Luxury’s New Road

Luxury has its limits, and the global economic downturn delineated them clearly. Even as luxury goods executives grow more optimistic the worst is over, the recession will leave behind a sector with fewer players and a new set of rules and dynamics. “Value” and “meaningful consumption” are among the new buzzwords, and “accessible luxury” is possibly on the endangered species list. Experts from Karl Lagerfeld to Matteo Marzotto weighed in on the question of how to adapt to the new landscape. Click here to join the WWD Conversation on this topic.

Talking Shop With Isaac Mizrahi

The designer’s new line for QVC is an eclectic lineup of everything from handbags and berets to toggle coats and sequin Ts to cheesecake, in a launch price range of about $32 to $300. “I love my product,” Mizrahi explains. “I believe in my product. If I do plates, if I do bedding, which I did, if I render cookies, I do it in the same way that I think about a couture dress.,”

M&A Companies Hunt for Beauty Targets

As the beauty sector begins to shrug off the effects of the recession, it is emerging flush with dealmaking activity. For example, Lornamead, the Camberley, U.K.-based beauty manufacturer, announced it has agreed to sell its Yardley business in Asia, the Middle East, Australia and some African countries to Bangalore, India-based Wipro in a deal weighing in at $45.5 million plus an earn-out. Kosé Corp. has entered into a licensing agreement with Coty Inc. for the manufacturing and distribution of Adidas men’s beauty products in Japan. Other done deals include Sally Beauty Holdings Inc.’s Beauty Systems Group LLC buying Shoeneman Beauty Supply Inc. for $61 million in cash, while Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Co. inked a licensing agreement for full control of Korres branded beauty products in North America.

CIT Files for Bankruptcy

CIT Group Inc. on Sunday filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition seeking bankruptcy court protection from creditors. The filing, in a Manhattan bankruptcy court, is the fifth largest in U.S. history after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Washington Mutual Inc., WorldCom Inc. and General Motors Corp. According to the petition, the company listed $71 billion in assets and $64.9 billion in debts. One big loser is expected to be the U.S. government, which provided the lender to small- and middle-market firms $2.3 million under its Troubled Asset Relief Program in exchange for preferred shares. CIT has been on bankruptcy watch since July, and has spent the past four months trying to restructure its debt load.

Stella Performer

It was a big week for Stella McCartney as she unveiled her spring collection of lingerie and a line for GapKids and babyGap. Meanwhile, at a shopping party for the latter hosted by Liv Tyler, the grown-ups, including Monet Mazur and Amber Valletta, seemed equally interested in the merchandise. “It’s great to have cool, chic kids’ clothes that are affordable,” said Tyler. “Especially with boys, they just destroy things.”

Waiting for a Lady at the ACE Awards

It was a battle of the blondes at Monday night’s Accessories Council Excellence Awards. While revelers at Cipriani 42nd Street waited patiently for the chance to gawk at Stylemaker Award-winner Lady Gaga — who was tardy to the black-tie fete, arriving at the end of the first course — another blonde bombshell captivated the attention of guests such as Agyness Deyn, Alexander Wang, Molly Sims and Diane von Furstenberg: Barbie.

Global Retail Rollout for William Rast

Justin Timberlake’s William Rast label has launched an aggressive global retail expansion. The premium denim and contemporary sportswear brand, cofounded by Timberlake and his friend Trace Ayala, unveiled its fusion of a Hollywood lifestyle with Tennessee roots in three California stores that opened Sunday, heralding the launch of 40 to 50 units by 2012. The new shops are the Westfield Century City shopping mall in Los Angeles, the Westfield Valley Fair shopping mall in San Jose and an outlet store at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon. Stores in Chicago, New York, San Diego, Las Vegas, Miami and Scottsdale, Ariz., are to make their debuts next year. The company also targeted Germany, the U.K. and Japan for units. Coinciding with the retail rollout will be next fall’s introduction of shoes to complement the trendy jeans, weathered leather jackets and plaid shirts produced by the four-year-old brand.

Retailers Bet on Warm and Fuzzy Holiday Themes

Nostalgia and other emotions — visions of sugar plums, softly falling snow, reindeer and Santa — will be plentiful in holiday marketing campaigns, but may not be enough to shake most American consumers out of their sleepy spending ways, as retail sales remained sluggish for the past month. Shoppers with tighter budgets and lower sights set on gift giving are struggling with worries about job security and high unemployment, depressed home values, flat personal income and tougher consumer credit terms. To move the consumer’s spending needle this season, according to Candace Corlett, principal partner in WSL Strategic Retail, “marketing will have to be pulling a lot of emotional cords” because people are overspent, overleveraged and remain disdainful of their own pre-recession buying sprees. However, there are still some bright spots. Lower inventories are helping improve the outlook for the holiday season. And certain sectors of the retail landscape are looking up — notably the beleaguered state of California. There, analysts report retail buyers are placing new orders, as well as reorders, in a flurry of pent-up spending. And there are indications that some shoppers are beginning to crack open their wallets.

Photographer Benno Graziani Shoots the Jet Set

Bigwigs, swells, swans, cafe society — Benno Graziani has interviewed, photographed and befriended more than his share.
And he is still at it, writing longhand and snapping his own photos with no need for a cell phone or computers. Antiquarian as that might seem, Graziani very much lives in the moment — which is evident in the images (many of which he happens to be in) in “Collection Privée,” his book depicting the jet set’s European follies from 1955 to 1975. The book includes classic images of everyone from Jackie Onassis to Audrey Hepburn.

Back in Time: Home Sweet Home

Home may be where the heart is, but sometimes WWD is there, too. Even the most high-profile designers, actresses and socials have their private sides. Still, from a pregnant Diana Ross at home in Los Angeles talking about “Lady Sings the Blues” to Cybill Shepherd posing in front of one of her cover-girl shots, they often let our reporters behind the veil. Click here to see all the images.

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