Supermodel Naomi Campbell proved to be a hit at Lakme Fashion Week. Mai Mumbai, the beneﬁt for the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attacks last November previewed earlier in Lucire, featured numerous celebrities: Rahul Khanna, in Narendra Kumar, compered. Campbell started off the show wearing Vikram Phadnis, followed by hotelier Vikram Chatwal in a Arjun Khanna Jodhpur jacket.
Other celebrities on the catwalk were Arjun and Meher Rampal, Gregory David Roberts, Princess FranĂ§oise, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Kunal Kapoor, Milind Soman, Feroze Gurjal and Ujwala Raut.
Costume pays court to the Palace of Versailles for an exhibition entitled Court Pomp and Royal Ceremony, to be held from March 31 to June 28, 2009. This exhibition is dedicated to court dress and to the inﬂuence of French fashion in European courts, featuring some 200 exhibits.
Most of the exhibits come from the collections of the major European museums: the Victoria & Albert in London, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Royal Armoury in Stockholm, the Green Vault in Dresden and Rosenborg Castle in Denmark, which are lending some of their exhibits for the ﬁrst time. A collection of jewels, accessories and original paintings will accompany the procession of magniﬁcent costumes.
Fashion house Chanel is sponsoring the exhibition.
The late HSH Princess Grace would have turned 80 this year had she not been tragically killed in a car crash in the 1980s. Painter Peter Engelsâ portrait of the Princess, Vintage, will be auctioned on May 9 at 3 p.m. by Sothebyâs at the Casino de Monaco, in the presence of her son, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Last year, Engelsâ 200 by 100 cm portrait of Nelson Mandela, painted with a pallet knife and revealed prior to Mandelaâs 90th birthday, was auctioned with proceeds going to the former presidentâs Aids charity, 46664 (named for his cell number during South Africaâs apartheid years). Both Engels and his Mandela painting appeared on the screen at Times Square in New York.
This time, proceeds from the auction will go to the Lionsâ Club of Monaco, for handicapped children.
Engels says, âI pay homage to one of the most elegant women of all time. She was a fascinating woman. She remains an icon 25 years after her death, and continues to fascinate us.â
[Cross-posted] Rick Wagoner has become the casualty of the American car industryâs ﬁnger-pointing with his resignation today, his hand forced by the Obama administration.
The press has centred on this rather than explore the unionâs role in the industryâs difﬁculties. For those of us old enough to remember it, it all smacks a bit of the days of British Leylandâs effective nationalization in the 1970s.
If we look at leadership, perhaps part of Wagonerâs behaviour deserved to be lampooned: catching a private jet to Washington to ask for a bailout wasnât a good look. And itâs true that General Motors did push trucks, but then, so did every one of the American Big Three. Even Toyota joined the Big Three in a lawsuit when California tried to impose fuel economy standards. Everyoneâs been complicit in selling large trucks, even the American mediaâs Japanese-brand heroes.
It is unfair to gloss over some of the good that Wagoner did, when they should be mentioned.
GMâs Adam Opel AG unit has put out some good cars of late, and last year took the Car of the Year award in Europe with its Opel Insignia. Buick sells well in Red China. GM has moved toward a more integrated R&D structure than its rivals at Ford, managing to adopt a model using centres of excellence for engineering platformsâso that the next Opel Corsa will have huge Korean input, and the Chevrolet Camaro was engineered in Australia. The Chevrolet Volt could be a world-beater and GM has been willing to be braver with its R&D processes.
Thereâs a lot that GM can build onâbut maybe someone other than Wagoner should put the next stage into action.
That is, if that person knows what the next stage is.
Itâs in the home market where GM, as Ford, as Chrysler, has been making mistakes. If I could see the need for fuel-efﬁcient cars at the turn of the century for the US market, then thereâs no way the Whiz Kids at these companies couldnât. They were fooled by their own excess.
The real problems are reﬂected in how unmanageable GM has become over the years with its subsidiaries and brands. It has let Saab fail without new modelsâit pales in comparison to the plethora of models Volvo has managed to develop under Ford. Legacy costs with the unions are another problem, which deserves another blog post altogether.
There has been talk over the years about trimming the GM brand portfolio, but I wonder if this is a wise thing.
This is no longer the era when we live by counting beans, but by how brands resonateâand consequently how well they can sell. The problem is not so much that GM has so many brands, but that they have become confusing for customers.
British Leylandâonce the worldâs second largest car manufacturer, and now a mere unit of the Red Chinese governmentâshows what can happen when brands are trimmed.
There, the loss of brands such as Triumph meant that the streamlined Austin Rover Group in the 1980s could not compete in the sports saloon and sports car sectors. As people become more greatly segmented, what a company canât afford to do is lose its brands.
Triumph died with a lot of goodwill still out thereâwhich is why BMW, which acquired the name through taking over Rover in the 1990s, is too scared to ever let the name go. It knows that Triumph occupies the same market it does. I warned about the demise of the low-cost Plymouth line when DaimlerChrysler killed thatâand I bet Chrysler now wishes it still had it to ﬁeld captive imports or smaller models now for entry-level buyers.
The trick is to ﬁnd a way for the brands to resonate with consumers once more, and no one seems to want to talk about that.
GM knows that to kill a brand it would have massive payouts to make to dealers and lose certain segments of the market to competitors. It would also lose economies of scale, and its cost per unit would rise greatly over the next decade.
The other problem with killing brands is the consumer mindset.
A couple of years ago I talked about brand rationality as the new decade beganânot rationalization. People only want so many brands in their minds and those brands should only offer so many products. It looks like itâs time to explore these very ideas. Toyota knows this. While in Japan, a country with a very different buyer behaviour to western markets, it offers subcompacts such as Vitz, Ist, Passo, Porte, Raum, bB and Rush, it knows that to export such a wide range would be commercial suicide elsewhere.
It would rather sell more of a certain model, such as the Yaris, while leaving others to be sold under different brand names such as Daihatsu and Scion. Fordâs greatest success in markets like New Zealand came when people understood the range of EscortâCortinaâFalcon; and even GM itself experienced salesâ growth when it was able to bring some logic to its range there with BarinaâAstraâVectraâCommodore. Toyota took the mantle when it was able to organize StarletâCorollaâCorona in the 1980s. And BMW has been doing it for decades with 3â5â7.
In the US, it makes some sense to ﬁeld Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab; less so Hummer and GMC, which never made much sense during my lifetime.
In each of these brands, there is a way to ﬁnd an ideal selection of models that the consumer can understand.
GM has already made some headway with this by effectively turning Saturn and Pontiac into import brands, ﬁelding offerings from other parts of its empire that appeal to their buyersâ attitudes toward them. Thereâs no reason this cannot continue: Opel can engineer for Saturn, Holden for Pontiac. It has always amazed me that cars like the Corsa D are not sold Stateside. The Brazilian Chevrolet VectraâAstra H sedan in Europeâcould have been a decent Saturn.
Saturn could have the current models plus Corsa, Meriva B and Zaﬁra; Pontiac might survive on a future rear-wheel-drive mid-sized car and the VE Commodore.
Chevrolet, the all-American brand, has adorned Korean- and Japanese-designed models over the years. Itâs the core line that should ﬁeld a full range, but do three of each type: three passenger car lines, three SUVs and three minivans. Of course, it should keep iconic hero models such as Corvette and Camaro.
Cadillac has become better organized than most with its tiered range. It just needs to improve its quality. It certainly has more cachet than Lincoln.
That leaves Buick and Saab. GM has done its level best to kill Saab. While it should remain it really should be considered alongside Saturn. If Saturn ﬁelds smaller import models, perhaps the Saab name could be used for larger ones. The problem is that competitive, newer models are still some time away. Stateside, GM might not have much choice but to rebadge the Opel Insignia with the Saab name and see if this attractive new model can ﬁnd buyers, as a stopgap. Its large US-only SUV ﬁlls a gap in the market-place as a performance model with some of Saabâs cachet.
Buick, meant to plug the gap between Chevrolet and Cadillac, still needs to do that, and its latest Lacrosse and Lucerne models are competitive for now. Some think that Buick should be China-onlyâjust as Holden is Australasia-only and Vauxhall is UK-onlyâbut we run the danger of losing the premium segment that neither Chevrolet nor Cadillac can sell to.
Cost-wise Buick could continue with smaller models and have a twin spawned off the Holden Commodore platform. Already Buick in China sells the Holden Statesman as the Park Avenue, a far more advanced car than anything sold Stateside with that name. While it may offend Buick loyalists, Chinese exports could sell Statesideâespecially if the choice is killing off the brand versus sustaining it. The quality of models such as the Park Avenue is considered high, and a tiered range of RegalâLacrosseâPark Avenue (or more accurately their successors) could work in the US in the 2010s, just as it does in China today.
The key is to make sure GM cars get sold in as many markets as possible, as sensibly as possible. Itâs just that few have taken a look at GM globally, preferring to base their solutions on what they can chop among the US range. And since GMâs failures have been in part down to its inability to put its international models on sale, it seems foolish to not consider models that the company has already spent billions on elsewhere. Itâs do or die time, and itâs stupid to put the blinkers on just because a vehicle was NIHâNot Invented Hereâin the US.
Weâve been patiently waiting for news of Ashes to Ashesâ second series for quite some time. This time last year, we had already talked about the series, the â80s and the decadeâs inﬂuence on fashion.
Last week was the ﬁrst time we had heard much about the next Ashes to Ashes, aside from a tabloid article in the Mirror saying how Philip Glenister, playing DCI Gene Hunt, would quit at the end of the second series. When I asked the Manchester Evening Newsâs Ian Wylie, a man better schooled in matters relating to the Gene Hunt world than most journalists, the response was (and I am not quoting him here) that it was cobblers.
Or, more accurately, that it was a non-story that did not correspond to his conversations with Mr Glenister. Wylie repeats it in a blog post for the News here.
I can sympathize. Weâve waited so long for any news that the best the British media could come up with for a while was an article that contradicted itself anyway. Finally, there was an event last week where stars Glenister, Keeley Hawes, Dean Andrews and Monserrat Lombard launched the new series, and on Thursday, the embargo was lifted for the ofﬁcial news from the BBC.
We knew some of the details anyway: the retro, time-travelling cop show is now set in 1982, not 1981, in the era of the Falklands War. The show is âdarkerâ, with an ongoing theme about police corruption and mistrust.
And some ideas that might seem a little familiar to followers of the American remake of Life on Mars appear: Alex Drake (Hawes) runs into someone who also seems to be trapped in 1982, and she, like Sam Tyler before her in the original Life on Mars (2006â7), hears voices from the future.
But for readers of this publication, the important thing is that Piers Wenger, Head of Drama for BBC Wales, promises âoutrageous fashionsâ for the New Year.
While gloomier economic news usually brings with it retro styles, we wonder if that will be the case this time round.
The 1980s have been an ongoing theme in fashion since the beginning of the century, so much so that the decade has ﬁnally become as passé as it was in 1990.
In other words, while the ﬁrst series of Ashes to Ashes didnât really surprise fashion-watchers, the second just mightâbecause theyâll be less connected to what designers have been churning out on the catwalks. Weâve seen a few shoulder pads but itâs going to be a couple of seasons of big skirts, in our viewânot quite what weâd associate with the â80s. Leg warmersâonce not too out of place as they came back mid-decadeâhave been banished as we close the 2000s. But we bet theyâll feature in Ashes to Ashes.
The Mirror reports that Hawes claims, âIn one episode I get to wear a shirt with a giant pussy bow covered in anchors, tight jeans with red stripes down the side and anchor earrings.â
It just doesnât sound like where we are today. But the mystery will, according to Wylie, have us glued, and thereâs plenty of mistrust in the authorities in our present day which will see us ﬁnding some afﬁnity with Alex Drake and her crew.
Pirelli is not a name normally associated with watchesâtyres and calendars come to mindâbut the Italian company has used its connections with fashion to stretch its brand. The P-Zero Thin Time watch continues this journey for Pirelli, with a 42 mm case, and it is water resistant to 10 ATM or 100 m. The watch weighs 25 per cent less than the previous model. The watch face is available in redâblue or redâblack. And the most distinctive element is the rubber watchband with an imprint of a Pirelli tyre. (There is also a model with a fuchsia bracelet, white dial and silver case.)
Available from early April, Tamsin Cooperâs autumnâwinter 2009 collection, Objects of Desire, includes pendant necklaces, winter wraps and Victorian-styled brooches. Colours, according to Cooperâs company, include âgarnet red, inky sapphire blue, dark amethyst and dramatic jet black,â along with hot pink, mandarin and peacock blue.
When the economic climate isnât the rosiest, there seems to be a greater emphasis on retro and vintage styles, and Cooper seems to have hit that perfectly. We like the velvet evening purse and handbag.
They will be available at 100 retailers in New Zealand or online at www.tamsincooper.co.nz.
Tamsin Cooper Floral Scroll handbag, MSRP NZ$321.
Tamsin Cooper Victorian Scroll brooch, MSRP NZ$19Â·95 each.