Monthly Archives: October 2012

Worn again: second-hand fashion

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This ruffled, all-kinds-of-fabulous Mulberry skirt (see below) costs £390 – yet, brand new, its price is £1,500. And what about that cashmere-and-silk Dolce & Gabbana vest tucked into it? Yours for £25. Readers, we present the smartest way to shop designer: second-hand. Alright, second-hand (usually classified as newer, pre-worn items) and vintage (pieces that are at least 25 years old) shops have been around for aeons, but what’s changed is that some have climbed right to the top of the luxury ladder. What that means is that you no longer have to sift through a mountain of tat to get to the good stuff; here, the mountain is the good stuff.

READ: Christina Ricci defines vintage
Susie Archer, founder of Arch Label Agency, the pre-owned dress agency in Lincolnshire where that Mulberry skirt and Dolce top come from, has stacks of elaborate Louboutin heels from £150 a pop (basic black costs £400 brand new) and classic tweed Chanel jackets for £500 (they nudge £2,000 fresh off the rack) – all in mint condition. “I don’t take in anything that’s worn – everything is pristine,” says Archer, who also helps you sell your unwanted purchases if you can’t be bothered to eBay. “A lot of items are still new with tags on.” Style Sequel’s USP is sold-out pieces: at the moment, it has a pair of Isabel Marant’s trophy wedge trainers. Should you desire an original Christian Dior New Look dress, Vintage Seekers has several.

A non-negotiable criterion in our selection was relevancy. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be decades old. Take a look at the black Dior dress pictured and tell us it isn’t modern or wearable. “Good vintage needs to look contemporary,” says Carmen Haid, founder of vintage e-tailer Atelier Mayer. “Any ‘too vintage-looking’ pieces or items in bad condition I don’t touch.” In our selected shops here, you won’t find any démodé Chloé Paddingtons. What you will find are ultra-desirable, unique, quality pieces, often at a fraction of the original price.

It stocks Chanel and YSL, but it’s the “cool labels that fashion editors love”, as one fan puts it, that makes the schlep to Susie Archer’s word-of-mouth phenomenon in Lincolnshire worth it. Immaculate-condition Marni, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Jil Sander, Céline, Proenza Schouler and Tom Ford from recent seasons can be found at basement prices. A current cross-section of its perusal-only website (customers can order by phone, 01780 764746) includes Stella McCartney belts from £30, Gucci silk scarves for £50 and a Givenchy bag for £390.

Archer calls her shop an agency, but the hushed white decor has more of the Matches boutique about it than Cash Converters: “A lot of people don’t realise that it’s an agency and request items in certain sizes,” says Archer, who set up the business with redundancy money from her old marketing job. You can also make a tidy sum selling your unwanted designer purchases to her to sell on.

Style Sequel’s modus operandi is sold-out contemporary fashion: the red Alexander McQueen dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the Diamond Jubilee, Isabel Marant’s popular wedge trainers, and a star-print YSL dress that Kate Moss modelled in the spring/summer 2008 ad campaign have all passed through its (virtual) door.

Most of it is sourced from founder Emma Allen’s contacts in London, and about 20 per cent comes from sellers overseas (Kate’s McQueen dress came from a seller in Australia). Everything is sold online (“editor’s pick” and “collectibles” tags serve as handy pointers), mostly via auction (its website is linked to eBay), which can be frustrating if you spot a piece you like, as you have to play the waiting game. On the plus side there’s potential for snaffling a bargain: a beautiful silk draped Lanvin orange dress is currently up for auction at just over £100. The most in-demand pieces aren’t cheap, however, and can sell at as-new prices.

It also does a selling service; if you’ve got pieces by Christopher Kane, Erdem and Mary Katrantzou, Allen reckons you’re sitting on a gold mine. “There was no second-hand market for Christopher Kane two years ago. In fashion circles, he was popular, but in the public consciousness he wasn’t quite there yet. Now that he’s on his way to becoming a household name, people want to buy him second-hand. People aren’t letting go of Mary Katrantzou’s pieces yet, because she’s relatively new. It may be worth more in a few years.”

“A commercial, yet inspirational, mix of luxury vintage fashion,” is how Carmen Haid describes her online company Atelier Mayer, named after her late grandmother, Klaudia Mayer, a haute-couture seamstress in Vienna in the Thirties. With its chic web design, slick packaging and spot-on edit, we say it’s the Net-a-Porter of vintage fashion. There’s often a bohemian-ish feel to her selections – maxi lengths, opulent prints and high necklines: “I glamourise the Sixties and Seventies and particularly love YSL and Lanvin from that time. I also favour Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, Ungaro, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Pucci,” says the ex-fashion PR. A signature Atelier Mayer piece would be “something in impeccable condition, with beautiful craftsmanship”.

Haid also works with upcoming designers such as Rafael López, who’s dressed Emma Watson, on exclusive vintage-inspired capsule collections, and stocks a nice line of homewares; we’ve got our eye on a beautiful blue YSL tea set from the Eighties: “I could just trade in Hermès and Chanel, but that’s too limiting and boring. I like to offer a wide variety of treasures to people.”

Jewellery can make even the simplest outfit sing – especially if they come from Susan Caplan. Her e-boutique houses stunning old-school baubles with a modern feel. Caplan’s great eye for detail comes from working in the antiques trade for 20 years (she mainly bought Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces) and growing up in a family of art collectors. “A lot of the styles and shapes are the inspiration for much of what we see on today’s catwalks,” explains Caplan, who stocks pieces from the Thirties through to the Nineties, starting from £8. The most memorable item she’s sourced is a Versace body piece, although labels don’t particularly interest her: “I buy because I love the design, not the designer.” She’s curated a cheaper, fashion-led collection for Asos, which does a hot trade with younger fans, while her more luxurious selections are carried by Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Fenwick. “There is a huge demand for vintage jewellery. It isn’t a transient trend – it really is here to stay.”

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Shares in Chinese Billionaire Zhou Chengjian’s Metersbonwe Hammered After 3rd-Quarter Profit Falls

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Shares in Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion and Accessories, one of China’s largest home-grown fashion retailers, dropped 9.8% at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Friday after the company posted a double-digit drop in third-quarter earnings.  The fall, coming at a time of slowing economic growth in the world’s most populous country, follows other signs of trouble in the retail industry that were also evidenced in the 2012 Forbes China Rich List announced earlier this month (see link here).

Net profit dropped 13.4% in the three months to September from a year earlier to $50.7 million. Profit was hurt by a 13.5% fall in sales to $412 million. For the first nine months of the year, Metersbonwe’s sales rose 6% to $1.1 billion; net profit edged up 0.6% to $119.4 million.

Metersbonwe’s chairman Zhou Chengjian ranked No.19 on the 2012 Forbes China Rich list with wealth of $2.7 billion.

Even as business has become more difficult in the retail industry this year, foreign companies facing even more  problems at home are looking to expand in China.  Laura Ashley of London is in talks with a potential partner in China to open its home furnishing and fashion stores in the country “possibly by the first quarter of next year,” business development manager Kai Xiang Teo said on the sidelines of the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Dubai  this week. (See story here.)

Luxury Fashion Fave ‘House of Style’ Returns To MTV

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The runways of reality television are lined with models, designers and celebrity judges, each offering their unique take on popular fashion. With scores of programs dedicated to covering the vast world of upscale clothing and accessories, today premier retailer Rodeo Drive Resale (http://www.shoprdr.com) looks at the return of MTV fashion favorite, “House of Style.”

(PRWEB) October 26, 2012
The scope of reality television covers topics ranging from coupledom to crime, and in between these contrasts of love and war await an array of programs dedicated to the world of popular fashion. Today, Rodeo Drive Resale, online retailer of 100% authentic Marc Jacobs bags, Chanel heels, and St. John Knits, highlights the return of one of fashion’s earliest reality series, MTV’s “House of Style.”

On October 9, “House of Style,” the popular fashion series which premiered on MTV in 1989 rocked its way back onto the airwaves. During its 11-year run, the show highlighted notable designers such as Marc Jacobs, Chanel and Betsey Johnson as well as young stars that would go on to be major Hollywood players including Will Smith and Winona Ryder. Though the show has been gone for quite some time (it ended in 2000), it returned for a single episode in 2009, and MTV promises its 2012 reboot will offer viewers even more Style than its predecessor. “The idea of the new “House of Style” is that it runs on all of our platforms. MTV is a fully multi-media company. You’ll see it on television, on the web, on our aps,” said Dave Sirulnick from MTV. “Not a lot of people are looking to consume 20-minute television shows on their phones. At least not yet. We want to make it really accessible for our audiences. Pieces will get windowed on to television, with the notion of the ability to a longer form programming style. The documentary is a long form piece.”

Supermodels Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls the new HoS brings back the classic feel while incorporating a bit of viewer interaction.

“We are so excited to be able to bring fans behind-the-scenes of our world. We work in an amazing industry, there’s a lot of fun to it, and this is such an incredible time in fashion,” Kloss and Smalls said in a statement. “Blogs and social media have transformed the way we interact, and especially with fashion, allowing fans an intimate connection with what we do. The new ‘House of Style’ will intertwine video segments with expanded content on social platforms to truly bring fans into our world.”
Kloss added that the timing could not be better for the show to return.

“I think now is such a special time in fashion,” Kloss said. “I mean, when it first came around when Cindy [Crawford] launched ‘House of Style,’ but it was a special moment in fashion. And you know the thing is now a lot of the designers and hair and makeup artists and people that are creating all of this art still are still working so it’s really special to interview them again.”

The “House of Style” reboot was not the only fashion-based series to hit the airwaves during the second half of 2012, as the latest cycle of “America’s Next Top Model” returned to television on August 24. The show, in which women compete for a chance at entering the modeling industry, has a fresh look, as “America’s Next Top Model: College Edition” features participants who have enrolled or completed some form of advanced education.

Rodeo Drive Resale (shopRDR.com) has built a reputation of providing amazing deals on handbags, clothing and accessories from the top designers of upscale fashion. The company offers a 100% guarantee of authenticity on each item sold, and works daily with a network of clients looking to buy, sell, or for consignment of their luxury goods. ShopRDR.com loves high-end fashion, and believes finding a high quality, classic piece should be an easy, enjoyable — and most importantly — hassle-free shopping experience. For the finest in Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, St. John Knits, Christian Louboutin, Tiffany & Co.

Toronto Fashion Week: Mercedes Benz Startup winner is DUY

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The judges have spoken: Canada’s top new young design talent is DUY.
With a collection that combined sharp architectural edges and flowy fabrics, high-end Montreal designer Duy Nguyen beat out other emerging artists in the second Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition on Tuesday night. He wins a full solo runway show at the next Toronto Fashion Week and an editorial in Fashion magazine.

IN PHOTOS:See Duy Nguyen’s winning DUY designs.

Fashion magazine editor-in-chief Bernadette Morra announced the winner, while wearing an outfit from last Start Up winner Martin Lim.

The eight finalists in the program (co-sponsored by IMG) aimed at nurturing and promoting young Canadian designers presented their collections at World Mastercard Fashion Week, where they were judged by top fashion icons including Morra, Fashion Design Council of Canada president Robin Kay and Toronto Star contributing editor Jeanne Beker.

The emerging designers selected to participate in the final stage (after gruelling interviews and semi-finals across the country) were Caitlin Power, Christopher Bates, Dreamboat Lucy (by Louanna and Hilary Murphy), Lauren Bagliore, Malorie Urbanovitch, Nicole Campre and Pure Magnolia (by Patty Nayel).

All eight have been in business for less than five years.

MORE:Illustrations from the finalists

The first Startup was won by Martin Lim from design duo Danielle Martin and Pao Lim. Runners up that year included Triarchy, who are making their Toronto Fashion Week debut later this week.

Designers of the Signs That Guide You

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Walking through Vienna Airport recently, I noticed something odd about the signs. It wasn’t that they were misleading, on the contrary, they seemed to relay the right information in the right places, but that they looked slightly blurred. The characters and symbols on most airport signage are crisply defined, but some of these signs appeared to have been drawn by hand.

The oddness is intentional. The designer of the signs, Ruedi Baur, devised the blurred effect as part of his efforts to make Vienna Airport seem different from other airports at a time when most of them look pretty much the same. A fierce critic of the identikit school of airport design, he was determined to ensure that his signage reflected the spirit of Vienna. “The sociologist Marc Augé has described airports as ‘nonplaces,’ not destinations, but somewhere in between,” he said. “My job was to create a system of signs that makes this airport a place, not a nonplace.”

Why not, you might think, especially as the project seemed so promising when Mr. Baur started work on it eight years ago. Based in Paris, he had recently completed an innovative, widely praised signage scheme for Cologne-Bonn Airport and was commissioned to do the same in Vienna where the airport was to double in size by constructing a new building and renovating an old one. The senior management there was sympathetic to his goals, as were the architects, Itten Brechbühl and Baumschlager Eberle.

The first phase of expansion was completed this summer when the new building opened, replete with Mr. Baur’s signs. But the project has not gone as smoothly as he had hoped. New personnel joined the airport’s management during construction and decided to change aspects of the original architectural scheme, which affected the signage, and to drop two important elements of his planned system. He has also had to modify some of the signs following complaints from people with impaired vision amid an online rumpus that his artfully blurred signs are not legible.

Whatever else an airport signage system succeeds in being, it must be clear. If the signs do not communicate the relevant information quickly and easily to everyone who needs it, they will have failed, but pulling this off is tougher than it sounds.

Airports are often large, labyrinthine spaces in which thousands of people need to be guided to particular places at specific times. Some of them will be familiar with the airport, but others will be there for the first time. They may well speak different languages, and range from veteran flyers to nervous ingénues and terrified flight-phobia sufferers. Somehow, the signs need to guide each of them through the building so efficiently that they never worry about getting lost, as well as conforming to a minefield of safety regulations and competing against a blizzard of advertising imagery.

No wonder that the first wave of modern airport signage systems, in the 1960s and 1970s, were characterized by discipline and uniformity. Often, they were the work of gifted design “despots” like Benno Wissing, the Dutch designer whose 1967 signage for Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was renowned for its lucid typography and rigorous color coding. To avoid confusion, he banned any other signage in his chosen shades of yellow and green from Schiphol, including Hertz’s car rental signs.

Clarity was also the goal of the Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger at the turn of the 1970s, when he developed a signage system for Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris. He designed a special typeface in which each letter could be read from different angles by distracted passengers while racing through crowded terminals.

Like Wissing’s signs at Schiphol, Mr. Frutiger’s scheme at Charles de Gaulle was a wonderful example of design that fulfilled its function sensitively and elegantly. Sadly, it has since been neglected, but Wissing’s work has been lovingly maintained and updated by the Dutch designer Paul Mijksenaar. Other airports have tried to achieve the same lucidity, but have generally settled for less sophisticated designs, which have produced indistinguishably bland signs that make it hard to tell one airport from another.

Chemist and fashion designer create new denim that can remove emissions in the air

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Most jeans are blue – but in future, every pair could be green.
A chemist and a fashion designer have created environmentally-friendly denim which removes harmful emissions in the air.
The jeans are coated with particles of titanium dioxide, which reacts with light and air to neutralise nitrogen oxide – the pollutant emitted by vehicles and factories.

The by-product – harmless, water-soluble nitrates – wash away when the trousers are laundered.
Just as catalytic converters help to reduce pollution as drivers travel around, the jeans could help make the planet greener as people go about their daily lives.

American Made: New ideas fuel fashion

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Martha Stewart and her American Made project turned Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall into a hub of crafts, croissants and conversation on Wednesday with experts in the areas of gardening, decorating, cooking and fashion.

In a session called “The Makers of American Fashion,” Stewart did a one-on-one interview with J. Crew CEO Millard Drexler, and then led a panel discussion with Calvin Klein, Tory Burch and Ralph Rucci.
As the grande dame of the home, Stewart said what she brought to the fashion table is an ability to sew, an affinity for design and a desire to promote American-grown talent.

The talent in question seemed to agree that the success of the industry lies largely with new ideas and the customers who will embrace them. Right now, everything looks too similar, said Drexler: “It’s a broken record around the world.”

It’s the person willing to be a “contrarian” that will leave the biggest impact, he said.
“In business, you must stay creative,” Klein added. “If you give people what they will want, your business will grow.”

Burch, who in eight years has grown from a kitchen-table idea into a global brand, said she takes inspiration anywhere she can get it: art, music or a book, for example. But she also has to keep regional trends and taste in mind. There’s a big divide between Brazilian bathing suits with very little fabric and the covered-up customs in the Middle East, she said.

The goal, according to Burch, is balance.
Rucci made the case that being a well-rounded person makes him a better designer, and that fashion doesn’t operate in a total vacuum. For him, painting is “my trap door.”

On the practical side, though, Drexler said price is a factor in long-term success. “As a kid, I realized you can never afford everything you want. … Calvin (Klein) and Ralph (Lauren) were it, but they were more expensive than I thought it should be. No offense. But I didn’t think good taste should cost more.”