- Moncler's head of international relations, Phivos Lampros Istavrioglou, was arrested in New York after allegedly stealing a Salvador Dali painting (pictured above) in 2012. [Telegraph]
- Meanwhile, two men have robbed the De Beers boutique in Printemps, making away with up to $4 million in stolen goods. [WWD]
- Fendi will take to its Facebook page and website to live stream its Fall 2013 show tomorrow, Feb. 20 at 6:30 a.m. The brand will also stream preshow content, including a backstage diary, on Fendi.com. [POPSUGAR Fashion News Inbox]
- J.Crew has teamed up with Charitybuzz to auction off a lunch meeting with creative director Jenna Lyons to benefit IS 289 Hudson River Middle School. Her time doesn't come cheap, though — the estimated value of the package is $10,000. [Styleite]
More of the fashion news you need to know, right here.
>> Alessandra Fachinetti marks her return to fashion — after a three-year hiatus following her exit from Valentino in 2008 — with her new line, Uniqueness. Shown in a presentation today at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the 24-look debut collection is meant to blur the line between seasons. “I alternated timeless pieces with more eccentric styles, mixing practical, sophisticated, and childlike accents,” Fachinetti explained.
Valentino Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli "Loved" Working with Fired Designer Alessandra Facchinetti
>> According to Valentino CEO Stefano Sassi, if the brand's numbers stay strong through Christmas, it will be in the black again for the first time since the London-based private equity group Permira bought it in 2007.
When Sassi joined the company in 2006, to say that the company was without structure or fiscal discipline is an understatement, he told WSJ. Of Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino Garavani's longtime business partner, Sassi said: "He is a fox, but also he was dangerous. He was a great communicator and he created an exclusive image, but if you compare what Armani was doing at the same age, now he was an entrepreneur.”
When Garavani retired in 2008, he had for years been only putting effort into the couture collection and the ready-to-wear runway shows. An accessories line — which now accounts for half the brand’s total revenue — didn't exist until 2000, and he left others to the pre-collections, which now make up 75 percent of sales.
When Alessandra Facchinetti took over after Garavani's retirement, she was critically acclaimed, but Sassi says that only 28 percent of her Fall 2008 collection sold at full price. And: “She was interested in one variable. We had 25 variables. And the more the critics talked about her genius, the less she listened [to management].”
Current Valentino creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, were the brand's accessories designers at the time and say they didn't angle to take the head job after Garavani's retirement. “We loved working with [Facchinetti],” Chiuri told WSJ.
But they took over after Facchinetti was fired at the end of 2008 and have brought a younger slant to the brand: their runway shows are mostly day wear, as opposed to Garavani's mostly evening wear. And they've brought positive momentum to the brand: sales were up 10 percent for the first six months of 2010, and store traffic is up 15 percent.
As for Garavani, who attended the most recent show in October and gave a standing ovation? Sassi says his presence is a mixed blessing: “Yes, you want the founder’s approval, but you also want to show that you are forging your own way. Do you want people to think he is OK with the things you’re doing? Yes. But do you want them to think that it is business as usual? I’m not sure.”
>> Alessandra Facchinetti Has Been Busy on Vacation —There have been rumors that Alessandra Facchinetti is involved in Tom Ford's forthcoming womenswear line, and although she recently laughed off questions about what she's been working on (and gave no other hints), there is one thing she has been doing for sure: vacationing. She recently spent two weeks in New York, undergoing intensive ballet training (“I’ve always referenced ballet in my work,” she explained. “The fragility, the pale colors, the elegance.”), and is currently spending a few days holidaying in Paris, then Tuscany, then Sardinia. [Vogue]
>> It's just been a matter of time. The first murmurs of Tom Ford expanding into womenswear came way back in February, and today come reports that in the wake of his directorial debut A Single Man being picked up last week by The Weinstein Company (who will likely put it into play for the Oscars with a limited December release), Ford is seeking funding for a foray into a women's line.
The amount sought is to the tune of $50 million or more, according to a report from two unnamed sources by private equity site peHUB, and the search just began in the last two weeks. The original rumor from February had Alessandra Facchinetti, who was top womenswear designer under Ford at Gucci, heading up the new line for Ford; she still hasn't publicly popped up anywhere else, so it's still a possibility . . .
Fall 2009 Couture Bits: Christian Lacroix Paid Models 50 Euros, Cathy Horyn Warns Valentino Might Give Wearers "A Rash"
- Models fees are required in France, so Christian Lacroix chipped in to pay his 10 models 50 euros apiece. Normal couture fees are said to be around 1300 euros per show for new faces — every year of experience earns a "raise" of about 1000 more euros. [Imaginary Socialite]
- Jean Paul Gaultier had a 12-lb dress, Chanel had three seamstresses working on the bride look, and Maison Martin Margiela used 2,000 pen caps for a jacket: it's Fall 2009 couture by the numbers. [The Cut]
- Cathy Horyn yearns for Alessandra Facchinett's Valentino; Of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli's couture, she says: "Frankly I’d be worried about getting too close to one of those prickly, encrusted numbers. You might get a rash." [On the Runway] Couture clients, a video of Chanel couture in the making »
>> Tom Ford pulled a Karl Lagerfeld for Spring 2009, taking over shooting his brand's ads from Terry Richardson. Some shots featured Karen Elson sporting his eyewear, prompting a new round of that ever-present question — is Tom Ford doing womenswear? It did used to be his forte, after all.
Turns out there is hope — circulating Milan Fashion Week is the rumor that Alessandra Facchinetti, who was unceremoniously dumped by Valentino last season, is currently working on Ford's nascent womenswear line. Most appropriate, since Facchinetti was top womenswear designer under Ford at Gucci, before taking over when he left that brand.
>> When Valentino Garavani released a statement categorically denying that he had anything to do with the design of his former accessory designers's first collection for the label, perhaps it was because he knew what was going to come down the runway today.
As Valentino and partner Giancarlo Giammetti sat front row, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli sent out a collection that looked as though Valentino could have designed it himself; it was pure homage. Not to say that that didn't leave something to be wanted — there was no hint of the new designers' personalities, as if they still wished to be the invisible accessory designers, and this suggestion was reiterated by the fact that the show's programs had neither Chiuri's nor Piccioli's names listed. I, for one, am missing the categorically ousted Alessandra Facchinetti — her couture was fresh, sumptuous — unlike this collection — and with character.
>> Last week Hermes had to deal with a belligerent heir, and this week, Gucci is caught up in a spy scandal — anyone want to guess what drama will round out the three?
The brand's offices in Florence, Milan, and Rome were searched this week as part of an investigation of illegal access to the Italian Ministry of Interior's data bank. Last year, Carlo Del Bo, Gucci's former head of security, was arrested for illicitly obtaining information to help the brand fight conterfeits. A Gucci spokesman said that the brand was unaware of Del Bo's methods to unearth the information and is "fully cooperating with the authorities."
Gucci is the latest target to be pulled into into the ongoing "Spy Story" scandal; Alessandra Facchinetti, former head of womenswear at Gucci — who hasn't had a great year already — was revealed in July to be a target of another wiretapping scandal connected to Del Bo's arrest. Her phone conversations were tapped illegally for unclear reasons.