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SHAWN JOHNSON ON FASHION: Shawn Johnson is poised to become a household name. The pint-size gymnast has sponsorship deals with Coke, Adidas and McDonald’s — and she scored all of them before she won an Olympic gold medal. “I have been recognized a lot more here and it’s been great,” the 16-year-old Johnson said Thursday in Beijing. Making an appearance at Coke’s fan zone, Johnson received a “Live Positively” award from her beverage sponsor for her work assisting with flood relief in Iowa.
The move highlights just why the gymnast is a marketer’s dream. “I tell you it’s that personality,” said Petro Kacur, senior communications manager for Coca-Cola.
This story first appeared in the August 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For now, Johnson is focusing on her position as a role model. “Really the only thing I want to do is go out there and show the world and little kids that you can succeed in some of the toughest sports in the world, and toughest things in the world, if you only follow your heart,” she said, adding that she’s also looking forward to college in a couple of years. Attending Stanford University is her biggest goal.
Off the mats, Johnson likes to be different. She is “addicted to True Religion jeans,” and loves quirky and unique pieces, citing Ed Hardy as one of her favorite designers. Being smaller than the average American, Shawn confessed to a preference for heels. But true to her coach’s orders, she’s stayed off them in the lead-up to the Olympics. With the competition behind her, she wore a pair of 3-inch silver peep-toes to Thursday’s event, occasionally flicking them off when she got tired. “It’s actually the first time I’ve worn heels in, like, five months, so it feels a little weird,” she laughed. “But I love heels. They make me feel a little more confident.”
FIRST OFF THE BLOCH: In the battle of celebrity stylists with their own reality TV shows, Phillip Bloch has an edge over Rachel Zoe — 18 days, to be exact. “Glam God With Vivica A. Fox,” in which Bloch judges aspiring stylists who compete for a $100,000 prize and a contract with Jed Root Inc., premiered Thursday night on VH1, well ahead of Zoe’s show, which begins airing on Bravo Sept. 8. Who would have thought that industry insiders who fuss over frocks would become famous enough to star as themselves on national TV? “It’s a weird phenomenon,” acknowledged Bloch, who started working with celebrities such as Vivica A. Fox, Halle Berry and Christie Brinkley after modeling for designers like Romeo Gigli. If TV doesn’t pan out for him, Bloch is writing a style book to be published by Simon & Schuster next year. He also began showing the new cashmere line he designed with Emma & Posh this month to retailers. The 17 styles retail for between $200 and $400. “No more fashionista,” Bloch declared. “It’s recessionista.”
WEDDING BELLS: Roman actress-turned-DJ Asia Argento will wed her former colleague, filmmaker Michele Civetta, at the town hall in Arezzo in Italy’s Tuscany region on Tuesday. According to sources in the town hall, the mayor will marry the couple, who are expecting a son. The couple worked together on the film “Friendly Fire” in 2006 and are currently at work with Sean Lennon on a film version of Ryu Murakami’s book “Coin Locker Babies.”
GANT AND THE SARTORIALIST: Gant and Scott Schuman, the creator of the style blog The Sartorialist, have teamed up on an “image collaboration.” Schuman enlisted 10 New Yorkers to style themselves using Gant’s fall line and their own wardrobes, then photographed them at downtown locations that he thought reflected each person’s individual style — from a Lower East Side sidewalk to a Chinatown market. The site, gant.com/thesartorialist, went live Tuesday with a full set of photos, biographies and Q&As on all 10 participants. Gant plans to display the images in its stores, plus create a gallery installation in its New York flagship, where it will host an event this fall with Schuman and the 10 real-people models.
OVER THE CHANNEL: The longtime vice president of the buying office and general merchandise manager of women’s fashion for Printemps has resigned from the French firm and is heading to Harrods to become its general merchandise manager for women’s wear, a new post. Cedric Charbit is expected to join the London retailer toward the end of October.
MATCH THAT: Gaspard Yurkievich is wearing many hats these days. The designer, who shows his signature collection on the Paris runway, also has signed on as creative director of the French brand Rodier, with his first full collection due for fall 2009. He also has created a limited edition felt hat for the dating site Match.com. His Gasparinette topper is in honor of the “Catherinette” or St. Catherine’s Day, a celebration of single woman in France on Nov. 25.
FRANKIE’S GIRL: Taryn Manning is melding her passions for fashion, music and film as the centerpiece of Frankie B.’s first short movie, “Let’s Get Lost.” Donning an array of tie-dye jeans, flared bell-bottoms and tanks from Frankie B.’s forthcoming spring collection, Manning portrays a Seventies-loving sprite playing a guitar, lounging on a hammock and hopping on a motorcycle. Manning herself lives a multifaceted life, designing jersey dresses and sweatshirts under the brand Born Uniqorn when not acting in movies such as “Hustle & Flow” and rocking in bands. So it wasn’t much of a stretch for her to feature in the 2-minute piece directed by Travis Schneider, which premieres on the brand’s Web site early next month. “We couldn’t have achieved this through photographs in a traditional look book,” said Frankie B. founder Daniella Clarke. “The film tells so much more.”