30 August 2006

Bon points

Big Big event for our little ones.

The opening of a parisian palace store for Bonpoint, rue de tournon in the 6th arrondissement. The 1000 square metres of the "Hotel Brancas", a mini chateaux near the jardin du luxembourg, complete with french gardens will house this mythical childrens brand. The different sales spaces dedicated to the various sub themes and ages of clients (including the YAM -y'en a marre - line for teens) showcase the perfectly designed collections. But that's not all. A tree and cubby house, flowers on ceilings, a pink caravan.... makes me regret my childhood.

Born from a hole-in-the-wall children's multi brand and own creation space called Bonbon, Marie France Cohen's brilliant idea to "dress children as children and not small grown up's" boomed when in 1974 she associated with her sister Dominique Swildens and husband Ben. Bonbon became Bonpoint. The next three decennies saw the brand expanding exponentially and globally.
In 2003 Edmond de Rothschild Capital Partners saw the potentiel and bought 70 % of the firm's capital all the while leaving complete freedom to the founding family.

So what's so special about Bonpoint? Is it it's retro-contemporary designs? The colours and prints do bring back memories of our favourite dresses and shoes from so long ago. Today, from an adult perspective they make sense now... they are not just pretty but also synonymous with quality and practicality. Clothes that are exactly what our inner child wants our actual child to wear, and styles that our actual child agrees to wear.


L'air du temps

Suedish designer Lars Nilsson resigned last tuesday from the Nina Ricci (Puig). M. Nilsson had turned the aging french fashion brand around, bring a sophisticated, elegant and optimistic vision to the youngest of the pre-WWII couture houses .

Founded in 1932 by Italian born Marie Adélaïde Ricci (née Nielli) and her son Robert, Nina Ricci couture house discreetly thrived and launched several perfumes including best seller "L'air du Temps".
The fashion house was bought from the Fuchs family, the de Kousmine family and Sanofi in 1998 by spanish cosmetics firm Puig Prestige Beauté.
Unfortunately Nina Ricci will be absent from the Paris spring/summer 07 fashion shows, but available at the showrooms. John Galliano's and Christian Lacroix's ex-assistant mentioned that his resignation was based on personal motifs and he would like to take some time off. He also confided that since 2003 Nina Ricci "has been a fabulous experience, but I would like to do something else".
His successor should be named in the next week. Perhaps Olivier Theyskens?

Nina Ricci

13 August 2006


Chanel will relaunch its Web site with the help of online services firm FatWire Software. This software gathers data at the e-commerce store and then personalizes content, product placement and promotional offerings that apply to the specific customer.

Chanel is also using the FatWire platform to gather customer information to tailor offers and content to online visitors, as well as better equip its regional sales forces. Visitor data can be based on demographics, preferences or purchase history. Local Chanel sales people have access to all the reporting and analytics to enhance their own marketing efforts.

Translating impeccable and personalised service into the netsphere Chanel is moving one step closer to creating a rich virtual luxury enviroment, complementing and not competing with it's retail locations.


08 August 2006


The Candy brothers plan on setting up a chain of retail outlets in cities such as New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong to sell the home furnishings and gadgets available in their yachts, aircraft and apartments.

Nick, 33, was working in advertising when he and Christian, 32, a former commodity trader, decided to go into business together after spotting a gap in the market for designing luxury play pads for high-rollers. They are extending their franchise into luxury jets, yachts, hotels and spas. The brothers have set up Candy & Candy Aviation, working with Bombardier to supply design and jet services for the ultra-wealthy. The new venture aims to transfer the design skills used on luxury apartments to create bespoke luxury aboard private jets for billionaire businessmen and royalty. Exclusivity being the key and the impossible being the "cahier des charges". They are looking at installing spas that work at 40,000ft.”
The brothers snapped up their own luxury vessel from John Hargreaves at the October boat show in Monaco in 2004, a 147ft (45m) Benetti called Candyscape. It has a dining room table that turns into a routlette wheel and a bathroom that is a copy of a Louis Vuitton trunk. Sir Tom Hunter, Paris Hilton and the Rolling Stones are among those to have hired the £12.5 million boat.
They are also considering lending their name to luxury hotel groups and spas. A new brand, Studio Candy, is also under development, selling smaller, cheaper apartments, boats and jet pods.
Brigitta Spinocchia, Nick’s girlfriend, is a design director at Candy & Candy.

Candy & Candy

Opening bell on wall street

This article from CNBC illustrates the constant striving for perfect luxury location. No comments on my part are necessary.

By Julia Boorstin

NEW YORK - It’s something businesses have always tried to follow. Go where the money is. But, Wall Street seemed to be an exception. Despite the billions in lower Manhattan, luxury retailers shied away. Until now. Wall Street just isn’t worker bees; it’s power brokers with money to burn and expensive tastes.
Luxury brand dealers are no longer expecting Wall Street to come uptown to them, they’re profiting from moving their Madison Avenue names down to Wall Street. Tiffany and French luxury house Hermes are some of the latest companies announcing new locations, both steps from the New York Stock Exchange. The financial capital’s pin stripes and narrow streets are drawing high-end names with one very important thing – money.
While some of the wealthiest people in the country work there, two out of three on Wall Street make $136,500 a year on average. They have nowhere close to spend that mad money. Luxury automaker BMW was among the first to move in and cash in, and to learn luxury spending goes beyond year-end bonuses.

Donald Deluxe

Proof that house hold brands are trading up. Disney is reviewing it's product offer. The new MICKEY club kids will be wearing cashmere.

Walt Disney Co. said on Monday it will sell high-end cashmere, organic cotton and silk voile infant clothes and blankets at such retailers as Nordstrom Federated Department Stores and Bloomingdale's.
The Disney consumer products unit of Walt Disney Co. will first launch a Bambi Collection with baby blankets, block sets in tulle bags and burp cloths.
No financial terms were immediately available.

06 August 2006


Confusing scent strategies by Procter and Gamble.

ROCHAS fell into the hands of P&G following the takeover of German company Wella in 2003.
The gruelling announcement was made on the 19th of july 2006. They will be killing off the longstanding fashion house. A suitable buyer had not be found. By suitable buyer they meant one who would accept to only acquire the apparel side of the brand. P&G are not letting go of the lucrative Rochas Perfumes. The fabulous Pret à Porter collections reinterpreted by wonderchild Olivier Theyskens will no longer be. Bye Bye Rochas.

Holding onto Rochas perfumes on one hand, and on the other wishing to part with "4711". The world's oldest fragrance still on the market. In absorbing Wella, P&G also inherited the whole catalogue of Koln's Muelhens-Gruppe including "Tosca" another scent created in the 1920's. All is for sale. All but the manufacturing side of the business.
According to a P&G spokeswoman in germany Petra Popall, P&G is a "global brand and wishes to concentrate on brands with global potential".
Nicely said for a suds salesman. Although if you really think about it - "4711" is known even in the highlands of the Thai golden triangle (personal experience), whereas Rochas is a luxury brand -therefore more confidential - and high maintenance.
Why sell "4711" when it answers perfectly to their mainstream soap markets globally?
How is P&G going to be able to uphold the prestige of Rochas globally, without promoting it's image through high profile catwalk collections? Ok, they admit to not owning other luxury fashion brands and therefore have no desire to invest in a first experience without an existing infrastructure. So what is their brand strategy?
If anyone can explain this.... feel free.

As for Olivier Theyskens... I guess he still has a couple of surprises in store for us yet.

New York Times Oliver Theyskens

Luxury Brand Business News

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Style.com - Fashion Shows

Define : "yummy"

The french language is tricky. Even after 14 years in this country I still can't figure out some of it's nuances. The ironic part is that I tend to fling into my english conversations french expressions. Sometimes the french word is spot on. Sometimes its multitude of connotations make for subtle word games. The french language has become an artform in itself. Defining an art by another becomes surreal.
Let's take the case of the definition of "gastronomie" - The Office of "la langue francaise" (french language) describes it to be "the art of eating well". The Académie Française favours the definition of "an ensemble of rules which make up the art of hearty eating". Wikipédia encyclopedia says that "gastronomie" regroups everything that makes up for fine dining: style of cooking, the composition of the meal, the harmony of the dishes and the drinks.
"Gastronomie" is one of those french paradoxes. Is it an experience? is it an art? is it defined by rules or can you just wing it?
Personally, it's one of the reasons why I have stayed in this country. A way of savouring culture. For me it's an event. It can be contrived or spontaneous. Only in france do you discuss food whilst enjoying a meal - a happening within the happening. The better the meal, the more passionate the conversation about other dishes. It is a social event. It can be upscale or very basic. Any which way, it is generous.

Pierre Hermé
Alain Passard
Alain Ducasse
Top Restaurants in Paris Michelin Guide

05 August 2006

New York Times

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Up, up and away...

According to an article in "Cyberpress", affluent travellers are starting to ask themselves this question:
"If I can spend 35 000€ on a luxury suite on the QE2 and have to mingle with people who spent 1200€ on a cabin, I can spend 10K€ more and rent a yacht".
Today renting a yacht or a private island is the privilege of only the outragiously rich, but luxury travel specialists are starting to review their offers. And they are trading them UP.

As luxury brands tend to cater more and more for the "happy masses" to finance ever growing businesses, so the "happy few" are fleeing the mainstream and taking refuge in elite havens.

Will this trend have to kick in soon in other luxury industries? Luxury tends to play on the sentiment of "aspiration". Apparently expectations are growing.

Le voyage de luxe menacé par la classe moyenne

Rinascente in Spring

PPR will definitively conclude sale of Department stores Le Printemps to the Borletti family (30%) backed by RREEF (Deutsche Bank - 70%). Both parties mentioned that this transaction will only be final after European Comission approval (may take 5 weeks). The sales figure mentioned is of 1,075 billion Euros.

Maurizio Borletti, CEO of Rinascente department stores, announced that the printemps stores will be focusing on luxury as well as developping online sales.

Borletti also mentioned he would be investing 280 millions Euros in 5 years. Le Printemps department stores employs 5.287 in 17 stores.

04 August 2006

GenXers - Y they shop.

Once apon a time there were stores who had friendly, discreet and professional staff. Sales assistants that actually assisted you. Personnel that was proud to show you around. Shopping in luxury brand stores was a rounded experience. Clients were faithful to a brand.

Does this still exist?

I would like to react to a survey held by American Express on High Net Worth Individuals. Although it's not that recent, it underlines an important trend.

American Express GenX luxury survey

To sum up this survey, BabyBoomers have more time on their hands and have accumulated more "goods" during their lifetime and are therefore more inclined to invest in luxury experiences

The twist is that, even though GenXers don't have much time on their hands (active professionals), they will spend as high a percentage of their incomes on luxury experiences as Baby Boomers. Is this an education thing? Have they been brought up to favour "experiencing" over "having"?

In a market place that is saturated with household name luxury brands, how do you grab those GenX shoppers? After all they represent over 20% of clients. More importantly - how do you keep them coming?
What if shopping rebecomes an experience?

As the demand for luxury goods exploded in the late 90's so did the expansion of retail networks. This expansion was so rapid that some brands were not always keeping up with standards in high service. It didn't matter so much at the time. Business was booming. Numbers were up. Who cared? Nonchalence and aloofness became luxury retail staff trademarks. I guess it was their way of dealing with frantic boulemic shoppers.

After 2001 this all changed. As people started asking themselves "what is it all about?" so the luxury industry started concentrating on basics again. Product and clients. After having invested on sophisticated CRM programs,luxury brands are starting to invest in their staff with sales and product training.
That's all very well. Staff will be able to perform well and inform clients about the product and brand. But something is still missing to be able to call shopping "an experience".

Faith in the task, faith in the team, faith in the brand. Just as GenXers believe in a luxury brand's inherent quality, store staff should believe in their product. Sharing their enthousiasm and therefore enhancing the emotional value of the product. Connecting with their clientele on this product level creates a positive experience - for both shopper and staff.

03 August 2006

Tea, Coffee, Me?

I would like to explain the creative process of this blog.
After checking out real time information on the luxury goods market, I try to vary my sources by going onto non industry sites and typing the search word "luxury/luxe". August being a pretty slow period newswise (today's N°1 info is that Condoleeza Rice is one of the world's best dressed women), I have plenty of time to view infos from other horizons.
I found this little jewel on YOUTUBE.
How people interpret the notion of luxury remains a headscratcher.

(ad for lynx deodorant)

Imelda Marcos is a Man

What is it with men and footwear?
Since times gone by shoes have been a status symbol. Is this still true today? In roman times, for example the patricians wore red sandals as a symbol of their cast. Today a man will be perfectly comfortable in rags, as long as he has great shoes. Regardless of cast. He will unabashidly glance at his feet, admiring his purchase, congratulating himself on his taste. Even the least coquette man will take time to choose the perfect pair, the one that represents his personality. Once this perfect pair is found, it may be bought by the dozen- perhaps quantity reinforces character.
Men will also sneak a peak at other men's feet. Appreciating (or not) their style. Fathoming the wearer's social level or taste. This is permitted, as opposed to belts for example. Never have I noticed a man checking out another's belt. This would be totally inappropriate. So what is it with this particular accessory?
After asking a few of my friends to explain this conundrum, their immediate justification is "craftsmenship". Followed closely by "but, don't they look great?!". So why use technicity as an excuse? Why not just say : "I saw them, I loved them, I had to have them".
Could it be that shoes bring out the vulnerable side of the male gender? The irrational part of themselves? That checking out another guys feet means reassuring oneself that other men are vulnerable too? That this whole status symbol business is just a ploy to hide a deeper illogical desire? Sounds like there is more yin in the yang than they will admit.
On a more serious note, the 90's trend in casualization of the male wardrobe and it's effect in the workplace resulted in the complete reviewal of male behaviour towards "la mode". Whereas before "the great shoe" was exclusively purchased at bootmakers (quality and "savoir faire") today style is also taken into account. This has prompted luxury fashion brands to offer a wider selection of men's footwear collections, adapting their creations to todays many social situations. Driving shoes, weekend loafers, sporty lace ups. To every situation it's shoe. Even though clothes may not be of a particular brand, men will pay a good penny for a well-shod foot.
Guys just admit it : you feel pretty in those pumps.

02 August 2006


Shhhh, it's confidential!
Legrand 1894 : all I have been able to find on this company is an immense pedigree of a father to son successful, yet provincial tailoring business. A background filled with princes and duchesses and a so called piece of haute joaillerie called the "Wells Bells" (yes, as in the hawaiian flower) so confidential that it remains a mystery.
Apparently Legrand 1894 is continuing the tradition of trinkets and has put a 250k€ watch on the market the "Gala GLX" - the summum of haute joaillerie. A stunning event in Cannes this year marked it's release. I didn't attend - then again, I'm not in the watch business.
The press release did not mention anything about swiss craftsmanship, or double tourbillons. These marks of technicity generally take years to develop, with budgets of millions of euros. Communication strategies tend to be big, when a project is that pricey.
I'm not a jet setter either. Another reason of me not being invited. The baroness U v G was however. Obviously I couldn't get a background on her either. The tales told by attendees are related on blogs or public forums.
Clients or former employees of this company have commented in discussion groups (mainly in reaction to books about embroidery or a public tv show, which I couldn't find) but they all date from march-april 2006. Basically they all defend the values of this great "maison de couture". Funnily enough some of their phrases remind me of the press release ( "auguste maison").
So, the secret prevades.

Is this a tremendous marketing ploy? Has someone created "THE BUZZ"?

If so, bravo! It is working. I just spent 4 hours researching a 250K€ watch, that is so confidential even major publications haven't picked up on it.


Legrand 1894

Ziggy Stardust meets Cerruti

Private equity fund Matlin Patterson Global Advisors announced it's buyout of Cerruti - all activities (Fin.Part) on the 1st of August 2006 (Agence France Presse - Paris). No figures where mentioned.
Names where dropped however. New PDG Philippe Cleach and Artistic Director Nicolas Andreas Taralis (x Heidi Slimane and Helmut Lang assistant).
I can't wait to see what this urban warrior inspired designer will do to the overly classic Cerruti image.

Nicolas Andreas Taralis

01 August 2006

What's "holiday" to you?

Did you know there is a Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg Germany ? (yes - the same place as VW biggest manufacturing plant)
According to WOWtravel this destination is the N°1 on their "7 sensations - macho" packages. You combine a B&O furnished presidential suite stay with the pick up (from a 20 storey high tower) of your brand new car.

WOW travel

Now, to me, this is a complete nightmare holiday.
1. I'm not a macho, so I really shouldn't be picking this package.
2. Sound is not vital when I picture my ideal time out. Bang&Olufsen should be left at home.
3. I'm scared of hights. 20 storeys of cars piled up freaks me out.
4. Travelling to pick up my new car seems pointless. I prefer having things delivered.

According to estimates by the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) - the largest global trade event for the luxury travel market (next edition 4-7th of december 2006 in Cannes)
- the top 3% of travellers in the world spend 20% of the total tourism expenditures. With baby boomers set to inherit $3 trillion each year over the next ten years, prospects for this travel sector are excellent.
In a time of consumer coddling the perfect holiday is not just about cushy *****+ hotels anymore. It's about dreams coming true. And dreams come in as many forms as there are topend globetrotters.
For some it's about pioneering. Heisting a 10kg backpack up some hill/mountain and having the distinct feeling of being the first tourist to have scuttled that stiff cliff.
Himalayan Kingdoms
For other's it's about exclusivity. Privacy in all things including the pool. In one deluxe hotel in Indonesia, the pool is private but the bathroom is outdoors (Amanjiwo resort Borobudur).
Aman Resorts
Responsibilty and ecology may be high up on the list for another category of travellers. Kayaking in asian rainforests, meeting "Bud" the Orang Utang.
Responsible Travel
Luxury travel can also be all about the cultural experience. Opera, private museum visits, elite dinners.
The Holiday Planner UK
Some prefer pampering. Spa's and ethnic massages served with hand picked fruit platters by smiling, caring staff.
Raffles Hotel Singapore

For me it's simplicity. Farniente, Food and Family.

What have you been dreaming of?

Vionnet - Ma madeleine à moi

One of the first fashion houses I started working for in '93 was Jil Sander. It was a fabulous experience and probably the reason why I continued in this line of work.
Jil Sander's Avenue Montaigne store was located in the former "hotel particulier" of pioneer fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet (50, ave Montaigne). Jil Sander whispered that the location wasn't a coincidence, she shared Ms Vionnet's vision of elegance and cut. Just after inaugurating the store a very discreet grayhaired lady timidly entered and asked if she could visit. "I used to work here" she announced proudly, then she started to show us where the atelier had been, where the Hispano Suizas parked. She had been a "petite main" in Madeleine Vionnet's workshop. Sometimes whilst working in the upper storeys I could still feel the presence of this grande dame of couture.

The early 1900's symbolised the beginning of feminism. Women began to make it. In the fashion world there were Jeanne Lanvin (single mum and entrepeneur) and Madeleine Vionnet. Ms Vionnet created her fashion house in 1912, although success arrived after the first World War. Her simple elegant styles made all ornementation on garments previously favoured by contemporary Poiret, obsolete. Her invention of the "bias" (or cross) cut and the drapé reinvented couture completely. Her abolition of the corset liberated women. All in all she was a feisty lady, capable of leaving man and house to start over in another country. Well ahead of her times she had a deep social integrity ( her employees had advantages unheard of in those times - day care, health care and payed holidays). As a visionary business woman she quasi invented a system of copyright (her creations had serial numbers and were orned with her digital prints) and was one of the first to distribute Pret à Porter collections derived from haute couture.
Her last collection was in 1939. Her fashion house was up for sale at Druot in 1940. She spent the next and last 3 decades of her life on her other passions: nature and culture.
Of Madeleine Vionnet I will remember this quote:
"Il faut toujours se dépasser pour s'atteindre... Toujours lutter au fond, c'est passionnant"

The Vionnet trademark was bought in 1988 by the de Lummen family who have since been distributing it's frangrances (Madeleine Vionnet SA / Parfums Aubusson). Although there had been suggestions of bringing back the pret à porter in the 90's, my guess is that there hasn't been the oppertunity to enrole a designer who shared the same vision.

Now Vionnet is back on the fashion scene. Arnaud de Lummen, General Manager of the ressucitated fashion house announced this month (july 2006) the arrival of Sophia Kokosalaki as artistic director.

« Notre retour sur la scène de la mode ne sera pas une rétrospective du passé mais marquera notre volonté de perpétuer l’esprit visionnaire de Vionnet. Sophia, reconnue pour son travail sur la coupe et les matières, est sans doute l’unique créatrice contemporaine en parfaite symbiose avec l’héritage de la Maison et pleinement capable d’inventer son futur.»
(10 July 2006 Vogue)

Innovation and technical perfection are the main factors why there is a coherence between the artistic styles of these two women. I really am looking forward to Madeleine's revival. RdV spring/summer 2007 season.

Sophia Kokosalaki

Paris is a village

Having worked for years in luxury stores, my opinion is based on "onhand experience".
Points of sale have gone through many phases in the recent decade but one factor has always remained the same

"location, location, location" - yes but which one - and how?

I won't be able to give you insider information on Paris real estate. It's Up's and Up's are still a mystery to me. Shop locations, however, are not.
As customer types vary, and the luxury industry has gone from "connoisseur clientèle", "luxury consumers" to "me generation" back to "easthetically aware", so have locations varied. To be able to offer complete sensory shopping experience, stores have moved or opened in various locations, creating rollercoaster trends in real estate (and spanning as many client types as possible).
In 1992 the Faubourg Saint Honoré was a narrow street with only Hermès and Lanvin as shopping highlights. The top location at that time was Ave Montaigne. Things have changed, although Ave Montaigne still is THE thoroughfare for luxury shopping (parking space "oblige"), Fbg St Honoré now looks like a quaint luxury disney village, Dolce, Prada and Chanel all hobbly topply one next to the other. The adjacent streets have scrubbed up and the whole area is now populated by logo bag carrying tourists.
Also, let's not forget the creation in the late 90's of a whole new luxury epicenter in Saint Germain- big uproar at the time. The low key french intelligencia inhabited this area and definitely did not want an Emporio Armani Megastore there.
There was a project to fashion another center on the Marché Saint Honoré (due to the creation of a passage from place Vendome) following the huge success of Colette. This project was abandoned after Sept 2001. This area now houses "createur" brands.

So, ok, luxury stores are to be found all around. The "triangle d'or" - golden triangle - which traditionally spanned the area from Ave George V to the Champs Elysées to Ave Montaigne, has now extended to 3 poles : Montaigne-Fbg-St Germain.
Some brands choose to be present in all locations (eg Prada).

Is uniformity in visual identity still relevant in a tentacular luxury distribution schema?

As my experience goes, local clients will not be very faithful to one point of sale within a same brand and city. Sympathy for a particular sales assistant aside, of course.
Marketing gurus have been too busy reenforcing international VI unity in points of sale to fathom the impact this may have on local clients. These are screaming to be identified. Generally this population lives in the same area as the store and has strong ties to it. If these upmarket neighbourhoods have a history, aura or particular ambiance (eg Saint Germain) why not take it into account? (generally, that's why the space is so expensive)
This may also work for out of town clients. Instead of seeing an exact replica of their home store, they may appreciate the diversity and creativity of a coherent yet different space.
In an age where luxury stores are competing for clients who are becoming increasingly needy of personal identification, does a brand need to impose heedlessly it's unique vision, or is the future

translating brand image to geography?



With this year "BEST GLOBAL BRANDS 2006 edition" The french heist only nine into global top 100 ranking, 7 of which are of the luxury industry.
LVMH places 3 into ranking :Louis Vuitton 17th (17,6 billion dollars), Hennessy 83rd (3,57 billion dollars), Moet & Chandon 87th(3,25 billion dollars). PPR places Gucci - 46th .
L'Oreal is 5th in overall ranking, Chanel 61st, Hermes 81st and Cartier 86th. The other non-luxury brands are Nestlé - 63rd and Danone 67th.


Is Christie's going "E-bay"?

Christie's is opening up to client lambda. No need to be in the know on auction house etiquette. Not only this but really, how many of us have seen sales catalogues and dreamt of attending a particular auction? Now we can comfortably participate from the privacy of our home (or offices).

Since mid July 2006 Christie's has opened a new era in auctioning. Online bidders to their mice!!! Watch and hear the auction online. Bid if the price is right.

I can't imagine that bidding for an NK€ painting whilst chewing on pizza, in your track pants behind the screen translates "glamour" (or if that watch you have had your eyes on for aaages seems that attractive through lcd).
The good news is that you can scratch your nose freely without being mistaken for a bidder.

RdV online on the 5th of december (remember that "little black dress on sale"?)