Versace at the Met

 

After visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I fell in love with the elegant display of fashion throughout the decades from both American and European designers. Unlike most museums, the Met did not display the garments as a timeline, they displayed them based on aesthetics. For example, the red dresses were in one section and the more abstract dresses were in a separate room. Though I found the majority of the pieces shown absolutely beautiful, there was one in particular that caught my eye. This was a black evening dress with gold detailing by Versace.

First of all, the brand Versace was founded by the Italian designer Gianni Versace in 1978. His siblings and other relatives have played a massive role in the brand as well especially his sister Donatella. In general, Versace dresses tend to be sleek with a little bit of scandal. The dress displayed in the Met fits that image. It is long, sleek, tight fitting, has gold safety pin embellishments, and has cutouts and a deep v neck for exposure. The dress is described as “2016; origina design: spring/summer 1994 Black silk-synthetic crinkle-crepe with gold-toned metal safety pins embellished with crystals.” This piece was gifted to the Met by Donatella and Allegra Versace.

Though this specific dress is contemporary, it was inspired by one of Gianni Versace’s original designs in 1994. Gianni Versace was the first to bring in the glitz, and flash into Italian fashion during this time. He did this by creating his own avant garde rendition of The Little Black Dress originally designed by Coco Chanel. That dress is known as one of Versace’s most iconic pieces. Unlike the Little Black Dress, Versace’s rendition was scandalous. With gold embellishments, clingy material, a low v neck, and a side cut outs, Gianni Versace changed the image of a once conservative style.

The Eight P’s of Fashion: Chanel in Comparison to Louis Vuitton

 

 

When it comes to fashion there is nothing like haute couture. Perhaps the country that serves as the homeland to the most prestigious high end brands is France. Two of these brands are Chanel and Louis Vuitton. For many years both these brands have maintained a rather high status by following most of the eight P’s. These being: performance, pedigree, paucity, personna, public figures, placement, public relations (pr), and pricing. All of these factors are very important and if they are used properly, a brand stays prestigious.

Performance: First of all, it is very important that a brand has a strong performance. “Performance refers to the delivery of superior experience of a luxury brand at two levels – first, at a product level and second, at an experiential level” (Arora, “8 P’s of Luxury Brand Marketing”) This is best defined as a strong representation showcasing prestige, a lifestyle, a hidden meaning, and the product is high quality. To start off with Chanel, the consumer can easily see that they have a high experimental level. This is the specific value or meaning that a brand represents. It is clear that Chanel represents individualism through their advertisements. In the majority of Chanel ads there is only one model present and the background is never vibrant to distract the viewer from that one model. If a vibrant piece is ever present in a Chanel ad, there is only one. Not only does Chanel have a high experimental level, they also have a high product level. Chanel products whether they are clothing or accessories alway have a unique design and are most certainly classified as high quality. Coco Chanel was the first designer to release many new fashion pieces and ideas that became standard in today’s world. Chanel was the first brand to release The Little Black Dress, trousers for women, business suits for women, and of course the classic flap bag. All of Chanel’s pieces were designed to be comfortable, durable for the workplace, and of course chic. Chanel was the first brand ever to release clothing that no longer required a corset and allowed female consumers to be comfortable yet stylish enough to be in the business world. Every garment under the name of Chanel is hand sewn precisely. Any one could notice that the stitching on the quilted flap bags is perfect. Since Chanel’s merchandise has a high experimental and product level, the performance is very strong.

Along with Chanel, Louis Vuitton has a very good performance as well. To start off, Louis Vuitton has a strong experimental level. Louis Vuitton represents travel and adventure and the consumer can see this through their products and advertisements. Louis Vuitton started off by making custom trunks used for travel; primarily for safaris. Nowadays, their luggage is very popular amongst the wealthy. In many Louis Vuitton advertisements, the models appear to be on some sort of adventure. The backgrounds often show some sort of landscape and the model in placed in the foreground and appears to be living an adventure. Louis Vuitton wants to show their consumers that their merchandise is durable for travel and adventure and encourages them to go out and explore the world. Not only does Louis Vuitton have a strong experimental level, the brand has a strong product level as well. Louis Vuitton merchandise is durable, precisely sewn, and most certainly has a unique design. No other brand has designed such a gorgeous coated canvas tote that is flawless from every last stitch to a perfectly aligned seam. Since the bags are coated canvas opposed to leather, they can withstand harsh conditions.

Pedigree: Second of all, a pedigree can have a massive effect on a brand’s reputation. A reputable pedigree will keep a brand’s status high and retain popularity. “Many luxury brands have a rich pedigree and extraordinary history that turn into an inseparable part of the brand’s mystique. This mystique is generally built around the exceptional legendary founder character of the past, making up an integral part of the brand story and brand personality.” (Arora, “8 P’s of Luxury Brand Marketing”). Chanel is probably the brand with the strongest pedigree. Coco Chanel opened her first shop in 1910. This was a time when male designers ruled the fashion industry and all of their designs were elaborate, not functional, and had one major problem in common, this was the corset. Coco Chanel felt that it was time to make a change. She wanted her clothing to be simple, functional, timeless, yet ever so chic. Coco Chanel designed many pieces that evolved and became staples in a typical woman’s wardrobe. The Little Black Dress, the Chanel style suit, and trousers for woman were originally designed by Coco Chanel. As we all know, they are now classics and many other brands have designed affordable variations. After Coco Chanel passed away in the 1970s, Karl Lagerfeld took over the business in 1980 and modernized Chanel, however he kept it simple and elegant at the same time. That is exactly how Coco Chanel would have wanted it to stay. To continue to live Chanel’s legacy and enhance the pedigree, Chanel launched the Coco Mademoiselle Campaigns in 1981 (right after Lagerfeld took over), 2008, 2009, and 2011, to promote new fragrances. Chanel No. 5 is obviously Chanel’s most iconic fragrance created by Coco Chanel herself and was the first perfume to ever have it’s own scent opposed to being floral or fruity. To keep the brand at the top, Chanel launched new unique fragrances including Chance Chanel along with its variations and Coco Mademoiselle. The name Chanel has been admired for about a century. For many years it has been one of the top couture brands and millions of people have dreamed of owning a Chanel handbag for many decades.

The brand Louis Vuitton has a strong pedigree as well. At the age of sixteen, a young Louis Vuitton decided to become a trunk maker. In 1837, he traveled to Paris by foot and worked for a box maker named Monsieur Marechal. During this time there was no easy mode of transportation. Most travelling was either done by horseback, a horse and carriage, train, boat, or by foot. Therefore all luggage had to be very strong, made well, and durable due to the rough handling and conditions. Louis Vuitton used his skills properly and after just working a short amount of time he became a valued craftsman. His specialty became custom designed boxes and trunks that his clients would use for travel. Many of his first trunks were wooden but then he started to use his signature brown check print. After 17 years, Louis Vuitton opened his own shop in Paris. In 1859 his business started out small with just 20 employees but by the year 1900 there were approximately 100 employees and 225 by 1914. Throughout many decades, Louis Vuitton’s original shop continued to expand. The Vuittons’ residence was added on and has been made into a private museum today. His original shop called Asnières is still where Louis Vuitton’s custom merchandise in manufactured. One major problem that travelers with trunks had to deal with was theft. Burglars could easily break into their trunks and Louis Vuitton and his son George put that to a stop. In 1886 the pair developed a single lock system with two spring buckles. After several years passed, George Vuitton patented the design and it became revolutionary and is still used to this day. George Vuitton even challenged magician Harry Houdini to escape a Vuitton trunk and he even turned down the challenge knowing it was impossible. As time passed, the Louis Vuitton brand branched out from just designing trunks to designing handbags, clothing, accessories, and they are about to release their first fragrance. To celebrate 100th anniversary of the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram canvas, a special collection was released in 1996 consisting of a handbag, a tote, a hobo bag, and of course two small luggage bags.

Paucity: Paucity is best defined as the rarity of materials or techniques used on a product. The three kinds of paucity include natural, technology driven, and tactical. Natural paucity is the rarity or value of the materials that the product is made from. On the majority of Chanel handbags, lambskin and calfskin are used. These materials aren’t necessarily rare but they are expensive. The majority of Chanel clothing is made from expensive materials as well. Wools such as cashmere and tweed are often used on Chanel suits and the footwear is primarily made of leather. On the other hand, Louis Vuitton primary uses coated canvas for the majority of their goods which is neither rare or expensive. However, the quality is very good and coated canvas is very durable. Technology driven paucity involves the technology that had to be developed to make a specific product and the time needed to manufacture. Though there was no new technology developed for Chanel, each product is made very carefully and precisely. Every stitch is always flawless. This means that each product takes ages to make. On the other hand, Louis Vuitton developed a way to create the coated canvas used on a large portion of their merchandise. Just like Chanel, Louis Vuitton takes all the time that is needed to carefully and precisely sew each good. Therefore both brands do have technology driven paucity. Finally, there is tactical paucity. “Tactical- driven paucity are more promotional in nature such as the limited editions or the special series to generate artificial desire and demand.” (Arora, “8 P’s of Luxury Brand Marketing”). To achieve tactical paucity, many brands release special collections, customized goods, or limited edition products. Chanel often releases limited edition handbags that differ from their typical handbags. These limited edition bags tend to have properties such as rhinestones or other blingy embellishments. Chanel also releases limited edition cosmetics primarily around the holiday season. This way the products sell more rapidly because consumers tend to do most of their bulk buying around the holiday season. Also if the consumer knows the product will only be available for a short time, they are more eager to buy it. Just like Chanel, Louis Vuitton has released multiple limited edition handbags in the past. Also just like Chanel’s limited edition bags, Louis Vuitton limited edition bags highly differ from their standard bags. When it comes to limited edition, Louis Vuitton has a wide range from a floral design incorporated into their traditional style, to bags with gaudy colors and fonts. Considering these products are limited edition, the demand is a lot higher therefore a huge profit is made. In addition to limited edition products, both Chanel and Louis Vuitton offer product customization. In the stores you can have products monogrammed and special order a handbag however you want it. Both these brands also offer custom design haute couture to those who are able to afford it. Clearly both Chanel and Louis Vuitton have high paucity.

Persona: It is essential for every brand to have persona whether it is a luxury brand or not. “The persona of a luxury brand is largely a result of – first, its distinctive projection plus coherence of its applications across consumer touch-points and second, the brand communication through its advertising.” (Arora, “8 P’s of Luxury Brand Marketing”). The most common aspect of persona is the visual brand identity. This refers to the brands personality and visual appearance. For example, Chanel has a very simple logo. This logo consists of two crossed C’s and they help represent Chanel’s minimalistic yet elegant image. On the majority of Chanel products this logo is present. It is usually made of either silver, gold, or rose gold metal. In some of Chanel’s more embellished products like sunglasses or jewelry, the C’s are often made on rhinestones and in some cases diamonds. As I previously stated, Chanel’s advertisements also represent individualism because in most ads, only one model is present or there is focus on only one product. Unfortunately, Chanel’s Instagram does not represent a strong persona considering there is no proper aesthetic however, through their online advertisements, there persona is very strong. In one of Chanel’s most recent ads, they once again represent the concept of individualism with just one model present and the focal point being on just one piece, a colorful skirt. Along with Chanel, Louis Vuitton has a strong persona. Their LV logo is iconic along with their brown check print. These patterns are commonly found on their handbags, wallets, and luggage. As I previously stated, the Louis Vuitton brand represents travel and adventure. The majority of their ad campaigns showcase a trip of some sort. Their most recent ad campaign is The 2017 Cruise Campaign. This features elegant clean fashions suitable for a luxurious cruise. The ads also showcase a scenic background bringing in the concept of travel. On social media, Louis Vuitton does show a few travel images but for the most part they just show their products. Therefore their online persona is not the strongest. Other than that Louis Vuitton does have a very strong persona along with Chanel. This definitely helps them stay at the top of the fashion world.

Public Figures: Public figures are a great way to either enhance or devalue a brand’s reputation. If Duchess Kate Middleton promoted a brand, then that brand would gain a very high reputation. On the other hand, if someone like Lindsay Lohan represented a brand, that brand’s reputation would be very poor. In the 1960’s Jackie Kennedy was a huge promoter for Chanel. Being the first lady many people looked up to her and since she often wore Chanel suits, people saw Chanel as rather desirable and as a sign of superiority. As time passed Keira Knightley became a Chanel public figure along with Nicole Kidman. Keira Knightley serves as a great public figure for Chanel because she is a highly respected actress who participates in charity work. Nicole Kidman also serves as a great public figure because she is also a highly respected actress and producer. Consumers who look up to these public figures either start to or continue to think highly of Chanel.

Moving on, Louis Vuitton uses Angelina Jolie as a public figure. As we all know she is a highly respected actress, producer and his known for her charity work. Angelina Jolie also travels a lot to help children in need. Her story on her trip to Cambodia is also featured on the Louis Vuitton website. This definitely fits Louis Vuitton’s image. As stated before, public figures are the ones who set the brands reputation, not the designers themselves. Both Chanel and Louis Vuitton did a great job of selecting their public figures.

Placement: The placement, primarily the stores location is probably one of the most important P’s because the location determines the brands status. “The retail branded environment in luxury branding is all about heightening the consumer’s brand experience and amplifying the brand aura. Hence, the branded environment, the movement of truth, is where it must “live” the brand by orchestrating immaculate detailing that engages all senses of the discerning audience.” (Arora, “8 P’s of Luxury Brand Marketing”). In other words, the consumer wants to have a luxurious experience to go along with the high price. The House of Chanel in Paris has a very prestigious location of 31 Rue Cambon. Chanel’s other location in Paris is at the iconic Hotel Ritz. Both these locations show how prestigious Chanel is and makes the brand desirable amongst consumers. Chanel has a few locations in New York and these include spots between Fifth and Madison Avenue on 57th and Madison Avenue and 64th Street. The 57th Street store is neighbors Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Prada, and more. The Madison Avenue location neighbors smaller high end boutiques. Chanel also has a line of sports equipment; primarily for expensive sports. These include tennis rackets, surf boards, golf clubs, skis, snowboards, and equestrian gear. Chanel also makes multiple appearances in the most iconic fashion movie, The Devil Wears Prada. Throughout the film the main character Andrea is spotted wearing Chanel necklaces, and boots.

Moving on, Louis Vuitton also has three prestigious locations in Paris; one of these location being their original shop. In New York, Louis Vuitton is located on Fifth Avenue one block away from Tiffany’s and down the street from Bergdorf Goodman and the Plaza Hotel. Both the Paris and the New York locations are rather prestigious and attract a lot of tourists and consumers. Therefore Louis Vuitton is seen as superior and desirable. Louis Vuitton shops are also located on the first floor of many high end department stores including Saks, Harrods, Selfridges, and Bergdorf Goodman. The Louis Vuitton brand is never sold within the department stores so it does not interfere with sales. Plus it makes the brand seem more exclusive. There is a Louis Vuitton sighting in the movie Grown Ups. When the wealthy family leaves to take a trip to Italy, we see them packing multiple Louis Vuitton suitcases into their car. However, this was a poor choice. Grown Ups is a gross out comedy film and it could have lowered Louis Vuitton’s reputation.

Public Relations: Both Chanel and Louis Vuitton have very strong public relations. Consumers think very highly of these brands primarily due to their pedigree and paucity. Both of these brands have a fascinating history which I have previously summed up and their products are made flawlessly. Chanel and Louis Vuitton are both featured in Paris Fashion Week. Both of these shows are attended by top magazine editors and celebrities. There are not to many bloggers to post the clothing on the internet. Throughout many decades, both Chanel and Louis Vuitton remained top brands due to the positive opinions from the public.

Pricing: Pricing is most definitely the most significant factor when it comes to sales and status. Chanel has every right to charge high prices for their goods due to their pedigree and paucity. If they did not have a strong history and well made products, no consumer would purchase any of their products for a high price. The same rules apply for Louis Vuitton. However, Louis Vuitton almost had a massive problem with their pricing. In Japan their handbags were selling for a lot less money due to counterfeits and bargaining. Thankfully, there was an even price set throughout the world so Louis Vuitton would not suffer. Neither Chanel or Louis Vuitton have sales because it will ruin their reputation and the value will decrease. Also the higher the price, the more desirable the brand seems. This is why you will never find a Chanel or Louis Vuitton product in stores such as TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. Other high end brands have made that same mistake such as Calvin Klein and Michael Kors and their reputations went down hill. Due to their high prices, Chanel and Louis Vuitton will stay at the top. As i stated before, Louis Vuitton made the smart decision of having separate boutiques within high end department stores. This way the brand could easily set an even price on their products worldwide and the department stores sales or policies would not interfere. If Chanel followed the same route, they would be even more successful.

As we know, Chanel and Louis Vuitton are two of the most prestigious brands in the world due to the eight P’s. Both of these brands would not be successful without performance, pedigree, paucity, persona, public figures, placement, public relations, and pricing. If Chanel and Louis Vuitton continue to follow the eight P’s, they will continue to thrive throughout future decades and possibly centuries.

Shine On~ Dana

Oodles of Poodles

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While living in New York, I saw many beautiful sights. The shimmering lights, the shining waters of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the sprawling Sheep Meadow, but most of all, the poodles that roam the sidewalks of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Here are some of the lovely poodles and other furry friends I have encountered.

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Barneys: Madison Avenue vs Chelsea

 

Recently I came across a reflection I wrote whilst studying in Manhattan. It compaired the Barneys in the Upper East Side to the Barney’s down in Chelsea. I found the differences to be quite fascinating and worth sharing with all of you. For those who have been to both stores, the difference in the atmosphere is rather interesting.

Barneys, Uptown vs Downtown

Barneys is a multi brand high end retailer in New York City. Barneys has two locations; these being the original on Madison Avenue and downtown in Chelsea. Though they are both the same store, the atmosphere is very different in each shop.

The Barneys on Madison Avenue is very glamorous. When you first enter the shop you are serenaded by an array of fragrances and hundreds of handbags catch your eye. As you walk around the main floor, you can see handbag after handbag with hints of sparkling jewelry thrown in between. To the average customer this may come across as overwhelming. The majority of the handbags are placed on glass shelves (that do fall down and shatter on occasion). Though the sight is aesthetically pleasing, the bags do blend in with their surroundings. On the main floor, warm sophisticated tones are used on the walls and the floors are dark tile. The shoe department resembles any other shoe department from a high end shop. The shoes are displayed on tables, not shelves or racks. There is also elegant grey seating placed accordingly so customers can sit while trying on shoes. On the floors where clothing is sold the setup is very simple. All the clothes are displayed in a very neat manner. The display of clothing primarily gives of a monochromatic vibe. Most of the colors tend to be on the darker side. Though the staff is not rude or unhelpful, they aren’t very friendly. In general, the Upper East Side tends to give off an exclusive vibe, therefore the uptown Barneys does the same. Each department is separate and closed off from one another. Even the restaurant is hidden behind closed glass doors to give off an exclusive feel. It is clear that the Barney’s on Madison Avenue is geared towards the stereotypical Upper East Side consumer. These customers tend to be older, on the conservative side, and sophisticated. Since the Upper East Side is known as an expensive and exclusive place to live, the people who shop on the Upper East Side expect that kind of atmosphere. Therefore Barneys on Madison Avenue caters to their needs.

On the other hand, the Barneys in Chelsea is rather different. The vibe there is more laid back, inclusive, and artsy opposed to the classy and exclusive environment of the Madison Avenue location. The entrance to the Chelsea Barney’s is not as grand and overwhelming. The set up is minimalistic with white walls and handbags displayed not in clusters. This way the customers can clearly see each handbag without looking at many bags at once. To a young customer, this is more appealing because they can choose quickly and the setup is more artistic. The young customers are also less conservative than the older ones so they are more drawn to color and embellishments. While I was at the uptown Barneys, I noticed a simple elephant bag. Downtown they sold the same bag but with piercings and gages. That would only be appealing to a young customer. Also at the downtown Barneys, the clothes tend to be a lot more colorful and some are even sports themed. Since Chelsea tends to be an artsy neighborhood in Manhattan, Chelsea shoppers want an artistic experience. Therefore the shop is set up to their needs. Even the furniture has an artistic set up. The same elegant grey tufted chairs are used, however they are set up in abstract clusters. This gives off an inclusive vibe where customers can all sit together unlike the setup at the uptown Barneys were each seat is separate. Along with the uptown Barneys, the downtown Barneys has a restaurant as well. However, unlike the other, this restaurant has an open setting giving off an inclusive vibe. Not only is the physical set up more inclusive, the attitude is too. The staff members at the Chelsea Barneys are a lot friendlier. They are always welcoming and are willing to help any customer no matter their class/status. The downtown Barneys is far more inclusive than the uptown Barneys because the majority of downtown shoppers are younger and prefer that kind of environment. In a Ted Ed that we previously watched in class, we learned that millennials prefer inclusivity while generation x members prefer exclusivity. Younger customers are also searching for an an avant garde atmosphere as well. Therefore the downtown Barneys caters to their needs.

Back to the present

Though I find both Barneys to be rather exquisite, I have to say that I am a little biased to the Upper East Side so the Barneys on Madison Avenue is the winner for me. By the way…I earned a 100 on this assignment.

Shine on ~xoxo Dana

Turn Anything into a Thing

At some point in our lives we have tried to or have seen others try to make something a “thing” whether it was something small like a phrase or something larger like a fashion statement or concept. A perfect example is when Gretchen from Mean Girls tried to make her made up phrase “so fetch” a thing. For those of you who have seen Mean Girls, it is clear that “fetch did not happen” in both the film and reality. However, in the fashion industry, any idea is possible. Therefore, anything can become a thing.

If the fashion industry had one rule, it would be to avoid anything too cliche. When it comes to visual merchandising in a high end environment, the ideas are always unique and non repetitive. With just a little imagination, someones wildest visions could become a reality.

This whole idea in the first place was triggered by the holiday window display in Bergdorf Goodman. Many customers were fascinated by their safari theme especially since it was unexpected and stood out from the Christmas displays in every other store. However, there was one window in particular that blew my mind. A mannequin was shown riding on a rabbits back. Whether it was weeks, months, or years before the display was created, someone had a vision of a human “bunny back riding”. After developing their idea, Bergdorf Goodman was able to turn someone’s vision into a reality. Therefore, “bunny back riding” became a thing even though technically it is physically impossible.

Turning an idea into a “thing” works for more than just the fashion industry. If you have a spectacular vision, work on it and see where it brings you. Perhaps it will become a reality.

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The display at Bergdorf Goodman

Style Symbolism in Theatre: Love/Sick

This is one of the rare occasions where I’ll be discussing a somewhat personal experience on this site. Perhaps the only reason why I’m doing this is to show you a perfect example of how different styles or fashion statements can represent a particular meaning. Over the past weekend I took a trip back to my hometown to see a play that my younger brother was performing in. The show was called Love/Sick and it consisted of a series of vignettes all revolving around the same motif, romance.

Many of the characters portrayed in the vignettes wore an article of clothing that was red. As many of us know, red symbolizes love, temptation, and romance. On some characters it was more prominent than others. For example, my friend Alexandra played a character who was very open about her romantic feelings towards her significant other. She just so happened to be wearing a red dress as well to visually display her emotions. On the other hand, my brother’s character who was in a separate vignette, was trying to bring out the romance in his relationship so he wore a red t-shirt that slightly peeked through a white dress shirt.

Another important aspect of style symbolism that appeared in the vignette my brother performed in was the fact that he was not wearing a tie while his lover was. My brothers character was opening up to his significant other while his lover was holding back. His emotions were basically tied in. The tie represented contained feelings while the lack of a tie represented open feelings.

If any of you have the opportunity to see the play Love/Sick, make sure to look carefully because you will notice many examples of style symbolism.

 

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Here is a photo of the cast and crew of Love/Sick. I do not own this image nor do I claim it as my own. By brother is the one in the second row wearing the white dress shirt.