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The Gap Says It's Already Christmastime

Yes, the leaves on the trees are just in the midst of changing, but as The Shophound Strolled past the Gap store on lower Fifth Avenue yesterday, it appears that the chain has decided to skip Autumn and Thanksgiving and head straight for Christmas. The early onset of Holiday shopping promotion has been with us for quite some time now, and there aren't strict rules, exactly, but, generally, shoppers shouldn't be seeing holiday decorations or windows until about a week or so before Thanksgiving —two at the earliest. In fact, pushing Holiday shopping before that tends to seem annoying, not to mention tasteless, and shoppers generally hate it.
Not so at the Gap, however. The giant illuminated snowflakes are now securely installed in the store's windows for at least the next two months (pictured above). The mannequins are swathed in festive knitted hats, sweaters and scarves (it was 71˚ Fahrenheit outside yesterday) and the message on the window, in case the point was not yet clear, reads: "Warmest Wishes. Give Joy, Give Love." Inside, the store's walls are festooned with more snowflakes and gift boxes with messages like "Give Gifts, Give Love" posted around the store (pictured below).
While we appreciate the extra work it takes to get a store, let alone an entire chain, ready for Holiday shopping, we also know that it is possible to get things started too early. It makes us appreciate all the more stores like Nordstrom, which has staunchly followed a holiday decorating rule of putting up Holiday decorations on the day after Thanksgiving and taking them down immediately after Christmas. Perhaps when they finally arrive in Manhattan, their example will offer some stronger influence to stores that just can't help themselves from jumping the gun.


Lanvin Employees In Turmoil Following Alber Elbaz Dismissal

Alber Elbaz takes his final bow at Lanvin's Spring/Summer 2016 runway show in a still from the video on Lanvin's website

While the luxury industry's collective head is still spinning from the unexpected turn of events at some of the most prominent labels in Paris, it looks like the story of Alber Elbaz at Lanvin might not be completely over. WWD is reporting that the house's 330 employees are devastated that the beloved designer has been pushed out and are using whatever resources available to them to protest. The company's works council, an employee board that that French companies apparently have, is demanding that Taiwan-based Lanvin owner Shawn-Lan Wang return to Paris to answer their concerns and hear their pleas to reinstate Elbaz. 
Shortly after Elbaz's departure from Lanvin was confirmed, it became clear that he did not resign, but was dismissed by the owner over disagreements not about the label's creative direction or his workload, but about business issues, specifically, Ms. Wang's failure to secure sufficient financing to successfully support Lanvin's continued growth. Elbaz, along with other minority shareholders, have been pressuring her to sell her majority stake to someone better able to fund the company's expansion, specifically the rollout of more company owned boutiques. This is an area where Lanvin lags behind its competitors, receiving only about 20% of its revenue from its own stores, causing it to rely too heavily on the wholesale business. This has slowed Lanvin's growth as well as development of ancillary divisions like handbags and accessories. WWD had previously reported that Ms. Wang has been reluctant to sell, demanding too high of a price for the company and requiring a handpicked buyer which .
Whether Lanvin's employees have the clout to reverse their boss's decision, or Elbaz will even return if asked remains to be seen, but it seems that Ms. Wang has not only turned out her golden goose, but also alienated the rest of the company, whose support she will need to move forward.

Lanvin Employees Contest Alber Elbaz Ouster (WWD)


More Than Goth On Madison Avenue Edition

29CRITICAL1-articleLarge-v2À propos of the days before Halloween, Critical Shopper Molly Young makes an excursion to the recently opened Givenchy boutique in today's Thursday Styles. Riccardo Tisci's version of Givenchy is offering possibly the darkest, witchiest vision in luxury fashion these days, and while it is frequently described as "Goth", it has really evolved into more of a moody, baroque aesthetic with tinges of mysticism. Our shopper seems to enjoy her visit noting that the gallery-like boutique seems to welcome all,

Givenchy is also a great place to encounter beauty, no matter what your tax bracket. Looking is free, after all. The salesmen are warm and offer coffee. You can stare at $22,000 velvet dresses and silk blouses with an all-over centaur print ($4,195). You can flip through books by Marina Abramovic.

It's the sort of successful brand statement that makes sense of the fashion in-joke of using competitor Donatello Versace as this season's campaign model, and given the dodgy job security of running a Parisian couture house these days, a strong brand image is Tisci's best form of employment insurance.

Critical Shopper: Givenchy on Madison Avenue Mixes Metaphors, Beautifully By Molly Young (NYTimes)
Givenchy 747 Madison Avenue at 65th Street, Upper East Side


Alber Elbaz Is Leaving Lanvin

So, basically, no designer is secure in his or her job unless they also own the company outright.
Today, on the heels of Raf Simons' exit from Christian Dior, Lanvin announced that the designer who seemed most secure in his position at a great Parisian maison, Alber Elbaz, would be leaving his job as creative director there following a disagreement with the company's major shareholder.
The obvious conjecture is that much as they did with Nicolas Ghesquiere, who left Balenciaga and landed at Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault and LVMH will scoop up the much loved designer and install him in the corresponding post at Dior that Raf Simons just vacated.
Whether or not that will happen, and the hopes of Elbaz's many fans and probably a lot of retailers are certainly pinned on it, remains to be seen, but there is a similar scenario connecting the situations of both Ghesquiere and Elbaz. Both can be credited with not only reviving storied French couture houses which had fallen into quasi obscurity, but reshaping them from the bottom up and catapulting them to the forefront of the fashion scene in Paris. Both departed their respective companies with equity stakes originally meant to keep them tied to the houses and resistant to potential poaching by competing labels. Both left as result of unhappiness with upper management, requiring costly buyouts of their ownership stakes.
A hint of Elbaz's recent state of mind can be gleaned from an acceptance speech he gave just last week when he was honored at Fashion Group International's annual Night of Stars gala, pictured above with presenter Meryl Streep in an Lanvin Instagram post from earlier today. In an unexpectedly long speech, Elba expounded on the relentlessly accelerating pace of the industry and the pressure it puts on designers' creative process. Would Elbaz even want the notoriously high pressure job at Dior which comes with its own limitations and pressures? He has been rumored to have interviewed with LVMH for open design positions in the past, but ultimately choosing to remain at Lanvin where he has had his greatest success. Elbaz released the following departure statement of his own:

"At this time of my departure from Lanvin on the decision of the company’s majority shareholder, I wish to express my gratitude and warm thoughts to all those who have worked with me passionately on the revival of Lanvin over the last 14 years; express my affection to all my wonderful colleagues in the Lanvin ateliers who accompanies me, and who enriched and supported my work. Together we have met the creative challenge presented by Lanvin and have restored its radiance and have returned it to its rightful position among France’s absolute luxury fashion houses.

"I also wish to express my profound and deepest gratitude to all of the clients and friends, to the French and international press and to all those business partners who collaborated with Lanvin, providing us with support since 2001."

"I wish the house of Lanvin the future it deserves among the best French luxury brands, and hope that it finds the business vision it needs to engage in the right way forward."

With two of the biggest design jobs in Paris now open, let the speculations fly, but it must be noted that well-known Elbaz fan and friend Natalie Portman has a fragrance endorsement at Dior, but often appears in Lanvin when her contract allows her to wear other labels. There's one person who would likely be thrilled to keep her favorite designer's clothes coming, regardless of what label he designs under.

Alber Elbaz Leaving Lanvin, Label Confirms (Business of Fashion)


James Perse, The Kooples & MCM Set The Sale Shopping Pace This Week

It's a slightly lighter Sample Sale schedule this week, which is a nice little respite after last week's onslaught of events. It should give everyone a chance to regroup, especially after the Hermès-All-Day-Line-Disaster that traumatized so many —not that there won't be any lines.

Today, our friends at 260 Sample Sale have another double header starting with seasonal favorite JAMES PERSE who takes up residence at 260 Fifth Avenue through Sunday. Longtime Perse fans should know what to expect: Racks of deceptively basic tees, polos and tanks in a variety of subtly different weights and textures, all of them soft and comfortable. The sale is promising up to 75% off retail on all of the label's product lines for men and women including home furnishings. the California-based designer is known for his relaxed, laid-back casual wear, but if you are looking for something a bit more tailored and sleek, then you will be heading to . . .

THE KOOPLES sale, also starting today at 260's SoHo location at 151 Wooster Street. The burgeoning French Sportswear label designed with, yes, couples in mind, will be on sale through Sunday offering men's and women's contemporary apparel as well as accessories and shoes. Look for slim, sleek silhouettes for couples who like to stay coordinated.

On Wednesday, status-minded shoppers can catch up to 70% off women's handbags and accessories form the newly revitalized logo-heavy-brand, MCM. While the first day is always the most attractive day to shop, but this sale is promising daily restocking through Sunday, so a covetable bargain might appear at any time.

The big showroom sales are starting to hit as well with their cavalcades of brands. This week FASHIONHAUS takes center stage featuring RENÉ LEZARD, MARLENE BIRGER, ALLUDE CASHMERE and many more european sportswear labels for three days starting on Wednesday.

Finally, on Sunday, downtown fave designer NILI LOTAN will be taking 60% off apparel and accessories in her TriBeCa boutique through Monday.

As always, keep an eye on our SALE ROLL sidebar at left for details on each sale as well as late-breaking sale news and addition. Next week, two blockbuster showrooms, STAFF USA and AEFFE will clear their excess stock while DEREK LAM's elegant ready-to-wear and 10 CROSBY lines will go on sale. Backpack toters will be converging on HERSCHEL SUPPLY's sale which has been known to feature rock bottom prices on all manner of sporty accessories plus more TBA before the end of the week.


Pop-Ups On The Way From Lands' End, Tie Bar, Spyder
and . . . Marc by Marc Jacobs?

Holiday shopping season is almost upon us, which is the perfect time for any number of companies to get their feet wet in New York's daunting retail scene with pop-up stores. There is possibly no better way to gauge customer interest and get some crucial brand awareness than to have a temporary store on one of the city's high-profile shopping streets. here's a few to look out for with plenty more to come.

The Tie Bar is making a return appearance in the West Village at 411 Bleecker Street with an elegant shop already open and filled with impossibly inexpensive furnishings (pictured above). While even mid-range designer ties can reliably cost more than $100, The Tie Bar's neckwear offerings start at about $19 and rarely hit north of $30. Socks, belts, suspenders and, yes, actual tie bars and clips are all similarly priced, in a setting that could easily double for a much more expensive shop. The former James Perse women's store has been transformed into a genial haberdashery that will be open through the Holidays until January leaving plenty of timer any guy to get himself properly turned out for any occasion.

This week, look for upscale athletic brand Spyder's pop-up store at 68 Greene Street in SoHo to open its doors. We aren't sure exactly how long this one will be with us, but they are bringing the U.S. Ski Team to their opening party, so expect it to be a must-visit destination for the city's serious winter sports men and women while it lasts.

LandsEndPopUp650FifthOn November 11th, that white elephant at 650 Fifth Avenue that used to be the Juicy Couture flagship store (pictured at right) will finally get a decidedly less glitzy occupant as Lands' End moves in for for an extended stay through the end of January. While the longtime mail-order favorite has a small fleet of retail stores as well as a diminishing count of in-store shops in former parent company Sears stores, it has never had a flagship-sized store on this scale in a market like New York. After having been spun off from its flailing parent, Lands' End has been staffing up with some impressive hires including key executives with merchandising experience at places like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and J.Crew. Don't look for the brand to go all haute luxe right away, but an updated fashion image is in the offering. The brand has poached noted menswear designer Ian Velardi away from Bonobos as design director, and we already know he has a gift for adding a modern edge to traditional clothing. If things work out well enough, there's a hint that Lands' End may stay past January depending on the response from Holiday shoppers.

Finally, back own Bleecker Street, there's a bit of a pop-up mystery brewing. The windows at Marc Jacobs' teeny tiny men's store at 382 Bleecker Street have just been blacked out, leaving a message that reads, "Marc by Marc Jacobs Pop-Up Opening August 30th". We all know by now that the Marc by Marc Jacobs label will be history after this season as the line gets re-absorbed by a newly expanded main Marc Jacobs collection. Is the shop staging a final fare-well sale or a greatest hits collection? At the very least, one has to wonder how you can call your own longtime store a pop-up shop? We'll find out on Friday.


Brunello Cucinelli, BOSS Hugo Boss, Rick Owens, Theory, Prada, Birkenstock, TUMI, Nixon Watches, Ermenegildo Zegna, Trina Turk

Here is your weekly sampling of some of the brands you can expect to find on the bigger online Flash Sale Sites this week. You should click over to the sites themselves for a full schedule of events, and be sure to check for the correct start time for each sale. Shop well!

Elizabeth & James, SEE by Chloé, Saint + Libertine, Cole Haan, Michelle Campbell, Versace, Shockoe Artelier, BOSS Hugo Boss, Invicta Watches, Raen Sunglasses, Rick Owens, Paul Bentley, Longines, Archipelago Candles, Errebiacasa Linens —join HERE
Theory, Gurhan Jewelry, Paul & Shark, Carolinna Espinosa, Prada, Ministry of Supply, IPPOLITA, Teri John by Rickie Freeman, HUM Nutrition, Rebecca Minkoff, HANRO, Original Penguin, Raymond Weil, Waterford/Spode, Michael Kors Watches & Accessories, Schylling Classic Toys, Trina Turk, Tommy Bahama, Studio by Capezio, Samuel B, Kenneth Cole New York —join HERE
Birkenstock, Mastrum Outerwear, Farah Vintage, Genetic Denim, Jealous Tomato, Laura Geller Beauty, TUMI, Pajar, Carmen Marc Valvo, Vince Camuto Collection, Nixon Watches, Blackstone, Lorenzo Uomo —join HERE
Burberry, Saint Laurent, PPLA Clothing, Ermenegildo Zegna, Tailor Vintage, Brunello Cucinelli, Mr. Turk, Lipson Shirtmakers, Heidi Klum Intimates, J.A.C.H.S., Ted Baker, Rick Owens, Neil Barrett, KEDS, Sand Copenhagen, Triple Five Soul, Nixon Watches —join HERE


Yesterday's Hermès Sale Line Was A Disaster

By all reports, the line to get into yesterday's Hermès sale at Soiffer Haskin on West 33rd Street was an unmitigated disaster.
In case you were wondering what people will endure to get a reported 60% off the retail price of an Hermès silk scarf or tie or enameled bracelet, it appears that they will endure a line that reportedly extended down 33rd Street all the way to Ninth Avenue, and downtown as far as 31st Street. The first people to get in were in line —or apparently hired people to wait in line for them— at 1 AM on Thursday. As the day wore on, people waited and waited and waited as the line inched forward at a glacial pace, and as late afternoon approached, it was made clear to hundreds of people still on the sidewalk, most of whom had been there for as long as six or seven hours, that there was no possible way they would get inside the sale before it closed at 7 PM.
They were not happy.
We have seen various reports of tears and tantrums, and by anyone's standards, it sounds like it was an ugly scene.
Why was it such a mess? Reports have the staff at Soiffer Haskin letting in a meager number of shoppers inside at a time, and once inside, those shoppers were in no hurry to exit before they scoured every table, rack and shelf to make sure that they weren't missing out on a fabulous hidden find. Normally, this venue is a paragon of efficiency and security with strict coat and bag checks and rules against strollers and bringing children. It is spacious, well furnished and well attended. That is why it is the location of choice to the most exclusive luxury brands when they need to schedule a sample sale, but perhaps, seeing the magnitude of the line, they were perhaps a little bit too cautious in limiting the number of shoppers to avoid the kind of competitive grabbing and elbow throwing that can arise at such sales.
Adding to the anger was the fact that many eager shoppers had saved up funds and waited months for the sale, with many taking time off from work or using vacation days to make sure that they would be able to have a special piece of Hermès by the end of the day. Many would not have the opportunity to return the next day to try again.
Clearly, Soiffer Haskin was taken by surprise yesterday. They have held many Hermès sales in seasons past with many long lines of early rising customers, but we have never heard of anything like this. Why was there such a strong turnout this year? Who knows? From what we have heard, the offerings were not any better than they have been at past sales. Perhaps the people who would normally see the long line and think, "Forget it. No way am I standing in that line for hours," decided to queue up instead of walking away, but the lesson here might be: Instead of spending an entire day waiting for the chance to maybe find something you like at a discount, cut your losses and move on. When they say you have to suffer for fashion, this is not what they mean.

I Waited in That Ridiculous Hermès Sample Sale Line for Eight Hours (Racked NY)
*SAMPLE SALE* Code: Orange (Mizhattan)
Skip the Hermes Sample Sale (Madison Avenue Spy)


Raf Simons Exiting Christian Dior

RafSimons The Fashion world will be driven to distraction for at least the next few weeks trying to predict who will be tapped to fill its most prominent vacancy now that Raf Simons has announced that he is leaving his post as creative director for Christian Dior. In a surprise move, Simons chose not to renew his contract by all reports for personal reasons despite Dior management's efforts to negotiate a deal for him to stay. While his reasons may be clarified in days to come, he wouldn't be the first designer to feel overburdened by the six collections he was responsible for there as couturier and women's prêt-à-porter designer along with his responsibilities at his own Belgian-based menswear label where he originally made his name in the 1990s.
Expect the same names to be bandied about as the last time a prominent vacancy emerged, but speculators should keep in mind that some of the most qualified candidates —Nicolas Ghesquière, Riccardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo etc.— are already ensconced as fashion labels which, like Dior, are controlled  by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault. It is unlikely that they would be moved while the companies where they are currently employed are doing too well for their progress to be disrupted.
The job will have to be filled soon. Any new appointment will have to have a Dior Haute Couture collection for Spring 2016 ready to be shown in January, so let the speculations fly.


Hickey Freeman Heading Back Downtown

HickeyThe Financial District remains a pull for retailers looking to expand in Manhattan, and Brookfield Place is confirming its position as the headquarters for luxury stores with the addition of a new Hickey Freeman boutique slated to open in January next to the upcoming Saks Fifth Avenue store. Commercial Observer is reporting that the fabled men's tailored clothing label has signed a 10-year leaser the 974 square foot store. While Brookfield place has collected an unprecedented group of luxury retailers for the neighborhood together, Hickey Freeman is the kind of merchant —traditional men's clothing— that has always found a home in lower Manhattan with its concentration of office buildings full of men in suits. While its last downtown store was a SoHo outpost for its erstwhile younger label, Hickey, the suit maker has had a rocky run over the past several years, with trouble at its parent companies and changes in ownership and creative direction that stalled its momentum. Things seem to have settled down now, and the brand tapped David Hart, one of GQ's Best New Menswear Designers for 2015, as its creative director earlier this year. The downtown store will be the brand's first under Hart's direction, so it should be a good hint of how a once stodgy suit maker will move forward into the future.

Hickey Freeman Dressing Up Lower Manhattan Dudes With New Store (Commercial Observer)