Brand, Designers, Fashion Business, Opinion

The A B(erluti) C of Luxury Footwear.

The A B(erluti) C of Luxury Footwear.

Full disclosure I am a great admirer of the BERLUTI brand and I am also a fan of Creative Director Kris Van Assche but news this week that the LVMH owned brand is taking a break from formal fashion schedule may not come as a complete surprise to many. The release went on to say that Kris Van Assche its talented Creative Director was exiting the business.

Acquired by LVMH in 1993, BERLUTI expanded the leather goods in 2005 and in 2011 Alessandro Sartori (ex Ermenegildo Zegna), partnered with Arnault to expand the artisan footwear into a lifestyle label for men with complete RTW fashion collections.

Sartori returned to Zegna in 2016, and was succeeded at BERLUTI for a few seasons by Haider Ackermann also a designer of note, but the collection was way too ‘editorial’ read that as pink leather Trench coats, until Van Assche arrived amid a designer shakeup at LVMH that saw Kim Jones move from Louis Vuitton to become artistic director of men’s ready-to-wear at Dior, and Virgil Abloh arrive as men’s artistic director at Vuitton. Musical chairs at LVMH.

BERLUTI now boasts more than 60 stores worldwide, and offers head-to-toe bespoke services at ateliers on Rue Marbeuf and Rue de Sèvres in Paris. It remains famous for its court shoe fashioned from a single piece of leather without any seams, and its artisan polishing – with champagne no less. Known for youthful tailoring and loads of athletic and workwear influences, the Kris Van Assche collection also dabbled in women’s wear.

However, we don’t know what the performance figures are as LVMH does not release a breakdown of the figures by brand. But one would speculate that the BERLUTI RTW has not sold well or sufficiently to keep a creative director at the helm, having gone through quite a few of them in the past 5 years. The question remains why does LVMH keep bringing in rather high profile creative directors only to discover that after two or three seasons the RTW fashion lines just don’t garner the attention or credit cards of the high net worth BERLUTI customer. I’d speculate it’s because that classic customer wants beautifully hand-crafted footwear and not fluro tipped, artist print apparel, but I could be wrong.

Experience should suggest that they take stock and adjust the masterplan but I would speculate that they will continue to bring in creative directors and this time might try to develop a luxury streetwear vibe – and new in the frame designers like Heron Preston (old chum of Kanye) who’s just launched a collaboration with CALVIN KLEIN could be in the frame. There’s also Kirby Jean Raymond of menswear brand Pyer Moss fame. Interestingly they are both Black which could give LVMH another string to the PR bow should they consider hiring either of these designers. I guess we will wait for the breaking news.

Opinion, Social Media

What gives?

We become so caught up in what people think about us, that it constantly makes us second-guess ourselves and our abilities to deliver.
My advice would be to stop worrying about what people think of you, because guess what, most people don’t even know what they think about themselves! Self-belief is a superpower.

leadership #motivation #inspiration

Read that again!

The Politics of Perception.

An interesting question when asked why are so many Black men only portrayed in very specific ways in Western society? Examples being Footballers in fast sports-cars and Rappers wearing bling jewellery spring to mind. How Black men are perceived in the media is a huge factor in both creating the perpetuated stereotypes and creating unconscious bias. Men in suits? Where are the Black Brain Surgeons, the Architects, the Theatre Directors, the Lawyers and all the other professions that Black men occupy? Perhaps we need to change the perception.

#society #socialmedia #inclusion #culture #cars #architects #publicrelations


Revisiting the RA Summer Exhibition 2020- one of the highlights of the year.
Given we have all faced challenging times over the last 12 months it was an absolute treat to be invited to the Press view of the delayed Summer Exhibition 2020 at the Royal Academy of Arts here in London during the short-lived respite last Summer.
The exhibition is a significant cultural event which supports the exchange of ideas and experience of artists from all walks of life. The Royal Academy’s determination to persevere to ensure its continuity demonstrates the important role that arts institutions play in shaping the cultural conversation. It’s a veritable feast for the senses and even 3 hours to cover this vast exhibition wasn’t enough. But at no time did it feel like a chore.
Artists who got my particular attention: Yinka Shonibare RA, Mimmo Paladino RA, Sir Michael Craig-Martin RA, Anselm Kiefer Hon RA, Julian Schnabel Hon RA, Athena Anastasiou and Hermes Lucas.

royalacademy #RASummer #artists


RA Summer Show


Death- the last Taboo?

It’s often a topic that surprises many of us when the subject of our demise or the death of a family member or friend is brought close to home. Without getting maudlin we have all been forced to face death both near and far since March 2020 when this pandemic struck.

My own personal experiences have ranged from the suicide of a friend, the death from Cancer of another, the diagnosis of Cancer by yet another friend (currently terrified being in a hospital for chemo-therapy) and the death of parents of friends. So thinking about how we talk about death has been rather front of mind of late. We cannot help but think about our own mortality when faced with the sad events.

Grief can manifest itself in all sorts of ways and my own experiences of coping has been to allow myself to expect the unexpected, and being aware that at any time of day and in any circumstances, said grief can suddenly swirl around you like a mist. 

I also think that we need to talk about the death of a loved one with those people grieving and acknowledge the life and passing of this person. There is a tendency for us to ‘try to keep a stiff upper lip” or ‘be brave” whereby showing emotional outbursts can be somehow frowned upon, which is total nonsense. It’s OK to ask someone if they are doing OK. And if they aren’t can you help, them or do they need anything? Then sometimes even just offering to visit with to sit quietly so they don’t think they are alone. It’s also OK to say I’m here for you when you need it- maybe not now but perhaps later.  What’s not OK is to stay away and remain silent believing that those people want some space. They might do, but ask the question- don’t assume!

The world has been tipped on its axis since 2020 and with lockdown and isolation thrown into the mix It’s hugely important that we talk about the elephant in the room!

Brand, Designers, Fashion Business

Fashion Designers who have lost their name!

Jil Sander – a veteran of the fashion industry joined forces with the Prada group in 2000 when they acquired 75% of the business she founded in 1968. Within six months she had “left the business”. It has been widely reported that Sander did not see eye to eye with Patrizio Bertelli, chairman and CEO of Prada Group about the business direction of the brand.
She returned to the brand in 2003 but once again left in 2004. Sander came back yet again in 2013 and then, after citing “personal reasons”, she announced that her AW14 collection would be her last.
JIL SANDER SpA was sold to a private equity firm, Change Capital Partners, in 2006, then in 2008 to Japanese apparel specialists Onward Holdings Co. Sander went on to collaborate in 2009 with Fast Retailing’s UNIQLO high street brand creating a +J collection, as she was unable to use her own name which is still owned by Onward Holdings Co Ltd. The collaboration with UNIQLO lasted for three years. She has just relaunched a new collaboration with UNIQLO in Nov 2020.

Opinion, Social Media

Be Happy!


Happiness should not be overrated!
We are all living through a crisis that is very strange and frightening, so it’s really not a bad thing to take some time to think about what is important to us and our own wellbeing. We already know that social media can be both good and bad for us but now perhaps it is good not to focus on everything negative, such as the media bulletins and scary statistics of other countries in the midst of this pandemic. That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep informed, but let’s not get swept up in the fake news and opinions of those we wouldn’t usually listen to. It’s suggested that if we fell better and happier, we are less likely to get sick or catch a cold or have heart disease, so that is a good thing!
Random acts of kindness are both rewarding for our own self-worth and for the person who you might be helping.
Checking on a neighbour (if you know yours) and if not perhaps a chance to get to know them- social distancing front of mind of course.
Go explore something creative or artistic – perhaps a craft or something you’ve wanted to take up.

Exercise is also a form of mindfulness, so get your body moving even indoors!
Hold on to the thought that we will for the most part get through this crisis and come out the other side.

Fashion Business, Opinion

The New Shopping Normal



A Gentle Reminder to Shoppers.

As businesses start to reopen, please understand that many have just survived one of the most difficult professional and personal challenges ever faced. Whilst they are excited to reopen, the owners and employees of most businesses are still under enormous stresses. They, like you are not through the woods yet.

Please don’t don’t go to these outlets and start to complain about the new changes that have been forced upon them.

Queues and social distancing are for now the new normal. They face lost revenues, lost employees, new policies and procedures, the latter for your personal wellbeing and safety. Their business looks nothing like the one they had three months ago. Most will go above and beyond to adapt to the situation but to survive they need your support and your understanding too. So I would urge to have some patience, some understanding and a little compassion. They like all of us are facing a huge battle and it has only just begun.

Opinion, Social Media

The Gold Standard, or why Oscar isn’t Black!

The Gold Standard- why Oscar isn’t Black!
It appears we now need to address ‘diversity’ once more in the Movie industry? And it was all going so well, or was it really! Looks like things are reverting back to how it used to be, now that we’ve had our moment in the spotlight !! Reports suggest that NETFLIX are waking up to this fact and their programming for Black and minority audiences is on the rise. It’s a start.
This does not negate the work and outstanding performances by the current Oscar nominees, as true talent is ‘talent’ regardless of colour, creed or gender! I’m a believer in accentuate the positive. Let’s showcase those outstanding performances from Black and Mixed ethnic actors/directors/producers/editors. As always it’s up to the ‘men in suits’ once more but should we be doing more about this? Can we make a change?
. #equality #diversity #minorities #oscars #inclusion

Fashion Business, Opinion


Diversity has certainly been ‘writ large’ of late, garnering column inches, but is it having a bit of a PR problem! There’s been lots of editorial given to the appointment of Black designers, photographers and Editors in the past few years but sceptics suggest this is just a backlash to the outcry that could no longer go unheard.
Fashion is working hard to increase diversity with new initiatives and appointments of ‘Heads of Diversity and Inclusion” at Board level in brands like Chanel, GUCCI and groups like LVMH and Kering getting in on the act.
PRADA have even created a Diversity Council, GUCCI appointed Renee Tirado who was previously chief diversity and inclusion officer for Major League Baseball.
Fiona Pargeter, former Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Swiss Bank/UBS and Jaguar joins the CHANEL Board, but some question that as a white woman is it sending an odd message. Of course diversity is about so much more than just skin colour, but in this case perception is everything.
KERING strives for more diversity with the appointment of Kalpana Bagmane Denzel as Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Officer. Given they own major brands such as GUCCI, Saint Laurent, Brioni, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta it can only be a good thing, right? Some suggest there’s been a commercialisation of diversity by many brands of late, and facing social media pressures for more transparency, these changes have really in fact been about commerce and the bottom line.
I guess we must hope that unlike this industry the advances in diversity won’t go “out of fashion” in six months! #diversity