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X FACTOR: Leave it to Maison Martin Margiela to take a subversive approach to the conception of its soon-to-be-launched e-boutique, powered by Yoox Group. The design of the site, which will go live on Oct. 1 with its fall collections and an exclusive limited edition interpretation of the brand’s “5 zips” leather biker jacket, in a glazed indigo cotton denim, is meant to resemble an X-ray of the original Maison Martin Margiela Web site. What was positive becomes negative and black replaces white, while the MS-DOS font gives a nod to computer language, processor codes and Internet communication. The site will be accessible worldwide. “We are creating the most visible store in the world for the ‘most invisible designer,’” stated Yoox founder and chief executive officer Federico Marchetti.
PAUL SMITH’S HOME IN MAYFAIR: Paul Smith liked staying at Claridge’s hotel in London so much, he’s opened a shop right in the building. On Thursday, Smith unveiled a bijou women’s wear boutique in one of the shop units housed in Claridge’s on Brook Street. The space reflects the hotel’s Art Deco design, with pink-and-white candy-striped wallpaper, pale oak parquet floors and delicate Murano glass chandeliers, which date from the Thirties.
“It’s such a beautiful hotel,” said Smith. “I have held a number of my catwalk shows in the ballroom there and I always stay there with my family on New Year’s Eve…with this in mind, I decided it would be wonderful to open a shop there.”
The 452-square-foot space carries Smith’s women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, along with jewelry pieces by a number of designers Smith has selected for the store, and men’s gift items such as wallets and watches.
DYED IN THE WOOL: Wool Week, the brainchild of Prince Charles to promote consumption of the fiber and support sheep farmers worldwide, kicks off on Oct. 11 in London, with two flocks of sheep set to begin grazing on Savile Row. During a news conference at London Fashion Week on Sunday, The Campaign for Wool group said it has garnered the support of U.K. retailers and designers, including Marks & Spencer, Jaeger, Aquascutum, Kinder Aggugini and Richard Nicoll, who will be hosting events, displays and education programs about wool from Oct. 11 to 17 in their stores. “If you were going to reinvent wool today, you’d think it was a wonder material,” said John Thorley, chairman of the organization, “It’s durable, breathable, fire-retardant, sustainable. Yet the value of it has plummeted and that’s something we want people to sit up and take notice of.”
OVER HERE: Superdry is on the march in the U.S. The U.K. import, which is being spread domestically by Los Angeles-based Sunrise Brands’ division SB USA under a license agreement with parent company SuperGroup, will open a 3,000-square-foot store in Los Angeles’ Beverly Center on Wednesday and a 1,500-square-foot store in Westfield San Francisco Centre on Saturday. Additional stores are expected to open in November at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., and next March at the Las Vegas shopping center Fashion Show, while the brand’s wholesale business got a boost last month from a 900-square-foot in-store shop launching at Macy’s Herald Square. In total, Michael Martens, brand manager of SB USA, estimated Superdry’s U.S. retail network would reach 17 to 20 stores by the end of 2011. “Based on the sales that we have seen out of our 718 Broadway store, we are very encouraged,” he said, referring to the 6,000-square-foot Manhattan flagship that opened last year on Nov. 9. “It is causing us to be bullish even in this economic environment.” Superdry’s U.S. prices range from $29 for women’s T-shirts up to $595 for leather jackets.
JUST FOR CHINA: The much-anticipated debut of Hermès-backed Shang Xia took place Thursday at Shanghai’s Hong Kong Plaza. Fashion industry executives and media from Beijing and elsewhere in China sipped Champagne and mingled with local government officials at the new Chinese luxury label’s first store, which opened to the public on Friday. To emphasize the brand’s link with Chinese craftsmanship, several artisans were flown in. Two women from Mongolia created handmade cashmere felt while a master from Sichuan showed off his painstakingly slow bamboo-weaving techniques.
In keeping with the brand’s low-profile style, no celebrities were invited and the event was kept small and intimate, although a couple bold-faced names appeared in the form of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who designed the store, and photographer Paolo Roversi, who has also worked for the house.
ALMOST BARING ALL: “This is supposed to be where the sexy people are,” said Macy Gray, Thursday night’s headliner for Macy’s Passport Presents Glamorama at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. The stage certainly dripped with sex appeal as models, who had strutted in Tommy Hilfiger, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Just Cavalli, Calvin Klein, Tracy Reese, Material Girl Collection and Boss Hugo Boss, stripped down to their under things to showcase the brands Felina/Jezebel and 2(x)ist to the delight of the screaming crowd. The 1,900-strong crowd included Brandy, Serena Williams, Eric McCormack, Antonio Villaraigosa, Mark Salling and Sara Rue. Macy’s is committed to donating nearly $1 million to support AIDS-related charities, including local organizations AIDS Project Los Angeles and Project Angel Food.
NEW AND IMPROVD: IMPROVD, designed by Valentino Vettori, had a presentation, or shall we say exhibition, last week where part of the line was shown on hanging casts made by the designer himself. “I want to show my pieces on real women, the girls that inspire me and on casts because I don’t want them on models; that creates an illusion of unattainability,” explained the designer. The third floor of The Standard hotel was divided into two rooms — one for the collection and another one with the compelling images that photographer Yelena Yemchuk captured of Vettori’s muses wearing his clothes: Arden Wohl, Becka Diamond, Byrdie Bell, Cory Kennedy, Dakota Goldhor, Dani Smith, Elisabeth and Katherine Waterston, Maximilla Lukacs, Melissa Auf der Maur and Stella Schnabel, some of whom were in attendance as musical guests Sky Ferreira and Daniel Merriweather performed. But the stars of the night were the great leather jackets and sheer-paneled and ribbed-knit vests that could give Rick Owens a run for his money — they are thoughtfully designed and none retails for over $700.