This late point in the week seems like the perfect time to announce our intention to immigrate to whatever world Tim Walker and Tilda Swinton are living in, because it sure looks magical. Walker shot the actress for a Surrealism-inspired W cover and editorial in Las Pozas, the vast estate filled with Surrealist sculpture and architecture built in central Mexico by the poet and art patron Edward James. Swinton tells the magazine that, growing up, she never really felt beautiful:
“Being beautiful was never really something I associated with people I knew—certainly not girls,” she says. “Boys, maybe. Horses, yes, and certainly my great-grandmother Elsie Swinton, whose imperial grandeur was like a watermark.” A drawing of Elsie, by John Singer Sargent, once hung in Tilda’s family’s sitting room, just above the television. “I saw her looking out of the corner of her eye, straight at me, during my teenage years—a knowing, engaging, and infinitely amused attitude,” Swinton recalls. “She was dark and luscious, unlike the rest of us, who are sandy and pale. Not looking like her felt, somehow, like being born on the wrong side of the beauty tracks.”
One of fashion's power couples, supermodel Kristen McMenamy and her husband of 17 years, top photographer Miles Aldridge, filed for divorce in London. The high court has granted a preliminary divorce decree that will become final, barring further legal intervention by the parties, in around six weeks. McMenamy said that she found living with Aldridge "intolerable," and Aldridge stipulated that he had been unfaithful in court filings. Although none of the newspapers or tabloids that have covered the story so far have mentioned whom the photographer was cheating with, there are rumors that Aldridge is gay. The couple has two children. "We have as good a relationship as you can expect after everything that's happened," says McMenamy, who has been seeing an art dealer named Ivor Braka. [Daily Mail]
On May 20, Suno is launching a collaboration with Uniqlo. All the pieces will be priced $19.90-$39.90. [Fashionista]
Kenneth Cole, shut up. [BuzzFeed]
• Bernard Arnault, the luxury magnate and head of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, said at a conference in Paris that he found his company in possession of a 22.6% stake in Hermès quite by accident:
"We found ourselves owning shares in this company…unexpectedly."
Over a period of several months in 2010, LVMH acquired 17.1% of the family-controlled luxury house via cash-settled equity swaps, which at the time allowed companies to circumvent France's usual securities trading disclosure laws, meaning the stealthy acquisition was not immediately noticed by Hermès. LVMH then upped its stake, over Hermès' loud objections (and subsequent lawsuit), to 22.6%. Or, as Arnault puts it, "We made a financial investment, and that financial investment had an outcome that we had not expected." [WWD]
• "In case you are new to Sephora, the name is a contraction of the Greek word “sephos” which stands for beauty, and the name Zipporah, the exceptionally beautiful wife of Moses in the book of Exodus." [Forbes]
• Vendors and lenders who extend credit to J.C. Penney are increasingly wary of the troubled retailer, which lost nearly $1 billion, laid of thousands of workers, and suffered a 25% decline in sales in 2012. Penney has drawn $850 million from its revolving credit facility, but also works with factors (factoring, a common form of financing in fashion, gives a company money on credit based on the value of its current outstanding accounts receivable). Some of the factors who finance Penney and its vendors are, reports Women's Wear Daily, getting nervous:
Factors have imposed a roughly 1 percent surcharge on the vendors financing shipments to Penney’s and some are beginning to grumble that the company isn’t communicating enough with its lenders. “The concern is they’re losing money, they don’t know how much money they’re going to lose in cash burn in the first quarter and we haven’t been able to get information from them,” said one financial source. “They’re not giving us a budget that says to us, every month this is what they’re going to burn [through].”
• J.C. Penney did win one small victory in its ongoing legal tussle with Macy's over the right to sell Martha Stewart-designed homewares. Penney announced in 2011 that it would be launching a Martha-branded collection, Macy's countered that its exclusive contract with Stewart ought to prevent such a collaboration, and the two have been suing each other — with Macy's also suing Martha Stewart's company for good measure — ever since. In the meantime, J.C. Penney went ahead and manufactured a whole bunch of Martha-branded goods, which were scheduled to hit stores this month and next. A judge ruled that Penney could sell the wares if they were rebranded to look like the company's house label, Macy's appealed and was granted a temporary restraining order. But now a higher court has quashed the restraining order. The goods in question cannot be associated in any way with the Martha Stewart name, so shoppers are supposed to have no way of knowing they were designed by Stewart's team. The lawsuits over the central contract dispute are ongoing. [WWD]
• Lily Cole is launching a social network called Impossible.com which will encourage users to offer one another their skills and talents for free. The project, which is currently in beta at Oxford and Cambridge universities, is backed by Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales. "Giving triggers social cohesion," Cole has said. "It's also the basis for an economy not based on money." This sounds like a nice idea and all, but we note in passing that the people who profess the most interest in economies that don't revolve around money tend to have rather a lot of money themselves. [Cnet, Telegraph]
• Around 35 people protested outside the Juicy Couture flagship on Fifth Avenue in support of two workers who say their full-time hours were cut to part-time as part of the company's strategy to avoid having to offer retail employees health and other benefits. Juicy Couture says it has more full-time employees at the store now than it did one year ago. [WWD]
• Well, this is a blast from the past: the new creative director of Thierry Mugler is...Thierry Mugler. The designer replaces Nicola Formichetti, who departed earlier this month for Diesel. Women's wear head Sebastien Pegné and men's wear head Romain Kremer have also left the house. [WWD]
• The Wall Street Journal is on the buyer's remorse beat:
Sometimes the skirt or shoes were bought on a whim. Other times, a blue mood demands ill-advised retail therapy. Maybe the sale was too good to pass up. Or maybe the outfit was perfect for the thinner, edgier, wealthier person you aspired to become.
"Generally you like it, but it's a little tight or a little baggy. And you think 'Oh well, it's a minor flaw. It won't bother me in the long run.' Then, that turns out to be the very thing that keeps you from wearing it," says consumer psychologist Miriam Tatzel in Nanuet, N.Y. Other times, "You think you might have a use for it in the future, but that day never comes." [...]
The conventional wisdom that shoppers regret splurges isn't true, research found. In fact, shoppers most regretted, over the long term, passing up an indulgence for something practical or less expensive, according to research in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2008 by Ran Kivetz, a professor of marketing at Columbia University Business School, and Anat Keinan, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.
• A new documentary called The Director focuses on Frida Giannini, the creative director of Gucci. It was directed by Christina Voros, a film-school friend of James Franco, who, as a longtime face of Gucci, facilitated the introduction. The film, shot over an 18-month period during which Giannini announced her romantic relationship with Gucci C.E.O. Patrizio Di Marco and then her pregnancy, examines the changing role of the fashion designer and the economics of the luxury industry. [WWD]
• Christian Lacroix says he finds Elsa Schiaparelli still casts an "intimidating" shadow, but that doing a couture collection for the soon-to-be-revived brand "seems natural to me, almost obvious—let’s say logical." Lacroix reiterates that the collection is a one-off, adding, "the house is about to name a creative director." [Style.com]
• And now, a moment with Sharon Olds. Olds wrote a poem about being shot last year for Vogue. It's titled "Vogue Shoot," and this is an excerpt:
in the drizzle, on a lawn, by a bush with a lot of water on it,
Mark said, Yes, that’s it, chin down
a little, now turn to the side, slower, chin
down, yes! Yes! And the tallest,
leanest, one of us, held
the huge, white umbrella up,
and Fernando would soar forward, and comb
the one hair across my eye
away — we all danced together,
for an hour [...] I was
a worker, with my fellow workers,
our muse the glossy page, our muse
the reader, the woman or man under
the dryer, working for the hope of some beauty, some
truth in our deeply troubled place and time.
Images of Aldridge and McMenamy via Getty.