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Fashion Publishing Legend John B. Fairchild dead at 87


NEW YORK, United States —  John B. Fairchild, who took Women’s Wear Daily from dry fashion trade publication to an international industry force, died Friday at his Manhattan home after a long illness, the magazine confirmed. He was 87.

Fairchild headed his family’s publishing business, Fairchild Publications Inc., for more than 30 years, including a long stint as the tyrannical editor in chief of WWD and founding chief of W magazine.

The outspoken Fairchild started at Women’s Wear in 1960, summoned from his reporter job in Paris by his father, Louis W. Fairchild, who headed the company at the time.

The son was credited with not only transforming WWD but also the fashion industry itself, bringing designers out of the shadows of ateliers and making them celebrities in their own right. Among those he helped propel: Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and a young Yves Saint Laurent.

The Fairchilds had other publications as well, daily and weekly trades ranging from fashion to electronics, WWD’s Mort Sheinman wrote in a story published Friday. Other titles included Jane and Details magazines.

Fairchild wrote occasionally after he took over, mostly using the pen name and persona of Louise J. Esterhazy in WWD and W, Sheinman reported. It was a byline he first created in the early ’70s and he used to skewer the world, from fashion designers to social climbers, according to Sheinman.

Among his zingers, in just one 1995 column, was his reference to Hillary Clinton’s “hairdo roulette,” Barbara Bush’s “WASPy righteousness,” ”middle-aged men who always wear faded blue jeans” and “children on airplanes … (who) should be shipped like freight.”

He unabashedly turned on friends, insisting at one time that the late de la Renta had added “de la” to his name, a rumor Oscar vehemently denied.

But he also had many admirers.

“It is difficult at this most democratic moment in the history of fashion journalism to understand the power John Fairchild wielded and the fear he commanded,” Vogue’s Anna Wintour said in a statement released Friday by WWD. “Designers literally quivered in his wake. I remember him, however, as a delightful and wickedly funny lunch companion, a devoted husband and father, and an unrepentant Anglophile who loved to discuss all things English. I will miss him,” she said.

Fairchild wrote several books, including memoirs. Among his numerous accolades was the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s lifetime recognition award in 1997.

The Fairchild holdings, including Women’s Wear, have changed hands over the years. Last fall, Conde Nast sold WWD to Penske Media Corp. Fairchild remained a contributing editor.

He is survived by his wife, Jill, three sons and a daughter.

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All Change at Gucci


MILAN, Italy — This week in Milan, all eyes were on Gucci’s new creative director, the formerly unknown Alessandro Michele, who had worked behind the scenes with the recently ousted former creative director Frida Giannini and who has now been thrust into the global fashion spotlight and tasked with revitalising the ailing Gucci brand.

For his first womenswear show, Michele transported us to a kind of train station, staged, as always, in the Gucci show venue in Piazza Oberdan, but transformed from the single runway format that had been part of the Gucci show formula for years, beginning under Tom Ford and then continuing with Giannini.

The changes did not end there. Indeed, while Giannini largely stuck to Ford’s fashion formula throughout her tenure (think glamazons and macho men, oozing with in your face sexuality), Mr Michele opted for a completely different interpretation of sex.

The show notes introduced the new collection as a place “where relics of the past merge with signs of the future.” In this way, the train station seemed to signify both a departure from the previous Gucci vibe and the arrival of an altogether new one, where men and women wear the same clothes, mixing masculine and feminine details to create a genderless kind of fashion.

By and large, the industry audience seemed to love it. As we shuffled backstage, one editor said to me: “I know what he’s trying to do — it’s still all about sex, but this girl doesn’t want to have sex.” Or, said slightly differently, this girl doesn’t want to be obvious about it. Others enthused about the new spirit at Gucci and the feeling that a line had been drawn between Gucci’s past and its future.

Indeed, the best thing about Mr Michele’s debut was that it got people talking (and thinking) about Gucci in a way not seen since the days of Tom Ford, when Gucci was a global leader that influenced catwalks everywhere. And while Michele can’t really take credit for starting the wave of genderless fashion on the international catwalks (that credit probably goes to Raf Simons or J.W. Anderson), he is the first contemporary designer to take this bold approach at a major fashion brand, selling the idea to the global mainstream.

But will he succeed? As the largest brand in the Kering portfolio, driving more than $4 billion in annual revenue, taking a niche trend and commercialising it at scale will be a significant challenge. Many of the comments about the Gucci show on social media were significantly less positive than those of fashion insiders, so it seems there is work to be done to translate this new brand image into commercial, sellable product. It will require excellent merchandising expertise and brand communication that stays true to Gucci’s new genderless spirit, without alienating consumers who are experiencing it for the first time.

Speaking to Mr Michele backstage, amidst a throng of editors, well-wishers and Gucci executives, including Marco Bizzarri, who took the reins as Gucci’s chief executive at the beginning of January, I asked him about how he thought the new Gucci would work from a business standpoint.

“If you talk a modern language, business means you have to create really beautiful things,” he said. “I don’t believe that our customers won’t recognise beautiful things.” Or said in the affirmative, when customers see beautiful things, they will desire them.

Enjoy our top stories for the week gone by:

Will Genderless Fashion Change Retail?
The runways are awash with gender-neutral statements. What does this mean for retail?

Condé Nast Closes Blog Network NowManifest
BoF has learned that NowManifest, the Condé Nast-owned blog portal that hosted fashion bloggers including Susie Bubble, Anna Dello Russo and BryanBoy, has been shut down.

LVMH vs Kering: Which Player is Best Positioned for Growth?
Which of the two french giants that dominate luxury fashion is best positioned for growth? Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, does the analysis.

Colin’s Column | Looking Back at London
Colin McDowell reflects on the best of the London shows, including JW Anderson, Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Burberry, Erdem, Thomas Tait and Gareth Pugh.

Graffiti Artists Fight Copying by Fashion Brands
A crew of graffiti artists is suing Roberto Cavalli for copyright infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin in the latest in a string of cases involving alleged misappropriation of street art.

Can Endless Become the Next Billion-Dollar Jewellery Brand?
Jesper Nielsen’s new venture, Endless, is one of the fastest growing jewellery brands in history. Can he turn the budding $30 million business into the next billion-dollar brand?

The Creative Class | Armand Hadida, Artistic Director
BoF sits down with Armand Hadida — founder of L’Éclaireur and the artistic director of Tranoï, the Paris trade show that made its New York debut this past weekend — to discuss his sharp eye and the language of retail.

And don’t forget to check out BoF Weekly, a week in review published with Flipboard and updated every Saturday.

IMRANSIG

Imran Amed
Founder and Editor-in-Chief

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The Creative Class | Jamie Hawkesworth, Photographer


LONDON, United Kingdom — “I remember thinking anything artistic was a bit pointless,” says Jamie Hawkesworth in a Suffolk twang. His formative years in the unglamorous town of Ipswich were not spent yearning to join a fraternity of creative spirits. It was the unlikely setting of a reconstructed crime scene where Hawkesworth — now 27 and shooting campaigns for J.W. Anderson, Loewe and Miu Miu — first picked up a camera with any intent, while studying forensic science in the northern English city of Preston.

But, then, there’s little that is conventional about Hawkesworth, who, despite being a so-called ‘digital native,’ shoots only on film and develops all of his own pictures in a tiny dark room in London’s Shoreditch (which doubles as his office) and has the courage to shoot a global ad campaign by jumping on a train with a “bag of clothes” and a camera.

“Don’t start off with fashion photography. Don’t go into the studio and do a test shoot. Get out into the world.”

Not destined to spend his life dusting for fingerprints and rooting through rubbish for clues, Hawkesworth found that taking pictures was what he liked most about his forensics course and switched to studying photography. He put together a portfolio, composed of “pictures of my nan, graffiti — the standard,” and for his interview for the photography course brought along Shots from the Hip by Johnny Stiletto — a volume of candid black-and-white images documenting Londoners in the 1980s — an early inspiration.

Though he moved away from forensics, an instinct to document unnoticed characters and details and “find glimmers of hope” in unlikely places became a trait of Hawkesworth’s photographic eye. His first subjects were the teenagers he encountered on his way from Preston North End football stadium, near where he lived, into college, resulting in work his college tutors liked. “A switch went off… I thought to myself, ‘My work will feel relevant because they are a reflection of what’s going on this second. Their clothes, their trainers.’ So I went around Preston with big flash and I’d stop people and say ‘Can I take your portrait?’”

The photographers he admired at college, such as Nigel Shafran (“a massive influence”), show his fascination for the particular, the odd or the beautiful, found in ordinary life. In collections like “Dad’s Office” (1997-1999), “Washing Up 2000” (2000) and “Supermarket Checkouts” (2005), Shafran makes incidental arrangements of everyday objects in shabby rooms vibrate with significance. “His appreciation of banal ordinary objects, so that they’re amplified into something that’s incredible — that stuck with me — the composition, like the way a cup interacts with a book,” enthuses Hawkesworth.

It was Hawkesworth’s images documenting characters and scenes around Preston bus station (an expansive, sculptural, brutalist construction built in 1969), published in the 2010 pamphlet “Preston is my Paris” just after he came to London, that scored Hawkesworth representation by photo agent Julie Brown of MAP. Brown had attempted to buy a copy online, but couldn’t, so asked Hawkesworth to visit the agency to show her and took him on then and there.

An image from Jamie Hawkesworth's shoot for the 2010 edition of "Preston is my Paris" | Source:  Jamie Hawkesworth

An image from Jamie Hawkesworth’s shoot for the 2010 edition of “Preston is my Paris” | Source: Jamie Hawkesworth

Alasdair McLellan’s pictures of youths, too, which Hawkesworth came across at college and which have a naturalistic quality to them, expanded his conception of what fashion photography could be. “Alasdair’s work came up and I was like ‘Fuck, this is really amazing!’ Where it was kind of normal kids — normal guys, that I’ve would have come across in Preston — in fashion.” Bold as brass, Hawkesworth rang up McLellan, asking to be his assistant, and worked on a number of shoots with him.

Hawkesworth was stubborn about safeguarding his integrity and his personal interests, however. “When I got signed at MAP, I said to them, ‘I don’t want to do just fashion, I want to be a documentary photographer — I want to continue that thread.’ I hate it when you go on a photographer’s website and it is divided into fashion, documentary, personal. I think the whole thing should be personal — even commercial work… There shouldn’t be a distinction. So I said to Julie that I want the whole message to be the same.”

One of his first big assignments, in 2012, was to photograph potato pickers in Sweden for The New York Times. He went alone and cycled around with his camera. Soon afterwards, when a set of his images documenting teenagers on solo train trips around the UK caught the eye of French stylist Benjamin Bruno, Hawkesworth shot his first big fashion story for Man About Town magazine. “I got a message from Ben saying, ‘I’ve seen your portraits of kids around England, I’d love for you to shoot an editorial for Man About Town.’”

Jamie Hawkesworth for Man About Town spring/summer 2012 | Source: Courtesy

Jamie Hawkesworth for Man About Town spring/summer 2012 | Source: Courtesy

“Me and Ben got a bag of clothes and went to South Shields near Newcastle…We found a kid — she must have been about 11 years old — and we dressed her head-to-toe in a blue Gucci suit. It was a pinnacle image. Before I was so used to going up to someone and that would be it. But now, there was a French stylist putting these clothes on a kid, elevating the character.”

Through Bruno, Hawkesworth began to work for JW Anderson, shooting the brand’s campaign for autumn/winter 2013. “That was the first fashion advertising I’d done. And it was perfect because we had complete freedom.” The campaign had the same intensity of Hawkesworth’s documentary photography, where subjects simultaneously reveal and conceal themselves, conveying an off-key oddness.

The images worked so well that when Anderson was appointed creative director of Loewe as part of a deal that saw LVMH take a minority stake in his business, he took Hawkesworth along with him to shoot the brand’s campaigns. “We took that language that we were building in JW Anderson to Loewe and M+M Paris came on board — they were already in the picture because of Man About Town [with whom had worked on shoots] — so that was what was so special about it: everybody was on the same page.”

Jamie Hawkesworth for J.W. Anderson spring/summer 2015 | Source: Courtesy

Jamie Hawkesworth for J.W. Anderson spring/summer 2015 | Source: Courtesy

For JW Anderson’s spring/summer 2015 campaign, reminiscent of 1950s horror films, “me and Ben took a bag of clothes to Southwold [in Hawkesworth’s home county of Suffolk] — we had no models — nothing. We walked along the beach and we found a brother and sister, dressed them in the clothes, chucked them in the water and told them to come out — and that’s it. No hair and makeup, nothing.”

Similarly, when he shot a campaign for Trademark, the American sportswear label founded in 2013 by Pookie and Louisa Burch, Hawkesworth tapped his documentary roots. “She got in touch and she said, ‘I’m really inspired by Amish people,’ and I said, ‘Well let’s go to Lancaster and photograph Amish people! Why not just be as literal as that?’ So that’s what we did. I feel that if you go directly to the reference, rather than recreating it, you’re often going to find something incredibly odd.”

Jamie Hawkesworth's autumn / winter 2014 campaign for Trademark | Source: Courtesy

Jamie Hawkesworth for Trademark autumn / winter 2014 | Source: Trademark

Even for his glitziest and largest job to date, for Miu Miu’s Resort 2015 collection, Hawkesworth insisted on travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Express to take the textural pictures that would sit alongside the campaign’s more traditional images of models shot in a studio. However, he admits to feeling anxious about the demands of shooting for bigger and bigger clients. “With Miu Miu, the night before I went to see the collection, they were shooting a lookbook and there was this elaborate setup of like six flashes and I thought, ‘I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t even know how to create that environment. I only use daylight. Am I just retarded?’”

Jamie Hawkesworth for Miu Miu resort 2015 | Source: Courtesy

Jamie Hawkesworth for Miu Miu resort 2015 | Source: Courtesy

But Hawkesworth plans to stick to his documentary instincts. “With fashion photography, if I could give people advice, it’d be not to start off with fashion photography — just do photography — don’t go into the studio and do a test shoot. Get out into the world.”

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Power Moves | Anne-Valerie Hash to Comptoir des Cotonniers, Gap Hires New Head of Design, La Montre Hermès Names CEO


LONDON, United Kingdom – BoF compiles the most important professional moves of the week.

Anne-Valerie Hash to Comptoir des Cotonniers
Fast Retailing-owned clothing brand Comptoir des Cotonniers has appointed Anne-Valerie Hash as its new creative director. Hash, who joins the company after 13 years at her namesake brand, will reveal her first Autumn/Winter 2015 collection in April. She replaces Amélie Gillier, who left in November to pursue “personal projects.”

Gap Hires New Head of Design
US apparel retailer Gap has named Wendi Goldman as executive vice president of product design and development, a newly created position. The appointment comes after former creative director Rebekka Bay departed last month and her role was eliminated entirely. Goldman comes from the recently shuttered label C.Wonder, where she was executive vice president and chief product officer.

La Montre Hermès Names CEO
Laurent Dordet, currently CEO of Hermès Maroquinerie Sellerie, has been tapped as CEO of La Montre Hermès, effective March 1. Dordet, 46, joined Hermès International at the end of 1995 as part of the group’s finance department and has previously served as CEO of Hermès Curis Précieux.

Delvaux Names Artistic Director
Belgian luxury leather goods maker Delvaux has promoted Christina Zeller to the position of artistic director. Zeller, who began her career with Franco Moschino in the ’80s, joined the company in 2011 and most recently served as collections and product director. Zeller has previously held key accessories posts at Karl Lagerfeld Christian Lacroix, and Givenchy, where she helped develop cult styles such as the Antigona, Pandora and Nightingale bags.

Gucci Appoints Timepieces & Jewellery President and CEO
Italian fashion house Gucci has appointed Stéphane Linder as its new timepieces and jewellery president and CEO, effective March 11. Linder joins Gucci after more than 20 years at TAG Heuer, where he held a number of roles, including, since 2013, president and CEO. Linder reports to Marco Bizzarri, Gucci president and CEO.

To explore exciting fashion industry career opportunities, visit BoF Careers, the global marketplace for fashion talent.

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These Are the Last Abs You’ll Ever See at Abercrombie & Fitch


NEW ALBANY, United States — Nine months ago, Abercrombie & Fitch began a great purge of its ubiquitous abs. Hoping the shift in marketing would win back teen shoppers, Abercrombie’s billboards and website started featuring clothed models instead of bared, tanned, sculpted male torsos. Sexy photos stopped appearing in Abercrombie’s investor presentations. And the shirtless armies of identical sandy-haired male models who greeted customers at new Abercrombie stores put their clothes back on.

Abercrombie’s ab elimination is nearly complete, but there’s still a lone, rippling holdout: the company’s “Fierce” cologne.

Bottles of Fierce, the “signature fragrance of Abercrombie & Fitch” (and the inescapable scent that wafts through Abercrombie stores), continue to feature a shirtless male model, his hands pulling down on his waistband, his sinewy torso on full display. His head is cut off by the bottle’s cap. He has no face. He is just abs.

There’s a reason Abercrombie made an exception for cologne bottles after scrubbing abs from the rest of its business. A person familiar with the company’s marketing plans says Abercrombie kept the shirtless model on its cologne because the image fits the provocative sensibilities of the fragrance industry.

Cologne brands under famous fashion houses have long used sexualized packaging to sell fragrances—Jean Paul Gaultier, for instance, offers a bottle of cologne (called LE MALE) in the shape of a man sporting a hefty bulge below the belt. Television and print ads for cologne are often racy, featuring models in provocative poses and plenty of sexual tension. In 2007, Tom Ford raised eyebrows for running a print campaign that featured a naked female model with a bottle of cologne wedged between her breasts.

Abercrombie has never taken Fierce’s promotion quite that far. But the cologne, which was launched in 2002, has always adhered to a seductive, ultramasculine aesthetic. On its website, Abercrombie calls Fierce “the world’s hottest fragrance” and “a symbol of masculinity and great American achievement.” At $54 for a 1.7 oz. bottle, the cologne also promises success with the ladies: “The clean scent of fresh citrus will grab her attention and warm musk will keep her interested.” Fierce even comes in the form of a $64 candle, for shoppers who want the aroma of their homes to evoke an Abercrombie store.

The company has been intensely protective of the Fierce brand in the past. In 2009, it sued Beyoncé over the Fierce name, claiming that a deal for a Sasha Fierce fragrance line with beauty products manufacturer Coty violated Abercrombie’s trademark. Coty later said it never meant to use the Sasha Fierce name on its fragrances.

By Kim Bhasin. Edited by Katie Drummond.

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J.C. Penney Posts Quarterly Loss After Holiday Discounting


PLANO, United States — J.C. Penney Co., the department-store chain in the midst of a turnaround, swung to a loss in the fourth quarter, amid increased discounting during the holiday season. The shares fell.

The retailer reported a loss of $59 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with a profit of $35 million, or 11 cents, according to a statement Thursday from the Plano, Texas-based company. A year earlier, the company had a one-time $270 million non-cash tax credit.

Since returning two years ago to the company from the short-lived, disastrous Ron Johnson era, Chief Executive Officer Mike Ullman has stabilized losses. For his second act, he’s focused on reviving sales growth with a strategy that includes revamped marketing and expanding Disney-themed merchandise. Ullman will retire in August and Marvin Ellison, a former Home Depot Inc. executive, will succeed him.

The retailer reported a 2.9 percent increase in fourth- quarter revenue. Sales rose to $3.89 billion, from $3.78 billion, a year earlier. Analysts projected $3.87 billion. The chain had already reported same-store sales rose 3.7 percent during November and December.

J.C. Penney fell 6.9 percent to $8.49 at 4:15 p.m. in New York. The stock had gained 41 percent this year through the close Thursday, compared with a gain of 2.5 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

By Matt Townsend. Editors: Nick Turner, James Callan, Niamh Ring.

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Gap 4Q Profit Exceeds Estimates as Old Navy Boosts Sales


NEW YORK, United States  Gap Inc., the biggest U.S. apparel-focused retailer, posted fourth-quarter profit that was higher than analysts estimated as the company’s discount brand Old Navy boosted sales.

Profit excluding some items was 75 cents a share in the quarter ended Jan. 31, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement on Thursday. Analysts projected 74 cents a share after the company gave preliminary results of 73 cents to 74 cents earlier this month.

Chief Executive Officer Art Peck, who took over the role Feb. 1, is working to revive Gap’s namesake brand, continue its global expansion and improve the digital and store experiences. The retailer’s off-price Old Navy chain has been boosting results as consumers look for discounts. Sales at stores open at least a year and online at Old Navy grew 11 percent in the most recent quarter.

“Old Navy continues to outperform and gain share in a highly promotional retail environment,” Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp. in New York, wrote in a note to clients before the results were released. “Continued refinement of the merchandise assortment and the resulting sales growth at all divisions is necessary to improve the company’s profitability.”

Gap rose 2.8 percent to $41.50 at 4:15 p.m. in late trading in New York. The stock slid 4.1 percent this year through the close of regular trading Thursday, compared with a 2.5 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

By Lindsey Rupp. Editors: Nick Turner, Kevin Orland, John Lear.

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