23 posts tagged "Natalie Massenet"
Titan luxury etailer, publisher of a modish new glossy, wearable tech pioneer, and soon, go-to for those who’d like to sweat chicly, Net-a-Porter has today announced the upcoming launch of a new division, Net-a-Sporter. Poised to bow July 9, it will offer 37 activewear brands, covering eleven pastimes, from tennis to surfing. Labels include big dogs such as Adidas by Stella McCartney and Nike, as well as more niche fare from the likes of MONREAL London and L’Etoile Sport. Customers can expect capsules exclusive to the site, too, from such favorites as Lisa Marie Fernandez and Zimmermann. Ms. Massenet, you may get us to that early Saturday morning Pilates class yet.
It’s happening. Fashion is fully embracing wearable tech. Today, Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter announced that, come June 23, they will be selling a range of DVF-designed Google Glasses on their websites for $1,700 a pop. If you’ll remember, von Furstenberg sent a gaggle of Google Glasses down her Spring ’13 runway, and at her Resort presentation today, she was sporting the latest style. (She’s pictured here with Style.com’s Nicole Phelps.)
Net-a-Porter’s luxury his-and-hers shopping platforms are the first third-party retailers to sell the high-fashion face computers. “We are thrilled to offer Glass to our tech-savvy customers who are true leaders and innovators in style and lifestyle,” said Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet. Will loyal customers actually add Google’s smart frames to their shopping carts along with their Kenzo frocks and Kirkwood heels? Only time will tell.
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.
Last October, British stylist Charlotte Stockdale announced she was leaving her post at i-D, a pillar of British street and underground fashion, and joining Garage magazine as its fashion director. The über-cool stylist’s first efforts for Dasha Zhukova’s biannual art and fashion mag were unveiled today, when issue six hit newsstands. Garage gave us an exclusive first look at its Nick Knight-lensed covers (above), which feature Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne. As evidenced by Garage‘s new snaps, Stockdale can seamlessly transition between high-gloss and grit—a skill that no doubt came in handy during her stints at Dazed & Confused and Harper’s Bazaar, and while styling shows for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi. She’s worked with Karl Lagerfeld on the latter’s runway looks and campaigns for the last five years. Here, Style.com caught up with Stockdale to talk about the state of British fashion, leaving i-D, and her vision for Garage.
What drew you to Garage?
Everything about it. I remember the first issue coming out and thinking it was something different, courageous, seriously beautiful, and sometimes quite shocking. It’s not safe and it’s incredibly sophisticated. I talked on and off with Dasha about shooting for her, but it never worked because I was too busy with i-D. Then we met for tea after the summer—I was quite relaxed from holiday—and she said she was looking into a fashion director, and obviously that evolved into a conversation.
Did you feel that i-D was no longer those things—courageous, shocking, and beautiful? Is that why you left?
No, that’s not why I left. Not in the slightest. I enjoy conceptual fashion, and there isn’t a lot of space left for it anymore. Garage is a venue where conceptual fashion is still the right thing. When I started at Dazed & Confused at the beginning, conceptual fashion was the thing. I like exploring it on multilayers, not just mixing jackets and trousers for a good picture.
And how does that translate in terms of your vision for this magazine?
I would like to keep a delicate mix of sophisticated and playful. Humor is very important, but it can’t be silly, and beauty is really important. The art content is serious. I don’t mean serious in a way that it is not amusing. Some of it is very amusing, but they put in heavyweights. The fashion needs to balance that out. I love working with the stylish photographers and new photographers and new designers. So far, most of them are saying “yes.”
On the subject of new designers, who are you particularly excited about right now in London?
It sounds awfully predictable to say, but I am very interested in J.W. Anderson and Christopher Kane. London right now has finally hit its stride. There’s Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou, etc., and they have all found this balance between creativity and the business, which are equally important. That wasn’t so much the case when I was young. Some succeeded and others didn’t—the balance wasn’t correct. I have seen so much talent leave Britain and move to other cities. We have always felt it was such a shame that these kids aren’t back at home building proper brands themselves.
How do you think this momentum with London fashion will progress in the next few seasons?
I think the momentum will continue. With Natalie Massenet at the helm of British Fashion Council, everything has stepped up a few notches. Obviously, she is a lady of no fear. These young designers all have solid bases, and they are building proper businesses. The month is a very crowded month, and it is pretty challenging for [fashion] people like ourselves. London used to be a three-day thing and you could miss it. Now it’s a solid five-day event full of high-class content. It is the most interesting fashion week aside from Paris.