Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.
Pure Collection Ltd.
Net-a-porter UK

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Retail meltdown

Baugur, the Icelandic company which owns a large number of high street shops in Britain, has gone bust. Its portfolio includes Hamleys, House of Fraser, jewellers Mappin and Webb and Watches of Switzerland. Enter Sir Philip Green with a shopping list.

A Baugur spokesman explained that talks with the Icelandic banks had collapsed last night. He said that the application "to enter into the moratorium process" - the equivalent of America's Chapter 11 protection - would give the company protection from its creditors for three weeks.

The spokesman also insisted that the day-to-day operations of the companies owned by Baugur would not be affected by today's news.

"The last thing we want to do is fuel fear on the high street that jobs will be lost," he said.

One rival retail executive said selling any retail businesses would be a tough task: "Most of these businesses are doing okay and their managements have been trying to organise buyouts for some time. But it is just impossible to get any financing. The banks just aren't doing any lending. The private equity people have got money but they are still dependent on being able to put debt in as well."

Shares in French Connection slumped by 10% this morning. More than 20% of its shares are owned by a group of Icelandic investors including Baugur. Debenhams shares slipped by 3% this morning.

They own or have stakes in:
French Connection

Mosaic Fashions


Karen Millen




Shoe Studio Group



Jane Norman

All Saints

Day Birger et Mikkelsen

Matthew Williamson




Department stores:


House of Fraser


Magasin Du Nord









Mappin & Webb

Watches of Switzerland

Wyevale Garden Centres


Frosty by Frost French

Jess Cartner-Morley has an absolutely delightful piece in the Guardian today about snow person chic:

Eighteen years is a long time in fashion. The last time there were this many snowmen, John Major was in Downing Street and MC Hammer was on Top of the Pops. Grunge hadn't even happened, let alone been revived. Hemlines were on their way down, along with the stockmarket.

As befits the over-sharing Facebook generation, this year's snowpeople are an exhibitionist bunch. An abundance of bikini wearing suggests that the modern snowlady has been much influenced by Lady Gaga, pop singer of the moment, who garnered a blizzard of media attention last month for undertaking a promotional blitz of London dressed in knickers, sunglasses and little else.

Among the male snow population, the Raymond Briggs look has undergone a similar update. Skinny scarves of the type favoured by Russell Brand and Johnny Borrell of Razorlight have gained ground over chunky knitwear. And the influences of Pete Doherty and Justin Timberlake can perhaps be sensed in a certain dastardly slant of the hat.

For a snowperson, fashion is all in the accessories. One enterprising character picked up on the trend for oversized buttons by replacing the traditional lumps of coal with cucumber slices.

But snowmen remain aloof from some of the vagaries of fashion. The trend for size zero models and celebrities seems to have had mercifully little impact on the BMI of the great British snowman. Anyone concerned that the younger generation's distorted body image would express itself in snowmen with hewn clavicles and wearing Spanx can relax: a full face and a well-rounded tummy are still desirable attributes in snowpeople of both genders.

Do read the whole thing

Let them eat shoes

I have a feeling that we are going to be knitting tunic dresses and dhoti pants at the guillotine when we come to cut off the heads of couturiers.

Roger Vivier showed a pair of £30,000 shoes this week:

They feature an assortment of life's little luxuries such as 24 ct gold-coated mesh, semi-precious stones, jet, satin ribbons, silk chiffon, diamanté and crocodile skin fashioned into dainty rosettes.

The "Dovima", an 11cm, spike-heeled confection of gilded silk mesh and jewels, is embellished with a pair of rose pink-dyed, taxidermy birds with gold and crystal heads.

Another style called "Daphne", in honour of the best-dressed socialite and millionairess, Daphne Guinness, the ex-wife of Greek shipping heir, Spyros Niarchos.

They are a midnight lace creation of jet, silk, crocodile and satin bows.

The collection of six hand-made creations, starting at £9,500 a pair and rising up to a stratospheric £30,000.

They were unveiled during the Paris Haute Couture season this week.