Industry chatter | Costello Tagliapietra, Derek Lam and Kim Jones

There are many paths a young fashion designer can take to achieve fame and fortune. But these paths are often meandering and always challenging. It can take many years for a designer to find their way. Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra first made a name for themselves as masters of the jersey dress -- perhaps a bit of niche market, but one that they had down cold.  We met the eccentric and charming duo a couple of years ago when they were first embarking on their careers. We watched as Anna Wintour took a front row seat at their show, signaling the strong support they have from the fashion establishment. At the time, they had started to look for funding,…

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Links | It bags and Whistles

Why It bags are out (Wall Street Journal)Stephanie Solomon of Bloomingdales tells the WSJ that "The 'it' bag isn't important any more. It's all about looking different from your neighbor."  Consumers are looking for something special, unique and exclusive. And, with a recession in the wind, observers are saying people will consume less conspicuously and may not want an instantly identifiable bag. It bags RIP? Jane Shepherdson to Buy Whistles (Catwalk Queen)With a little help from some Icelandic friends, Jane Shepherdson, a former TopShop business dynamo, has become Chief Executive and part-owner of Whistles. Smart move on the part of Baugur who recognised the expertise that Shepherdson could bring to the table and how to keep her there. Fashion Inc…

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Industry chatter | Prada’s IPO

At a time when all fashion advertisements are beginning to look the same, you can always count on Miuccia Prada to keep things interesting. Her new campaign for Spring/Summer 08 reflects the sweet optimism of her collection shown last September in Milan. It could have come right out of A Midsummer Night's Dream with all its nymphs and fairies. Remarking on Prada's dramatic move away from tougher designs in seasons past, Sarah Mower said "when Miuccia is fed up with being perverse in the anarchic-fierce way, she'll change tack yet again and go against the grain by being so sweetly unchallenging you (almost) can't recognize her."  But are things as rosy for Prada on the IPO front? This was the…

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Luxury Outlook | Coping with the downturn

Now that we know that the Luxury industry is not as insulated from the economic downturn as much as many luxury and fashion CEOs would like, what's a brand to do? Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, is thinking two steps ahead. Yesterday he shared with The Business of Fashion a 7 point plan for coping with the economic malaise that is quickly sweeping across the world. We thought it was compelling and have excerpted the key points here. 1. Eliminate the Hobbies: Renew your focus on what you do best and innovate within those categories. Many luxury brands have entered into categories where they have no expertise because they want to be "lifestyle" brands. Some categoriesare logical extensions…

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Links | Cris Barros, Luxury IPOs and Men’s A/W 2008

Cris Barros: Concrete Plans (Style.com)During our recent trip to South America, we were introduced to designer Cris Barros and her business partner Luiz Felipe. Barros is one of Sao Paulo's hottest designers. This is a piece we wrote for Style.com on her new flagship which opens in March. Fashion Change: Hilfiger's IPO is shelved (Wall Street Journal)Tommy Hilfiger is the first high-profile fashion IPO scheduled for 2008 that has been called off as global economy continues to deteriorate. Will Prada call off it's IPO for the fourth time running? Just last week, DowJones contacted The Business of Fashion to ask our opinions on this very topic. Paris Men's Fashion Week (Men.style.com)We caught the tail end of  Men's fashion week for…

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Valentino | The last word

On the eve of his final couture show held in Paris on Wednesday, Valentino Garavani was telling Italian newspapers that business is ruining the fashion industry and that he wished he had had time to groom a successor before retiring. Earlier this year, Permira, the private equity company, won a battle with The Carlyle Group for control of the Valentino business, which at the time was split up amongst several shareholders who had aligned themselves with different investors, leading to a down-to-the-wire battle for the venerable Italian fashion house. This may explain why Mr Valentino chose to use particularly strong language to describe the state of the fashion industry, telling Italy's Messagero newspaper that: "The world of fashion has now…

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Robert Polet | Gucci’s (real) rock star

Maybe it is the emerging importance of Russian customers that convinced Frida Giannini she should look to Russian rockers to inspire her latest menswear collection for Gucci. Regardless of the source of her inspiration, it would be fair to say that the collection went down with an audible thud. Suzy Menkes of the IHT, Horacio Silva of The Moment, and Tim Blanks of Style.com seemed to be grasping for positive things to say about it. Guy Trebay of the New York Times went even further: There are days in the life of a fashion observer when having a nail driven into one’s skull seems preferable to sitting through another evocation of the so-called rock ’n’ roll style....it seems willfully dated…

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Designer update | Bontoni breaks out

Bontoni, the men's luxury shoe brand featured on the Business of Fashion during September's New York Fashion Week, is breaking out. Lewis Cutillo tells us that the brand has been making great strides, albeit quietly, in the past few months. "We continue to take a quiet and discreet approach to marketing our shoes," says Lewis. "Despite that, or maybe because of it, we are finding a growing number of clients among hedge fund managers, top CEOs, and well known professional athletes and entertainers." The Robb Report recently posted a piece on the budding brand on its New and Noteworthy blog, and several major media outlets have been making inquiries of late, as the word-of-mouth on Bontoni has picked up. However,…

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Luxury Outlook 2008 | How much padding does that luxury cushion have?

LONDON, United Kingdom - Conventional wisdom is that the luxury sector is cushioned from the ups and downs of the overall economy because its customers are amongst the "happy few" who aren't affected by such trivial matters as making mortgage payments and paying off credit card bills in the midst of a darkening macro-economic environment. But exactly how much padding does that luxury cushion have? According to Luca Solca of BernsteinResearch, not a lot. In his report "PPR: Worsening Macroeconomic Outlook points to slower Luxury Market Growth in 2008," published today, Solca asserts that there is a strong correlation  between the general economy and the luxury sector (R-squared = 66%). Therefore, any problems in the general economy are certain to spill…

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Rad Hourani | Self-styled

MONTREAL, Canada - When Rad Hourani's clothes hit the runway last season, the names that people were whispering included those of fashion royalty like Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester -- or at least that's what Style.com said when they named him one of their Top 10 New Faces for the S/S 2008 collections. This is no mean feat for this young stylist from Montreal. He has no formal fashion training at all. "I am lucky enough to be extremely curious about anything," he says.  Everything I know about fashion design, videomaking or photography, I learned it on my own." He has put all of these skills to use in a series of 15 videos directed and edited from 2006-2007 as he…

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The Business of Fashion: Happy 2008

It's been exactly one year since we launched The Business of Fashion, and what an adventure it has been. From our first ever post on The Gap to the most recent one on Martin Churba, we have seen our little experimental side project grow into something much bigger than we had ever imagined. We were pleasantly surprised when, late last year, Shiny Media ranked The Business of Fashion amongst the world’s Top 100 Fashion & Lifestyle blogs: 17. The Business of Fashion: Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this is the blog to go to for a slightly more professional look at the industry, with really good business advice and insider info. Too big to truly be an…

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Links: The Sheikh of Chic, Fragrance failures, and Made in Italy

Majed Al-Sabah, The Sheikh of Chic (New York Times, The Moment)Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah is the guest blogger on 'The Moment' this week. Majed's first posting gives his perspective on bringing Western luxury brands to the Middle East and the second reflects on the Middle East "youthquake." It makes for interesting reading, particularly as the Middle East is one of the most promising markets for luxury brands. Majed reveals how this wasn't always the case. Why the Perfume Business is Beginning to Stink (The Wall Street Journal)Perfumes used to be a guaranteed money-spinner for fashion brands and a way for the masses to buy into the carefully woven dreams of fashion designers. This article suggests that the economics of perfumes may…

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Prada and Cavalli: Italian fashion titans

Two Italian fashion moguls known for their fiery personalities have been making news this week. Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada announced his company's intention to go public in 2008. The industry has heard a similar announcement from Prada at least three times in the last decade, only to see the IPOs get called off due to unfavourable market conditions. Mr. Bertelli has become known for his astute product eye and his challenging personal style.  He is thought to have control over the leather goods businesses while Mrs. Prada focuses on the creative ready-to-wear businesses. Each has their own domain, as it were, and Bertelli's success with leather goods speaks for itself. However, some have questioned how he will cope with…

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