Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Price of Transparency

Candice Wang may live in Shanghai, but she rarely shops there. Instead, when the 27-year-old fashion writer travels to Europe and Japan each year for work, she tacks on an extra week of holiday with the intention of replenishing her wardrobe. “I like travelling abroad because there are more choices,” Wang said.

But even as the selection of brands available in China broadens, there is another major factor driving Wang’s decision to do much of her shopping abroad. “I find some things in Shanghai, but the price is too high including tax,” she said. “I’d rather buy them abroad and ship them back to China.” Wang certainly isn’t alone. Exane BNP Paribas estimates that travellers account for about 50 percent of global luxury goods sales.

Of course, the Internet has made it easier than ever to comparison shop across every region of the world and find the best prices. “They’re shopping with a smartphone and receiving the information in symmetry,” said David Zhao, founder and chief executive of Chinese multi-brand e-commerce site Shangpin, which sells labels like Alexander Wang and Stuart Weitzman. “People don’t want to be treated as idiots.”

On Louis Vuitton’s e-commerce site, simply clicking on the “change location” button quickly reveals how the same item is priced differently in different markets. Vuitton’s monogrammed Speedy 30 bag retails for €760 in France, or about $854 at current exchange rates. In the United Kingdom, the price is about the same: $863. But the further one travels from Europe, the pricier the bag becomes. In the United States, the price is $970, a 12 percent markup. In Japan, it’s $1,046, a 21 percent hike. In China, it’s $1,138, or 32 percent more expensive. In Brazil, the same Speedy 30 costs a whopping 53 percent more at $1,322.

Meanwhile, Bottega Veneta’s classic intrecciato shoulder bag costs $2,550 in the United States, $2,600 in Europe, $2,936 in Hong Kong and $3,073 in Japan. Not as wide a range, but enough to make a difference to price-conscious consumers.

Global transparency of prices is an industry game changer. Massive tourist dollars moving from one continent to another, just for bargaining in luxury, means that 2016 has been an earthquake, pricing-wise.

Exchange rates — in particular, a weak euro and a weak yen — have made pricing differences between some regions even more pronounced. But currency fluctuation is only one of the factors at play here. Local taxes play a major role — especially in China and Brazil, where imports valued up to $3,000 are slapped with a tax of 60 percent. What’s more, some brands have traditionally charged higher prices in international markets where they believe consumers will pay.

There can often be as much as a 60 to 70 percent pricing delta from Europe to China, according to consulting firm Bain & Co. “Global transparency of prices is an industry game changer,” said Federica Levato, a partner at Bain. “Massive tourist dollars moving from one continent to another, just for bargaining in luxury, means that 2016 has been an earthquake, pricing-wise.”

Of course, there is emotional value to shopping away from home. While the strength of the American dollar has made it slightly less attractive for those in Mexico, for instance, to cross the border for shopping trips, there is still a sense of pride that comes with buying something in the US. “Plus, if you go to Liverpool [department store] in Mexico City, you just can’t compare the experience to something like Barneys,” said Fflur Roberts, an analyst at Euromonitor International. “Shopping abroad will always be aspirational. It’s far more attractive for someone who lives in Mexico City to fly to New York and shop on Fifth Avenue, regardless of what they can buy at home.”

Prices of Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 Bag Around the World (USD)

The pull is even stronger in Europe, home to many top luxury brands. “It’s authenticity, it’s experience, it’s the fact that if I buy a handbag for my sister at Chanel in Paris, that’s worth a lot more than having bought it in China,” said Philip Guarino, director at China Luxury Advisors. Shoppers in emerging markets also feel like they’re being sidelined when it comes to product selection. “People will say that they’re convinced there is more variety elsewhere than what’s presented on the shelves in China,” Guarino adds.However, price plays a major role.

In China alone, 81 percent of consumers planning a holiday abroad intend to shop while vacationing, according to a recent report released by Global Blue, a tax-free shopping company, which tracked 27 million tax-free shopping transactions and surveyed 5,000 Chinese travellers for the study. To be sure, a significant slice of sales to travellers — about 12 to 13 percent — happen at duty-free shops at airport malls. But buying abroad is increasingly linked to underlying price differences across regions.

“In the past five or 10 years, many brands have consistently increased the prices in their product offering. An iconic bag can cost more than 2.5 times what it cost 10 years ago,” Levato explained. “This is very visible to the customer because the iconic bags don’t change. By shopping in a more affordable market, the consumer can see that they’re getting a little bit more value for what they buy. It’s a key point.”

Indeed, for those eager to pay less for luxury goods, the difference in price between shopping in Europe and shopping at home can easily offset the cost of a flight and a few nights in a hotel (especially when factoring in value added tax (VAT) return, which can range from 17 percent to 27 percent).

Then there are those who turn to grey market shopping agents, known in China as daigou, who procure goods from abroad at lower prices. These agents charge a fee, of course, but the price difference is great enough for the transaction to be worthwhile for  both parties. Daigou accounted for $7.6 billion in sales in 2015, according to Bain.

For luxury brands, the impact of increased pricing transparency can carry financial burden. For the past decade, major luxury players — including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Zegna — have opened dozens of stores in local markets like Brazil and Russia. But nowhere so aggressively as China, where new wealth creation has driven impressive demand for luxury brands in recent years, making it a key market. Mainland China is home to 890,000 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) — up from 760,000 the previous year — with a combined wealth of $4.5 trillion, according to Capgemini’s 2015 World Wealth Report.

But the sheer number of Chinese consumers now shopping abroad has forced many major luxury brands to reconsider their local retail networks. According to a report from Bain, Louis Vuitton closed four stores in China in 2015, and opened one. Zegna closed four stores and opened zero. Gucci closed five stores and opened one. Burberry closed two and opened zero. Bottega Veneta closed six and opened two.

They’re shopping with a smartphone and receiving the information in symmetry. People don’t want to be treated as idiots.

The Chinese government’s crackdown on gifting, which began in 2013, has also contributed to the woes. What’s more, it’s extremely expensive to operate stores in China. “In China, retail rents are very high, which means [brands] need to keep enough of a markup to offset the costs of renting,” Shangpin’s Zhao explained. “They need to think about lifetime growth, and whether bringing a brand into a new country will [eventually] result in a return on investment. It’s a difficult decision to make.”

And yet, tapping international markets is vital to the health of luxury brands, which can’t rely on Europe’s more affordable prices to make up for losses abroad. While many makers of luxury goods were buoyed by European tourism, consumption has slowed in the first half of 2016, in part because of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium. Indeed, Global Blue reported that Chinese tax—free shopping dropped in March 2016, falling 24 percent from the previous year.

There’s more. In April 2016, the Chinese government increased fees on packages shipped from abroad, and vowed to tighten custom controls so that those working in the grey market will have a more difficult time bringing large quantities of luxury goods into the country. For instance, tariffs on watches ordered from overseas businesses jumped to 60 percent, up from 30 percent. Jewellery taxes rose to 15 percent from 10 percent. New laws have also made it more difficult for those travelling abroad to withdraw large wads of cash with their UnionPay cards. While the lines of Chinese tourists gripping euros outside Louis Vuitton in Paris are unlikely to disappear completely, how much cash they’re holding may decrease. Starting in January 2016, the annual UnionPay limit on cash withdrawals abroad was reduced to 100,000 yuan (about $15,328).

So how are brands adapting?

Some are harmonising their global pricing. In 2015, Chanel announced that it would adjust its prices to make them even across markets, enticing consumers to shop locally. Chanel’s quilted flap bag, for instance, costs $4,800 euros in Paris at current exchange rates, $4,900 in New York and $4,567 in Beijing. “Last year, in 2015, we did something really strong for our customers. We harmonised our prices everywhere in the world except in Brazil — for customs reasons — but we did that in China. That’s important because that’s a very strong sign we give to the customers. We are building the brand for the next 20 years, not for the past 20 years,” Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, told BoF on a recent trip to China. “At the moment we’re quite happy with China. With double-digit growth, our customer base is growing, our boutique business is growing, and I think that the brand is quite well perceived by the Chinese customers.”

Others take a more straightforward approach. For example, Hermès says it will not adjust prices so that they are even in every markets. However, the company does not raise prices in markets where it believes consumers will pay more, either. “We don’t have a strategy of price; we don’t use pricing as a marketing tool,” Hermès chief executive Axel Dumas told BoF in November 2015. “Our price reflects the cost of production, the manufacturing costs. It’s important that the price reflects the reality… We are not proposing a new country where we invest a lot and discount the other one. We always try to have a balanced way of investing.”

“If you price a collection with an Excel spreadsheet only looking about spread and the currency exchange, you’re never going to be successful because the consumer is going to be dragged by that,” said Yves Saint Laurent chief executive Francesca Bellettini in an exclusive interview with BoF in April. “What I believe is that first of all you need to price your collection relevant for the market and with the perfect balance of value for money. Consumers don’t want to be fooled around anymore. There is always going to be exchange rates and there is always going to be travelling. There is also a consumer that likes to bargain when they travel, by culture and by definition. So given that places are different, a little bit of spread is healthy.”

For some brands — especially accessible luxury brands, like Tory Burch — who operate in still-new markets like China with local franchise partners, controlling prices is much more difficult. “It’s easier for someone like Chanel to balance prices because they directly own their stores,” Zhao said. “They control everything.” As a wholesale partner to many aspirational and high-end brands, Zhao works with his Western counterparts to offer more reasonable prices via Shangpin, whose customer base shops 82 percent of the time on mobile.

But for those who harmonise prices across the world, how often should it happen? Once yearly, twice yearly, once a week or day-by-day, like the price of oil? For luxury brands that operate through their own channels with zero wholesale or franchise partners, this isn’t out of the question. Eschewing physical price tags — either by forcing the consumer to interact with the sales associate or installing a price-check kiosk in each outpost — would allow for dynamic pricing, although it wouldn’t necessarily fix things. Says Levato, “There is no secret recipe that will work for every brand.”

Has Cara Topped Kate As Britain’s Highest Earning Model?

Cara Delevingne might have retired from modelling to pursue a career on the silver screen, but she has topped a new estimated list of Britain’s highest-earning models thanks to continued lucrative work with Chanel, Rimmel and Puma.

The 24-year-old model, who hung up her runway stilettos in 2015, reportedly earned £8 million last year, according to a recent survey, which looked at catwalk day rates and commercial deals. If the statistics are true, it will mean that Cara Delevingne not only earns roughly £22,000 a day, she has taken the crown from Kate Moss, who is said to have earned £5m in the last year.

While Kate Moss has profitable contracts with Equipment and Rimmel, she lacks the social media influence of Cara Delevingne. The model-turned-actress has over 40 million Instagram followers, which is a powerful incentive for brands looking to push products to a larger audience, particularly the Instagram generation. Moss joined the platform in September 2016 via her modelling agency, and has 630,000 followers, in comparison.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is also a keen social user with 7.6m Instagram followers, allegedly beats Moss, with an estimated £6.5 million in annual earnings. The new mother, who welcomed her first baby, Jack Oscar, with fiancé Jason Statham last month, continues to enjoy a fruitful lingerie design contract with Marks & Spencer’s Rosie For Autograph line, and Autograph make-up.

David Gandy, the only male model in the new list, comes in fourth place, with a reported annual salary of £4 million, thanks to contracts with Marks & Spencer underwear and Dolce & Gabbana fragrance.

If the study is accurate, fifth place is awarded to Naomi Campbell with an annual salary of £3 million. Georgia May Jagger, Edie Campbell, Jourdan Dunn, Erin O’Connor and Lottie Moss follow, respectively.

First Look At The New Helmut Lang

SOME things you need to know about Helmut Lang: this man exerted total control over fashion in the Nineties. He was one of the first designers to embrace the internet, broadcasting his new show online in 1998. He was responsible for New York Fashion Week moving from the end of the month-long fashion show schedule to the beginning. He was obsessively attentive to detail. He ushered in a decade of minimalism. A generation of fashion editors grew up aspiring to own a black Helmut Lang suit and gold-tipped shoes. Then, in 2005, he quit.

Helmut Lang the man now lives as an artist in East Hampton. Helmut Lang the brand, however, is about to get a serious reboot. At its helm is Dazed and Confused’s editor-in-chief Isabella Burley, operating under the title “editor-in-residence”. Burley, the chief executive Andrew Rosen outlined in March, will oversee all creative aspects of the brand, and will sign up individual designers to work on solo collections, beginning with Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air.

Sounds like a strange set-up? Burley spoke exclusively to Vogue on Wednesday as phase one of the Helmut Lang relaunch got underway. Here are five things to note:

The original Helmut Lang logo is making a comeback

“The typographic language around the entire brand was crucial to the approach. One of the first things I wanted to do was bring back the logo, given that we’re trying to ignite the spirit of the past. I want Helmut Lang to be an authority on Helmut Lang.”

Key “heritage” pieces from the archive are being re-released from September

“There are a lot of people who really want to fall back in love with Helmut Lang. The intention is to celebrate those great archival pieces, reignite the conversation, and introduce Helmut Lang to a new generation of kids so that they can respond to the legacy in their own way. The in-house design team and the creative team that I lead were in constant dialogue about the items to be re-released. We really wanted it to be gender-fluid, unisex pieces. ‘Volume 1’, comprising 15 pieces to be released in September, is a base, and then we will have additional volumes updated every four months as an evolving investigation into the archive. We want to keep it surprising.”

Shayne Oliver’s first collection will be unveiled on the catwalk on September 11th

“The idea of appointing different designers to work on projects was borne of the notion of how Helmut as a legacy has influenced a new generation of designers. Shayne is the first of an on-going series, with a show in September, a first drop in November and then the runway drop in January. We’re keeping it fluid in terms of the timelines – there won’t be a new designer every season necessarily. Each collaborator will work in a very different way so it’s about allowing them that space.”

The new campaign by Ethan James Greene includes writers, models and thinkers

“Ethan has a group around him that he’s curated in a beautiful way. There’s a real mix of cultural thinkers and writers, then also cult Helmut muses like Alek Wek. I liked the idea of pairing her with someone like the model Dara who is much younger, and then putting them alongside Traci Lords. A lot of people won’t remember that Traci was on the cover of Details Magazine in May 1995 wearing custom pieces made for her by Helmut. I loved the idea of Traci being an unexpected Helmut Lang muse and inviting her back into the brand.”

A unifying Lang aesthetic will shine through

“I really see [the rotation of designers] as a strength. The brand has such strong roots, there’s a very clear aesthetic, there’s a lot for people to respond to. It goes back to my role here at Dazed: you put a magazine together every month with different cover stars and treatments through out the year, but it still looks like Dazed. That’s part of the excitement.”

London To Host Orla Kiely Exhibition

The Fashion and Textile Museum will stage a fashion exhibition next year showcasing the work of Orla Kiely, the museum has announced today, as part of its 2018 summer exhibitions calendar.

The retrospective, entitled Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern, will be the first exhibition dedicated to the Irish designer in the UK, including the original paper sketches for her signature ‘Stem’ graphic, created in the 1990s, which has evolved to feature on everything from mugs and dresses to notebooks and even cars. Featuring over 150 patterns and products - alongside collaborations with photographers, film directors and architects - the exhibition will examine in detail the power of decoration and the role of ornament and colour as part of the changing aesthetic of the 21st century.

“Over the past 20 years we have built an archive of fashion, accessories and homeware rooted in our signature style,” said Kiely. “With the exhibition, we will be bringing it all together under one roof in a celebration of design, print and colour that has become the Orla Kiely brand.”

With unique access to the brand’s archives, the exhibition offers a privileged insight into the Kiely’s world. “It is very exciting and an enormous privilege through which we can show the dynamic power of design while looking positively to the future with a clear vision and global identity established,” the designer continued.

Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern follows the likes of previous fashion exhibitions presented at the the Fashion and Textile Museum, including this summer’s Anna Sui retrospective, The World Of Anna Sui and a number of must-see fashion exhibitions taking place in London this summer. To mark the announcement we tapped the brand for an exclusive visual diary of its past in pictures.

Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern will take place from May 25 – September 23 2018 at the Fashion & Textile Museum.

Michael Kors Is To Buy Jimmy Choo For £900 Million

Michael Kors is to buy British luxury shoe and accessory brand Jimmy Choo for £900 million, reports The Guardian. At auction, bids came from a host of competitive international names with the luxury goods brand coming out on top.

The US-based business has agreed on a sum of 230p per share, with board directors - who currently own 1.3 per cent - agreeing to the "fair and reasonable" terms of acquisition. Additionally, unless a third party presents an additional offer, this agreement is "final and will not be increased."

The founders of Jimmy Choo - Tamara Mellon and Jimmy Choo - are no longer involved with the shoe brand, whose strappy stilettos have reached cult status. In April this year, majority shareholder JAB Luxury placed the business on the market and will sell its six per cent hold to focus on other areas of growth.

While changes are being made financially, Pierre Denis, who has run Jimmy Choo since 2012, will remain at the helm with creative director, Sandra Choi, staying in her role also. Choi is expected to gain £2.2 million for her stake in the business, Denis £6.2 million.

Speaking of the acquisition, Michael Kors himself described the new partnership as "ideal", while chief executive, John Idol, added: “Jimmy Choo is known worldwide for its glamorous and fashion-forward footwear. The company is a leader in setting fashion trends. Its innovative designs and exceptional craftsmanship resonate with trendsetters globally. We believe that Jimmy Choo is poised for meaningful growth in the future and we are committed to supporting the strong brand equity that Jimmy Choo has built over the last 20 years.”

Pat McGrath And Adwoa Aboah Join Vogue

Incoming British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful made headlines when he announced Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Steve McQueen and Grace Coddington as contributors, and today a crop of new names join the ranks.

Internationally renowned British make-up artist Pat McGrath has been named beauty editor-at-large, while Val Garland, Sam McKnight, Guido Palau and Charlotte Tilbury have all been confirmed as contributing beauty editors. Jessica Diner returns to the title as beauty and lifestyle director, too.

British model and activist Adwoa Aboah joins as contributing editor, while former Vogue staffer and W photography director Caroline Wolff has been appointed editor-at-large and Johan Svensson is named creative director.

“All inspirational and highly-regarded in their individual fields, I’m really excited to see my vision for the British Vogue team come to fruition," Enninful said this morning. "I’m very much looking forward to working with everyone on forthcoming issues.”

The fashion team welcomes Poppy Kain as senior fashion editor; Jack Borkett as fashion editor; Josie Hall as senior fashion assistant; and Jane How, Joe McKenna, Max Pearmain, Clare Richardson, Sarah Richardson and Marie-Amélie Sauvé as contributing fashion editors. Kate Phelan remains as senior contributing fashion editor.

Also new to the masthead are Claudia Croft, acting fashion features director; Olivia Singer, executive fashion news editor; and Anders Christian Madsen, fashion critic.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ibiza style: Destination – Balearean Beach Babes

Unlike the speakeasy vibe of its sister bars in New York and London, Experimental Beach Ibiza is all light and bright, designed in homage – with a nautical nod – to its breathtaking Balearic location. Arrive at this hidden destination by yacht or via the dusty off-road route through the iconic salt flats of Ses Salines, keeping your beach apparel fuss-free and chic. Think nonchalant French-girl cool blended with Ibiza’s bohemian vibe.

Azuri Fringe Kaftan

Featuring a stunning fringe and metal detail plunge neckline with an adjustable drawstring under the bust.

Soak up the morning sun in a white Seona Metal Detail Bikini by luxury resort wear label Evarae – the perfect partner to laidback Ibiza beach lounging. The built-in cups and cross back offer major sports luxe appeal, providing the perfect support for diving into the sea, be it from your yacht or the pontoon jetting out into the Med. Later, cover up with the short, playful Evarae Azuri Fringe Kaftan and take respite from the heat over lunch on the restaurant terrace.

Lazy afternoons here are all about sipping rosé and watching the kaleidoscope of colours from the sky reflected in the sea. As the sun makes its descent into the horizon and evening beckons, switch things up by teaming your bikini with elegant navy Evarae Seona Palazzo Pants. An elegant layer of thin necklaces and a dusting of trinkets provide the necessary slither of jewellery – et voilà! The Ibiza night awaits.

The Balearic Brand Moss Is Mad For

When your unofficial brand ambassador is Kate Moss, you know that you're doing something good - such is the case for De La Vali, the Ibizan brand that childhood friends Jana Sacha Haveman and Laura Castro started together just last year.

The story goes that Haveman met Moss at an island party through friends and the supermodel said that she loved the Apolonia style that the designer was wearing. Faced with a conundrum most designers would dream of, Haveman whipped out another one and Moss was quickly kitted out. "We spent the rest of the night dancing around in the same dress!"

Supermodels aside, De La Vali is a brand that is the culmination of a life-long friendship and appreciation of style. Haveman and Castro were childhood friends on the Balearic isle and were raised with an awareness and appreciation for its bohemian history and the laissez-faire approach to life its year-round residents possess.

"Ibiza has very much inspired our brand," explained Haveman. "It’s the carefree attitude of the Mediterranean that translates into our pieces - the idea of just throwing on a dress and not knowing where the day might take you. The image of a hedonistic Ibiza in the late Seventies with girls walking around barefoot in white dresses never seems to leave my mind."

The fabrics the pair choose play a big part in their collections and the pursuit of the perfect materials to facilitate the relaxed lifestyles their customers enjoy is a constant (ie more cotton than corduroy).

"We are very involved in the sourcing of materials and we love to go to the big fairs to find special fabrics," explained Haveman. "We are constantly building on our vintage archive of prints. We also love working with artists. We recently collaborated with an incredible artist who specialises in erotic drawings - this will be part of our spring/summer 2018 collection Sacré-Coeur."

After deciding that they were going to set up shop together, the pair quickly agreed on sourcing and making their collections in India - a country whose historic aesthetic is a happy bedfellow for bohemian-inspired designs.

"Jana and I have always loved Goa and felt really inspired there so we went there to start experimenting with creating our own pieces," Castro, who shares a Maida Vale studio in London with Haveman facilitating easy access to press and buyers, told us. "We made out first collection and brought it back to Ibiza and people really seemed to like it. It all just happened from there, by word of mouth and girls wearing our dresses."

The pair are playing it down. The girls who they are talking about include Adwoa Aboah, Lily Donaldson, Charlotte Tilbury, Clara Paget and Alice Dellal - a dream roll-call for an emerging brand. But - more importantly when it comes to sales - the buyers are on-board too. Although they have been selling their collections in island outlets for some time, Browns Fashion is the first big international brand to pick them up, and the exclusive capsule collection that launches online this Friday will give the girls their first taste of international exposure.

"It’s so lovely to be able to share the excitement, emotions and adventure with someone," said Haveman of the brand's trajectory thus far. "We have been friends for so long and it’s so nice that we have each other as support."

Adwoa, Naomi, Lupita, Whoopi: Pirelli Teases 2018 Calendar

Pirelli has teased us with behind-the-scenes images from its Alice in Wonderland-themed 2018 calendar, photographed through the wondrous lens of Tim Walker and styled by new British Vogueeditor-in-chief Edward Enninful with set design by Shona Heath.

The trio are joined by an all-star cast for the calendar, who take on the following roles:

Adwoa Aboah is Tweedledee; Naomi Campbell and Sean “Diddy” Combs are The Royal Beheaders; Slick Woods is The Madhatter; Lupita Nyong'o is The Dormouse; Whoopi Goldberg is The Royal Duchess; Djimon Hounsou is The King of Hearts; Ru Paul is The Queen of Hearts; Adut Akech is The Queen of Diamonds; Alpha Dia is the Five-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; King Owusu is the Two-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Lil Yachty is The Queen's Guard; Thando Hopa is The Princess of Hearts; Wilson Oryema is the Seven-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Zoe Bedeaux is The Caterpillar; Sasha Lane is The Mad March Hare; and Duckie Thot is Alice.

The aesthetic of next year's calendar is a departure from the 2017 edition, which was shot by Peter Lindbergh, and the 2016 shoot, which was shot by Annie Leibovitz. Both black-and-white shoots had a stripped-back feel to them - antidotes to Walker's saturated high-wattage vision for next year.

Topshop Hires From Burberry For New Top Job

Topshop  has recruited its new CEO from Burberry HQ. Paul Price, who was chief merchandising officer at the luxury British fashion house, has been with Burberry for over a decade, where he was in charge of all product in womenswear, menswear, accessories and childrenswear. He will begin his new role on September 4th.

"I believe Paul will be a great catalyst in leading the next phase of Topshop and Topman’s global expansion," said the brand's Arcadia owner Philip Green today.

Price will replace Mary Homer in the role, following her departure in March this year. Homer had been with Topshop for 30 years, before leaving to head up The White Group. Both Homer and Green said at the time that the parting was amicable.

Price's appointment adds to the new line-up on the British high street. In October last year, Paula Nickolds was named the new managing director of John Lewis, while last May, Steve Rowe took over at Marks & Spencer, both faced with the challenge of increasing profitability amidst consumer cautiousness - a task that will also be a key objective for Price when he picks up the baton this autumn.

He leaves Burberry as a new dawn begins there also. This summer, Marco Gobbetti will finally come on board at the brand officially as CEO, having been in an executive chairman role since January this year. He takes over from chief creative officer Christopher Bailey who had held both roles since the departure of Angela Ahrendts in 2013.

JW Anderson's Uniqlo Collection Is His Most Personal Yet

Jonathan Anderson is seriously pumped about his Uniqlo collaboration. “I shop at Uniqlo religiously. It’s what I wear every day,” he smiles, sipping a coffee at its unveiling at Tate Modern on a sunny Tuesday. “It’s probably been the most exciting and the most personal collaboration I’ve ever done because it’s the first time I’ve been designing for myself, what I would want to wear.”

It’s a surprising confession from a designer whose own JW Anderson line is celebrated for its subversive conceptualism, and whose collections for Loewe are feted for their hyper-intellectual aesthetic. This is a man who wears many hats: alongside designing 12 collections a year for two labels, he has just curated a hit exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Yorkshire, instigated and judged the inaugural Loewe craft prize, and found the time to renovate a house in Norfolk. The constant, he claims, is that he’s just “a jeans and T-shirt guy”.

Enter Uniqlo, who tapped him back in October to create a capsule collection for men and women comprising 34 pieces, available to buy online on September 19 and in selected stores the following day. “Jonathan had a very clear vision – we just had to make it happen,” says Yuki Katsuta, global head of research and design at Uniqlo. “For our team it was a very enjoyable process. Our dream is about total clothing and creating a new heritage, and that’s why we called him. We wanted this concept with the best designer.”

New heritage, for Anderson, translated as a distillation of his JW wardrobe tics. There are the duffel coats, Aran and Fairisle knits, mackintosh coats, striped scarves and checked shirts that infiltrate his mainline collections, all made wonderfully wearable and tinged with nostalgia, thanks to biscuit tin colour combinations. Needless to say they're affordable, too: the range is priced between £14.99 (for a T-shirt) and £139 (for the reversible tartan mackintosh). “It was nice to really study those individual pieces. Every single detail mattered, so it was me trying on a lot of clothing.”

The sell-out piece is surely the tartan puffer jacket – “Uniqlo has this amazing lightweight technology, so of all the things that was the mission! A tartan printed puffer that I could wear!” – and you’ll need to act swiftly to snap up the striped shirts, all with JW buttons and his anchor logo, some adorned with the tell-tale ruffle.

Then there are the T-shirts and sweaters, sporting a typically esoteric print. Anderson reports it’s taken from a sketch that dates from 120 years ago. “I saw it and thought, ‘that has got Uniqlo x JW Anderson written all over it’,” he says. “I love going into Uniqlo and finding those random, amazing T-shirts, so I wanted to raise the bar. He’s one of my favourite artists and I loved the idea of bringing the past into the future. It was important personally to me.”

Of the move towards hyper-wearable, comfortable clothing, Anderson is typically lyrical: “I’ve been going through a phase of trying to work out where fashion really is right now. It’s as if we have loaded it with so much that we have no idea what the difference is between anything. We have to have massive gestures, but we can’t deal with small gestures. This whole exercise was about the small gesture. Big gestures are easy to do, it’s the smaller ones that are harder - I know that from doing shows. What I want at the moment is a dose of reality.” Go shop it, people.

NYFW Is Doing Fine, Says CFDA President

The  CFDA's president, Steven Kolb, has quashed concerns that New York Fashion Week is facing difficulties following the departure of big-name brands including Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Thom Browne and, most recently, Altuzarra for Paris.

"You have four brands that have decided to show in Paris for different reasons, at different times, and each one of them made that decision not because there was a problem with NYFW or something was wrong with NYFW, but there was an opportunity for them in Paris," Kolb toldFashionista. "If you were to ask any one of them, I think they would confirm that it's not a negative statement on New York, but really a chance for them to show their collections in a different market. And that's not unusual, right?"

Rather than see the situation as a negative, Kolb also struck an optimistic note, saying: "I think the holes - or the vacancies that are created by designers showing elsewhere - only open up opportunities for a new generation of talent to be nurtured and grown and supported."

And new opportunities are what fashion is about right now. It was, after all, the CFDA who in November 2015 employed Boston Consulting Group to analyse the traditional show structure and feed back on how the fashion weeks that take place in the Big Apple can work more effectively - and lucratively - for the designers showing. It was a move that precipitated the subsequent see-now, buy-now movement, with one of BCG's recommendations being for designers to fall "in-season", showing spring/summer collections at the start of the year and autumn/winter collections at the end of the year (the opposite of the current system). The Paris couture shows, which take place in January and June/July, provide the perfect opportunity for designers to do this - as Rodarte and Proenza Schouler have opted to explore

"I wanted to give designers the freedom of not having that pressure," CFDA chairman Diane von Furstenberg said as the investigation's findings were revealed. "There is a need to change, that's something for sure. Social media is really what is changing. It's not about revolution, it's about evolution."

An additional evolution for New York Fashion Week recently was the decision to cut the schedule short by one day (finishing Wednesday), giving showgoers time to make the transatlantic trip to London to see collections presented on the Friday. In the past, designers at LFW (which runs from Friday to Tuesday) are disappointed to find many buyers and editors are still on route during day one and have missed their show. Rather than being as a result of NYFW having less to show, however, Kolb attributed the move last week to the event becoming more selective.

"People will say, 'Anybody can show in New York!' And you know what, it's not true," he said. "Try to do a show in New York. You have to fill out an application, and you have to be approved. And people aren't all always approved. The calendar itself, the official calendar, is probably cut in half from before, when we didn't own the Fashion Calendar and that was intentional."

The event was recently bolstered by the news that Rihanna would be showing her Fenty collection on schedule, as well as the confirmation from Tom Ford that he will be returning to show his eponymous collection at the September showcase, after testing out - unsuccessfully - the see-now, buy-now model. It's also worth noting that some of the most closely watched designers - Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia at Monse and Oscar de la Renta, Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, Jonathan Saunders at DVF, Stuart Vevers at Coach and, of course, the inimitable Marc Jacobs - remain on board.

Everything You Need To Know About Miranda Kerr's Couture Wedding Dress

It was an intimate affair - with only 45 guests - back in May when Miranda Kerr and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel exchanged vows, but what the Victoria’s Secret model wore for the occasion had - until now - remained firmly under wraps.

Inspired by the “iconic” gown worn by Grace Kelly at her 1956 wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, Kerr’s Haute Couture Dior gown was designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri and photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for American Vogue.

“I think it’s every girl’s dream to have Dior design her wedding dress,” Kerr told Vogue. “I thought, if she’s up for it, I’m up for it,” referring to the then newly appointed artistic director of the famous French fashion house.

Appliquéd with lilies of the valley, Kerr’s satin dress was altogether a demure design. “I’ve had a lot of fun with fashion, and I used to be more wild, free, bohemian. But in this period of my life, my style is more pulled back. My greatest sources of inspiration have always been Grace, Audrey Hepburn, and my grandmother, who at 80 has an effortless chic: a nice pant, a white blouse, a scarf, a little heel.”

“A dress that fully covers you creates a sense of purity and mystery,” she added, referencing the high neckline and full-length sleeves of her Dior bridal gown.

“She wanted something like a fairy tale,” explained Chiuri, “and she gave me this idea, to make a dress that was emotional and simple at the same time.”

Other details revealed about the wedding day included the fact that Kerr and Spiegel started their day with an hour of yoga together, to calm their nerves ahead of their “I dos”; Kerr’s slow-roasted chicken specialty, scented with turmeric and lemon - a favourite of Spiegel’s - was served on the day; and the bride walked down the aisle to Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”.

A social-media ban (Snapchat included) ensured the details of the day were kept private, along with a high white canopy which was suspended over the garden to protect the do from prying eyes and cameras.

Although there was no bridal party, Kerr’s six-year-old son Flynn served as ring bearer, joining his mother and stepfather for their first dance.

The evening brought with it karaoke, and a second gown, “something short and lacy that ­Chiuri had concocted for the wedding’s looser second half.” That racy number, however, remains a mystery to the world.

Natacha Ramsay-Levi On What We Can Expect From Her Chloé

Natacha Ramsay-Levi has been at Chloé for all of six weeks when we meet on a Friday afternoon in May, in Paris. Thunderstorms are forecast, and in the plush confines of La Réserve, a grand hotel in the 8th arrondissement, the air is close. But as other diners fan their faces and implore waiters for iced water, Ramsay-Levi remains unruffled. “Chloé for me feels super natural,” she shrugs, settling into a velvet sofa. “I was very ready for the position.”

She has come straight from the Vogue shoot in the cavernous Chloé Maison, an ambitious five-floor renovation project 30 seconds from the brand’s Avenue Percier headquarters. Its endless Haussmann-style rooms are soon to be filled with an archive, an exhibition and events space, VIP fitting rooms and a press showroom, and parts will be open to the public, including the exhibition of Guy Bourdin’s photography for Chloé, which runs until September 3. It’s fitting that the new creative director should arrive just as the paint is drying.


But if the scale of this project is to be expected of a brand with such blue-chip French fashion credentials and commercial clout as Chloé (this year it will open 12 stores, including a new London flagship), the appointment of Ramsay-Levi is a little more surprising. When her predecessor Clare Waight Keller announced in January she would be leaving after six years at the helm, Ramsay-Levi – a relative unknown – was not the obvious candidate. A devotee of Nicolas Ghesquière, she rose through the ranks to become his design deputy at Balenciaga and then Louis Vuitton over a 15-year period. Hertaste for hard-edged, futuristic androgyny was, on paper, at odds with Chloé’s soft-focus, bohemian flou.

We order coffee and tiny cubes of chocolate arrive alongside. Natacha is wearing a white T-shirt, a black ruffled Balenciaga skirt (“old, by Nicolas”) and cowboy-style Louis Vuitton boots. She looks simultaneously younger and older than the brooding photographs that accompanied the news announcing her appointment in March: younger, because she is all smiles and no make-up; older, because she has presence informed by typical French candour. She has spent the past few weeks getting to know her team, scouring the archive, adjusting to a fast-paced schedule (“meetings and meetings and meetings”), and beginning in earnest to design her debut collection. Nothing so far has surprised her.

“Surprise would not be the good word,” she smiles, the first of many corrections she will make to my questions over the course of our meeting. “It was exactly what they told me, you know. At Chloé, everybody is luminous, joyful, people get along very well together… I need to be in a position where I feel we are all working in the same team, building the same thing. I like to be super open about what I do.”

Super open, and super precise. Ramsay-Levi knows where she is going with the 65-year-old brand, exuding the preternatural self-confidence that first endeared the 37-year-old to Chloé president Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye when they met. “She understood Chloé straight away. She was very compelling,” recalls de La Bourdonnaye. “Chloé is always about freedom. It is very democratic, it does not impose. It is always of the moment, and Natacha understands that.” Her relative youth is another plus point. “I met Gaby Aghion, the founder of Chloé, many times, and Gaby always said to me that youth is very important. What Natacha has is the savoir-faire of the couture atelier, and the savoir-être of the cool young person.”“Every woman can recognise herself with Chloé. You can really take it and make it personal”

Ramsay-Levi’s vision for Chloé is pragmatic. She is keen to emphasise the invitations to personality that the Chloé girl has always been able to seize upon, and frequently returns to its impressive roster of designers – spanning Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo, among others. “It’s a house that is about joy, it’s about naturalness, easiness, it’s about femininity. It’s something between maybe the street, the urban style, that has something very easy, and also the sophistication.” She pauses for breath. “Every woman can recognise herself with Chloé. You can really take it and make it personal.”

Tellingly, she doesn’t see the brand as bohemian – that’s not her style. She will undoubtedly give it back some streetwise boyishness for her first show in September, perhaps pairing those classic floaty lace confections with some tomboy suiting – but she shies from the idea of power. She prefers the term strength. “When I think about Chloé, I think about very delicate blouses, something that is pretty sophisticated.” Questions of how her futuristic design principles will evolve to incorporate Chloé’s lightness of spirit are immediately dismissed: “I am not doing Natacha’s brand, I am
doing Chloé’s brand. The bags have to stay Chloé, the clothes have to stay Chloé.” Store interiors will also remain in their current guise, though she admits the show location will no longer be the Grand Palais.

What key pieces will she focus on for her first collection? “It’s kind of a cliché to even say them,” she sighs. “Of course it’s the blouse, it’s the pants, it’s the cape, it’s the long dress, the mousseline, the lace – Chloé is very diverse. But I think what is more important than picking up the pieces – it’s about the attitude.” She leans back into the dark green sofa. “It’s the way you take this DNA and make it talk with the present. And you mix it. And you make it modern. Add a bit of audacity.”

Ramsay-Levi is Paris personified. Born and raised in the city, she originally wanted to be a historian, but spent more time during her history degree wrapping fabrics around her body and making clothes for a “super naive” collection with a friend. “One day I realised I was going in the wrong direction for myself and I wanted to be creative. I wanted to dare. So I changed,” she says, simply. Her parents had their reservations about fashion but she enrolled at Studio Berçot fashion school nevertheless. She set her sights on Balenciaga, then helmed by Nicolas Ghesquière, and begged for an internship. Before long she had ingratiated herself with the tiny team by making coffee, and quickly clicked with Ghesquière.

She describes her time there as “a love affair”. She has hardly left his side for 15 years: when he left Balenciaga, where he eventually appointed her creative director, he took her to Louis Vuitton to work on prêt-à-porter. “He taught me everything… When I arrived [at Balenciaga] I was obsessed already with what he was doing. I felt it was so strong, I really wanted to be that woman. I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she enthuses. His influence will undoubtedly inform her work at Chloé. “I always think about him, nearly every day,” she smiles bashfully. A topic she returns to continually is his skill in mixing: “He can mix high-end fashion with something that is very pop, very easy to understand.”

She switches off from fashion via family. She lives in central Paris, and is fiercely private about her life outside work. She has a four-year-old son, Balthus, with Olivier Zahm, the provocative founder of Purple magazine, who once publicised their painful break-up on his website. The couple are no longer together, and she is raising his 12-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. “It’s the most important thing, spending time with the kids. You forget everything – you don’t have a choice.”

Ramsay-Levi has the unabashed confidence of someone who runs with a cool crowd and is attuned to success. She doesn’t do self-doubt. “I have always been like that in my life. Timings are always good.” Of her career at Chloé, she doesn’t foresee any challenges. “The idea of ‘challenge’, it’s the idea of climbing a mountain,” she frowns. “I don’t feel I am climbing a mountain. I feel I am just walking strongly on a path that I love. So, no, I think the question is... I hope everybody will like it and want to wear it. I think that’s the only question.” 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Erdem Is H&M's Next Collaboration Designer

Erdem is joining the H&M ranks of designer collaborations this year, the Swedish high-street retailer revealed this afternoon. Following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld, Marni, Maison Margiela, Versace, Isabel Marant, Lanvin (among others) and, most recently, Kenzo, its eponymous designer, Erdem Moralioglu, will unveil his collection this autumn.

While only a whisper of what we can expect has been released by H&M today, we do know that a part of the collaboration will include a menswear edit - the first time that Moralioglu has designed for men; that it will land November 2; and that it will "reinterpret the design themes from some of his most celebrated collections, playing with the prints, textiles and delicate craftsmanship that have made his name".

“I am so happy to collaborate with H&M, and to explore my work on a whole new scale including a menswear collection which I have never done before," said Moralioglu today. To mark the collaboration, the designer collaborated with filmmaker Baz Luhrmann to bring the collection to life. "It’s also such a thrill to work with Baz Luhrmann, one of the most important storytellers of our time," he added.

“For me fashion is always about more than just clothing, it is a form of expression - a standalone art form," said Luhrmann. "I am excited to be collaborating with Erdem and H&M to reveal the story of this unique collection."

While we wait to see actual items, shoppers can look to the many high-profile appearances of Erdem devotees - including Keira Knightley, Alexa Chung and Claire Foy - to speculate. But while famous for his red-carpet gowns, the designer does a mean day suit, designs very covetable accessories, and offers a sophisticated take on separates that point to this collaboration being a wardrobe-comprehensive affair.

As so many designers who have worked with H&M before him have expressed, collaborating with the retailer affords fans of the label the opportunity to own a piece from their favourite fashion house at a fraction of the cost. Last year's collaboration with Kenzo saw accessories start at £7 and ready-to-wear at £25 - practically half of the normal retail price of its mainline. Good news for fans of London-based Moralioglu, whose dresses normally start around the £495 mark and scale upwards to nearly £4,000.

For H&M, its collaborations not only confirm its fashion clout, but provide a lucrative financial injection halfway through each year. Previous collaborations have seen queues in cities around the world start the night before the edit went on sale (accommodated only by mild autumn climes), while customers hoping to make money of their own regularly resell their sold-out stash on e-commerce forums such as eBay for sometimes double the price they paid.

As for the sartorial direction this edit may take, we can look back to Erdem's most recent resort 2018 collection and his catwalk outing for autumn/winter 2017 at London Fashion Week in February, an autobiographical affair that fused Moralioglu's Turkish and British heritage and featured his signature governess-style dresses, standout coats, and lashings of velvet.

Or we can look at his roll call of red-carpet hits, worn by actresses and celebrities that are as compelled to wear Erdem for their moment in the spotlight as we will be to join those queues come November.

Woolmark Names Its Brit Winners

Woolmark  named the winners of its International Woolmark Prize British Isles heat yesterday in London, with Le Kilt and Matthew Miller picking up the womenswear and menswear awards respectively. With their AU $70,000 prize money, they will now be expected to spend the next two months creating a capsule collection made of Merino Wool and move forward to compete in the global final, set to take place early next year.

Samantha McCoach of Le Kilt

“The prize has given me an opportunity to look at wool in a new way," said Le Kilt designer Samantha McCoach, who chose to focus her intricately woven collection on wool denim. "The challenge was that working with wool comes naturally to me, it’s at the heart of my brand but I wanted to do something new which is why I looked at innovations in wool denim.”

Matthew Miller

For Matthew Miller, it was his modern interpretation of tailoring that won him the menswear prize, with judge Jason Basmajian (CEO of Cerruti) saying that Miller "showed true passion producing a look that is luxurious but still cool".

“Winning the prize is amazing and receiving recognition from your peers on your designs, including the judging panel is fantastic,” said Miller following the award. “Wool is one of the most important and luxury materials and a high-performance fibre but I wanted to give it a much more youthful feel."

The 2017/2018 finalists

Basmajian was joined on the panel by Emilia Wickstead, Daniel Kearns (creative director of Kent & Curwen), Anita Barr (group fashion buying director for Harvey Nichols), and Candice Fragis (buying and merchandising director for Farfetch) to select the two winners from this year's impressive finalists.

The last winners of the accolades were Gabriella Hearst and Cottweiler, who picked up their awards in Paris earlier this year. At the event, head judge Natalie Massenet outlined the importance of the prestigious award.

"I think it’s the heritage that’s pretty incredible when you think back to the fact that when they were young designers Karl and Yves Saint Laurent won it. For the people who took part today, I think they have a special future," she told us. "Beyond what it does for the winner, I think having this incubation and level of research, being among the most inspiring young designers and seeing how they use this fabric in the most modern of ways is very important."

Colette Paris To Close Its Doors

Colette the cult Parisian boutique, has shocked the fashion world this morning by announcing that it is to close in December.

“As all good things must come to an end, after 20 wonderful years, Colette should be closing its doors on Dec 20 of this year,” the store said in a statement on its Instagram account this morning. “Until our last day, nothing will change. Colette will continue to renew itself each week with exclusive collaborations and offerings, also available on our website”

The three-story space, located on Rue Saint-Honoré, is one of the top shopping destinations for editors and style aficionados alike in the city, thanks to its mix of the latest brands, contemporary collections and exclusive capsule edits with more niche and quirky items including books, souvenirs and filming equipment and - of course - its legendary café.

Founded in 1997 by Colette Roussaux - who lived above the retail space with her daughter Sarah Andelman, the current creative director of the store - the 8,000-square-foot space has played host to the hottest merchandise available and cemented its reputation for spotting the next-big-thing 10 times over.

“It’s the only shop where I go because they have things no one else has," Karl Lagerfeld told the Business of Fashion last year. "I buy watches, telephones, jewellery there - everything really. They have invented a formula that you can’t copy easily, because there is only one Colette and her and Sarah are 200 per cent involved."

Whether or not the brand will maintain its online presence and continue to sell stock online post its brick-and-mortar closure remains to be confirmed. Saint Laurent are said to be currently in talks to take over the covetable 1st arrondisement location.

“We would be proud to have a brand with such a history, with whom we have frequently collaborated, taking over our address. We are happy of the serious interest expressed by Saint Laurent in this project, and it could also represent a very good opportunity for our employees,” a statement said today.

Olivier Lapidus Confirmed At Lanvin

Following  the news that Bouchra Jarrar has stepped down as artistic director of Lanvin after two collections, Olivier Lapidus will now take on the role, the house confirmed this morning.

The designer - who has previously held roles at Balmain Homme as well as running Maison Lapidus alongside his father, Ted - will show his first collection for the house for spring/summer 2018 at Paris Fashion Week in just two months time.

"I welcome Olivier Lapidus as Lanvin artistic director whose creative capacity is in direct line with the elegance embodied by Jeanne Lanvin," said Madame Shaw-Lan Wang, president of Lanvin. "His broad understanding of the universe of this house, of the world of fashion and design and his resolutely modern approach will bring Lanvin towards new horizons."

The appointment of Lapidus is not the only change expected for Lanvin. TheBusiness of Fashion reported yesterday that the company will be moving on from its Boissy d'Anglas HQ - the original location of Jeanne Lanvin's atelier - and instead taking a premises in a more suburban area of north west Paris.

"It is a great honour to join Lanvin and I warmly thank Madame Wang for placing her confidence in me," said Lapidus on his appointment. "With nearly 130 years of history, Lanvin is the oldest French couture house. To ensure its longevity is an immense task and an exciting challenge."

The announcement brings the last week of speculation to a close, following Jarrar's exit. Prior to her tenure, the house was led by Alber Elbaz, who left his post amidst acrimonious circumstances in October 2015.

Saint Laurent Invests In Future Talent

There  can never be too many brands supporting burgeoning talent - especially when it comes to couture, the bespoke category which has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years. The latest to give it a boost is Saint Laurent, which has created a six-month programme in partnership with the Institut Français de la Mode and the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne to focus on innovation and sustainability.

“Preserving our heritage while evolving and being very relevant in our epoch is a pillar of our strategy, and investing in talents is an imperative condition to build on our success even further,” said Francesca Bellettini, president and CEO of Saint Laurent, reports WWD. “I am very proud of this partnership with such renowned and prestigious institutions as the IFM and ECSCP, which will greatly contribute to the implementation of our strategy.”

The courses, which are currently open for applications for a September start date, will see students work in the Saint Laurent head offices and being mentored by staff of the fashion house that is currently headed up by creative director Anthony Vaccarello. At the end of the period in March, they will present their work to a jury from their prospective schools, as well as Saint Laurent staff in the hope that they will leave an impression.

Incorporating sustainability into the requirements of the scheme matches the framework of several mentorship programmes around the world, who are keen to instil the importance of sustainability into the mindset of students from day one. It's also a buzzword in the Kering group, which unveiled its 10-year Sustainability Plan in January this year, naming renewable sources and ethical supply chains as integral to future-proofing fashion.

Ralph & Russo On Ruling Couture From London

Following their latest couture collection, Vogue revisits this interview with Michael Russo and Tamara Ralph from the April 2017 issue, where the Australian-born couple discuss couture, dressing Angelina Jolie and creating a luxury brand that is also relatable.

Our dress is on the front page of the Mail Online!” exclaims Michael Russo, tapping at his iPhone. He clicks on the story, and the headline flashes up: “Billionaire Russian oligarch spends £3.5 million on 19-year-old granddaughter’s wedding at swish London hotel.” “Mariah sang after Elton,” he confides. “And Antonio Banderas did some MCing.” Then he pulls up a photograph of a young girl who, at first glance, looks as if she is surfing on satin. “We made the bride her dress – multiple dresses, actually.

Russo has been to a lot of weddings, but the nuptials he is telling me about were among the most lavish. That’s what happens when you are CEO of Ralph & Russo, the British couture house with a client list running into the “thousands”, at least half of whom are princesses or sheikhas or their Hollywood equivalent. “Bridal is a large part of the business,” admits Tamara Ralph, creative director to Russo’s business brains (they are also engaged to be married). The other part is knockout couture: Angelina Jolie wore a Ralph & Russo suit to collect her honorary damehood; Gwyneth Paltrow wore their pink one-shouldered gown to the Oscars. 

Their youngest client is three months old; their oldest is 80. All are received for fittings in a seven-storey maison in Mayfair; their nearby 200-strong atelier, a Sixties office block where more than 20 languages are spoken, can whip up a made-to-measure dress in six weeks. Can’t wait? Five boutiques worldwide (10 more are inked to open this year) hold custom-made gowns that can be tweaked. Ralph & Russo, it’s safe to say, are ruling the couture world – and they’re doing it from London.

 Paris is traditionally thought of as the centre of haute couture. But when the Australian-born couple set up shop in 2007, with one seamstress and an ironing board, they staked their claim on Knightsbridge. It proved a masterstroke. “Our clients actually like the fact that we’re in London – it’s very convenient,” says Russo. Besides, they ticked the Paris box in 2014, when Ralph & Russo was deemed of sufficient standing to grace the official Paris Couture Week show schedule, the first British couture label in a century to gain admittance.

Today they are one week away from presenting their spring 2017 couture collection, and the atmosphere is one of intense efficiency. A masseuse is making the rounds, cracking hunched 14-hour-day backs. Ralph selects a purple dress to be photographed: “Each silk-organza petal has been cut, curled with tongs and hair-sprayed, and applied by hand to eight sections that make up the gown.” Nine people have spent 1,000 hours labouring on this gown. “Half the spring dresses have pre-sold already,” says Ralph, who offers a preview to a handful of clients, and guarantees exclusivity by only selling one dress to each region. “But my phone will start buzzing during the show as clients claim their looks.”

No wonder that next on the agenda is ready-to-wear, perfume and beauty, eyewear and, eventually, menswear – in addition to growing the leather goods lines launched in 2016. “We want to play in every product arena,” says Russo. What’s the secret to their success? “The brand is luxury but it’s also relatable. It’s important that our clients see us as approachable.” Approachable is a relative term – but it’s obviously working.

Bouchra Jarrar Departs Lanvin

Lanvin´s creative director, Bouchra Jarrar, has stepped down from her position at the French fashion house after showing only two collections. The designer and the house "have mutually decided to put an end to their collaboration. This decision is effective as of today," read an official statement from the brand this evening.

The news adds to Lanvin's tumultuous last three years, which saw long-term creative director Alber Elbaz - who was credited with steering the house from a traditional, heritage brand to a relevant and contemporary counterpart to its fellow French maisons - depart acrimoniously in October 2015.

Enninful Calls On Kate, Naomi, Steve And Grace

Incoming British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful has enlisted Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Steve McQueen as contributing editors of the publication, in addition to his former American Vogue colleague Grace Coddington, who will come on board as a contributor

"I am thrilled that Kate, Naomi, Steve and Grace are going to work with us in these new roles," said Enninful this morning. "As two of the biggest international style influencers and supermodels, the impact Naomi and Kate have in today’s culture is enormous. Being an acclaimed filmmaker and Turner Prize-winning artist, Steve will bring an increased depth to the arts within the magazine."

While Moss has been contributing fashion editor at British Vogue since 2013, the addition of Campbell and McQueen to the masthead makes their continuing involvement with the publication official. Coddington, of course, renews her links with the title, having worked at British Vogue for 19 years, before moving to New York to work at American Vogue.

"Grace’s relationship with Vogue started at a very young age; she has become synonymous with the title and is as much loved in Britain as is she is globally," continued Enninful.

The news comes as Enninful prepares to officially start his role on August 1. He has already announced the appointment of Venetia Scott as fashion director, who starts on July 10.

"I am very much looking forward to working with these friends and colleagues on their ideas for upcoming issues," he said today.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Celine Dion Takes Couture

If there’s one person having a whale of a time at Couture Fashion Week, it’s Celine Dion. Yes, you heard us right. The Heart Will Go On singer has gone full throttle into the land of high fashion, and has sparked her own hashtag #celinetakescouture because of it.

While the street style stars pour over the perfect pictures for their Instagram feeds, Dion has been twirling about, draping herself over cars and pulling power stances for the cameras. Her fashion week frolics have not caused gasps of “quelle horreur”, but earnt her a front row seat next to Anna Wintour and Hamish Bowles.

For Celine Dion is actually a couture geek. She knows the weight of Versace’s beaded dresses and how Giambattista Valli’s chiffon straps actually sit on the shoulders because she has worn haute couture looks almost exclusively during her shows for the last five years.

Dion doesn’t just pluck her stage outfits straight from the runway, she instructs the ateliers to adapt them for the stage, US Vogue reports. Velcro panels are added to bodices to allow the singer’s ribcage to expand, and to facilitate quick outfit changes. Elastic is added chiffon to avoid the delicate fabric ripping, and her shoes are all refitted with metal shanks for support. Every minute detail is considered.

Of her couture obsession, she says: "The clothes follow me; I do not follow the clothes." May the Canadian singer continue to bring her zest for the craft to front rows to come.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Couture Catch-Up

From  Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior safari to Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel greenhouse in the Grand Palais, see the highlights from Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week autumn/winter 2017.

The Flower Crown 2.0 at Rodarte

Once the domain of festival fields, the humble flower crown received a couture makeover at Rodarte. Hair stylist Oldie Gilbert called upon LA-based florist Joseph Free to aid his woodland nymph beauty look. The pair fixed garlands of Gypsophila into the models’ hair with gold bows and silk ribbons.

Dior Does Noah’s Ark

Guests at Dior took their front row seats next to giraffes, monkeys, tigers and elephants, as Maria Grazia Chiuri co-ordinated her very own wilderness. As well as the wooden animal sculptures, Italian artist Pietro Ruffo built a star-shaped amphitheater for models to walk around. Globetrotting genius.

Miu Miu Goes Hands-Free

Expect two-tone bum-bags to be sitting on editors' waists come Septembers shows, as well as the other standout pieces from the brand's Resort 2018 collection.

Peter Dundas Debuts Eponymous Line

“18th Century meets the Seventies” was the mood of Peter Dundas’s Resort 2018 collection, Dundas. Natasha Poly, Lily Donaldson and Georgia May Jagger completed a stellar line-up of models wearing his debut line, which will be available from Moda Operandi from July 7th.

Atelier Versace’s Armour

Gone are the days when the Atelier Versace show was staged with a hub of celebrities on and off the runway. The highlights of the private presentation were a gilded jumpsuit that looked as if armour had been poured on to the body, and a dress complete with a 3D-printed necklace of snakes.

Americans In Paris: Proenza Schouler's Hyper-French Collection

Proenza Schouler debuted in the French capital – and nothing was lost in translation. Paris craft informed Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, as the design duo solicited the skills of French specialist ateliers to embolden the spring/summer 2018 collection.

Giambattista Valli Does Fairytale Dressing

He's known for his frothy, tumbling tulle gowns and Giambattista Valli's Couture autumn/winter 2017 collection didn't disappoint. A diverse offering of balletic confections and draped chiffon dresses.

Are Feathers The New "It" Embellishment?

Ralph & Russo's Couture offering chimed with the current red carpet trend for feather-embellishment. Prepare for a plucky awards season come winter.

The Beret Makes A Comeback

Winnie Harlow, Clémence Poésy and Lou Lesage have been taking style cues from Maria Grazia Chiuri, who hailed the comeback of the beret in Dior's autumn/winter 2017 collection.

Dior's Party of Dreams

Dior feted the brand's Designer Of Dreams exhibition launch, which charts 70 years of Christian Dior's fashion legacy, with a star-studded party at Les Arts Décoratifs. 

Inside Karl's Greenhouse

In place of last season's gigantic rocket sat a statue of the Eiffel Tower, as Karl Lagerfeld paid homage to Paris' parks. Models strode through the vast Grand Palais greenhouse in bold, experimental silhouettes, as well as the tweed, pearl-flecked pieces that are the brand's signatures.

What You Need To Know About Chanel's Couture Set

July 4 is normally a day reserved for American celebrations of independence (or aggrandizement, depending on how you view it. Over in Washington, President Trump is firing Twitter missiles at North Korea). But in Paris, it’s Couture Week, as much a part of France’s national identity as the official public holiday across the pond. With that in mind, Brigitte Macron, the new president’s wife has been out and about attending shows and showing support. Meanwhile at Chanel, the French behemoth seized the opportunity to do some myth-making, transforming the Grand Palais into the archetypal Parisian park scene – complete with the skyline’s most famous tower. Here’s seven things to note from Chanel's Autumn/Winter 2017 Couture show.

The Eiffel Tower Has a New Home

Karl transplanted the Eiffel Tower, a monolith of the Parisian landscape, to the Grand Palais in typically bombastic fashion and rebranded it #ChanelTower. Guests were seated on a gravel runway, perched on chic iterations of the folding dark green metal chairs that litter the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The Show Invitation Had Cubist Leanings

Karl Lagerfeld chose the 1926 oil painting of La Tour Eiffel by Robert Delaunay for the show invitation, deeming it “a symbol of avant-garde modernity”. Chanel’s website drew attention to Roland Barthes’ observation in “The Eiffel Tower And Other Mythologies”, that Maupassant often lunched in the Eiffel Tower restaurant, even though he didn’t think much of the food, because it was the only place in Paris where he didn’t have to see it. "Whatever the season, through mist and cloud, on overcast days or in sunshine, in rain – wherever you are, whatever the landscape of roofs, domes, or branches separating you from it, the Tower is there," Barthes wrote.

French Model Camille Hurel Was First Out

The strong-browed Parisienne teenager slunk out in the number one slot on the catwalk. Having debuted on the Givenchy runway a couple of seasons ago, Hurel is now a firm favourite with French fashion houses and has already walked for Dior this Couture week. She closed the show in the bow-bedecked Bridal gown.

Every model wore a flat hat and large pearl earrings

Classic black gave way to chain-trimmed tweed, patent leather and jazzy sequin-embroidered styles, all worn with golf-ball-size pearl earrings.

The Return of The Twist

Classic twists ruled the runways, teased into delicate patisserie-style swirls by Sam McKnight and held in place with gallons of hairspray.

Patent Boots Offset Traditional Tweeds

Shelve the suede: models wore knee-high and ankle-length patent boots in black, cream and beige, adding an edge to the fripperies of razor-sliced tulle, feathers and tweed. Patent always looks slicker.

Kristen Stewart, Katy Perry and Julianne Moore sat front row

Kristen Stewart killed off the competition in a sequined catsuit – a big couture trend at the Spring 2018 shows this week. Always one step ahead of the game.