Cartier, LVMH Look to Stores Outside Paris for Olympic Retail Boost

FILE PHOTO: The logo of luxury goods group Richemont's flagship brand Cartier is seen at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, January 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of luxury goods group Richemont's flagship brand Cartier is seen at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
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Cartier, LVMH Look to Stores Outside Paris for Olympic Retail Boost

FILE PHOTO: The logo of luxury goods group Richemont's flagship brand Cartier is seen at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, January 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of luxury goods group Richemont's flagship brand Cartier is seen at a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Luxury retailers in European cities outside France are jockeying for business from deep pocketed tourists this summer, betting on a surge in visitors avoiding crowds and street closures in Paris during the Olympic Games.
"Paris will probably be slow," with cities like London, Milan or Barcelona likely seeing a lift in traffic during the event, Cartier CEO Cyril Vigneron said on Friday.
The Summer Games, which run from July 26 to Aug. 11, are probably "not the right time to organize a very important high jewelry celebration in Paris", said Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos. "But we will keep the stores open and be very happy to welcome sports amateurs," he added.
The executives of the Richemont-owned jewelry brands speak from experience. The 2012 Olympics, held in London, drove some serious shoppers to their boutiques in Paris, they said, although it was "neutral" overall for their businesses. Expecting a similar trend this year, they will focus on meeting their wealthy customers where they turn up.
LVMH, the world's largest luxury group and an Olympic sponsor, is also basing its expectations on its experience during previous events in London and Beijing.
"It's usually quite neutral - although it makes our life a little bit more complicated when it comes to supplying products into our stores," said LVMH Chief Financial Officer Jean Jacques Guiony.
According to Reuters, a report commissioned by Paris 2024 last week flagged a possible "crowding out" effect whereby tourists that had planned to come to Paris go elsewhere, but said that it is hard to measure and to predict.
France's governing fashion body, The Federation de la Haute Couture et la Mode, has moved the autumn 2024 haute couture fashion shows forward a week to June 24, straight after the menswear spring 2025 ready-to-wear events. Organizers are also doubling shuttle services between shows as final Olympic preparations are expected to snarl city traffic.
Still, some fashion labels will only hold showroom presentations in Milan this season, due to "logistical difficulties because of the Olympics", Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy's National Fashion Chamber, said.
London retailers, which have suffered from a drop in tourist traffic with the end of UK tax-free shopping, are hoping to capture business from Paris, with preparations well underway at iconic stores Harrods and Selfridges.
"Paris has already been taken off the Chinese tour guide lists for this summer," said Harrods' managing director Michael Ward, who is expecting a significant boost. "We've got to curate the product, we've got to be absolutely on our game to handle it," said Ward.
The department store hopes to draw in shoppers with celebrations of its new Tiffany & Co. high jewelry boutique, designer pop-ups and exclusive products including two new 175th anniversary teddy bears designed by Italian jewelry label Bulgari and makeup label Charlotte Tilbury.
Selfridges plans to attract locals as well as international visitors with sporting events such as a running club and is beefing up its offer of sportswear products.
"We are getting ready for a huge celebration of sport," said CEO Andrew Keith.
Barcelona, meanwhile, is pitching itself as a laid-back alternative to the frenzied Olympic atmosphere in Paris.
"Spain can offer a more relaxed leisure and consumer experience than that which, for weeks, the host city and country of the Games will have," Spanish retail and food industry association AECOC told Reuters.
Some tourists, including from the United States, who do visit the Games, which will mostly be held in venues throughout the French capital, are planning to extend their trips to visit other European countries.
"US travel data appears to imply a halo effect, as in addition to an increase in bookings in France for the Olympics, our data reflects an amplification of intra-European travel by Americans in Europe to certain destinations, such as Spain, Germany and Italy," travel agency eDreams told Reuters.



Sabato De Sarno Unveils Gucci Precision Saturated in Color to Close Milan Fashion Week

 A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)
A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)
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Sabato De Sarno Unveils Gucci Precision Saturated in Color to Close Milan Fashion Week

 A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)
A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci men's Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Milan, Italy, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP)

It’s been creative director musical chairs at some of Italy’s top fashion houses, and the pressure is showing, at least on social media.

Gucci’s Sabato De Sarno presented his third collection in Milan on Monday, still the most highly anticipated runway show of the week as Gucci undergoes a major style transition.

Hours earlier, Valentino, the fashion house that snapped up his predecessor Alessandro Michele, launched images on social media of Michele’s first resort collection for Rome-based Valentino, which previews its collections in Paris. Commentators couldn’t help but notice the similarities to his Gucci years.

Anyone with complicated family dynamics can understand just how fraught the timing was. Gucci is owned by the French conglomerate Kering, which has a 30-percent stake in Valentino, an important but not determinant share. Add to that, De Sarno is a Valentino alum, whose recent resort collection included a pussy bow that was one of the codes Michele brought to Gucci.

Michele's runway debut for Valentino is expected in Paris for womenswear previews in September.

Some highlights from the fourth and final day of Milan Fashion Week, mostly menswear previews for Spring-Summer 2025:

Gucci saturates precise silhouette Sabato De Sarno’s sophomore menswear collection for Gucci was all about precise silhouettes saturated in color. A long, acid-green bonded leather coat over thigh-baring shorts and a netted shirt set the tone for an outing that was both rigorous and edgy.

Models strode through the atrium of Milan’s Triennale design museum, in tribute to De Sarno’s view of museums as "nourishing" spaces. In that vein, he invited 400 fashion students to watch the show, and was meeting with them afterward. Part of the brand’s relaunch has been moving to spaces away from the sprawling Gucci Hub on Milan’s outskirts, as De Sarno lays claim to Italy’s fashion capital one venue at a time.

His Spring-Summer 2025 collection featured wearable elements easily composed to one’s desire, reflecting De Sarno’s wish "that people feel free and welcomed in my clothes."

Amid the structure of the bonded leather jackets and crisp poplin suits, there was a lot of movement, in undulating, vivid repeating prints of surfers and dolphins on boxy bowling shirts, shimmering beaded fringe jackets in shades of lemon or lime, and long-sleeve hand-knit polo shirts sparkling with embedded sequins. A subtle jacquard was a rare sign of the Gucci logo.

Fresh styling conceits included chunky sunglasses that, when not worn, could be strapped backward around the neck with a brightly colored Gucci cord. Highly constructed bags were inspired by archival luggage, and include detachable pieces. Sneakers and scuba slip-ons featured molded soles.

Media-shy De Sarno said in press notes that the collection "speaks about freedom."

"I feel free when there is no distance between my words and my thoughts, between my actions and my heart,” he wrote.

Serena and Venus Williams serve up some Gucci De Sarno has the full endorsement of Serena Williams, who sat in the front row between Kering boss Francois-Henri Pinault and her sister Venus.

“It was a beautiful collection. I think Sabato is a great designer,” Serena Williams said backstage. “Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Williams, dressed in a pretty peach suit with a sparkly knit top, was joined by sister Venus, wearing a Gucci Pantone red leather coat. Venus also showed up at JW Anderson's show Sunday night. Also on hand was Irish actor Paul Mescal, keeping cool in striped shorts and a GG monogrammed blue dress shirt.

Giorgio Armani's North Star There has been one constant at the Giorgio Armani fashion house for the last 49 years, and that’s Giorgio Armani.

His looks are a steady evolution of the relaxed tailoring that has characterized his fashion empire.

Soothing hues set the mood for the Spring-Summer 2024 collection, where the loose, often pleated, trousers were the star. Jackets were worn open, and shirts were often collarless or with casual shawl collars. Silken trousers featured big side pleats, billowing with each step. Small slit pockets provided utility. Vests added a ruffian flair, with or without shirts. Scrunchy sun hats were packable.

Models walked slowly, deliberately, on a runway surrounded by video images of tropical plants — a motif of the season. Some smiled, as the designer has urged in recent seasons.

Turning 90 next month, Armani remains firmly at the center of his fashion group, launched in 1975, and is always on hand to take a bow after his shows.

This round, he was joined by his long-time right-hand-man Leo Dell’Orco, who heads the group's men's style office, and Gianluca Dell’Orco, head of Giorgio Armani men's styling office.

Russell Crowe was front row for the show at Armani’s Milan theater. Clad in jeans, the actor said he was jet-lagged and wanted to be comfortable. He may well have spotted something from the runway that fits that bill.