Scent Noir

No.5 Coco Chanel is the controversial figure of Fashion.  It’s part of the label’s allure!

Students working on cosmetic floors of department stores all want to be selling the fascinating brand yet the genius behind it is a calculating, nonchalant, femme fatale!

In Thursday night’s feature  on BBC 4  a story, I thought was just a re-telling of a rumour, proves to be about her actual devious plotting and career building subterfuge!

Coco Chanel’s revolutionary perfume concept was as audacious as her outlandish designer clothing. At its launch, in 1921, it was an instant hit but in the 1920s and 1940s the Number 5 brand was at the centre of a war between the celebrated designer and her entrepreneurial business partners, the Wertheimer brothers.

In the thrilling and dark development of the world’s most famous perfume friends and colleagues become enemies and adversaries!

During WWII, with the help of her high-ranking Nazi lover, Coco Chanel attempted to oust her Jewish partners – who had fled German-occupied France and were operating the business from New Jersey – to take control of the highly lucrative business.

On Thursday these shocking revelations were confirmed, with archive footage of Gabrielle herself and her secret staircase at the Ritz.  Directed by Stephane Benhamou, the Wertheimer brothers Paul and Pierre did not make personal archive appearances but were represented by animated cut outs!

“The No. 5 War,” documentary  premiered at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival in January 2017. Here director Stephane Benhamou told audiences that his long days burrowing in French archives, not only let him tell the story of one of the most popular fragrances in the world, but proved beyond doubt that Chanel was ready to exploit the Nazi race laws to increase her wealth and power.

Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Givenchy’s

HUBERT DE GIVENCHY was thrilled by his relationship with Hollywood through Audrey Hepburn and said, ‘After Sabrina, Audrey requested my clothes for all her films with a contemporary setting, which is how I came to design the outfits she wore in Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, Paris when it Sizzles and How to Steal a Million.

 It was suggested that her influence was so powerful, their friendship so constant, that there was a symbiotic relationship between the French designer and the Belgian actress.

As well as clothes for the films he also made her dresses for her second wedding, her sons’ christenings, and their christening gowns. The Givenchy clothes, Audrey Hepburn wore, symbolize the designer at the height of his powers.

In his use of silk prints, embroidered fabrics he drew on the expertise of skilled French textile workers. In his flawlessly detailed separates, high-style coats and elegant ball gowns he represented the matchless art of Parisian haute couture.

We might ask the question, ‘Did Audrey create Givenchy or was it the other way round?’   American designer, Ralph Lauren, knowing the value of serendipity, was to say that Audrey Hepburn could pick what was right for her from his own collections and added:

You could take Audrey into Sears, Roebuck or Givenchy or an army surplus store – it didn’t matter, she’d put something on and you’d say, ‘It’s her!’ Very few people can do that.

He also thought the balance in the relationship with the French couturier was tipped in favour of the actress:

“I truly feel Audrey gave Givenchy a look. As time went on, they collaborated, but I think she picked what was Audrey out of Givenchy.”

From FASHION, MEDIA, PROMOTION, the new black magic, in tribute to de Givenchy on his death 12th March 2018.

Tiffany's

 

Music for China’s ‘Emerging Affluents?’

COULD ‘new solutions’, worldwide Politics needs, come from within the Fashion industry itself?

Chinese-born media magnate and  journalist, Madame Shaw-Lan Wang, has taken over the reins of the major French Fashion house ‘Lanvin.’  Will China’s, America’s and Europe’s ‘new affluents’ be ready to buy into the dreams of creative internationalism, this inspired move represents?

Madame Wang, a Taiwanese businesswoman and publisher of United Daily News, owns 75 percent of Lanvin and will put more money in; to back future projects and help reposition the company.

“Madame Shaw-Lan Wang has always believed in Lanvin and sees a future in its talented teams,” Lanvin explains. The label, which dates back to 1889, named after couturier Jeanne Lanvin, has long been synonymous with Parisian chic. It enjoyed a revival in the noughties, under former star designer Alber Elbaz, famed for his 2001 collaboration with H&M.

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Nicolas Druz, a close advisor of Madame Wang’s, who has been appointed deputy managing director, says Lanvin was looking at branching into new avenues such as “art of living” concepts. Hotel projects might be launched under the Lanvin name.

Lanvin is on its second designer since Elbaz.  Olivier Lapidus, a one-time menswear designer for Balmain,  known for experimenting with technology and clothes took on the role in July.  A renowned Modernist,  Lapidus, son of Ted, is transforming the oldest Fashion house in the world, under the influence of sophisticated, timeless, classical civilisation from the East.

In the mid-1920’s, the design house had recruited expert “nose,” André Fraysse, and launched an impressive spate of Lanvin perfumes and scents: Arpège, Niv Nal, Irise, Kara – Djenoun, Le Sillon, Chypre, Comme-Ci Comme-Ca, Lajea, J’En Raffole, La Dogaresse, Ou Fleurit L’oranger, and  among others, Mon Peche/My Sin.  Recently scents d’Eclat d’Arpege, Lanvin Man and Lanvin Vetyver have been trialed.

MadmeWang

21st century scents of success!

Madame Wang  and her team should have fun testing out the markets for their innovative creations from among  Mexican Luxurians, Gen Viz, New Indian Tastemakers, FABs, Amortals and Hajibistas, Athena Women and Lagonistas!

 

 

The clue’s in the blog not the look!

FRIENDS Anita, Fran and Lynne have Fashion coursing through their veins. They may spot Dior DNA, in abundance, in Maria Chiuri’s Ready to Wear collection, shown in Rodin’s Paris museum, this week.

It wasn’t easy for me to find many clues. Maybe this black and white ensemble has a suggestion of his legacy in the darted waist, floaty skirt, peplum and tailored cuffs.

 

PosDior

But here’s the rub: regardless of whether the critics like the clothes or see work as credibly linked to Dior’s back catalogue, sales are significantly up since Chiuri took over as artistic director.

Christian Dior Couture posted 2017 half-year sales revenue of just over €1 billion, up 17 percent from €893 million for the same period one year ago at constant exchange rates.

Already the avowed Feminist, Chiuri, has succeeded in attracting a much younger millennial audience — set to soon account for a large proportion of luxury spending — and her designs are reportedly selling far more briskly than the more critically-acclaimed conceptual work of her predecessor Raf Simons.

 

FemDiorCritics and consumers are held in the thrall of  a direct-to-consumer reality where longstanding media and retail channels are being increasingly disintermediated.*

Show reviews were once scrutinised by wholesale buyers who curated clothing for consumers. Now questions are being asked about whether opinions of critics or buyers matter, when brands can connect directly with consumers online and via their own stores.

Fashion marketeers know that what you deliver is not only the product but the story about the product.

*The direct connection between social media communicators/bloggers and consumers and Fashion followers.

 

 

 

 

 

Dior to dyno-rod, haute couture to home hygiene

TODAY Julia Walton and I listened to Malcolm McLaren’s Christian Dior radio piece by Susan Marling from 2007, to celebrate fifty years since the New Look. McLaren was such a Fashion buff.  It was why Vivienne Westwood loved him and he her. It was fascinating to hear his camp take on important moments in the history of Paris and Versailles, again!

In this week’s earlier blog I write of the wonder that Dior created a gown for Vivien Leigh after her drama of tiny waists and full skirts in Gone with the Wind , set the scene for his ‘flower women’ frocks across the western world in 1947 !

DuelofAngels

 

Imagine my delight, web-surfing, to find this actual pic of Leigh in the dress, plunging decolletage and all!

Vivien Leigh’s costume … Red wool and silk, made for the 1956 production of Jean Giraudoux’s play Duel of Angels, at the Apollo Theatre, in London, in which Leigh played Paola.

Julia and I had to stop listening to the wonders of the Fashion world when the men from Dyno-rod arrived.  They were however completely darling, themselves! So win/win, today!

Le paradis des enfants

IN 1997 I read about a park in Paris donated by the Citroen foundation. Luckily I had a son and two grandsons who were exactly the ages to see such wonders. So we booked, sailed the channel and crossed the summer fields of la belle France by train.

Parc Citreon is pres le Tour Eiffel so we did both spectacular sites on our first day, only stopping for food and wine at the best restaurants we could find.

parccitreonParis is also the home to La Villette designed by Bernard Tschumi, a French architect of Swiss origin, who built it from 1984 to 1987 in partnership with Colin Fournier, on the site of the huge Parisian abattoirs (slaughterhouses) and the national wholesale meat market, as part of an urban redevelopment project. The slaughterhouses, built in 1867 on the instructions of Napoléon III, had been cleared away and relocated in 1974. Tschumi won a major design competition in 1982–83 for the park, and he sought the opinions of the deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida in the preparation of his design proposal.

Since the creation of the park, museums, concert halls, and theatres have been designed by several noted contemporary architects, including Christian de Portzamparc, Adrien Fainsilber, Philippe Chaix, Jean-Paul Morel, Gérard Chamayou,on to Mr. Tschumi.  In the middle of the week we travelled on the Metro out to the sites of the former abbattoirs. Although it was all a bit scholarly its novelty enchanted us and later inspired my part in instigating Eureka! in Halifax, UK.

villetteAs Jo, Adam and Matt were encouraged to take in Geography, History, Geometry I thought our weekend treat, Parc Asterix,  with its giant Obelix, golden goddesses and bronzed living statues  would be relaxed and low key enough to take the pressure off! It was, and yet far enough away from the theme parks of Hollywood to feel like art. There were actual horses, actors, underwater swimmers  and as a treat from the gods – Delice de Zeus –  ice cream created to make Neapolitans seem dull!asterixJo, Adam and Matt now have projects of their own designed to amuse and entertain, and although I’m not employed by the Paris Tourist Board I’m open to offers!

Paris – City of flowers and lights!

‘I want to be there, NOW!’ to quote Axel Sheridan.cafe-de-flore

It might have been fun in 1954 with Barthes but in Summer 2015 I was on my way but I had to cry off.  I will make do with a Chanel presentation in London this July and maybe I can make Paris somehow, before 2018.

‘What was it about her face?” thought Roland Barthes sitting in Café Flore, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, after seeing Audrey Hepburn in the first French screening of ‘Roman Holiday’ on April 4th, 1954. Surrounded by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor, Françoise Sagan, Nathalie Sarraute, Romain Gary, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Marcel Rochas, Gunnar Larsen, Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Paco Rabanne, Guy Laroche, Tristan Tzara, Alberto Giacometti, Dali, Jacques Lacan, inspiration came thick and fast for Barthes.

Between 1954 and 1956 his stunningly provocative and most influential text, ‘Mythologies,’ observing cinema, advertising, fashion magazines, motor shows, began challenging ideas about Hollywood, striptease, steak, wrestling, wine, and film forever.

 Born in 1915, Barthes has become the ‘go-to’ guy for story angles and inspiration for 21st century art, media, advertising, fashion professionals and his reputation today rivals that of any of his Parisian contemporaries.

Of Fashion he wrote that it became an industrial synthesis between its making, and its selling. He recognised the contradiction, inherent in the industry, of Fashion being readily available for the many, without losing its ability to raise stakes or status for an individual.

Tomorrow I’ll write about Parc Citroen, Parc Asterix and the pack of peanut butter sandwiches!