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WWD Week in Review: 11/20/09

The top stories for the week ending Nov. 20, 2009.

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Brad and Angelina Design Jewelry for Asprey

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are breaking into high-end jewelry design with Asprey via a capsule collection of gold jewelry and silver accessories called The Protector and inspired by snakes. Prices start at $525 for a silver baby spoon with a curving, serpent-shaped handle. In other celebrity-turned-designer news, Alicia Keys is launching a jewelry line called The Barber’s Daughter. N.E.R.D.’s Pharrell Williams is collaborating with Moncler on special edition men’s jackets. And the Disney Channel set is getting in on the delebrity action, with stars like Selena Gomez and Keke Palmer vying for the$7.5 billion tween market.

Lanvin Finds Minority Investor

Lanvin is about to add more fuel to its global expansion drive. The French fashion house has sold a minority stake to an investor in exchange for a capital injection estimated in the tens of millions of euros. The identity of the investor could not immediately be learned, but it is understood to be a European family holding company with a long-term horizon and no exit strategy. It acquired a 12.5 percent stake in Arpège SAS, the holding company for Lanvin. In less cheerful news, the Ajman sheikh who seemed poised to rescue couturier Christian Lacroix from bankruptcy did not submit financing guarantees ahead of a crucial hearing at the commercial court here Tuesday. A judge is to rule on Lacroix’s future Dec. 1, which is seen as a final deadline for potential suitors to produce proof of funding for relaunch plans.

Zac Posen’s New Venture

“It’s not Zac-for-less, it’s not the little sister collection at all,” says the designer of his new lower-priced line, which launches exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue for spring. The 60-piece range is heavy on sportswear, and prices start at $78. “Zac has always wanted to do a line that would be Zac Posen but maybe talk to a different girl,” explained Ron Frasch, Saks Inc.’s president and chief merchandising officer. And it seems the girl in question  is a tough LES chick: In contrast with Posen’s 10021-approved signature line, his inspiration board for Z Spoke is  stuffed with downtown imagery such as beaten-up Nike Dunks and a shot of Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle. See a slideshow of looks from the Z Spoke collection.

Sophie Theallet Concentrates On the Future

After winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition, the designer is hardly going on a spending spree with her $200,000 prize. Aside from enhancing her boho-luxe label with knitwear, the French-born designer has no immediate urge to break the bank, save for hiring an employee or two. (Currently, her three-person operation consists of herself, her husband and business partner Stephen Francoeur and a seamstress.) At the CFDA party celebrating Theallet and runners-up Patrik Ervell and Monique Pean, Alber Elbaz advised the newbies: “Success is like a bottle of perfume: Smell it, don’t sniff it and don’t drink it.”

Big Fish at Tim Burton Benefit

The Museum of Modern Art took a trip to the dark side Tuesday night when it paid tribute to Tim Burton at its second annual Film Benefit. A crush of paparazzi and Burton fans flanked the 53rd Street entrance, including a man on stilts dressed as Edward Scissorhands. Guests included Johnny Depp, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Brooke Shields, Gabourey Sidibe and Rose Byrne.
The Burton lovefest wasn’t the only high-profile film event in New York City that week.  Tweens and Twi-hards flocked to the premiere of the hotly anticipated “New Moon.” (See a slideshow of stars like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.) And Penélope Cruz heralded her latest turn as muse to Pedro Almodóvar at a Cinema Society screening of “Broken Embraces”.

Burkle’s Yucaipa to Buy a Piece of Barneys Debt

Ron Burkle’s evolution from food to fashion may be ready to take another step. Sources said Thursday that the supermarket titan’s Yucaipa Cos. investment vehicle, which previously has taken stakes in Sean John and Scoop, is in the final stages of purchasing some of Barneys New York’s debt from Citibank. Earlier in the week, Barneys had reported a 7 percent sales gain for October after being down 9 percent in September. Karl Hermanns, the store’s executive vice president of merchandise planning, marketing, e-commerce and operations, said consumers are experiencing “frugal fatigue,” meaning they’re tired of not spending. Several other retailers reported results this week, including Ann Taylor, which returned to black in the third quarter. At Gap, earnings and margins rose, sales trends stabilized and the balance sheet was put back in order. Now the chain is focused on the most difficult part — grabbing market share.

Tommy Hilfiger Sets Major Expansion

Tommy Hilfiger has some big expansion plans in the works — now he just has to make sure he controls the growth. Hilfiger plans to open 100 stores in the months remaining in the current fiscal year ending March 31, adding to the tally of 950 stores he operates worldwide. They will be split between Europe, North America and emerging markets. In an exclusive interview, the designer pointed to Central and South America as particularly hot properties. Piazza Sempione is another company plotting worldwide expansion, with a focus on the United States, Taiwan and South Korea.

Designers and Execs Discuss Recession Survival at WWD CEO Summit

Executives from Gilt Groupe, Wal-Mart and Lululemon discussed bonding with the customer at WWD’ s recent CEO summit. Other speakers of note included Martha Stewart, who discussed social media and maintaining consumer trust; Donna Karan, speaking out on the overdrive of fashion seasons; and Marc Jacobs, who pondered the question of what it means to be an American designer. See a video clip of Jacobs’ discussion with WWD executive editor Bridget Foley.

Jimmy Choo H&M Line Draws Crowds

The Jimmy Choo for H&M collection of accessories and apparel made its debut over the weekend with long lines at the 200 stores worldwide that carried the line. A crowd of 1,000 waited outside H&M’s Piazza San Babila store in Milan in the rain Saturday, many since 2 a.m.; more than 800 people waited as long as 24 hours for the doors to H&M’s new Shinjuku, Tokyo, unit to open and a few even came with suitcases, and 500 people began waiting outside the Fifth Avenue flagship in New York at 8 p.m. Friday night. The most expensive items, including above-the-knee leather boots for $299 and a leather and suede one-shoulder dress, $249, sold out almost immediately.

Guerlain to Relaunch Antiaging Cream

Orchidée Impériale, Guerlain’s powerhouse antiaging cream, is getting a new lease on life: Its formula is being updated with new orchid extracts to reflect what the brand calls cutting-edge technology for a January relaunch. The technology is intended to slow down the rate at which cells enter senescence, an irreversible stage that results in the end of activity for many basic cell functions, said . Frédéric Bonté, research director for Guerlain. While the original Orchidée Impériale focused on orchid roots, the newest technology — the proprietary Imperial Orchid Molecular Extract, which involves three new species of orchids, including Vanda coerulea, a strain native to China — includes growth factors discovered in the plants’ stems and leaves in addition to those found in the roots.

Back in Time: Looking Back on National Blouse Week

And you thought Fashion’s Night Out was impressive. On Nov. 10, 1919, retailers across the country — “From Boston Light to Golden Gate,” according to WWD’s headline — launched six days of special sales, window displays and promotional advertisements centering on National Blouse Week. In New York, retailers like James McCreery & Co., Gimbel Bros., Bloomingdale Bros. and Abraham & Straus advertised National Blouse Week to draw in customers. Other retailers — among them, Lord & Taylor and Best & Co. — made no actual mention of the event, but their displays featured blouses heavily. The window at Lord & Taylor was built around a blouse, rescued from Brussels during World War I, made from a rare rose point lace valued at $1,000 a yard. The garment’s retail price? $3,500 (almost $45,000 today). But the point of the promotional week wasn’t exhibition. It was sales.

 

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