21 October 2006

Hermès Time

Hermès annonce la signature d'un accord avec la Fondation de Famille Sandoz.
Le groupe prendra dans le cadre de cet accord une participation de 25% dans le capital de Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. L'investissement porte sur un montant de 15,7 millions d'euros. Cette opérations est réalisées par le biais d'augmentations de capital. La société Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier est spécialisée dans la conception, la production et l'assemblage de mouvements mécaniques de haute horlogerie, notamment la production de l'échappement et du balancier-spiral, cœur stratégique des garde-temps. Elle fournit entre autres les marques Parmigiani, également en mains de la famille Sandoz, et Hermès. Cette prise de participation d'Hermès dans la société Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier permet de renforcer l'activité horlogerie dans le groupe. .

20 October 2006


The Comité Colbert and the FIAC will be joining hands from the 26th - 30th of October in the Cour Carré du Louvre and other prestigious venues. This coming together of contempory art and luxury remind us of the inextricable bond between innovation, creation and luxury.

"Créer, exceller, émerveiller" - the motto of the Comité Colbert has been translated to the many events organised during this period in association with the FIAC. Not only will some Happy Few be able to visit cradles of creation such as the ateliers Haute Couture Dior, they will also be able to meet with visionnaries of the luxury industry.
Comité Colbert à la FIAC

19 October 2006

Luxury and Discretion

Bernard Arnault, owner of LVMH and Belgian billionaire Albert Frère announced today they would create a new joint investment venture with an equity financing capacity of one billion euros.
Groupe Arnault and Frere's NPM/CNP(Belgian) intend to invest mainly in European companies in both listed and unlisted (rumours are, they have their eye on Aston Martin). .
The very discreet Baron Albert Frère (80), keen huntsman (game and business) has prowling corporate Europe in a restless chase for a bargain, buying, selling and swapping pieces of some of the most prominent businesses in Germany, Italy, France and his native Belgium. Sometimes called the Warren Buffett of Europe, his diverse portfolio of investments and deals usually ignore national boundaries...

The most nagging question for Frère-watchers is what he will do with the more than €4 billion, or $5 billion, reaped from a private sale in July of the 25 percent stake in the German media company Bertelsmann owned by his holding company, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, known as GBL.
Ordinarily, Frère is a discreet investor who shuns the limelight, saving his high-energy charisma to cultivate a blue-chip network of chief executives, fellow business tycoons and aristocrats.
But lately he has been more voluble, leading to speculation that he is poised for The Next Big Deal.
Behind the scenes, as the largest individual shareholder in Suez, he is a player in the current efforts to merge that French power utility with Gaz de France, the nation's top natural gas supplier, to create Europe's largest utilities player, with a €75 billion market capitalization. Frère has also rapidly amassed the largest single stake in Lafarge, placing pressure on that French cement maker to deliver results. Through Compagnie Nationale à Portefeuille, another holding company, he recently paid Suez €120 million for a 5 percent stake in the French television channel M6. The market is still waiting for something more dramatic from Frère - because he has started talking to the news media again.

It has been a long way to come for Frère, a high school dropout at 18 and son of a nail merchant. His widowed mother took over the family scrap-iron business at age 40, while raising three children. From his mother, Frère recalled, he acquired his enduring thriftiness, a habit ingrained every time he switches off blazing lights. "A diploma is important at the beginning," he says, "but for the rest of a professional career, the tools of success are constant work, business instincts, pragmatism and charisma." In the 1950s, he parlayed money from the family nail-making business to buy a handful of steel makers. It was the beginning of a career based on an uncanny sense of timing.
He was one of the first industrialists to realize that the Korean War would spur demand for steel. He then made a fortune in 1979 when the Belgian government nationalized the country's steel companies before the industry slid into decline.
Frère forged what became a lifetime alliance with Paul Desmarais, a Canadian entrepreneur, and with the money from the state takeovers they bought GBL in 1982, leading to a cascade of investments.
With Desmarais acting as the strategist and Frère executing the deals, they bought and sold many of the crown jewels of the Belgian business world, which had gained in value as the European Union evolved into a single market.
Perhaps Frère is most famous for relentlessly driving consolidation of corporate Europe in industries like banking, insurance, energy and media. He sold Banque Bruxelles Lambert to the Dutch financial giant ING; shares of Petrofina to Total, the French oil behemoth; Royal Belge insurance to AXA in France; and RTL, the Luxembourg- based television broadcaster, to Bertelsmann, the German media company. Last year, GBL played a major role in the Suez decision to buy the remaining shares it did not already own in Electrabel, the biggest Belgian electric utility.
There was grumbling in Belgium that he was selling out his country. But Frère had already become part of the aristocracy, having been awarded the title of baron by King Albert II in 1994. Frère also has been awarded the French Legion of Honor.

Today Frère is one of Europe's richest men, with a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at more than $3 billion. A collector of fine art that includes paintings by Renoir and Magritte, Frère divides his life largely between Brussels, Paris and a home in Gerpinnes, in the Belgian countryside. He also has a vacation home in Saint Tropez, France, where his neighbors include Arnault, his good friend.
Arnaud and Frère are already co-owners of the storied Château Cheval Blanc winery in Bordeaux, talk two to three times a week, and Frère's daughter was maid of honor at the wedding of Arnault's daughter. The relationship between the two men is one of many that Frère has cultivated as part of a network of friends and business colleagues who provide him with vital information that becomes part of his successful investing maxim: "As time passes, opportunities arise."
Alain Minc, an economic adviser and author who is a longtime friend of Frère's, has watched him navigate the Continent's boardrooms. He has also seen him in tough negotiations when they brokered a truce between two of the richest men in France- François Pinault, chairman of the PPR retailing empire, and Arnault - in a feud over the Italian fashion house Gucci.
"He's not a mere investor," Minc said. "He participates in the game because he enjoys human relations and he enjoys being friends. And he has a very skillful ability for networking by creating empathy. He enjoys life. He enjoys food and wine and laughter, and so people like him."
Arnault said it is Frère's convivial and warm personality that draws people into his circle and to dinner parties at his homes.
"He's somebody you like immediately," Arnault said. "And as long as he has a lot of relationships in Europe and outside Europe, it gives him a view of many, many opportunities and he has been able to seize on that."
To hammer out the deal with Bertelsmann for the sale of GBL's 25 percent stake in the company, Frère organized a dinner at his home in Belgium this year with his wife, Christine; his son, Gérald, 55, who is chairman of the board of Compagnie Nationale à Portefeuille; the chief executive of Bertelsmann, Gunther Thielen; and Liz Mohn, doyenne of the family that is the largest shareholder in Bertelsmann.
Frère's initial 2001 investment in Bertelsmann was one of his biggest coups and had a profound cultural impact on Bertelsmann. Ultimately, Bertelsmann bought back GBL's shares to avoid taking the family-controlled company public.
Thomas Middelhoff is a former chief executive of Bertelsmann who negotiated the sale of the stake to Frère in 2001 in exchange for a controlling interest in Frère's pan-European broadcaster, RTL. He said he tried to strike the best deal by imagining Frère's next move and countering his most lethal weapon.
"I tried to beat him with the same charm - tough and clear, with a firm position," Middelhoff said, noting that their business relationship evolved into friendship.
But Frère's moves often remain so cryptic to the market that analysts and rivals are forced to glean clues from his rare public utterances.
This month, Frère gave an interview to a French business publication, L'Expansion, which quoted him as saying that he would not rule out increasing his 8 percent stake in Suez following the company's merger with Gaz de France.
To the International Herald Tribune, he said of Suez that there was "no question at all that we intend to stay as a stable shareholder in the long run."
He also said his company, GBL, might increase its almost 11 percent stake in Lafarge, though he did not say whether he would seek a seat on the company's board. "It is not our intention, but we will see in due time," he said.
He offers few clues about how he will spend the proceeds from the Bertelsmann sale. "There are numerous opportunities in many sectors, including investments in quasi-industry or private equity," he said, noting that whether the industry is media or cement, the goal is the same: "a search for value."
But whatever the investment, he intends to be in the thick of the deal, maintaining his negotiating form with golf, hunting, telephone calls, and a daily 45- minute regimen on an exercise bicycle.
Succession, he said, is assured with a talented and loyal group of managers and his son, Gérald, waiting in the wings. His younger son, Charles-Albert, died in a car crash in 1999. Frère has created a Belgian foundation, Fonds Charles-Albert Frère, to help disabled people and victims of poverty.
Friends say he will pursue the next deal until his very last day and he has clearly negotiated his terms. "I have," he said, "simply erased the word 'retirement' from my vocabulary."

18 October 2006

Ni-hao Versace

According to the Shanghai Daily 18th of October 2006

Gianni Versace SpA, the Italian fashion house named after its late founder, will invest 10 million euros (US$13 million) to open nine stores in China next year, seeking growth in the world's fastest growing major economy.
The luxury retailer will also open 10 outlets of its VJC brand, which targets the youth market, Giancarlo Di Risio, Versace's managing director, said at a briefing in Beijing yesterday. About 40 percent of the Milan-based company's planned investments for next year would be made in China, he said...

China's luxury-goods market is growing as much as 60 percent a year and has been targeted by luxury retailers such as Prada Holding NV, Bulgari SpA and Valentino SpA. Versace, whose clothes are worn by celebrities, including Britney Spears, is expanding in the country to offset lagging sales in Europe, Bloomberg News reported.
"They haven't been very strong here - they've been low profile," said Paul French, the editorial director of Shanghai-based market research firm Access Asia Ltd. "Perhaps this move means they're starting to push in China."
Versace said in July it planned to open 12 stores in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan by the third quarter to help boost sales. The company had launched five outlets on the Chinese mainland alone as of yesterday, spokeswoman Deirdre McCready said, denying that branch openings were behind schedule.
An ACNielsen poll this year ranked Versace as the world's third-most-desired brand after Giorgio Armani and Gucci. More than a quarter of 21,000 online consumers in 42 countries said they would buy Versace goods if money weren't an issue. Actresses Uma Thurman and Jennifer Lopez wore the company's clothes at the Academy Awards in March.
The challenge for Versace in China, which opened its first store in the country 12 years ago in Beijing, is that its designs may be perceived as too "flashy for Chinese," market researcher French said. "Versace, which is all about exotic colors and extreme designs, may be too much of a risk to wear in China."
Donatella Versace, the company's vice president and creative director, said at yesterday's press briefing that she was confident the company's designs would suit the tastes of rich, modern Chinese.
The closely held clothier has sold unprofitable units, overhauled management and taken control of distribution in Japan to compete more effectively with Gucci Group and Giorgio Armani SpA. Di Risio also has slashed seven licenses to focus on two main apparel collections, sped up deliveries and boosted sales of higher-margin leather accessories.

17 October 2006

Fly me to the Moon

The ultimate luxury experience. Space travel. Initiated by Richard Branson, and with detail to design (logo by Ph. Starck) Virgin Galactic promises (for a mere 200,000 dollars), to change your take on the world.
Book your sub-orbital flight now... take off in 2008.

Pleats Please, Fujiwara

Dai Fujiwara a été nommé directeur créatif des lignes Issey Miyake. Comme prévu, le remplaçant de Naoki Takizawa, qui a quitté le groupe pour fonder sa propre marque, est issu du sérail. Fujiwara a intégré le "Miyake Design Studio" en 1995. En 1998, il a été nommé codirecteur du projet A-POC, A Piece of Cloth. Ses créations lui ont valu en 2003 le prix du Mainichi Design Award. Dai Fujiwara et sa nouvelle équipe présenteront leurs premières collections pour les lignes Issey Miyake homme et femme à Paris en janvier et en mars prochains.

Diesel Turbo

Renzo Rosso, the Richard Branson of fashion and owner of Diesel Denim Gallery (very good site), Maison Martin Margiela, DSquared2 and Vivienne Westwood, has taken his business to the next level. Yesterday he acquired control of Pier s.p.a. a major italian luxury apparel manufacturer adding a mojor asset to his luxury group babptised Only the Brave. Staff International, his branch which handled this operation, bought out 55% of the shares of Pier S.p.a. Pier, already manufactures for prestigious brands such as Dior Homme (LVMH), Azzedine Alaïa (Prada), Chloé (Richemont) and Dries Van Noten in a dynamic and technically innovative production unit. Mariza et Alessandro Narduzzi, the former owners will remain as management. This Operation will consolidate Rosso's group's position in the luxury arena.

16 October 2006

VIDEO Valentino S/S 2007
Fashion legend Valentino will celebrate 45 years in the business with a travelling exhibition starting next July.The exhibit will showcase the historic creations and highlights of his lengthy career, including some of his best-known designs. It will start in Paris, where the 74-year-old stylist has presented a number of collections in recent years. "We're looking at Paris because it has welcomed Valentino with such great spontaneity and enthusiasm," explained Giancarlo Giammetti, his business partner and lifelong companion . Unlike the celebrations for his last big anniversary five years ago, which centred around a single lavish party in Hollywood, the 2007 event will take in a number of major cities around the world

In 1998 Valentino sold his company for 300 million dollars to Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali which then sold it to another Italian luxury goods company, Marzotto . Two years ago Marzotto successfully listed the Valentino fashion house on the Milan stock exchange.
Today, a year after splitting from the Marzotto group, Valentino Fashion Group is looking to expand, and find partners... Michele Norsa, director with the company for 9 years left last july - he was credited with Valentino’s turnaround and the role he played in the Marzotto SpA spin-off of its fashion businesses into the Valentino Fashion Group. Antonio Favrin, current director ad interimdeclares that he would like to strike up an alliance with "somebody likely to help us face the international market" (II Sole 24 Ore)
It is also questioning how long designer Valention Garavani will remain with the fashion house he founded 44 years ago. According to WWD, sources close the company say that chief operating officer Matteo Marzotto of Valentino SpA has begun his search for a successor.

Valentino Fashion Group closed the first semester with a turnover of 926 million € (up 14%), and wishes to accelerate its progression, especially in emerging markets with strong economic growth. Valention Fashion Group manages Roman brand Valentino, as well as Hugo Boss, Missoni and Malboro Classics. M. Favrin also declared that the group "has a distribution channel that enables significant synergies with other brands", he does not rule out aqcuisitions.

Counterfeiting and the Microchip

Software maker SAP and microchip maker Intel will work together to encourage companies to adopt RFID technology. When will the luxury industry adopt these new techs? The recent developments regarding the lawsuits filed by luxury giants against e-Bay, Walmart, Target and even the Silk Market in Beijing show how protective these brands are of their image - and rightly so...
Counterfeit items are not the only problem plaguing these companies. It is difficult to admit it, but one also has to recognize losses in the millions in stolen goods. It is surprising that read/write identification tags are not yet part and parcel of the luxury goods item.
Applications to this type of hardware are numerous and many companies such as Motorola, Cisco and SAP are stepping up their position in Radio Frequency Identification, attributing the technology's move from startup into growth. End to end solutions exist already.
Apart from the obvious applications of supply chain tracking, inventory management and loss prevention, the luxury industry could adapt this kind of technology to personalise luxury items (personalise id chip once item purchased) as well as keep a record of te items repair history. To wage war on counterfeit items, customs could be equiped with tag readers to identify the real from the fake (sometimes quite difficult with the naked eye).
Basically this chip could save time and hassel in law suits, and diplomacy.
What is frequently omitted in tech descriptives of these products however, is the store operations side of things. Customer service being of the highest importance in luxury stores, staff will not have to worry about the logistics. They would not have to perform as many inventories (as the chips permit instant identification over a given space, even for large numbers of items) and be able to handle customers instead of identifying shoplifters (security functions can be integrated).
So what do these chips cost? from 25 cents to 100€ depending on it's fonctions.

Existing examples: de Grisogono

Boxing in Contemporary Art

It is out right war on the art scene between Pinault (PPR) and Arnault (LVMH).
Before writing this post I googled "arnault art -pinault" and "pinault art -arnault". 1 point to Pinault (332000 pages as opposed to 142000 for his opposant).
Let's just recapitulate: Obviously you have noticed the ping pong going on this year: Isle seguin (previous post : Fondation Pinault), Fondation Louis Vuitton (previous post : LVMH has found it's soul) now Pinault tops the charts in becoming this year's most influent person in the art world according to artreview (I might have omitted a couple of exhibitions).

I won't go into the fact that both have contributed in a very influential way in various art events and exhibits. I won't into the fact that Christie's was bought by Pinault in 1998, followed closely by Arnault's purchase of Jacques Tajan (and caressing the secret ambition of purchasing Sotheby's) either.

So what's all the fuss about? Contemporary art and luxury goods have been hand in hand since both acquired notoriety. This battle of the art just makes me say: "hey! there are other foundations too"...

Here are the other less publicised examples of luxury brand owned foundations (not all have prestigious venues):
Fondation Cartier
Fondation Prada
Fondation Pierre Bergé YSL (mainly fashion)
Fondation Audemars Piguet
La verrière Hermès

14 October 2006

Armani Seeing RED

Harnessing the power of some of the world's most iconic brands, Bono and Bobby Shriver announced today the U.S. launch of (RED), the groundbreaking initiative that marries the private sector with the buying power of the public in an effort to generate a sustainable flow of private sector funds towards the fight to eliminate AIDS in Africa. Giorgio Armani as well as Gap, Motorola, Converse, and Apple are the first five companies to partner with (RED)

In support of (PRODUCT) RED, Giorgio Armani unveiled his men's and women's Emporio Armani (PRODUCT) RED capsule collection on September 21 during London Fashion Week at a unique televised fashion and music event called (Emporio Armani) RED ONE NIGHT ONLY. The capsule collection is comprised of products that range from a jacket ($228), sweatshirt ($148) and jeans ($198) to accessories, including sunglasses ($170), a watch ($225), wallet ($148), mobile phone clip ($58) and belt ($198). In developing his collection, Giorgio Armani collaborated with Ghanaian contemporary artist Owusu-Ankomah, whose art is featured on clothing, accessories and packaging in the Emporio Armani (PRODUCT) RED collection. The range of products will be expanded further with the launch of a Emporio Armani (PRODUCT) RED women's and men's fragrance and jewellery in Spring 2007...

On November 16, Emporio Armani (PRODUCT) RED products will be available in all 124 Emporio Armani stores throughout the world, each featuring a (PRODUCT) RED-themed window and significant point-of-sale support. An online micro-site at http://www.emporioarmaniproductred.com/ and national print ads will also drive Armani's significant promotion.

Giorgio Armani is contributing an average of 40 percent of its gross profit margin from sales of all Emporio Armani (PRODUCT) RED products directly to The Global Fund.

13 October 2006

From Dexigner:

How will we live tomorrow? With what products? In what sort of houses? And what is design anyway?

ENTRY2006- "We understand design as an important driving force for economic development. There are a mass of reciprocal effects between the business world, architecture and design, which will be further deepened and built on at ENTRY2006 in many different ways. The old truism about trying to launch new products on the market is more valid nowadays than ever before: "Ugliness does not sell" (Christa Thoben, Minister for Business, Medium-Sized Firms and Power, from the Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia)

Design und technological developments: Products for tomorrow's world Technological developments play a decisive role in design disciplines – architecture, landscape architecture, product design and communication design.
Here ENTRY2006 will also be providing answers: for example to the question of how marketable products for tomorrow's world arise from current research and experiments in business and further education establishments: in biotechnology, metallurgy, research into artificial materials and nanotechnology. The same goes for architecture, a branch in which new materials for future buildings are gradually increasing in importance...

12 October 2006

Burgundy the new Bordeaux?

According to an article in Bloomberg.com it seems that investment gurus do have a heart after all. Acquiring heritage, sponsoring struggling craftsmen, investing in legends..... it all comes down to wine -French wine. But where do these financial whizzes/moghuls invest? The choice seems to be either classic (bordeaux and regions) or ambitious (Burgundy).
Here is a list of recent buyers and acquisitions:

Bernard Arnault and Albert Frère. Château La Tour du Pin (grand cru Saint Emilion)
Bouygues brothers. Château Montrose (Saint Estèphe)

Francois-Henri Pinault (already the owner of the Chateau Latour-Bordeaux). Domaine Engel -côte de Nuits parcels - located in Clos Vougeot, Echezeaux, Grand Echezeaux and Vosne-Romanee premier cru - six planted hectares but no buildings or equipment for 13M€ (30% above the normal price).

So Pinault in Pinot country? and at that price? There is concern within the industry that such an inflated price will not only drive up land prices but that Pinault will attempt to recoup his investment by charging inflated prices for Domaine Engel - forcing similar properties to follow suit. Good news for investments in the area, mainly American. For example, Robert Lyster, co-founder of hedge fund Lyster Watson Management Inc. has found a new investment for his hedge fund millions, the land rich, cash poor, winemaking lifestyle.

Diamonds are forever...

Whether given by your man or by the earth, diamonds fascinate.

The "Lesotho Promise" (603 carats) one of the 15 largest uncut diamonds was sold for 12,36M dollars on the 9th of October in Antwerp to a branch of the South African Mining C° (owners of Graaf). The diamond will be cut into one heartshaped rock and smaller stones and should then fetch a price of 20M dollars...

The Lesotho diamond was found at the Letseng Diamond Mine high in the mountains of the tiny nation which is surrounded by South Africa, by a woman who was sorting through the rocks. "She started screaming and all the staff thought she had been electrocuted," said Clifford Elphick, head of Gem Diamond Mining, which owns 70 percent of the mine. Ironically, the Lesotho Promise may not be keeping one for those who live in the place where the diamond was found. The impoverished African nation is one of the poorest countries on earth.

11 October 2006

Virtual Reality Retailing

I've been reading a lot about brand luxury on the net (as opposed to multibrand retail sites such as net-a-porter ). As different companies cultivate images that don't necessarily comply to the "democratic" notion of the net, I see the difficulty in adopting strategies. The luxury industry expects things to be done on a grand scale, hence the reticence of brands to retail via the web. PPR respects each brand identity with separate sites. Although each brand is accessible from the PPR or Gucci Group portal, no sales can be made through any of these. PPR's mainstream distribution brands are readily available on fairly attractive sites (Fnac, Redcats brands). Luxury goods are not available on the LVMH luxury brand sites either (apart from Dior France for Fragrances and leather goods). LVMH has decided to create a seperate e-luxury site. Hermès assumes the fact that the net is more popular, and that the www. client will only purchase entry price point pieces. Prada has had domain names reserved for years, but has not decided what to do with them....

Although purchasing luxury items through the Internet seems to be quite acceptable in the states, this is not yet the case in Mainland Europe perhaps this is one of the factors leading to mediocre webdesign. It also seems that many factors are involved in the choice of web strategy - extensiveness and effectiveness of physical retail networks, supply chain efficiency, artistic control or IT platforms. Also, brand policy may decide whether the website should merely be a "vitrine" - showcasing the brand identity (eg:Viktor and Rolf), accompany points of sales (eg:Chanel), or be a cyber mega-store (eg:e-luxury). With tech trends moving even faster than fashion trends, how can the universe of a particular brand not be diminished by outdated IT without falling into the other extreme - gadgetising.

I visit retail and web stores regularly. It is difficult to translate physical store ambiance to a flat screen, but even with fancy flash integrated players, I feel that brand websites lack the energy found in a point of sale. These are some suggestions for a pretty perfect site:

Group Portal with access to different brands and/or collections (cross referenced by lifestyle). This general access could also redirect clients to wholesale/retail/ intracompany sites. Brand sites in perfect harmony with brand image- this image should change as regularly as visual merchandisers change the stores' looks. Some brands have pre-programmed international window displays. These could be used to unify the brand image. The site could also imitate a virtual concept store with 3D visits and mannequins.

Access to different brand sites would be subject to a short inscription (name, age, interests etc) with domain reconnaissance. This inscription should convey the concept of accessing a "club-like" environment. The identification and ensuing client accounts could be used by the brand for the following:

*Marketing and CRM-analysis and consolidation or augmentation of client base, analysis of viewed pages)

*Web<-> client interaction: Punctual or periodical information- (newsletter, company blog access, social, cultural or commercial events via courier, email or phone (courier and phone being more in keeping with the traditional luxury experience). Instant messenger sales staff onhand. Gift certificates. Chat sessions, video pod-casts of fashion shows and/or events, press releases mobile device information, downloads, (this to tag the younger or tech-happy clients and to establish credibility with hesitant web-clients) Interactive polls (eg: podium most wanted pieces).

*Retail network information - pages visited or purchases by clients consultable by sales force. Client fidelity to brands within the group. (perhaps upon creation of the site sales staff could be consulted about their needs - this could create a common project)

As the essence of the luxury industry is the product:

*The entire offer viewable on website (some brands limit their offer per geographic zone-collections should be viewable by customer's country location). Information about products should be as complete as possible, including the how's and why's of the creative process. Only selected items purchasable. These selected items should be renwed very regularly, this could even be based on best or slow sellers (with special offers on flat rotation stock). Special high tech items only available via website -limited series, or laboratory design. The pieces which are not available on the net should be able to be pinpointed by store location. Reservations can be made by web clients with a physical confirmation of sales force. Product suggestion or complementarity (this blouse goes with these pants) should be available. A perfect balance of website and store traffic should be established, complementarity being the key. According to the extent of the physical retail network, a certain reciprocity in traffic should exist. In store stock levels could be optimised.

Client to brand relationship:

*VIP access given to selected clients. This would uphold a certain exclusivity to very faithful retail clients - these clients could potentially become webclients as well. This access may confer certain privileges such as concierge like services, pre-orders, special orders, previews, billing, VIP invitations, priority on products, personal contact with key staff, appointments with sales assistants and suggestion boxes. One could also differentiate VIP retail and VIP web, giving VIP web clients access to instant messenger services to store managers.

Continuing the "one on one" relationship with retail clients through the web brings this experience into their personal space. Generating and chanelling store traffic through the webclients substantiates the virtual shopping spree.

Here is the list of the Y design awards (digital)

10 October 2006

Nomination Chanel

PARIS, 10 oct 2006 (AFP) - Chanel a annoncé mardi 10 octobre la nomination de Maureen Chiquet, actuelle présidente de la filiale américaine du groupe de luxe, au poste nouvellement créé de président mondial de Chanel, en charge de la coordination des activités du groupe au niveau mondial.
Cette nomination prendra effet au 1er janvier 2007, a précisé Chanel dans un communiqué.
"Compte tenu de l'expansion internationale de Chanel, il est devenu indispensable de créer un poste de coordination de l'ensemble des activités au niveau mondial afin d'assurer la cohérence de la marque et d'accompagner son développement", a indiqué Chanel pour expliquer la création de ce poste.
Diplômée de l'Université de Yale aux Etats-Unis, Maureen Chiquet a commencé sa carrière en 1985 chez L'Oréal, avant d'intégrer GAP puis Old Navy. Nommée présidente de Banana Republic en 2002, elle avait rejoint Chanel en 2003 avant de devenir présidente de Chanel Inc en octobre 2004.
Dans ses nouvelles fonctions, Maureen Chiquet, 43 ans, agira sous la responsabilité d'Alain Wertheimer, président du comité des présidents de Chanel.
Le recrutement d'un nouveau président pour Chanel Inc, filiale américaine du groupe, "est actuellement en cours", a précisé Chanel.

Quantity-Up, Quality-Maintained

One of the unspoken rules of the luxury industry is that "quality needs time". Whether it be in training skills, developing products or production, it's a drawn out process.
True luxury clients understand this and will be patient.
Luxury consumers on the other hand follow trends, and trends move fast.
Once the decision of purchase made, being told to wait after having forked out large sums on the desired item, is a nuissance. Nothing about this enhances the luxury "experience".
To be able to stock points of sale with sufficient quantities of their consumables, luxury labels have been revising their supply chains.

The Wall Street Journal - PARIS

A year ago, it took 20 to 30 craftsmen to put together each Louis Vuitton "Reade" tote bag. Over the course of about eight days, separate workers would sew together leather panels, glue in linings and attach handles.

Then, inspired by car maker Toyota Motor Corp. and egged on by outside management consultants, the venerable French luxury-goods house discovered efficiency. Today, clusters of six to 12 workers, each of them performing several tasks, can assemble the $680 shiny, LV-logo bags in a single day.
The factory-floor changes are part of a sweeping effort by Louis Vuitton to serve customers better by keeping its boutiques fully stocked with popular merchandise -- to operate, in other words, more like a successful modern retailer. Its supply-chain overhaul includes changes to its distribution system and to the way salespeople serve customers in its tony stores.
For years, high-end fashion houses like Louis Vuitton -- best known for its expensive brown-and-gold logo bags -- paid far more attention to product design, craftsmanship and image than to the mechanics of keeping their stores stocked. When new designs caught on, they often sold out and the companies were often ill-prepared to speed up production and distribution.
Chic but less-expensive fashion labels such as Zara and H&M have thrived by spotting trends quickly and filling shelves with new products every fortnight. Their success has forced higher-end rivals to rethink how they do business. After decades of relying solely on their designers' instincts, for example, some luxury fashion houses, including Italy's Gucci Group, are now using focus groups to find out what consumers actually want.
Louis Vuitton, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury-goods company, is pursuing a more-fundamental overhaul. With help from management consultants at McKinsey & Co., Vuitton set out to make its manufacturing process more flexible, borrowing techniques pioneered by car makers and consumer-electronics companies. "Behind the creative magic of Louis Vuitton is an extremely efficient supply chain," boasted Yves Carcelle, the brand's chief executive officer, at a recent news conference.
Tampering with Vuitton's production poses a risk to the brand's image. Customers pay hundreds of dollars for its logo canvas bags, for example, partly because they have bought into the notion that skilled craftsmen make them the old-fashioned way. Although the company has been modernizing gradually for some time, that reputation is still vital to the company's success.
The public image of Louis Vuitton, which was founded in 1854, has been shaped by celebrity advertising, lavish fashion shows and the star-power of its top designer, Marc Jacobs. (Its spring collection was unveiled at a show Sunday in Paris.) Although it designs apparel, the bulk of its sales come from accessories such as handbags, wallets and suitcases. The company has long regarded limited-edition products as a way to bolster its cachet. As a result, customers often found themselves on waiting lists for popular merchandise.
That thinking is changing. "What do our clients want? Products that are always available in stores," said one company document outlining the changes.
The new factory format is called Pegase, after the mythological winged horse and a Vuitton rolling suitcase. Under the new system, it takes less time to assemble bags, in part because they no longer sit around on carts waiting to be moved from one workstation to another. That enables the company to ship fresh collections to its boutiques every six weeks -- more than twice as frequently as in the past, according to one Vuitton official.
"It's about finding the best ratio between quality and speed," says Patrick-Louis Vuitton, a fifth-generation member of the company's founding family, who is in charge of special orders.
Other luxury-goods companies are taking similar steps. Versace SpA recently hired a division of Computer Sciences Corp. and Giorgio Armani SpA hired Oracle Corp. to help make their supply chains more efficient. Burberry PLC, Cartier and Prada SpA have retained German software firm SAP AG for the same purpose.
Many high-end fashion houses "had the image, but they couldn't compete on execution," says Rick Chavie, SAP's senior vice-president for retail and wholesale. Adds Gladys Lau, Oracle's senior industry director for retail: "Like Zara, luxury brands are all about speed-to-market."
For years, luxury-goods makers have thought about supply and demand differently than do other consumer-goods companies. In most sectors, running out of a product when demand is strong is considered disastrous. But production is limited for some high-end fashion items. A waiting list for the Paddington bag made by French fashion brand Chloe created such an aura of desirability last year that it became a cult item -- and established Chloe as a hot brand.
The industry has begun to rethink that approach. French fashion house Hermes International has hired another 300 factory workers to reduce waiting lists for best sellers like its $7,000 Kelly bag, named after the late actress Grace Kelly. Hermes craftsmen still stitch most of its bags by hand, signing them when they finish.
To increase production, Gucci recently took on more suppliers near its Florence headquarters. Gucci and Prada are among the brands that rely on outside suppliers to produce much of their merchandise.
Louis Vuitton, which has annual sales of nearly $5 billion, hopes the supply-chain changes will help it meet a goal of at least 10 percent annual sales growth for the next several years. That's important to its publicly traded parent company, LVMH, which is dependent on the Vuitton brand for more than half of its profit. LVMH does not break out income from its various units. In the first half of this year, LVMH's net income climbed 46 percent to $1.03 billion on sales of $8.78 billion.
Louis Vuitton expanded internationally in 1978 when it opened stores in Tokyo and Osaka to sell its LV-logo trunks, suitcases and handbags. By the late 1970s, its sole factory in Asnieres, near Paris, where the Vuitton family began making trunks in 1860, wasn't big enough to sustain the growth.
"When the first electrical sewing machines arrived 30 years ago, people saw it as the devil," says Mr. Vuitton, who abandoned his veterinary studies to work at Asnieres in 1973.
The company started buying up factories, or ateliers, across France. Over the years, on average, it opened a new one every two years. Today, there are 13 factories producing accessories.
Thanks to a big marketing and store-opening push in the U.S. and Asia, annual sales rose to about $3.2 billion in 2000 from about $760 million in 1990.
In 1998, the fashion house moved into the ready-to-wear apparel business by hiring Mr. Jacobs, an American designer. Mr. Jacobs's production of a new Louis Vuitton clothing line each season prompted the company to reconsider its approach to accessories. In addition to classic designs such as the LV-logo shoulder bag, Vuitton began producing bags like the graffiti bag and the cherry-print bag, which were in stores one season and gone the next.
The Sept. 11 attacks, the SARS virus in Asia and the onset of war in Iraq together cast a three-year pall over the luxury-goods industry, in part by crimping global tourism. When the recovery began, Louis Vuitton launched an advertising campaign featuring celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Uma Thurman and opened stores on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue and elsewhere.
Vuitton was releasing a new handbag each season. But the factories, which were working on long-term schedules, remained out of step. If a seasonal bag became a hit, the company wasn't capable of ramping up production. When a denim monogram bag caught on last year, for example, customers cleaned out store shelves, and would-be buyers were turned away.
Vuitton executives grew intrigued with the lean production process developed by Japanese car makers, which enabled their factories to react quickly to changes in vehicle orders. The Japanese approach seemed to offer a way for Vuitton to shift production to the handbags that were selling best, senior Vuitton executives say. The "zero-defect policy" of the car makers -- all problems are supposed to be corrected before cars left the factory -- also seemed appealing.
But Vuitton's manufacturing procedures weren't conducive to such flexibility. Each factory had about 250 employees, and each worker specialized in one skill such as cutting leather and canvas; preparing, gluing and sewing it; making pockets and stitching the lining; and assembling the bag.
Specialists worked on one batch of bags at a time. Half-completed purses would sit on carts until someone wheeled them to the next section of the assembly line. Because craftsmen were specialized, it was nearly impossible for Vuitton to quickly switch workers from one type of handbag to another.
In early 2005, Vuitton hired consultants from McKinsey to help, according to people familiar with the matter. After visiting several factories and measuring lag times between production phases, the consultants arrived at a simple conclusion: there was too much wasted time.
The consultants helped Vuitton draft its Pegase plan, which the company began to roll out in factories in November 2005, these people say. The first step was to train workers to handle multiple parts of the assembly process. Gluing, stitching and finishing the edges of a pocket flap, for example, became the job of one worker, not three. To minimize wasted time, the production process for each product was divided so that each worker would need the same amount of time to complete his or her allotted tasks.
The factory floor was reorganized accordingly. Mimicking the small-team format used by Japanese electronics makers, Vuitton organized workers into groups of six to 12, depending on the complexity of the bags or wallets they are making, according to Vuitton officials and company documents. For maximum efficiency, Vuitton arranged the groups in clusters of U-shaped workstations that contain sewing machines on one side and assembly tables on the other. Workers simply pass their work around the cluster.
Because workers are less specialized now, they can make more types of bags, which gives Vuitton more production flexibility. Last month, for example, the company shifted more workers to its new $770 Lockit bag, which was selling faster than expected, to boost production.
The system also has enabled workers to detect flaws earlier. At one factory, under the old production system, one of every two $1,240 Tikal shoulder bags had frayed inside seams and needed to be repaired, according to a company document. Under the new production system, those flaws are recognized earlier and can be fixed more easily.
Stitching problems on the credit-card pocket of Vuitton's Viennois wallet used to mean that 4 percent of each batch of pockets had to be discarded, another document indicates. Under the new cluster format, that problem has been fixed.
At Vuitton's Issoudun and Conde plants near the Loire Valley, returns of faulty handbags and wallets fell by two-thirds last year, a company document indicates. The company's goal this year is to reduce returns by at least another 50 percent, according to the document.
The production changes left some workers concerned that efficiency improvements would eventually lead to job cuts, workers say. "Pegase has caused job insecurity," says one worker. "Already they are limiting hiring." Vuitton currently employs about 12,000 people world-wide, 4,000 of them in production. Mr. Carcelle, Vuitton's chief executive, has met with hundreds of factory team leaders to explain the company's efforts to improve efficiency and quality. Vuitton executives use the Japanese word kaizen, which means "continuous improvement," to describe their training of factory managers.
The reorganization extended beyond the factory floor. A distribution center in France used to send products directly to Vuitton's stores around the world. Now, the company is building a global distribution hub outside of Paris that will ship to six regional distribution centers: two in Japan, two elsewhere in Asia, one in the U.S. and one near Paris for European orders. Within a week of a product launch, stores around the world feed sales information to France and production is adjusted accordingly. Factories work on a daily schedule, compared to a weekly one before the reorganization.
The reorganization's final stage -- named Keepall after a Vuitton duffel bag from 1930 -- unfolded in the stores. In the past, salespeople advising customers would disappear into stockrooms when products weren't available on the shop floor. McKinsey consultants saw this as a waste of time.
"The boutiques could be twice as effective if instead of the salesperson disappearing to get a bag for a customer, you separate the task," says Concetta Lanciaux, executive vice president of synergies at LVMH.
Now, Vuitton assigns a few employees at each store to the stockroom. At a large new store on Paris's Champs-Elysees, items are sent via service elevator from a basement stockroom to the cash register. They arrive wrapped in tissue paper.
Early indications that the reorganization is working have prompted LVMH officials to consider extending the new factory format to other divisions.
"There are ways in which we can cross-fertilize," says LVMH Chief Executive Bernard Arnault. "One of the major advantages of the group is that everything we learn at Vuitton, we also use with the other brands."

09 October 2006

Richemont acquires Wisdom

Richemont, the Swiss based luxury goods group controlled by the Rupert family, has reinforced its presence in the jewellery watch segment.
The group announced on Monday that it had acquired Fabrique d'Horlogerie Minerva SA in a private transaction from GPP International SA, Luxembourg. No numbers were mentioned.

The well known watch brand Minerva was established by Charles Robert in 1858 and is based in Villeret, Switzerland.
Fabrique d'Horlogerie Minerva SA specialises in the development and manufacturing of high end mechanical movements as well as luxury time pieces.

In a terse announcement Richemont said the transaction would not have a material impact on the group's consolidated net assets and would not have any impact on profitability for the year to end-March 2007.
Richemont, which owns an array of luxury brands, already owns a handful of specialist watchmakers - including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, IWC, Baume & Mercier, Vacheron Constantin, Officine Panerai and A Lange & Sohne.
Other mainstay Richemont brands include Cartier, Montblanc, Montegrappa, Lancel, Alfred Dunhill and Van Cleef & Arpels.

The expansion of the luxury brands range should be welcomed by the market - especially investors who would prefer Richemont to lessen the influence of the tobacco business on the bottom line.
In addition to its luxury goods business, Richemont still holds an 18.6% stake in British American Tobacco (BAT).

Luxury Retail

Luxury retail wooing local affluents instead of relying on shopping tourism.

According to The Wall Street Journal:
"affluent shoppers have boosted sales at the world’s leading players (In the luxury industry), by an average of 14 percent in the first six months of this year, according to Swiss bank Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch. Sales are expected to reach a record of nearly $200 billion by year end – higher than when sales of shoes, watches, dresses and other luxury items previously peaked five years ago, according to luxury consultancy Intercorporate.
To meet demand, fashion houses are aggressively opening shops again after a long hiatus. Louis Vuitton recently inaugurated a new boutique in Budapest, while Valentino and Ferragamo signed leases in India. French fashion house Hermes International is expanding its flagship Paris boutique so it will take up half a block.
“It makes people feel confident if there are more people getting rich and the rich are getting richer,” Gucci Group Chief Executive Robert Polet said in an interview. Sales at the group, which includes the core Gucci brand, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and others, increased 20 percent between January and June.
Behind the scenes, though, fashion houses are planning for the next, inevitable downturn. Their strategy: Make their business less dependent on tourism flows – a traditional driver of sales – by developing stronger local clienteles."

High Heels Away!

After seeing models plummet from 14cm heels onto designer catwalks ending up nose to toe with the world's frontseat fashionistas (well known for their compassion) and definitely not wanting to emulate that trend, here are a couple of tips I have found browsing the web.

According to the Dr Scholl sounding "Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists" the key is the "G" factor - actually 4 of them - Glamour, Glide, Guide and Give.(?!)
Glamour- "head in the clouds" height, yes, but only on special occasions - especially if you can lean on your date. If not, keep him within falling distance.
Glide- NO RUNNING. Adopt the diva attitude, raise an eyebrow at all those people rushing about below (yes you are wearing your latest purchase-12cm of added height not counting the platform)
Guide- Let yourself be guided into buying the right size - even if it is not available in your favourite powder/lilac/gold shade. High Heels are an implulse buy, just like candy. Be strong enough to say no to a shoe that does not fit.
Give- your feet a little TLC before and after strutting.

Now that you have mastered that - Samba away ( I have always found better balance when listening to music on my i-pod I wish I could dance to)

Some more sites about looking devine:
Leg Work a work out video (yes, very Jane Fonda) for your stilettos
"Heels you can fly in" by Cole Haan's in association with Nike not really trendsetters but high heel "taxi to plane" designed.


After answering many mails concerning the luxury industry (which schools to attend, which people to meet, dates concerning fashion shows or evening marketing strategies) I have decided to succumb to the current trend of web 2.0 and its community spirit.
So here is your chat! - happy chatting!
(for luxury industry professionals and fans only!)

Musical Chairs - Chloe, Marni, Gucci

Yvan Mispelaere's is said to be joining Gucci as design director, working under creative director Frida Giannini. Mispelaere was until a few days ago part of the Chloé design team that gained fame under Phoebe Philo and continued without the designer when she resigned in January. He designed the last collection S/S 2007 together with colleagues Blue Farrier and Adrian Appiolazza- then bade them farewell, leaving the city of light for the tuscan countryside (also know as Gucci epicenter).

Yvan Mispelaere will be replaced by Paolo Melin Anderson, one of Marni's hidden talents.
Chloé sales more than doubled last year, trending at 90% for the April period, under creative direction of Philo. Despite her departure, growth at the fashion house continued “beyond expectations,” said parent company Richemont. Mispelaere has previously worked for Prada in Milan and Valentino in Rome and was creative director of Louis Féraud.

Luxury for hire

After renting your dream apartment why not push this idea a little further.... after all, our hand bag houses the rest of lives (the part we didn't leave in that rented loft).

Problem: the coveted bag is not always at hand/affordable. When fashion trends appear and vanish as fast as those gophers you have to hit on the head at amusement fairs, why not just rent the object of your desire?
Designer bags, apparel and jewlery etc.... all is to be had (for a limited period, anyhow).
Warning - luxury may be for rent, taste not so much.

New York Times 12th of September

Companies such as Bag Borrow or Steal (bags and jewlery), Borrowed Bling (jewlery) or Wardrobe NYC (designer clothes) provide this confidential service.

VIDEO - Paris S/S 2007

Catwalks in Paris - Style.com

Miu Miu

08 October 2006

Shall We dance? Let's make believe

2nd October 2006
Viktor&Rolf put on one one of the best shows at the Carousel du Louvre this week (creatively as well as entertainment wise) with their ballroom dancing inspired défilé.
And why wouldn't it be? Viktor&Rolf's self derisional world (their website motto : "because we're worth it") takes the sombre out of expert and leaves the elegant in trendy. Their topsy-turvy upside down store reflects their joie de vivre and amusement of creativity. Proof is, you can be a star and still be star-struck.
The show had to be great! And it was. VIDEO - Viktor&Rolf

The excellent Rufus Wainwright played live. The magic was complete.
The event was also the occasion to launch the new ANTIDOTE (L'Oréal) first men's fragrance.

From a business point of view, for the moment Dutch duo Mr&Mr Horsting and Snoeren don't expect massive sales of their creations.
According to WWD (sept 13th) : "Diesel owner Renzo Rosso is said to have another quirky design house in his sights: Viktor & Rolf.The fashion maverick — who already owns Martin Margiela and produces the Dsquared line, as well as his denim giant Diesel — is in negotiations with Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren about a possible deal, which could involve buying all or part of their company, according to sources. Talks are said to be at an advanced stage, although a final price has yet to be agreed upon."

Yves Saint Laurent - Now and then

October 5th 2006 S/S 2007 by Stefano Pilati
Collection inspired by violets, which to the Greeks symbolized modesty, humility, and virginity- violets that were trampled by runway models...
M.Pilati has a sense of humour.

M. Yves Saint Laurent
Career make or break collection 1962 (in french)

Betty Catroux talks about life with Yves Saint Laurent. Black leather, cocaine, sex, and poetry in the 1970s!.. la poésie du "louche". (interview in french)

Lara Croft's answer to skinny taciturn models

Paris - Uninspired? No! Intellectual.

Reuters 8th October 2006:

"This season the designers seemed to have sales in mind with a focus on accessories that create healthy profit margins.

At Chanel models were draped with belts, bangles and bags, while Lacroix's show targeted a new younger clientele with skimpy swimsuits and short hemlines. Designer Karl Lagerfeld has even brought out a CD of his favorite music.

Nearly every model sent out by American designer Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton -- the jewel in the crown of LVMH -- was carrying a handbag, the label's best known product.
LVMH president Bernard Arnault, who this week unveiled plans for a futuristic museum in Paris to promote the heritage of his label and celebrate creativity, said designers should be both creative and commercial.
"That's what we're trying to do and when a collection works well, it's because it's creative," he told Reuters.
His company also owns the Celine and Givenchy labels that showed in Paris this week. Net profits rose to 817 million euros in the first six months of the year and sales of leather goods rose 46 percent in July and August.

But several fashion critics found the week's shows provided little inspiration.
"I think we've seen the struggle of big houses ... when they don't have the right designer at the helm," said Hilary Alexander, fashion director at the Daily Telegraph. "You tend to get either a pile of boring merchandise just to sell handbags or ... collections which are totally incomprehensible."

Vanity Fair Fashion Director Michael Roberts said there were "Too many uninspiring clothes ... I think you can be commercial and still come out with something inspired."
"I think this is really a particularly off season for Paris. Hopefully next year it will be on again otherwise we'll have a problem," he added. "

Robert Burke, head of the luxury consulting firm Robert Burke Associates, said the minimalist trend required skillful presentation on the part of retailers.
"It's a more intellectual sale, as opposed to an impulsive sale. It's all in how it's displayed, how it's merchandised, how it's shown in the windows," he told the AP.
"It's always a balance of making sure that you don't have too much of a sea of black in your store, that you still have color and you still have some embellishment, because while the fashion world moves very fast, sometimes the consumer doesn't move as fast."

Aussie in Paris

The french have their famous boisterous "cocorico"! , in Australia we have a more low key, yet meaningful "good-on-ya, mate"!

According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

In a schedule of shows groaning with French luxury labels led by a new generation of hired hands who are happy to take the big consulting money and run, the Paris-based Australian Martin Grant stood out yesterday.
Eighteen months after turning down the creative directorship of the French luxury label Celine, Grant showed on the official schedule for the first time.
The big turn-up for his show confirmed that Grant's star is on the rise. Impressive pieces included the sporty marled silk jersey sack and tent dresses and silk chiffon evening wear series in scarlet red and near fluorescent lime green with trompe l'oeil fused pleating effect.

See Fashionshow

06 October 2006

Loris Azzaro

According to Fashion United UK :

French fashion house Loris Azzaro has been acquired by Reig Capital Group. The Spanish private equity group, a family-owned Andorran business based in London and Barcelona , purchased the company from Compagnie Financiere Frey, which bought it in 2002. Reig is active in the luxury goods sector with its ownership of Spanish jewellery brand Vasari, Andorran multibrand luxury store Coco Bis and now Azzaro. Terms of the deal were not revealed, although sources have estimated it at less than €20 million.

“It's an iconic brand with a distinct style and timeless quality – and it as a lot of potential,” Sagra Maceira de Rosen, managing director of Reig's luxury and retail division and investment director of Reig Luxury Partners, the company's private equity fund, told WWD. “Luxury ready-to-wear will remain the core of the brand, but we'll continue to develop footwear and, eventually, possibly go into accessories. We're taking it step by step and really want to get a feel for the business.” Designer Vanessa Seward will remain with the house. She took over from Azzaro himself upon his death in 2003 and has won acclaim for her glamorous designs. Her fans include Hollywood luminaries like Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz.

Reig plans to expand Azzaro's ready to wear assortment to include more than the current offering of expensive occasion wear. Maceira de Rosen said that including retail stores in cities like Los Angeles , London , Moscow and Hong Kong , the company is will “also be pushing the wholesale strategy. As we open stores and increase distribution, the collection will widen and grow.” Contrary to typical private equity investments, Reig intends to keep Azzaro for a very long time. “It's an iconic brand that we love, and the Reig family wants to keep it.” Whether the company will acquire any other luxury brands is unclear. Reig executives could not be reached for comment.

Azzaro was founded in 1962 and became known for figure-hugging jersey-style gowns featuring cutouts. It also became famous for its fragrances, which are produced by former owner Clarins.

baby rolls

Rolls-Royce has confirmed the long-standing rumors about a baby Roller, saying the smaller-than-Phantom car will be launched "within the next four years".
Secret design work has already started, both at the company's UK Goodwood plant and an undisclosed location in West Sussex. The new Rolls Royce should position itself at an entry level in the company's catalogue with a price estimated roughly between that of the BMW 760i and the Phantom, at ca. 250.000 - 380.000 €.
Some say that this new model may not be built in the UK but in Dingolfing, Germany, on the same line as the BMW 7 Series. This rumour may come from the fact that Xaver Franz (formerly BMW Dolfingen) joined Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as the new director of manufacturing as of the 1st of September.
The location remains uncertain however, as last month Rolls-Royce was granted planning permission for expansion at its UK headquarters and plant, including an extension of production hours.

As for the competition: there are persistent reports as well that DaimlerChrysler will counter, at about the same time (beginning of 2009), with a smaller Maybach based on the S-Class.

Luxury Brand Reports

Numbers are up in the luxury industry and many try to predict future trends, spending habits, new markets, upcoming consumer groups etc:

Some reading:

Just-Style Global Luxury Apparel Forecast

Luxury Institute US Luxury Marketing (HNWI)

YBP&R Luxury Travel (US Market)

American Express Platinum Luxury Survey (US Market)

IPSOS Focus on Indian and Chinese Luxury Markets

In a nutshell : Consumer expectations are growing faster than ever - exclusivity has to be maintained. Luxury brands will have to focus more on ethnicity and global welldoing, as well as being at the height of technology. Most impotantly, luxury brands will imperitively have to enhance the luxury "Experience".

05 October 2006

Arts in autumn

What is luxury without culture?
I believe that without creative forces at hand the luxury industry runs the risk of going stale. This is why I regularly post cultural and design events happening in Paris.

Here we are, beginning of October and at the eve of the Nuit Blanche (night of the 7-8th October)- a night where the Paris streets are open to all contemporary arts. The city as backdrop to culture, all you really have to do is walk around... and you have the whole night to do this.
Some events can be discovered on the official website. Some neighbourhoods, like the marais, try to keep track of the more obscure happenings.

I will try not to miss the project Yves Klein never saw realised during his lifetime, at the obelisk of the concord - sposored by LVMH.
Another one on my list is "Boucle" a giant human mobile created by Xavier Veilhan on a skating rink with music by Sebastien Tellier.

So, if traipsing around in Paris by night is not your thing here are a couple of other ideas to keep up to date on the arts scene:

Major event of the season : the re-opening of the musée des arts décoratifs (15th of September)

101 years after its initial opening, and 10 years after its closing for renovation, this institution housed in the Marsan wing of the Louvre showcases thousands of objects on 6000 square metres.

ICONIC-At the Espace Louis Vuitton, nine designers celebrate the Vuitton bag.

(15th September-31 december 2006)

03 October 2006

Don't worry - be :o)

I'm glad I am not the only one that remembers those silly smiley patches. Although late teen flash-backs put aside, they really never have left us.

Wunderkind designer ora-ïto launched the vidéo of his feel good fragrance SMILEY at his galery yesterday. This Rubick's Cube inspired spot portrays himself and partner, actress Vahina Giocante. It was directed by - himself of course!

This late 80's flashback perfume is made up of (not entirely) psychostimulants -Theobromine and Phenylethylamine - barbaric names for things found in chocolate.
See "Smiley" VIDEO

I wonder when they are going to bring back "Simon Says"

Which Wine When?

The age of devination, wondering, supposing is over... no more lingering in quaint wine stores, chatting with the owner about the merits of this region as opposed to the neighbouring one. Trying to remember if the 04 is better than the 05 (or was this vice versa?).

When in doubt.... SCAN! Just grab the bottle, zap the label and the touch sensitive screen will enumerate its many qualities.

According to CNNMoney.com:

"That's just the problem Kevin Dunleavy, 42, is trying to solve with Super Marketing Promotions.
The 20-year veteran of the food marketing industry had spent a whole career giving customers food and recipe information. But then he noticed the market beginning to change.
A 2005 Gallup poll showed wine overtaking beer in popularity with Americans. And according to British firm ISWR/DGR, the United States is expected to have the highest wine consumption in the world by 2008. At the same time, however, people are more confused than ever,
So Dunleavy created something called the Virtual Wine Selector and began testing the interactive kiosks in Meijer grocery stores this year, with a bigger rollout planned throughout the year.
Customers can scan in a bottle of wine they're interested in and receive not only the pertinent information about the wine itself - maker, flavors and so on - but also cheese and food pairings. "

Culture for sale

Not so long after selling off Printemps (see : Rinascente in Spring) PPR is thinking of putting another one of its brands on the market. The Fnac. Goldman Sachs and UBS will be handling this transaction. Figures mentioned : 2 B€

The Fnac traditionally perveys the image of retailing culture (CDs DVDs books) - 40% of their turnover lies in this, the other 60% in techproducts.
Film and music buying habits have changed. They are now called downloads. Although the Fnac is France's leader on the music CD market with over 28% share, the future is not bright for this retail activity.

Other PPR brands and services already sold or on the market: Finaref, Rexel, and various participations in non stategic services.

This move confirms once again the PPR strategy :Scimming down on extras and focusing on high yielding, dynamic activities ie: luxury.

PPR entrerd the luxury brand arena in 1999/2000 with the acquisition of fashion houses of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, now YSL.
Today : Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Bédat & Co, Saint Laurent Parfums and Roger et Gallet are all part of the PPR Gucci Group stable.
Tomorrow : New acquisitions are planned - names, anyone?

VIDEO - Best of Milan Fashion Summer 2007

Vogue/ Style.com (english)

Alberta Ferretti


Burburry Prorsum

Bottega Veneta


Raf Simons for Jil Sander

02 October 2006

LVMH has found its "Soul" - Le Mécénat

Press Conference M. Arnault 2 October 2006
(VIDEO and PDF formats)

I would just like to take a breather and reality check amidst all this catwalk hoo-hah.

Has anybody noticed the headlines about Mr Arnault and his announcement of the "Louis Vuitton Fondation pour la Création"?
To sum things up, after much procrastination and following the press conference of today (see above for video coverage), it is official!
Concretely, this venture will result in a brand new venue for the contemporary art scene. The old bowling club of the Jardin D'Acclimatation will be replaced by a brand new edifice cretated by genius Frank Gehry ( see video below) and will house the private collections of Bernard Arnault as well as temporary exhibitions.
Also, according to some sources, the Foundation will be headed by Suzanne Pagé (current director of the Musée d'Art Moderne Paris).

Let's dig into my archives : Fondation Pinault
I had already mentioned a possible stand off on the ART terrain. One preferring Venice, the other well implanted in Paris (participation in the Force de L'Art exhibition) . At the time I was also was concerned by the fact that I would not have M. Pinault's collection at a couple of metro stops from my place... M. Arnault's will be even closer.

"Sketches of Frank Gehry" by Sidney Pollack - Festival de Cannes 2006

29 September 2006

AP Interview: French Fashion House Ungaro Rings in Change With New Team

PARIS (AP) -- Emanuel Ungaro is a label in transition, the new president of the French fashion house says, with a new owner, new designer and new management after the departure of its founder and closure of its loss-making haute couture business.

President and CEO Mounir Moufarrige has made a specialty out of reviving semi-dormant brands, and said he was treating his new role at the fashion house as business as usual.
"It's a phase that you go through," he told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday before Paris fashion week. "The main objective is to talk a different language to our target consumer, which we think can be younger."

The Lebanese-born businessman's achievements have been notable, including turning the Montblanc pen into a cult object and hiring then-unknown designer Stella McCartney at Chloe, which has since become the must-have label for the under-40 set.

Moufarrige hopes he can work the same magic at Ungaro, which was sold by Italy's Ferragamo Group last year to San Francisco-based high-tech entrepreneur Asim Abdullah.
One of the new owner's first moves was to dump designer Vincent Darre, who had been in place for just one year, and replace him with Peter Dundas, previously with Roberto Cavalli in Milan.
Famed for its bold prints and Grecian draping, Ungaro dresses Hollywood stars including Halle Berry and Cameron Diaz, but has had little impact on street styles.

"What happened to this house in my eyes is that it just slowly aged, and in slowly aging you lose part of the electricity that you had before," said Moufarrige, who joined Ungaro six months ago.
Dundas garnered generally positive reviews for his first catwalk show in March, but buyers are waiting for confirmation of his talent when the spring-summer ready-to-wear collection is unveiled in Paris next week.

Moufarrige, who half-jokingly described his target customer as "the mistress," said he wanted the clothes to sizzle.
"The ingredients which should not be there are the words elegant and sophisticated, those are passe words. The key word is humor," he said.
"In the luxury business, it's not by choice that you have to be elegant, sophisticated and modern. That is an obligation. It goes without saying that you have to be that, but that's not enough," he said.
The brand has only a short time to convince its audience, he said. "People lose interest, and you've got to finance it as well."
But while fashion is a risky venture, the rewards can be huge. The customer base for luxury goods is expanding as the developing world's new rich swell the ranks of potential clients, joined in the West by fashion-savvy baby boomers and teens.

Moufarrige said he saw plenty of potential for Ungaro to expand not only in Russia, China and India, but also in traditional markets.
"There's still a lot of expansion to be done in Europe, Japan and the U.S. for us because you only need to look at the sales records of luxury companies over the past five years and the growth rates they've been getting," he said.
Moufarrige said that, to stay ahead of the pack, his preferred market research consisted of eavesdropping on shoppers in the street. He dismissed research about consumer trends in 2007 and 2008 as "history."
"You've got to think about 2009, because what's going to happen in 2009 is already happening now, the undercurrent is already there," he said. "You have to reinvent yourself faster than the consumer is reinventing himself. That is the key."

Let the shows begin! - Paris SS 2007

The trendies have arrived....
Autumn and spring their migration patterns remain constant. London, New York, Milan.... Paris.
(With a halt in Madrid for the well fed part of the flock)

So here is the roster for the shows - official and not so much - Paris 1st-8th of October 2006

The opening bell echos "statement" in the Carrousel du Louvre with Chinese fashion house Jefen - "made in China" is out, welcome to the "Création Chinoise"

The week will be clotured by Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu. The venue still remains a mystery for those without invitation. After toying with the idea of the locker rooms of the Stade de France, us common mortals will have to wait until the 8th to find out. Last season her show was showcased in the mythical, albeit slightly stuffy La Pérouse restaurant. As per usual Miuccia's panache turned this setting into an intimate, quircky and very sexy backdrop to her first Paris show.

Just for the fun of it, let's see what a show was 50 years ago...
(Jacques Fath Spring of 1956 collection)

Agape - Love or charity by Cartier

The original chastity belt inspired LOVE Bracelet by designer Aldo Cipullo, whose early work for Cartier focused on modern interpretations of ancient designs and legends, was launched in 1969.
The old version, based on the concept of exclisivity... the wearer was locked into the bracelet by their lover by a screw and driver furnished with the purchase. With the cash cow days of the 80's and 90's the design was reproduced on earrings, rings and necklaces.

Love at Cartier seems to be more open hearted these days. Today was the official launch of the more "with the times" LOVE CHARITY Bracelet.
The bracelet is fashioned with a knotted silk band that displays a miniature, pink gold version a Love bracelet at its front.
In France CARTIER will donate 100 € from the sale of each LOVE bracelet (390€) to Voix de l'Enfant (Aide à l’Enfance Tibétaine, Sport Sans Frontières, Un Enfant Par La Main and Un Enfant Une Promesse)
In the US Cartier, with the help of Hollywood celebrities, will be donating to different causes according to the colour of the bracelet chosen.
Red: Rosario Dawson: Youth AIDS
White: Salma Hayek: The Salma Hayek Foundation
Baby Pink: Scarlett Johansson: USA Harvest
Purple: Spike Lee: Kanbar Institute of Film and Television
Green: Edward Norton: Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
Blue: Sarah Jessica Parker: UNICEF
Black: Michael Stipe: Mercy Corps / Gulf Coast Recovery
Dark Pink: Liv Tyler: The Breast Cancer Research Foundation