Category Archives: Women’s

Keeping Up With Kendall Jenner (And Her 16 Million Instagram Followers)

Forget about Keeping up with the Kardashians, how on earth will we ever keep up with Kendall?

On November 21st the New York Times published a rather lengthy article about Kendall Jenner – daughter of Kris, sister of Kim, and sister-in-law of Kanye – and the new face of legendary beauty industry empire Estée Lauder. This coveted contract has been in the possession of several talented actresses and supermodels in years past, but now…they are handing it over to Kendall.

Forgive the hint of sarcasm here, but I, like a lot of you, can’t seem to quite put my finger on why this family, and this sister in particular is deserving of any such coveted honors. Is it because she’s a leader in fashion and beauty? Is she a style icon in the industry? Has she has earned the spot by working her way up in the fiercely competitive world of modeling?

It turns out the answer is none of the above. It’s widely reported that she got the coveted contract because she has more social media followers than all of us combined, and this is her reward.

Foregoing the route of traditional publicity driven press releases, Vogue magazine broke the news of the contract on their website (their headline read “Kendall Jenner Social-Media Sensation Turned Beauty Star), and the New York Times reported that Kendall (she is trying to drop the “Jenner”) was encouraged to spread the word on her own social channels, and boy did she ever!

Her Instagram announcement post was “liked” more than one million – Yes ONE MILLION – times. The rest of her social media stats are also staggering. Believe it or not, she has 16 MILLION Instagram followers, 9.1 MILLION Twitter followers, and 7.3 MILLION likes on Facebook.

And I’m back to asking myself, WHY?

Why is this generation okay with famous people who are only famous because of the social media followers they have that made them famous? Is this Kendall Jenner’s credibility, and is this the new standard for credibility? Does it mean your fashionable because you have 9.1 Twitter followers?

I’ve addressed it before, but where have all the icons gone? Are you an icon because you have followers or because you truly have a sense of style and walk out the door looking sensational.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of liked it when the collective standard was a lot higher.

Some of you may be saying, “Oh Debi, you just don’t get it,” but I really do. It’s just difficult for me to understand that as a style icon, Kendall doesn’t have style – she has “followers,” and apparently that’s all you need…and what they say goes.

All of this brings me back to one last thought on Black Friday. As I wrote in my blog last week, Black Friday has become a manufactured holiday that maintains little to no real value. Vendors manufacture goods for this sales event to make the consumer think they are getting a deal. I was listening to NPR last weekend when they exposed that the retail giants don’t even change their Black Friday ads from year to year anymore. They simply continue to manufacture the same sub-standard products every season in an effort to dumb down anything the consumer has come to expect. Judging by the lines of people camped out in front of their stores for days and even weeks on end – it seems they have succeeded. They’re saving money and you are getting a deal. Does that sound right?

It makes me wonder, is Estée Lauder getting a “deal” with Kendall Jenner? Has her worth as their spokesperson been manufactured by her followers, so much so that the consumer thinks they’re getting what they want?

It begs the question, does the sheer amount of her followers justify the rest of us giving up standards that have merit, for something that really has none?

Is Kendall Jenner all that we can afford?

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The Lost Art of Outerwear

Perhaps you’ve noticed that over time different categories in fashion have all but been eliminated from the shopping experience. I can think of at least two of them that are centered in and around the extreme changes in the weather found in New England – the place we all so fondly call home – regardless of how much we need them.

Like you, I too wait with baited breath for the warmth to come after a long, drawn out, cold New England winter…and often non-existent spring. And, perhaps like you, I wait until at least June – after I’ve seen the sunshine for more than 5 minutes – before I even begin to think about shopping for a bathing suit. The issue is that by the time we all feel brave enough to stand under the florescent lights in an unforgiving dressing room, the bathing suits have been marked down considerably and warm sweaters and tall boots are beginning to emerge from the stock room.

As a result, bathing suits, historically a rather large category, are simply getting lost in the shuffle. We don’t even know they’re there before it’s too late and the retail season is coming to a close. A great bathing suit is difficult enough to find, especially if they’ve become nearly obsolete from department stores. Well, some still carry a small assortment, but it’s certainly not what it used to be.

Actually, it’s nothing like it used to be.

The same holds true for outerwear.

People, we live in New England, and to be honest we really can’t afford to have the same thing happen to this category as well. We’re not in California, it really does get freezing here, and during the winter months we need to wear a coat every day to endure the brutality of the season. We really need variations of outerwear in the region because A.) The weather gets really, really cold, and B.) Who wants to wear the same coat over and over and over again?

And can we just talk about “puffers” for a minute?

I don’t need to call out brands, you know who they are, but is it really necessary to reach for a “puffer” every time you venture outside? I get that we have some really cold, crummy, awful days around here…and I get that you can roll it up in a ball and stick it in the washing machine to fluff it up again…and I get that it keeps you warm, BUT it’s not appropriate for every scenario in your life, and I hate to break the news but they really don’t look so great…on anyone.

Do you think the new “shiny” puffers are helping matters?

Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.

Because certain regions in the country (including us) have such a dire need for outerwear during the winter months, you would think the category would be exploding with function and creativity. But it isn’t. Or should I say, it hasn’t been.

And because we have fallen into the habit of reaching for what has become, for lack of a better term, the lowest common denominator in outwear, our heads have been down and we’ve been missing the fact that some people are doing some amazingly new and different things with coats these days. Especially this season where I really saw designers taking fabric with vastly different properties and putting their efforts back into outerwear.

From Proenza Schouler’s wool and neoprene wonders to Jason Wu’s wool and shearling creations to Lucas Nascimento‘s modern interpretation of the 1940’s to Jonathan Saunder’s clever patchwork designs, there seems to be new life circulating around an old “category.”

Fabulous!

Last month we had some incredibly warm neoprene pieces from Jacquemus, and this month they are sold out completely – and we’re just coming to the end of October. Which leads me to believe that some people are packing away their puffers and really starting to get it.

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Alice Roi

Alice Roi

 

Meanwhile, in Paris…

Each season I board a plane to Paris and expect to find some inspiration when I land. I attend shows and visit showrooms; I talk to other businesswomen and men; I meet with designers and exchange ideas with magazine editors…all in an effort to find and bring new ideas and inspiration back to Boston.

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but as my trip came to a close last week and I found myself ready to come home, I realized that overall, I wasn’t so inspired.

Actually, I’m quite happy with what I bought while I was there, and I had no problem committing to the designers and ideas that I did, but I’m glad I went into it with a definitive point of view – because when people walk into the major department stores in spring, I don’t know if they’ll be able to find one. Sure, you’ll see the trends – but inspiration? I’m not so sure.

I really enjoyed what designers like Haider Ackermann, Jonathan Saunders, Victoria Beckham, and Roland Mouret had to say, but beyond that most everything else smelled quite unauthentic. It seemed the creative air was sucked out of the city in some odd way. Paris has always been about the artistry, but more and more it’s become about going “global,” and the art is getting lost.

I understand that the name of the game is the bottom line, but we can’t forget that ingenuity has paved the road to the bottom line for many incredible designers throughout the ages. There is no question that fashion is losing its edge and becoming too commercialized overall. Authenticity is becoming lost and not only is it affecting the subconscious behaviors of consumers, it’s taking an evident toll on the industry itself.

One of the last shows of Fashion Week was Chanel. Karl Lagarfeld transformed the Grand Palais into a Paris Boulevard and it seemed, a feminist protest. Models strutted together in a large group, shouting with and without megaphones, carrying posters to protest…I don’t know what, or more importantly perhaps, why. Was it a protest of fashion? Quite honestly it left me feeling confused, not inspired.

It seemed there was a sense of anti-fashion off of the runway as well. I couldn’t help but notice the fashion bloggers who are usually very well dressed were a bit more casual in Paris. I saw a lot of boy jeans and white shirts and man-style shoes, indicating that none of them wanted to fall into fashion? I got the sense that Tommy Ton didn’t know what or who to shoot because everyone was dressed so similarly. Nary a Christian Louboutin heel or Céline bag could be found. The tone was definitely toned down and it felt unsettling to me that people were holding back.

Other unsettling news came via WWD where I learned that New York would be adding five new 250k square foot department stores to the borough of Manhattan. Why? So they can sell everything on sale? So the conglomerates that own a great deal of the fashion space can continue to seek a dominant space in the market? At what price?

Quite often I feel like Vanessa Freidman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic of the New York Times, is one of the only other people who sees what I see, and is willing to talk about it. If you read her articles it’s clear she wants to know what the purpose is of fashion these days, and why the industry is behaving as it is. What’s going on and what’s it really all about? Do we need another paparazzi picture of Kim and Kanye arriving late to a fashion show?

Unfortunately, my need for authenticity and integrity wasn’t quite satiated this season. It seemed the designers wanted to say or demand something, but they didn’t quite know what it was – and it’s for this reason that the reaction of the industry to build more toward dominance seems quite counterproductive at this time.

My hope is that the industry starts to see and dismantle the hamster wheel they’ve built for consumers to build an appetite with, and instead find ways to encourage consumption that has some meaning behind it. Find a way to encourage originality and authenticity, and understand that people want to devour that even more.

Meanwhile…I’m walking around the city streets of Paris wearing pieces that I brought from Boston. Pieces from Louis, past and present – all mixed up but with a distinct point of view. People were stopping me, asking me how I put things together – finally something to talking about!

…and so I ask, do you really care where Kim and Kanye are today?

Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret

(all images: style.com)

No Categories. No Repeats. No Hesitations.

I suppose it makes it easier for everyone when fashion and fabric are separated into categories. And it’s probably safe to assume that when the typical consumer walks into a department store, large or small, it’s easier to ask where the silk blouses are so both they, and the sales person, will know exactly what the shopper is referring to.

But to be honest with you I’m beginning to feel like the “category” has seen its day, and that day is passing – at Louis anyway.
Right now, when you walk into Louis, you’ll find carefully curated pieces that don’t fall absentmindedly into any particular category, and that’s just the way I wanted it. Designers including SUNO, GOAT and Proenza Schouler have all created spectacular garments in matching and/or coordinating fabric that ironically make them some of the most versatile pieces you’ll find for the Fall 2014 season. While pants are pants, and skirts are skirts, and dresses are dresses – what goes along with them are not tops, blouses, or jackets. Instead they are pieces that compel you to discover how you want to embrace and incorporate them into your life. Wear them together or wear them apart – they are stunning, and they are going to allow you to really own your individuality.

The other half of the affair I’m having with fashion this fall has arrived in the exploration of innovative fabrication. From GOAT’s denim wool crepe fabric, to Proenza’s viscose knits and razored leather and wool, to Otto’s ultrasuede, to Simone Rocha, Alice Roi, Jonathan Simkhai, and Jacquemus’ bold and beautiful use of neoprene, technology has gone further than it ever has and is ultimately answering the needs of a generation.

Neoprene? Yes. Neoprene. Invented by DuPont scientists in 1930, it thrills me to no end that designers have taken hold and are using it for something other than what it was originally made for – as they should! The fabric has incredible flexibility, provides stunning shape and volume, and keeps you warm without adding any additional weight.

Even after all this time that I’ve been in the business, I still find a fashion season like this to be incredible. Overflowing with innovation that gives us all an opportunity to honor those who refuse to fit into a category and purposefully create things that should be seen and touched and APPRECIATED.

For those who find satisfaction in discovery…I look forward to meeting the women who are bold enough to wear these looks this season.

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GOAT

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SUNO / Proenza Schouler Shoes

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Jacquesmus / Robert Clergerie Shoes

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Proenza Schouler / Paul Andrew Shoes

Thomas Tait – He Belongs To The World Now

If you’re into design – and if you’re reading this I know that you are – you already know that Canadian-born, London-trained designer Thomas Tait won the Inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize yesterday.

What you may not know is that I literally searched for and found Thomas Tait when he was finishing his MA at Central Saint Martins in London way back in 2010. Shortly after he won the Dorchester Collection fashion prize that year I saw his work in an editorial spread in some British fashion publication. I sent my assistant on a wild chase, and of course she found him, and we met for the first time in his publicist’s office.

If memory serves, he had 10 pieces in his first collection, and in January of 2011 I placed my order for fall. After that we were the only store in the US to carry his line – for at least two seasons. Since that time, WWD is reporting that Tait has found a home in only 10 specialty stores…and that number still includes LOUiS!

When I reflect on what it was about Thomas that made me fall for his work, I know it was because he fulfilled my never-ending quest to find something new. I’m never interested in regurgitation, but I am always interested in innovation that moves fashion forward. And that is what he is doing! Also, I had done a lot of work with Jil Sander in the 90’s and Thomas’s minimalist approach and astute attention to the detail of his craft reminded me so much of her. If you’ve ever seen a piece from any of his collections you know that nothing he creates leaves the factory until the garment is absolutely perfect, inside and out. These are not qualities you can learn necessarily, they are qualities you are born with.

Yesterday, after hearing the news, I was thrilled to be able to send him a text message to congratulate him and let him know how proud I was of him and all that he has now accomplished. His endearing response of, “I can’t wait to tell you all about it,” left me feeling, well…special.

Then I got this text from an old friend I approached about investing in Thomas Tait years ago:

“I should have listened to you.”

That was all it said.

And this is where things become bittersweet for me because I know that Thomas Tait belongs to the world now. My hope is that the industry will do their job well and continue to elevate him, with respect, to exactly where he should be.

Of the 11 finalists in the LVMH New Designer competition, Louis carries 8 of them; so now there are 7 other designers, including Suno, Simon Porte Jacquemus, Tim Coppens, and Simone Rocha, yet to be discovered at 60 Northern Ave. Are you going to wait for LVMH to tell you how spectacular they are, or should you simply come and see so for yourself?

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Holiday Hours 2012

Holiday hours at Louis  is as follows:

Monday, 12/24 11am -4pm
Tuesday, 12/25 CLOSED, Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, 12/26 – Sunday, 12/30 regular hours
Monday, 12/31 CLOSED, Happy New Year!
Tuesday, 1/1 CLOSED, Welcome 2013!

Wishing you and your’s a most wonderful holiday season from the Louis family.