Spring/Summer 2016 Louis Vuitton

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Bosses at Louis Vuitton must be smiling like Cheshire cats, grinning from ear to ear, maybe even turning cartwheels – as well they should be. Fashion is in the flux of a game of musical chairs, again, and even the houses that aren’t, rumours will always circulate around them. But wow did Vuitton get it right when it hired Nicolas Ghesquière, who presented another stellar collection at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation this morning on the final day of Paris Fashion Week.

A computerised voice introduced the spring/summer 2016 show as “A journey to the frontiers of the digital era”. Who knew where Ghesquière’s spirited parade of intergalactic punky girls were headed? Through some virtual parallel universe or to some underground nightclub – wherever it was, with that awesome wardrobe, we wanted in.

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Inspired by the heroines in video games: be they slayers, warriors, or upstart vixens, he hit refresh on the urban wardrobe and it packed a powerful punch. Models whose hands were banded in leather ready for fighting had a gait that was fast and mechanical. They wore rebooted kilts in studded leather with looped strapping, waistcoats in the classic graphic damier check, or leather jackets dripping in jangling zips and tricks with sleeves painted in red stripes and the house signature monogram.

A series of over-dyed washed silks were worked into jumpsuits, ankle-skimming gowns with studded bibs, or into a trench coat that looked like buttery suede. Ghesquière also brought back the return of colour-blocked Bermuda shorts and the bubble skirt, that Eighties favourite, now reprised in white cotton poplin. Their armoury included the mini locket bag studded and tasselled, and a larger carryall; imagine a bin bag bunched at the top, and carried on its side. Grounded with whip-stitched creeper sandals or polished steel toe-cap cowboy boots, it was romantic and tough in equal measures, and mined the house’s savoir-faire; craftsmanship was as much front and centre as the fantastical ideas. This was Ghesquière’s best collection yet, and a highlight of the entire season.

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Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Louis Vuitton

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PARIS Fashion Week might be winding down but the clothes on the catwalk just kept getting better. Three seasons in and Nicolas Ghesquiere is undoubtedly feeling more confident in his Louis Vuitton artistic director role – this a collection that continued to combine that clever blend of savvy, rock ‘n’ roll and retro that so belongs to his girl and bring with it a real sense of him, what he did back in his smash-hit Balenciaga days.

He and Hedi Slimane are both designers that very much cater to that certain breed of “cool girl” and while Slimane sticks to his guns of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy, Ghesquiere gave his girl a whole new wardrobe this season. It felt fresh, it felt exciting and there was a lot to love – mental shopping lists were being compiled here, starting with the vanity case bags that so suitably riffed on the luggage heritage of the house, and ending with the retro shaggy coats that had a wonderful passed-down feel about them, the light catching them in such a way that a yellow fleck had a lovely aged quality as though the pieces had once belonged to your very cool mum back in the day.

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In between and it was about cute ribbed knits with peekaboo cut-out décolletage details, their edges gently curling up, one covered in diamante. There were the most perfect leather miniskirts that came with two-inch incisions slicing into them – it was about that level of detail, that all made it dreamy.

Chain belts dangled with silver medallions and the signature Damier Louis Vuitton check was transposed in fuzz on skirt and jacket looks to feel really special. Tailoring throughout was impeccable and that opening series of super shaggy jackets was all about a wonderful enveloping volume, a supersized nod to Margot Tenenbaum perhaps.

Still complete with Ghesquiere’s magic touch, it had moved on – more of him coming through to great and covetable effect.

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Personal Shopping

How Personal Shopping Makes People Spend

At the luxury level, personal shopping services make customers spend significantly more. How do these services work? And can they work on the high street?

 “Anything is possible… there is no limit as to what you can request.” So says the ‘By Appointment’ personal shopping service offered by Harrods in London. Indeed, the store’s personal shopping team can track down a specific piece of fine jewellery, host a private in-store runway show or organise a one-on-one fitting with a designer.

At the luxury level, personal shoppers don’t just provide styling advice. They complete a client’s Christmas shopping list, open a store after hours, conduct clothing alterations, even host birthday parties. At Louis Vuitton, the brand’s highest-spending clients are invited to exclusive events and offered all-expense-paid trips to the label’s runway shows, escorted by their own dedicated salesperson. Whilst at Harvey Nichols, the personal shopping suite has a shower room, so customers can get ready to wear their purchase that same night.

Of course, putting on these services — the private lounges, the dedicated staff — is a major investment. But the business logic is simple: the more personal attention you give a certain kind of customer — and the more products you put in front of them — the more they will spend.

How much more? “It can increase a sale to grow almost 100 percent on average,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group. “Imagine a person going into a store to buy a new skirt; personal shopping can turn that skirt into an outfit.”

So how does it work? Firstly, it’s about increasing exposure to product. During a personal shopping appointment, a customer is introduced to more products that they would otherwise consider. If a client is looking for a dress, the personal shopper’s may also attempt to cross-sell them shoes, bag and jewellery to match. Secondly, curation. Personal shoppers do the leg-work to find product based on a client’s budget, tastes and the occasion for which they may be shopping. Thirdly, psychology. Inside the changing room, when the clothes come off, barriers come down and vulnerabilities surface. The personal shopper can become salesperson, confidant and a trusted second opinion. And, finally, service. While there is usually no obligation to buy in some stores personal shoppers work on commission. Walking out empty handed after attentive one-on-one service is a difficult move for a client to pull off.

In some respects, luxury personal shopping services are preaching to the converted: you’d only book an appointment if you were already planning to spend. “The people that may be attracted to these services will typically be their most loyal and high-spending customers anyway,” said Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte.

Personal Shopping at Selfridges

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Personal Shopping at Harrods

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In the last few years, these services have trickled down from the luxury sector to the mass market, where brand loyalty is harder to come by and the average customer spend isn’t so high. Can personal shopping work on the high street?

High street fashion retailer Topshop opened its first personal shopping suite five years ago at its Oxford Circus flagship, in response to the increasing demand for the store’s ‘Style Advisor’ services. Soulmaz Vosough, head of global personal shopping at Topshop. “We are excited to be able to offer our customers a service that has historically been the domain of the luxury market. Our customers feel they are getting an exclusive service, yet it’s open to all — we like to think of it as an accessible exclusivity.”

Ahead of a personal shopping appointment at Topshop, this reporter had a telephone call with a representative to discuss my sizing, style and wishlist. Having briefed them on a “classic summer look,” I arrived to complimentary coffee, cakes and magazines in the store’s personal shopping suite. Inside the changing room — at least thrice the size of the average Topshop fitting room and bedecked with sofas, scatter cushions and thick-pile rugs — a personal shopper talked me through the ten outfits she had selected.

“This is definitely a growth area,” said Perkins. “There are definite signs of growth from the high street retailers and there has been a huge change into a more fragmented offer that targets different areas and different consumers.”

Personal Shopping at Topshop

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Spring/Summer 2015 Louis Vuitton

IN truth, Nicolas Ghesquiére had us at hello. Everything surrounding Louis Vuitton show was nothing short of spectacular. It began with the awe-inspiring sight of the new Louis Vuitton Foundation, a Frank Gehry-designed curvaceous mega space in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne that gleaned in the morning sunlight atop a rippling pond like a gargantuan spaceship. The sight of it might just be the most Instagrammed picture of the entire season.

Show goers meandered their way around it, snapping from every angle before making their way downstairs through a maze of open-mirrored corridors and into its dark basement with walls of transparent screens, its runway lit by nothing more than the strong beams of spotlight rows (stand in one and you might just be beamed up to somewhere else on planet Louis Vuitton).

It turned out, those transparent screens were projectors where models’ faces appeared to deliver a welcome monologue, describing the Foundation as a “ship surrounded by a woodland” and ending it with, “the journey starts here”. It all felt eerily sci-fi. With that, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence played out and Londoner Jean Campbell emerged.

Ghesquiére built on his girl of last season, with a collection that skimmed from preppy to Americana to Seventies. This cool retro A-line silhouette continued, now pieced together in diagonal stripes of navy and red eel skin. It developed into a tapestry-printed velvet line up of cropped flares and quilted biker jackets, button-bibbed white woven dresses and others covered in black micro sequins. There were so many desirable separates; belted cargo jackets, raw indigo denim jeans with just enough interest going on with the seaming, and white leather trousers printed in all kinds of matter, from matchstick boxes to hairdryers to headphones.

The bags also got a starring role here today: a denim-looking leather purse with chain strap, and stonking clasp mechanism; the new LV logo (the very same one shines like a beacon from outside the Foundation in hammered silver) is the one to covet now.

Ghesquiére cemented his arrival at this house and confidently swept his audience up in the bold new direction in which he’s steering this mothership, the jewel in the LVMH crown. We were all aboard, and then some. The music, the venue, the casting, the believability of these clothes, his girl, the execution of it all combined, arguably made it the show of the season.Untitled

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To shop more visit: www.louisvuitton.com or click below to shop Spring/Summer 2015 Louis Vuitton collection: