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. Read more
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. Read more
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! Read more
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. Read more
Forget clothes; the red carpet is all about the jewellery now. Would be that of an after-awards morning my in-box would be full of who-wore-what emails. Not any more! Now it’s jewels, all the way down (or pretty much). Yet I can’t help feeling that there’s a difference between fine jewellery and clothes, even really expensive clothes, and the “if-it-worked-for-fashion-it-will-work-for-gems” theory is wrong. Read more
Maxime Simoens' couture collection. Getty Images
It seems LVMH has taken a new approach to its investment in young fashion brands having made a minority investment in 29-year-old French couturier Maxime Simoens. The company has snapped up between a 20-30 per cent stake in the business, according to an LVMH spokesperson. This means Mr Simoens will not officially become part of LVMH (not yet, anyway), but that the group will act as advisers on the growth of the brand – in particular, Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano, who was the driving force behind the investment. Dior, as the group likes to point out, is the main holding company of LVMH.
Mr Simoens had been rumoured as a candidate for the Dior artistic director job, and though that went to Raf Simons, Mr Toledano and Dior deputy managing director Delphine Arnault were impressed. Their first move now: helping Mr Simoens hold his debut ready-to-wear show on March 3 (he already does couture, which may seem odd, but it does not require the same up-front funding for wholesale orders as RTW). Read more
Raf Simons for Christian Dior. Getty Images
Sometimes – often when a new designer takes the reins at a brand, thereby drawing attention to it – a style inexplicably takes off in a viral way, running rampant throughout the fashion world.
This happened after former YSL designer Stefano Pilati’s first collection for the house, when he introduced the high-waisted tulip skirt to widespread scepticism. By the next season, high-waisted tulip skirts were ubiquitous (remember that?), and judging by last week’s New York ready-to-wear shows, it seems like it is happening now with Christian Dior designer Raf Simons’s gown-over-cigarette-trousers style, introduced in his first couture show last July. Read more
The continued preponderance of celebs at the couture show in Paris this week – Sigourney Weaver, Chloë Moretz, Jessica Alba, Rosamund Pike and Noomi Rapace, among others (left) at Dior; Hilary Swank and Uma Turman at Armani; Charlene, Princess of Monaco and Olivia Munn at Versace; Rita Ora at Chanel – has got me thinking about the expectation this has raised, and how that can backfire for a brand. And no, I’m not talking about the usual problem of celebs behaving badly.
I’m talking about the fact that these relationships have become so common and so public, that now when we see a star in pretty much anything branded, there is an assumption there’s a contractual relationship there. And a contractual relationship implies approbation and shared values. At our recent Business of Luxury conference in New York, Lisa Jacobson, head of branding for United Talent Agency, said there were “maybe” five celebs in Hollywood that didn’t want a relationship with a brand, and the endorsement contract had become a significant part of most stars’ income. Read more
What’s up with YSL these days? Post-designer Hedi Slimane’s weird tweet rant at NYT critic Cathy Horyn, which came after her review of the on-line pictures of the show she wasn’t invited to (if you can follow the absurdity of that chain) the brand’s CEO has gotten in on the action. Yesterday YSL chief exec Paul Deneve wrote an “Open Letter” to WWD complaining about a story they wrote recently comparing Raf Simons’ Dior debut to Hedi Slimane’s at YSL. Mr Deneve didn’t think the WWD folks had been fair, he said, and they should stop trying to invent a rivalry that isn’t. At first glance, this seems like an executive kicking sand. But Machiavelli might have a different point of view. Read more
I greeted my colleague Richard Waters’s column today on the new mini Ipad – Apple’s equivalent of a mini-clutch – with a roll of the eyes. Not because it demonstrates yet another way in which the tech giant is mimicking the fashion world (by filling out their accessory offering), but because a recent experience has me thinking that maybe Apple has not learned its fashion/luxury lesson as well as this might suggest. Read more
Reading my newspaper over coffee this morning, I almost fell out of my chair while perusing a tech story on Google, Amazon et al, which ended with the following observation: “Google, Microsoft and Amazon all have the potential to adopt Apple’s vertical model of combining software, services and hardware to gain complete control over the design and function of future mobile devices.” Because the thing is, dear reader, it’s not “Apple’s approach” exactly – or it is, but Apple got it from somewhere else first. And where would that be? Fashion, of course.
Enter the new era at Dior: new designer (Raf Simons), new show address (a hotel particulier on Avenue d’Iena instead of the Musée Rodin), new hair and makeup (simple, stripped-down) and new clothes. Kind of.
For his first show as a couturier, Raf Simons stuck to two primary silhouettes, both involving the classic New Look code: a slim cigarette pant under a moulded jacket or bustier that blossomed from the waist down into a full hip; and a strapless 1950s-style cocktail gown (yes, there were other bits: a day sheath and swing back coats, but these were the overwhelming shapes). Read more
The branded jewellery game, long viewed as an area with the least players and the biggest potential pay-off, has a new entrant: Versace, which just announced it will introduce its first high jewellery line (one-off creations with emeralds, diamonds, etc) this Sunday during its couture show at the Paris Ritz. I’ll see your collection and raise you! Read more
The assertion that exclusivity is no longer a criteria for luxury came from PPR chief Francois-Henri Pinault when he opened our luxury conference last Thursday, and I have to say, it made me sit up in my seat. Not that that was the only striking insight to come out at the end of last week. Here, in no particular order of importance, are the top five items that stayed with me the most Read more