Paris is one of the most romantic, beautiful and luxurious cities in the world. The beauty of the people found it in, the fashion, the food, the whole atmosphere is simple amazing, and luckily enough I was able to visit the city last week. Looking at Paris on a fashion level, the city is perfect. The home of Haute Couture, Paris screams luxury, and the whole experience will be unforgettable. The Chanel Flag Ship store, as well as Louis Vuitton, the whole elegance and welcome from the city is just incredible, and the layout of the streets, and the hustle and bustle of the city centre is just phenomenal. The layout reminds me very much of New York, with blocks around the main shopping centre: Lefayette. The day was perfectly balanced between Fashion Shopping and sightseeing! I would recommend Paris is a place to visit if you have any sort of interest in fashion, the whole ora of the city is just beautiful!
Over the years, the Fashion and Textile Museum has held so many incredible and memorable fashion exhibitions, which have always been a great inspiration for my work and looking into greater detail of the history of fashion. This season, it focuses on Knitwear; Chanel to Westwood. The vintage inspired knitwear focuses on the 1920’s jersey, the 1930’s swimwear collection, all the way to Vivienne Westwood and Julien MacDonald’s work. This range of designers and the impact that the whole exhibition has is just incredible, and the art movements over time become so impacting as you enter the world of knitwear.
When looking around the exhibition, my favourite piece of knitwear would have to be Julien MacDonald’s’ Mixed Synthetic 1900’s sequinned dress. The change between the inner body within the dress and the high neck was just such a different style and added such a power to the piece. Although a neck length, tight, short sleeved garment, there was something very uniquely beautiful about it, and the whole piece was so delicate yet powerful in itself. The panelled body had this incredible, yet simplistic, pattern of silver tones which shaped the figure perfectly. I believe this was one of the most interesting and diverse exhibition that the Fashion and Textile Museum have displayed, and I thought it was just fantastic.
STRENGTHS: Dior itself has so many strengths, but those which have drawn the company out the ground is the individuality and strong sense of narrative and the creation of ‘the dream’. Over the years Dior has created such a passion for the brand, and the need for it, which is why, 60 years on the company is still ever moving with the fast paced industry.
WEAKNESSES: Although the company is very well developed, it has only a few downfalls, due to the change of designers over the years, at points there has been very little stability within the business, and the change of the personalities being injected into the brand has meant that in some cases there has been a large change in style and designs of certain pieces.
OPPORTUNITIES: Dior is very aware as a company, and keeps up to date with all events. The Dior Harrods event in 2013, promoted the brand once again and allowed a whole range of audiences to view the garments and styles. The experiences which Dior choose to exploit are perfect opportunities for sales, and for the audiences.
THREATS: Along with threats comes strong competition within the industry, and in this case, the threats lie with Chanel, and the fact that there is such a strong connection between the two brands. However, threats also lie with the designers, as in the short stay of the designer Bill Gaytten in 2011 for Dior, this can cause threats as it can have a lasting effect on the brand essence.
The biggest competition of the Haute Couture world, Chanel, has just released their new Chanel No.5 advert; created by Award Winning Director Baz Luhrmann including the beautiful Gisele Bundchen, it is such an interestingly passionate new promotional element to the brand. Let alone it is set in the beautiful, dreamy land of New York’s Queensboro Bridge, the whole setting, theme and narrative of the advert is beauty, as well as the luxury in living somewhere so beautiful. Adverts such as these cause such a threat to Dior as it has pushed the opposing brand into the publics eye, which is exactly the opposite of what Dior would have wished for, however this is so common within the industry.
‘In the end, it’s about romance and passion – and I want to spend weeks in the Chanel archives!’
Luhrmann wanted to create something desirable, something that all women wanted; a successful career, a luxury house, a beautiful daughter and the lifestyle which was portrayed, meaning that women will buy into the dream to have their own journey that Bundchen is displaying, they want success, and having the perfume will bring this.
Now, we simply need to wait to see how Dior reacts, as J’adore and Chanel No.5 will now be the two main adverts to watch this Christmas, as the final push for promotional aspects of the perfume industry begin.
When looking at the competitive market of the fashion industry, there are two names in the couture world which have battled it about for years and years: Chanel and Dior. These two are the giants of the couture world, and have such a targeted market, however, product placement and store placement are vital for this competitive market, having the best position within the market. This can be set up through the companies themselves, they choose exactly where they’d like a new store to be built, or is can be done by organisations such as John Lewis, Boots and Selfridges.
When you walk into the fragrance section at Selfridges, first on your left you’ll find Dior, right at the door, and about 6 meters away you’ll see Chanel. This close placing of the leading brands is no coincidence. As I am interested in Dior, this was such an incredibly experience to be able to talk to the experts about the fragrances, and a chance to smell, touch, hold and get to grips with Diorissimo, which is such a magical smell. The two companies often find an overlap with the customers visiting, as they go to one first, then visit the other. Both are very sophisticated in look, and the colours are very monochrome to allow the products to speak for themselves. This is a perfect technique, as both brands are so well known, they can keep their publicity to a minimum and allow the products to speak the dream and the story behind the brand.
Selfridges is the perfect place to find both Chanel and Dior, and both are such in-depth brands, but Dior, in my opinion, in this store has prime placement as you have to walk past the stand to get to Chanel; perfect for the competitive market.
Within the UK, there is only 1 remaining piece of Art Nouveau Sculpture, which is the middle of Piccadilly Circus – Eros, the statue of love. Carnaby street which is a short walk away in the 1960’s used to a very unique little boutique street, however it has now become very much the same as other shopping streets within London. However, Newburgh Street was the first street to be the Alternative London Fashion Week, here you can find so many interesting and one off shops which is why it has made its name on the map over the years – which is were Mac, Liberty and many other shops live.
However, the final part of the trip leads me to Covent Garden, home of so many luxury shops and fashion clusters; but most importantly it is one of the areas where you will find Chanel and Dior right next to each other. This placement did not happy by accident, right opposite the main square, it is a prime location for the two Haute Couture giants. Though this is where you will also find Apple, one of the biggest in London, which is very important to note as there is not a large push between technology and fashion – which is what has been promoted and publicised on this years Apprentice. The Dior shop was so incredible to visit, and the staff where incredibly informative, telling us about the life of Dior, and how the company works. Dior in Covent Garden in a beauty boutique, and the first in London when the company expanded from Paris; which is why this store in particular is vital to the understanding of Dior.
Throughout this walk, I learnt so much about the store placements, why and how the stores are categorised and very strategically placed to help the consumer become tempted by more than they set out to look at. This is a vital part of the fashion industry, and clustering takes a very long time to perfect, as this is so key to the way the brand is viewed, and by who. This walk was incredibly useful for my knowledge, and taught me an awful lot about London, as well as the Designer Clusters.
Next I headed to the home of Madame De Pompadour’s home, the mistress of Louis XIV; now home to the Wallace Collection which is a house which burst of Paris, from the huge staircase to the ‘Gold Room’, it not only developed my understanding of Vivienne Westwood’s inspirations for a lot of her designs, but it made me incredibly excited for Paris; which was exactly one month on Sunday! Around the Wallace exhibition is home to a lot of wealthy Londoners, which suits the exhibition perfectly.
Walking back along Oxford Street, we now walked the entire street of Bond Street; both old and new. This was one of the main sections of the whole day which really stood out to be, and made an impact on my understanding of the placement within the fashion clustering. Old Bond Street is full of luxury fashion houses, such as Tiffany, Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton. Like Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton has tried to create a unique experience for the customers, and another unique selling point to the brand. This store has been redesigned to feel like you, as the consumer, are inside a jewellery box! This strange idea, is actually incredibly effective, as the tall ceilings and the sectioned store allows the store to have something extra in comparison. However, there is one more important factor which I noticed about Bond Street, There is a large Chanel store opposite to Vuitton, however, there is now a Dior being built right next door to Chanel; this push of competitiveness is key to keeping up to date with what the other is planning, and will help both to develop and continue to cluster together to re-enforce their position amongst rivals.
Although Dior is one of the most influential and impacting companies within the fashion sector, other business’s on the same level therefore become highly competitive to make the same impact on their audience as Dior. Fashion itself is an incredibly strong competitive market; which is some cases can help the overall business, as it can push certain audiences in different directions as they have to choose which brand to go for. However with negative publicity or a bad review on a garment it can have a devastating effect on not only the company, but sales too.
One of the biggest competitors in competition with Dior is Chanel; the two giants of the couture world. Being placed opposite each other in selfridges and other departments stores, as well as being round the corner to each other in London’s busy city centre, it causes a lot of friction between the two brands. Prices, colours, crops and materials are all so definitive from the catwalks and what is wanted by the target audience for that season, the chances for individuality are slim, however let alone competing with big brand. For the last 4 years in a row Dior has been the most bought perfume range above Chanel, however the Chanel handbag sales have increased largely over the past 2 years, much higher than Dior. Therefore, when a large competitor is so close in the market, at times compromise is the only way around this problem. Dior and Chanel will however always be trying to out do each other as it is simply the industry that they find themselves in.
Haute Couture is the King of the fashion world; it is the leading fashion house, with includes the most expensive sophisticated and off of pieces within the fashion industry. It is what is desired by all in the fashion world, each garments made to measure by hand, and rare fabrics and priceless embellishments are therefore added. This entails flawless, unique garments being produced. Some piece can take up to 700 hours to create in total, with over 2000 seamstresses working on one piece. Because these pieces are so incredible in creation, the entry level for a garment starts at £16,000 – which can range to 6 digit number. Due to this, there is a very direct and specific target audience as many are unable to fit into that price range. Couture originates from the King of couture, by Charles Frederick Worth, in the mid 19th century, as he wanted to make it possible for ladies to turn up at a ball or event, and not have the same dress as someone else, which is where the original idea came for Haute Couture. For a brand to become a couture house brand, it has to reach the requirements of ‘The French Ministry of Industry’. Nowadays, designers such as Christian Dior, Chanel, Jean-Paul Gautier and Valentino Guest. Also because couture has become so known about and desired, there are two catwalk shows now displaying the beautiful gowns so that not only the buyers can admire them, but people who have a strong interest in fashion too.