A finals-induced haze loomed over Columbia University in New York on Tuesday night as bundled-up undergrads bustled around campus, overstuffed backpacks in tow. Tensions were particularly palpable — and understandably so — inside Uris Hall, where 39 students in The Design and Marketing of Luxury Goods Master Class gathered to present a semester’s worth of work to senior executives from five luxury brands: Chanel, Hermès, Loro Piana, Pomellato and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Introduced in 2005 by the Luxury Education Foundation, the Master Class interdisciplinary course places M.B.A. students from Columbia Business School and undergraduate students from Parsons The New School for Design into small teams (six to nine students on each) that are then presented with real-life case studies currently being conducted by the companies. Past participants have included Cartier, Gucci, Christian Dior, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton.
Over the course of the semester, students engaged in quantitative and qualitative research to fully understand the brand and its customer. The project cumulates with concrete business plans that can be potentially implemented by the brand. “It was definitely left brain meets right brain,” said Danielle Cervelli, a graduate student at Columbia Business School and member of the Pomellato team. “You have the Parsons students saying, ‘Let’s go sketch in Central Park,’ and the Columbia students saying, ‘Let’s go survey people in Central Park.’”
Tuesday night’s presentations clocked in at exactly 10 minutes each — abridged versions of the hour-and-a-half-long ones given to the clients earlier in the week. Technology was the hot topic of the evening, as each team touched upon how to better electronically engage clients, both in-store and online. Touchscreen displays (Hermès), around-the-clock e-services (Chanel) and a Facebook-focused marketing strategy (Van Cleef & Arpels) were among the ideas presented. The Pomellato team, for one, made good use of its fashion design majors, going so far as to design a New York City-themed capsule collection for one the brand’s line of charms, called Dodo.
Following each presentation, representatives from the company were given a chance to provide feedback. Hermès president and chief executive officer Robert Chavez used the time to commend his team on their unwavering work ethic. “We’ve learned a lot from them. We gave them one direction, and they taught us things that we’ve never even heard of,” said Chavez. “We just want to thank you for your dedication. We actually had a conference call the day the hurricane hit New York City because they did not want to miss out on even one session.”
Barbara Cirkva, division president of fashion, watches and fine jewelry at Chanel, who also serves as the chairwoman of the Luxury Education Foundation, missed the house’s pre-fall runway show, held earlier that day in Edinburgh, so she could be there for her college team.
Afterward, clients and relieved students mingled over Champagne — courtesy of the LVMH Group, of course. Heading into the reception, Cirkva played coy when it came to revealing whether or not the ideas presented would actually be utilized in the future. “Parts will be implemented,” said Cirkva. “We’re all friendly in the luxury market, but we like to keep some secrets to ourselves.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)