WATCH ME: “They told me to wait for the music but I enjoy breaking rules,” said Kate Winslet as she stepped into view without waiting for her cue at a dinner celebrating a collaboration between Longines and Swiss leather goods label Yvy at the Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping equestrian event.
“They were maybe afraid I’d start to sing,” quipped Longines chief executive officer Matthias Breschan, introducing the British actress and the watchmaker’s “ambassador of elegance” for over a decade.
Before guests took their seats facing the Eiffel Tower, Winslet deemed the equestrian Longines Dolcevita x Yvy design to be the brand’s “sexiest timepiece ever,” and marking “the beginning of an exciting new chapter, [one] that embraces a more respectful world [which] means to be your true self” at a time where there is “no defining line between the masculine, the feminine.”
The launch of this collaboration felt like a natural extension of the Swiss watchmaker’s involvement with horse-riding competitions, Breschan explained.
With luxury booming in the US, which has become the brand’s primary market, and despite the uncertainty brought by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic-related disruptions in China, Breschan explained earlier in the day that he still expected 2022 to be a record year . Longines is on a trajectory to pass the 2 billion Swiss francs mark in 2025.
Calling a watch “the most important accessory you can wear on your wrist” as it enables “[making] a statement even when submitted to a dress code,” Breschan said the collaboration was part of its double-pronged strategy to further develop both its technical and aesthetic heritage to preserve its competitive edge in the 1,000 Swiss francs to 5,000 Swiss francs segment.
Zürich-based leather designer Yvonne Reichmuth, who founded Yvy in 2013 and draws on architecture for her work, took cues from horse-riding equipment, especially the moving parts of bridles and harnesses.
“We wanted a subtle reference to the equestrian world while giving the possibility of having either a classic watch or making more of a fashion statement,” she said, demonstrating how the double strap design could be adjusted with the slide of a strap and opening of a snap.
She had been interested in the watch industry, but opportunities were scarce for designers hailing from the German-speaking side of the country. “I loved the industry but never thought about [working in watches]. It was more of a French-Swiss thing. So this is a bit of a dream come true,” she said. —LILY TEMPLETON
BIG BOOST: Louis Vuitton men’s spring 2023 runway show that paid tribute to the late Virgil Abloh received more than 54 million views on Weibo, thanks to a Chinese BTS-like boy band.
A day before the show, Louis Vuitton named the popular Chinese boy band TNT, or Teens in Times, as a brand ambassadors. The group’s account has more than 10 million followers on Weibo, and individual members’ accounts have a total of 124 million followers.
A video released by the brand featuring TNT on a rooftop echoed the show’s prelude video “Strange Math,” with a beginning sequence featuring marching bands on a Parisian rooftop overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
The TNT video was also shot on a sunny rooftop, but in Chongqing for this occasion. The teaser video garnered more than 3 million views on Weibo. TNT members were dressed in the Louis Vuitton men’s pre-fall 2022 collection, Abloh’s last mid-season collection.
Working with stars yielding huge online traffic has been a crucial part of the luxury brand’s China strategy over the last few years, as they can help brands amplify their social media presence and drive explosive sales.
But since a slew of top Chinese celebrities got censored by the authorities last year due to various scandals, including rape allegations against Vuitton’s former ambassador Kris Wu, and tax evasion charges against the brand’s other face Fan Bingbing, Vuitton has begun to shift its strategy by tapping Winter Olympic gold medalist Eileen Gu and award-winning actress Zhou Dongyu to diversify its ambassador lineup in China. Other brands, including Prada and Dior, have adopted a similar shift to adhere to China’s crackdown on irrational celebrity culture.
But an alliance with major traffic driving stars remains crucial. For the men’s spring 2023 season, Prada’s runway show livestream received more than 40 million views on Weibo, thanks to the Italian luxury brand’s ambassador Xukun Cai. He has more than 36 million followers on the platform.
Dior Men’s worked with boy band TFBoys member Junkai Wang and rising stars Arthur Chen, Linghe Zhang and Yi Lin to promote the collection. The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned luxury house’s spring 2023 collection received almost 40 million views on Weibo.
But Chinese stars are not the only ones who hold sway in the market. Despite not hosting a livestreaming session on Chinese social media, Celine managed to create buzz across borders as Blackpink’s Lisa, BTS’ Kim Taehyung, aka V, and actor Park Bo-gum stepped out in sharp ensembles in front of starstruck fans on Sunday night for the brand’s men’s show in Paris.
Fans in China were just as enthusiastic. The hashtag “Park Bo-gum V Lisa at Paris Fashion Week” received more than 140 million clicks on Weibo. — DENNI HU AND TIANWEI ZHANG
CATS AND DOGS: Gucci is getting into the pet business.
Today, the Italian luxury brand introduced the Gucci Pet Collection for dogs and cats featuring the house’s signature motifs. The selection includes collars and harnesses in plain leather, GG canvas, Web stripe and Herbarium or allover geometric G print, and embellished with details like the interlocking G logo or studs.
Leashes come in varying lengths and widths. The mix includes bag holders and Air Tag cases, all available in the same materials and motifs to coordinate or mix and match.
The offering also features design pieces for the home such as made-to-order miniature couches on which pets can lounge, feeding bowls with various house prints, cloches to cover bowls with, hard-sided cases with removable ceramic bowls and handles for easy transport , as well as coordinated feeing mats.
For those pets who frequently travel, there are carriers in GG-canvas. Apparel includes polos, T-shirts, knitwear and coats in a vibrant palette and signature motifs like allover strawberries and hearts to interlocking Gs and the classic monogram, also seen in the house’s ready-to-wear.
Gucci joins other luxury brands that have gotten into the pet business, ranging from Saint Laurent dog dishes and striped Thom Browne leashes to Versace dog beds and Prada raincoats.
In line with Gucci’s commitment to sustainability, the Gucci Pet Collection features items in recycled polyester, recycled cotton or Demetra, Gucci’s material primarily from renewable and bio-based sources.
The pet collection is being unveiled through a campaign with art direction and photography by Max Siedentopf. —LISA LOCKWOOD