Balenciaga

Balenciaga launches ecommerce site: “It’s almost like a daily magazine now: it has to be really alive”



Ever since reading WWD’s article earlier in the week, I have been checking and rechecking the Balenciaga website. It has now relaunched. Working with Wednesday-London, Balenciaga has created a site that marries a high spec retail experience* with engaging brand history, including archive images and (soon to come) video. (more…)



On fashion, art and retail relief



So today was one of those fun days. First a 9am meeting at Fresh Britain, a brand consultancy who have had a big hand in the successful rebranding of Dr Martens. My contact alerted me to Marc Hare’s most excellent shoe blog, Mr Hare’s blog. Hare is a mens shoe designer but his background is in retail so he has an interesting take on things. Back in the day, he ran a shop called Something in Westbourne Grove where I remember having a crush on a pair of Bruno Frisoni sock-boots. Hare has a keen eye for a snazzy shoe, that’s for sure.

With a couple of hours to kill before getting a hair cut, I breakfasted in Mayfair, drafted an article and read the supermodel issue of US Vogue. Excellent Lynn Yaeger article – how did I not know about her til now?

Next up I did some retail research (Ok, shopping). I headed to Mount Street as I hadn’t checked out the Marc by Marc Jacobs shop and also wanted to have a nose round Lanvin and Balenciaga. Not sure if it’s a recession thing or maybe I just looked rich today, but I got the ultra-friendly treatment in each and every shop I entered. I can’t put my finger on why but the Marc shop reminded me exactly of being in New York. Jacobs has famously said that he would love to design for Gap and I seriously don’t know why they haven’t signed him up already – get in Gap!

I was all over the cheap knick-knacks – from heart shaped compacts (£3) to lipstick pens, condoms, Oyster-card holders, reversible rain ponchos (I got one…£10), and on and on. Then there were the little bikinis in clear ziplock bags with the Marc logo. Fabulous. And an outstanding edit of art books.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, I came out of Marc and literally stumbled upon an Elizabeth Peyton exhibition at the Sadie Coles gallery




(Just read on the Sadie Coles website that Elizabeth Peyton’s Live Forever show that I managed to miss in New York last year by a matter of days, is finally landing in the UK in July.)

In Balenciaga, a very jolly salesman let me have a good poke around undisturbed while he dealt with a customer fussing over a bag. Can’t wait to go back. Then to Lanvin which felt like the ultimate, expertly-curated fashion museum. I didn’t feel the urge to own anything though, just to look was enough.

Reading Lynn Yaeger’s piece in Vogue – which was all about how she had to learn to budget when she was made redundant – made me reflect on my own circumstances. Like everyone else, cashflow is slow for me, but being on a budget almost frees you from the relentless consuming bug, as you simply loosen up on the habit. It’s quite nice to be able to browse a shop without feeling the compulsion to buy. I wouldn’t want it to last forever though.

Reading Lynn Yaeger’s piece in Vogue – which was all about how she had to learn to budget when she was made redundant – made me reflect on my own circumstances. Like everyone else, cashflow is slow for me, but being on a budget almost frees you from the relentless consuming bug, as you simply loosen up on the habit. It’s quite nice to be able to browse a shop without feeling the compulsion to buy. I wouldn’t want it to last forever though.



Swayed by suede, a cautionary tale





Thinking of buying a suede bag? Perhaps YSL‘s mock-croc print number or 3.1 Phillip Lim‘s reversible tote? Well take my advice, don’t do it. Unless you have a full-time driver or live somewhere with extremely agreeable weather. I lusted after Baleciaga’s cherry-red suede slouch bag for, oh months, before I finally came face to face with it in a boutique and did the classic ‘if I don’t buy it now it won’t be here next time’ panic splurge. It first gave me come-hither glances from the back page of US Vogue which I subsequently tore out and carried around with me. I fantasised about what I’d wear it with – a bit Frankie Rayder I fancied, in gently faded Levis and a just-fitted-enough white tee – and what it would smell like (I have an unhealthy obsession with sniffing leather and suede). When you see something like that in the flesh after investing so much time and energy in the fantasy, your real-life logic doesn’t stand a chance. I gave it a cursory try-on in the shop before the adrenalin got the better of me and seconds later it was in the carrier bag and in my hand.

A few years down the line and I can count the number of times I’ve used it on three fingers. The simple fact is a suede bag and unpredictable London weather do not a good combination make. Time after time I’ve rediscovered it, tenderly unpacked it from its dustbag, given it a gentle stroke and a sniff and vowed to use it the very next day. Come the next morning, sensing a hint of darkness in the sky and the threat of a downpour it’s back to the PVC Marc shopper and boring reliability.

We all know that the fashion industry is based on fantasy and this example goes to prove it. Every time I see the poor bag it’s an expensive reminder of that seductive back-page-of-Vogue photo and the promise that it would change my life. Sucker! So what now? The bag has been unpacked for the very last time and tomorrow it makes its way to Rellik, the queen bee of vintage stores. It’s not an It bag and it’s not strictly vintage but it’s Balenciaga so Stephen Rellik has hinted he might be up for a swapsies consultation. We can but wait and see.