John Galliano kicked off Couture week in Paris yesterday with a spectacular-as-always show for Dior, while the rest of the world mourned the crashing stock market and slowing economy. Meanwhile, Jimmy Choo, the British luxury shoe brand, announced that while most retail outlets continue to suffer, their profits reached record highs last year. And last week, WWD reported that 2007 was Chanel's most profitable couture year ever. We've noticed this trend over the last year, luxury sales growing, or at least not dropping, while the rest of the industry suffers. While analysts often attribute it to the rich getting richer, and being generally unaffected by minor economic trends, we wonder if it has something to do with the recent push to bring luxury to the masses. We know, or at least hope, that the average fashion fan isn't saving for a couture gown, but we also know plenty of girls who skip meals for weeks to buy $600 Jimmy Choos, or pay rent late to afford $300 Tom Ford sunglasses, foregoing weeks of retail therapy at mid-range stores in lieu of one major luxury item. If more people put their money toward a piece of the luxury market, do the levels of retail directly below suffer?
Dior Fall 2011: A Reflection
Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. PARIS--When the lights dimmed on this bright sunny Friday afternoon inside a black tent erected on the courtyard of the Musée Rodin, there wasn’t the customary loud music and a model already posed at the end of the runway ready for action. Instead, Sidney Toledano, the CEO of Christian Dior, came on the stage to give a speech in French. With elegant but somber words that somehow felt more emotional in French than a translation would allow, Mr. Toledano summarized the “painful” events of the past few days that shook the fashion world in a rapid and unforeseen manner. As readers of this site are undoubtedly aware, Dior fired its designer John Galliano for anti-semetic remarks at a bar against a French couple and in an undated camera phone recording that surfaced last Monday in a London tabloid, sold for personal profit by an anonymous individual to the Sun tabloid. “The heart of the house of Dior, which beats remain unseen, is made up of its team and studios, of its seamtresses and craftsmen, who work hard day after day, never counting the hours, and carrying on the values and vision of Monsieur Dior. Ce que vous allez voir maintenant, le résultat de leur immense travail. What you are seeing now, the result of their immense work.” With these words, Mr. Toledano yielded the stage--a backdrop reproduction of the grey wall offices at the Avenue Montaigne headquarters--and Karlie Kloss emerged from behind the faux salon doors wearing a large brown cape draping over her cropped leather jacket, purple sweater, and midnight blue velvet pants neatly tucked into thigh high leather boots. Ms. Kloss led the show with her cape flowing in the air. This time her moves were tempered by the soft and un-melodramatic music, her make-up nude rather than painted like some figurines. With 63 looks, the clothes certainly took center stage: there was Coco Rocha in a gray short sleeve double breasted flare jacket and a red print dress; Vlada Roslyakova in red tiered layers of ruffles; Lee Hye Jung in a khaki cotton layered dress; Iris Egbers in a sensible green plaid jacket over a short printed dress. Surely the men and women from the studios and ateliers who created these garments and who took a bow on stage at the end of the show should be proud of their accomplishments and their meticulous work in making these outfits. Yet despite the dazzling choices of clothes, designer fashion requires an imaginative narrative without which even the most elaborately constructed garments are just mere clothes that in a few months’ time we will forget. Over his 14 years at Dior, Mr. Galliano provides us with that precise plot season after season, like a bedtime story taking us away from the utter banality and mundane business of fashion.