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News Bites | Peter Dundas on his Beyoncé Surprise, Coach's Virtual Reality Runway and More...

In today's News Bites, how Peter Dundas pulled off a coup launching his own brand with Beyoncé at the Grammys, while Diane von Furstenberg hires a L'Oréal veteran as her new co-chairman.
Evangelo Bousis, Beyoncé and Peter Dundas at the 2017 Grammy Awards | Source: Courtesy
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  • BoF Team

Welcome to News Bites, BoF's regular compilation of the stories that have got the industry talking.

Peter Dundas tells BoF about his decision to launch a label, and how he came to announce the news by dressing a pregnant Beyoncé at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

"When you’re working with an expectant mother, you need to have an open mind about what’s going to work, what’s going to look great," Dundas said of the unique creative scope that came with designing Beyoncé's Grammys looks about a month ago. "Even in the last two weeks, she’s continued evolving."

The opportunity to work with Beyoncé was a "happy coincidence" that came about after Dundas ran into the singer's stylist, Marni Senofonte, at VOICES in December. Given that he would be working under his own name, there was "a great opportunity to communicate that we're launching the brand as well."

Dundas had been thinking about starting a namesake line for the past couple of years, he said. "I hadn’t really entertained the idea with such seriousness before... [but] when I met my partner Evangelo [Bousis], this started feeling like a real possibility."

Dundas admitted that it is early days for his fledgling business, and there is no word yet on when or where a collection might launch (he and Bousis currently split their time between London and New York). But when it does happen, it may not be according to tried-and-tested formulas. "Today you can think a little bit out of the box on when you present something and where you present it as well. I like the idea of being able to have that freedom," Dundas says.

Dundas ultimately created four looks for Beyoncé, and it is likely that the kind of red carpet eveningwear worn by the singer will be a part of his brand identity. "I’ve always had so much fun with it... it’s just natural to include that," he said.

Dundas' announcement comes four months after his exit from Roberto Cavalli. Prior to joining Roberto Cavalli in March 2015, he held posts as creative director at Emilio Pucci and Emanuel Ungaro. — Tamara Abraham

Coach and IMG to Bring Runway Show to American Malls

Both brands and retailers are struggling to attract and entertain consumers in a fast changing fashion landscape. Coach, for one, has turned its runway shows into large-scale productions complete with extravagant sets and influencers. Meanwhile, Simon Malls has invested in dining concepts, cinemas and musical performances to attract shoppers. Now, the two companies are partnering with IMG to invite would-be shoppers to experience Coach’s Autumn 2017 runway show through virtual reality.

Starting on February 17, shoppers at Coach stores in ten Simon malls will have access to VR headsets that immerse them in the brand's runway experience — from the loading dock to the final walk — in stereoscopic sound. “Coach and IMG didn’t want to venture into this unless the technology was at a point where watching a runway show online would give you a better experience than being there in the flesh,” said Mark Shapiro, co-president of WME | IMG. He said virtual and augmented reality have been a priority for the company over the last year.

Chidi Achara, global creative director of Simon Malls, said the technology connects the dots between the buzz of the runway and sales. While the VR experience is on display, select Coach stores will offer a “Rexy” dinosaur bag charm with any $300 purchase, and the Roosevelt Field location will give away 75 “Rexy” editor’s envelopes with tickets to an upcoming New York Fashion Week show. “For us, the VR piece is extremely important,” said Achara, adding that hopefully hundreds of millions of more shoppers will interact with the content through Facebook 360, YouTube and VR networks. “The content can be consumed everywhere.”

To be sure, this technology is a far cry from the cockpit-esque VR booths that used to populate malls in the late 1990s. "We're bringing online audiences closer to fashion," Shapiro said. "And that's something that I think is paramount for the industry going forward." — Lauren Sherman and Chantal Fernandez

Following the abrupt departure of CEO Paolo Riva in November, Diane von Furstenberg has appointed a Co-Chairman, a new role in the company.

Marc Menesguen, a veteran of L'Oréal who was most recently president of the beauty conglomerate's consumer products division, will join DVF as co-chairman of the New York-based brand.

The appointment comes at a transitional period for the DVF business. In May 2016, Scottish designer Jonathan Saunders joined the company as its first chief creative officer, reporting to then-chief executive Paolo Riva. In November of that year, Riva resigned from his post.

Saunders' first three collections for the DVF label, the last of which he showed at New York Fashion Week on Sunday, February 12, have been lauded by the fashion press. Given Menesguen's years of experience in the beauty space — he spent more than a decade at L'Oreal — his appointment indicates that there may be opportunities to extend the brand into new categories. But this will require careful navigation of a senior management team that includes the powerful force that is Von Furstenberg in what is essentially a family-owned enterprise. — Lauren Sherman

Do you have a story for News Bites? Email newsbites@businessoffashion.com.

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