PHILADELPHIA — Domenico De Sole had a clear message for students at the University of Pennsylvania.
During a recession “the key is to stay the course and not change the brand,” said De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International and former president and chief executive officer of Gucci Group.
Along with designer Tory Burch, who said she had no plans to sell her business, De Sole was a featured speaker during Penn’s third annual fashion week, which ended April 7. More than 1,500 students attended fashion-related events on the campus here, ranging from beauty workshops and career panels to the annual student fashion show.
De Sole told students at Claudia Cohen Hall who are worried about finding fashion industry jobs: “In the end, companies need new people, need new blood. It’s a great industry and there’s always room for people who really love it.”
Burch, a Penn alumna, returned to campus for the first time in 10 years. She described the evolution of her company, which began with an image notebook and has grown into a globally recognized brand. Burch said she is focusing on growing the company strategically. She recently signed two long-term Asian distribution deals, signifying the brand’s international vision. After her talk, Burch told WWD she attributed her success to the team with whom she works. “One thing I’m really good at is surrounding myself with great people,” she said. “It’s all about teamwork.” She also said she had no plans to sell the company.
Representatives from companies such as Bottega Veneta, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Rolls-Royce, Maserati and Robert Burke Associates, as well as Philadelphia restaurateur Steven Starr, gave their perspective on the economy’s impact on the luxury industry.
The consensus: they believe the recession forces companies to be more creative and make smarter business decisions. Although some companies are adjusting their prices, most of the executives agreed such a move would ultimately hurt a brand rather than strengthen it.
The student-run fashion show featured the collections of Penn’s aspiring designers. Fashion week was supported by the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at the university’s Wharton School.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast