Gucci Letter – Words by Cleo Wade
Words by Cleo Wade
None of the usual appointments to review students’ graduation collections could take place this year. Seeing their work is always a highlight of the spring for me; they’re so full of hope, to say nothing of the fact that they’re often exploring issues that are only discussions in the wider industry. These are the creatives who will be leading fashion into the future.
Though the class of 2020 will have to do without the rites of graduation, the 10 members of Pratt Institute’s graduating class I communicated with seemed positive and resilient—that’s not to say that they are wearing rose-colored glasses. They’re committed to sweeping change, and they share a sense of responsibility to make it happen. The issues that are most important to them are sustainability, diversity, gender, and technology. They believe in the importance of personal narrative, community, and craft. And while they might dream big, most are thinking about small-scale endeavors.
Congratulations to Pratt Institute’s class of 2020. Meet 10 of them, here.
Ry Arne, 22, from Springfield, Missouri
What is your mission?
To explore what clothes can be and how they can liberate gender expression. My graduate collection came from a personal exploration of gender identity and childhood fantasy. I wanted to create my own personal dress-up collection inspired by my childhood dreams of playing a princess and my desire and interest in having a flat chest.
How does the industry need to change to move forward?
Fashion needs to look at the groups of people it currently excludes. It’s an art form we all participate in, and the clothes need to reflect that. Now more than ever is a great time to dissolve binary-based clothing and explore what possibilities that opens up for the medium itself and for those who wish to participate and express themselves with it.
Cornelia Borgerhoff, 22, from Philadelphia
What is your mission in fashion?
I am a young black woman who grew up in a predominately white environment. Through my work, I give myself permission to break down some of the more complicated experiences of my past. [My mission is] connecting people through art. I want my audience to view the stories within my work and from there, hopefully, see others, or themselves, in a new light.
How does the industry need to change to move forward?
It needs to showcase more voices. Designers of color need to be seen, and not just because they are fulfilling some diversity quota. Designing clothes for the sake of it is not enough anymore. By giving a bigger platform to diverse voices, I think the industry could reach far more people.
Xinzi Cui, 25, from Beijing
What is your mission in fashion?
To learn the essence from the past and apply it to future development. We should focus more on the sustainability of the future fashion industry by cooperating with technology.
How does the industry need to change to move forward?
I believe that small-scale workshops should be one of the major developments in the future of fashion. From the perspective of design, styling and creativity would still be a priority. Meanwhile, we could also focus on function and durability of the product with the help of technology.
Juliana Gogol, 22, from Kansas City, Missouri
What is your mission in fashion?
I aim to provide a sense of comfort for the wearer. Much of my work focuses on feelings of nostalgia, familiarity, and finding a home as well as the exploration of domestic material processes like hand-weaving, knitting, dyeing, and embroidery. I believe that the more time is spent creating a garment, the more good feeling and energy is eventually passed on to the wearer.
How does the industry need to change to move forward?
To encourage “slow fashion” via a renaissance of people engaging with fashion in a more hands-on way. Most people see a $200 jacket and don’t see the research, design development, or hours and hours of skilled craftwork that went into it. Perhaps a meaningful way to “slow down” the fashion system would be to raise consumer awareness of the process and people involved in making the clothes they buy, or even to facilitate consumer participation via D.I.Y. modifications or styling choices. In other times of crisis, we’ve seen everyday people making their own clothes, planting their own gardens, and making do with what they have—why not now?
Olivia Rose Harris, 22, from Sanibel Island, Florida
What is your mission in fashion?
To dress the world in head-to-toe, unconventional knitwear. As a “women’s craft” historically, knitting goes hand in hand with the stories I tell.
Top TC Creatives Capsule S/S 2020 Style/Mode
Photography: Lauren Krysti – Styling: Claire Neviaser
Model: Dana Johnson – Hair/Makeup: Fatima Olive
Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive
PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER
Diff Eyewear sunglasses $85, Nordstrom – Mall of America
Short pearl earring $5, Urban Outfitters
Long pearl earring $58, Anthropologie
Model: Dana Johnson; Hair and Makeup: Fatima Olive
PHOTO BY LAUREN KRYSTI/STYLED BY CLAIRE NEVIASER
Silver hoop earrings, $10, Urban Outfitters
Eliza J pants, $128, Nordstrom – Mall of America
Sunglasses, $10, Urban Outfitters
Celina Kane “Fusilli” hat, $650
Pearl drop earrings, $10, Target
Rhode “Ella” dress, $375, shopbop.com
Manolo Blahnik ”Maysalebi” mules, $745, Nordstrom – Mall of America
Rhinestone earrings $20, Free People
Tie dye socks $10, Urban Outfitters
MoMA “Color Wheel” umbrella, $50, store.moma.org
Their Instagram feeds might look glossy and curated, but in real life, artists are vulnerable and scrambling for work.
This past February, like so many others in her 25 years as a freelance makeup artist, Rachel Goodwin boarded a plane from LAX to Paris with a 50-pound bag of makeup and a calendar full of Fashion Week gigs. “By the time I got there, it was like the whole world had changed,” she tells Refinery29. “The Louvre was being shut down, my clients were not going to the shows, and I was getting on a plane to come home because of COVID,” she says. “My world has not been the same since.”
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Highsnobiety Q1 is the first in a series of quarterly insights weeks dedicated to the business behind youth culture and what makes our market tick. For full Q1 coverage, head over to our Q1 hub.
The fashion industry as we knew it no longer exists.
As global financial markets tumble, non-essential services close their doors around the world, and citizens are under government directives to self-isolate, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought humankind to a standstill. In fashion, brands have experienced immediate shocks to their supply chains and sales, luxury goods conglomerates stocks are down, and retailers struggle to keep workers on a payroll. At large, the luxury market is likely to lose between $65 to $75 billion in sales this year, according to a report launched last week by Bain & Company.
Around the world, fashion weeks are canceled, postponed, or going virtual. From London to Milan and Paris to New York, designers and fashion governing bodies are already exploring alternatives to navigate the unprecedented and precarious moment.
In retail, online sales growth is sharply down, while brick-and-mortar stores — still the biggest revenue drivers of most brands — have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, brands are scrambling to circumnavigate shocks to their supply chains, resulting in delivery delays. Then there are the extended quarantines, travel bans, and lower consumer spending that reduce demand, likely creating recessions throughout the remainder of the year and possibly trickling into 2021.
While the industry has managed to mobilize under the guise of working from home, there appears to be no end in sight for the public health emergency, despite early signs of a rebound in Asian markets. So what becomes of fashion in the wake of the coronavirus? We asked industry pioneers across design, buying and merchandising, public relations and communications, and consultancy to forecast the future of fashion – here’s what they had to say.
With men’s fashion week, couture, and cruise shows — intended to take place during the summer months — cancelled, will the ongoing pandemic force the industry to rethink fashion week? Does traveling the globe year-round to watch fashion shows in confined spaces make sense anymore? Tokyo, Shanghai, and Moscow have already explored alternatives with virtual format live-streaming shows. In February, Milan Fashion Week’s organizers offered a similar proposition with an access-all-areas style virtual fashion week that garnered 16 million viewers on Tencent and 9 million on Weibo in China. In September, they plan on taking the vision worldwide. While a virtual fashion week is likely, Copenhagen Fashion Week’s organizers are intent on showcasing in the first August, stating it “can and must take place.” Therein lies the much-debated tension between physical and virtual experiences.
“I am not sure that we know what the future holds but this is a reset moment. It’s too soon to know what the structure of Spring/Summer 2021 will look like. The impact of COVID-19 is changing daily. I imagine there will be shows, but not like we’ve known them to be. They will probably be more local and have smaller scale productions. Will international attendees want to travel? And will production teams have time to build ideas? Our industry was already evaluating the show concept. Before the pandemic hit, we had begun a study with Boston Consulting Group on how to make fashion weeks more sustainable. There’s a connection here that makes the study even more relevant.”
“We took the decision to postpone the men’s shows in June because cancelling them was too tough on that side of the industry — men’s is incredibly important in Italy. In February, when we thought a lot about the Chinese fashion industry not making it to Milan Fashion Week, we offered a virtual fashion week on Tencent (streaming live shows) and Weibo (all other content). We’re going to do the same next season but around the world. However, it only works well if you have a physical fashion week behind it. I don’t think a virtual fashion week will ever replace a real fashion week, but they’re both complementary.”
“It’s too early to be sure how it will change — we’re still under shock. But people will want to survive this first before changing their philosophy. We can take the crisis as a signal there’s too much. There’s too much stuff, we travel too much, we make too many clothes, and we need to slow down. Brands who were struggling might disappear, especially independent and young designers. It could change the map of fashion. Big brands might want to get back to business but it’s a question of how long this goes on for.”
“This crisis is unprecedented and therefore it’s difficult to foresee how the industry will change exactly and the impact on marketing strategies and approach towards shows and events. The benefits of offline experiences are undoubtedly unchanged. They’ll remain a powerful vehicle for a more personalized interaction with clients, a great way to connect with the media, and an important piece of content that influencer marketing relies upon. Going forward, [fashion weeks] will need to be approached more strategically and also in a more nimble manner.”
“In all honesty, I’m not sure if there will be a fashion week following coronavirus. I feel like a lot of designers (as well as stores and magazines) are probably going to go under. It will take a bit of time for things to stabilize and I imagine there are going to be far less players coming out of it on the other side; maybe all the respective fashion weeks will be centralized in a single city, such as Paris.”
“I don’t think we can go back to business as usual. I had planned a takeover of the courtyard at Somerset House, a participatory project involving the public which would demystify fashion. The public could get involved on some level of the creation of something. For me, I work more on special projects like this that are about bringing people together.”
“For me, it’s about the cross-pollination of ideas from poetry readings to live musicians at shows, friends working on mixes of live recordings. I’m going to continue to explore things with the network and community around me, it’s more diverse than working on your own. These things could be amplified now that the focus might be on digital and there could be no big gatherings, or brands can’t afford to show. It allows us to push creativity through different channels.”
“I think it’s time to do a really cool lookbook, a video, maybe even virtual reality, that way everyone can be part of it. It’s opening up the democracy aspect of the industry. I’m weirdly excited: it’s forcing us to have a lot of conversations around needing to travel and the structure of our business. It might be time to test these theories.”
“Undeniably [fashion month] will be virtual — this will come in many guises. The buying side of the process had already started moving into this space after what happened in Paris and Milan recently; it has been very ad hoc, though, with a multitude of quick learnings. But as many brands have already cancelled their June shows and showrooms, this virtual experience will most definitely play a significant role in both the presentation side as well as how we operate as buyers. I expect we will witness some quick turnarounds in technology and innovation as the industry bands together with this opportunity to reinvent. The whole process is so sensorial — so this is going to be a major shift that will be felt industry-wide.”
“I love doing shows, there’s no other feeling for me so it’s gutting fashion week isn’t going ahead. But I miss it in a personal way, and for the greater good, it’s redundant what I feel personally. I’m going to use this time to be creative, to develop in-depth research, because my time before was usually consumed by production. I think this could allow me to produce my best work.”
“The entire timeline of fashion is at stake and needs to be reorganized. People’s lifestyle has radically changed in the past 100 days and we need to adapt to a new way to conduct our social relationships for the months to come. This will have a huge impact on collections designed 6 months ago when the world looked very very different.”
One of the primary challenges for fashion designers — and in turn their stores — to overcome is the immediate shock to their supply chain. As factories have shut their doors temporarily and the procurement of raw materials and components to produce collections becomes more difficult, a brand’s ability to meet its deadlines and deliver Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter 2020 orders to stores by June and July. Consequently, they’re left scrambling to mitigate the impact not only to production but cashflow and their future. Some smaller brands have nimbly adapted to the situation, revealing the effect isn’t too grave, while others admit production has been ground to a halt.
“Browns was founded on up-and-coming brands and new talent, and it’s all the more important that we support them however we can. With that, we have taken the decision not to cancel our Fall/Winter 2020 orders and will work with the brands on managing the flow of goods and messaging around this; which will be critical storytelling for the season ahead. Quite honestly we’re taking a lot of this day by day as the terrain keeps shifting, and are here to talk, listen, and find solutions alongside our partners.”
“My guess is as good as everyone else’s. It might expire in a few days, like yogurt. I like to think long-term, and by nature I’m optimistic, so I’m trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The main impact on Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter production is the shutdown in Italy, which has stopped the manufacturing process. If production stops for two weeks, there’ll be a month delay. If it stops for more than two weeks, it will be a two-month delay.”
“Depending on the duration of the lockdown, this is likely to cause financial strain to suppliers and subcontractors. We expect this will accelerate the upstream consolidation trend we have seen in recent years. Bigger brands will have deeper pockets to secure their sourcing, and go the way that Hermès, Chanel, and LVMH have gone: higher direct involvement in manufacturing.”
“We work with social manufacturing projects on the production of the collection. After Monday, everything closed. We can’t do anything. The recycling plants are only doing bulk deliveries and they can’t sort the waste, which means we can’t get our materials. Our print studio in Peckham closed. Our manufacturer in north London closed. Downview Prison shut their social projects. Our production facility in Italy is still working but it’s under lockdown. Nobody from the outside world can enter.”
“We have a very tight supply chain with a loyal manufacturing base. I’m moved by the resourcefulness, support, and resilience of our Italian factories. I think the real impact for us will show in the coming months and we’re now looking at strategies to make sure we’re ready to implement changes and alleviate any negative impact on suppliers who rely on our business. However, I don’t believe it will impact our pricing structure at this point, as our volumes are comparatively small.”
“The supply chain right now is in survival mode. We’ll see 30 to 40 percent of the fashion industry go out of business, unless brands, suppliers, retailers and institutions will come together as one. Its a domino effect and there will be a lot of natural selection. But I also hope there will be lots of acts of solidarity. I still have hope for our world.”
“The big shock will be felt with the pre-collections, which are only months away. It is going to be a challenge. Factories are closed. We’re social distancing. Fabrics can’t be shipped. Will buyers be ready? These are questions that we need to answer.”
“Everyone is in the same position, trying to minimize the cost and impact of the current situation and the effect it has on supply chains. But I think working under pressure brings out the best in people. Problem-solving is one of our greatest skills; we’ve been doing it since the dawn of time, and that ingenuity will hopefully get us through.”
“Everything is on hold right now, because we manufacture the collection entirely in Europe, and all our facilities are closed. The mills in Italy have stopped working, 80 percent of our factories in Portugal have stopped working. We just have to make sure everything is ready for when they start again. It’s difficult to know if stores are going to stay in business, and there’s going to be a huge disruption to the calendar, but we can focus on our flagship stores.”
“There’s going to be some delays with order deliveries, but it’s understood by everybody. We produce in Italy, which isn’t happening anymore, but we just got our prototypes the day before lockdown. But we’re kind of okay — we’re small and flexible, there’s been minimal cancellations, and no huge dramas on the supply chains, so we’re not scrambling.”
Consumer behavior is under threat as retailers and e-commerce sites, under government directives, have been forced to close in light of the global pandemic. Shopfronts across the globe are boarded up, while online retailers merely allow customers to add items to their wish lists as distribution outlets cease operations. In the UK, IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, stated that online retail sales growth was down by 2.2 percent year-on-year, while clothing saw its sales plummet by 26.7 percent year-on-year (by 22 percent week-on-week).
While the Western world grapples with new realities, stores in China have started to slowly reopen their doors. Whether or not consumer behavior will continue to follow the trends of the past or if they’ll shift their thinking with onset recessionary periods in mind remains to reveal itself. Experts forecast with mixed reactions.
“We expect a drop of at least 25 percent in the first half of 2020 — likely more than that if the lockdown in Europe and the USA continues into the second quarter of 2020. The second half of 2020 may see a fast rebound, if a solution to Covid-19 is found, and the support from central banks and governments is effective. Or it could see a further significant decline, if it’s not.”
“People are going to be really broke. I don’t know a single person that isn’t worried about the possibility of going bankrupt. Fashion isn’t on the top of your mind when you can’t pay rent.”
“With small businesses, the customer has massive power: they’re oxygen to that business. Hopefully, when this is all over, people won’t want to support brands that take advantage of people all over the world and think about who they want to give oxygen too.”
“The next part is critical as we have a sense of responsibility to protect independent and younger designers. If retailers give them more time, they will be rewarded with a product that is more honest and has more integrity.”
“I hope we will not go back to where we were. I’ve been fighting for buying less but buying better. I think it will allow for better quality products, which are better for the wallet and the world. I hope there’s going to be a shift in how customers are going to buy when we’re back on track, but we are human; maybe we will go back to normal.”
“Consumer behavior can change, but the question is, will it? One thing is for sure, we have all been taking everything for granted. It will come down to humanity’s ability to follow through. At Abc., we always push and move in the direction of change — a lot of that comes from questioning the systems that are already in place and working to not only change them, but replace them entirely.”
“It’s not helpful to consider consumers as a big group of one kind of person, because people have different lives and spending power. Some people will go back to normal and others won’t. This pandemic panic buying shows that people are not being thoughtful about their buying, not for the greater good. I hope this changes a few minds, that would be better than nothing.”
“I think there could be an increase in and support of local production, with global transport systems hugely affected by the situation. For a lot of places, this was already on the cards. There could be more purchasing from smaller retailers and brands, or else people will probably go to large brands. The system is so strongly held in place.”
“There could be a shift in consumer behavior. People might be in a different financial situation and will want to look closer at what they’re buying and think ‘do I need to buy this? Is it necessary?’ and people will find it hard to justify blowing their savings on another $2,000 designer jacket.”
As we collectively steer towards another week in self-isolation, the world has pressed a veritable pause on most people’s lives, both personally and professionally. Within this, there’s an opportunity. Fashion, an industry so consumed with its pace and what comes next, is at a standstill. Its creatives, for once, have a chance to breathe and think clearly. The prognosis for the future of fashion is as of yet unclear, though signs point to an opportunity to radically rethink an industry whose modes of operation seem increasingly outdated with each passing day. Could the Coronavirus bring forth an entirely new fashion industry?
“It’s probably a good time for independent designers who can continue to make work through this period and get their work online. There’s greater potential visibility with fewer designers to contend with, as well as an audience that’s living virtually.”
“People are more connected. They have time to call a friend, to discuss things, and a real exchange could emerge, not like before when you could just call people back but not have a real exchange. When the exchange is deeper, people can be more productive. However, this is a worldwide crisis, the solution has to be collective. We cannot be alone, we can only do things together.”
“We react differently in times of crisis, depending on our environment. In terms of fashion, there could be a slowdown, but for others, it could be like putting rocket fuel into them. This moment is like a spring cleaning of sorts, and hopefully we’re left with being the most productive and efficient we can be. While it’s not going to be good for everyone, it could be of great benefit for the creative industries.”
“Struggle is often a catalyst for creativity, although creative industries could suffer greatly as a result of it. As an individual, I believe it’s a good time to re-evaluate strategies and apply creative minds to find different solutions to ongoing global issues. This crisis is exposing the dangers our capitalist way of living will face if health services and not-for-profit scientific research are neglected further. We should see this as an opportunity to re-think the way our society values monetary gains over everything else.”
“There’s going to be a huge shift in mentality from consumer practices to how brands communicate with them.”
“We wouldn’t call it an opportunity for the industry, but more of a forced change. This touches on what we said above. Everyone will have to change. This pandemic is really unlike anything the world has faced before, in the sense that it’s one of the few issues that truly unites humanity. Abc. has always operated in such a way that spoke to all of the questions being raised now.”
“Crisis always provokes creativity. The entire industry is impacted and challenged to adapt to a new situation and needs to rethink its status quo. As a communication agency, we rethink and rewrite strategies, run deeper and precise analytics on market and customer needs, and adapt approaches accordingly, develop engaging social media campaigns, embrace classic non-seasonal products, maximize existing assets — just to name but a few examples. Creativity and collaboration are key in this situation and we hope this isn’t just a short-term crisis trend.”
“I always try to be an optimist and see the good in difficult situations. Reshaping the cycle is absolutely a knock-on effect that I feel will be inevitable and much needed. I feel it will be important to get together as an industry and discuss what in the luxury arena would make sense or perhaps not make sense, but we need to do this together. In my wildest dreams, I would never have expected this devastation to hit us all globally and almost simultaneously; we’re having to think in ways no one ever has. Ultimately, this is what will lead us to new opportunities.”
The largest rough diamond discovered since 1905, the 1,758-carat Sewelo, was revealed with great fanfare last April, named in July and then largely disappeared from view. Now it has resurfaced with a new owner — and it’s not a name you might expect.
It is not, for example, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, on the hunt for a trophy asset. It is not a royal family, searching for a centerpiece for a new tiara. It is not the De Beers Group, who could be seen as the creator of the diamond market and owner of the Millennium Star diamond, which, uncut, was a 770-carat stone.
It is not even the diamond specialist Graff, the owner of the Graff Lesedi La Rona, a 302.37-carat diamond that is the world’s largest emerald-cut sparkler.
It is Louis Vuitton — the luxury brand better known for its logo-bedecked handbags than its mega-gems, which has been present on Place Vendôme, the heart of the high jewelry market, for less than a decade.
“There are less than 10 people in the world who would know what to do with a stone like that or how to cut it and be able to put the money on the table to buy it,” said Marcel Pruwer, the former president of the Antwerp Diamond Exchange and the managing director of the International Economic Strategy advisory firm. “To buy and then sell what could be a $50 million stone, you need the technical qualifications, as well as the power to write the check and take the risk.”
“Nobody expects us to put such an emphasis on high jewelry,” Mr. Burke said. “I think it will spice things up a bit. Wake up the industry.
Discovered in April 2019 at the Karowe mine in Botswana (owned by Lucara Diamond Corp, a Canadian miner), the baseball-size Sewelo is the second largest rough diamond ever mined.
The largest was the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and eventually yielded two enormous high-quality stones — one of 530.4 carats and one 317.4, both now part of the British crown jewels, as well as many smaller stones.
The Sewelo is also the largest rough diamond ever found in Botswana (a country that has become the poster child for responsible mining) and the third very large diamond discovered in Karowe.
The mine also produced the 813-carat Constellation, uncovered in 2015 and sold for $63 million to Nemesis International in Dubai, a diamond trading company (in partnership with the Swiss jeweler de Grisogono) and the Lesedi La Rona, discovered in 2016 and sold to Graff for $53 million.
When Lucara held a competition to name the Sewelo, 22,000 Botswana citizens submitted entries. “Sewelo” means “rare find” in Setswana.
It also makes “the risk that much greater,” Mr. Pruwer said. When the stone was unearthed, there was a fair amount of speculation that it may be worth significantly less than its not-quite-as-giant siblings.
The profitability of any large stone depends on its yield: how many gem-quality carats can be gotten out of it once cut to maximize the price, which is in turn a function of the impurities in the stone — though, as Ms. D’Haenens-Johansson points out, even the impurities have value in a stone this size. They can reveal when the diamond was created and at what depth in the earth.
The mine, which has examined the diamond through a tiny “window” in the dark covering and scanned it with lasers, describes the stone as “near gem quality,” with “domains of high-quality white gem.” There are thousands of gradations of diamonds, ranging from D-flawless (the most rare) to industrial stones used in cutting and manufacturing.
“Is it D or D-flawless, and how big is the flawless part? I don’t know,” Mr. Burke said, acknowledging that the purchase “took a little bit of guts and trust in our expertise.” (To be fair, LVMH can afford it; its revenues in 2018 were 46.8 billion euros, or $52 billion.)
Still, Mr. Post said, “You don’t buy a stone like that unless you have some plan for what you are going to do with it and some belief that there is enough clear material that you can cut it and make a profit.”
Mr. Burke said when he showed the stone to Bernard Arnault, the majority owner and chief executive of LVMH, and “he had it in his hand, he smiled.” A smile from Mr. Arnault, a famously taciturn executive, is the equivalent of a scream of triumph from another chief executive.
After all, along with the potential profits, LVMH also bought the less quantifiable, but nevertheless palpable, bragging rights to the diamond in an industry where mythology and romance are part of the price.
Mr. Burke said that when his team suggested that Vuitton consider buying the Sewelo, his initial reaction was: “What took you so long?”
“It’s a big, unusual stone, which makes it right up our alley,” he said. It is also the first time Vuitton has bought a rough stone without having presold it to a client. (According to Mr. Pruwer, most branded fine jewelers buy stones that are already cut and polished.)
Vuitton’s partners in Antwerp are building a scanner able to see through the stone’s coating, though with the imaging already in place, including a CT scan, they have estimated it may yield a 904-carat cushion-cut diamond, an 891-carat Oval or several stones of between 100 and 300 carats.
As for the fact that the acquisition happened around the same time as the Tiffany acquisition, Mr. Burke said it was a coincidence. Yet he acknowledged, with some understatement, that LVMH “typically likes to become leaders in whatever field we go into.”
And if the Sewelo doesn’t prove to be quite as lucrative as LVMH is betting? “I’ll go jump in a river,” Mr. Burke said.
Celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh chalks up hair pain to a simple analogy. “It’s like not working out for a week! If you don’t wash your hair and keep it in the same style, it feels sore because it’s lacking hair and scalp stimulation. If you’re that girl who has to go five days without washing, then brush your scalp. The brush is back!” Although Josh warns against penny-pinching in this department. “I’ll go to these gorgeous apartments, with marble bathroom floors, and clients are using some cheap-ass brush that’s a dollar from the drugstore,” says Josh, laughing. He recommends using brushes like his Premium Oval Brush to really get in there and distribute oil from the scalp down to the end of hair strands and his Paddle Brush to rub the head and revive blood flow.
So how often should we be shampooing? “It all depends on what you’re starting off with,” says Josh, referring to varying hair types. “Finer hair can’t go multiple days, because it produces more oil,” says Josh. “But curly or gray hair can, as it produces less.” As a rule of thumb, he says people with oily hair should shampoo every day or every other day. Dry or coarser hair should do every three to four days. And of course, dry shampoo is a great bridge.
Whether your follicles feeling like they’re hurting is the result of infrequent cleansing, tight styling techniques, or a symptom of a migraine headache, your hair isn’t all that different from your body—it needs to be washed and worked out on a regular basis in order to be the best it can be. So at the end of a long, hard, stressful day, forget about trying to preserve a particular style for as long as possible, and instead, slow down and treat your hair to some much-needed self-care.
CHIC REPORT: THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND THE NEW BILL CUNNINGHAM DOCUMENTARY
In 1994, Mark Bozek landed the interview of a lifetime: a three-hour chat with Bill Cunningham. For the first — and only — time, the legendary photographer opened up and got personal on-camera. Now, Bozek is making parts of the interview public, through his documentary, The Times of Bill Cunningham. Last week after a premiere in New York, The Daily called Bozek to discuss the film. From using a network of Cunningham’s friends to piece together parts of his life, to exploring his previously unseen archives, the director fills us in on how the project came together.
When did you first become interested in interviewing Bill Cunningham?
I had a series called Fox Style News. One of the first stories I wanted to do was on Bill. The first time I asked was a very polite “No young fella, I don’t do that kind of thing.” But I asked him [four] more times. I remember later saying, “Let’s try to do this anyways.” For the next year when doing other stories, we’d see Bill on the street or at an event, and the guys would discreetly pick up the cameras and shoot footage of him. When I had enough I interviewed Bill Blass, James Galanos, and Liz Smith, the gossip columnist, and ran the piece in December, 1993. It was a nice three-minute story about Bill. I was happy I did it. There hadn’t been any stories about him like that at all.
So how did you finally land the interview?
About two weeks in [to my new job at QVC], I get a phone call from Bill. He said, “Young fella, I hate to bother you, I didn’t see your story. I don’t have a TV. But I have to accept this award. Would you mind coming over to my studio to interview me to produce this one-minute video to play on stage?” I got a crew together and went to his studio. There was no place to set up the camera, so we went to his best friend’s apartment a couple floors down. I thought, I’ve got 10 minutes. I gotta get a couple of sound bites and that’ll be it. But 30 minutes later he kept talking. I was young and inexperienced, but I realized that I should be quiet and just let him. We really did run out of tapes to use because I [only] brought enough to do a couple of sound bites. Luckily, we had some extra.
Do you have any theories as to why he chose to open up?
I only have theories based on other what other people have told me… he liked the fact that I wasn’t a fashion expert. I was certainly not Barbara Walters for 60 Minutes. Although when he started to get upset that first time out of the blue, just talking about how shy he was, I had this moment like, Oh my God, I made Bill Cunningham cry! I just need a couple of sound bites and now he’s crying. But they all say it’s because he just felt comfortable. And I think likely, because of his passion for documentation, that he decided on that day he was going to verbally document his life.
Were you conflicted at all about including the scenes of him being vulnerable?
At the end of the day, you want to make a film that shows your character in all it’s different forms. I can’t say I was totally conflicted, because I wanted to treat it respectfully. But what he was saying was so important, and he never said “turn off the camera” once. We turned it off a couple of times because it was too much. So many people that have seen the movie are emotional because of what he talks about. How the AIDS crisis was throttling the industry and the country at that time. I worked for Willi Smith, who died of AIDS in 1988, for seven years. So I knew the effect of that. It was something that he wanted to talk about.
So what did you do after shooting that footage?
I put it in my basement and didn’t touch it until the day he died, three and a half years ago. On social media, everybody heard that Bill passed… it was a really sad couple of days in New York. I said to my son, “Let’s go in the basement and find those tapes that I did with Mr. Cunningham 23 years ago.” I found the old beta tapes and had them bumped up to a digital file. That was the first time I’d watched them in 23 years. It was really emotional, because he had just passed and he’s so full of life in this interview — so many different spectrums of emotions. It really touched me.
You held a screening of all three hours of footage for a close group of Bill’s friends. What was that viewing like?
They were stunned that Bill opened up as he did, because they’d never seen him open up like that. Certainly not on camera. Obviously, personally [he did]. Ruben and Isabel Toledo would have dinner with him almost every Saturday night for years at a little cheesy diner by Carnegie Hall. We spent another hour or so just talking about it. It was very emotional for a lot of them because it was just six months [after he passed]. I remember asking them, “What do you think? Do you think I should go forward?” They all said, “You must do this!” And then relentless emails from particularly Ruben and Isabel — “How’s it going? What’s happening?” — it was great.
Did they have anything to add to the process?
They helped me fill in the blanks on a lot of holes of people I didn’t know that Bill talked about. Particularly Chez Ninon [the boutique he was employed by]. They could connect me to this person and that person. It began this process that I had no idea was going to take three and a half years to finish. But, especially now, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. After all that work, having Ruben do the artwork for the film, having Pat Cleveland let me use her song “Tonight Joséphine” during the credits. And of course having [narrator] Sarah Jessica Parker say yes before she even saw one frame of the film.
The film includes decades worth of his photos. How did you get your hands on them?
I didn’t have any access to Bill’s pictures until I met his niece, who owns the archive. That began a whole new process of showing her the footage at this Holiday Inn up in Orangeburg, where the archive is stored. She was she was very emotional, weeping hysterically after seeing it because she had never seen her uncle talk like that. He kept those worlds of his very separate. They just knew he was a photographer. So she gave me access to the archives.
What was that like?
The first day there I was like a kid in a candy store, to say the least. Having lived with this footage for a year and a half and now being able to go in and find the pictures of Diana Vreeland, every time her hand touched a mannequin for 11 years times two weeks; the gay pride parade pictures which he had never published; all the Jackie Kennedy pictures. Those things were just remarkable and they actually let me bring boxes of the archive to my home on Long Island. I turned my dining room into this massive scanning operation.
Wow! That’s amazing.
We immediately bonded because she liked the film and she knew that I wasn’t going to do anything untoward, or dishonest, or take advantage of [his legacy]. She loved it. She was at the premiere. And it was incredible being able to celebrate with her, because she’s been so gracious. I ended up, of the three million images in his archives — and documents, tape recording, you name it — scanning about 25,000 of those images, and then 500 or so ended up in the film.
You could have easily made a film just about him documenting the early years of the Met Gala or the history of the Pride Parade. Why did you edit the film chronologically?
From day one, I wanted to make it into a feature documentary. I had talked to other people about doing it as a series. That may eventually still happen. The picking and choosing of what I thought were going to be the most effective stories was really based on the stories Bill told us. The interview you see in the film is not in sequential order because Bill was jumping from one era to the next. It would be confusing if I did that, so we created a timeline. The part that took the longest by far was editing the pictures. I wanted to do what Bill did: be selective about every single picture in the movie like he was very selective about every picture that would be in the Sunday Times.
Was there anything you discovered in your research that you didn’t include in the documentary?
Bill was a documentarian and he saved everything. When the women from Chez Ninon passed on, he saved all their stuff. In the Chez Ninon box was a box of receipts of all the clothes they made for Jacqueline Kennedy, Brooke Astor, and Rockefeller. I went to the Jacqueline Kennedy file and there was the receipt for the pink dress that she wore to Dallas. It’s likely one of the most famous dresses in history, certainly in American history, because of all the attachment to it to the president being assassinated. And there was this receipt with a little pink swatch.
What do you think will stand out the most to viewers?
His treasure trove of an archive will go down as one of the most important in the history of New York City. Not just fashion, but society. He took pictures every single day since 1967. The other thing was his unbelievable humility, that somebody could be so revered and treasured by everybody in the fashion industry, and yet live on cheese sandwiches and oatmeal in a tiny space that didn’t have a bathroom (he shared with everybody on the 12th floor). Lastly, his incredible generosity. Buying Antonio Lopez’s painting [for $130,000] when Antonio had AIDS, and then giving the painting back so he could sell it again. He had diamonds in a pillowcase stuffed away in his cave at Carnegie Hall. That surprised a lot of people because he would never, ever share that with anybody. He was too discreet.
What are you hoping this documentary will add to his public memory?
I never ever set out to make a fashion movie. I was much more intrigued by his character — his sometimes contrarian character… Ruben said, “This should be in the National Archives” because it’s him full of life, telling a story that had to be told. There will be other stories about Bill. There will probably be a feature film about him. I think they’re going to name buildings after Bill Cunningham, build statues of Bill Cunningham. I hope the fashion world sees what an original character he was. There will never ever be another Bill Cunningham again, no matter how many followers a photographer has on Instagram.
What’s missing from how fashion is communicated these days on social media?
A knowledge of history. Understanding how things were cut and how different designers had an effect on [each other]… Nobody will be as wise as he was in terms of fashion history and his ability to remember things back to the ’30s… I don’t want to necessarily give Diet Prada a plug, but those two people know fashion history in ways that blow my mind. They’re the closest to come to at least having the knowledge. But that’s what’s really missing. I want young people to see this guy who, up until a week before he died, was out there working every single day, and so passionate about his work.
The Times of Bill Cunningham is playing in select theaters.
Zoey Grossman photographed DKNY’s New Spring 2020 campaign featuring Halsey. The all-female production team also included videographer Nathalie Canguilhem and stylist Zoe Costello. The ads, which also star David Alexander Flinn, pay tribute to New York through stylized versions of the city’s subways.