Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sarah Burton designing for Alexander McQueen

After months of speculation, finally today, Sarah Burton was announced new head of design for Alexander McQueen. Previously this year, Gucci Group had decided to carry on with the successful brand after the eponymous designer's tragic suicide in February 2010.
Finally rumours that designers like king-of-goth Gareth Pugh might take over Mr. McQueens realms were defeated by the decision to acclaim one of the strong forces at Alexander McQueen's side head of design to unify operations and appoint somebody from the inside of the company.

Sarah Burton had been working in the fashion house since 1996, a year before her graduation from Central Saint Martins. Burton had also completed Alexander McQueen's last défilé for autumn/winter 2010, which was praised enthusiastically by press and industry. Being his long time assistant and having been head of design for womenswear since 2000, Burton stated that she intends to stay true to his legacy. Also Jonathan Akeryod, CEO of the House of Alexander McQueen stated in a press release that "...having worked alongside Lee McQueen for more than 14 years, she has a deep understanding of his vision, which will allow the company to stay true to its core values".

We shall hope so.


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Hermès says goodbye to JP Gaultier

Rumble in the jungle at Hermès:

After seven years under the creative reign of former fashion enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès' new creative director will be Christophe Lemaire, who is known in the industry for successfully revamping the image of French sportswear brand Lacoste, where he had been working during the previous eight years. Under the new designer, Hermès is most likely to take a more commercial approach towards its prêt-à-porter  line and move away from the avantgarde approach, Jean Paul Gaultier - and before him Martin Margiela had brought to the maison.

Despite Hermès' consistent sales growth throughout 2009, which continued strongly in Q1 2010 ( 18.5% at current exchange rates). It is commonly known, that prêt-à-porter is mainly an affair to the heart (and for the publicity - think of all the coverage!) and despite the fact that the maison is declaring an overall growth of 19% of the Ready-to-Wear and Fashion Accessories resort, this growth is assumingly driven mostly by the fashion accessories. This however is a development, which is representative for all high fashion houses, who have been drawing most of their sales growth out of their licences and accessories ranges as they are accessible to a bigger segment of customers.
As Hermès' and Jean Paul Gaultier's relationship goes beyond the creative direction - Hermès owns nearly 45% of Jean Paul Gaultier's own label's stock - and despite a statement that Hermès does not intend to sell their shares, according to gossip sources, there are speculations that they might. As Jean Paul Gaultier's fragrance licence - also in this case the cash cow of the brand is owned by Beauté Prestige, Hermès does not profit from his main turnover generator but still profits from his haute couture, RTW collection and his accessories line.
According to Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier's last collection for the maison will be the spring collection 2011 - which is to be revealed in Paris in October 2010. The same applies for Lemaire, who will be presenting his last Lacoste collection in October as well. His successor has not yet been established.

Jean Paul Gaultier from 2004 on surprised the brands devotees with a rejuvenating cure by revamping the dimensions of the Birkin, creating the Kelly clutch and including Hermès' classical equestrian themes and emblems as details in various accessories and pieces of the RTW collection. Unforgotten also, the staging of his Amelia Erhardt hommage in the fall/winter collection 2009, which just gave one example of the designers visionary approach and his surpassing ability to work with the most luxurious materials in the world in a contemporary realisation.

Farewell, Jean Paul Gaultier, I am convinced you will further impress the French fashion landscape with your own collections. Welcome, Christophe Lemaire - you will have to follow in some massive footsteps.
The fashion industry will certainly keep the eyes open for Lemaire's debut and will anticipate curiously if la maison Hermès will align its strategy further in the seasons to come. Will there be a slight wind of change affecting the French traditional house after Jean-Louis Dumas succumbed to his Parkinson disease earlier in May? 


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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Saint Tropez Spirit

It is likely that during spring time, no place is more glamourous than the Côte d’Azur in Southern France. With the 63th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival just around the corner (btw. this year's jury president is Tim Burton), another glorious event heralded the opening of the glamour season. The occasion is the launch of Kaiser Karl's Chanel Cruise Collection, which was launched yesterday in Saint Tropez in front of Sénéquier, one of the Riviera's hotspot bars to see and being seen.
Chanel's cruise collection '11 had to outgrow its atmospheric precedent collection for '10, which had been taking place at the Lido di Venezia and had Thomas Mann's Death in Venice as its theme. I cannot help remembering last year’s extravaganza and wondered, if Chanel - the brand which is arguably offering the most important cruise collection amongst the designer brands, can live up to last year’s sensation.
This time, Karl Lagerfeld's approach was a lot lighter in comparison to last year’s literary backing. Chanel’s multitalented chief designer tried to revamp the Côte d’Azur feeling of the 60ies and 70ies. Another designer gone director, Lagerfeld launched his short film "Remember Now", at the Cinéma de la Renaissance the night before the défilé of the Cruise Collection ’11.
Karl basically cross linked his short film, which portrays an ageing playboy’s (Pascal Greggory) nocturnal foray into the carefree night life of the jeunesse dorée in Saint Tropez – starring Lagerfeld’s entourage and inspirations – amongst others Elisa Sednaoui, Freja Beha Erichsen, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Heidi Mount, Leigh Lezark and his omnipresent muse Baptiste Giabiconi. Some wicket pundits may call it another midlife crisis masterpiece – however, considered as the frame work to his collection, I believe it perfectly embodied the Saint Tropez life of its rich and/or beautiful (seasonal) inhabitants strained to the point of cliché.
Back to the actual collection: Karl Lagerfeld had his models disembark a speedboat, barefoot and wearing loose summer clothing like tunics, light, flowing trousers and jumpsuits. The impression was that after sunbathing and partying on a yacht all day long, its glamorous priveleged occupants came ashore for a sunset apéritif and a stroll at Saint Tropez’ harbour. Light accessories, dangling necklaces, bangles, sumptuous anklets, strappy sandals, layered summer outfits with frills- the collection itself appeared surprisingly youthful and fresh, yet with the unmistakable Chanel signature elements and a well-thought-through setting in front of a beautiful scenery.
Pastels and pinks, cropped bouclé jackets and dresses – even the occasional denim skirt has caught up with Chanel. Lagerfeld’s collection seemed very relaxed, carefree and felt a lot lighter than previous years'. You could clearly feel the enjoyment and Mediterranean ease of Saint Tropez in the youthful overall-concept.
In particular if you had seen the short film, one could detect Karl Lagerfeld’s homage to the golden times of his second home - the Côte d’Azur- in the 60ies and 70ies. His references paid tribute to Jade Jagger and the white pantsuit she wore at her wedding to Mick Jagger in 1971 , to Brigitte Bardot – embodied by the sensuous Giorgia May Jagger and generally to the spirit of the times. High-waisted denim flares in brown, black or white, flowy hippie inspired tops and tunics, knitwear as well as the suede leather overknee boots gave a clear flair of the bygone era.
All in all, Karl Lagerfeld once more managed to present an intrinsically coherent collection -and beyond that an entire concept - which framed his inspirations beautifully and once more proved that he is a man with a vision and an enthusiast for the big picture.


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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

MET Ball 2010

The Costume Institute celebrated the exhibition “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” with the annual, much anticipated fundraising event that is always frequented by A-Listers, celebrities, designers, models & muses. This year's gala was hosted by Patrick Robinson of The Gap and co-hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Oprah Winfrey. The annual Gala Benefit is the Costume Institute's main source of annual funding for exhibitions, operations, and capital improvements.

So, taking this advance information aside, could we please address the following subject: I was wondering, at an event like the MET Gala - what is the dress code? I mean, apart from the fact, that very often designers dress their favorite celebrities and bring them along (and you can hardly ever go wrong with that) - is it preferable to wear a long gown or can you actually get away with a cocktail dress?

Clicking through the pictures, I have to say, there was a few who actually made me gasp (and I mean that both positively and negatively) in front of my ( Yeah, I had to go there first, because wasn't fast enough - how dare you, So, amongst the best dressed of the evening - according to my personal taste level - was Emily Rossum, who, fresh-looking in her cornflower-blue Kenneth Cole dress, with a House of Lavande semi-precious stone necklace set herself apart from the mass of glitterati ascending the stairs of the MET.
Also worth mentioning Jessica Stam in her plum shaded Rachel Roy gown with Bulgari jewellery and Jimmy Choo shoes and clutch who impressed through simplicity. Finally somebody who realises that wearing a dress with a huge décolleté only looks stunning and elegant if your breasts are not huge - and yes, that was a broad hint to you, Janet Jackson -I have never seen a Lanvin dress looking less elegant. Also head-turning, was the old-school hollywood glamour that was channeled by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, in Zuhair Murad, with Cartier jewels , Anne Hathaway in Valentino with Bulgari jewels and Marion Cotillard in - what a surprise...not - Christian Dior.
Coco Rocha looked like an elf in a marvellous flowy  Zac Posen dress with a huge train and jewels by Everlon. Doutzen Kroes, however, also in Zac Posen, with Tiffany & Co. jewels, looked like a Disney cinderella spin-off - and as much that might be the phantasy of a 5-8 year old - in this context, I think that is rather a bad thing.
Sienna Miller looked her absolute best in a night blue short Emilio Pucci dress, endorsed with Solange Azagury-Partridge and Lorraine Schwartz jewels and Emilio Pucci shoes  - also, the accessory that simply suits her best: Jude Law.

So just a question here - if you do not sport a ball gown at the MET gala - where else?! Despite a few stunning cocktail dresses (Sienna's Pucci, i.e.), in my opinion, this clearly is an event for ball gowns. I guess I will be sitting here for another few hours and taking a look at those pieces of art and wishing myself to be cinderella (however in a better -more fashionable dress), losing my shoe on the stairs of the MET.


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