ARMANI GOLD: Although soccer players are usually de rigueur in Giorgio Armani’s front row, the Italian designer played host to Italian gymnast Igor Cassina at Monday’s Emporio Armani show instead. The 27-year-old made history this summer at the Athens games when he became the first Italian ever to win gold on the horizontal bars. Originally from Milan, Cassina took a quick break from training for the European finals to attend his first fashion show. “I’m working on a new element for my next competition,” Cassina said. Knowing Armani’s penchant for sports, it may not be long before Cassina is doing a double twist in an Armani T-shirt. Rounding out the front row were British actors Ioan Gruffudd and Alice Evans.
COLD FRONT: Milan fashion week got off to a sluggish — and grumpy — start on Monday. Strikes by Alitalia workers delayed the arrival of top editors from Elle, l’Officiel and other French magazines and otherwise wreaked havoc with a city already prone to gridlock. Adding to the woes was a steady snowfall slowing the advance of Town Cars and staining new suede shoes. Tempers flared outside of Prada Monday night as editors arriving for the second show were asked to wait outside under a damp snowfall. “Just let us in,” pleaded Vanity Fair’s fashion director Anne McNally.
CLICKS AND BRICKS: Louis Vuitton, which will open its biggest store in the world on the Champs-Elysées in Paris in October, also has big plans online. WWD has learned that Vuitton is preparing a new version of its Web site which will be equipped for e-commerce. Initially the site will focus on selling leather goods, and only in France for starters, a Vuitton spokeswoman confirmed Monday. The forthcoming launch explains the French firm’s recent spurt of lawsuits aimed to stamp out sales of counterfeits online. Last month, Vuitton won a case in Paris district court in which Google was asked to pay Vuitton 200,000 euros, or $262,000 at current rates, for misleading advertising, unfair competition and trademark counterfeiting. Vuitton took issue with Google’s ability to link the Vuitton name to ads sold to third parties.YOUNG AT HEART: Celine, the fashion house owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is flirting with affordable chic — with handbags priced in the juicy ranges of “accessible luxury,” à la Coach. A new, younger line of clothes and accessories, dubbed Miss Celine, arrives in stores later this month. Described as more “girly” than the main line, it targets twentysomethings with prices ranging from 360 euros, or $471.60 at current rates, for a handbag to 650 euros, or $851.50, for a trenchcoat.
GUIDING GUCCI: Gucci is continuing its tradition of promoting from within in the post-Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford era. A company spokeswoman confirmed that Gucci has promoted Monica Ulmi to fill the worldwide merchandising director slot left vacant by Tom Mendenhall last year. Ulmi has worked at Gucci since 1996, most recently in the position of leather goods merchandising director.
H&M’S IRISH DEBUT: Ireland is lucking out this week with its first H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB store. On Thursday, the popular Swedish fast-fashion retailer will unveil a 17,492-square-foot store at the Rushmere shopping center in Craigavon, Northern Ireland. H&M has agreed to a 15-year lease at Rushmere’s new $44 million extension. Other retailers within the new complex include Topshop, HMV and Dorothy Perkins.
CASHMERE CHARM: Since the Milan-based investment fund Charme bought Ballantyne last year, the group has been examining ways to revamp and modernize the venerable cashmere company. Now it’s focusing on retail. Charme executives said during the Milan shows that Ballantyne’s first “contemporary” flagship will open on London’s Bond Street in July. “We chose London because we are a Scottish label, and we don’t want to seem like we are Italianizing the brand,” said Matteo di Montezemolo, the son of Charme founder Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.
@beyonce chose a custom gown by @falgunishanepeacockindia for mother @mstinalawson 's second annual Wearable Art Gala last night. The gown, which took 10 days to make, was inspired by Nubian warrior queen Amanishakheto. Reporting by @hernameislex . #wwdeye 👑 🐝#beyonce
After dressing @justintimberlake for his Super Bowl halftime performance last month, @stellamccartney has designed the star’s "Man of the Woods" tour wardrobe. Timberlake will be wearing a mix of pieces from McCartney’s fall men's collection as well as custom designs and items from his own closet. #wwdfashion