Will Covid-19 Force A New Fashion Calendar?

With physical shows put on hold, fashion Weeks tilt toward coed, buy-now formats

By Miles Socha For Wwd 29/04/2020

Could see-now-buy-now and coed formats get a second wind in the international fashion calendar once the COVID-19 crisis eases?

It would appear so, with the British Fashion Council last week unveiling plans for four “gender-neutral” weeks in London, including purchasing options for consumers. For its first purely digital edition last month, Shanghai Fashion Week saw designers hawking current-season merchandise on Tmall alongside showcasing autumn 2020 collections.

And organizers of Milan’s fashion weeks have already indicated they will fold the June men’s shows into women’s fashion week in September, assuming that goes ahead as planned. Brands are free to present as they wish, with Ermenegildo Zegna the first to reveal plans for a “physidigital” presentation in July.

Paris has yet to unfurl its go-forward strategy for men’s fashion week in June amid so many uncertainties and moving parts.

Meanwhile, some suggest it might be better to first fix some of the industry’s longstanding ills — headlined by too-early deliveries and markdowns — and align retailers and brands before pushing the reset button on its show business aspects.

Saks Fifth Avenue took a step in that direction recently, vowing to shift merchandising to better align with customer preferences, which is for more focus on see-now-buy-now, and urging the entire industry to shift to later deliveries. That could put additional pressure on the international show calendar, since it would further widen the time lag between when products are revealed on the runway and when they hit the racks.

“The calendar has been broken for some time,” said luxury and retail consultant Robert Burke. “Everyone knew it was out of sync, but no one was willing to take a pause.”

The coronavirus crisis has forced a pause, throwing into question what fashion weeks might look like when large gatherings are no longer prohibited for safety reasons.

To wit: Saint Laurent told WWD it would drop out of Paris Fashion Week and set its own pace for showing collections for the duration of the year, favouring formats that are more intimate and closely aligned to the final customer.

According to sources, a few brands in Paris have started scouting locations for the September fashion week, while others are exploring in parallel physical and digital options, concerned that borders may remain shut for some time. Many question whether any in-person fashion shows will be possible in September, and expect mainly local attendance if they do have them.

“There will definitely be more of a consumer component to shows going forward. After you’ve opened the door, it’s hard to go back,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council. “Our digital platform is a focus for June, and it will play an integral part of fashion weeks going forward.”

The BFC has explored ways to integrate consumers into its trade-focused fashion weeks via experiences, certain shows and events for high-spending clients.

“What we did learn over the last few years is that see-now-buy-now doesn’t work for everybody,” Rush said in an interview. “What I would say is in the current climate — by the time we get to June 12, stores will hopefully be starting to reopen. There’s definitely an opportunity to embrace the consumer and use platforms like fashion week to reengage the consumer audience in terms of the excitement that comes from fashion, creativity, and a bit of ‘behind-the-scenes.’ Consumers understand the business, and maybe feel more connected to it, and want to support the designers.”

Lv Xiaolei, vice secretary of Shanghai Fashion Week, said the rise of see-now-buy-now components springs from “changing consumer behaviour in the digital age.”

“While showing the best fashion in China, which is the core of Shanghai Fashion Week, we also need to keep China’s expanding fashion audience in mind,” she told WWD. “We encourage brands to be creative and provide multiple choices for consumers to express their identity. They have a strong desire for a quality lifestyle and they are not used to waiting.”

Screen shots of livestreaming from Private Policy, Shushu/Tong and 8on8 during Shanghai's online fashion week.

Tasha Liu, founder of Labelhood, a retailer and platform for emerging designers in Shanghai, agreed that in an age of Internet overload, people are more impatient, making see-now-buy-now options a vital way to reach consumers.

“When a piece of work catches your attention in a short period of time, it is the fastest way for you to get connected with this brand. And the transaction can be done immediately,” Liu said. “But I don’t think that a fashion show with so much time and creativity input should serve purely for selling. The future of fashion week must coexist with shows and shopping. Brands and designers need to think clearly about what purpose each function serves. The show will be purer and the purchase will be more direct.”

A pioneer and stalwart of the see-now-buy-now format, Tommy Hilfiger introduced his roving TommyNow fashion spectacles in 2016, partnering with model Gigi Hadid to unveil the first of four capsule collections for immediate purchasing. He went on to collaborate with Zendaya and Lewis Hamilton on subsequent shows in London, Paris, Shanghai and New York. Hadid shows had touched down in Milan, London, Los Angeles and New York.

According to the company, it’s all about being consumer-centric.

“When we became one of the first brands to switch to see-now, buy-now, it was because we were engaging with and listening to our consumer,” Hilfiger explained in an interview. “They didn’t — and still don’t — want to wait six months to buy product after they saw it all over social media during fashion week. Brands and retailers that have adapted to this reality — not just from a marketing perspective, but from a 360-degree operational perspective — are best positioned to identify and respond to consumers’ needs.”

Its spring 2020 event with Hamilton attracted 1500 guests to the Tate Modern in London while 500,000 people watched the livestream. It generated 29 million impressions.

According to Michael Scheiner, Hilfiger’s chief marketing officer, the advent of e-commerce, the explosion of social media, the rise of influencers, and new direct-to-consumer business models upended the “power dynamic” with consumers.

“Our industry has sometimes been slow to understand this shift: consumers are either going to get what they want from the brands they love, or are going to create it themselves,” he explained. “We’ve always had the perspective that we want to be part of leading this change with our consumer.”

Both men stopped short of saying what configuration the brand’s next show might take, and how the industry at large might reshape fashion weeks after the health crisis ebbs. But they hinted they might have a new ace up their sleeve.

“I do think there is an opportunity to reinvent the fashion calendar in a more consumer-centric way that will benefit everyone,” Scheiner said. “We are experimenting even more with new digital approaches that allow us to show up in new ways, times and locations.”

With his see-now-buy-now format, Hilfiger has participated in major fashion weeks and also staged events in less expected locations off-cycle. “But ultimately, we need to push this even further so that we’re staying relevant to where, when and how consumers want to experience fashion,” Hilfiger said. “Whatever we do next is going to be another step in our history of breaking conventions, doing the unexpected, and being determinedly optimistic about the future.”

The designer recalled that when he started his company 35 years ago, he asked consumers on the street what they were looking for in a fashion brand.

“We’ve continued to reinvent around our consumer as we’ve grown, and that’s never going to stop,” he said. “For me, the ideal fashion calendar will take the same approach: engaging the consumer and creating an overall experience that surprises and excites them.”

Ralph Lauren, who has staged see-now-buy-now events during New York Fashion Week, and cancelled an event that had been planned for late April, has yet to determine the way forward given the disruptions of the crisis, thought it remains committed to creating special brand experiences, a company spokeswoman said.

Tom Ford, who went see-now-buy-now for one season in 2017, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ralph Lauren RTW Fall 2019
Ralph Lauren RTW autumn 2019

According to the BFC’s Rush, the forced slowdown of the industry due to lockdowns could make see-now-buy-now more feasible.

“I’ve spoken to quite a lot of businesses, and they’re now having to push collections from one season into the next, reducing the number of collections they do and carrying through products that then don’t have to go on sale. And if you do that, you’ll always have elements that could be see-now-buy-now because there will be elements that are relevant to the customer, that aren’t seasonal and therefore should not be discounted,” she said.

Rush said ideally, there would be two main physical fashion weeks a year in the four main fashion capitals, in addition to the platforms in Asia.

“It’s important for buyers and the press to see different sorts of curations in the regions and see designers benchmarked against their peers so that they can make a call about what to buy,” she said. “All audiences are important. The trade is so important in creating the hype that then generates sales to the consumer. Once designer trends/hype gains traction, the consumer becomes important because they are the ones buying. So you have to engage the consumer as part of the conversation because, ultimately, we are all in the business to sell clothes.”

Meanwhile, Guram Gvasalia, cofounder of Vetements, is adamant that the see-now-buy-now format doesn’t work because of a complex production cycle. “Getting orders in, buying fabrics and trims, producing the collection, getting it first into your own warehouse, shipping to the stores and waiting for the stores to process the orders takes months,” he explained in an interview.

“There are two ways how see-now-buy-now could theoretically work. One way is to gamble and to pre-produce the entire collection prior to receiving any orders in hopes all will go as planned. However, in today’s economy, it would be not a smart move,” he said. “Another option is to have a secret showroom months in advance, where no pictures can be taken. The collection will be presented at a later stage, however this will totally kill buyers’ mojo and the shows will become merely a publicity stunt.”

He suggests no more than two collections a year with multiple delivery windows.

Vetements RTW Fall 2020
Vetements RTW autumn 2020

Since it was founded in 2013, Vetements has experimented with the timing of its shows, ultimately settling into men’s fashion week in Paris with coed displays, finding that timing ideal for efficient production and delivery. It also produces what it shows, but “doesn’t talk about the pieces” on its social channels, particularly Instagram, until they’re available for purchase, the executive explained.

In his view, the calendar conundrum pales next to rampant markdowns that have stoked demand for earlier deliveries in order to achieve some full-price selling. “The biggest poison of the industry are premature sales and constant midseason promotions. The goal of the industry should be to have winter sales starting in March, when winter is over, and summer sales in September, when summer is over. When this works out the industry will be fixed, and we will all live happily ever after,” he said.

The consultant Burke agreed it would be best to have the industry aligned on a new cadence of deliveries and markdowns — more closely aligned to consumer demand and weather patterns — before tinkering with the show calendar.

“Retail, online, direct-to-consumer all have to be aligned for this to work, that’s the key,” he said. “This has become a mandatory reset because the stores have been closed, and you’re not going to have fall (autumn) delivered until fall. There’s an opportunity, if everyone bands together, to not mark down so early.

“If the online retailers embrace it, there’s a real opportunity to be able to sell product in-season,” he added.

According to sources, another big European luxury brand is mulling the possibility of a see-now-buy-now showcase, timed with one of its later seasonal deliveries. It is understood it is not working in concert with fashion-week organizers, raising the spectre of an even more fragmented and diverse fashion calendar, at least in the interim.

“The brands are really going to call the shots, as opposed to the department stores calling the shots,” Burke stressed.

He also underscored how fashion shows, small showroom affairs for professionals only up until the mid-Nineties, have evolved into entertainment spectacles — while not straying far from their traditional timing in February/March and September/October for women’s wear.

Asked about possibly adjusting the timing of fashion weeks, Rush warned that any change would have a knock-on effect on fabric fairs and manufacturers and would be a huge shift for the industry’s calendar as a whole. She said the core of any argument with timing is this: How do you ensure that full-priced stock stays on the shop floor for as long as possible?

She agreed that the system is now so out of whack that stores are discounting coats before customers even decide they want one.

Returning from fashion after a long hiatus with AZfashion, a from-scratch venture with Compagnie Financière Richemont revealed last autumn, Alber Elbaz vowed to do things his way. It is understood his first project, aimed at wardrobe solutions for women, will be revealed later this year, depending on the pace of factory reopenings.

Yet he said it’s too early for him to say how he might reveal his designs, whether with a fashion show or some other format.

“We have to think and we have to dream and we have to use intuition. It’s the idea about thinking together,” Elbaz said. “I think it’s about being authentic, it’s about being individual, it’s about not compromising, it’s about being unique, and being original.”

Pressed for more specifics, he replied: “I cannot come with an answer today. Let me have more time to reflect. I want to be more of a doer than a talker.”

According to Hilfiger’s Scheiner, “This isn’t about fashion week any more. It’s about ensuring that everything we are putting in front of the consumer is relevant, accessible and engaging,” he said. “As we look more at our brand investments from this perspective, it’s clear that we don’t foresee a return to the more traditional fashion show calendar.”

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The Finer Things

Shimmering with gold, diamonds and precious stones, these women’s watches represent the pinnacle of haute horology. Just look at them…

By Belinda Aucott-christie And Josh Bozin 16/07/2024

Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, Piaget, Chopard and Cartier were among the prestige brands to unveil women’s novelties at this year’s Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva. Here we review some of our favourites, including a new style from Bulgari who impressed via an artistic collaboration with architect Tadao Ando and Chanel whose latest bobbin cuff was inspired by a spool of thread.

BULGARI

Tadao Ando Serpenti

The brand’s collaboration with lauded Japanese architect Tadao Ando artfully remixes the enduring Serpenti Tubogas model. The collection celebrates the four seasons; pictured here is the Summer (natsu) with a two-tone, yellow-gold-and-steel bracelet and a green aventurine dial. $27,600. Availability on request; Bulgari.com

VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Lady Arpels Brise d’Été 

The maison’s Poetic Complications novelties ensure that telling the time becomes a spectacle. On this occasion, the flowers on the dial blossom and close in a randomised pattern at the touch of a button. Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest lesson in horological theatre was four years in development, with the dial alone taking 40 hours to master. Price and availability on request; vancleefandarpels.com

CHANEL

Bobbin Cuff Couture

Playing on the vintage “secret” watches of the 1920s, the Bobbin Cuff Couture was inspired aesthetically by a spool of thread. The idiosyncratic jewellery-watch is crafted entirely in 18-karat yellow gold, set with rows of brilliant-cut diamond “threads” and a 17-carat emerald-cut sapphire that hides the watch face. Price and availability on request. Chanel.com

PIAGET 

Limelight Gala Precious 

At 26 mm, a timepiece that captures the poise and elegance that has come to define Piaget’s jewellery watches. Now, with the inclusion of 38 brilliant-cut diamonds, the 18-karat rose gold “Decor Palace” dial and matching bracelet, this Limelight Gala is arguably the best of a collection that interweaves art, design and jewellery, with an emphasis on beauty. Around $118,500. Availability on request; Piaget.com

CHOPARD 

L’Heure  Du Diamant Round 

Chopard showcases its smarts in the art of diamond setting. Here, the maison’s artisans have orchestrated an amalgamation of contemporary design and alluring precious stones. The green malachite dial is a standout feature, as is the Chopard MD29 hand-wound mechanical movement. Price and availability on request; Chopard.com

CARTIER 

La Panthère de Cartier

From one of the brand’s most symbolic collections, this iteration of the Panthère de Cartier watch is designed in a rhodium-finish white gold case set with 136 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a rhodium-finish white gold panther head set with 297 brilliant-cut diamonds. The striking, pear-shaped eyes are crafted from emerald. Price and availability on request; cartier.com

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Marc Newson Has Designed Everything from Pens to Superyachts … Now He Wants to Go to Space

On the heels of a new career-spanning book, the industrial designer and Apple alum shares his ultimate design project.

By Lee Carter 16/07/2024

Sporting shades, Marc Newson reclines on a sunny terrace of his Greek island retreat. If he appears exultant, he has every reason to be. Devoting his life’s work to elevating everyday objects into items we covet, Newson has become one of the most sought-after industrial designers in the world.

Case in point, Newson has just returned from Salone del Mobile, the sprawling design fair in Milan, where he launched a colossal book about his equally colossal career, signing copies for devoted fans barely able to lift it.

Over 400 pages, the monograph chronicles Newson’s nearly four decades in design from his start as a jewelry major at Sydney College of the Arts to producing avant-garde furnishings to now crafting luxury speed boats for Riva and even a concept plane in an art project for the Fondation Cartier. All told, Marc Newson: Works 84–24 (Taschen) is a testament to his tireless pursuit of perfection.

Asked to reflect on 40 years of soaring success, the Australian designer all but blushes—or perhaps it’s the Mediterranean sun. “When I look at my own work,” he says, “particularly in the context of a document that begins and ends, it almost feels like I’m reading about someone else.” After all, he demurs, he’s only doing his job. “The core of my occupation is troubleshooting [and] problem-solving. I apply the same rigor, process, and rules to every project, whether it’s a pen or a mega-yacht.”

Marc Newson’s Horizon luggage, designed for Louis Vuitton, and his Orgone chair demonstrate the importance he puts on curves. Taschen

The Newson look is aesthetically niche, but touches almost every sector, from fashion to household goods. It’s bold yet pragmatic, sumptuous yet futuristic, reverential yet iconoclastic. A transparent timepiece for Jaeger-LeCoultre, a sensuously curved cognac bottle for Hennessy, and a sleek aluminum luggage collaboration with Louis Vuitton (the latest of which just appeared in Pharrell Williams’s spring 2025 collection) all point to a singular, forward-looking vision. Or how about the katana sword he created in 2019 with a ninth-generation master swordsmith in Japan? He calls the tradition and sophistication required to execute that work “unfathomable, almost alchemical, practically spiritual.”

Two decades ago, in 2004, he created the Zvezdochka sneaker for Nike. Modelled entirely on a computer and made from a single piece of injection-molded resin, the footwear—named after the 1961 rocket-riding Russian dog—was intended for astronauts to wear during their daily exercises in zero gravity. As Newson notes, “Where else would you need the perfect sneakers but running on a treadmill in space?”

Newson’s groundbreaking Lockheed Martin Chaise.
Taschen

From the beginning, Newson—who helped lead Apple’s design department, and the development of key products such as the Apple Watch, for five years—has always possessed the unusual ability to bend ideas about design to his will. His Lockheed Lounge, a shapely chaise pieced together from curved aluminum panels, became an instant phenomenon with its 1988 introduction. Named for its resemblance to the early aeronautical stylings of Lockheed Martin, the furniture piece bucked the reductive ethos of modern design at the time. In 2006, it broke the record for the highest price paid at auction for the work of a living designer, topping that price 11 years later in 2015, going for $3.7 million at Phillips London.

Around the turn of the millennium, Newson—a vintage sports car enthusiast who once flew to the U.S. to purchase a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 with the entirety of a paycheck—shifted gears to focus his energies on the transportation sector. Asked by Ford to jot down some concepts, he came up with the 021C in 1999. A radically simplified three-box configuration, the model had a main cabin, hood, and trunk; the latter two sections were mirror images.

The Ford 021C, which Newson claimed caused “a lot of head-scratching” at the American car company.
Taschen

“It was utterly ridiculous and childlike,” Newson says of the design with a laugh. “There was a lot of head-scratching [at Ford], but I reasoned that since I’m not an automotive designer, I don’t want to and can’t play the typical automotive games.” Thanks to the support of Ford’s “brilliantly curious and open” top brass, the cartoon of a car became a drivable reality and a beloved Newson fan favorite. Soon after the release of the 021C, the Australian airline Qantas came knocking, seeking Newson’s design eye for a variety of projects, including the interiors of its airport lounges and, more challengingly, the invention of a fully horizontal bed for its premier passengers on long-haul flights. No small feat of imagination, this triumph led to his appointment as the company’s creative director.

The Qantas Skybed, designed for the Australian airline’s long-haul flights. Qantas

As Newson’s fame ascended, so did the demand for his work—in the design industry and beyond. New York gallerist Larry Gagosian was quick to add the maverick designer to his roster of art stars, such as Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer, and in 2007, he mounted Newson’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., featuring a limited-edition, experimental furniture series. “The stuff I do with Gagosian is not exactly mainstream design,” Newson says. “They’re these sort of rarefied follies [or] crazy experiments that I concoct. I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself—and perhaps Larry.” One object in the exhibition was a nickel surfboard with a storied lineage. “I wanted the prototype to be tested by [professional big wave surfer] Garrett McNamara,” Newson recalls. “He took the board to a Pacific island notorious for its huge swells on top of a coral reef. He actually lost the board in the waves and was driving back to his hotel when he saw a local with this tangled mass of metal under his arm. The story goes that the Mir space station had plummeted into the ocean the day before, and this guy thought he had found pieces from the crash. He had no idea it was a crushed surfboard.”

Is there a project he has yet to tackle? “Every time I think I’m at the end of the list,” he says, smiling, “I think of something new.” Space, for instance. “I would love to work more extensively in the area of space exploration. That is something I continue to find compelling and fascinating. It ticks all the boxes for me in terms of engaging with technology, incredible processes, and modern materials. And, of course, I would love to go to space. That’s the end game.”

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Piaget Just Dropped a Colourful High-Jewellery Line with 1970s Style

“Essence of Extraleganza,” a fusion of the words extravagance and elegance, is a tour de force of haute joaillerie that celebrates Piaget’s 150th year.

By Victoria Gomelsky 16/07/2024

Long before Piaget was a jeweller, it was a watchmaker. The luxury brand traces its roots to La Côte-aux-Fées, a village in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel where Georges-Édouard Piaget founded a movement-making company in 1874.

In 1959, the maison introduced jewellery for the first time, showcasing its creations at the new Salon Piaget in Geneva. Almost immediately, the brand established itself as a trendsetter across both realms.

Piaget

Proof that the watchmaker-turned-jeweller continues to occupy the most rarefied precincts of the luxury trade arrived last month, when Piaget unveiled its “Essence of Extraleganza” high jewellery collection. The third and arguably most spectacular of the brand’s 150th anniversary product introductions (following the reboot in February of its Piaget Polo 79 timepiece and the April unveiling of the thinner-than-thou Altiplano Ultimate Concept Flying Tourbillon), the collection of 96 jewels and bejewelled timepieces is a tour de force of craftsmanship and gem-setting that bears an explicit connection to Piaget’s roots in jewellery.

“Of our three major launches this year to date, none of them have just been a launch — each and every one of them has hinged on a product, a story, a saga bringing the past and present together,” Benjamin Comar, CEO of Piaget, tells Robb Report.

Piaget

“So of course, this high jewellery collection had to bring more density than a regular collection. And this is why it’s called ‘Essence of Extraleganza’ — because through these 96 pieces, Piaget’s artistic director, Stéphanie Sivrière, went back to the Piaget DNA, to the moment when Piaget evolved from watchmaker to jeweller, to the decisive moment where this Swiss maison decided to revolutionise the watch world by imagining a new avant-garde vocabulary, filled with colours, textures and gold: the 21st Century Collection.”

That collection, introduced in 1969, included an array of jewellery watches that reimagined how to wear time. From metal bracelets with a fabric-like texture to swinging sautoirs, the pieces were bold, colourful and utterly of the moment.

Piaget

Three years ago, when Sivrière began working on what would become Essence of Extraleganza, she took her inspiration from those heritage designs of the 1960s and ’70s. The result is a stunning lineup of bold, cheerful and wildly original jewels, including highlights such as a necklace featuring a fiery cascade of trapezoid-cut carnelians set in rose gold and centered on a 21.23-carat cushion-cut spessartite garnet; a cuff watch loaded with 26.11 carats of baguette-cut Colombian emeralds; and a suite of blue-on-blue designs including a V-shaped necklace set with sapphires, tourmalines, and marquise-cut aquamarines surrounded by opals, turquoise and diamonds, along with a matching ring and pair of mismatched earrings.

Piaget

“Stephanie chose to highlight the couture inspiration of Piaget and paid homage to our chainmaker skills as a golden thread throughout the collection,” Comar says. “This was very impressive to witness unravelling in front of our eyes week after week. The carnelian necklace, for instance, was created like a never-ending puzzle: first the mesh structure completely hand-woven, then every hue and piece identified by a number and patiently assembled to create this mix-and-match yet balanced effect.”

The throughline that connects the 2024 collection to the one introduced 55 years earlier is, undoubtedly, Piaget’s willingness to embrace modernity while employing traditional techniques in service of timeless designs.

“Piaget’s jewellery style is still coherent and that’s the beauty of it,” Comar says. “When Valentin Piaget asked his Swiss designers in the early Sixties to go to Paris in order to attend a couture show and get inspired by this fashion revolution (think Cardin, Courrèges, Twiggy) this was so incredibly new for the time. And today, when we look at their past gouaches where they would create the swinging sautoirs directly on the glossy pages of the fashion magazines to really picture what this woman would be wearing today, it’s so modern. And still has the same effect today: timeless yet modern. That is the Piaget paradox.”

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Bay Watch 

After losing its lustre for decades, Sydney’s Double Bay is undergoing a renaissance. And with harbour views, lush parks and a friendly village feel, it’s no wonder luxury developments are flourishing.

By Horacio Silva 16/07/2024

The boarded storefronts on the strip of New South Head Road in Double Bay currently under construction near Cross Street are plastered with archival images of the harbourside suburb in its 1960s and 1970s heyday. In the grainy black-and-white images, passers-by dressed in their imported European finery inhabit the bustling streets and fashionable shopping destinations of the time, including Mark Foy’s department store on Knox Street and the chic boutiques of Claire Handler, Maria Finlay and Nellie Vida—three Hungarian expats who sourced the latest trends from the Continent for style-starved locals. 

The images serve as a reminder of an era when European designers dictated the style for modish Australians. They’re also a document of how much this prestigious enclave, located 11 minutes’ drive from the CBD and a snow-cone’s throw from some of Sydney’s best beaches, has changed.

The area’s once-thriving boutiques are a thing of the past, replaced by all manner of beauty-focused establishments. Gone too are the open-air dances in Steyne Park, the old Hoyts Theatre (an Art Deco gem of a building on the main drag that was the nexus of the community) and the illegal casino a few doors down from it called the Double Bay Bridge Club.

Which is not to say that this once-sleepy hollow, whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed in the last 50 years, has become the profligate relic that detractors, who pilloried it as “Double Pay”, predicted it would become after it fell from favour over the past few decades. Far from it. “There’s only one Double Bay,” says Angela Belle McSweeney, director of Australian Turf Club and a former public relations maven whose office was located for years on Knox Street, above the famed 21 restaurant.  “In terms of Australian glamour, it’s always been the benchmark and now more than ever.”

Joseph Hkeik, the owner of All Saint Clinic, which caters to the taut skin of the city’s high society, concurs. “There really is something palpable in the air,” says Hkeik, who is in as good a position as any to talk about the changing face of the place.

“A lot is happening, and everyone wants to be seen in Double Bay. It’s the hotspot of Sydney.”

All Saint Clinic

If Double Bay is once again the talk of the town, it’s in no small part due to chef and restaurateur Neil Perry. After stepping away in early 2020 as founder of the Rockpool Group, through which he created legendary restaurants such as Rockpool and Spice Temple, Perry resurfaced a few months later with plans to start anew on the prized willow-festooned corner of Bay Street and Guilfoyle Avenue. In June 2021, he opened his award-winning seafood restaurant Margaret, and soon after, the adjacent bar Next Door and the Baker Bleu bakery two premises along.

He has not looked back. The fat cats today may be younger than the potentates who used to frequent the area’s old stamping grounds like George’s and the Hunter’s Lodge, and the ladies who lunch are more “wind-swept” than their pre-Botox predecessors, but the Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked nearby suggest that this is once again where the elite meet to eat.

“It is definitely going through a renaissance,” says Perry of his new domain, “but I honestly think it’ll be more than a passing moment. Double Bay has the beautiful parks and waterfront, and for all the glitz it also has that village atmosphere close to the city that everyone wants. And there is so much investment in the place.” That’s somewhat of an understatement.

Originally earmarked to be the site of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens when it was settled in the 1820s, the suburb remains as green as ever, but these days it’s hard to see the trees for all the construction cranes. 

On Bay Street alone, real estate powerhouse Fortis has broken ground on mixed-use properties that are among the city’s most hotly anticipated new addresses. Of the new developments, perhaps the most eagerly awaited is Ruby House, a luxury five-storey strata office block on the corner of New South Head Road and Bay Street, due for completion in early 2025. A collaboration of luminaries, including Lawton Hurley as lead architects and interiors by Woods Bagot, Ruby House will offer a range of sun- dappled office spaces, ranging from 60–550 m², with starting prices around $3 million. The ground floor will feature retail spaces, as well as three best-in-class restaurants, adding more culinary heft to a street that already includes Bibo, Matteo and Tanuki.

Ruby House

“Our vision for Double Bay is to bring life back into this once-great suburb,” says Charles Mellick, director of Fortis, “and to create a vibrant precinct that is seen as the most sought-after neighbourhood in Sydney, if not all of Australia.” Big call, indeed. And yet take a stroll along the suburb’s verdant paths and suddenly Mellick’s words do not feel so hyperbolic. A few doors down from Ruby House, 24 Bay St is slated to open this August in the heritage- listed modernist masterpiece, Gaden House, designed by Neville Gruzman, a former Mayor of Woollahra and one of Sydney’s most influential 20th-century architects. Fortis is also teaming with architects Lawton Hurley on the building, which will house Song Bird, Neil Perry’s (does this man ever sleep?) new three-storey, 230-seat Cantonese restaurant. Underground will be the speakeasy Bobbie’s, helmed by Linden Pride of Caffe Dante in New York, voted best bar in the world in 2019. 

“Double Bay used to have two of the best Chinese restaurants in the city,” says Perry, referring to the defunct Cleveland and Imperial Peking. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with Song Bird so it’s going to be great to continue that tradition.”

Across the street at 19-27 Bay Street, the first flagship RH Gallery, formerly Restoration Hardware, is also under construction. A five-level commercial building, opening in late 2025, it will house bespoke luxury home furnishings and a rooftop restaurant not unlike the company’s jumping location in New York’s Meatpacking District. Meanwhile, a few blocks over on Cross Street, Ode—a luxury tower developed by Top Spring Australia—is slated to open in 2025 next to the InterContinental Hotel (itself recently sold and being reimagined to include top-floor apartments and retail). Designed by Luigi Rosselli Architects, Ode’s 15 spacious residences and penthouses, with shimmering harbour views, are being eagerly contested by the one percent, with two of the three penthouses already being bought off-plan for $21.5 and $24.9 million.

Ode, Double Bay

For all the positivity, and dollars, swirling around the suburb, there is no cast-iron guarantee that these new commercial opportunities will help rekindle the moribund boutique scene and return Double Bay to its former fashionable standing. It’s been a while since Claire Handler and her Hungarian cohorts made cash registers sing.

As such, not everyone is convinced about the suburb’s supposed rebirth. “The rents in this area are astronomical as it is,” says Tony Yeldham, the legendary menswear impresario who opened his Squire Shop for discerning gentlemen as a teenager in 1956. “It’s going to be near impossible for smaller players to stay alive, but I’ve seen this area go through so many ups and downs so I’m hopeful if sceptical.” For the most part, the locals remain sanguine about the area’s potential, with one proviso. As Joseph Hkeik explains, “We just need these lovely builders to finish up so we can all get some peace and quiet.”

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Parmigiani Fleurier Just Dropped 3 New Perfectly Sized Tonda Watches

The growing demand for smaller watches isn’t slowing down, and these new models from Parmigiani are on trend.

By Cait Bazemore 16/07/2024

For the past several years, we’ve seen a growing trend of smaller watches. According to veteran dealer Matthew Bain, 36 mm to 38 mm is the ideal watch size, and it seems many collectors agree as the demand for smaller watches continues to grow. The trend goes beyond proportions and is part of a bigger movement toward more accessible and inclusive watches for all wrists, regardless of gender. This push reflects a growing prominence of female watch collectors like Lung Lung Thun who told Robb Report this week that she desires more watches in the 34 to 37 mm range. In response, countless brands have been reimagining some of their most iconic models with smaller proportions, from Chopard’s 36 mm Alpine Eagle to Breitling’s 36 mm Navitimer. At this year’s Watches & Wonders, it was even a tiny Cartier Tank measuring just 24 mm x 16.5 mm that stole the show.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF 36 mm in Rose Gold with Sand Gold Dial and Diamond Accents. Parmigiani Fleurier.

Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand who is no stranger to creating more modestly sized timepieces with consideration for all wrists and all genders. The brand first launched its Tonda PF collection in 2021 with a larger 42 mm model. A year later, they updated the line with a 36 mm Tonda PF, which went on to win the Women’s Watch Prize at the GPHG. This smaller version was so successful, Parmigiani added a 36 mm two-tone variation for the first time just last year. Now, we get three new 36 mm versions of the Tonda PF Automatic in new dial and metal combinations and with the addition of gem setting.

Tonda PF 36 mm in three new distinct styles.
Today, Parmigiani has unveiled three new takes on it’s perfectly proportioned Tonda PF: one in rose gold with a sand gold dial and diamond accents priced at $125.400, one in rose gold with a warm grey dial and diamond accents priced at $101,471, and one in two-tone stainless steel and rose gold with a white citrine dial and a more subtle touch of diamonds just on the hour markers priced at $50,662.
Tonda PF 36 mm in Two-Tone with White Citrine Dial and Diamond Accents
Parmigiani Fleurier

For each version, you get the classic curves of the Tonda PF you know and love with sweet-spot 36 mm sizing, and it’s loaded with Parmigiani’s automatic PF770 manufacture movement with a 60-hour power reserve. For the rose gold iterations, there’s a bit more bling with diamonds on the indices, bezel, and bracelet for the sand gold dial and diamonds on the indices and bezel of the warm gray dial. With each of the new 36 mm Tonda PF watches, the brand has used fully traceable and ethically sourced gold and diamonds.

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