Is Ellen DeGeneres Our Next Big Celebrity Megabrand?

Is Ellen the next Jessica Simpson, Martha Stewart or even Oprah?
According to today's WWD, she may well be.

In a major article and accompanying interview, Ellen DeGeneres announces a partnership with J. Christopher Burch's company Burch Creative Capital that will launch the E.D. brand (to be pronounced 'Ed') with a capsule collection this Holiday season. This is no licensing side project, but a enterprise meant to support the next phase of DeGeneres' career beyond the life of her comedy performance and the talk show to which she is contractually obligated for at least the next three years. Meant to be accessibly priced, it will be sold through third party retailers and, as of yet, there are no plans for freestanding stores like Burch's most prominent post-Tory Burch success, C. Wonder

Who knew that Ellen was such a tastemaker? Apparently, she has not only been an enormously successful house flipper over the years but also an obsessive design fan who is expected to be instrumental in directing product development of the home and garden items, men's and women's clothing and accessories and pet products that are slated to form the initial core of the brand. The Holiday season launch will consist mainly of gift items and will be in partnership with a yet to be announced major online retail partner (Amazon? Macy's?). The main product line debuts will be for Spring 2015, which is when the real test will begin. That is when we will find out if Degeneres has the kind of fashion credibility outside of the entertainment sector needed to drive such an ambitious enterprise. Her androgynous personal style is deceptively sophisticated, and DeGeneres has a cosmetics contract with Cover Girl that often plays on the contrast between her no-frills look by pairing her with fellow Cover Girl Sofia Vergara to comic effect in advertisements. Even in her '90s sitcom days, however, she was often decked out in designer labels like Dries Van Noten's menswear lines, and her recent Academy Awards tuxedos were custom made by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent but but she is not known as the kind of glamorous style icon that makes fashion headlines. Perhaps we have been defining that role too narrowly. She has developed a devoted following for her TV show by not only focusing on the obvious, glittery celebrity guests but also turning attention to (and often making new celebrities out of) everyday folks and homemade viral videos. It could be her populist touch that could make the difference between real success and being just another celebrity marketing flameout. While she has been low-key about her longtime interest in design up until now, she is not shy about her ambitions for her nascent brand. “They say we’re going to be on another planet soon, right?” DeGeneres tells WWD. “I’m going to be the first brand on that planet.”
She probably shouldn't be underestimated.

Ellen's Next Gig: Lifestyle Guru (WWD)


Harvey Weinstein Licenses The
Charles James Brand For Revival

The Costume Institute exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum only opened today, but its ripple effects are already being felt. Perhaps it is the massive media coverage that the Met Ball now receives, but Charles James is already a more well known designer than he has been for decades, and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is already poised to take advantage of it. After Monday's Gala, he swiftly negotiated a deal with the late designer's children and heirs to license the name with an option to buy the rights outright for an undisclosed amount. His plans include relaunching the Charles James label as a luxury ready-to-wear brand aimed at high-end retailers with plans for fragrances, accessories and everything everything else that such a brand entails. Marchesa designer (and, not inconsequentially, also Mrs. Weinstein) Georgina Chapman and her brother, Marchesa CEO Edward Chapman have been named as Creative Consultants to the brand. The press release quotes the uber-producer, “Charles James was one of the most incredible couturiers in the history of fashion and this label deserves to be a household name in same ranks as Chanel, Dior, and Oscar de la Renta. There isn’t a single designer in high fashion who wouldn’t name him as a major influence. We are beyond thrilled to be spearheading the revival of this brand and bringing it back to the world’s finest retailers."

Weinstein has also revealed plans to back a tour of Charles James: Beyond Fashion show after its run ends this Summer, which, let's be honest, will be a great way for him to promote his new brand to a public who, at this point is still mostly unaware of the designer who was never exactly a household word in his heyday. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is Weinstein's ill-fated attempt to join the string of Halston revivals a few years ago which famously tapped actress Sarah Jessica Parker as a creative advisor to much publicity. Though it spawned the successful, contemporary Halston Heritage label, the effort to revive the high-end component of the brand fizzled as the others had before it. Weinstein and Parker ultimately exited the brand, and it is now in the hands of another set of owners who, yes, are planning their own revival for the seasons to come. There are two ways of looking at this. We will find out in the coming seasons whether Weinstein has learned from his mistakes at Halston and is ready for the challenge of another obscure brand relaunch, or if he should just leave the fashion business to the fashion people like his wife and stick to the movies.

Harvey Weinstein to Resurrect the House of Charles James (The Cut)
The Costume Institute Cleanses The Palate With Charles James: Beyond Fashion At The Metropolitan Museum


H&M Snaps Back To Form As Isabel Marant Collaboration Sells Swiftly

Those of you who thought you might take it easy and wait for the crowds to pass on to shop H&M's Isabel Marant collaboration, like you might have last year with the Maison Martin Margiela team-up, will be disappointed. A more accessible designer with a loyal cult following did the trick for the Swedish chain yesterday morning as the barricaded sections that featured the collection within H&M's twelve Manhattan stores were dramatically diminished by midday yesterday. While the Margiela line didn't click with H&M's customer, and wound up on sale in abundance only a few weeks later, Marant's eclectic lineup of signature looks from her runways checked quickly even though as company expanded the line's distribution even further than in past seasons. Our random check of a few H&M's yesterday (SoHo, Columbus Circle pictured above) showed that her first menswear offerings were even more sold-through than the women's line. Shoes and accessories were particularly scarce in stores, and it is unlikely that there will be enough goods to display prominently by the end of today. Congratulations to H&M for returning to form in one of its most significant marketing efforts.

Of course, this is the first time that these collaborations have been available online in the U.S., and another random chack this morning showed some sell-outs, mostly broken sizes, but, on the whole a reasonable amount of availability on most items, so you may not have completely missed the boat yet. There's still some time to buy online, but don't dawdle.

Isabel Marant pour H&M (Shop online)


Opening Ceremony To Launch H&M's COS In-Store & Online Next Week

Once again showing how it is one of New York's most dynamic retailers, Opening Ceremony will be the first store in America to offer H&M's more upscale COS brand. Though the European chain is slated to debut its own flagship on Spring Street next Spring, next Friday October 11, a COS pop-up shop will introduce the label to New Yorkers in Opening Ceremony's Howard Street Store and its merchandise will also become available on the store's website.

"We see COS as a completely separate brand from H&M," cofounders of Opening Ceremony, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, tell WWD, "COS is a fashion-industry favorite for those who often travel to London and Paris and haven’t been able to get the collection in the U.S. until now. We’re excited to share our love of this brand with our New York customers for the first time.” They compare it to the way their store sold several collections from Topshop including designer collaboration lines, for a few years before that chain finally entered the U.S. market officially with its own flagship store in New York. Coincidentally (or maybe not) the COS Pop-up will open barely a week before Opening Ceremony debuts H&M award winning designer Minju Kim's collection in association with the Swedish fast fashion giant. Should we look for more collaborations between these two fast paced though very different companies? Nobody's saying anything, but Opening Ceremony's SoHo store will definitely be the place to keep an eye on this month.

COS to Open N.Y. Pop-up Shop at Opening Ceremony (WWD)
Opening Ceremony To Sell H&M's Design Awards Winner + COS Coming To SoHo + All Of Isabel Marant's Men's Looks