Fashion Industry News Roundup: 05/29/09

1.) Thierry Mugler Returns to the Fashion Stage for Beyonce:
“Although Mugler took his last bow on the catwalk after his July 2000 couture show and the fashion line bearing his name became unviable and was closed down completely three years later, his influence has never been stronger. From cyber-chic metallic leggings and body-con dresses to his exaggerated, hour glass tailoring, suddenly his looks are everywhere . . . BeyoncĂ© Knowles picked up on the trend and wore a vintage Mugler bustier fashioned out of a Harley motorcycle in some of the photographs for her album I Am Sasha Fierce. More than that, the singer asked him to create 58 new stage costumes for her world tour.”

The article goes on to mention that while Mugler is no longer involved in the fashion line that still bears his name (the line has recently been jump-started with designer Rosemary Rodriguez at the helm), he’s still passionately involved in the Mugler fragrance line and is preparing a new release for 2010 for which “the name, the concept, the ad campaigns and even the mini-movies designed for the internet (will be) created by him.”

Video clip below of the making of the recent Angel ad campaign starring Naomi Watts. Angel is such a success that it has, at times, beaten out Chanel No. 5 as the top selling perfume in France:

I did find it rather sweet of The Telegraph to use a photo of Mugler circa 1999 rather than the frightening “Manfred” disaster he is now.


2.) Fake But True — Lagerfeld’s Tweets are Old News:
“When someone mentioned to me that Karl had started a Twitter page, I was curious to know if the page, which is about 26,384 followers strong, was for real or the product of another social networking imposter. It turns out it’s the latter. I called Lagerfeld’s PR office in Paris and a rep explained that the page is indeed written by a fan posing as Karl, but the quotes are real, pulled from old interviews that have run in various publications. So, mystery solved.”

I suppose that having Lagerfeld on Twitter was just too surreal (and delicious!) a dish of candy to be true, but the quotes were certainly perfect Karl-isms because . . . well, because they actually were! And our beloved Fake Karl hasn’t posted a Tweet since May 19th. I guess the gig is up? *sob*

3.) 60’s Folk-Pop Icon Donovan Goes on a Perfumed Tour:
“Described as a fragrant symphony of music, poetry, color and aroma, the evening’s performance features the introduction of natural perfumes into the theater during certain songs and images projected on the theater’s screen to complement the musical journey . . . ‘Ritual Groove will be the first aromatic concert in modern times,’ (said Donovan). ‘I’ll be working with Mandy Aftel, our dear friend, who is the leading natural perfumer in the world. She composes perfume on an organ. It’s not a new thing. It’s ancient. The composition of aroma fragrance is composed on base notes and top notes. Just like in music.'”

Video clip below of a Donovan pop hit from 1966, back when people knew who Donovan was:

“I’m just mad about saffron . . . saffron’s mad about me”

And just a reminder, Christophe Laudamiel’s ScentOpera premiers in New York on May 31st (2009): “ScentOpera, an olfactory odyssey in four movements … will premiere in a pitch black Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim on May 31. A series of composed scents will be piped directly through a “Scent Organ” to the audience, and music conceived by Icelandic Bjork-bred composer Valgeir Sigurdsson, among others, accompanies the onslaught . . . Each audience chair will be outfitted with scent “microphones” linked to the central organ that will discharge a litany of time-controlled scents. This delivery system was specifically designed over the past two years for this event in collaboration with Flakt Woods, a global leader in integrated ventilation.”

Laudamiel has worked with environmental scenting previously, creating eight different scents (he described them as “air sculpture”) for the main conference halls of the World Economic Forum in 2008. He’s also the “nose” behind numerous mainstream & niche fragrances, including: Tom Ford Amber Absolute, Burberry London, Clinique Happy Heart, Estee Lauder Youth Dew Amber Nude, Ralph Lauren Polo Blue and S-eX by S-Perfume.

4.) Christian Lacroix Goes Bust for Lack of Economic Boom:
“After 22 years of bucking trends and ignoring the bottom line, Christian Lacroix has filed for the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in France . . . Haute couture, the bread and butter of Lacroix’s operation, will never generate the kind of cash that perfume, accessories and ready-to-wear fashion do, and that’s a big reason for the label’s demise. While prices for couture dresses often creep into the six figures, very few units are actually sold. Unlike Chanel, Dior and Armani, which boast bestselling perfumes and accessories, Lacroix has continued to rely on its expensive dresses.”

Video below for the Christian Lacroix Spring/Summer 2009 collection — you know, the one that finally drove him into insolvency:

“Sweetie, darling, it’s Lacroix!”

Watching AbFab episodes will no longer be the same.

In related news, Italian high-fashion line Salvatore Ferragamo reported a 17% drop in profits for the full year of 2008: “Salvatore Ferragamo SpA reported a 17 percent drop in earnings in 2008 due to marginal revenue growth and a raft of new store openings . . . Last year, the fashion and luxury goods firm increased its retail network to 552 stores from 503, including 19 new boutiques in international airports.”

Polo Ralph Lauren also posted significant losses: “Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings tumbled 57% amid $69 million in store-related write-downs and restructuring charges . . . However, the company predicted a bigger sales drop for the new fiscal year than anticipated by analysts. It anticipates revenue falling by the high-single digits on a percentage basis, but declined to give an earnings outlook due to continuing economic uncertainty.”

Perry Ellis announced a profit decline of 37% for the first quarter of 2009: “Apparel maker Perry Ellis International Inc. said Thursday that its profit tumbled 36 percent in its fiscal first quarter . . . Perry Ellis said its gross margins declined during the quarter, pressured by its planned exit of the licensed Ping golf business and by heavy discounts,” and J.Crew reported a 33% profit plunge, though sales rose 2% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, Burberry axes its lower price Thomas Burberry line and cuts jobs in Spain: “Britain’s largest luxury-goods company, reported a full-year loss after it sold more handbags and apparel at a discount and wrote off the value of its business in Spain . . . ‘Markets remain tough,’ Chief Financial Officer Stacey Cartwright said on a call after the report, adding that the Spanish writedown amounted to the entire value of Burberry’s local business. She said Burberry is ‘aggressively’ cutting inventory and ‘planning more conservatively’ this year.”

Menswear designer Thom Browne (he of the abysmal shrunken suits that make wearers look like overgrown boys) is also downsizing his company: “The high-end men’s wear label has parted ways with its chief executive officer and chief financial officer . . . According to one observer, the scale-back is a wise move in this economy. ‘This shows signs that he’s running and operating his business in a more responsible manner. It didn’t make sense for a company that size to have two senior positions. These days, cutbacks are the normal course of business.'”

“I design a man’s suit to look ill-fitting and too small on purpose — I’m a genius!”

As if to thumb its nose at brands less fortunate, “Chanel opened a 7,100-square-foot boutique in the Dubai Mall last month, its first company owned location in the region . . . Designed by architect Peter Marino, the Dubai Mall unit has a residential feel, with some 4,100 square feet devoted to ready-to-wear and accessories over white and beige marble floors appointed with black furniture.”

No one and nothing can keep the Chanel behemoth down.

5.) Travota vs. Forever 21 Ends in Mistrial:
“A mistrial was declared Wednesday in Trovata’s lawsuit alleging Forever 21 knowingly copied its designs . . . Trovata alleged the $1.7 billion cheap chic retailer turned out near-identical copies of pieces worn on the runway or published in magazines — in one instance with labels inside a hoodie that were unique to Trovata. The suit covered seven Trovata pieces, including cardigans, hoodies, shirts and a jacket from fall 2005 to early 2006. Los Angeles-based Forever 21 conceded the similarities between its garments and those of Trovata, but insisted that it broke no laws because the disputed designs were not unique to Trovata.”

Trovata, a young jeans and sportswear company, said it will seek a new trial against Forever 21 in the hopes of punishing the global fast fashion company for what it alleges is flagrant theft of its designs and brand image. Numerous similar lawsuits have been initiated against Forever 21 in the last three years from brands such as Anna Sui, Gwen Stefani and Diane von Furstenberg.

Forever 21 has made a business out of monitoring the runway shows for what will be hot in upcoming seasons, then pushing out cheaper version of the items onto their shelves before the original designers have even finished taking orders. The trial between Trovata and Forever 21 was closely watched by industry insiders for clues into how the courts would rule on accusations of design theft when the designs in question are not copyrighted or trademarked.

Video below of the Trovata Spring/Summer 2009 Collection:

6.) Jeans are Recession Proof:
“While consumer spending remains woefully depressed, expensive designer jeans have been one of the few bright spots for manufacturers and retailers, according to NPD Group Inc., a market research company. Sales of premium brand jeans grew 17 percent during 2008 and eked out a 2.3 percent increase in the most recent three-month period, which ended in February, making premium denim one of a few “pockets of growth in an otherwise fizzling fashion market,” NPD Group said.”

Well, sure — who has the money to dress up and go out anymore? Just give me some comfy jeans and I’m fine on the sofa watching back episodes of Bones. Oh, what? They were talking about “Premium” jeans? Okay, then, give me some comfy “Premium” jeans and we’ll have a backyard bbq. You’re all invited. BYOB.

Speaking of bringing your own beer — Amy Winehouse designs for PPQ: “The range will be all about high end statement pieces, inspired by Amy’s style. For example maybe an amazing piece of jewellery like a bracelet, or a dress. It’s going to be distributed online, we are going to be providing all materials and doing the design, but Amy will definitely be involved in the creative process.”

Hmmmm, junkie-mess designer duds or jeans? Life is full of such difficult choices. BTW: I did apprecia
te how the spokesperson flat-out acknowledged that Winehouse would have very little to do with the actual hands-on designing of the line that will be sold as having been . . . uh . . . “designed” by her.

I guess slapping your name on a brand label, picking up a check and depositing it in your bank account could potentially be considered a type of “lifestyle” design process? If so, I’d be the *best* designer ever!

Update: Agh! I forgot to mention — while you’re all busy dressing down in jeans and Winehouse rags, the little tykes in your life can now live it up in style in the new Oscar de la Renta line . . . for kids! : “The line, which was unveiled earlier this week at Oscar de la Renta’s Melrose Place boutique, will offer tiny shift dresses in floral prints to match the women’s dresses . . . The children’s dresses will retail for between $200 and $350, with $100 from the sale of each dress donated to the Children’s Defense Fund.”

Just the thing for teaching those impressionable pre-teen girls all about the wisdom of saving more than one spends.

7.) Consignment Stores Outpace the Competition:
“While department stores have seen sales tumble during the recession, that’s not the case for re-sale stores. Their business is up across the country by as much as 25 percent in some places . . . The rule of thumb is that gently used clothes sell for a third of what they would retail for, so a Marc Jacobs dress, which would sell for $450 in a store, sells for $149 at Clothes Heaven.”

I wonder if they’ll be selling any Lacroix? Awkward!


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