A Color Is Prelude to the Campaign

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

(On the Runway)

Forget food; Pantone’s color of the year is all about politics.

The color experts at Pantone have announced their color of the year for 2015 — Marsala, a deep, reddish-brown — and it has social media in overdrive with the food and wine implications. For obvious reasons.

Personally, however, I think they are on to something, and it has nothing to do with the kitchen, and everything to do with the next U.S. presidential campaign.

Not that they put it that way, exactly. What Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said was that the “hearty, yet stylish tone” is perfect because it exudes “confidence and stability” and is “equally appealing to men and women.” (President Barack Obama wore a fetching scarf in this color this last week, at the National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington.)

Sure, we have two years (or, to be fair, one year pre-full-on-campaigning) to go, but still: Speculation has already begun. And as maybe-possible candidates gear up, being associated with those words — confidence, stability, equally appealing — is no bad thing.

Indeed, simply consider that over the last very many election cycles, male candidates, at least, have almost universally worn ties (when they wear ties) that are either red, including Marsala dark red, or blue. No matter where their allegiance lies.

(I actually tracked this historically during the 2012 Romney/Obama debates, in case there are doubters.)

Coincidence? Possibly, but I don’t think so. And I think, along with Pantone — and until we get the ever-earlier campaign machinery under control — we are probably going to see a lot more of it next year.

The Next-Level Fashion/Tech Tie-Up

On Wednesday, Luxottica, the Italian eyewear behemoth, and Intel, the American technology giant, announced a partnership for the research and development of tech-infused glasses that signals a new stage in the wearables revolution, and shows the brands staking their claims as the most tech-forward fashion company and the most fashion-aware tech company.

“The growth of wearable technology is creating a new playing field for innovation,” Brian Krzanich, the Intel chief executive, said in the announcement. “Through our collaboration with Luxottica Group, we will unite our respective ecosystems. We expect the combination of our expertise to help drive a much faster pace of innovation and push the envelope.”

“We bring to them the art of the possible, and they can help us figure out how to make people want it, very intimately,” he added.

Massimo Vian, the Luxottica chief executive, said, “This marks a new way to see glasses.” No pun intended.

The agreement, which has been in discussion for two years, is open-ended. It will involve the creation of a research and development group of Intel and Luxottica specialists, largely based in California, who will develop technologies for eyewear that can be applied to different brands, as appropriate. Luxottica holds the eyewear license for, among others, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Armani, Miu Miu, Polo Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana.

The partnership is the second such foray for Luxottica, after its announcement this year of an agreement to manufacture more fashion-forward frames for Google Glass via their brands Oakley and Ray-Ban. The Intel deal does not mean that Luxottica is breaking up with Google, Vian said, as it is a different kind of relationship.

“Google Glass is a specific product we are working on,” he said. “With Intel, we are researching new possibilities that can be applied or offered to many brands.”

Luxottica is the fifth fashion partnership this year for Intel. The first Luxottica/Intel collaboration should reach the market next year.

A Dress Sends a Message

Anna Wintour has always been a supporter of John Galliano, the disgraced former Dior designer and now the new Maison Martin Margiela creative director. But on Monday evening, she offered what may have been the most public sign yet that in her view it is time for the world to turn the page; follow Renzo Rosso, Margiela’s owner; and move on.

She not only asked Galliano to present her with her Outstanding Achievement statuette at the British Fashion Awards, but she also wore a Margiela by John Galliano design.

As fashion world blessings go, it was about as unambiguous as anything I’ve seen.

It was also, as far as I can recall, the first time Wintour has appeared at a major black-tie event not in Chanel. And that was a whopper of a message to send to the fashion world: one at least as powerful as the mutual appreciation that Galliano and Wintour exchanged onstage.

As for the custom-made dress itself — bias-cut, long, sleeveless, round-necked, black with hand-embroidered silvery white parrot tulips twining their way up the sides and a matching white capelet of shaved feathers — it was elegant and simple, reflecting a stripped-down version of Galliano’s former trademark romanticism. If nothing about it necessarily telegraphed Maison Martin Margiela, or reflected that brand’s historic subversion of received tropes — of which evening wear is a prime candidate — well, perhaps this was not the time.

Indeed, perhaps its absence indicated a new sensitivity on Galliano’s part to context, and the need to approach his new gig, the external world and its judgments with a little humility. Certainly his own appearance — bare (ish)-faced, hair pulled back, dressed in a conservative tux — suggests a more straightforward approach.

On the other hand, given that Margiela never appeared in public, whether to bestow an award or otherwise, perhaps it also indicates the beginning of the change in that brand.

In any case, Galliano’s appearance at the biggest fashion night of the year in Britain (with all the establishment approval that implies), the sight of his new work and Wintour’s clear promotion pretty much trumped all other news of the evening, including Nicolas Ghesquière beating Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane for the International Designer prize, and Erdem and J.W. Anderson being awarded the womenswear and menswear prizes.