+ Pantone’s Color of the Year Was Made for the Metaverse (The New York Times): “Pantone announced its 2023 color of the year: Viva Magenta … ‘a saturated shade honking at the threshold of fuchsia, definitely not organic but not quite electric.’ The shade was selected by human trend prognosticators who survey fashion and design, then interpreted by the A.I. tool Midjourney to create what Pantone … called ‘the Magentaverse.’ In a news release, the company called Viva Magenta, a.k.a. Pantone 18-1750, ‘an unconventional shade for an unconventional time.'”
+ Why Gucci Wanted A Change — And What’s Next (The Business of Fashion): “From 2015 to 2019, under Michele and CEO Marco Bizzarri Gucci delivered the most successful turnaround in the history of the luxury industry, fuelled by a 360-degree rebrand that went all-in on the designer’s campy magpie aesthetic. Sales more than doubled while profits quadrupled at the brand, which drove the fashion agenda and helped usher in a new generation of young luxury consumers drawn to its sporty styles and bold merchandising. Was Kering wrong to want more? To be sure, Gucci experienced a heavier hit than most rivals during the pandemic and took longer to get sales back to pre-virus levels. This was in part due to a higher exposure to struggling channels like wholesale, off-price and travel retail. But as the company succeeded in scaling back that exposure, Gucci’s continued underperformance versus peers became harder not to see as a sign that consumer interest for Michele’s aesthetic was fading. Gucci is expected to cross a major threshold this year as analysts forecast sales of €10.75 billion, up around 10 percent year-on-year. But the broader luxury market is estimated to grow almost twice as fast, up 22 percent this year, according to Bain.”
+ Major Gucci Shake-Up as Designer Steps Down (The New York Times): “His magpie aesthetic, which ranged freely across time periods, reference points and conceptions of beauty, seemed perfectly calibrated for the more democratic social media age. His shows were hodgepodges of muchness — jewelry and eyeglasses and bags and clothes — that celebrated character over chic. His long hair and beard gave him the mien of a counterculture guru … and fashion practically treated him as such, especially once the numbers started ticking up … But unexpected and unsentimental change at the top has become something of a pattern at Kering. This is the third time that Mr. Pinault has made a sudden shift in the direction of his marquee brand. The first time was in 2004, when he parted ways with Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole and the second, in 2014, when he fired the designer Frida Giannini and the chief executive, Patrizio di Marco.”
+ Dozens of classic Salvatore Ferragamo styles are 40% off at Shopbop, including the Vara Pumps and Varina Flats which I had reviewed years ago.
+ Amazon Alexa Is a “Colossal Failure,” on Pace to Lose $10 Billion This Year (Ars Technica): “Alexa has been around for 10 years and has been a trailblazing voice assistant that was copied quite a bit by Google and Apple. Alexa never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream, though, so Alexa doesn’t really make any money. The Alexa division is part of the ‘“‘Worldwide Digital‘“‘ group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with ‘the vast majority‘ of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year. It sounds like Amazon is tired of burning through all that cash … Just about every plan to monetize Alexa has failed … This month’s layoffs are the end result of years of trying to turn things around. Alexa was given a huge runway at the company, back when it was reportedly the ‘pet project’ of former CEO Jeff Bezos. An all-hands crisis meeting took place in 2019 to try to turn the monetization problem around, but that was fruitless. By late 2019, Alexa saw a hiring freeze, and Bezos started to lose interest in the project around 2020. Of course, Amazon now has an entirely new CEO, Andy Jassy, who apparently isn’t as interested in protecting Alexa … Is time running out for Big Tech voice assistants? Everyone seems to be struggling with them. Google expressed basically identical problems with the Google Assistant business model last month. There’s an inability to monetize the simple voice commands most consumers actually want to make, and all of Google’s attempts to monetize assistants with display ads and company partnerships haven’t worked. With the product sucking up server time and being a big money loser, Google responded just like Amazon by cutting resources to the division.”
+ After a Stillbirth, an Autopsy Can Provide Answers. Too Few of Them Are Being Performed. (ProPublica): “… a stillbirth evaluation, a systematic assessment that includes placental exams, genetic testing and autopsies … often … [is] not done, making the already complex task of determining the causes of death even more difficult. In about one-third of stillbirths, the cause of death is never determined … Some doctors do not offer patients the postmortem exams after a stillbirth; some patients decide against them without fully understanding the potential benefits. The federal government doesn’t cover the cost of an autopsy after a stillbirth, though many experts say it should be viewed as a continuation of maternal care … placental exams may help establish a cause of death or exclude a suspected one in about 65% of stillbirths, and autopsies were similarly useful in more than 40% of cases … Every year more than 20,000 pregnancies in the U.S. end in stillbirth, the death of an expected child at 20 weeks or more. About half occur at 28 weeks or more, after the point a fetus can typically survive outside the womb.”
+ When High Fashion and QAnon Collide (The New York Times): “… the release of two new campaigns by Balenciaga … has taken the public opprobrium to a new level. One campaign featured photos of children clutching handbags that look like teddy bears in bondage gear. Another campaign featured photos that include paperwork about child pornography laws. Together, they ignited a firestorm that traveled from the internet to Fox News, fueled by allegations that Balenciaga condoned child exploitation. The controversy has become one of the most explicit collisions of internet culture, politics, fashion and conspiracy theories to date … The Garde-Robe campaign … was shot in July … In one of its images, a $3,000 Balenciaga x Adidas Hourglass handbag was featured on a desk along with printed copies of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in U.S. v. Williams. The case examined whether laws banning the ‘pandering’ — promoting — of child pornography curtailed First Amendment freedom of speech rights … As online criticism of the campaigns spread, the story was picked up across right-leaning media outlets … The brand’s first responses to the backlash came on Nov. 24, when it apologized for the Gift Shop campaign and promised to remove the advertisements from its social media channels … the brand claimed that the documents were placed in the campaign photographs without their knowledge and had led to false associations between Balenciaga and child pornography … Ultimately, image selection would have fallen to the brand … The long-term repercussions remain to be seen.”
+ He Was My High School Journalism Teacher. Then I Investigated His Relationships with Teenage Girls. (Business Insider): “The students Burgess targeted were similar. Each of the three women who had sexual relationships with Burgess told me they were struggling with challenges at home when they met him as teenagers. One had a baby at 15. Another was sexually abused. The other was abandoned by her father. Two of the women believe they were sexually abused by Burgess. Mia Nakao, who raised a child with Burgess and was married to him for several years, does not. Still, Nakao told me, Burgess’ penchant for developing intimate relationships with students, both sexual and platonic, often crossed the line.”
+ Permanent Jewelry Locks In Customers, Sets Off Metal Detectors (The Wall Street Journal): “People are getting hooked on permanent jewelry that requires a special tool or scissors to remove. Fans of the welded, soldered or securely fastened jewelry say they love not having to think about losing expensive pieces or fiddling with finicky clasps. The bracelets, necklaces and anklets can also wreak havoc at airports and doctors’ offices—and elicit raised eyebrows from those who don’t understand the appeal … Sellers often have customers sign waivers that lay bare serious downsides on the rare occasions the procedure goes wrong.”
+ Giorgia Meloni and the Politics of Power Dressing (The New York Times): “The first female prime minister of Italy wears Armani … She has worn Armani so often in such a relatively short time that, along with her ironed-straight blond bob … the look is starting to seem like a uniform of the office. One that is both more significant and less obvious than it may at first appear. More significant because Ms. Meloni is redefining the image of Italy for the world, and in that context, every choice matters. That includes the choice to align herself visually with the comfortingly familiar wardrobe of captains of industry and with a brand that is a pillar of the power-dressing establishment — a decision that makes her seem less like a radical change than her often vitriolic populism, policies and gender may otherwise suggest … Dress, with its ability to tap into a shared popular language, can be both a strategic communications tool and a weapon. The question of how best to wield it is not a frivolous issue or one limited to first ladies, though it is more complicated when it comes to female politicians.”
+ Endgame: How the Visionary Hospice Movement Became a For-Profit Hustle (ProPublica): “… hospice … strictly speaking, is for the dying. To qualify, patients must agree to forgo curative care and be certified by doctors as having less than six months to live … It might be counterintuitive to run an enterprise that is wholly dependent on clients who aren’t long for this world, but companies in the hospice business can expect some of the biggest returns for the least amount of effort of any sector in American health care. Medicare pays providers a set rate per patient per day, regardless of how much help they deliver. Since most hospice care takes place at home and nurses aren’t required to visit more than twice a month, it’s not difficult to keep overhead low and to outsource the bulk of the labor to unpaid family members … Long hospice stays translate into larger margins, and stable patients require fewer expensive medications and supplies than those in the final throes of illness. Although two doctors must initially certify that a patient is terminally ill, she can be recertified as such again and again … half of all Americans die in hospice care. Most of these deaths take place at home. When done right, the program allows people to experience as little pain as possible and to spend meaningful time with their loved ones. Nurses stop by to manage symptoms. Aides assist with bathing, medications and housekeeping. Social workers help families over bureaucratic hurdles. Clergy offer what comfort they can, and bereavement counselors provide support in the aftermath … hospice has evolved from a constellation of charities, mostly reliant on volunteers, into a $22 billion juggernaut funded almost entirely by taxpayers … The hospice benefit imposes a dichotomy between caring for the living and caring for the dying, when, in truth, the categories are often indistinguishable. Most older people will face a chronic disability or a disease in the last years of their life and will need extra care to remain safely at home. That help is rarely available, and Americans often end up in a social-welfare purgatory, forced to spend down their savings to become eligible for a government-funded aide or a nursing home bed.”
+ ‘Nepo Babies’ of Famous Parents Say They Did It Their Way. No One Is Buying It. (The Daily Beast): “There’s nothing new about nepotism, first coined in the 14th or 15th century to describe the corrupt tactic of childless popes assigning prominent positions in the Catholic Church to their nephews … Given nepotism’s obvious ubiquity, there’s something inherently ridiculous about all the hedging the children of celebrities do when asked to acknowledge how they themselves became celebrities, especially because the world of entertainment is such a particularly prominent offender”.
+ Was This $100 Billion Deal the Worst Merger Ever? (The New York Times): “Less than four years after the merger, AT&T abandoned its grand initiative. It spun off its Warner Media assets and ceded management control to Discovery. The new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, took on $43 billion of AT&T’s debt, and AT&T shareholders kept 71 percent of the company, a stake worth less than $20 billion. That amounts to a loss of about $47 billion for AT&T shareholders, based on AT&T’s $109 billion valuation of the deal at the time it was announced … AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner is hardly the first deal to have gone disastrously awry — Time Warner’s own merger with AOL in 2000 led to $160 billion in write-offs. But few corporate mergers have stirred up the passions, seething resentments and finger-pointing as AT&T’s short-lived ownership of Time Warner did … Yet there has been no accountability on the part of the AT&T board or shareholders. Mr. Stankey remains chief executive and has been hailed for his bold decisions to unload DirectTV and Warner Media, even though he was in large part responsible for buying them.”
+ Kanye West Used Porn, Bullying, ‘Mind Games’ to Control Staff (Rolling Stone): “In the month since Adidas severed ties with West amid a hail of hate speech, more than two dozen former Yeezy and Adidas staffers have described to Rolling Stone an abusive office culture that left many of them fearing for their livelihoods. Behind the scenes, this celebrity boss did more than test the boundaries of professionalism: Former Yeezy and Adidas staffers and creative collaborators claim that he played pornography to Yeezy staff in meetings; discussed porn and showed an intimate photograph of Kim Kardashian in job interviews; and showed an explicit video and photos of Kardashian as well as his own sex tapes to Yeezy team members … prominent former members of the Yeezy team insists that leaders from Adidas were aware of West’s ‘“‘problematic behavior‘”‘ but ‘“‘turned their moral compass off,‘ raising questions about whether his corporate partner could have stepped in years ago.“
+ Just Wait Until You Get to Know Ron DeSantis (The Atlantic): “While essentially working from home, DeSantis has managed to build an impressive cachet as a favored Fox News funambulist, a flypaper for big donors, and an owner of libs … The question is whether DeSantis’s presidential hopes will perish as he starts getting out more on the Iowa–New Hampshire dating apps. People who know him better and have watched him longer are skeptical of his ability to take on the former president. DeSantis, they say, is no thoroughbred political athlete. He can be awkward and plodding. And Trump tends to eviscerate guys like that … no shortage of alleged heavyweights have entered previous primary races only to reveal themselves as decidedly not ready for prime time, or even late-night C-SPAN. Political handicappers and fundraisers overhype them. Expectations create a cryptolike bubble. Then they finally show up and fail to dazzle. The gloss fades fast. You can ask President Beto O’Rourke about this … Like Trump, DeSantis has a feral, shameless quality. As an underdog candidate for governor in 2018, DeSantis showed a remarkable willingness to prostrate himself before the then-president … The apex—or nadir—of this effort involved an ad in which the candidate is shown reading a bedtime story to his baby son, the latter clad in a red make america great again onesie … The pure nerve that allowed DeSantis to so debase himself before Trump and then promptly turn against his former kingmaker could serve him well. DeSantis understands intuitively that loyalty in politics can be a loser’s proposition.”
+ A Baby Abduction, a DNA Match and a Tearful Reunion 51 Years Later (The New York Times): “The abduction happened on Aug. 23, 1971 … Ms. Apantenco, who was 22 and working as a waitress, needed someone to watch her daughter. After placing a babysitter’s ad in the newspaper, Ms. Apantenco arranged for the woman to pick up Melissa, who was 21 months old, from her roommate while she was at work … Ms. Apantenco never met the woman. When she did not return with Baby Melissa, Ms. Apantenco called the police … The police investigations proved futile … As the years passed, the Highsmiths took matters into their own hands. Ms. Highsmith and Ms. Del Bosque, 48, remember their parents chasing leads in Texas even after their family moved to Illinois in the late 1970s … The breakthrough came earlier this year, with the father’s DNA match with the unknown grandchild … a clinical laboratory scientist and an amateur genealogist … was asked by the family this month to answer the question, “Is this what we think it is?” Ms. Schiele pored through the records and contacted a genetic relative of Ms. Walden’s on Ancestry.com who gave her enough information to dig through public records to identify her in about two hours. That’s when the family sent the Facebook message.”
+ Recently purchased: Dolce Vita Huey H2O Waterproof Bootie, Veronica Beard Darren Tweed Jacket, Gap Recycled Cable-Knit Pointelle Cardigan, UGG Gertrude Teddy Coat, Polo Ralph Lauren Cotton Chino Baseball Cap, J. Crew Cotton Cable-Knit Sweater, and Chloé Lauren Canvas Sneakers.
Have a good weekend, everyone!