72 posts tagged "Burberry"
China has emerged at the forefront of the fashion conversation with major brands such as Burberry, Dior Homme, and, most recently, Michael Kors hosting blowouts in Shanghai to build their respective presences in the region. Over the past few days, however, the country has earned negative attention after a group of more than sixty foreign models were taken into custody by officials for working illegally under tourist visas (as opposed to obtaining correct Schengen or working permits). Four people were confirmed to have been arrested, and the others will most likely face deportation. The crackdown occurred following a fake casting the Beijing police staged at Chinese agency M3, which presumably represents several of the suspected offenders. Breaking news suggests that additional models have been arrested in Guangzhou after disclosing the addresses of model apartments to authorities in efforts to cooperate. Since then, models have been advised to keep a low profile and avoid walking around in public with their portfolios and comp cards.
All of this speaks to larger problems the model industry faces, and China isn’t the only place where models run into paperwork problems. Here in the U.S., many fresh faces have gotten their big breaks during New York fashion week before having acquired proper working visas. But those types of girls are often placed with major agencies of international repute, which generally go the extra mile to ensure their models are accounted for with appropriate international visas. And so, most likely those indicted models belonged to comparatively shady agencies (that might take a shortcut and opt for easier-to-obtain tourist visas). Many suffer through professional issues, not unlike those depicted in the gripping documentary Girl Model. These are often young Eastern European girls who don’t speak a word of Chinese (or English, for that matter) and are struggling to make ends meet by stringing together jobs and staying in the country longer than their contacted period of time. You’re not about to see someone like Karmen Pedaru getting arrested. Still, these girls should have a voice, too, and it’s organizations like the Model Alliance that are making it a point to educate models about their rights and raise awareness for these issues.
This week Christopher Bailey officially assumed his joint position as both chief creative and chief executive officer of Burberry. The move has been hailed as revolutionary in some quarters. It’s rare for someone from the design side of things to be given so much responsibility for business decisions. But in fact this turn of events speaks more to evolution than revolution. It’s a reflection of the way that the role of the creative director has changed in the last decade. The notion of the designer as an artistic genius who spins brilliant collections from his own turbulent emotions and who flourishes best with a fierce protector at his side (Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé being the obvious paradigm) exists only in the memory. Or on the screen—two new YSL biopics are being released this year.
Today, fashion is big business on such a global scale that creative directors are expected to have as much of a grasp of the bottom line as of a hemline. Bailey, a talented designer who also happens to be levelheaded and exceptionally well-organized, is more in the mold of a Ralph Lauren, less focused on inventing a new silhouette than in keeping a brand both consistent and constantly refreshed. It’s not that monumental a leap for him to take control of the balance sheets. In other words, there are no more ivory towers. Hedi Slimane, to my mind an artist, is also incredibly disciplined and clear-eyed about the strategic direction of Saint Laurent as a whole. Nicolas Ghesquière’s debut at Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, seemed to suggest he has an eye on reality as well as experimentation. One of the reasons the young New York designers who emerged in the last five years have stolen a march on their contemporaries in Europe is that they have a well-defined sense of where they fit in the commercial space. But even in London, once the bastion of wayward visionaries and even more wayward bank balances, the talk is of how fledgling labels are setting themselves up to succeed as real businesses. When Natalie Massenet took over as chairman of the British Fashion Council, one of her first acts, I’ve been told, was to limit the champagne intake at the London Showrooms event in Paris. At this seasonal showcase, which allows a group of emerging British designers to present their wares to visiting press and buyers, it used to be that the bubbly would start pouring at 10 a.m. and by noon the process of writing down orders had become somewhat hazy. These days they wait till 5 p.m. to pop the cork.
That represents progress of a sort, I suppose. And yet, as the Met gets ready to commemorate Charles James, a designer who had little interest in commercial obligations but made a couple of indelible contributions to fashion history, it’s hard not to be a little nostalgic for the mad, bad creators of yore. After all, can you really come up with the next big idea if you have one eye on how it will play from Dallas to Dubai? Much of the commentary around Bailey’s appointment has centered on whether he has the chops to handle the business complexities, but going forward, his bigger challenge may be deciding when to pursue a design impulse just because it feels right rather than appears to make immediate sense for shareholders. How he negotiates that balance will ultimately dictate the success or failure of his intriguing new role.
Now more so than ever, the fashion industry has its eye on Asia, and Burberry is the latest house to tout its continued expansion eastward. To celebrate the launch of its new Shanghai flagship, Burberry Kerry Centre, the British house invited more than 1,500 guests to an evening of interactive films, live music, and dancing. By now you’ve seen the Instagrams of Burberry favorite Cara Delevingne flying over the audience, umbrella extended like a modern-day Mary Poppins. But that was just the beginning of the festivities. British musicians Ed Harcourt and Paloma Faith performed. Of course, Christopher Bailey’s Fall ’14 Bloomsbury Girls collection had a repeat performance. And as for the boys, they were outfitted in the brand’s signature trenchcoats or neatly tailored suits and checkered scarves. Watch a video of them dancing here.
News broke yesterday morning that Google has enlisted Luxottica—the company that crafts eyewear for such brands as Prada, Ray-Ban, Chanel, Versace, and beyond—to make Google Glass less hideous. That’s all good and fine—at least the Internet giant is placing an appropriate amount of importance on aesthetics. But I have to be honest: I am deeply tired of hearing about, writing about, and thinking about wearable tech. I have no desire to be hooked up to a device all day. The nonstop e-mail-induced vibrating of my iPhone already gives me heart palpitations, and I don’t need my rings, bracelets, and specs incessantly nagging me, too.
Considering Apple’s recent hires—Saint Laurent’s former CEO of special projects Paul Deneve and Burberry’s former CEO Angela Ahrendts—and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s partnership with Intel, wearable tech is no doubt about to explode. And it has the potential to generate big business among Millennials who are lost without their tablets, smartphones, and various other gadgets. I’m just not interested in participating in this particular big bang.
That’s not to say that wearable tech isn’t impressive from, well, you know, a tech standpoint. I find it mind-boggling that a Nike Fuel Band has the capacity to track your steps and calories burned, and then spit that information out into the World Wide Web. However, I’m unsure why the world (or the NSA, for that matter) needs to know your, or my, workout routine. Nor do I enjoy being bombarded on Facebook by everyone’s “humble brags” about how many miles they ran today. I’ve unfriended people for less. But I digress.
As someone who has dedicated my life to fashion, I refuse to compromise on the appearance of a garment or accessory. I’d much prefer to spend my wages on a decadent pair of low-tech vintage sunnies than on a mediocre style with Wi-Fi.
Furthermore, when is enough tech enough? Despite the fact that it doubles as my career, fashion is my escape—and I think a lot of people feel that way. When I slip on a new dress or place my favorite hat upon my head, I get butterflies in my stomach. All my troubles dissolve (if only for an instant), and it’s as though I’ve been transported to my own personal sartorial oasis. Why on earth would I trade in those moments of bliss for a flashing frock with 4G capabilities?
And what’s so great about being connected all the time, anyway? Forever burned in my mind is an election party I attended in 2012. The invitees were educated, opinionated, entertaining, and dynamic, but for a good portion of the evening, I had to check their Twitter feeds in order to get their thoughts on the polls. What could have been a riveting few hours of discussion was diminished to a silent, nonstop tweet-fest. While I sat there with my iPhone tucked in my handbag (my mother always told me that it was rude to stare at one’s phone in social situations because it makes your company feel as though they’re not important), mumbling to myself, all I could think was, What a waste. Can you imagine how much worse this will become if we’re not required to take the extra step of reaching into our pockets to tweet, Instagram, e-mail, Facebook, etc.? If the Internet is latched onto our wrists or eyes, will we even speak to each other anymore?
Perhaps I’m a Luddite. And you know what? I’m OK with that. I’d prefer to be stuck in the last century than to look and live like some kind of Star Trekkian android.
Even so, I wish nothing but the best of luck to Google and Luxottica in making high-fashion face computers.