Filed under: Apparel
The web isn't just for bargains. Some of the top luxury lifestyle brands in the world are turning to the internet to beef up their sales -- a must in a market where brick-and-mortar is lagging in the all-important holiday season. Giorgio Armani and Valentino Fashion Group, which have generally steered clear of the prolies shopping online, are changing their attitudes, as they have had to cope with the most severe recession in seventy years. Roberto Cavalli and Salvatore Ferragamo have joined the fray, too, both opening online stores in the past month.
In addition to younger buyers who are more comfortable skipping the store, a sense of "luxury shame" is causing many to turn to the web. The anonymity, once reserved for porn purchases, allows customers to indulge in big-ticket buys without having to endure looks of envy (or worse). If you need proof that luxury spending is going digital, take a look at Italy. This year, online sales of Italian luxury products are expected to surge 42 percent to $500 million, according to a study by Politecnico. Last year, it fell six percent for the luxury goods industry as a whole. In Italy, around 14 percent of holiday shopping will occur ont eh web, according to Deloitte's 2009 Christmas Survey.
The luxury industry's online endeavors are not limited to traditional stores, though Stefano Sassi, Valentino's CEO, notes that the startup costs are lower and that "There's a very interesting margin on e-commerce" as a result. Armani has launched applications for smartphones, including the iPhone and Blackberry and has launched a Christmas website.
Filed under: Decor
Designer Giorgio Armani showed his latest Armani Prive line in Paris recently but as usual the permatan Italian has multiple irons on the fire. His Armani/Casa division will be responsible for creating the interior of exclusive apartments in Rome in the Cavour220 project. The project will consist of 62 units in a historical block composed of six linked buildings around a central garden along the Via Cavour which leads to the Coliseum.
Owners will be able to customize the units personal tastes on the basis of layouts and finishes proposed by Armani/Casa, admittedly likely a narrow range. Armani is famous for his minimalist style, a look that was shown to great effect in his designs for a Manhattan high-rise. In a statement published by Reuters, Armani said that the ancient buildings will be transformed into a "prestigious, sophisticated, cutting-edge residential complex." The apartments will be ready for occupancy next year.
Filed under: Celebrity Design
It looks like aging action hero Bruce Willis, 54, and his new supermodel wife Emma Heming, 32, are trying out to be the next Brad and Angelina. The pair just shot a sizzling cover feature for the new W magazine with a decidedly kinky S&M theme. (Click here for all the pix which fyi include a couple of rather risqué shots.) The couple, who got married married in the Turks and Caicos in March, are in amazing shape, which makes sense considering Heming is a lingerie model and they met at the Los Angeles gym of their trainer, Gunnar Peterson, in 2005. Photographed by Steven Klein, the saucy shoot is of course peppered with luxury clothing and accessories, including above a Dior leather jacket, Eres lingerie and half of a Giorgio Armani tuxedo. You can read the accompanying cover story here and learn about what went on behind the scenes at the shoot here.
Filed under: Yachts & Sailing
Some of the world's most beautiful yachts are having a tough time selling right now. Mariu is a stunning 163-foot yacht that has berths for 12 guests that was originally built for Giorgio Armani and has an interior done in Armani's sleek minimalist style. The yacht was built by Codecasa in 2003 and was available for charter for a time. The yacht is for sale with Large Yacht Solutions and Malcolm MacLean reports that she has had a price reduction from €23.8 million to €19.95 million. Check out the yacht website here.
Meanwhile, Armani has moved on to a new larger yacht from Codescasa, the military-green Main which he was spotted on last summer.
George Clooney is quite a pal. According to Hello magazine, the movie star just lent his lavish $6 million villa on Italy's famed Lake Como (above) to soccer superstar David Beckham and his wife Victoria. Beckham, whose taste for the finer things in life has been often noted here, is being fought over by two soccer teams, the LA Galaxy and Italy's AC Milan. The Beckhams will take some relaxing time out at the villa while waiting to see the if LA Galaxy will release him from his contract and allow a transfer to AC Milan, the magazine reports. "George has really taken David under his wing since the transfer trouble started," they note.
The luxurious villa, which has played host to many of Clooney's superstar pals, is just half an hour away from the Beckhams' base in Milan. Clooney, 47, and Beckham, 33, became friends after being introduced by Giorgio Armani, (whose underwear ads the Beckhams star in), at the Met Ball in New York last May. Luxe Lake Como, where scenes from the last two James Bond movies were shot, has long been a favorite retreat for Italy's rich and famous and the international jetset. As we mentioned last month, the contents of late designer Gianni Versace's villa there are being auctioned off by Sotheby's in March.
Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
Back in September my colleague Deirdre Woollard reported that the largest Giorgio Armani boutique in the world was opening in the designer's hometown of Milan. Now Armani has begun construction on a hotel there as well, located in an historic building designed by architect Enrico A. Griffini in 1937 that also houses an Armani store. "I feel a very special involvement in the project for the Armani Hotel Milano as it is located here, in my hometown," Armani tells Vogue UK.
"Every aspect of the hotel is a reflection of my aesthetic philosophy, and its position, above the Manzoni 31 concept store, will offer my guests the chance to experience a complete Armani lifestyle. I believe the hotel's design will perfectly fit the spirit of Milan as a capital of style, whilst offering a new experience of hospitality within its fashion district." The world's first Armani hotel is slated for Dubai, and plans are also underway for a London branch.
Filed under: Apparel
Armani Eyewear has a new special sunglasses design to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Evoking a slight Lennon vibe, the limited edition glasses are an updated version of one of Armani's early designs and feature white goldtone palladium, rounded gray/green lenses, and curved arms (I hate the way those feel, personally, even though they look good when you're not wearing them). Each pair is engraved with its edition number of 0001 - 1000 on the inside by the temple and comes in a specially marked "Anniversary Editon" Neiman Marcus case. $1000
Filed under: Books
This September in Rhonda, Andalusia, the annual "Corrida Goyesca" bullfight will take place and the bullfighter, Cayetano Rivera from Spain, will be wearing an outfit specially designed for him for the event by Giorgio Armani.
The traditional "suit of lights" that bullfighter's wear will this time appear in Armani's signature shade of greyish beige and will feature sequins, crystals, and silver thread embroidery.
An interesting note: Rivera apparently comes from a long line of bullfighters and his grandfather, Antonio Ordonez, had a suit designed for the same event about 50 years ago by Pablo Picasso.
Gallery: Bullfighter Goes Armani
Filed under: Writing Instruments
Giorgio Armani Pens are available now at Giorgio Armani boutiques and Tibaldi stores worldwide.
To celebrate the 2008 European Cup soccer tournament, dashing designers Dolce & Gabbana have created a stylish new wardrobe for the Italian National Football Team ("Nazionale"). Italy debuted today in the fiercely-competitive 16-nation tournament at the Stade de Suisse in Berne, Switzerland. Dolce & Gabbana custom-tailored natty narrow-lapeled one-button dark blue suits with the Nazionale badge embroidered on the breast pocket, classic white shirts and solid narrow blue silk ties for the team. Filling out their off-pitch wardrobe are blue single-breasted peak-lapel blazers, matching four-button vests, blue cotton and wool hooded track suit tops, blue cotton track suit bottoms with satin belts and sides, and black nylon padded parkas with multiple pockets and detachable hoods. The collaboration is the latest in a line of recent designer makeovers for famed European football (soccer) teams, including Giorgio Armani for the Chelsea F.C. and Paul Smith for Manchester United. See the gallery for more.
Gallery: Designer Football
Ralph Lauren's flagship store on Madison Avenue (pictured above), aka the Polo Mansion, is probably the most luxurious retail outlet in the world. Not surprisingly, it made Naomi Leff, the interior decorator who created it out of a gutted shell, into a household word in design circles. The Monacelli Press presents a long-overdue compendium of her work in the alluring new book Naomi Leff: Interior Design. "To me it's the most beautiful store in the world," Lauren said upon the Mansion's completion in 1987, "the details, the world it creates, the textures. It's a store that has an emotional impact. I've watched so many people come into it and be dazzled when they enter." Leff went on to design several more stores for Lauren and stunning spaces for Giorgio Armani and private clients as well. See more of her work in the gallery.
Gallery: Naomi Leff Interior Design
Filed under: Gadgets
Armani and Samsung have collaborated again, this time on a premium HDTV design. Revealed for the first time at the opening of the Milan International Furniture Fair. Combining cutting edge technology from Samsung with cutting edge design from Giorgio Armani, this is one sleek 1080p LCD television. Available in 46" and 52" sizes the tv itself is pretty basic looking (although I'm sure it has a more than "basic looking" picture) but the remote control sounds like it puts on quite the light show with "a full range of radiant backlights." Plus there's a smaller pebble-shaped remote for basic functions. Look for the smaller tv model to launch first (in Europe) this summer, with the 52" quickly following.