Longchamp makes New York debut to celebrate 70 years

Longchamp decamped across the Atlantic on Saturday to make their New York Fashion Week debut and celebrate their 70th anniversary by looking to the future, fronted by new brand ambassador Kendall Jenner.

Longchamp makes New York debut to celebrate 70 years
Kendall Jenner attends the Longchamp Spring/Summer 2019 Runway Show at the World Trade Center in New York City on Saturday. Photo: Jared Siskin / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Guests were invited to the World Trade Center, where a dazzling view of the Manhattan skyline provided the backdrop to a collection summed up as 1970s glamor, California spirit and Parisian elegance.
The French staple, best known by millions around the world for the iconic Pliage bag, is building on its leather goods heritage by highlighting its ready-to-wear, sunglasses and footwear lines.
Their first fashion-week runway show comes hot on the heels of opening a new boutique on New York's legendary Fifth Avenue in May, and the selection of supermodel Jenner as their new ambassador.
In two weeks' time, they are opening a new boutique in Beverly Hills — hence the California spirit, which Jenner herself evokes, as does model-of-the-moment Kaia Gerber, 17, who walked the runway.
Jenner's dazzling looks and fame as one-fifth of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, is likely to raise Longchamp's profile among the new Instagram generation. She sat front row, sporting the Longchamp Gladiators on her slender pins, next to Kate Moss, who was the face of Longchamp for eight years and in turn sat next to Priyanka Chopra.
“It's a way of expressing the international development of the brand,” Longchamp CEO Jean Cassegrain, 53, told AFP by telephone of the decision to come to New York, showing on the third day of fashion week. “A way of showing the cosmopolitan side of the brand.”
A model walks the runway at the Longchamp Spring/Summer 2019 runway show at Four World Trade Center in New York City on Saturday. Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP
Longchamp at heart is still a private, family firm. Cassegrain is the grandson of the founder. Sister Sophie Delafontaine is creative director, brother Olivier heads up operations in America and their 81-year-old father is still company president.
Delafontaine sought to evoke “dreamy desert drives” and late nights in Los Angeles with animal print dresses, leather bikinis and lots of fringed tops, shorts and mini-skirts in suede. There were gladiator sandals in black, beige, orange, red and green, as well as the new Amazone bag. Ikat-style prints adorned blouses, long skirts and dresses.
The 40 looks emphasized Longchamp's leather roots while looking to the future, reflecting the wider industry trends of clothing empires moving to accessories and leather goods embracing fashion. 
“Twenty-five years ago, fashion and leather goods were separate sectors,” Cassegrain said. “The bag is now a fashion items, and labels also have to be fashion labels.”
Longchamp has around 1,500 stockists around the world, mostly in Europe, which makes up 60 percent of sales. Only 300 of them are operated directly by the brand. While the non-leather goods side of the business is growing, ready to wear, shoes and glasses still only make up 10 percent of business and only 50 of the stockists sell clothes or footwear.
Overt politics have taken something of a backseat at New York Fashion Week since the early days of the Donald Trump presidency, with the fashion industry doing everything in their power to signal unhappiness. But Saturday, Christian Siriano brought it back to the fore by using his runway show to endorse Cynthia Nixon, the former “Sex and the City” actress campaigning to become New York's first woman governor.
Nixon, whose effort to oust two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo will do or die in Thursday's Democratic primary, sat in the front row.
Each guest was given a Vote for Cynthia leaflet, there were special thanks to her in the notes for “all you are doing for New York” and Siriano came out for a bow at the end in a Nixon T-shirt.
By AFP's Catherine Triomphe


Paris exhibition celebrates 100 years of French Vogue

A new exhibition in Paris will tell the story of 100 years of French Vogue - from the post-war 'New Look' of Christian Dior through the sexual liberation of the 1960s to the dangling-cigarette waifs of the 2000s.

French Vogue celebrates 100 years
French Vogue celebrates 100 years. Photo: Thomas Olva/AFP

But as well as celebrating the magazine’s storied history, the exhibit comes at a time of turbulence for the publication.

Just last month, it was confirmed that its editor of 10 years, Emmanuelle Alt, was out and wouldn’t be replaced.

She was not alone.

Looking to cut costs, owner Conde Nast International has axed editors across Europe over the past year, and put international Vogue editions under the direct control of global editorial director, Anna Wintour, in New York.

New York-based Anna Wintour now has overall control of French Vogue. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Like much of the media industry, Vogue is struggling with tumbling sales and ad revenue in the digital era.

But the latest twist is also part of the endless push and pull between New York and Paris going back to its early days.

“The whole history of French Vogue is one of back-and-forth with Conde Nast in New York – growing more independent for a while, then being reined back in,” said Sylvie Lecallier, curator of the new exhibition, “Vogue Paris 1920-2020″, which opened this weekend after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

The Paris edition was often the loftier, more bohemian sibling to its more hard-nosed New York version.

But it was also the hotbed in which much of 20th century style and womenhood came to be defined.

“Paris was the place to hunt out talent and content and bring it to New York,” said Lecallier.

The exhibition charts the evolution from art deco drawings of the 1920s through the erotic image-making of photographers like Helmut Newton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its last peak was under editor Carine Roitfeld in the 2000s, who brought back a provocative Gallic identity by ridding the newsroom of foreign staff and becoming a fashion icon in her own right.

Her successor, Alt, was a quieter presence, though she still oversaw key moments including its first transgender cover star, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio, in 2017.

But internet culture has created “a perfect storm” for Vogue, says media expert Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

“The first 80 years of Vogue’s life, it had the market to itself, it was the bible for fashion,” McCabe told AFP.

“But online today, there are so many other ways to get your information. Influencers, Instagram, YouTube — everyone’s a threat.”

In a world where new fashion trends can blow up around the world in seconds, it has become much harder for a monthly magazine to set the pace.

“It’s not that they can’t survive for another 100 years — but they will be differently sized,” McCabe said.

Vogue has tried to branch out into different areas, including events.

“I used to work for a magazine, and today I work for a brand,” Alt said on the eve of French Vogue’s 1,000th issue in 2019.

But the big money was always in print, and Vogue Paris sales are dropping steadily from 98,345 in 2017 to 81,962 to 2020, according to data site ACPM.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the new top job in Paris, redefined as “head of editorial content”, went to Eugenie Trochu, who was key to building the magazine’s online presence.

She declared herself “thrilled to be part of Vogue’s international transformation”.

For the curator of the exhibition, it is ironic timing.

“We had no idea it would end like this when we started work on the exhibition,” said Lecallier.

“Who knows where it will go from here.”

The exhibition Vogue Paris 1920-2020 is at the Palais Galliera in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for the exhibition are €14 (€12 for concessions and under 18s go free) and must be reserved online in advance.