Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kate's Calvin Klein Heartbreak

The story behind how the Kate Moss Calvin Klein Obsession campaign - her first major international moment - came about is legend: Klein himself recognised that photographer Mario Sorrenti, Moss's then-boyfriend, was "obsessed" with her from the intimate pictures that filled his book and enlisted him to capture her on a holiday that the company arranged. The model's perspective of the shoot that ensued, however, has never been revealed - until now.

"Calvin was clever, he saw from the pictures that it was obsession, and it really was an obsession," she told Nick Knight, for ShowStudio's Subjective series. "I'd wake up in the morning and he'd be taking pictures of me. I was like, 'Fuck off!' I lay like that [naked on a couch] for 10 days. He would not stop taking pictures of that. But, he's Italian, you know? He was like, 'Lay down, I'll tell you when we've got it!' We probably had it in the first roll. They rented us a house, just me and him and loads of film, in this deserted little shack on the beach."

Far from being an idyllic escape, the shoot drove the couple to breaking point, and the relationship never recovered. "I was so… we split up after that," she revealed. "When you're in a relationship with a photographer and they start abusing that relationship - and being like, 'I want you to do this, and I want you to do that' - it makes you go, 'No'. I didn't want to work all the time, but he'd be like, 'Get up on the roof, take your clothes off,' and I would think, 'Fuck off!' Now I understand that kind of thing a bit better, capturing an image, but at the time I was 17."

Speaking of the international attention that followed, Moss revealed that her life changed - and not initially for the better - but soon, she built a support network to help her cope.

1993 - In one of her most famous outfits - at an Elite Models party with Naomi Campbell at the Hilton hotel in London - the physical differences between waifish Kate’s petite frame and that of the Amazonian Campbell were very apparent. At the time, Moss was sharing a flat with Corrine Day and stylist Melanie Ward and wore a suggestively sheer dress by Liza Bruce that Day had asked Bruce to make for a shoot with Linda Evangelista.

"I worked with Herb Ritts on the Marky Mark shoot, and then Steven Meisel, and then they'd start sending limos for me, and I was like, 'That is so embarrassing. I'm not getting in a stretch limo by myself to go to a shoot.' That whole New York thing of, 'You are fabulous! Turn up to a Meisel shoot in a limo and you're fabulous!' I was wearing trainers and a ripped Margiela skirt, total grunge. I didn't feel right at all. But then I made friends: Naomi and Christy took me under their wing, and then I met Johnny, and then I didn't feel like, 'I'm sitting on my own in a big stretch limo,' because they all had stretch limos!"

When Knight suggests that no one - apart from perhaps Marilyn Monroe or Jackie Kennedy - has occupied the same volume of headlines or visual space, Moss responds with signature wit: "Of course there has. Kerry Katona. Or Katie Price. I never think: 'I'm in the papers all the time, because there are loads of people who are in the papers all the time."

ASOS Responds To Allegations

ASOS has refuted fresh accusations made in a new report about the working conditions in its South Yorkshire factory.

The report by BuzzFeedNews alleges that employees in the online retailer's Barnsley warehouse are subject to "highly pressurised conditions", with high targets discouraging them from taking water or toilet breaks; "exploitative contracts", which allow shifts to be cancelled with no notice and employees to be sent home without pay, and assignments to be ended due to illness; and "an overbearing security regime".

"There have been a number of allegations about the working conditions at our warehouse in Barnsley that are inaccurate, misleading or based on out-of-date information," a spokesperson for the brand told us today. "This upsets us, but more importantly, it upsets the people who work there. Those who seek to portray the warehouse as an awful place to work never mention the positive work we do in conjunction with XPO, like the 50 different learning and development programs offered, free mental health support and awareness training, subsidised food in a newly renovated canteen, or the £3 million spent on a cooling system to keep the temperature down during the summer. Ultimately, ASOS and XPO both care deeply about our people and that's why we have chosen to partner with them."

Last month, ASOS denied similar concerns raised by MP Owen Smith about the Barnsley warehouse. The Pontypridd MP made the claims in a letter to fellow politician Ian Wright - chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee - likening the online fashion retailer to sportswear company Sports Direct, which was recently investigated for poor working conditions.

"As we have now said on the record several times before - we don't do zero-hours contracts, people can take toilet and water breaks whenever they want, and we pay above minimum wage," a brand spokesperson told us at the time.

Mario Embraces His Inner Child

He is one of the most famous photographers in the world, but it seems that accolades still hold the same significance for Mario Testino as they did in his formative years.

"It's important for all of us to receive accolades because the children in us never leave us," the renowned photographer, who last night was awarded the Fashion & Beauty Lifetime Achievement Award at the Clio Awards, told us. "As a child, if you do something that you're told is good, then you want a prize, and accolades are like our prizes. It's the way that we feel that something is recognised, that we've done something right and I think all of us like that."

Testino is no stranger to being recognised for his work, having won multiple awards over the years. But they are all valued in different ways, he revealed.

"They are all different. This particular one is from the field I work in, so it's interesting that I've been given it by people who do the same job as myself, who know how difficult it is, so when they give you an award it means quite a lot," he said of achieving his latest accolade. He also noted that the OBE that he was awarded in 2014 "was incredible because it was like England recognising me as part of their world"; the Grand Cross rank of the Order of Merit for Distinguished Service in his native Peru "for achieving something abroad" holds great significances for him; and the honorary doctorate that he received from the University Of The Arts is particularly special "because my parents always wanted me to have a title and I never finished any university and instead became a photographer."

Not only known for his exceptional talent, but also for being one of the most well-liked people in the industry, some of his most famous fans joined him in a short film to showcase the most memorable moments of his career in celebration of his Lifetime Achievement Award. Narrated by Kate Moss, and with appearances from Gigi Hadid, Amber Valletta, Christopher Bailey and Anna Wintour, the "mockumentary" makes it clear how fond people are of him. Does he think having a good relationship with those you work with is the secret to being a successful photographer?

"I work every single day of the year from eight in the morning to nine in the evening, so enjoying that time is very important and you only enjoy it by being with people you like," he revealed. "I think if you look at a model like Kate Moss, her success doesn't just come from being beautiful, but also that she's an enhancement to life - you want to spend your day with her, you want to have fun with her. She's funny, witty, and she has taste. I want to bring that to whoever I work with too. I want to make them have a good day, to have fun, and to feel that what they're doing has meaning, and I want to push them like I want to be pushed by my colleagues to do the best work I can."

Vetements Announces New Recruit

While Vetements may be missing from the Paris Fashion Week schedule this month (they have decided to show in January and June instead of February and September), they made sure that their presence was felt yesterday as they revealed an important new hire.

The collective, headed up by brothers Demna and Guram Gvasalia, has appointed Nina Nitsche as collection director. Nitsche leaves her current position at Maison Margiela where she has worked for nearly 20 years, first under founder Martin Margiela as his first assistant, then as lead designer, and more recently under John Galliano. She will now head up the design team under Gvasalia's creative direction.

“Now it’s becoming adult,” Gvasalia - who also worked at Maison Margiela for three years, as well as Louis Vuitton, before founding his own label -mused to WWD about the news. Before any more talk of Vetements though, all eyes will be on his other fashion charge Balenciaga, for whom he will unveil his spring/summer 2017 collection on Sunday.

SJP Reveals LBD Collection

As if promoting a new fragrance, Stash, and a new TV show, Divorce; running a successful footwear label; being on the boards of countless cultural committees; and raising three children wasn't keeping Sarah Jessica Parkerbusy enough, the actress and producer has revealed she is launching a ready-to-wear collection comprising lots of little black dresses.

"Well folks, I've teased you long enough. It's time for the big reveal. Introducing: the SJP LBD," the star wrote on her Instagram account, with an accompanying video of her swirling around the revolving doors of London's prestigious Claridge's hotel. "A new collection of little black dresses designed by me, all made proudly in the USA."

Parker has plenty of experience when it comes to launching successful fashion lines. Her footwear label, SJP Collection, which she launched in February 2014, was quickly followed by a bridal collection, both of which have continued to grow from strength to strength and are stocked at Bloomingdales, Amazon, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Given her experience of wearing - and making one covet - a lot of beautiful LBDs in her time (not to mention as her most famous character Carrie Bradshaw), this latest launch is perfectly pitched.

Tomas Maier On 15 Years At The Top

Tomas Maier was the toast of Milan this weekend as he celebrated his 15-year anniversary at Bottega Veneta, which itself was celebrating the big 5-0. As such, he took the opportunity to throw a well-deserved celebration - one that started at his show on Saturday, starring the inimitable Lauren Hutton walking hand-in-hand with Gigi Hadid in an emotional finale, and stretched long into the night at the Accademia di Brera, Milan, where Kering CEO Francois Henri Pinault hosted an exclusive dinner for long-term creative director Maier. We caught up with the man of the hour to talk birthdays, see now buy now, and how he takes a break from Bottega.

How does it feel to be at the brand as it celebrates its 50th year?

"I like looking back to what we’ve been able to build and I couldn't be more proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in collaboration with all the people who constantly work for this company with their incredible dedication and commitment. For this reason I look at our future, imagining what we’ll be able to create moving from here. I am honoured to have led our story, and have the opportunity to continue leading it."

How do you think the DNA of the brand has changed over the years and what has stayed the same?

"The motto of the house, 'When your own initials are enough,' dates back to the Seventies and speaks to our belief that Bottega Veneta’s signature is its craftsmanship. When I began, the motto had fallen into disuse, but we revived it. It represented where I wanted us to return. My goal was to build a brand focused on highlighting the product and enhancing its individuality."

What do you identify as the major signatures of the house?

"Heritage and tradition are inherent values of Bottega Veneta. We will always stay true to the artisanal roots of the house, a cultural heritage which fuses technique and creativity with know-how and gestures that have been passed down over time and grant our brand’s identity.

The intrecciato was created by Bottega Veneta in the early Seventies, and when I began working at the house I went to see the workshops and was greeted by the artisans. Seeing the capability of the craftspeople was just incredible and I immediately recalled the intrecciato bags my own mother used to carry. This distinctive leather weave design is a beautiful way to make a supple, soft, constructed bag durable. The leathers are very, very soft and layering and weaving them into each other is what makes each item so unique.

That was the starting point, along with our four cornerstones of outstanding craftsmanship; timeless yet innovative design; contemporary functionality; and the highest quality materials to define anything from Bottega Veneta. When I joined the house it was losing its identity and roots, so I instituted those four cornerstones. Once these principles had been defined, I went on to develop Bottega Veneta into a full-range luxury lifestyle brand. This philosophy continues to drive everything we create and produce today."

How have you changed since you came on board as creative director?

"I think my vision for the brand hasn't changed since I joined, but it certainly has evolved. With everything we have created over the last 15 years, we are in a completely different place. It has been, and continues to be, a challenge, and we like bringing it to a certain level of the unexpected. Even when somebody says 'It’s never been done,' there's always a solution."

You are involved with a lot of artistic projects within your role, why is this important to you and the brand?

"Collaboration is at the heart of Bottega Veneta and has the most complete meaning. First of all, everything that we produce is as a result of people working together, from my role as creative director, to the design team, to the craftspeople who make our products. We are very proud of our artisans working in the atelier in Montebello Vicentino, in the Veneto region of Italy where Bottega Veneta is from. I like the sense that there are skilled hands behind Bottega Veneta who come together to make our products. In a way the “Art Of Collaboration” campaign extends this sense once the products have been made, collaborating with photographers and artists to create something valid and of quality.

It’s an enriching process personally and it's extremely enriching for the house. Additionally, art and architecture have always been a source of inspiration for me. I have a deep personal appreciation of art and architecture and I strongly believe in the importance of protecting culture as a substantial part of our history and heritage. By respecting it, we have an opportunity of growth and evolution, and are able to bring our stories to the next step."

How do you continue to keep the brand covetable and fresh?

"The biggest challenge is to always maintain an interest and an excitement both for myself as a creative director, and for our clients. There's always novelty and excitement with new projects and new collections."

What are your views on see-now, buy-now and do you think this would ever work for the brand?

"Bottega Veneta remains committed to a timing of presentation and launch that gives production the time necessary to create a sophisticated handcrafted collection that conveys a dream even before it hits the boutiques."

How do you, as a designer, switch off and relax?

"Travel. I have moved around a great deal, but an unforgettable place I’ve travelled to is the Benesse Art Site on Naoshima and its surrounding islands. It is beautiful on an architectural level because it is incorporated and displayed in a beautiful way, harmonious with the landscape."

The Comeback Of BHS will open for business on Thursday, selling lighting and home-furnishing products, which were the best-selling sections for the brand (constituting around 75 per cent of the most popular items sold and 50 per cent of the retailer's online revenue) prior to its demise earlier this year. Following the launch, further lines will be added - including clothing, and kitchen and dining ware - to make up a smaller offering than the brand previously boasted, but focused on its most successful areas.

“We are thrilled to be relaunching this iconic brand back into the UK," David Anderson, managing director of BHS International (which acquired in June), said. "It had a loyal customer base with around 1.2 million British shoppers who bought from us online, and for our relaunch we have managed to secure many of the products they liked the most."

“In addition to this, we have developed a new specially designed online platform for our UK business so we are not inheriting any legacy systems," Anderson continued, referencing developments that have been made to the website which allow customers to purchase their items in two clicks and to shop on multiple devices.

Anderson will oversee the relaunch and a team of 84 employees, most of whom worked for BHS's online and international operations before it went into administration.

In June, an MP enquiry concluded that, while it did not doubt that former owner Philip Green "has heartfelt affection for BHS", he, alongside Dominic Chappell who he sold the company to last year, "and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on", including barrister Anthony Grabiner who oversaw the sale, were "all culpable" in its demise. The report also decided that Green held a responsibility to help find the funds to reimburse BHS workers and pension holders of the money that they are owed, which the former owner vowed to do. The "wind down" of the retailer earlier this year made an estimated 11,000 employees redundant.

The Qatar-based Al Mana group, which formed BHS International, bought the International franchise business and the BHS brand, - in addition to the website - in June.

Self-Effacing Grace

“I can´t think of any disasters,” Grace Coddington insisted as she reflected on her many years of shooting for Vogue, the most recent examples of which fill the pages of her second fashion tome. “But, anyway, afterwards you forget the difficulties, it’s a bit like childbirth - you forget the pain because you've got the lovely baby and that’s what matters.”

Coddington's newest volume, a biopic of her illustrious career at AmericanVogue from 2002 onwards, has a distinct focus on the people she worked with on those shoots: the photographers, her fellow fashion editors, and the models - from the lesser-known to the Supers.

She gives the impression of being somebody who is more comfortable shining the spotlight on others – unsurprising, perhaps, after all her years behind the camera - rather than having it directly focused on her. She lights up when discussing - with great relish - those she admires: Karen Elson (“A big favourite of mine! English, redheaded, gorgeous, and a friend”); her British Vogue counterpart, Lucinda Chambers, who interviewed her at this year’s Vogue Festival (“I was having such fun with her, she's funny, you know she's really funny. She's a very good person to talk to”); and “a new little redheaded model that I love called Natalie Westling - I have great hopes for her.

But we met - in the penthouse at Harrods ahead of her book signing - to talk about her, and she is best described as self-effacing. “I still haven't found it,” was her response when asked if there has been an “I’ve made it” moment in her career. “One's always looking and you can always do better.”

As a child, growing up in Anglesey in the Forties and stealing fashion magazines from her sister, did she have any inkling that one day she would become such an influential voice within the industry and an integral component of Vogue?

“Not at all. At that age I probably thought I’d live the rest of my life in North Wales and work in my mother’s hotel or something," she smiled. "I changed that point of view when I was a teenager, but I wasn't someone who was always wondering what I’d do when I grew up.”

In the book she reveals that she wouldn’t have considered turning her hand to professional photography because she “always thought it was a bit rude to take someone’s photograph without asking”. However, she admitted to us that since her appearance in The September Issue documentary, which thrust her from behind the scenes to global prominence, she has become used to the attention that comes with being a recognisable figure – her famous flaming head of hair (as vivid up close as pictures suggest) hardly lends itself to anonymity after all.

When it came to compiling the vast tome of visual and written memories, which picks up where her first archive left off, Coddington had a clear starting point.

“I keep every tear sheet from every shoot I've ever done, so I just went through all the shoots. I literally have every picture that’s been published, not the ones that got dropped by the wayside,” she said with a wry smile. “It's funny because somehow if you don't publish them then they don't have the same importance. People are always saying to me, ‘You should do a book of all the things that got dropped.’ At the time you're always moaning that the best ones get dropped, but there’s something about a published picture that makes it stronger."

What does she think that something is? "I don’t know,” she mused. “Maybe it’s the recognition.”

From such an impressive archive, is it possible to pick out one particularly memorable shoot?

“No, not really,” she said. “Well, I always say Alice In Wonderland with Annie Leibovitz. But there’s a lot that I love. Every year we did a story on the Met Gala and I pretty much always did them with Steven Meisel, I love those because it’s really indulgent in terms of fashion. You can have fun with those shoots, they’re not commercial in any way.”

“There’s also a really wacky one I did with Steven Klein, Carolyn Murphy and Karen Elson in a kind of greenhouse,” she recalled. “We did it two days before a big storm we had called Sandy and we sort of knew it was coming, but we didn't know how bad it was going to be. It was kind of almost foretelling it in a way because the set was so battered, but it was unintentional, of course.”

Coddington is honest that part of the satisfaction that comes with creating books is the control that she has over them, more so than when working for a magazine. However, "you are a bit beholden to the photographer," she sighed. "If he doesn't want to give it to you there's nothing much you can do. You can beg but they can hold it back. It is frustrating when it feels like something I helped to create and some of them don't..." she trailed off. "Some that will remain nameless! Some of them are just trying to be helpful but it's their point of view and the book is from my point of view, so I wish they'd just listen to me but it's their pictures and they're not just for me to throw around as I wish, they own them, too."

Reflecting on how her job has changed since she first started, she misses the big trips that were once possible – “nowadays, shoots are one day/two days maximum because of time and budgets so you can’t go very far". She doesn’t, however, miss the everyday routine of going to the office, following her stepping down in January as creative director at American Vogue (a post that she held for more than 30 years) to become the magazine’s creative-director-at-large. The freedom, she said, has opened up a wealth of opportunities.

“Our days are so busy and we're running around all over the place. We have our own little office outside of Vogue and I'm dodging about all the time, visiting people and doing those fun things I haven't done in 30 years.”

In the foreword, Saoirse Ronan writes that the famous fashion editor’s inimitable defining feature is “the Essence of Grace... a much-coveted, precious sort of magic”.

“Oh she's so wonderful,” Coddington told us when reminded of this, laughing as she attempted to imitate the actress’s Irish lilt. “I just think the way she wrote it was so charming. I felt she was kind of a surprising person to write an introduction, I like those stars that feel human and special, and she's very special to me. There’s a few of them,” she added, naming Carey Mulligan and Domhnall Gleeson as two examples, and delighting in identifying and shedding light on their idiosyncrasies.

That is, after all, what she has always done so well.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Loewe Hires From Céline

Loewe has appointed former Céline executive Pascale Lepoivre as its new CEO, joining creative director Jonathan Anderson at the helm of the house.

Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and CEO of LVMH - which owns both Céline and Loewe, and a stake in Anderson's eponymous fashion house JW Anderson - told WWD that Lepoivre's experience in product development would work well at the house on Anderson's watch.

"The business is doing super well," he said. "He’s bringing a very interesting, fresh vision and at the same time, one that’s very coherent with Loewe. We’re very excited with the project.”

Lepoivre, who has been at Céline since 2007 managing the fashion house's product operation and strategic development, oversaw the house's reinvigoration under Phoebe Philo's creative direction, working under CEO Marco Gobbetti, who recently announced his move to Burberry. Prior to that, Lepoivre was director of the fashion and leather goods product division at Louis Vuitton.

Lepoivre succeeds Lisa Montague in her new role, who is reportedly returning to London for personal reasons and "considering other options within LVMH".

Burberry Reveals Runway To Retail

Burberry launched its long-awaited runway-to-retail model in London last night with a show of epic proportion. Staged in a disused courtyard and warehouse behind the old Central Saint Martins building on Charing Cross Road (which was transformed into an outdoor oasis, twinkling with festoon lighting), Burberry created Makers House - a workshop-style installation that saw artists embroidering textiles, sculpting plastered busts, and making artisanal chocolates - a part of a collaboration with The New Craftsmen - to an exclusive live soundtrack played by a 21-piece orchestra.

But despite the impressive format, and the equally impressive show (read Sarah Harris's report here), the main topic on everyone's mind was how would the see-now, buy-now model work? The questions were soon answered.

Would there be fewer looks from the brand famous for delivering their biannual blockbusters? No - there were 83 comprehensive looks. How have monthly magazines been considered? Editors were invited under embargo earlier this year to view the collection and request pieces for their shoots. And, would all of it be going into production? Yes.

"Every piece that will be presented on the runway will be available to buy the minute the show ends," Bailey told us earlier this week. "I hope that what we’ll be able to do is create a moment that feels relevant when the customer actually sees it, rather than telling him or her they’ve got to wait until five or six months after we’ve excited them.”

On the other side of Soho last night in Burberry's flagship Regent Street store, Bailey's plan was coming together. A select group of VIP guests - mostly elite clients, one employee told us - had been invited to watch the catwalk action play out live on a massive projector screen, champagne flowing (the show was also live streamed on the website). Post show, the curtains were swept back on either side to reveal the box-fresh collection (each piece from which was stocked in every size), while online, both at Burberry and its partnering retail sites, the collection also dropped.

"This is what we've been waiting for," one customer, who had straight away snapped up the poncho cape, told us referring to the immediacy of being able to make a purchase. Elsewhere in the store, personal shoppers helped several guests complete their shopping lists.

Bailey told us before the show that he believes that adopting the new model will not only help the house become more in touch with its consumer, but its own creative structure too.

“This change in the way we are working has actually given us much more opportunity to unpack what craft and creativity means for us," said Bailey. "Working in the way that we have been for the last few months has meant that we have been able to create a world of experiences – Makers House being one example. Another key shift has been the combination of our men's and women's collections – and I’ve found that you’re able to create more of a story when you get your men’s and women’s collections together, because it reflects one mood and one moment. Something that doesn't change is the customer’s expectation of creativity and quality – they want an incredible product delivered in a seamless and luxurious way."

Seamless is certainly the way proceedings felt last night. Time will tell if the model works financially, but judging by the retail response on the ground, Burberry has every right to be feeling optimistic.

LFW: Topshop On Leading The Charge

When Topshop unveils its Unique collection to the world later today, a line will be drawn in the sand. The high-street retailer is going where only a few on the London Fashion Week schedule have ventured: see-now, buy now, and in true retail fashion, the high-street favourite invited us in to its central London HQ this week for an exclusive preview.

“I think the whole point of runway-to-retail is that its visible,” Kate Phelan, creative director at Topshop, told us as she talked us through the 32-piece edit – 60 per cent of which makes up autumn/winter 2016 and will be available to purchase immediately, while the remaining 40 per cent is pre spring/summer 2017 and will land in November. While a lot of brands’ concept of runway to retail entails making a small capsule collection available immediately, Topshop is going all the way. “Absolutely everything will go into production. We felt it was very important to follow through our message, that whatever we showed on the catwalk you could buy it and live it.”

This season the look was inspired by the montage artwork of Manchester-born punk pin-up Linda Sterling, which led Phelan and her team down the New Romantic road. “In the Eighties and mid-Nineties, vintage clothes were hugely important in creating your individual style and not many people were buying into whole designer looks. London was peppered with the most amazing vintage markets and you found the most incredible clothes, whether it was from Army Surplus or DMs or party dresses. You would have Punks and New Romantics and everybody all mixed up together so there wasn’t one tribe of fashion at all. That was a really important element of this collection. Then we decided to show at Spitalfields Market, bringing the idea of fashion and markets back to life again.”

Expect to see Eighties leather jackets, printed polyester high-waisted dresses, dropped shoulder knits, pyjama silks, peplum waists (“I’m into bringing back the waist and move on from these sloppy tracksuits we’ve been wearing!”), bandaged tulle dresses and a selection of seriously covetable jumpsuits, all with a pre-loved, rebellious spirit – think Debbie Harry on stage at Camden’s Electric Ballroom and the fans in the front row – and all, of course, available to snap up instantly.

While for some the move heralds unchartered territory, Topshop is realistically the best positioned brand on the schedule to give it a try. Giving the customer what they want immediately is, as Phelan said, Topshop’s DNA – “This is a natural evolution for the Unique line."

One of the biggest questions surrounding the model so far, is how will brands decide exactly what is available immediately? Production on a ready-to-wear collection is usually limited to around 30 per cent, and is based largely on the reaction of the press and the purse strings of the buyers. Adopting it wholeheartedly and making that decision before the world has digested a collection is a confident move, but one that Phelan thinks will restore more individuality back into the industry, putting the customer first again.

“What this proves is that we have to be ahead of the fashion game. We have to dig deep into our understanding of who our customer is, what she wants, when she wants it and park aside what the fashion industry is doing,” she explained. “It also puts to bed some of the assumptions that the high street is following fashion. I think it will breathe more individuality and you will feel that there is a more independent spirit to brands which is a positive thing.”

Phelan has convincing research that also backs the move up. “72 per cent of our customers are looking at Topshop on their mobile device,” she explained. “The consumption of imagery through a mobile is very important and I don’t think people are any longer wading through catwalk collections endlessly. They’re looking at blogs, Instagram and fashion in a different way. If they see a girl wearing a red dress, they want to go out and buy that red dress and they don’t understand that it’s a season, just that it’s a red dress.” Catwalk to clicks – if you will.

The move does bring into question the role of the show. Why have a show at all? Why not just promote the product through a big Instagram campaign and get that 72 per cent of customers spending straight away?

“It has always been really important to be a part of the British Fashion Week and as a big band, it’s important to be represented on the catwalk,” said Phelan. “We are that high-low brand that’s almost needed in London so that you’re not just seeing emerging designers and the dominance of big brands, but you’re seeing obtainable fashion.”

As an experienced fashion editor, Phelan not only appreciates the show, but knows the importance of coverage in monthly titles, and answered another big question surrounding the concept. “This collection was shown to the press a couple of months ago, so it was able to be seen to be shot for long-lead mags,” she explained.

On the whole, the common denominator between the brands opting to go 100 per cent see-now, buy now (the concept has picked up a rather more eloquent mantle of “runway to retail” in the last month or so) is that they are big enough to shoulder the risk involved. It’s something Phelan acknowledges, and also understands that the move is not right for everyone.

“It’s a bit of a gamble, but that’s okay. I think Topshop has broad enough shoulders to be able to absorb that gamble,” she said. "We are lucky that we can take those risks and try and experiment but I think there shouldn’t be an expectation that everyone needs to adapt this retail understanding. Big brands can do it, big retailers can do it, but not all designers can do it and shouldn’t be expected to do it. We also shouldn’t underestimate that their relationships with their buyers has been working to the demand of what their buyers are asking for. They’re all carving out successful businesses and we don’t want to put pressure on them to change that. Luxury brands, too, should retain their luxury status by holding some of that secret back, because if luxury continues to stay in that bracket of super expensive, they have to maintain some level of elitism.”

Practically speaking, Topshop is making moves towards seasonless collections, calling the collection shown in September the “September Collection”, like Burberry has opted to do, and the traditional autumn/winter collection the “February” collection, to reflect the current climate – and they might just be in the best place to do it.

Today, as the lights go up at Spitalfields, and the brand’s loyal front row look on, the windows at Topshop’s Oxford Circus flagship and the brand’s online platforms will simultaneously reveal the collection, and swing tags will be swinging. Let the games begin.

Johnny Be Good

Two collections down (one pre, one mainline), a reorganised design team and ideas blossoming from every direction, Mulberry creative director Johnny Coca is feeling good about his spring/summer 2017 collection, set to show at London Fashion Week this afternoon.

“I’m very excited,” he said in relaxed, humble tones when we met him earlier this week to get a preview of what he is set to show today. “The first season was intense because to organise and understand the structure of everybody takes time, so this season I’m more confident. I think we are coming with something new and fresh and different to the first collection.”

What a difference 18 months makes. At the start of March 2015, the luxury British brand was without a CEO, had yet to appoint a creative director, and the most recent headlines were regarding its ill-fated price increase under former CEO Bruno Guillon and its absence from the London Fashion Week schedule. Fast forward to September 2016 and the house has the buzz about it that it did in the early 2010s, now that the Coca effect has started to take hold.

Speaking with the Seville-born, Paris-London native, he is every bit as energised that the brand’s new vibe suggests. Following his autumn/winter 2016 debut for the house in February, the praise was palpable, which, despite his stellar credentials and respected track record, Coca admitted to finding a revelation.

“I was surprised about the reaction from the press because it was my first collection,” he smiled, acknowledging, modestly, that the feedback was globally positive. “People were saying it’s cool and strong. They never expected this attitude and look to come from Mulberry and to see that it was very British, but at the same time different. I think it was important to make a statement from the beginning, but I was surprised to see that the press wanted to do a lot of shooting and editorial straight away. It was great to please everybody.”

The British sensibility of Mulberry is something that Coca talks about with passion – clearly he sees mixing these traditional influences with a fresh outlook as being pivotal to the brand’s success. Being fresh at the brand himself right now, he is in the advantaged position of being able to remember his impression of Mulberry as an outsider and use it to his advantage.

“From the outside for me it was a very classic brand with a very strong knowledge of the craft of leather goods with recognisable shapes, but not really part of fashion,” he explained, noting that while he wants to offer updated alternatives for popular silhouettes, such as the Bayswater and the Alexa, he “understands and respects” that certain customers will always want the original. “Now, I am trying to create a global consistency throughout all of the categories to form a global mood of Mulberry in order to give a strong attitude and personality to the name. To be honest, it’s not often you see a brand strong on leather goods that is so popular. It’s funny to see so many Mulberry bags on the street – people are really proud. What’s nice is to push it a little, to open their eyes, to show them what it can go with.”

Understanding his customer is something that Coca talks of a lot, as is communication and honesty which, reports would suggest were missing from the most recent senior management/ creative director relationships at the house. Luckily for modern-day Mulberry, the relationships between Coca and his team, not to mention the rather heartwarming monthly meet-ups with current chief executive officer Thierry Andretta - sound more like a close-knit group of friends, as opposed to the stereotypical team dynamic within a major fashion house.

“To have success it’s not only one person, it’s done by a team. I need to be close to the people that work for me and I need to know that they are okay. If there is a problem, I say to Thierry, ‘Can we solve it? Because it’s not cool, and I don’t like it when people are sad.’ In fashion, you have to be playful and enjoy what you do. It can be intense, so we need to make sure that people are happy when they come to the office,” he explained.

“Thierry is someone I can talk to,” he went on. “Each week we have a dinner so we can expose every issue and find a solution. It’s like when you are family, or married, or whatever, it’s nice to have a dinner somewhere nice and a moment to reposition. We are very close and it’s really good to be able to make quick discussions. Not to be scary, just to be honest and talk.”

One thing that the pair have had to reposition is the pricing at Mulberry. When cost price was increased on Guillion’s watch, the company - and critique of the brand - did not fare well. Coca explains that he takes it as a personal responsibility to create collections that won’t just garner positive reviews, but ones that will do what they’re meant to do: sell.
Mulberry Autumn/Winter 2016 Ready-To-Wear

“It’s important to make sure, in terms of collection, that we are covering the need of the people, and we want to be very careful about the pricing,” he said. “I am very involved with the factory in terms of pricing. I know exactly what the cost of all my product is for the show. It’s really important not to design product too expensive because our target is everybody, young and old. It can’t be unobtainable. I think people need an easy cool bag for day that’s accessible and good value and we have to offer that to our clients. For spring/summer 2017 we are working on the pricing more. The first season we were learning. Now we are stronger with the pricing and the next one will be well controlled. We can design something cool, but it then might be too expensive, so if we are going to spend time designing, we then have to make sure that people are going to be able to buy it.”

As for the results, December will reveal all, but a year-and-a-half into his tenure, that’s all a part of Coca’s plan. Refreshingly, as the revolving fashion doors continue to rotate, he has a long-game approach.

“I will say, to see the results properly in terms of sales, it takes a year-and-a-half to start to understand, and you really consolidate in three years,” he said when asked how long it takes a designer to hit their stride. “You design, then it has to go to production, then it has to be delivered, so now I’m here a year and the product just more or less arrived. We have to wait to see what the reaction will be.”

Despite a short reign as the face of a major brand, Coca’s outlook and understanding of the industry could only come from someone who has been waiting in the wings for years. Successful stints at Celine (which saw him create the most financially successful bags for years) as well as Bally and Louis Vuitton proved his pedigree and as a result he is pragmatic when it comes to his role with the brand.

“It’s important to be careful, because I’m not here for myself. I’m here to make sure I make the brand a success and profitable,” he said. “It’s my job, I’m not just here to show my face, I don’t have an ego, I want to work and make sure that people are happy and that we can spend more for the next year because we are selling better!”

In terms of the qualities that it takes to be a creative director in the current climate, Coca is transparent: you need “to have a strong flexibility”, “to guarantee everything works well”, “to be clear with your vision” and to “give a sense of everything to everybody” – even if he admits to being a little surprised, when he started, with the amount of meetings it entails. In classic uncomplaining Coca tones, even this small snag is a positive: “It’s important to take time with the people, because you can’t say to someone something is bad if you never take time with them to explain. It doesn’t have to be long, but it’s good to share ideas and concepts. Sometimes there is frustration, but when you are the creative director there is also freedom.”

But, as any seasoned creative director knows, they’re judged on their last show. So what does today hold in store?

“It’s going to give something quite emotional,” he revealed. “I wanted it to be less heavy than last season in terms of architecture. I wanted something more poetic and romantic, but I like the opposition for something strong with something soft, so I was looking at all the clothing from rockers and students.” Coca looked to Cambridge and Oxford, studying the studious striped blazers and oft-shrunken sizing of academic wear. “If you look, they are always wearing these blazers with stripes – I love it!” he enthused. “It was funny to look at the proportions, so I took that as inspiration.”

He’s also incorporating a warm-weather counter to his winter florals, sighting paisley print as a major component. “I love flowers. This season they are in line with what people love in the UK and reference the culture of the British garden. I was interested to explore what type of print I wanted to use. The first season it was roses, but this time it’s more light and colourful and I looked at how to play with floral prints on fabrics with movement, so there is more flou.”

“It’s a lightweight version of the last show – it’s more feminine and it’s easy to wear. It’s not complicated with lots of layers. I wanted lots of skirts and dresses and jackets – to cover, more or less, what women want in their summer wardrobes,” he continued of the 37-look collection, explaining his reasoning for his edit. “There is showing, but then there’s selling,” he laughed. “We have found a good number. There’s no point doing a lot just to say we do a lot. I could make 100 looks but the message and direction need to be really clear.”

The message, of course, has a heavy focus on footwear (what less would you expect from a man who has designed shoes for seven years?) and Coca’s face lights up when talking about them. “The shoes are very special – lots of mid heels at 70 mm but the shape of the heel is special and related to the outfit.” Not forgetting the all-important Mulberry bags. “There are of course a lot of bags! I don’t like to have one bag throughout the show, as the shape doesn’t always support the style. I went through the classic Mulberrys this season and revamped and reworked.”

Top tip for today? We’re told that there’s a small bag, a little like a child’s packed-lunch box with pockets and handles that Coca predicts will stand out to the press because it’s “so visual and graphic”. As for the rest of the show?

“For me the show is like a moment,” he said contemplatively. “Throughout the year, we have time to give people what they need, whereas this is the time to explore the emotion and bring something unexpected.”

That’s Johnny Coca. Something unexpected you never knew was so good.

LFW: Theresa May's Warm Welcome

Theresa May welcomed the British fashion industry to Number 10 Downing Street last night, ahead of the first London Fashion Week under her premiership kicking off today. At the reception, May told guests of the high esteem in which she holds the industry.

“British fashion is of huge importance to our country, contributing £28 billion to the UK economy and supporting nearly 900,000 jobs," she told guests, who included Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, British Fashion Council chairman Natalie Massenet, and previous BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund winners. "I was delighted to welcome representatives from across the industry to Downing Street ahead of London Fashion Week - which is one of the biggest and most influential fashion events in the world."

In addition to editors, executives and designers, May also invited apprentices, scholarship winners and graduate trainees who are carving out a fashion career.

"From our home-grown start-ups to international fashion houses – every business in the industry will play a major role in ensuring we make a success of Brexit," she said. "By taking advantage of the opportunities that leaving the EU gives us and playing to our strengths as a great trading nation - we can build a fairer economy that works for all, not just the privileged few."

"The Government I lead will do everything we can, including providing the right investment in training and skills, to help everyone, whatever people’s backgrounds, to go as far as their talents can take them," May said. “I am proud to say that our British fashion industry is a global leader in trade, creativity and innovation. The value of UK fashion exports was £5.8 billion in 2015 with British brands such as Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Sophia Webster in demand by international markets including the USA, Japan, France and Italy."

May - who took office in July after David Cameron's resignation following the EU Referendum, which saw the UK vote to leave the European Union - offered reassuring words to those who might be concerned about the effect Britain's departure might have on elements of their businesses.

May's words echo those of the BFC's CEO Caroline Rush, who said yesterday that "we have a point to prove to our guests that the vote to leave the EU doesn't mean we're going to end our international

"This is the first international event on our shores since the EU vote and it's definitely sparked a lot of interest from all over the world," Rush continued. "People want to know if London feels different. We need to send them a clear message that London is open to outsiders and the UK is a place of business opportunity."

Today, the BFC launched its #LondonIsOpen campaign, supported by London mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan reiterated May and Rush's optimism about the British fashion industry as it embarks on its spring/summer 2017 - and in see-now, buy-now cases autumn/winter 2016 - showcase.

"London Fashion Week begins today, showing that London is open to the world and is an international leader of creativity and entrepreneurship," said Khan. "There’s a fantastic range of designers and talent on the schedule this season, highlighting the very best the industry has to offer – from big brands to independent retailers, the London fashion scene has never been more diverse."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why Kane Wants To Dress Clinton

Christopher Kane has revealed that he would like to see presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wearing his designs.

"She's good with colour," he told the Evening Standard, adding that he would like to see her in one of his "Lurex twinsets with a classic trouser and a nice heel". In the interview, the Scottish designer laid bare his hopes that the former first lady will pip her controversial rival, Donald Trump, to the post come the elections in November.

"I hope Hillary wins," he said. "She's a grafter and will meditate on things. Trump will just press the button."

Kane, who is prepping to show his spring/summer 2017 collection at London Fashion Week on Monday, also revealed his thoughts on the growing presence of social media in the fashion industry, lamenting the lack of privacy it affords.

"Fashion has become more accessible and that's great, but it can also be destructive. I think it's good to have a bit of mystery," he said. "Growing up I loved Gianni and Donatella and Helmut Lang, but I didn't know where they were going on holiday or who they were sleeping with."

Gigi New York's Legal Warning To Tommy Hilfiger

Off the back of Tommy Hilfiger's star-studded, fairground-themed extravaganza in New York last week, the fashion house is facing the potential of legal action from a fellow American brand.

Leather goods label Gigi New York has issued a cease and desist letter over the Tommy X GiGi collection - the brand's collaboration with Gigi Hadid, which debuted on the runway last week. It became available to buy immediately following the show as part of Tommy Hilfiger's move to see-now, buy-now.

"GiGi New York issued a cease and desist order to Tommy Hilfiger last week after discovering the misuse of its mark on product and in marketing of handbags in Tommy Hilfiger's autumn/winter 2016 collection," a statement released by Gigi New York asserted. "Recognising the obvious potential for consumer confusion, GiGi New York requested that Tommy Hilfiger cease and desist its misuse and work in partnership to prevent consumer confusion based on the misuse."

Revealing where the alleged issue lies in Hadid's collaborative collection, it continued, "GiGi New York's mark utilises a unique upper and lower case treatment that Tommy Hilfiger has copied, causing additional consumer confusion, despite this typographical treatment having no history of use by its spokesperson, Gigi Hadid."

"Tommy Hilfiger has notified GiGi New York that they do not intend to recognise their rights in GiGi's trademarked logo and are not concerned about the consumer confusion engendered by their misuse," the statement read.

The handbag brand claims to have had common law property rights since 2010 and to "own federal trademarks for its 'GIGI' family of marks. Similar trademarks are held throughout Europe, and GiGi New York is positioned to defend them on both continents." Tommy Hilfiger has been contacted for comment.

Zandra Rhodes Creates Archive Collection

Zandra Rhodes has unveiled her archive-inspired exclusive collaboration with today and, as expected, it is as fabulous as the designer herself. Paying homage to 10 of her most famous dresses, which were worn in their heyday by everyone from rock stars to royalty, their 2016 reincarnations offer a luxurious reminder of the women that wore them first.

"The Zandra Archive Collection resonates with our customers as they appreciate Zandra’s importance in fashion history and recognise that these pieces were worn by many iconic women in the past," Natalie Kingham,'s buying director told us. Here, the woman herself tells us how the collaboration came about.

How did it feel to revisit your own archive?

I've archived nearly every piece from every collection I've done, I have them around me all the time in my London atelier, they are all like my children in a way. Working with the stylist Grace Woodward on this made looking back at my work feel different, her enthusiasm and modern take inspired me to look again, it didn't feel contrived. We've worked together on the whole collection, people wearing my clothes, bringing their own energy to them has always given a huge amount of inspiration. This is why all the pieces in my collection are named after women who have been pivotal to my career - Princess Diana, Diana Ross, Diana Vreeland - who made me in a way. There are so many amazing women imbued in my work.

Is this something you’ve wanted to do for some time?

I've talked about it a few times with some great people but it just never felt progressive before as it does now. I have exactly the right team in place to do it to our best ability, this - partnered with and their digital trunk shows - has allowed me to do the bits I love best about my work and allows me to work at a pace that is respectful to my atelier, my craft and the environment.

Why did now feel like the right time to recreate?

Even though I print in a very traditional way, I feel technology makes the whole thing feel different. For me it feels fresher, not just doing the same old, selling the same clothes in the same way. The Bohemian vibe seems to be the look that's now established as beyond a micro trend and I just kept seeing things that reminded me of my work everywhere. Because I translate my creativity through print, ultimately clothes are my canvas. I've always wanted people to think they were buying into a piece of wearable art. Now, I see my pieces at auction or on specific collectors sites like 1stDibs, as with art I felt like doing editions were right for my work specifically.

Which archive piece is your favourite?

It wasn't easy to choose just the 10, there's enough for quite a few of these collections if I'm honest. One of my favourite prints though is Star Wars, which features on the skirt of the Frida Dress, with a Mexican collection circular print on the top. I think mixing my prints and how they are placed on the body is what makes my work uniquely mine. The Diana Dress is very special as it's such a limited edition. There has only been one before now, as it was a collaboration with the Princess and myself, that one is on permanent display at Kensington Palace in the Style Rules Redefined exhibition. We've altered the shade of cherry-blossom pink slightly in respect for the original, but it feels meaningful to be able to not only celebrate such a great woman but an amazing time in my career.

What is your personal favourite fashion era?

As a designer, I look backwards and forwards for inspiration. My aim is always to create something that is unique to my signature, I've designed what myself and my muses want to wear at that time. As a creative, I read everything that's going on and translate it in the only way I know how, being Zandra Rhodes! I can't really choose, that's like saying what's your favourite record or piece of art, so many amazing things happened to me in the decades we cover in the Archive Collection. All my favourite things are covered in there.

The Summer DressWhite silk-chiffon, originally made in 1977 and worn by Donna Summer for her Once Upon A Time video in 1977.

The Frilly Circle DressWhite silk-chiffon, originally from 1984, shot by Barry Lategan for Vogue in 1974.

The Cleveland DressSunray pleated gold lamé, originally from 1977, and worn by Pat Cleveland to Studio 54 in 1977.

The Knitted Circle DressBlack silk-chiffon, originally from 1969, and worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue in 1970.

The Manhattan DressBlack silk-chiffon.

The Manhattan DressRed silk-chiffon.

The Grace DressBlack silk-chiffon, worn by Grace Coddington when shot by Guy Bourdin for Vogue in 1971.

The Grace DressBlack silk-chiffon, worn by Grace Coddington when shot by Guy Bourdin for Vogue in 1971.

The Frida DressDusky-pink silk-chiffon, originally from 1976.

The Diana DressCherry-blossom silk-chiffon, worn by Princess Diana on her tour of Japan in 1986.

Chanel Returns To The Ritz

Chanel’s 2016 Metiers D'Art show will be held at The Ritz Hotel, Paris, this December, the brand confirmed this morning.

The announcement highlights the long-established link between the illustrious hotel - which reopened in June after a four-year renovation - and the French fashion house, whose founder, Coco Chanel, famously made the hotel her home for over 30 years. The second-floor, 2024 sq m suite in which she stayed, that boasts views over the Place Vendôme, bears her name to this day.

The fashion house is famous for using its December extravaganza to relate back to key eras and defining moments of the house's history. Last year, it took over the iconic Cinecittà film studios in Rome and created a black-and-white Parisian square for the models to stroll around, inviting attendees to become a part of the set.

"These shows have indeed evolved and are now becoming a key moment for us in terms of expressing our core values of creativity and craftsmanship, but also in terms of business development and strategy," Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel's CEO, told us at the time. "These collections are momentous for us as they not only honour our know-how but also the relationship that Mademoiselle Chanel had personally with these specific locations, or the importance this city has for us and our future development."

Tamara Mellon Sues Jimmy Choo

Tamara Mellon has filed a lawsuit against Jimmy Choo, the company that she co-founded in the mid-Nineties.

In the civil suit, she alleges that her former employer “set out to punish her by effectively helping themselves to an indefinite ‘extension’ of the one year non-compete provision,” after she launched her own brand, reports People.

The complaint, which was made in a New York state court last week, claims that Jimmy Choo threatened to remove its business from shoe manufacturers if they worked with Mellon or any brand affiliated with her, The Business of Fashion reported. The designer - who left the label in 2011 and insists that she adhered to a one-year non-compete agreement before starting her own business in 2013 - asserted that this resulted in these footwear factories boycotting her new brand.

Tamara Mellon Brand LLC filed for bankruptcy at the end of last year which, according to Mellon, was due to Jimmy Choo's interference. In January, she emerged from a 60-day period of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, putting her label back on the fashion landscape.

Speaking to us this morning, a representative for Jimmy Choo said: "This case is without merit and will be vigorously contested.” Tamara Mellon has been contacted for comment.

H&M And Kenzo's Diversely Different Reveal

Few collaborations evoke such speculation and hype as H&M’s designer partnerships, the yearly high-street, high-end mash-up that has well and truly earned its place on the fashion calendar.

This year has seen Kenzo’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon embark on the challenge – the fruits of which are almost ready to be unveiled to the public - and it seems that they were both clear on what the focus of their collection should be from the start.

“It’s very, very diverse,” Lim revealed to us, at an intimate launch dinner on the candlelit rooftop of Kenzo’s Parisian headquarters - as Lim described, she and Leon wanted to “create a once in a life time experience” for their guests. That they did - Massimo Bottura, the renowned 3-Michelin star chef behind Rome’s Osteria Francescana (2016’s number one restaurant in the world), was flown in to cater a sumptuous 10-course feast.

“We could have gone down the safe route in terms of models and fashion photographers, but we really wanted something different, as a way of talking about something that’s important to us and the house,” she continued. “When you think you’ve pushed the boundaries, you have to push it five steps further, because the truth is that people get scared - and that’s a good thing, that’s when people take risks.”

Aprecedent set by Olivier Rousteing enlisting his Balmain Army of the It models of the moment - Jourdan, Kendall, Gigi – to show off his designs last year, the excitement surrounding who will front the campaign has been just as great as the revelation of the clothes themselves. Fortunate then, that Lim and Leon had something special in mind when it came to who to recruit.

Models Iman Abdulmajid and Chloe Sevigny; musician and composer Riyuchi Sakamoto; actress Rosario Dawson; activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, rapper Suboi; and hip-hop artist Chance The Rapper form the line-up of the campaign’s very familiar – and strikingly different – ambassadors, who were shot by French graphic designer and photographer Jean Paul Goude.

“The list of people in the campaign, it’s incredible - people who stand for more than just what meets the eye. So having these seven people who represent a span of things in their own lives to us feels really deep and meaningful,” Lim told us. “That’s what the campaign is about. When you see the collection on a range of our subjects, they look killer. Just wait until you see Iman,” she enthused. “I mean she’s in her sixties and she makes us all look like we should just go home. She is inspiring. The way she carries herself is amazing.”

For two of the most recognisable faces of the collaboration, the decision to take part was not only an easy one to make, but was also fuelled by nostalgia, given the histories they share with the brand.

“You know I haven’t modelled since 1989? I sometimes do things I like, but I really don’t model,” Iman disclosed (looking - just as Lim pre-empted - "killer" in a navy two-piece from the collection). “But when I was asked to do this, it was natural for me. And also to see what they’ve done with Kenzo, because they’ve really kept the legacy and heritage of the brand.”

Of her lasting relationship with the fashion house, the Somalian supermodel confessed that the infamy reached by the Kenzo campaigns she shot with Hans Feurer in the early Eighties – few would fail to recognise the images of her shrouded in cloth against the dramatic landscape of the North African plains - was unexpected.

“In a million years, I never thought that those campaigns would become such classic campaigns that would last,” she said. “You know, people are still sharing those pictures on social media. Those and Yves Saint Laurent’s are the ones that really became iconic.”

For Sevigny, who modelled Lim and Leon’s debut collection for Kenzo in 2011 (though her friendship with the duo far preceded this), her agreement was driven by similarly sentimental factors.

“With this decision it came pretty naturally,” she said, dressed in an eye-catching number from the range. “I’ve worked with H&M before and when they approached me again, obviously my relationship with Carol and Humberto encouraged my response and then I heard what they wanted to do and the people coming together – the talents, the ages, the different ethnicities - it’s such a nice throwback. But it also felt very new and a fun thing to be a part of.”

Contrary to the old adage that all good things must come to an end, in the case of H&M’s designer collaborations, each year seems to go from strength to strength - from the very first one with Karl Lagerfeld in 2004 to the Balmainia that ensued following Rousteing’s collection last year. Does the brand predict a point that the interest will start to wane?

“To be honest I thought it was a one off,” H&M’s creative director, Ann-Sofie Johansson, admitted of the first designer collaboration they did with Lagerfeld over 10 years ago. “We wanted to do something special for Christmas. So that’s why it came about, but then it became such a huge success that we thought well maybe we should do it one more time and it just kept going. There have always been designers that we want to collaborate with and there are a still a few out there.”

“It’s not anything new any longer,” she continued. “A lot of brands are doing collaborations now but, at the same time, we think as long as our customers like them, then we’ll continue to do them.”

Keeping it fresh and relevant is the winning formula, she believes, to the continued success, as is identifying “what is special about each brand, because all of them have strong visions and we have to listen and take those in”. Not letting the secret out, on the other hand, has proved less straightforward, but is vital to building the buzz ahead of each announcement.

“We have to release it earlier and earlier each year in case it leaks,” Johansson sighed, adamant that she doesn’t tell anybody (family included) before the news is made public. “People are very loyal though. Everybody likes that it’s a secret, it’s like a game!”

So did this year’s design duo feel any pressure in following the Balmainia of last?

“We love Olivier - we’re friends with him and he’s amazing, but this is completely different,” said Lim. “That’s what’s great about H&M, they’re so strategic about who they pick. They never do anything similar, which gives their customers a really wide experience. It’s exciting.”

It's true. The process of choosing, and keeping secret, the brands each year is clearly meticulous, though Johansson’s seemingly infinitely sunny disposition gives none of this away.

“We have a wish list of names that are going around and we always say that it has to be a brand or designer that we really admire, of course, and that the timing has to be right,” she revealed about how the decision is made. “I think after Balmain, which was really glamorous and sexy, we wanted to have something a little bit different. There’s a lot of energy in the Kenzo collection, but it’s also easy-going, a bit of mix and match. We wanted to have that feeling. This is a bit younger at heart too, street-wearish, which makes it fun and playful.”

The verdicts from the ambassadors, following a thorough dissection in between courses, were similarly positive.

“The prints are prints I knew years ago, but they’ve modernised it and I am very impressed,” Iman declared, particularly enthralled by the “reversibility” of some items. “I mean, it’ll be fantastic for the women that want to be part of this heritage. The attention to detail, the fabrication and the colours, everything. It’s truly Kenzo.”

Returning to the heart of what this year’s collaboration is all about – and proving why this partnership was a natural fit - diversity was a theme also championed by Johansson as being of vital importance to her brand, placing it in context of the fashion industry as a whole.

“Kenzo is about global diversity and embracing different cultures. I love that. H&M is about diversity too, so it fits really well. We like to be including, not to intimidate people. That is what H&M should be about. And fashion in general. It should be for everyone who wants a piece of it,” she concluded.