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New York Fashion Week: Women’s
Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear

As the fashion world bid goodbye to the Bryant Park tents, the shows continued apace this week. Among the standouts: Marc Jacobs’ gentle, yet far from tame, lineup of fur-bedecked princess coats and drop-dead gowns; Ralph Lauren’s romantic bohemian-grunge mix; Francisco Costa’s severely chic outing at Calvin Klein, and Oscar de la Renta’s shot of color (a vivid rejoinder to the predominantly neutral colors of the season.) Isaac Mizrahi showed a witty take on rustic looks that he called “‘Field and Stream’ at the Carlyle”, complete with witty look names, from Geoffrey L.L. Bean to Parka Avenue. Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy abandoned the hard-edged, California condor-inspired aesthetic of their spring collection for a romantic lineup of mixed fabrics and tattered white frocks. Graffiti-ed denim, in a form of a J Brand collaboration, was a surprising highlight at Proenza Schouler. See all the collections from the season here>>

Social Media: The New Front Row of Fashion

What began as a tepid courtship between fashion and social media has become an all-consuming love affair as designers unveil new digital initiatives for fashion week. Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Rodarte and Perry Ellis are among the brands that live streamed their shows this week, while scores of others, including Oscar de la Renta, Tory Burch and Nanette Lepore, used Facebook, Twitter and their Web sites to update fashion followers on their shows, effectively expanding access beyond the exclusive enclaves of Bryant Park. And forget the B-, C- and even Z-list actresses who populated the New York shows over the last few seasons. The new celebrities are the fashion bloggers, who are courted, coddled and charmed like never before.

Gucci Keeps McQueen Brand Going, Will Show Line in Paris

Lee Alexander McQueen made the transition from designer label and set the “building blocks of a brand” that will allow the business to continue, despite his suicide last week. “We believe in the future of the brand,” Robert Polet, president and chief executive officer of Gucci Group, said at PPR SA’s annual results presentation. Although “Lee is irreplaceable,” Gucci Group decided a continuation of the business would be the best testimony to his talent, Polet said. He declined to comment on any succession plan, but said a fall McQueen collection would be presented during Paris Fashion Week. It will be shown by invitation in a private salon format on March 9 and 10 at an undisclosed location. According to sources, the design studio includes Sarah Burton, who was McQueen’s right hand on women’s wear for more than a dozen years, and the fall collection was well under way before the designer’s passing.

Men’s Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear

Men’s fashion week in New York this week featured a number of strong collections. Michael Kors focused on classic sportswear pieces in his Madison Avenue-meets-Aspen whirl. Thom Browne marked a return to form as a showman with an outrageous lineup featuring raccoon tails used as decorative fringe and gender-bending dresses. Italo Zucchelli indulged his obsession with innovative and industrial fabrics, which he worked into sturdy, broad silhouettes, at Calvin Klein. And chalk it up to the intolerable weather and slush-filled streets, but there was something comforting about the fall Marc by Marc Jacobs runway, with men’s looks including languid cardigans and a cobwebby angora sweater. See all men’s collections from the season here>>

Madonna Said in Talks for Apparel Line

In the growing love affair between celebrity and fashion, one of the biggest names out there is close to getting into the groove: Madonna. The pop icon is in talks to launch a contemporary women’s collection with a group of licensees that would be sold exclusively at Macy’s, according to sources. The merchandise would include apparel, accessories, intimates and footwear. Label names under serious consideration for the product lines include Material Girl for the apparel and Truth or Dare for the lingerie and underwear. The pop star has some previous experience in the arena, having come out with an H&M collection in 2007. Madonna’s longtime publicist, Liz Rosenberg, did not return calls Monday seeking comment. A Macy’s spokesman also declined comment. However, sources said a deal is close to being signed.

Walgreens’ Bid to Bolster Beauty

The Walgreen Co. has itself a beauty of a deal. After months of speculation, Walgreens announced its $1.1 billion bid, which includes the assumption of debt, for Duane Reade’s 257-store metro-New York operation from affiliates of Oak Hill Capital Partners. Beyond the instant access to some of the highest-producing sales-per-square-foot drugstores in the country (Duane Reade stores produce more than $1,000 per square foot, albeit at lofty rents, versus some drug chains that don’t crack $300 in per foot sales), the acquisition will bolster Walgreens’ beauty profile.

Q&A: François-Henri Pinault

François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of PPR SA, is reconfiguring one of France’s biggest fashion and retail conglomerates in plain sight. In an exclusive question-and-answer session with WWD, Pinault reflected on the house’s brands, including Yves Saint Laurent and Sergio Rossi; offloading the company’s retail holdings, such as Fnac, Conforama and Redcats, and his upcoming five-year anniversary as ceo.

Wal-Mart Apparel Disappoints

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. remains very much the king of the retail hill, but the discount giant’s continuing struggles with apparel last year convinced analysts the company has yet to figure out exactly who it’s trying to dress. The questions are also being asked in the Bentonville, Ark., headquarters of the world’s largest retailer. “We’re disappointed with our apparel performance for the quarter and for the year, and a full review of our apparel merchandising strategy has been under way now for a few months,” Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman and head of Wal-Mart’s namesake U.S. unit, said on the company’s quarterly earnings call. “We have refocused efforts on the basics business, which continues to perform well, and we are pleased with our apparel inventory throughout the chain.” Still, the challenges with apparel didn’t prevent the firm from expanding its fourth-quarter profits by 22.2 percent, even with the U.S. business showing some signs of strain.

GGP Declines Simon Offer

Bankrupt mall operator General Growth Properties Inc. said Thursday that it declined Simon Property Group Inc.’s $10 billion offer to purchase the firm. GGP chief executive officer Adam Metz said in a letter to David Simon, his counterpart at Simon, that “your objectives are not aligned with ours,” but added he hoped Simon would participate in the restructuring process getting under way. “As we have previously stated, our objective is to maximize value for the company and its stakeholders, and we are engaging in a process that is intended to accomplish that result in an expeditious manner,” Metz wrote. The move came a day after Simon urged serious talks between his firm, the nation’s largest mall operator, and its next biggest competitor. Simon declined to comment on GGP’s response.

Scorsese Directs Chanel TV Campaign

Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese has taken a break from his usual tough-guy films to direct the TV commercial for Chanel’s next men’s fragrance. The campaign, which will begin running globally in September, features French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who is the face of the fragrance and will be featured in all advertising. Andrea D’Avack, president of Chanel Fragrance and Beauté, declined to reveal details about the scent, including its name. In addition to working on the campaign, the director is also promoting a new movie, “Shutter Island.” He celebrated with star Leonardo DiCaprio at Armani’s flagship on Tuesday evening. Past cinematic Chanel pairings have included Nicole Kidman and Baz Luhrmann and Audrey Tatou and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Another high-profile fashion ad campaign that launched this week was Britney Spears’ latest for Candies, for which the pop star was shot by three different photographers: Annie Leibovitz, Terry Richardson and Mark Seliger.
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