Stella McCartney

Sienna Miller, Stella McCartney and Giles Deacon are among the many fashion power-brands opening up their wardrobes to donate coveted pieces to The British Red Cross’ pop-up designer shop, which opened in Covent Garden today.
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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.

The other day I was talking to Geraldo da Conceicao, Sonia Rykiel’s new creative director, about his plans for the brand, when he said something that surprised me. “I want us to be an accessible luxury brand,” he announced. Hmmm, I responded: “So you are dropping your price points?” He looked confused. “No, not at all. In fact, they are probably going up.” Now it was my turn to be puzzled.

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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

I did a fairly long interview with Francois-Henri Pinault, ceo of PPR, that’s running in the paper next week, about the way he thinks of his luxury brands, but in the process of talking Mr Pinault dropped some titbits I wanted to pass on. Here are three juicy ones. Read more

Not only did Hermès report notably good Q2 revenues today – sales growth was 21.9%, certainly more positive than the gloom from Puma and Burberry – but yesterday I discovered something even more shocking: they’re outfitting an Olympic team too! Specifically, the French Equestrian team. Who knew? Read more

The question of “what will they do the next?” has been answered: after collaborations with Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, and, most recently, Marni, H&M has unveiled what is perhaps its most counter-intuitive creative partner to date: the brand famed for its deconstructivist approach, Maison Martin Margiela. You could say it has mystique, but it’s a mystique of the conceptual, and this is, by definition niche. H&M is by definition not niche, so it seems to me we are faced with something of an oxymoron here. Read more

If there were an Olympic medal for retail (and why not, given the ever-burgeoning sponsorship opportunities?) Stella McCartney would win the first one by a mile.

British athletes, triple jumper Phillips Idowu (L) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis (R) pose with designer Stella McCartney (C) as they unveil the new British Olympic Team GB kit. Getty Images

British athletes, triple jumper Phillips Idowu (L) and heptathlete Jessica Ennis (R) pose with designer Stella McCartney (C) as they unveil the new British Olympic Team GB kit. Getty Images

While the rest of London is complaining about queues at the airport, queues for the tube, and queues for queues, the “Creative Director” of Team GB’s kit is leveraging her moment in the athletic sun far beyond her competitors. Indeed, I’d venture to say a new record has been set that will be a benchmark for years to come. Read more

What high-end brands do those unpredictable but desirable, virtually-enabled, live-life-on-Facebook twentysomethings like? This is a question that obsesses luxury — after all, some chunk of said twentysomethings will become the luxury purchasers of the future, and knowing what they respond to is one of the great mysteries of today and potential cash cows of tomorrow. The other day I had an experience that gave me some clues as to the possible answers. And it’s not what you (OK, I) might expect.
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Today at their AGM PPR came out and did two things that I don’t think any other luxury brand has done so far: publicly put its money where its mouth is, officially committing to a group of specific environmental goals for the Group to reach by 2016 and announcing them for all to see (and measure, and wave critically in the air in the company fails to fulfill them), and financially committing to a carbon off-shoot company by buying a 5% stake in Wildlife Works Carbon and getting a seat on the management committee. It all sounds great, but what does it really mean?
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There’s been a bit of a hoo-ha over the last few days in NYC over a video Stella McCartney made for People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals to convince fashionistas, in town for the ready-to-wear shows (which start tomorrow) that buying leather is bad: for them, the environment, and the cows.

Interestingly, the kerfuffle does not have to do, as one might assume, with the politics of the spot, or the graphic nature of the video (and how they may, or may not, kill the cows), but rather consumer access.
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Stella McCarthy Greene Street opening

The opening of Stella McCarthy's Greene Street store was a small, glamourous event

Last night Stella McCartney launched her pre-fall collection as well as a new New York store in SoHo at 112 Greene street — a bigger, more glamourous version of her former 14th street store — with a small, glamourous event: 50 or so people for dinner in the store at a long table with giant ice sculptures of the Empire State building on an island in the centre, surrounded by a river around which little vegetarian dishes floated. They had been “curated” by chef Mario Batali, which I guess means chosen, although it wasn’t entirely clear.

Gallery-owner Tony Shafrazi gave a toast extolling the store’s address as the home of various artists and musicians, and Ms McCartney laughingly apologised for turning the storied space into a “mere store” filled with shoes and bags and dresses. It was all very chic. Read more

Who is fashion week for? The fact that this is a pressing question has suddenly become as clear as the plaid on a kilt thanks to British Vogue’s web site, which today launched a new initiative: “On-line Fashion Week,” which points up a growing schism in the fashion world.
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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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British Fashion Awards 2011 - London. Sarah Burton with the Designer of the Year award. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Sarah Burton, Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards 2011. Ian West/PA Wire

Take a wild guess who won the designer of the year award at the British Fashion Awards last night. Yup, it was Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. A well deserved win, given her acclaimed royal wedding dress and the sensitive way in which she has interpreted Alexander McQueen’s legacy, but not really a surprise. It was the first of many not-really-a-surprises at the awards, held in London’s Savoy hotel, which is probably a good thing, indicating that there is a consensus behind which British names are ones to be confident about.

Mary Katrantzou, who won the Emerging Talent – Womenswear award, is fast becoming a highlight – if not the highlight – of London Fashion Week. Not only are her bold and unusual prints arresting, they are also tailored to be highly wearable and fairly commercial. The question of when a designer is no longer deemed to be emerging can be a problematic one though; there’s often no clear moment when they become – like a butterfly from a chrysalis – fully formed. Read more

The London 2012 Olympics may not start until July, but Stella McCartney’s personal marathon begins in February. The designer, who is creating the uniforms for Team GB, has agreed to return to London Fashion Week for a one-off extravaganza on February 18. This follows a pre-collection presentation in NY in January and a perfume launch, and precedes her usual autumn/winter collection show in Paris. Expect drumrolls of pre-publicity, fights for tickets, clogged thoroughfares — expect, in other words, an effective dry run for the Olympics proper. Especially when it comes to competition.

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Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell

Image by Getty.

Nancy Shevell

Image by Getty.

Ah, the difference a dress makes — at least when it comes to a designer’s family politics.

Though Stella McCartney had nothing to do with stepmother #1 Heather Mills’ wedding dress (that lace number was designed by Ms Mills herself), hence telegraphing the lack of common ground between the two, she very happily lent her skills to creating the dress of stepmother #2, Nancy Shevell, as worn on Sunday to Ms Shevell’s registry office wedding to Sir Paul in London.

Indeed, Ms McCartney has a history of making dresses for her friends: she created the gown for Madonna’s wedding for Guy Ritchie, as well as six of the outfits Kate Moss wore during her wedding weekend in July. Read more

OK, John Galliano made her actual wedding dress, which was pretty, but also pretty unsurprising (inspired by the beautiful and damned Zelda Fitzgerald, who was also the theme of Kate Moss’s famous 30th birthday celebration). But – and this a big But — Stella McCartney made six – count ‘em! – dresses for the Kate Moss wedding extravaganza that began yesterday and is continuing through the weekend. Now, who do you think is going to get the most press pictures sent round the world, and thus the most profits?
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I was struck this morning by the news that Ron Johnson, head of retail at Apple, is becoming CEO of JC Penney. He’s the third fashion CEO I’ve heard of that got his start at Apple, and learned according to The Book of Jobs. Think that’s a coincidence? I don’t.

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Well, the rumours have proven true, and Hannah MacGibbon has left Chloe, to be replaced as creative director by yet another English woman, the fourth in a line that began with Stella McCartney: Clare Waight Keller.  Read more