Friday, October 30, 2015

Lanvin Staff Protest Elbaz Exit

Alber Elbaz has left a revolt in his wake at Lanvin, where the fashion house's 330 employees are demanding a face-to-face meeting in Paris with owner Shaw-Lan Wang who resides in her native Taiwan, reports WWD. The company's works council, on behalf of the workforce, wants Wang to "listen to their concerns, answer questions and reassure employees", and ultimately, "Bring Elbaz back."

There is also the suggestion that the council is seeking help from the Paris Commercial Court "to mediate its opposition to the management decision", according to a radio broadcast on French station RTL yesterday lunchtime, during which it was also revealed that upon being told of Elbaz's exit after 14 years, there was "shock, tears, and chants of 'Alber, Alber, Alber'".

Elbaz himself made no secret of the fact that his departure from Lanvin was not his decision. In a statement released on Wednesday night, the former creative director wrote: "At this time of my departure from Lanvin on the decision of the company's majority shareholder, I wish to express my gratitude and warm thoughts to all those who have worked with me passionately on the revival of Lanvin over the last 14 years," adding, "I wish the house of Lanvin the future it deserves among the best French luxury brands, and hope that it finds the business vision it needs to engage in the right way forward."

At this point the only comment from the brand has been to confirm the end of its collaboration with Elbaz. In a statement, also released on Wednesday, the house thanked Elbaz for "the chapter he has written in the house's over 125 year history", before ending it: "The house of Lanvin confirms the implementation of its corporate strategic plan to continue making the oldest of the Parisian fashion houses, the Ambassador of French luxury's excellence, in the independent spirit of its founder Jeanne Lanvin."

Gigi Confirmed For Victoria's Secret

Victoria´s Secret has confirmed that Gigi Hadid will walk in its 20th anniversary show next month, by posting a video clip of the moment the model was told that she was a chosen one.

While she won't be given her Angel wings just yet, Hadid couldn't hide her excitement at the news, sharing an image from the casting on her Instagram account and telling her followers: "Couldn't keep back my tears!!!! Anyone that grew up with me knows that getting this show has been a dream of mine forever!" She also thanked the lingerie label's boss Ed Razek, adding, "One of the happiest moments of my life."

The news comes shortly after Hadid's mother, Yolanda Foster, got the rumour mill swirling by posting a throwback image of Gigi and her younger sister Bella as children on her own Instagram account, with the caption: You are in this together since day one... @gigihadid & @bellahadid #MyBabyAngels" prompting speculation that Bella has also been cast in the show - a spokesperson for Victoria's Secret couldn't confirm the suspicion this morning.

Gigi and Bella (if confirmed) will be sharing the catwalk with existing stalwarts Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, Behati Prinsloo and Lily Aldridge - to name a few - as well as the ten new Angels who were announced last month as the brand unveils its 2015 offering in New York on November 10th.

Louis Vuitton Model Dies

Former Louis Vuitton model Sam Sarpong has died after falling to his death from a bridge in Los Angeles, a spokesperson for the County of Los Angeles Medical Examiner has confirmed. He was 40 years old.

Sarpong - who was Vuitton's first black male model - also worked for Gucci, Versace and Tommy Hilfiger, in addition to carving out a successful acting career in the US appearing in more than 60 films and 55 TV shows, reports the Evening Standard. He also released six rap albums with his group The League, which sold more than a million copies.

"It is with great sadness that the family of Samuel Sarpong Jr. must share the news that Sam has passed away," a representative for his family said in a statement. "The circumstances surrounding his death are currently under investigation and no additional details are known at this time. The family appreciates the thoughts and prayers and other expressions of sympathy, and request that privacy be respected at this extremely difficult time."

The brother of TV presenter June, Sarpong moved to America from Britain when he was 11 and found success, fame and fortune in his late teens. "I went from barely being able to pay my bills to now being an international model," he told Black Hollywood Live in July 2013, reports US Weekly. "I made a lot of money early. Luckily I had my father to guide me."

"It is sad and troubling when an individual has become so despondent that he or she feels their only option is to end their life," police chief Phillip Sanchez said in a statement. "These incidents can often have a significant impact on the victim's loved ones, first responders, and the community as a whole. My prayers go out to the family."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Alber Elbaz To Depart Lanvin?

Alber Elbaz is said to be departing Lanvin as creative director after 14 years at the helm. An official announcement is expected imminently.

Elbaz's departure is said to be a result of "disagreements between the charismatic Israeli designer and company principals: owner Shaw-Lan Wang and chief executive officer Michele Huiban", reports

Elbaz's design team were allegedly told of his exit this morning, while all members of staff at the fashion house - which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year - were called to a meeting this afternoon at its Paris HQ.

Earlier this year, we reported that Lanvin owner Wang was looking to sell the fashion house, although nothing has come to fruition. Elbaz, who was brought on by Wang in 2001 and owns a stake in the fashion house, is said to have "complained about a lack of strategy and targeted investment, and about compromising the image of the brand in Asia".

While his next move is unknown, speculation will no doubt surround the currently empty vacancy at Dior following Raf Simons's departure last week, although given that Elbaz has been vocal about his desire to slow down the pace of fashion amidst an ever more developing digital landscape, something entirely different may be on the horizon.

Karl Takes Cruise To Cuba

Chanel looks set to continue the trend for making the pre shows bigger and better than ever in 2016 with plans to take its pre-spring/summer 2017 show to Cuba, a spokesperson for the French fashion house confirmed to us this morning.

Following on from last year's extravaganza, which was hosted in Seoul, the show will once again take place in early May (the exact date is yet to be officially confirmed) and will be every inch the spectacle that we are used to seeing from the mind of creative director Karl Lagerfeld.

The news comes after a year that saw Louis Vuitton stage a pre collection in the Bob Hope estate in Palm Springs, Dior in the South of France, and Gucci in New York, setting the bar high for seasons to come. Chanel, of course, is no stranger to taking the fashion industry to inventive new corners of the globe, with its cruise and Metiers D'Art shows taking place in Dallas, Salzburg, Dubai, Edinburgh and Shanghai in recent years.

The new venue of Cuba will keep the international spotlight on the country, which has seldom been out of the headlines this year following the renewed ties between the country and the US that saw the American embassy reopen in Havana.

Why H&M Chose Balmain

Olivier Rousteing´s Balmain X H&Mcollection is already causing a buzz in the fashion world, before it has even launched - something that comes as no surprise to the team at H&M.

"He's been on our list. We knew him from before, when he was at Roberto Cavalli and we worked with Cavalli, and we knew that he was going to do great things at Balmain, we just wanted to wait maybe a couple of years while he settled in," Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M's head of design, revealed. "We waited for the moment that we were ready, and he was ready to make a collaboration."

H&M has worked with a long list of established designers, but Johansson conceded that her team still learn new things with each collaboration. With Rousteing, they were impressed by his work ethos: "He works really closely with his team and is a team player, which hasn't always been the case as the designers we have worked with have all been very different personalities. Olivier has a clear vision, but he also listens - he listens to advice and input and then he listens again, he's very easy to work with in that sense."

As for keeping the collaboration secret while working with one of fashion's most prolific social media stars, Johansson revealed that keeping the collaborations secret becomes a bigger challenge with each new launch - not least for the designer involved. "Olivier had to really hold himself back!" she laughed.

Burberry's Bailey To Create Claridge's Christmas Tree

Claridge´s has revealed that Burberry's chief creative and chief executive officer, Christopher Bailey, will be responsible for the design of its famous Christmas tree this year. Bailey follows in the footsteps of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who decorated the tree for two years, previous to which John Galliano and Lanvin's Alber Elbaz were selected for the honour.

"Christmas is one of my favourite times of year so I was delighted to be asked to design the Claridge's Christmas Tree - the iconic hotel celebrating a joyful time," said Bailey this morning, as it was revealed that the tree will explore the relationship between light and dark and comprise more than 100 umbrellas, each of which will be finished in gold and silver metallic fabric. "We wanted the tree to reflect the playfulness of the season with a little bit of the English weather thrown in. We also love the idea that the tree comes to life as guests pass by, bringing a wonderful touch of festive magic to their stay."

Burberry has a long-standing relationship with the famous Mayfair residence. The hotel's suites famously come complete with Burberry trench coats for guests to wrap up in and head out to see the lights of London. This festive season the fashion house has further upped the ante by providing Burberry-clad bell boys to help guests with their Christmas shopping lists.

"Christmas has always been a truly special time of year at Claridge's and we are delighted to welcome Christopher Bailey to add the enchanting Christmas magic and creativity of Burberry to our lobby," said the hotel's general manager Thomas Kochs. 

"We are particularly proud to be flying the British flag this year with London being at the heart of both Claridge's and Burberry, and it is this shared sense of heritage and the key part we both play in London life that makes Christopher's collaboration with us so special. The Claridge's Christmas Tree has long symbolised the start of the festive season in the capital and we hope our annual tradition will continue to be a part of our guests' memories as they become part of ours."

Friday, October 23, 2015

La Roca Village: Barcelona Designer´s Collective

Over the past several years, Barcelona city centre has played host to an increasing array of shops and retail experiences. Paseo de Gracia and its surroundings with Plaza Catalunya allow world class shopping opportunities within the city centre. However as many brands organically develop, they naturally look to seduce their public with the coveted unique selling point. The modern solution to this marketing matrix is the development of a total brand experience within a dedicated space in order to enrich, promote and experience the concepts of established as well as up-and-coming brands.

´La Coleccion´ is a portfolio of chic outlet shopping opportunities with 11 international locations from London to Shanghai. La Roca Village, its pied-a-terre shopping experience in Catalunya is located within a forty minute ride to the North West of Barcelona.

With over 140 main brands, visitors to the outlet can expect to experience a mixture of high end fashion where Dolce&Gabbana, Versace and Armani sit next to fast fashion favourites Desigual, Pepe Jeans and Puma. Adding into this assemblage homewares from Villeroy and Boch, jewellery from Swatch and consumables from Mori by Parco and Pasarela then it can be realised there is something mainstream for everyone to enjoy.

As well as representing main and established brands, every year La Roca Village is converted into an international showcase for emerging talent when it plays host to the notable Designers Collective pop-up boutique space. This second assemblage of over 200 products by fifty designers from all various disciplines exhibit and market their skills and products to a wider and more established market within this international showcase for emerging talent. 

Resolute design professionals such as Conrad Roset, Josep Abril and Pablo Erroz have been involved in the Barcelona Designers Collective as part of the expert panel that supports the project, which this year also features special guest Fern Mallis who is recognised as the creator of New York Fashion Week.

Until the 8th November, this showcase will offer an insight into the latest design talents in the world of fashion, graphic design and illustration, product design, art, crafts and contemporary jewelry. As explained by the acting chairperson to the panel of experts Nani Marquina, it will look to ¨discover, promote and support emerging talent, with commitment and a clear business focus.¨

Emerging fashion designers such as Txell Miras, Almudena Diaz and Xisqueta (with its unique Pyrenees wool specification) seek to make their names co-exist with other national and international companies present. Ceramic designer to El Celler de Can Roca, Andreu Carulla exhibits next to graphic design revolutionario Alex Trochut and ´street style trend´ Woody´s wooden fashion sunglasses making this a creative collection to traverse.

This ongoing project is the result of a joint partnership between the FAD (Fostering Arts & Design) who seek to identify and nurture talent in design and La Roca Village, with their extensive experience in the field of retail worldwide.

Barcelona - Guillem Rodriguez´s Cognitive Couture

If there is one key proclamation that can sum up successful fashion talent today, then it has to be multi-discipline. As well as possessing a solid creative talent, today´s most savvy designers have to be fully conversant in the world of marketing, advertising and social media. In harsh comparison to several decades back, having a good collection is no longer a key to success. 

More and more consumers are buying into the complete lifestyle of the brand. In addition of relating to and interacting with the designers, their following public now look to engage with them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, at the very least. (One recent example being Burberry who now have an official iTunes playlist.) As well as a need for interaction, there comes a desire for the polemics of the aesthetic; The philosophy and thought process of the designer as both a person and ultimately a product.

Guillem Rodriguez is one example of the increasing number of ´fashion intellectuals´- a designer that has been educated in the multi-faceted process of design which can be applied to other areas (such as fashion) succinctly. Born in Barcelona in 1991, he studied at BAU Design School from which he graduated in 2013. A product of the nu-wave of fashion training, his education instilled him with values ¨ to have an open point of view for basic and contemporary design & society along with the interpretation of trends.¨

Ever since his youth, he was strongly attracted to drawing and the arts, before developing this passion into fashion design. This instilled within him, a sensitivity and imaginary that he currently seeks to explore and develop. His exposure to design along with retail management training (Burberry Prorsum) allows him to engage in customer interactions and explore the relationships between the creative and commercial facets of the industry.

This experience has enabled him to reinforce his personal brand values, not just design for designs sake (as per say Olivier Theyskens) but to foster and instil sustainable values of buying less but choosing well, with an appreciation for quality and a more rationalised manipulation.

¨My images are society and I love to reflect on the current moment and the Zeitgeist. I put more importance on brand equity and origins for my design philosophies¨

2014 saw him win the Modafad award with his collection ´Romantycs´ which was based on the research and development of his personal imagery. After Barcelona, he was presented to the Unimoda 2014 congress of fashion in Aguascalientes with his collection of the same name which was also equally well received.

The concept of ´Romantycs´ was born from by observing the escapism of the youngest generation of people that has grown at the same time as Internet and Social networking. These kind of images, reflect an ideal world connected with the romantic scene but also with a new aesthetic, calmer and lightly than the traditional romantic’s used to be.

Guillem believes that a necessity for new shapes and silhouettes form a stronger and more united collection. The statement of fashion has a dialogue and (black and white) and an essence (Yellow and navy blue) which should be succinctly adhered to, he confidently expressed.

His offering for Autumn/Winter 2014-15 ´Vulnerable´ reflects on the role of a romantic young avant-garde twist that leads to new times. This collection is conceived as linear silhouettes accompanied by classic tailoring, wool and textures. Stresses pairing white lines, grayscale and touches of navy as predominant colours in this forward thinking collection.

¨My projects are marriages of shape and texture, paying homage to abstract art and classical interpretations, in which my fusion of ´a man´ and ´a woman´ challenges old clichés¨

As well as being a poetic soul, Guillem also takes inspiration from Louis Vuitton´s victorious Veranos, JW Alexander´s eccentricities and Loewe´s coolness factor, sprinkling in some Saint Laurent for street inspiration.

Guillem is currently working on a new collection which will be revealed in the not so distant future, although not too much will be given away on-line ¨Social media is an essential context for designers and followers to remain in constant connection. However, I believe in a personal media influence and not just an official page.¨

In addition to the new collection and the impending launch of his new website, 2016 could be another fruitful year for this talent because as well as crossing geographical boundaries, he will continue to cross sartorial ones to the gratitude of his peers and public alike.

Louboutin Gets Tough

Christian Louboutin is well known for taking strong measures to protect its red sole from companies who might want to imitate it, but the shoe label isn't stopping there. The brand has reportedly garnered several other design patents over the past year, protecting - among other things - its spiked-toe design and a butterfly-adorned shoe created with Disney.

Louboutin has been awarded protection for its Azimut leather lace-up ankle boots, Manovra 70 studded leather and pvc slingback pumps, Guerilla studded open-toe booties, Gortik bootie, Body Strass crystal-embellished mesh and leather pumps, and Tassilo flat black patent loafers with spikes, The Fashion Law reports.

But Louboutin is not alone in its legal advances. Jimmy Choo has also been "amassing design patents on its footwear for about ten years," The Fashion Lawreports, while Hermès, Alexander Wang, YSL, Celine, and Balenciaga have also received fairly recent awards to protect their footwear designs.

Raf Simons To Depart Dior

Raf Simons is leaving Christian Dior, it was confirmed this afternoon. The move, which had been rumoured in fashion circles for several weeks, is said to be "for personal reasons."

Confirmed in a statement by Sidney Toledano, Dior's CEO, the news comes just over three years into the Belgian designer's tenure. Revealing that "Mr Simons will not renew his contract with Christian Dior," the statement also thanked him "very warmly" for his "exceptional contribution to the house."

"It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as creative director of Christian Dior," Simons said. "It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside of my work. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been an immense privilege to be allowed to write a few pages of this magnificent book. 

I want to thank Bernard Arnault for the trust he has put in me, giving me the incredible opportunity to work at this beautiful house surrounded by the most amazing team one could ever dream of. I have also had the chance over the last few years to benefit from the leadership of Sidney Toledano. His thoughtful, heartfelt and inspired management will also remain as one of the most important experience of my professional career."

The ready-to-wear show that he presented most recently in Paris - for spring/summer 2016 - will be his last for the French house, leaving him free to focus immediately on his eponymous label.

Simons arrived at the label in April 2012 - presenting his first offering during couture - and his collections have received almost universal critical acclaim. He was credited with modernising the label and brought on new ambassadors including Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna.

As always, when a departure is announced, speculation is rife as to who could replace him at the label. Riccardo Tisci is rumoured to be a candidate - meaning he would follow previous Dior creative director John Galliano in jumping from the smaller LVMH label to its more lucrative stablemate if the move materialised - and young LVMH talent Jonathan Anderson, currently at Loewe, is also being mooted. It is possible, however - as they did with Simons - that the company could look to an outside hire, which is where the names being connected with the job become even more diverse and interesting.

Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, New York design duo Proenza Schouler, and former Nina Ricci creative director Olivier Theyskens are also being connected with the now-vacant role. Alternatively, Dior could elect to hire in the mould of Gucci - enlisting a lesser-known name who is intimately familiar with the house. Alexandre Roux, now at Margiela with Galliano, is one such name after spending almost a decade between Dior and the Galliano label - and is said to be among the talents of whom Dior thinks highly.

Has Margiela’s Galliano Risk Paid Off?

Hiring John Gallianowas a risk that has already paid off, Renzo Rosso - who owns OTB, which controls Maison Margiela - asserted today. The Italian businessman revealed that revenues are now growing by more than 30 per cent - as opposed to the 10 to 15 per cent growth that preceded Galliano's arrival - and that only one retailer, out of 350 globally, dropped the brand following his appointment.

"It's another company now. You can feel the energy inside, it's unbelievable," Rosso told WWD. "It was really necessary to hire someone for the next step because Martin was someone who changed the rules in the fashion industry. Before we just did the collection and tried to upgrade it [for couture] and do something nice for the show. Here it is totally the opposite. Now with him, the fashion show comes first. All the rest is coming after couture. So thanks to John, I started to think and to work differently."

After being advised by Martin Margiela himself to "make it your own," Galliano entered the Margiela archive and didn't want to leave.

"We had to drag him out," Rosso joked. "It was one o'clock in the morning, and he was so much in love with the house from that day. He told me, 'Renzo, I cannot imagine that I could design clothing other than for Margiela.' He started to be so inspired and in love with the spirit, the philosophy, and what this man had accomplished before."

Now happily anonymous, not even taking a bow at the end of his shows, Galliano's persona is much shifted from the Dior days - although some things do remain the same. Part of Galliano's success can be attributed to his close and loyal team, many of whom he has worked with in his previous roles, including his right hand Alexandre Roux, formerly of both Galliano and Dior before returning to the designer's team via a stint at Gucci. Jean-Yves Mustiere, most recently at Roberto Cavalli; former Oscar de la Renta head tailor, turned Margiela head of atelier, Rafaele Illardo; and Galliano's Dior muse and confidant Vanessa Bellanger make up the strong and dedicated talents who have contributed to the unarguably smooth transition.

Now starting to dabble in menswear, beginning mid-next year, and creating a new scent for the brand in 2017, Galliano will be gladder than ever to have those old friends around him - although, it seems Rosso needs no convincing of whether he's up to the ever-growing challenge.

"We fit also very well each other. We are both very brave, we are very revolutionary. Also, I am very precise and John is very precise," he said. "Fashion is now full of people doing social networks, crazy things, just to make people talk. I don't want to be part of this system. I just want the beauty and the dream. This is what I want him to promote: beauty and dreams."

Olivier Rousteing Wants To See Your Selfies

Oliver Rousteing has made his mark as one of fashion's reigning social media stars, so it should prove no surprise that he is eagerly anticipating the influx of pictures, posts and status updates that the launch of his inaugural Balmain X H&M collection is poised to precipitate.

"H&M really understands how important social media is to me. We created the new hashtag, #H&MBalmaination, to stand for this new H&M Balmain world," he told us, ahead of the launch on November 5. "I'm already checking the hashtag all the time. I'm the boss of this hashtag and I can't wait to see people taking selfies of what they've bought from the collection."

Following the lead of many of his H&M designer predecessors, Rousteing chose to reimagine his Balmain greatest hits to create a collection that is peppered with his distinctive signature elements. "When Balmain said yes to the collaboration, I already knew exactly what I wanted to do," he confirmed. "I know exactly what people love about Balmain, and so it was really easy for me to think what I wanted the collection to look like."

Quality was another key aspect. "Craftmanship is really important to Balmain, and we really pushed H&M and challenged them to create something truly special," he added.

Rousteing is both proud and unabashedly excited about the resulting collection. "The global reach of H&M is incredible. I can't measure it. But what I can measure is my excitement. I feel like a new person."

Williamson´s New Chapter

Matthew Williamson has had something of a regeneration of late. The news that his Bruton Street flagship was to close its doors, coupled with the announcement that he would not be showing at London Fashion Week for spring/summer 2016, raised worried eyebrows in an industry all too familiar with the hurdles and pitfalls that independent designers face. But, he's setting the record straight: Matthew Williamson is here to stay, just in a different way.

"We have had nearly 20 years in the industry, believe it or not, and fashion has changed over those 20 years. The industry, the consumer, the designers - all manner of things have come and gone and we've landed as a team in a place whereby we want to address those changes and reposition our business into a place that we feel is appropriate for us and for our customer right now," Williamson explained in his studio space in Queens Park - formerly his distribution centre, now his office-cum-showroom that houses his design team, stock, and (most excitingly for any fan of the label) every single dress from his 20-year career. 

The brand, he tells us, is now solely focused on creating more of a personalised service, through private appointments in the lavishly decorated - yet intimate - venue, frequent customer and press events and by building a rapport with its online consumer through its website, virtual footfall of which is up 25 per cent compared to last year. So far, so good, but Williamson is open about the challenges posed by his shift in business model.

"It's actually quite a process to transition from there to here. Particularly when the industry is such that it's so regimented and so cyclical - when you're on, you're on," he explained. "Our plans have been formulating in our heads for a long time and they've started to fall into place. We started to see a shift in our customer's habits - largely concerning our store in Bruton Street where there was a shift onto online and less footfall. That's why it took us two years to get here. Ideas are great, and I ain't got no shortage of those, but it's about discussing which ideas stack up in all different ways. 

We took the decision to close in order that we could re-energise and capture our growing clientele online. You can't deny the experience of a store. It's fantastic if you're a global brand and you've got the power or the funds to support that bricks-and-mortar space, but we certainly weren't and aren't. Opening that store was the best thing I ever did and I was so proud of it, but for me I feel like I've closed that book on year 20, and I'm like, 'Shall we start again?'"

If you're one of the brand's avid Instagram followers or one of its 1.5 million Pinterest followers (it's currently the most popular fashion label using the latter social-media platform) you'll know that the new chapter involves a substantial expansion into lifestyle. The brand has brought its three existing licenses in house - wallpapers and fabrics with Osborne & Little; sunglasses with Linda Farrow; and rugs with the Rug Company - and is preparing to announce a further three in March, adding stationery and gift cards; furniture; and activewear to the company offering: "The jigsaw pieces are finally coming together because I believe the woman that wants that dress also wants a velvet marbled butterfly armchair," laughed Williamson.

Design and management wise, Williamson has brought on former stylist (and best friend, muse and confidante) Georgie Macintyre as artistic director who will co-design and appointed long-term employee Rosanna Falconer as business director, while co-founder Joseph Velosa continues as chair of the company. Together with Williamson they form what the designer describes as "the new square" that are hoping to make the new "buy now, wear now" business model work.

"We know what the customer wants and so we're buying in a totally different way," he explained. "The table has completely turned around. We're not waiting for the fashion cycle to have 180 buys come in and see the collection and go, 'We like it, we'll buy it and we'll have it in June'. The only one we're selling to is Net-A-Porter and the rest is through our site. Because we've lowered our overheads with stores and staff and so on, the plan now is that our first spring/summer 2016 drop can be March-time, and come December we'll get those special party dresses in because we've ordered what we want. We're also going to do smaller drops, so we can go, it's July, it's sunny, let's put bikinis out this week. We're basically cutting out the middleman."

For Williamson, taking control of his business again is an important and cathartic move - not only because it's his name above the door, but because he finds himself in a position to finally be frank about what works, what doesn't, what he's learnt and in turn try to reinvent his business.

"The last thing I want to appear is remotely jaded or bitter, which it could come across the wrong way," he said, "but [the fashion world] is relentless. You're not finishing one collection before you start the next. It takes its toll, and it works fantastically well when you're a massive brand, and it works fantastically well when you're a new brand - as in year one to ten, when there's real interest from buyers and press - but we're 20 years in here so we need to create our own press, our own marketing, our own client base, we can't still go, 'Please buy us' to a big department store, because they're are buying powerhouses. Those stores have a job to do, and every square foot counts."

"Long story short, what we've done is taken stock, taken our foot off the gas, pivoted and tried to see if we can carve out a new way to work for us," he summarised with a smile.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pablo Erroz: Spain´s Next Big Fashion Export?

Several weeks ago, the annual Barcelona Designers Collective was held in La Roca Village highlighting the top 50 concurrent design talents within Spain. One recognisable face within the ensemble was up-and-coming Mallorquin designer, Pablo Erroz.

Born in the Balearic island´s historical capital Palma, Pablo has enjoyed an escalation in the fashion media over the last several years which has granted him the accolade as being one of the most successful Spanish fashion talents of his generation to date. Having attended fashion industry hotspots such as the Instituto Europeo Di Design (IED) and Central Saint Martins (UCL:London) he was able to develop his trademark look in the design field before succinctly completing a Masters in fashion communication and marketing which enabled him to develop a broader and more eclectic viewpoint of the industry as well as posessing a fundamental skill in today´s world of fast fashion and digital coverture.

Founded in 2010 by the designer whose name it bears, the cornerstone of his brand philosophy is to ´use quality materials with a great attention to detail and a sense of refined tastes, mixing classic and modern concepts to menswear, womenswear and accessories that are made entirely in Spain.´

Since its inception,the brand has been showcased on scores of fashion events like 080 Barcelona Fashion Week, Vienna Fashion Week and Mercedes - Benz Fashion Week Madrid. His initial collection entitled ´UNPLUGGED A/W 10-11´ received prestigious acclaim for industry stalwarts such as Georgina Chapman (Marchesa) and none other than Wintour´s man-in-London, critique Colin McDowell. To date, he has coveted awards and recognition from National Association of Spanish designers (ANDE), Onda Cero 2014 design award and the Barcelona Designers Collective prize, whilst gracing publications like Vogue, Fucking Young and Jute to name a few.

His current runway show ´SYMBIOSOS S/S 16´ sought to embody the aesthetics of culture and pop-art by utilising severe lines and a playful juxtaposition of colours and stripes, but his future sights are set on New York Fashion Week as he thinks that is where his label would fit best.

Having showcased in other European locations such as Austria (where he went as a guest of the Embassy of Spain) to present his collection ´TRANSICION S/S '13´ to a wider audience, he has been enjoying many offers to present his collection in different cities across the world including America, Canada and Poland. Presently, he continues with the work for his own brand, as well as designing for contemporary fashion companies.

I started studying fashion design in different schools between Mallorca, Barcelona and London. During this time, I decided to create a brand to show the world how my work was and also with the purpose of making some money out of my profession as well.

For me, Erroz has a timeless, quality product with a sober, yet modern style. His clothes are cleanly cut in structure with a grateful attention to detail. His use of fabric has a strong importance in the composition as well as the traditional processes that he utilises.

Looking towards the future, Alexander Wang, Raf Simons and Jeremy Scott have all had a similar success benchmark to Pablo, which then led them to go onto the great and the glory of Balenciaga, Dior and Moschino respectively. I concluded with the paradigm of asking that if any brand could hire him as creative director, then who would it be? ´ I really love brands like Hermes, Celine, Proenza Schouler and Valentino for men´ he said confidently. Not such an impossible feat to set himself given his steadfast climb against the avalanche of apparel.

Hedi Slimane: The Man With The Midas Touch

Ever since Hedi Slimane took over the reins at Yves Saint Laurent in 2012, his every move has been scrutinised. As creative director of one the most venerable and beloved French fashion houses in the world, he has been criticised for everything from his re-branding of the ready-to-wear lines, which involved the decision to drop "Yves" from the label, to accusations of "over-controlling" the house's image while being being unapologetically non-conceputal in his designs. The fact that he is relatively guarded and private by nature, rarely giving interviews, has only exacerbated the opprobrium.

Slimane may be divisive and his methods may well invite dissenters, but there is no arguing with his selling power. Indeed, the game-changing nature of his success has set an ambitious precedent for other luxury labels who must be longing to emulate Saint Laurent's commercial coup.

The most recent figures published by Saint Laurent's parent company, Kering, show that, under Slimane, the brand has more than doubled annual sales revenue to ‎€707 million, up from ‎€353 million in 2011. 66 per cent of the business is represented by leather goods and shoes. Ever the deft image-maker, Slimane has naturally understood the inevitable necessity for It bags: According to Harrods fashion director, Helen David, The Monogram family (the collection featuring the classic entwined YSL insignia) is one of the store's best-selling styles. 

"Other strong sellers include the shopper and the new Baby Monogram style," says David. "The Sac de Jour, with the more discreet branding, also sells well." Saint Laurent accessory sales have also been boosted by the designer's development of new cult shoe-styles including the Paris and the Janis alongside the more classic Tribute. This clever duality has ensured the continued loyalty of both old and new clientele.

What currently sets Slimane apart from his peers, however, is the success of his ready-to-wear lines. Kering's figures reveal that ready-to-wear was the fastest growing category for the brand, making up an impressive 24 per cent of the sales. Compare that to Kering's other luxury labels, including Gucci whose ready-to-wear accounts for 12 per cent of sales (although there is great optimism that this may change with Alessandro Michele re-invigorating the brand) and Bottega Veneta, which comes in at just 5 per cent.

Slimane's packaging of an easily identifiable, understandable and aspirational look - namely rock'n'roll - has struck a chord with his wealthy customers. He uses a clear and specific aesthetic: an un-showy, musical subculture that has run from glam-rock to LA grunge. Earlier designers often associated their brand with one look to huge advantage - think Ralph lauren and preppy Americana. Slimane's quiet talent is in identifying something interesting and subversive, smoothing the edges off, washing out the dirt and repackaging it in a stealth-wealth friendly showcase.

Re-writing the rulebook and doing things on his own terms is something that Slimane has achieved with apparent ease. Although he is French-born, he continues to live in his adopted hometown of LA, rather than the more conventional move of relocating to his Paris atelier, and it is this Californian aesthetic which informs much of his design.

The collections consist of luxurious, but very basic, pieces including leather biker jackets, bombers, denim and tailored jackets - and by all accounts, they have been flying out of the stores. "We have been selling a myriad of different styles from leopard print pony skin capes to military parka coats to felted wool double breasted fitted coats," attests David. Saint Laurent is one of Barney's top ten performers and Justin O' Shea, buying director at My Theresa, has described Saint Laurent sales with them as "meteoric".

"Slimane breaks it down, makes it simple - and then piece by piece, it all sells like crazy," said fashion critic, Sarah Mower, in one of her recent reviews. "This has set off a chain reaction at the top of the designer fashion industry as corporations scramble to cast talents they pray will be able to replicate Slimane's magic."

Whether Slimane receives positive reviews or not has almost become an irrelevance. He has turned the traditional idea of a show - as image-enhancer rather than a vehicle to sell clothes - on its head. Slimane's loyal devotees want the runway looks and you only have to spend five minutes in one of the Saint Laurent stores to feel that the cult of Hedi and his brand have a life of their own.

In a rare interview - for Yahoo! Style - Slimane talked about his "pursuit of the idea of perfecting something apparently simple." He also said that he has never forgotten a piece of advice given to him by Pierre Berge on the eve of his first show for the house: "He (Berge) told me: 'Remember, Yves sent a peacoat out on his first passage for his first runway, not an evening gown'."

Grace Coddington The Movie

Grace Coddington has revealed that the film rights to her 2012 biography, Grace: A Memoir, have been bought by the same company behind her friend Sofia Coppola's 2013 film The Bling Ring, although no details so far have emerged about who may play the flame-haired creative director of American Vogue.

"A company called A24 bought the rights to it," she told Fashionista, admitting that she doesn't know when it will be hitting the big screen: "It's a very slow business compared to the fashion business."

Coddington´s memoir was published shortly after her appearance in The September Issue - the fly-on-the-wall documentary on American Vogue - which put her back in the mainstream spotlight and made her a household name once again, confirmation of which came when she started to see multiples of herself pop up over Halloween.

"I know there was a lot [of fancy dress costumes] when The September Issue first came out," she said. "There was a deal where you could get Anna and myself - two wigs, the little bob and the red wig - together." No doubt the forthcoming film will ellicit the same amount of attention.

Tyra Announces End Of America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks has revealed that the current series of America's Next Top Model, season 22, will be its final cycle. The finale show, set to be aired on December 4th, will be the last ever episode.

"Tyra mail!" the model tweeted, referencing the way messages are given to contestants of the show. "Thinking #ANTM22 should be our last cycle. I truly believe it's time. May your pics be forever fierce. Keep on smizing! Tyra."

Banks, who has served as chief panellist alongside a changing array of famous fashion faces, first launched the show in 2003, and has seen the franchise replicated globally with various degrees of success.

The model, who studied at harvard Business School while filming the show, has gone on to have several other successful forays into television - including her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, and new panel show The FABLifewith Chrissy Teigen.

Met Ball 2016 Will Be Tech Themed

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's forthcoming Costume Institute exhibition - and consequently May 2016's Met Ball - will have a technological theme, exploring how advancements have shaped fashion. Chaired by Apple's Johnny Ive, as well as Taylor Swift, Anna Wintour, Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada and Idris Elba, the event will take place on May 2nd, so expect to see plenty of intricate designs on the red carpet.

"Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made," Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, told US Vogue. "But recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other."

The show itself is set to comprise more than 100 pieces - both couture and ready-to-wear - that feature established artisanal techniques, like pleating and lacework, contrasting with newer machine-made techniques, from laser-cutting to circular knitting. Several of the processes will be taking place in real-time workshops allowing visitors to watch how the techniques are created.

The exhibition, appropriately for one relating to advancements in technology, will be sponsored by Apple.

Why Playboy Has Banned Nudes

Playboy will no longer run nude pictures on the pages of the magazine, it has been confirmed. The publication, which launched in 1953 and had its heyday in the Sixties and Seventies, already made the move on its website earlier this year - resulting in a leap in traffic from four million to almost 16 million unique users a month - and now the print version will follow suit in the hopes of boosting sales.

The idea was conceived by one of Playboy's top editors, Cory Jones, and pitched to Hugh Hefner himself at the Playboy mansion. Hefner agreed, The New York Times  reports, and as a result next March will see the launch of a redesign that will still feature "women in provocative poses" but no full nudes.

"That battle has been fought and won," Scott Flanders, the company's chief executive, told The New York Times by way of explanation. "You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passé at this juncture."

The change will also be visible in the kind of shots used in the magazine, which are set to be "cleaner and more modern" using a more "intimate" and less produced style of shooting, akin to those seen on Instagram - and while there will still be a Playmate of the Month, it's unclear whether the centrefold will continue to appear.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chanel´s Mademoiselle Prive

Desire may not be one of the five senses, but guaranteed it will be stimulated along with the others as you wander around the halls of Chanel´s  new Mademoiselle Privé exhibition at London's Saatchi Gallery. Opening to the public tomorrow, the exhibition explores the creativity of both Chanel's eponymous founder, Gabrielle, known as Coco, and its current creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, who assumed the helm only 12 years after Coco's death.

Named for the sign that Coco placed on the door of her atelier in order that she could work undisturbed, Mademoiselle Privé is a 3-D feast for the senses. A complementary app allows visitors to the exhibition to experience another layer of visual delights - with one plainly dressed room displaying Coco´s Rue Cambon apartment when viewed through the app, while others offer up quotes and facts on the lady herself - each room referencing an element crucial to the creativity of the house's two designers.

"So, six days after the spring/summer show - which was very powerful and about the creativity of the brand - here we are talking again about creativity," Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel's CEO, joked this morning as the press preview was unveiled. "We felt we wanted, and needed, to say something about what goes on behind the scenes; about creativity. When you see Chanel, you see Mademoiselle, you see her apartment, you see the magnificent shows, but you don't see much about what's happening behind the scenes. We felt it was a good time for the brand to give away some secrets."

The story begins before you even step inside as the entrance - usually a long, straight walk from the Kings Road gate to the door - is reimagined as a meandering English country garden, created by British landscape designers Harry and David Rich. Once inside, we wander through the places that meant the most to Coco - from her virtual Rue Cambon apartment (although the famous mirrored stairs are there in a physical capacity), to Venice, Scotland, her first hat shop in Deauville, and beyond.

Inside the next space a giant spinning birdcage, which could easily house a twittering Vanessa Paradis in her Coco fragrance ad days, instead holds an enlarged version of a star-covered diamond necklace created by Coco in 1932, more of which later. The brand's key codes - from black and white, to red, to the camellia - are explored in the totem room, with more detailed explanations available on the accompanying app for real aficionados.

The fabric-lined sensory room allows visitors to touch and wander through real Chanel couture fabrics, from delicate silks to its famous bouclé tweeds, while artisans pin and sew on shadow-paper screens. Another mysterious agent of creation, the olfactory artisans who blend the house's famous scents, are introduced in a Willy Wonka-style scent-filled room packed with bubbling vats - the lids of which lift without warning to reveal the fragrance, and sometimes surprising colour, inside.

Upstairs, the clothes themselves are brought to life, firstly in the haute couture space - where the most delicate of dresses are placed on mannequins suspended on bright poles of light - allowing visitors to see the embroidery and workmanship that goes into every piece. Next door, we revisit Chanel's work with what she said represented "the greatest value in the smallest volume": diamonds.

Only a few pieces remain from the original Bijoux de Diamants High Jewellery collection, from which the caged necklace that we saw downstairs comes, but the entire offering has been recreated for Mademoiselle Privé, displayed on couture-clothed mannequins. Each mannequin, dressed as one of the high-profiel ´gamblers´ at Chanel´s most recent couture show, wears a piece from the collection - created by Coco at a time when the established jewellery houses felt more than a little perturbed by the thought of a fashion house dabbling in diamonds. First set to be displayed in London in 1932, but stopped due to stringent British customs regulations, it is finally unveiled after 83 years - alongside Lagerfeld-lensed photographs offering on stars including Keira Knightley, Kristen Stewart, Lily-Rose Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Rita Ora and Lara Stone.

The quietest and most contemplative final room holds a neat French garden - a sensory phenomenon with its fresh-scented real box hedges and meandering double C pathways. On the floor above, workshops hosted by Chanel artisans including Lesage teach skills from embroidery to camellia-making and perfume blending - allowing visitors to dip a toe into the creativity they've witnessed, albeit without much hope of ever scaling these dizzy heights.

With plans to launch e-commerce late next year, and several new apps to aid customers and fans' interactions with the brand, it's clear that Chanel is very much in the pro-tech camp compared to many of its luxury competitors. Pavlovsky, as charming and aimiable as you could ever hope a CEO to be - albeit with a politician's knack for always saying only as much as he wants to - is certainly part of this move to modernity, although the choice, he insists, is a no-brainer.

"The way we look at the future, isn't by asking 'How can we make this digital?' it's there from the ground up," he explained. "We want to use all our means to be connected to our customers; digital is the area between the boutique and the customers, so it's the most powerful way for us to engage with them. Some people go shopping, they like to be surprised, to wander, they don't know where they are going, but others want to be connected and want to prepare. They know that when they go to the boutique they need to see this, this, this and this - and our job is to make that happen in the easiest way possible."

It feels as though London has been chosen as the site of many more fashion exhibitions than we're used to this year - with Hermés, McQueen, Vuitton and now Chanel selecting the capital for global showcases. Don't allow your possible cultural fatigue to dissuade you from visit the Saatchi for this one though - for fans of Chanel, it really is a must-see.