Glenn Close, Juliette Binoche and Gwyneth Paltrow at the Armani Show, Plus Paul Smith Closes German Stores

LOOKING FIERCE: The Armani show set the stage a very glamorous reunion for Juliette Binoche and Glenn Close, who star together in the upcoming Apple TV+ show “The New Look.”

Close plays Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, while Binoche takes on the role of Coco Chanel.

The role of the legendary editor was “a little daunting,” even for the Emmy-, Tony- and Golden Globe-winning actress.

“Because she was a force to be reckoned with,” Close said. She focused on the character but skipped her Irish accent, she said.

“What hopefully a lot of people don’t know that she actually had a little bit of a tinge of an Irish accent,” she said of Snow, who was born in Dublin before emigrating to the U.S. “But I actually have heard a recording of her, and she sounded more mid-Atlantic or more English, actually.”

“I loved playing her. I learned who she was and how important she was. And the fact that she was the one who said ‘Ah, this is the new look.’ It was her who said that for the first time,” said Close. The phrase of course crowned Christian Dior’s collection and defined the entire post-war fashion era.

The show is set against the Nazi occupation of Paris in World War II, the recovery of the city, and the emergence of Dior as a fashion icon.

It’s the second project for Close and creator Adam Kessler. The two previously worked together on the series “Damages.” Close said she is “so proud” of Kessler, who wrote and directed.

As for working with Binoche, Close said they had a great time on set. “Juliette, I mean, to play a woman like Coco Chanel means you are a fierce actress,” she said, looking fierce herself in a velvet tuxedo jacket with an embellished collar.

As Binoche took her seat front row alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, she was besieged by photographers. Paltrow praised her seatmate. “You are a living legend,” she told Binoche.

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 23: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY - For Non-Editorial use please seek approval from Fashion House) Sheila Atim attends the Giorgio Armani Privé Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2024 show as part of Paris Fashion Week  on January 23, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)

Sheila Atim

Getty Images

“I don’t know if I’m able to say anything because I don’t think the casting has been announced yet,” she said. But the film was “great fun” and a marked turn from her usual fare.

Her latest film, “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt,” the poetic and heartfelt coming-of-age story set in rural Mississippi, was released in December.

“It was nice to do something fun for a change; I tend to do some pretty heavy stuff. It was nice to have a change of tone,” she said. After the two intense films, “To be able to shoot this film afterwards was a real joy, and it was nice to remind myself that I can diversify projects.”

She has also been working on her own first screenplay, which is a tougher project than she imagined as she really wants to do it right. “I wanted to make sure I was getting the craft down and not just kind of steamrolling in there and being like, ‘Hey, give me a TV show,’ which, that doesn’t work by the way, in case anyone’s trying,” she joked.

Atim said she’s finally found her groove, and is working with her agent to see what’s next.

In the meantime she’s been getting to know new designers and exploring fashion. She was sporting a lean leather coat look from Armani.

“I’m really excited to keep building on that, just experimenting and playing,” she said. “It’s really great to build relationships that make sense. I’m like, yeah, we can vibe.” — Rhonda Richford

AUF WIEDERSEHEN, PAUL: “Shops are about conversation,” said Paul Smith at the opening of his first Berlin store on Potsdamer Strasse in 2018. That conversation has now ended, at least in Germany, with the brand set to close its three stand-alone stores in the recession-hit country.

The market is very different from the one that Paul Smith entered a decade ago, when he opened his first German store, a two-floor, 5,000-square-foot emporium in a Biedermeier-style house with garden in Hamburg.

In 2023, the German economy shrank by 0.3 percent, and growth is set to hit 0.7 percent in 2024, according to the Munich-based Institute for Economic Research. Germany was the only European Union country to tip into recession last year.

The country is in no mood to spend, and a spokesperson for Paul Smith confirmed that shopping habits have changed.

“The leases for our shops in Germany were all negotiated pre-COVID-19 when shopping habits were vastly different from today. The decision to close shops is never easy particularly given the dedication and efforts of all of our local staff.

“We are very proud of the wholesale distribution that we have in Germany and continue to work with our valued partners in the market,” the spokesperson added.

The brand has three stand-alone stores, each with a different vibe.

The 1,000-square-foot Berlin store has 45 black metal coat hooks on the facade. Its location, on Potsdamer Strasse, was an interesting choice at the time.

When Smith moved in, it was a developing haven for art and design galleries and some adventurous fashion retailers, most notably concept store pioneer Andreas Murkudis, who kick-started the neighborhood a few years before.

The Berlin building dates back to the 1800s, and Smith retained as many of the old store features as possible, from the floor boards to the doors. “I wanted to integrate, not alienate,” Smith said at the time.

The Munich store was the most recent to open, and has a more contemporary edge with a glass facade, minimalist interiors, and midcentury modern furniture. It is located on Luitpoldblock, Amiraplatz 3.

The brand had already flagged a difficult macroeconomic environment in its 2023 financial results, which were published on Companies House earlier this month.

The company said in the fiscal year ending June 30 the cost of doing business had increased due to the impact of rising inflation. It also flagged “low consumer confidence” and supply chain difficulties.

In the 12-month period, turnover rose 4 percent to 152.6 million pounds, while operating losses widened to 11.6 million pounds from 7.5 million pounds. The company said the increase in losses was due to non-cash exceptional items, cost inflation and increased investment in promotional activity. — Samantha Conti

LOVE STARS: Pandora’s family of ambassadors is growing, with author and advocate Selma Blair and sisters and artists Chloe and Halle Bailey starring in a new campaign titled “Be Love.”

A campaign video features the three new faces along with artist and model Sasha Pivovarova; model couples Aviana McClish and Colin Alexander, and Meghan Collison and Jack Spencer; and models Jocelyn Corona, Saiyan Marley, Yumi Nu, Salem Mitchell and Thara.

The video was directed by filmmaker and photographer Sophia Nahli Allison and director Melina Matsoukas. 

Chloe and Halle Bailey

Halle and Chloe Bailey for Pandora.

Courtesy of Pandora

Allison’s film “A Love Song for Latasha” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2021; meanwhile Matsoukas has worked on Beyoncé’s “Formation” music video and directed the film “Queen & Slim.”

Musically known as Chloe x Halle, the sisters rerecorded the Bee Gees’ track “To Love Somebody” for the campaign video.

“For Pandora, love is more than a day on the calendar — it’s more personal and encompassing than that. It starts with each of us, and it is embodied in how we live our lives,” said Mary Carmen Gasco-Buisson, chief marketing officer of Pandora.


Pandora jewelry.

Courtesy of Pandora

“Our jewelry is not only expertly crafted for every occasion and for every day, it is also a vehicle for sharing and commemorating the people, moments, places, interests and dreams that we love,” she added.

Throughout the campaign, Pandora’s sterling silver and 14-karat gold (solid and plated) make appearances along with Murano glass and lab-grown diamonds.

Earlier in the month, the Danish company released its preliminary results, nearly a month ahead of schedule, with strong revenue boosted by the holiday period.

Organic growth hit 12 percent for revenue of 10.8 billion Danish kroner, or $1.58 billion, while like-for-like sales were up 9 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31. — Hikmat Mohammed

SEAHORSE: Following in the footsteps of other industry titans, Ferrari’s chairman John Elkann said Wednesday that the automotive behemoth, also home to the namesake luxury fashion brand and Formula 1 racing team, is venturing into sailing.

Seaman Giovanni Soldini, tapped to lead Ferrari's venture into sailing.

Seaman Giovanni Soldini has been tapped to lead Ferrari’s venture into sailing.

Courtesy of Ferrari

“We are about to embrace an exciting journey set to expand our racing soul,” Elkann said. “Through this new competitive challenge, spurred by our innovative prowess and commitment to sustainability, we will push current boundaries,” he added.

Ferrari has conscripted Giovanni Soldini as team principal for its sailing project. A consummate seaman, Soldini has a strong track record in ocean sailing and in the development of innovative technologies and trims for racing yachts, boasting a 30-year career.

“We are happy to be able to rely on Giovannni [Soldini], an extraordinary [man] for his experience, determination and team spirit,” Elkann said.

A time frame for the first fruits of the venture to materialize was not provided.

“I am excited to be kicking off a new adventure with Ferrari. We are working an important and forward-looking project with an astonishing technological potential combining different worlds and cutting-edge know-how,” Soldini offered. “To be able to take part in research and development of innovative solutions, respectful of our planet, and with an exceptional team is truly a unique experience,” he said.

Known for its prancing horse emblem, luxury sports cars and the Formula 1 namesake racing team, Ferrari’s move further diversifies the business, which also has a fashion brand, designed by creative director Rocco Iannone, in 2019.

Luxury players have traditionally linked with the world of sailing, from Prada with its Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team, Louis Vuitton as the title partner of the America’s Cup, and Puig becoming the global partner of the 37th America’s Cup and the official naming partner of the inaugural Women’s America’s Cup. Loro Piana was the official sponsor of last year’s IMA Maxi European Championship in which its chairman and member of the founding family Pier Luigi Loro Piana competed with his My Song 5 sailboat. — Martino Carrera

MAUI MOCK: Evan Mock is taking on a new modeling role.

The “Gossip Girl” actor was revealed on Wednesday as the face of eyewear brand Maui Jim’s spring 2024 campaign, titled “Color You Can Feel.” The actor, who is a Maui Jim global brand ambassador, is seen in the campaign modeling sunglasses styles from the Kering Eyewear-owned brand’s ‘Ekahi collection.

Evan Mock for Maui Jim

Evan Mock for Maui Jim

Courtesy of Maui Jim

“Being a part of Maui Jim’s campaign is an honor,” Mock said in a statement. “Being Hawaiian, Maui Jim has been such a big part of my life. It was just around — my grandfather had them, my father had them — that’s why the project became interesting to me. ‘Color You Can Feel’ is not just about sunglasses. It’s what you get when you put them on. Colors are vibrating….Watch the sunset and tell me what you feel.” 

The collection and campaign, which is the first designed and produced by Kering Eyewear, are part of the brand’s refresh strategy to expand its global reach, particularly to a younger customer.

The ‘Ekahi collection leverages Maui Jim’s proprietary PolarizedPlus2 technology, which is said to protect the wearer’s eyes from harmful UV rays and elevate the visual experience. 

The collaboration with Mock continues Maui Jim’s philanthropic commitment to the Lahaina community following last summer’s wildfires in Maui. The brand is donating sales from the ‘Ekahi collection to the community. 

“Embracing the essence of ‘Ohana,’ we are embarking on a transformative journey, fueled by passion and unwavering commitment, to elevate Maui Jim to new heights,” said Roberto Vedovotto, president and chief executive officer of Kering Eyewear. “With our ‘Color You Can Feel’ campaign, we are not just redefining eyewear, we are reshaping experiences. Together with Evan, who embodies the essence of Maui Jim’s contemporary DNA, we are not just selling sunglasses, we are inviting individuals to see the world through a lens of vibrancy, clarity and emotion.” — Layla Ilchi

IN A NEW YORK MINUTE: Grace Chen’s current New York visit has provided a flashback to her academic days.

Chen returned to New York in part for an appearance at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she had studied in 1995-1996. In addition to having a fashion show and doing a Q&A at FIT Tuesday night, Chen has been doing trunk shows during this week’s New York stay at the Park Avenue Hyatt.  

“I feel like I never left. FIT really was a milestone in my life and not just from a professional standpoint. From the time that I was very little, I had always wanted to come to the United States because I liked Hollywood movies,” Chen said.

Eventually, she made that happen. After FIT, her incarnation as the design director for Tadashi Shoji provided the opportunity to design evening gowns for numerous Hollywood stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Oprah Winfrey.  

She also has dressed established actresses like Helen Mirren, Liu Xiaoqing, Li Bing Bing, Xu Qing and Lin Chi-Ling. Through the “Around the World in 80 Dresses” initiative, Chen has traveled to multiple countries in the past five years including Tasmania, Kenya, Japan and Europe to introduce modern Chinese style and her designs to new audiences.

Based in Shanghai, she started her company in 2009 with a focus on couture under the House of Grace Chen. With nearly 100 employees, Chen’s business is completely couture-driven currently, with annual sales ranging between $5 million and $6 million.

The most challenging aspects of business is that many customers in China are willing to spend a good amount of money for “the brands that people already know, like Chanel.” Chen said her core customers appreciate her designs and how well-cut they are. Finding a customer base “that appreciates your vision and not just the clothing, but the philosophy behind the brand,” is essential to any company, Chen said.

Although movie stars and other highly visible influencers are driving designer sales and mainstream fashion trends, that fast and furious formula does not apply to couture. In her line of work, the influencers are CEOs, entrepreneurs, financiers like the well-known economist Jing Keyu, and other professionals, as well as artists. “Our customers are the owners of the movie companies, so they don’t really care about what movie stars are wearing,” Chen explained. “These people are very confident and they have their own ideas about themselves. For them, fashion is about self-reflection. It’s not about chasing the newest hot trend.”

FIT President Joyce F. Brown said Chen’s “perseverance and success in establishing her own fashion house and brand really reflects a commitment to taste and excellence to which we all associate her.” — Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW MATERIALS: British footwear brand Grenson has been making leather shoes for more than 155 years and now it’s entering a new market: non-leathers, using corn polymer and PES recycled from plastic bottles.

The brand has debuted the new line with a ‘70s tennis sneaker based on Grenson’s Sneaker 1, its first foray into luxury sneakers back in 2017. Sneakers now make up 30 percent of sales at Grenson, and are in the top five bestsellers.

“We have been experimenting with new materials for a few years now and while many of our followers have been asking for non-leather options, most of what was available wasn’t great for the environment,” said Tim Little, chief executive officer and creative director of the brand, in an interview.

Non-leather by Grenson

“But from our research we found this new product that is made from a mix of cornstarch and recycled plastic bottles, so we felt that this was the right time to do it,” he added.

The research for non-leather has been taking place for four years, but it was only a year ago they found the formula to create the current sneaker.

The new sneaker reduced production costs by 20 percent because of its multilayer cutting and 100 percent usage of the materials used.

“We have been making leather shoes for 158 years so this is very new for us. I like to see it as an alternative for people who like our shoes but don’t want leather, it’s not about changing the business. It’s about offering alternatives, so it won’t replace the leather shoe business, but who knows there aren’t many decent options for non-leather shoes,” said Little, who is hopeful this will bring in new customers. — H.M.

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