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
Sorry – that title is a bit misleading. I am not suggesting Jochen Zeitz, the chief exec of PPR-owned sportswear brand Puma, is in favour of counterfeiting. Rather, I was struck by comments he made as reported today in the FT regarding the benefits of synthetic fabrics vs leather in ye olde sneakers, and how the former were significantly better for the environment than the latter. This is something you actually hear a lot from various environmentalists, and it seems to me most consumers would consider it surprising. They also might be surprised to learn that fashion, whether driven by eco concerns or just the lust for the new, is fast going in the same direction.
Any regular reader of this blog knows that my opinion of fashion film shorts is not exactly sky-high; of all the ones produced by this industry recently as it discovered the joys of YouTube and its gazillion viewers, only one has really worked. That’s because it walked a perfect line between self-mockery and great fun, and was not obsessed with framing its products perfectly in the camera’s eye. (The film of which I speak features models wearing Lanvin and dancing to Pit Bull.)
So I admit: when Cartier called me to tell me about its new commercial, my first reaction was (and I’m not proud of this, but we are going for full disclosure here): oh, no. Not again. Ergghh. And so on. But I took myself off to the unveiling at the Mini Palais restaurant in Paris anyway, sat myself in the plush velvet seat and prepared to grit my teeth. Read more
Spring-summer collection 2012. Credit: Catwalking.com
Before his pre-fall collection for Lanvin today designer Alber Elbaz told a funny story. He was in NYC a few months ago for a meeting about the new Lanvin Men’s store, he said, and took a cab ride down Fifth Avenue. He passed megastore after superstore (he didn’t name them but the new, airplane-hangar-sized Uniqlo and H&M come to mind) and by the time he got to his new store he was in a tizzy. “We have to be bigger!” He told his architect. “New York is all about big!” Read more
This is my last post of the year. Though I have been hanging on in terror that some perverse power play on the part of Dior will cause them to announce their designer WHEN EVERYONE IS AWAY FROM THEIR DESKS – hah! Panic in the fashion newsroom – I have finally decided to turn off the computer, and in a few hours I’m off to the not-entirely-frozen north and the great Canadian woods to hang with the coyotes. The real kind, not the metaphorical human kind. I will leave you with one of the few virtual cards I received this Christmas that actually made me smile.
After the runaway viral success of his YouTube video for the Lanvin autumn/winter collection, designer Alber Elbaz has lent his hand to Claridge’s christmas cheer by creating their holiday tree. I feel a clever brand extension coming on.
At this point, the fact that cotton prices are soaring is a truism, and that what this means in fashion terms is that the higher prices for raw materials will become higher prices for retail, but there’s an interesting story today about polyester getting a knock-on boost: as manufacturers search elsewhere for material, demand for the man-made rises. Read more
After the much-publicised sell-out success of their pre-xmas collaboration with Lanvin, high street megalith H&M has announced their next partner: Elin Kling, a Swedish fashion blogger and stylist.
Yup. The bloggers have moved from commentators to creators.
A pretty provocative paper comes from a group of INSEAD professors, albeit with a less-than-pretty title: PERFORMANCE IMPLICATIONS OF OUTWARD PERSONNEL MOBILITY IN CREATIVE INDUSTRIES. It looks at the question of whether the talent drain in fashion houses – or the tendency of designers to occasionally jump ship – is actually, as has been posited in the past, a bad thing, and concludes….wait for it…not necessarily. Read more