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WWD Week in Review 5/1/09

The top stories of the week in WWD.

Fifteen wedding parties celebrated their respective nuptials at the Mall of America’s amusement park.

Malls Reinvent to Ward Off Vacancies

With many malls fighting for survival and mall vacancy rates approaching 10 percent, property owners are trying to woo shoppers with lures such as a roller coaster riding contest, a film festival, fashion shows, cupcakes and even an exhibition of Oscar statuettes. Meanwhile, the recession has crashed the downtown Los Angeles party, short-circuiting a major push for retail. But there are bright spots, too, for retailers. As the truism goes, when the economy tanks, lipstick sales soar. The phenomenon, known as the Lipstick Effect, dates back to the Great Depression and has provided bright spots in otherwise dull retail landscapes. WWD asked various retailers and designers for their Lipstick Effect items.

Forever 21’s Tokyo Fashion Frenzy

The opening of Forever 21’s first store in Japan on Wednesday was as much the exercise in organized chaos as it promised to be, possibly even more so since it happened to fall on a national holiday. The first customers started lining up the night before outside the store in Tokyo’s Harajuku district. “We think this will be one of the best in our chain — if not the best in our chain,” Larry Meyer, executive vice president of Forever 21, told WWD. (Click for a look inside the new Forever 21 store.)

Quint Essence: D&G to Launch Fragrance Anthology

Made up of five scents, The D&G Fragrance Anthology is set to launch globally in September, and also marks the birth of a new fragrance portfolio under the D&G brand. The five fragrances are inspired by different tarot cards, each with a distinct identity and represented by a different model, some of them iconic and all of them naked in the advertising. Among them: Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Fernando Fernandes and Eva Herzigova.

Teens Aim for Recession Chic at Prom

No matter what the trend — bold prints, bright colors, back detail, beading and crystals, cocktail dresses or long elaborate gowns — a range in price points for prom dresses is key this year, with some retailers offering dresses for as low as $50. And once teens find the perfect dress, they are getting superserious about making sure their dresses are indeed one-of-a-kind, even setting up groups on Facebook that allow classmates to post photos of their looks. “I bought my prom dress a few weeks ago,” said Ali Peikon, a high-school junior. “I couldn’t find a picture online, so I wrote the designer name [Bianca Nero] and color [black and cream] on the group wall.” (Click to see more prom looks.)

Bendel’s Focuses on New Strategy

Henri Bendel is focusing in on its core categories — accessories, beauty and gifts. Under the retailer’s new strategy, the Fifth Avenue flagship will be downsized as Bendel’s concentrates on its most profitable areas while getting out of apparel. And the concept will be rolled out to shopping malls, where units will offer only Bendel’s branded merchandise. Six stores will open this year, joining the existing four.

Beauty Industry No Longer Immune

Sales of beauty products fell across the board, according to quarterly updates from Revlon Inc., The Procter & Gamble Co., Sally Beauty Holdings Inc., International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. and Bare Escentuals Inc. and annual results from Shiseido in Japan. Of those companies, only Revlon and Sally Beauty were able to pull better profits out of lower sales and were rewarded handsomely for the feat by investors. In at least some cases, consumers are shifting to lower-priced stores for their beauty fix. Looking ahead, currency fluctuations are expected to continue to weigh on bottom and tops lines, and sales will likely remain weak. Meanwhile, Fabrizio Freda readies to ascend to the chief executive post at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. along with new leadership ranks, and Revlon named Alan T. Ennis as its new president and chief executive officer.

WWD List: Winners in the Personal Luxury Market

Unity Marketing, a luxury research firm based in Stevens, Pa., surveyed 4,500 men and women with average annual household incomes exceeding $200,000 to determine how they spent money last year for its Luxury Report 2009. “It’s the first time our study has really analyzed share-of-wallet,” said Pam Danziger, president and founder of Unity Marketing. Here’s a look at the winners for luxury consumers ranked by the overall spending growth in each category. See the Year’s Biggest Losers too.

Memo Pad: Condé Nast Closing Portfolio

The only surprise in Portfolio’s closing Monday was that it took as long as it did. Chatter predicting the death of the magazine, launched in 2007 after a 20-month incubation period, began not long after the first issue appeared in April 2007. And from the moment editor in chief Joanne Lipman and publisher William Li broke the news to their staffs on Monday (with Lipman getting a round of applause from hers at the urging of deputy editor Kyle Pope), the postmortems were swift and often downright vicious. In other industry news, New York Observer editor in chief Peter Kaplan will join Condé Nast Traveler, heading to 4 Times Square on June 1 as creative director.

Grace Jones Wows at Williamson H&M Event

In a career that’s spanned over 30 years, Grace Jones has played everywhere from Studio 54 to Wembley Arena, and at just about all of her gigs, her audience has sat around wondering if the queen was even going to show up. Why should her Tuesday night show at a party celebrating Matthew Williamson’s collaboration with H&M be any different? Held on a boat at the South Street Seaport that looked like a cross between the QE2 and a Las Vegas casino, a crowd including Chanel Iman, Helena Christensen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Daria Werbowy and dozens of drag queens showed up to see the diva perform. “She’s one of the world’s finest,” said Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes. “They don’t make them with style like that anymore.”

Hermès Architect Rena Dumas, 71, Dies

The Hermès architect and interior designer Rena Dumas, who was the wife of the company’s former chief executive officer Jean-Louis Dumas, died Monday in Paris. She was 71. The Greek-born Dumas founded Rena Dumas Architecture Intérieure in Paris in 1972. She designed the interior of her first Hermès boutique in 1976 — an addition to the Paris flagship at 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré — and would go on to design almost 300 more, from the brand’s New York City flagship on Madison Avenue to its Ginza tower in Tokyo, a project carried out in collaboration with Renzo Piano, the main architect for the building.

Click to read last week’s WWD Week in Review (4/24/09).