Daphne Guinness's current fashion exhibit at the Museum at FIT has drawn the ire of peace groups including Code Pink and Jewish Voice for Peace because of the show's principal sponsor, one Lev Leviev. Leviev is a Soviet-born Israeli diamond magnate and real-estate speculator with a reported personal fortune of $1.5 billion; Leviev, though less well-known than the De Beers cartel, is the world's biggest cutter and polisher of diamonds, and his company has been a major player in the Angolan diamond industry since 1998. Nobody's saying the words "blood diamonds," but Angola has
never participated does technically participate in (but has failed to meet the obligations of) the Kimberley Process, and it's known that diamonds funded Angola's bloody 27-year civil war. (Leviev reportedly sided with the rebels who were eventually victorious, which alliance allowed him to corner the Angolan rough-diamond market after the war ended in 2001.) His mining companies in Angola and Namibia, and the private security firms they hire, have been accused of abuses including torture, rape, firing striking workers, and murder by human-rights organizations. FIT's website credits "the generosity of LEVIEV Extraordinary Diamonds" for the exhibit, and Leviev sponsored a party in honor of the show, which Guinness attended. Perhaps just as controversial as his involvement in the diamond trade are Leviev's investments in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank. UNICEF and Oxfam are among the organizations and governments that have distanced themselves from Leviev and his companies. A variety of human rights and peace organizations have written open letters to Guinness, a couture collector and an heiress, and FIT, asking them to cut ties with Leviev. [Adalah-NY]
- According to an anonymous source who spoke to Fashionista, Marc Jacobs has definitively turned down the top job at Christian Dior. Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy — the parent company of Louis Vuitton, which Jacobs designs for, Jacobs' namesake line, and of Dior — reportedly sought Jacobs as early as July, but as of the middle of November, Jacobs is no longer considering their offers. Negotiations allegedly broke down over money (Jacobs wanted eight-figure salaries for himself and his longtime business partner, Robert Duffy) and over the organization of the design team at Dior. Jacobs allegedly wanted to import all of the key players he'd worked with at Vuitton, and essentially pursue the same aesthetic at Dior as he had at Vuitton. LVMH didn't like this idea because, well, where would that leave the cash cow brand of Vuitton? And furthermore, says the source, "Designers probably have declined the job since LVMH has not shown any gratitude towards John Galliano. In fact, he has managed to revamp the House and give the image it still has today despite the scandal. People today see Dior through Galliano's outrageous, romantic, glamorous and innovative vision. To see how he has been forgotten by the leaders of the House in a such [sic] ungrateful way would not attract anyone with self esteem." Lately, the word is LVMH has been courting Tom Ford. [Fashionista]
- Meanwhile, in other Louis Vuitton news, a gang of five masked thieves "neutralized" a security guard and broke into a freight terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, where they made off with pallets of LV merchandise valued at over $400,000. [WWD]
- Black Friday saw record-breaking foot traffic at stores across the country, according to the National Retail Federation. 226 million people bought things this past weekend, up from 212 million one year ago — that is counting both online and in-real-life shopping. The total sales for the weekend was $52.4 billion, versus $45 billion last year. Given persistently high U.S. unemployment, the European debt crisis, the failure of the Congressional supercommittee to reach an agreement on taxes and spending, and overall low confidence in the economy, retail analysts call this weekend's record tills "perplexing." But one thing to keep in mind is that stores opened for (heavily publicized) extended hours this Black Friday weekend. While that certainly ginned up sales, it's expensive to keep a store open, because of overtime pay. So while sales may be up, margins may yet prove to be narrower. [WWD]
- Also, today is "Cyber Monday." Are you buying anything online? [Vogue UK]
- The thing about fashion is that you can be a really successful designer and still give the press nonsense quotes like "Lingerie really is an important standpoint of a wardrobe," and — if anybody even notices — practically nobody will care. Keep on keeping on, Stella McCartney. [WWD]
- And if you run a successful fashion website, you can get away with "...work with brands that were looking to activate in the entertainment and sports space." Someone sounds like a space cadet. [Exposed Zippers]
- Italy's supreme court has overturned the ruling of a lower court and quashed Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's convictions for tax evasion. The tax evasion charge stemmed from the designers' 2004 transfer of their company's ownership to a Luxembourg-based holding company. The public prosecutor in Milan alleged that Dolce & Gabbana never paid €416 million in taxes owed on that deal, and that the entire "move" to Luxembourg was itself a tax dodge. (Which sounds plausible enough — isn't Luxembourg just a tax loophole with mountains?) Gabbana took to the Twitter to celebrate the judgment, even though charges may still be refiled:
"Ladri!!! [‘thieves' in Italian]," Gabbana tweeted, addressing the State. "They don't know what to do to get money out of us." The comments were quickly removed, but Gabbana then tweeted: "It's really true that in Italy they do what they want…as they please.…Perhaps it would be best to leave…" "The door is open, feel free to go," reacted one Roman follower. "If you leave Italy, first remember to pay ALL backed up taxes! And don't come back!," said another.
- We think the point of this post is that Cathy Horyn likes Mitt Romney's hair. [On The Runway]
- Mary Quant first got the idea to popularize the miniskirt when she was a child. "During [one ballet class], I could hear exciting music coming from next door, and when I peeked through the glass I saw a tap-dancing class take place, and in the middle of the room, a girl a couple of years older than me who was the vision of everything I wanted to be. She was wearing a short pleated skirt about 10 inches long, with a skinny black sweater, black tights and a bob haircut. What struck me was how the whole outfit focused on what she had on her feet: a pair of white ankle socks, and a pair of patent tap shoes with ankle straps." [Vogue UK]
- In the slender Venn diagram overlap between "chocolate cake" and "fashion," there's Lanvin's new kids' line. If you've got a recipe for chocolate cake that you think might impress the executive chef at the Ritz Escoffier cooking school, send it to Lanvin. You might get a pair of $9,000 shoes for a 4-year-old for your troubles. [WWD]
- Alek Wek traces her experiences with food — from the war-induced famine of childhood in her native Sudan, to the phenomenon she encountered in fashion of people starving themselves by choice, to the U.S.'s oversupply of (mostly unhealthy) food — in an essay for Newsweek. She writes:
"I remember at one rather avant-garde show, I had to wear clothes stained with fake blood and pretend to fight with another model on the catwalk while wearing towering heels. I just tried not to fall, to get to the end of the runway and back while on my feet. In this world, I found, many people were hungry too, but for different reasons. They wanted their bodies to look a certain way, whether their bodies were meant to or not. They chose not to eat."
- Maggie Rizer gave birth to her first child, a son, on Wednesday. The model and her husband have named the baby Alexander. [Maggie Rizer's Blog]
- There's a new modeling reality show debuting tonight, E!'s Scouted. It centers on the New York agency One Management, which is run by Scott Lipps, and might be watchable if you're very into Beri Smither. (Which we are!) [WWD]
- Beverly Johnson is getting a show on Oprah's OWN network. [HuffPo]
- Lara Stone hates being stared at. So cut it out already. [Allure]
- An ex-gymnast and current NYPD diver who acts as a personal trainer to both athletes — Tom Brady — and models — Selita Ebanks, Anna Jagodzinska — says the models are tougher. [WSJ]
- And now, a moment with Miranda Kerr. Miranda, are you actually pretty boring?
Even if her workout routine, diet, and husband, Orlando Bloom, weren't the only things reporters ever asked about, Kerr shows a strong reluctance to utter any sentences not purely banal. She insists she owes her return to bra-modeling shape to yoga, smoothies with "noni juice and vitamineral greens," and her organic-skin-care line, Kora Organics — the very mention of which turns on her infomercial voice. She and Bloom are practicing Nichiren Buddhists, but she doesn't want to talk about that. He's good at changing diapers since "he's a Capricorn" and "they're really hands-on." (Kerr is an Aries: "Not shy and kind of out there.") They have homes in L.A. and the English countryside, as well as a New York apartment that is "too small," so they just stay at hotels. "I really feel like the world is our home," she says.