the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday
On Wednesday H&M is having its first-ever Paris fashion show – in the Musée Rodin, the haute art ex-venue of Tom Ford’s Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano’s Christian Dior. Coming on the back of Sunday’s Oscar moment, when best supporting actress nominee Helen Hunt wore H&M on the red carpet, it seems to indicate more upmarket ambitions for the brand. So, is this a sign of the times or a sign of the decline of western fashion civilisation? Maybe a bit of both.
(Note: it doesn’t seem to be the unveiling of the group’s new, higher-priced brand collection & Other Stories – it’s H&M itself. So it’s not a move to elevate a line to, say, the Martin Sitbon level.)
On one level, it sounds silly. The whole point of great high street brands such as H&M is that it so quickly, effectively and economically translates high-fashion trends for the rest of the world without the frills, hoo-ha and elitism associated with the whole show system, its seating ranks, invitations and exclusionary velvet ropes. It led the revolution to democratise style, and its consumers love it for it.