A mistake and a lesson at Louis Vuitton

A few weeks ago I had a sudden rush of blood to the head and bought what seemed like a very nice jersey from Louis Vuitton, costing about US$930. It had a small LV logo on the neck, but for Vuitton it was quite discreet.

DSC03786

But on reflection I decided it was a mistake. After returning home I tried it on a couple more times, and realized that as nice as it was, it didn’t fit the style and direction of the wardrobe I am building.

I therefore decided to return the item – and in doing so discovered LV’s returns policy: no refunds.

Credit notes? Yes.

But refunds? No.

And that policy is clearly written both on the receipt and below the cash register, so you have very little wiggle room if all you can say is “I changed my mind” – which is all I personally had to say.

Firstly I find this interesting, as this policy partially explains Vuitton’s continually stellar and growing revenue numbers – they don’t have refunds, so cash in the bank is cash that stays in the bank, and goods go back on the shelf; other stores do return for refund, although they don’t have to do so, at least under EU law.

Secondly it is a tiny bit annoying, mainly because I blindly spent nearly $1000 without thinking about it more carefully and sticking to rules I defined publicly some time ago.

Lessons learned:-

  1. Stick to Giorgio Armani for clothes, and Prada for shoes, just like you said you would.
  2. Don’t buy anything else from Louis Vuitton unless absolutely sure you want it.

I have since used a large chunk of the credit note to buy a nice shawl as a gift for my mother-in-law, who was very happy to have it. I consider that a save.

Dressing for the Giorgio Armani Fashion Show

If there is one conversation I never expected to have with myself or anyone around me, it is what to wear to one of the world’s premiere fashion shows.

And yet that is the problem I face this week… I have to figure out what to wear to the Giorgio Armani FW2013/14 show in Milan next Tuesday morning.

A phone call and email from GA contacts in Italy confirm the details of the show, travel and hotels are booked, and now I have to turn up wearing something suitable.

Naturally I will be going in almost all Giorgio Armani, that goes without saying. But:- Formal? Relaxed? A mix of the two?

I have turned to images of Mr Armani himself for some clues, and I think I am settling on a mix of informal t-shirt and cashmere sweater, plus a semi-formal smooth black suit with my favourite Prada shoes. To this I will add a recently acquired black overcoat, grey scarf and some sunglasses to add the final touches.

Meanwhile I have explained to my haircutter where I am going, and in return received almost regal attention to detail.

This is all quite strange for me – but also quite fun.

The birthplace of Prada, now a fashionable 100 years old

DSC04115

Where it all began for Prada: the original storefront in the Galleria in central Milan, now part of a much larger Prada store in the central internal piazza. Founded 100 years ago this year by brothers Mario and Martino Prada (hence the “fratelli” in the signage above), Prada remained a small company turning over less than $0.5M p.a. selling imported leather goods until grand-daughter Miuccia Prada took over in 1978, started listening to Patrizio Bertelli, and begain designing tote bags from ballistic nylon. Today Prada is publically traded on the Hong Kong Stock exchange, with >$2.5B in revenues, and as already discussed, quite acceptable profit margins. As part of the BAM project Prada is my choice for shoes only; I now own five pairs of Prada shoes, and one pair in particular is probably the most comfortable and stylish pair of shoes I ever owned.

Another Giorgio Armani Suit Teaches Me a Lesson

Another day, another acquisition. This time a jet black suit ($1500 minus the 10% discount) that looks about 1000% Giorgio Armani.

With an Armani blue shirt, Hermes tie (acquired in Mexico) and Prada shoes I took on a major business meeting in the USA feeling relaxed and confident.

It took a while to pick this one out, as “fashionably black” is not a typical look for me, but I have to admit I am starting to understand the black thing.

Normally I would not have touched black clothes, now I am seeing the possibilities for coordinating more easily with a wide range of other Armani colours and styles. I am constantly surprised at how this little detour into fashion, style, appearance – yes, even narcissism, about which I will write some more in the future – is teaching me things that I would have considered utterly superficial just a few months ago.

It reminds me of a clever little scene in The Devil Wears Prada:-

It is a little odd that I although I once laughed at this scene from the point of view of neophyte Andy, I now find it funny from the point of view of Miranda, and quite realistic to boot.

I guess you are never too old to learn something new.

More Shoes from Prada

Back in December a savvy Giorgio Armani employee in Florence advised me that the only shoes that really go with Armani clothing are those made by Prada, and how true that has turned out to be. Giorgio Armani makes incredibly elegant, subtle clothes, but the shoes just don’t have the same degree of elan. Prada, on the other hand, makes wonderful shoes, and they look fantastic with Armani clothing; it is no coincidence, I think, that Giorgio Armani and Prada shops are typically co-located. Last week I purchased my fourth pair of Prada shoes, handing over US$465.00 with satisfaction. They are probably the most stylish and yet practical pair I have found to date, extremely comfortable and solid, good for work and leisure use. Wearing Prada shoes + Giorgio Armani clothes I actually feel very different, and it is a nice feeling.