Thinking about the magic of Albar Elbaz

November 01 2015

I can’t say why I’ve been so obsessed by the phenomenal Albar Elbaz’s departure from Lanvin.  I’m reading every article, reading his statements, reading about his staff, the workers and their demands that the majority owner of Lanvin come to Paris and answer their questions. What is so special about him, anyway?


During his tenure at Lanvin, Elbaz has been considered to be at the most haute level of the fashion world, although he does not formally do “haute couture.” While I try to stay deeply plugged into what is going in fashion, particularly as a lens to society and culture, I have always seen that his work that is far above trends. And that has seemed to me to be coming from a core place inside of him --- he’s not just another designer describing this fall season’s collection as being inspired by Swiss milkmaids in the Yucatan, or Unicorns coupled with The Matrix.


So, I want to share with you an excerpt from an interview done with Elbaz in 2014 with the Business of Fashion. They write, “His designs reflect consistency, intellectual involvement and a depth of investigation into designing clothes that puts Elbaz on the level of a master like Cristóbal Balenciaga. Well known is the story of Balenciaga's reaction to a journalist whose enquiry about his “new ideas” for the coming season elicited the cold reply, “Madam, I never have new ideas.” Diana Vreeland once told me, referring to Seventh Avenue in the 1970s, that “modern designers think they need ideas. But they are wrong. All they need is a point of view.” In many ways, Elbaz’s way of working at Lanvin reflects the stance of both Balenciaga and Vreeland. He does not think each season must be a new start, or a fresh awakening. Indeed, he resists the ebb and flow of fashion in favour of developing his own ideas, incrementally, over long periods of time.” 

I’m so interested in this quote because it reflects what the essence of the work I do with my clients. Point of view is not style; it’s elemental, wired into who you are, and expressed through peak attributes married with your skills. Elbaz could be a fashion designer, or a chef, or an architect. The magical alchemy, pleasure, and rigor of his work will be the same, no matter what. That is indeed someone, and something, above fashion. 

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Down Home in New York: Fishs Eddy, and the Retail Experience

January 23 2014

Many may view kitchenware shopping as a boring chore, but Fishs Eddy makes the experience totally fun and enjoyable. Honestly, it’s less like shopping, and more like the easiest treasure hunt you’ve ever done. Fishs Eddy is fully stocked with one-of-a-kind vintage and vintage-inspired pieces. They have literally everything you need, and plenty of things you never knew you needed so much. The merchandising and display reinforce the sense of personal fun, yet its true power is in being tied to our memories of a solid America that many of us have only experienced through books, movies, and the things we buy and the homes we create. So the brand is about a personal, universal, and romantic view of America, much like an uber brand like Ralph Lauren, or even a mall brand like Anthropologie.


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Fishs Eddy is a consistent and well-managed brand that has been around since 1986, one that has weathered many trends in home décor and entertaining. Shoppers respond to their casual vibe and country flea market "general store" environment, where hand-painted signage and wooden crates spill over with sturdy china bowls and plates. Even with their rustic aesthetic, the designs still feel relevant and on trend — a perfect example is their recent collaboration with minimalist, stylized wildlife illustrator Charley Harper. The pieces he designed with Fishs Eddy are crisp and modern, yet their retro, mid-century feel fits in perfectly with the brand’s thrifty, eclectic atmosphere and products. I can just as easily imagine a 50’s southern housewife shopping here, as well as a hip, young New Yorker. The shoppers around me were saying that it’s simply impossible to leave without purchasing at least one tiny cup.


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The takeaway: Know your brand, and manage it well. Know your market, and hit your market with consistent brand touch points. Have a think on that, and then we can meet for some apple pie and coffee, served on Fishs Eddy’s dishware. Later!

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An American Heritage Brand: Twinkies

July 17 2013

When we think about America, we think about apple pie and baseball. What about other American classics, like Twinkies? Hostess Twinkies have been around since 1930, a true staple for generations of snackers. The cream-filled sponge cakes have never been the healthiest option but America has never seemed to care. It takes a strong brand to stay relevant and successful with such a processed, sugary product in today’s market, especially when fresher, organic options are being become more popular and widely available.

Twinkies took a hit last year when Hostess Cakes declared bankruptcy after a hostile fight with its union workers. Once the word got out that the factory was about to close, any remaining product sold out in the blink of an eye. Media stories abounded about people’s grief at the loss of an iconic American brand.  

Then Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo came along and bought Twinkies and other Hostess cakes for $410 million. Now this beloved, familiar snack is back on our shelves. The new boxes will showcase the tagline, “The Sweetest Comeback In The History Of Ever,” underlining the brand’s heritage position.

Despite their one-year hiatus, the Twinkie brand hasn’t lost its place in the heart of America. Reaction from the public seems promising, and a less iconic brand might have been mourned and already forgotten. The product will still have the same classic taste, as well as all the sugar and calories that come with it. Twinkies have a whopping shelf life of forty-five days, which may not be what it once was, but is enormous in light of the current trends towards local and fresh food and changed consumer consciousness.

So it seems that although the market for healthy food has only grown over the past year, consumers can’t wait to get their hands on Twinkies once again. This brand seems to be resilient to say the least, and it looks like the desire for this tasty treat will last a lifetime.

                 

                                                    Image via marketingpilgrim.com

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