Luxury & Fashion Biz News: New York Fashion Week as kitsch; Views from the decks of yachts; and Gaga goes Guggi
New York Fashion Week wrapped up just a couple of days ago, and three of the city’s biggest retail powerhouses went noticeably kitsch in their pursuit of media attention and consumer dollars.
First, Michael Kors with a bright, colour-blocked 1980s flourish:
Michael Kors Spring 2013 — An investment banker’s shiny dream
Then Marc Jacobs in a hyper-stripey nod to the graphic 1960s:
Marc Jacobs Spring 2013 — It’s a mod mod mod mod world
And finally, Ralph Lauren served from his usual English manor buffet, but spiced it up with some vaguely cliched latin-fusion mix of Mexican beads, Spanglish ponchos, bolero jackets and flamenco hats — which means, I guess, that when most of what your target clientele sees of the world is either what’s on the telly (RL Jeans) or the view from the deck of a superyacht (RL Purple Label), one can be forgiven for not picking a specific geographical region and sticking with it:
Ralph Lauren Spring 2013 — Tacos in Spain = Bullfighting in Mexico
*Sidebar: Miuccia Prada did the exotic latin twirl better in her Spring collection from two years ago — which is why they call her a “directional” designer; Prada leads, and others (like Ralph Lauren) follow.
SPEAKING OF RALPH LAUREN AND FOLLOWING: The popularity of the PBS anglocentric period-drama ‘Downton Abbey’ has prodded the Ralph Lauren company to engage in its first ever corporate television sponsorship: Ralph Lauren signs up as corporate sponsor for PBS’s ‘Masterpiece’ — “After paying homage to — some might say knocking off — ‘Downton Abbey’ with his (Fall 2012) collection, Ralph Lauren has decided to make sure the show from which he draws his ‘inspiration’ continues into perpetuity, and become a corporate sponsor of ‘Downton’ presenter, PBS’s ‘Masterpiece.’”
*Irony Alert: Viking River Cruises is the other corporate sponsor of the ‘Masterpiece’ series, which, you know, views from the decks of yachts and all . . .
*Irony Alert 2: Downton Abbey just might be a fashion powerhouse, after all — Downton Abbey actor models for online luxury menswear retailer, MrPorter.com.
Now that NYFashion Week has reached its kitschy conclusion, the fashion journalism pack will pack up and move on to the Spring runway shows in London, Milan and Paris. But what with all the wailing and gnashing of> teeth in the financial and economic sectors lately, one has to wonder just when this latest fashion bubble is going to burst.
*MEMORY LANE: Remember the whole “Crisis? What crisis?“ act that fashion designers pulled back in 2009? Expect to see more of the same in 2013.
And right on cue: Long Luxury Boom Slows in China — “We’re seeing a barrage of new data that shows the Chinese luxury and collectibles boom may be stalling – from weak wine sales to slower sales of jewelry and handbags. Richemont said sales growth has slowed significantly in Asia. Wine auction sales fell by 25 percent in the first six months of 2012.”
*See also: Burberry’s Stagnating Sales Indicate End to Luxury Boom — “In China … the economy grew at the slowest pace in three years in the second quarter. Europe’s debt crisis is damping the economic outlook and the region’s banks have laid off 172,000 workers since 2009, while the U.S. unemployment rate has been above 8% since February 2009, the longest stretch in monthly records going back to 1948. That’s starting to have an effect on both global travel and the number of people shopping at luxury stores . . . “
But analysts have quickly jumped up from their chairs to remind everyone that hey, not so fast there sportos — just because Burberry hit a bit of a snag doesn’t mean that the rest of the luxury brand world is colliding with the iceberg: Remember, Not All Luxury Companies Are The Same — “There needs to be a balance between brand cachet and brand access, something that Burberry seems to have forgotten. In recent months, the company has been pruning its product lines, cutting low-priced goods, especially in the United States, in an effort to move up in the marketplace and make Burberry a more “elite” brand. We believe that this move has backfired.”
Which is similar to what happened to Coach when they tried to phase out coupons at their outlet stores in order to position themselves just a little bit higher on the “desirable” chain (because nothing punctures the air out of a luxury image faster than someone standing at the cash register waving coupons) — there was an immediate blowback, and Coach sales fell hard and fast; so hard and fast, in fact, that the company reinstated coupons faster than you can say Mea Culpa!
*RELATED: Vanessa Friedman intimates in the Financial Times that the Burberry sales slowdown won’t translate to the entire luxury sector because, well, Burberry relies too heavily on the mass-market consumer to be considered a luxury brand by anyone but market-watchers and analysts: “So perhaps that’s the real lesson we should take away from the Burberry news: consumers differentiate luxury. Maybe industry-watchers should too.”
*MORE FASHION RELATED NONSENSE: Oscar de la Renta took offence at NYTimes fashion critic Cathy Horyn’s brief remark that he was more hot dog than éminence grise, and retaliated in a full-page open letter in WWD: Oscar de la Renta Fires Back at Cathy Horyn, Calls Her a ‘Stale 3-Day-Old Hamburger’
Horyn said that she thought de la Renta was needlessly insulted by her hot dog remark, and that the full-page WWD thing was “a little over the top.”
*IN WHICH ANOTHER FASHION DINOSAUR GETS OFFENDED: Roberto Cavalli took to his blog to vent his frustration at fellow designers “Little King” Armani and Dolce & Gabbana over the scheduling for Milan fashion week: “The Cavalli maison has always been a member of the fashion chamber. I think that Armani is a member, too, but his every choice is perceived as an order! Dolce & Gabbana are not members but they don’t care about others and pursue their own interests as if they were the only fashion house in Italy.”
So Lady Gaga’s Guggenheim Museum party for the official launch of her Fame perfume came and went. The world still turns.
As reported by the intrepid partygoers at The Cut, Gaga slept inside a giant perfume bottle, people touched her through a plexiglass hole in the wall, she (allegedly) peed into a champagne bucket, she got a tattoo, the crowd was crushing: “This continued for the remainder of the evening: one intimate party, where a languid Lady Gaga was tattooed inside the egg in her underwear, and another larger party, where a sea of guests exhausted from Fashion Week milled about and watched. At 11 p.m. on the nose, a museum guard said the Guggenheim was closing. A newly tattooed Gaga emerged from the egg and met her mother at the top of the stairs. ‘Come on,’ said her mom, holding a full glass of Champagne. ‘Let’s go.’”
Gaga @ the Guggi — “She’s the best ingredient in a good recipe”
In other words, everything went just as expected.
Below is the full-length ad/film/PR extravaganza that was shown to assembled guests at the Guggenheim launch:
Fame may look really cool, but it smells pretty drab
I’ll tell you one thing — for your basic mall-type fruity floral celebuscent, Coty is certainly laying down the multi-million dollar red carpet. If only the perfume itself were fractionally as edgy and odd as the marketing material. In an ideal world, maybe.
*Speaking of perfume that’s actually decent: Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena wants us all to know that he smells with his brain: “As an organ, my nose simply performs a control function. I smell with my brain. It stores every scent and knows how to combine them . . . I’ve reduced the number of ingredients I work with, and now I have only 200. Most perfumers have 1,000.”
Sounds kind of Gaga-ish to me.