My daughter got engaged this week. The ring is exquisite; a near perfect princess cut diamond set in white gold. It is a breath of light on her delicate fingers, artist’s fingers, sentient and fertile. I know this ring thing is a tradition, and an important symbol with deep meaning to those who imbibe. Personally, I never had an engagement ring. I just never really wanted one. Maybe it’s my tendency to grapple with tradition. It’s certainly not about the luxury. Luxury has great value. It is aspirational and fantastical.
In the realm of tradition, one would be hard pressed to out stage Hanro of Switzerland. There are few brands anchored in the complexities of quality fabrics that match this company in leadership and consumer affection. For 135 years, Hanro has held court with their proprietary cotton underwear and loungewear. I have written more than one exposé heralding the virtues of their revered products, but recently, after seeing the Valea Sea Island collection delivering this February, I knew I had found the jewel in their crown. In the British West Indies, Hanro handpicks the best and longest staple cotton fibers in the world, spins them into yarn in Switzerland and knits them into this sumptuous pure white mercerized interlock fabric in Austria. An exclusive eyelash leaver’s lace adds a modern light femininity to classic shapes available in XS-XL. Traditional sleepwear is transformed.
“Luxury is the Ease of a T-Shirt in a Very Expensive Dress.” ~Karl Lagerfeld
I have gotten into the habit lately of tuning into You Tube on my TV to listen (and watch) classical music concerts, particularly where soloists perform. I am quite awe struck by the talent I see, partial to strings and the piano. After all, these artists are already virtuosos, steps above their peers, most who already claim positions in world famous orchestras. These are music masters worthy of global acclaim. Occasionally, a force of nature rises; not only prodigious from birth but someone or something other worldly. Their gifts survive into perpetuity. This is what I experienced when I happened this weekend upon a concert starring the incomparable violinist Itzhak Perlman. I am not sure if it was Tchaikovsky’s concerto or/and Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra, all legacies in their own right, but I knew the moment I heard it begin that I had been transported to another dimension of personal pleasure. Can you imagine the joy one might know hearing it live? This was beyond superior, it was supreme.
Watching Perlman play, one does not think of glamour. One thinks of class, intelligence, perpetual elegance; qualities that transcend time remaining contemporary and essential, just like the Hanro of Switzerland brand, and its heritage of excellence that has propelled it to legend status since its birth 135 years ago. I like to say that with Hanro, it is all about the fabric and it is. The designs are merely a frame for textile innovation and quality unsurpassed in this market. The Violetta Collection, highlighted here, is constructed in Hanro’s proprietary mercerized cotton interlock coupled with a graphic interpretation of guipure design. Available for XS-XL, this Pajama is an icon of modern design: casual, sensual, understated luxury. The beauty of the Hanro aesthetic is its seemingly effortless ascension into a league of its own. Timeless inner and outerwear that one needs only to encounter to know the difference
“Next to excellence is the appreciation of it.” William Makepeace Thackeray
Way back in olden times when I was in high school, the art department put on an annual stage show followed by an exhibition of the students’ work in the gymnasium. One year, an entire wall was filled with fashion illustrations, so charismatic that the audience was stunned. The work was an elegant rendition of the female form, never deviating from the acknowledgement of a woman’s curves. The artist would go on to become a world famous fashion designer. Her name was Donna Karan. It was at that show that I began my recognition of the symbiotic relationship between art, design and profit. As I started a career in merchandising, it became obvious to me that this synthesis was a brilliant method to realize sales. The retailers that recognize how visual impact affects the consumer are always ahead of the game.
So, it was with great expectation that I learned that Hanro of Switzerland would be unveiling a mural painted by renowned fashion illustrator Izak Zenou at the opening in May of their flagship store in New York City’s meatpacking district. Zenou’s work embodies the entire Hanro mission: feminine simplicity, elegantly executed with an ethereal hand. Painted directly on the walls it integrates seamlessly with the Hanro merchandise, raising the environment to a gallery of sophisticated and enchanting product. The artist has indelibly planted his signature on these walls consequently, becoming part of Hanro’s public art campaign. In my opinion, the merging of art and retail is where the most provocative and profitable brick and mortar future resides. It creates a visceral experience that is impossible to duplicate on line.
“The Color Of Your Eyes, The Smell Of Your Hair. I Try To Draw You In My Mind. . . “
As an Art History major, I spent substantial time immersed in the Renaissance. My appreciation for this inventive epoch was fueled mainly during time I spent in Italy exposed to the genius of Michelangelo. It was his sculptures that truly changed my perspective. What made him such a defining force and ha sustained his influence through 4 centuries was his extraordinary ability to transform a traditional subject into a living, breathing work of art. As classic as his body of work is, his execution remains an emblem of artistic excellence. As a student, I learned to dig deeper into an artist’s performance in order to uncover that which sets him apart. In the case of Michelangelo, it was his unfinished studies discovered at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy that taught me how to truly look at a subject. What was revealed were half hewn figures that seem to emerge from the stone on their way to becoming individual world renown masterpieces.
I love many aspects of the Hanro brand, its proprietary fabrics, simple lines, modern shapes, timeless styles, understated elegance and excellent craftsmanship. But when I recently saw the new Lulu panty collection launching in April, it was Michelangelo’s evolving sculptures that I witnessed in Florence that crossed my mind. Using Leavertronic technology, this lace underwear materializes from the knitting machines as a single garment needing a simple back seam to be whole. This enables a soft, smooth, flat fit for sizes S-M-L. Innovative in its achievement, a new panty art form has surfaced. Once again the Hanro ingenuity reveals itself.
“I Saw The Angel In The Marble And Carved Until I Set Him Free” ~Michelangelo
By the time you are reading this, Thanksgiving will be done. It’s Black Friday, the traditional holiday send-off that has, in recent years, evolved into mayhem; questionable deals leaking into a sacred American celebration. I am in Mexico, where this day is not part of the general atmosphere and even Christmas in this Catholic country is less commercial. Black Friday for me, this year, is the anticipation of Hurricane Sandra, which is set to strike today and may or may not be a category 4 storm. So we are hunkered down, under dark skies, semi-prepared with our fingers crossed. Hoping for a tropical depression, just extraordinary rain, and anticipating the steady sunshine that will surely emerge at the end. It’s a clear parallel with retailer’s wishes for this season’s business.
Black Friday either in the USA’s rampant shopping craze or here on hurricane watch in Cabo San Lucas, had me thinking that the old saying “steady as she goes” would strike the right chord. This brings me to the 130 year old Hanro of Switzerland. Besides its reputation for proprietary and exquisite fabrics, and its accolades as Designer of the Year, the brand has stepped up its ante and brought lace to move its fashion drive forward. As a result, the Constance warmwear collection has taken sales by storm and steered the company towards a promise of healthy seasonal volume. A sensual combination of 4 x 3 wool and silk rib combined with an opulent Chantilly lace, these styles, XS-L, are elegant classics with a contemporary twist. Meant to be worn inside, (where I intend to be today) or outside, where half of America will be mega shopping, they are beautiful basics that will weather any retail climate change; perfect gear for holiday gifting.
“It’s So Important Your Customers Can Rely On You For Your Classics” ~ L.Wren Scott