Fashion

What happens when you are a Russian designer who shows in Paris and imports all your materials (except hand-made lace) from abroad, and suddenly your currency falls 30% thanks to an international crisis, and your country’s image gets a little..shall we say…darkened in the eyes of the luxury consumer world? This is the situation currently facing Ulyana Sergeenko (left), the Moscow-based socialite-turned-designer who shows on the Paris couture schedule and who has made something of a mission of preserving and promoting traditional Russian dress and craft and selling it as high-fashion. She was in NYC the other day and stopped by the FT with her brand manager Frol Burimskiy to discuss it. For her, the potential damage is not just about expenses, but identity. Read more

And now the LVMH young designer prize finalists are out! It’s been a big week for prize announcements, what with the CFDA and now this. In fact, it’s kind of instructive to look at the two together, because it underscores how global fashion has become – and the problems that arise when you try to think of it in the national context. Think how much more fun it would be if everyone could be considered for “womenswear designer of the year” or “accessory designer of the year.” Now that would be really interesting!

Nominations please. Read more

Much to-do over the weekend at SXSW following Google SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps Sundar Pichai’s announcement that they were about to release a software development kit for wearables, so that your clothes could talk to Android devices. Immediate speculation on motives followed. They were looking to corner the market by owning the common platform! They were going to make more wearables of their own (Well, duh)! It was sneaky and smart strategy! But here’s what I was thinking, reading about all this: there is enormous fashion potential here, if they want to seize it. Read more

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like to top off my fashion month with a visit to the Alaia atelier to see what the designer is doing and experience the fashion equivalent of a cleanse: Mr Alaia, after all, works exactly as he wants, shrugging off the demands of seasons and showing and trends. Ayn Rand would have loved him. Read more

And so couture comes to an end. I could tell you it was all about lightening up, or the new names on the schedule, or the rise of the couture trainer (meaning odds are the coming ready to wear season will be full of comfy rubber-soled shoes of whatever variety), but I’ll leave that for Saturday’s review.

Truth is, what struck me most about this season was the off-piste rise of the new runway game: “Which is the Oscar dress?”

See a conjunction of the evolving red carpet economy and timing means that today couture may well generate more Oscar dresses than any other season. And it is changing what’s on the runway. Read more

Vanessa Friedman

So, after all the breathless waiting for Diego Della Valle to name a designer to the house of Schiaparelli, after Christian Lacroix’s guest stint at the last couture, after the newly decorated Schiaparelli atelier on Place Vendome was unveiled and Farida was introduced as the house’s ambassador – after all that build-up, how was Marco Zanini‘s debut as the official designer of the House of Schiaparelli, not to mention his debut as a couturier, not to mention Schiaparelli’s first couture show since 1954?

Not so shocking. Read more

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.

There has been some confusion in the e-verse after the news that last week I joined Twitter (@VVFriedman). I’d like to clear this up.

Some thoughtful souls have pointed out I actually joined in 2009, tweeted once, and then fell silent for four years after writing a column about how confusing I found the platform. This is true – kind of. I did join, as @VVF67, to find out what my friends were so excited about, but in a personal capacity, not as a fashion professional. I did find all the personal tweets a bit odd. When it became clear Twitter was a fashion issue, I wrote about it. Read more

The finalists and honorees of the CFDA awards are out, and it’s a surprising list. Actually, that’s not true: it’s a totally predictable list, but it’s also an instructive one. It both shows how meaningless it is to define an “American” designer in a world where Americans design for foreign houses, and foreigners show in America, and how, despite the fact that the fashion schedule gets ever-more crowded, there still seems an extraordinarily thin layer of internationally recognised talent. Which points up yet another truth: there is a major flaw in the time logic of the awards system itself.
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After last week’s announcement that Conde Nast International had made a significant investment (for them) in Farfetch.com comes news that Advance Publications, ie the parent company of Conde Nast, just led the latest $20 million fundraising round for Renttherunway.com, the web site that allows consumers to rent a catwalk look for an event. The first move got a lot of play, and this one has been slightly quieter (another investor, Highland Capital, issued the release), but put them together and you get what looks like an interesting picture developing, no?
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