It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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Email: fashionmemex(at)gmail.com

My Little Paris, a lifestyle website dedicated to everything Paris, is having a sample sale of apparel from womenswear fashion brand Des Petits Hauts today. Only on its iPhone app. The sale was advertised on Facebook and half of the comments published so far are from annoyed, iPhone-less followers.

iPhone-only apps are a branding black hole. Once upon a time, the photo-based social networks Instagram and Pinterest were reserved for Apple users. Then as their user numbers grew, they adapted and introduced apps for Android. 

It’s not just that the iPhone was the most developed of any smartphones, but rather having your product on Apple, which many confused with aligning with Apple values, made you one of the cool kids. Availability for iPhone users isn’t just about serving the customer, it’s about the perception the customer has of the brand.  

Companies like tagging on Apple’s reputation for disruptive innovation and on its authority in cool design. They also like the female-dominated, city-living, degree-owning, country-hopping, HBO-watching, Woody Allen-loving, high-earning iPhone user, who is bang in their demographic, real or ideal. 

Brands seem to be picking up though. Last October, Apple and Google announced equal numbers of apps were available for iPhones and Android phones, at 700,000. 

In the US, Android currently owes 51.7 percent of the smartphone market (down two points since the beginning of the year). Shouldn’t that market share be enough for Chanel, Style.com and Diane von Furstenberg (despite her partnership with Google on Project Glassto factor the development of an Android app into their budgets

A survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute last August showed that the Android market is dominated by the under 34’s, the very millennials who shop and get their information on their smartphones. It’s time fashion brands and publications caught up with their customers.

Disclosure: I’m an Android user (obviously).

Posted at 4:36pm and tagged with: Chanel, marketing, smartphone, technology,.

  1. Go on the Sandro French site
  2. Sign up for the newsletter
  3. Open up the sign-up confirmation email
  4. Despair over the brand’s issue with PHP coding and French accents

Sandro isn’t the only fashion brand struggling with PHP and HTML coding issues however, its French origins combined with the fact this sign-up email will be most customers’ first inbox contact with the brand means the company needs to sort it out.

Posted at 7:57pm and tagged with: Brand communication, email marketing, technology, sandro,.

Pinterest is a picture-based social network. And despite all the traffic-generating promises it held, my blog is so not picture-based I couldn’t see how to use it. But I signed up because, eh, better make sure I owned my name on it. And once I had signed up, I started using it because, eh, better not waste a traffic opportunity.

My first instinct was to pin my "Which" posts. Built with nothing but photos around an elected theme, they make for rather nice, unified boards, as well as being identified by my Google Analytics as my most traffic-generating entries. But they’re limited. Pinning these posts taught me that a successful board is one which can be expanded with time rather than relying on the few pictures previously selected for a post. In the future, I could see these boards being useful to pin all the fashion editorials and movie stills I find while researching, but end up casting aside due to sheer volume.

In an attempt to build traffic, I’ve also started monthly boards pinning all articles I write, but Pinterest doesn’t really work that way for me: over the past 30 days, the social network has only brought me five visitors. None spent more than 1:30 minutes on the blog, with a bounce rate of 60%. People seem to consume visuals on Pinterest itself, rather than clicking through links.

My second move was to use Pinterest as a way of displaying the Fashion Abecedaire world, going to the reader rather than bringing the reader to me. Social networks are all about bragging and showing off to people how much greener life is your side of the fence. In that spirit, my Twitter feed could be summarised as “look how cool and extensive my readings are”. So I started a board "In praise of stripes", because I love showing off about how many stripes I own, another one on my readings as a way to take over my (mostly defunct) book review category, because I love showing off how much I read, and another one on stationery, because I love the idea that I send a lot of letters. In terms of Liking and Repinning, these are my most successful boards.

My third usage of Pinterest is for research. I used it that way for the first time when writing about the sad demise of Beatrix Ong. I found it a great tool to gather all interesting links in one point and to get an easy overview of her work and marketing strategy in one place. At the moment, I have two posts in the work, one on new French ballerina shoes brand Avant-Minuit and one on the role of fashion in The Bell Jar, and the boards to prove it.

My fourth discovery was that Pinterest was a great way to penetrate other bloggers and fashion cognoscenti’s creative and visual world as well as giving an overview of how brands want to be perceived. It also allows for a glimpse of what people are interested in on any given day, is good for trend forecasting and could be useful in coming up with blog post ideas on one of those inspiration block days.

You can follow me on Pinterest at Lucie M (fashionabcdr) - Fashion Abecedaire was too long…

Posted at 5:45am and tagged with: Pinterest, blog, technology, first person,.

If you were a luxury French shoe brand, would you call your latest monogrammed fabric by the name of a British lingerie brand heroin? If you had shod the Queen and Catherine Deneuve, would you dismiss SEO rules to pick a name ranking you below porn sites?

Roger Vivier did just that with Miss X., a 1960s-inspired, shoe buckle-reminiscent lacquered canvas fabric launched in 2011. It covers everything from handbags to iPad cases and is advertised on Rogervivier.com through a playful quest for shoe buckles which unlocks the collection items.

Six years ago, British lingerie brand Agent Provocateur (AP) used the name for a campaign featuring Kate Moss in smalls in four short films, available exclusively to AP club members at the time.

Roger Vivier and AP likely had very different meanings in mind for their X.: mystery and every woman appeal for the first, straight sexual connotation for the second.

Searching Miss X. on Google UK, the Roger Vivier official collection link is on page 2, making it hard to find and less likely to be visited. Aside from AP, porn, Amazon and the Miss X. comic book character Wikipedia page are listed above it. The results are better on Google.fr, where it’s listed fourth below the AP videos, an article on naked pictures of Miss France and just above a porn site.

This ranking doesn’t shout luxury the way any Roger Vivier communication should. Since the canvas is one year old, it’s too late for Vivier to change its name but there’s still time to look into ranking strategy, including SEO, metadescriptions and adwords.

Picture: Vitrine Roger Vivier - Paris, mars 2011, Flickr user Journaldesvitrines.com; Inspirational Quotes, Infinpixels

(Source: )

Posted at 4:43pm and tagged with: Brand communication, Google, technology, SEO, footwear, lingerie,.

1 - McQ and Stella McCartney coming back to London Fashion Week

Since Burberry made the move back and under Harold Tilman stewardship, London Fashion Week (LFW) has been gathering momentum. All major fashion editors now attend LFW, rather than hoping from New York to Milan, even though recent scheduling problems might have something to say to that. Showing in London will be a comeback to their roots for both the Alexander McQueen diffusion brand McQ and Olympic team tailor Stella McCartney. Both brands have a strong British identity and Britishness has become a marketing USP. With even Kanye West rumoured to join the capital, cool Britannia is regaining its pedigree. Will Alexander McQueen be next to join?


2 - A new designer at Dior and John Galliano’s future

The 2011 fashion year started with a bang with Galliano’s dismissal and ensuing conspiracy theories. Rumours after rumours have given everyone from Marc Jacobs to Raf Simons at Dior, to the extent not being named as a potential designer was a bad sign of your credential in the business. Is the job cursed? Is the house enjoying seeing its name pop up on social platforms too much to make a decision? Can Dior release another collection without proper artistic direction? Could Franca Sozzani get her wish of seeing Galliano reinstated? Is Sidney Toledano making a conscious decision to mark the end of the designer superstar?

As for Galliano, the moment backers decide he is once again a sound investment, I have little doubt he’ll find a new designer position. The industry is already being nice to him, his Internet ranking is on the rise and memory fades at the prospect of money.


3 - The Arab spring going into its second year

I spent some of the best days of my life in Cairo three summers ago. The city was nothing I’d experienced before. I’d been warned about the smell and the noise and that I would hate it but I ended up loving it because of its smell and noise and because it had an identity of its own, so different from all the European cities I was used to. Back at the LSE, I took a course on Nasser and Arab Nationalism which turned out to be the best of my third year. Watching a country fight for its future is very different if you’ve been there and if you know its history than if TV is your only link with it.

On a fashion-related note - the textile industry represents a significant part of the Egyptian GDP, not just as Egyptian cotton but also as clothing factories. The ongoing unrest, the lack of democratic resolution despite the elections and the role of the military and Muslim Brotherhood could mean rising prices on the long term, especially in the UK, the main European Union market for Egyptian apparel and home textiles.


4 - Presidential elections in France and the USA

April and November will be key electoral months in France and the United-States with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama running for reelection. Will France go against the European trend and elect François Hollande, the left candidate everyone dismissed as a joke two years ago? Will Obama’s West Wing-reminiscent administration loose the White House to the Tea Party? Even though the Carla/Michelle effect doesn’t translate in sales as well as the Kate effect, I hope any first lady taking over would have as much fashion taste. As for the fashion repercussions of new elections, they are more likely to be found on price tags following tax choices than in terms of policies. Despite fashion’s importance in the economy, the current economic situation puts us years away from making the craft a priority.


5 - The Artist released in UK cinemas

If you grew up in France in the 1990s, you might take the buzz surrounding The Artist and Jean Dujardin’s mute performance with a pinch of disbelief. Jean Dujardin will forever be Loulou, of 1 gars 1 fille, a long-lived, short-format sitcom about the triviality of a couple’s daily life. Seeing a full page dedicated to Dujardin in US Vogue is somewhat surprising, the possibility of his Oscar nomination difficult to fathom. Not that his acting doesn’t deserve it but because no one would have predicted him this kind of career. Jean Dujardin is the French George Clooney, from ER to The Ides of March.


6 - Another royal year

An exhibition dedicated to the Queen’s portraits at the Victoria & Albert Museum! New Diana, Princess of Wales dresses on display at Kensington Palace! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations! Many new Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge outfits! The Royals on display for a month of Olympic joy! Another four day bank holiday weekend!

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton, A Diamond Jubilee Celebration; at the Victoria & Albert Museum 8 February - 22 April


7 - Aaron Sorkin back on TV with The Newsroom

I loved him in The West Wing, loved him in The Social Network, loved him in A Few Good Men. A year after his Oscar win, Aaron Sorkin is back on TV with The Newsroom, scheduled for broadcast on HBO. Although the topic might be closer to Studio 60 than The West Wing for comfort, I expect dialogues between Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer delivered “while walking rapidly through a work place”* and Dev Patel as the “lone, down-to-Earth black man who brings calming wisdom to neurotic white people”*. Alison Pill could make a great “cute conservative blond woman who exists in a mostly liberal world but everyone ends up loving anyway”* while Daniels will likely keep the role of the “emotionally stunted male lead who is bad with relationships”* for himself.

*All quotes from “4 Things Aaron Sorkin Puts In Every Show”. And yes, I do know Dev Patel isn’t black.

8 - Sherlock and Mad Men back on TV

Contract negotiations meant we were deprived of Mad Men in 2011, while Sherlock's broadcast was pushed back to 1 January 2012. Will AMC and the BBC see a drop or a surge in ratings as a result? Can Don and Betty marriages last? Will Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat go the pop culture way and turn Irene Adler into Sherlock’s only love? Should we expect Holmesian influences and 1960s revival in the autumn/winter menswear and womenswear shows this winter?

9 - Marc Jacobs - Louis Vuitton and Van Cleef & Arpels at Les Arts Décoratifs

Marc Jacobs will open the fashion season at Les Arts Déco in March, followed in September by jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. Described as “an analysis rather than a retrospective”, the Jacobs/Vuitton exhibition will show how both men influenced fashion and accessories at the end of the 19th and in the early 21st century. Drawing a parallel between the two designers is a new curation angle which should add to the fashion house’s myth and to the ongoing heritage trend. The Van Cleef exhibition should be more traditional with over 400 of the jeweller’s best work on display.

Marcs Jacobs - Louis Vuitton, 9 March - 16 September; Van Cleef & Arpels, 20 September - 10 February 2013, Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris


10 - Carine Roitfeld

Having christened her 2011 liberty by styling the Chanel campaign, posing on the cover of i-D magazine, featuring with her children in the Barneys window displays and releasing instant best-seller Irreverent, Roitfeld should know an exciting second year post Vogue Paris editorship. We know little of her projects for the year, except she will become a grandmother and launch a magazine, and it’s just as well since part of her 2011 appeal was her capacity to rebound and surprise us.

11 - Google’s iPad killer

Fashion brands and magazines have just started embracing Apple’s iPad tablet with platform-specific sites, dedicated apps and targeted subscriptions. Will they be able to carry their strategy and technology over to the Google iPad killer, announced by the company’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt? Google + was slow to release brand-specific pages but fashion brands were amongst the first to publish pages. Will the company follow a similar process, brand-wise, for the new tablet? Will the public be quick at buying the new gadget or shy away from yet another Google item in their life?

12 - Another year of Ryan Gosling

With Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive and The Ides of March, Ryan Gosling managed to be in three of the best films of 2011, in three very different categories. Will 2012 be the year of his first Oscar win? If his two Golden Globes nominations for best actor, drama and best actor, comedy are anything to go by, a nomination should at least be locked. This should be enough to keep everyone waiting for 2013 and his three new film Lawless, The Gangster Squad and The Place Beyond the Pines. Yes, I’m a fan and yes, I struggled to find a 12th reason to look forward to 2012. Not sure I’ll do Thirteen reasons to look forward to 2013 next year.

Pictures: London Fashion Week Begins At Somerset House, Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe; Dior petites mains, Jamesbort.com; The pyramids in Giza, © Fashion Abecedaire; French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Senator Barack Obama, Jae C. Hong/Associated Press on the New York Times website; The Artist, publicity shot; The Newsroom, HBO Watch trailer screenshot; Princess Elizabeth, Cecil Beaton, Gelatin silver print, Buckingham Palace, March 1945, Museum no. E.1361-2010; Sherlock Series 2, BBC publicity shot; Spring/Summer 2008 womenswear show bags from the Toile Monogram Jokes line created by Richard Prince, © Louis Vuitton / Chris Moore; The 9 Lives of Carine Roitfeld, New York Times website; Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on the set of Gangster Squad

Posted at 5:56pm and tagged with: Classy film, TV series, The West Wing, Vogue Paris, carine roitfeld, politics, technology, Sherlock, Mad Men, dior, john galliano, Alexander McQueen, London Fashion Week, Royal Family, cambridge, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 2012 Olympics, Egypt, france,.

For the past three and something years, I’ve been an avid Twitterer. If it was online and interesting, it deserved to be Tweeted. Over the same period of time, I’ve grouped most of my online readings on Google Reader.

The RSS feed aggregator has released an update allowing users to share any article with a simple click of a button. No more opening a link in a new tab, copying the URL on Twitter, copying the headline on Twitter, pressing Tweet.

The digital guru was right. “You don’t need to choose Google +, sooner or later you’ll end up using it”.

Posted at 7:12pm and tagged with: first person, technology,.

Here is my problem with the iPad: it doesn’t allow me to judge you on your book or magazine cover. Up until now, I chose where to sit in public transports based on what people were reading. The Economist or Nietzsche, show off; The FT or Margaret Atwood, I’d sit; The Daily Mail or any translation of my favourite French writers, I’d pass. A couple of years ago, I remember reading a study whereby two groups of people had been shown two different pictures of the same man: in one he was reading Nuts, in the other he was reading The Economist. People’s perception of the man was widely tpecast based on his reading material.

So I’m left with judging iPad owners on their device cover: original Apple, meh; bright pink with sequins, nay; Moleskine, yea.

PS: I’m aware this is a wide and most likely wrong generalisation of what people are like based on what they read. I know plenty of lovely people who read The Economist because they actually enjoy it.

Picture from the Moleskine website

Posted at 8:38pm and tagged with: technology,.

Dear Mrs Prada,

What happened last night? I was in front of my laptop, logged on Prada.com at 6pm sharp to watch your latest catwalk. Like so many brands this year, you decided to live-stream your show. Of course, the idea of allowing everyone in the world to watch your collection alongside the editors and buyers in Milan is brilliant.

The brilliance however was much diminished by a succession of technical glitches.

The show obviously started late (I think the expression “fashionably late” has been crafted for designers). Before the first models took to the catwalk, online viewers kept seeing the same animations over and over again, with a man tying his bow-tie, a woman applying lipstick, a jigsaw heart and some hair advices. During that time, the streaming kept buffering and regularly going to black screens.

And then the show started, and thanks to your magic, dear Mrs Prada, the streaming sorted itself out. Your collection was amazing, commercial and artistic, especially those coats with a double fur collar, brown on blue. Joe Zee from US ELLE said it was “retro future”, other announced that you were “reinventing the LBD” with plastic applications.

The streaming couldn’t last however. About 5 minutes before the finale, it started buffering again, the images came in a sacadé rhythm…

So what happened? Did too many people log in? Surely, after McQueen’s stream breaking down last season due to too many people watching Lady Gaga, you had to expect a large public. This is Prada we are talking about after all!

Thankfully, the clothes were strong enough that the streaming glitches won’t damage  the brand name. Catwalks streaming is still new, and the public is still so thankful to be able to see shows that they forgive the most basic technical missteps. How long will this last however?

Soon, not streaming a défilé will probably be more elitist than doing so. If the public starts seeing show streaming as something due, it won’t see technical issues kindly.

Yours,

Mlle. L.

PS: Post title from The Imagist’s review of the Prada catwalk. No doubt the author was talking about those glasses (Picture Style.com)

Posted at 6:12am and tagged with: Prada, Technology,.