New York Fashion Week | Designers serve up dark moodiness and optimistic colour

NEW YORK, United States — From the moment that I landed here in New York, the mood has been decidedly sombre. I bumped into a buyer from a major London fashion boutique at the baggage carousel at JFK who told me that “nobody is coming” to New York this time from the major UK fashion magazines. Budgets have been completely slashed. A few hours later, the CEO of a up-and-coming US fashion business predicted that one third

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CEO Talk | Alex Bolen, Chief Executive Officer, Oscar de la Renta

Alex Bolen, CEO, Oscar de la Renta

NEW YORK, United States – It’s a new year, but the news hasn’t changed all that much for the luxury business. In fact, as the numbers roll in from the holiday season and for the fourth quarter of 2008, many executives’ worst fears are playing out. It’s a good thing the industry has leaders like Alex Bolen around to keep us all optimistic. A few seasons ago, I received an invitation to the Oscar de la

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The rise of the online fashion film

NEW YORK, United States - Quoting Steven Kolb, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, saying the format of showing the Fall 2009 collections this February is the “number one item on everyone’s agenda right now,” The Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Runway blog recently asked the question: "Will fashion shows survive the economy?" To answer this question, it's important to consider how fashion shows function in today's media landscape. Increasingly, images and video from runway shows, captured by the established media, as well as a new generation of fashion bloggers wielding video-enabled camera phones, reach a global audience of fashion consumers, in close to realtime, on Style.com, YouTube and fashion blogs around the world. As…

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BoF Recommends | Valentino, the last Emperor

NEW YORK, United States - In the Summer of 2007,  around the time when Valentino Garavani finally resigned from his own label after months of speculation, I would have done anything to be a fly on the wall. What, with the planning of a 45th anniversary celebration in Rome, the controversy surrounding Permira's battle with the Carlyle Group for control of the House, the never-ending will he-won't he leave debate, and the ensuing rumours about potential successors (Giambattista Valli, Zac Posen, Proenza Schouler), there was a veritable tornado of activity going on in the Italian fashion house. Today, 18 months later, I got my wish. I caught an afternoon press screening of  Matt Tyrnauer's film, Valentino - The Last Emperor,…

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New York Fashion Week | Playing it safe

NEW YORK, United States - New York already has the reputation of being the most commercial of the fashion capitals, but this New York Fashion Week has taken that stereotype to new levels. With economic uncertainty swirling through the city (Lehman Brothers is the latest Wall Street Bank whose future is in question) and footfall at department stores dropping precipitously, the mantra of the week seems to have been 'Play it Safe!" Over and over again this week, young designers have told me that the big buyers are sticking to proven silhouettes in basic colours, veering away from the fashion items. While the basics and staples of designer collections will always be important part of the product assortment, it seems…

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New York Fashion Week | Marc Bouwer’s online experiment

NEW YORK, United States - While the rest of New York Fashion Week was caught up in its regular Bryant Park frenzy today, designer Marc Bouwer was busy blazing his own fashion trail, exclusively showing his S/S 2009 collection on his website, thereby giving everyone a front row view. Of course, we have seen other designers, notably Stefano Pilati for YSL (first with menswear, and most recently women's resort) and Husein Chalayan, create videos to showcase their collections. And, Giorgio Armani made history when he streamed his Armani Prive couture collection for Spring 2007 online, gaining kudos for democratising the storied world of haute couture. Net-a-Porter also innovated by putting up Roland Mouret's RM19 collection in an online video and…

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NexCen | Meltdown and mystery

NEW YORK, United States - In recent days, NexCen has experienced a meltdown unlike anything the fashion world has seen, leaving Bill Blass,  its star brand, in play as vulture investors circle to assess what value remains. NexCen's failure to disclose a $30m debt that must be paid back by October has sent its stock reeling and could very likely result in the company going bankrupt. Its CEO Robert D'Loren's job is at stake and the company's investors and other stakeholders are furious. The dramatic turn of events underlines the fact that even culturally important brands like Bill Blass can suffer collateral damage in the new era that has brought fashion and finance together. In February, Lauren Goldstein Crowe investigated…

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Breaking News | Is Barneys about to become a basket case?

News has been trickling in all week about confusion around the strategic direction being taken by Barneys and today, the New York Times is reporting that its highly respected CEO Howard Socol will resign next week. This is an abrupt change of tone in the buzz around Barneys, which is arguably the most influential and forward thinking luxury and fashion department store chain in America today. Bergdorf Goodman, of course is a venerable store in its own right, but it only has one location in New York and  its sister company, Neiman Marcus, based in Dallas, is far removed from the New York fashion hub. Yes, Neimans serves an unequaled luxury customer, but it just does not have the fashion…

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New York Fashion Week | Celebrity is the new haute couture

Yesterday at Phillip Lim I heard a videographer complaining "There's no one here, and whenever someone does show up, they bring them out at the last minute so I can't shoot them." Many fashion brands may have been built on the dreams created by out-of-this world haute couture collections, but today, for many brands, this desire is built on the image of celebrity, which can arguably reach more people than the Haute Couture shows ever will. Celebrity is the new Haute Couture. Or, better said, celebrity now plays the dream-weaving and marketing role that Haute Couture has played in the past. However, in a week when the front rows were supposed to be dripping with celebrities, the paparazzi at New…

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