There is something organized and memorable about the last day of fashion week. Despite the grueling pace, late nights, early mornings and simply divine personalities we endure, there is an orderly sense of energy at the Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein Collection shows. Publicists are graceful and polite, photo check-in is straightforward, seating disasters are delicately avoided and celebs are accessible, or, if not, polite about it.
Such was the case yesterday morning in West Soho when Mr. Lauren held his 80th runway presentation. His front row of stars dressed in his premium line included Jessica Alba, Olivia Wilde and most of the members of the Ralph Lauren Royal Family.
For spring 2013, Mr. Lauren progressed from something South American to ornate looks that were undeniably Catalan and Castilian, with tomato suede jackets, amethyst silk marocaine trousers, cotton ruffle shirting in white and beautiful scarlet dresses. There were black calf woven totes and hats. The styling seemed a bit overwrought, but the majority of this overload was eliminated when the evening wear flowed in.
Incredible brocade and beaded boleros influenced by los toreros of Spain, black double-faced wool jackets and dresses, a stunning, full-length beaded tulle skirt, and scarlet dresses with embroidery and beading. It was wearable and eternally elegant.
Another day, another way to illustrate the dismal state of some European economies. Which is to say that while the headlines focused on Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos’ comments regarding his expectation that Spain will tap $75 billion in bailout funds promised by European finance ministers earlier this summer, or Europe’s renewed focus on Greece, our attention wandered to a Wall Street Journal article on a local currency called the puma.
Let’s see if we can keep this straight: the Spanish banking system is crippled by bad construction loans made in boom-ier times; Spanish government backstops the banks that made those loans; those liabilities drive Spain’s sovereign borrowing costs to new highs; neither austerity measures nor Europe’s pledge to inject 100 billion euros into Spanish banks has arrested rising borrowing costs; which also affects the borrowing costs of regional governments such as that of Valencia; leading the national government to create an 18 billion euro bailout mechanism for the regions; which Valencia and Murcia promptly said they’d tap.
What’s that have to do with prostitutes?
The stale air weighed down heavily on a hushed crowd that stared onwards at a mess of tangled bodies 20 stories and counting above the streets of Manhattan. Silhouetted by a brazen sun, the new fixture leaned precariously against the Manhattan skyline. We, the audience, were in an uncomfortably similar state, packed so tightly that it was not uncommon to feel a stranger’s breath at the nape of your neck—not the ideal situation for an outdoor gathering on the first day of summer, and a scorcher at that.
The crowd held its breath, holding sweaty drinks beneath burnished brow. Why were we braving the excruciating heat of a crowded rooftop? To witness the Castellers de Villafranca del Pendès’s attempted construction of New York’s first-ever castell, or human tower.
If, inexplicably, you’re not interested in JPMorgan’s stunning $2 billion loss on a derivatives position accumulated by a trader known as Voldemoort, the London whale and just plain old Bruno Iksil, we’ve got the news from the rest of Wall Street:
Europe reckoned with Greek elections and the Spanish government took a controlling stake in the country’s third-largest lender. Phil Falcone kept cool at a hedge fund conference, despite turmoil facing LightSquared. Green Mountain founder Robert Stiller talked about the sale of company stock that led to his ouster as chairman. That and more, in this morning’s Wall Street roundup.
Europe simmers: European governments held back a part of rescue funds promised to Greece after weekend elections raised the specter that the country’s new governing coalition might shred an existing bailout agreement. As in, literally. With the Greek government unformed, and leftist Syriza coalition talking tough, the Journal reports that German and Finnish made a stink before agreeing to release $5.5 billion in bailout funds.
Spain said it would take over Bankia SA yesterday, converting $5.8 billion in preferred equity into voting shares, good enough to control a 45 percent stake in the nation’s third-largest lender. The country’s banking system is looking more and more like an Ireland-sized catastrophe, according to Bloomberg: While the government has ordered banks to post additional capital to cover losses on construction and property loans, the prescribed collateral-raise would leave nothing in the tank for trillions more in home loans and corporate debt.
Calm before: Storm clouds may gather over Phil Falcone, but when Dealbook went to see the Harbinger Capital founder speak at the SALT conference in Vegas, the hedge fund manager was the epitome of calm, or at least, he spoke thoughtfully and in mellifluous tones. On the other hand, no one asked about LightSquared.
Bad documents: The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case that could undo hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, as the court decides whether banks that used fraudulent paperwork to file foreclosures can dismiss the suits and refile with new documents. Reuters has the story of how a 35-year-old drywall hanger initiated the case, and potential implications in Florida and across the country.
Long-promised downgrades are set to kick in for Italian banks, Green Mountain’s chairman loses his post to margin call and, thankfully, new Charlotte ordinance barring crowbars at large events was passed in time for Bank of America’s annual meeting. All that and more, in today’s Wall Street roundup.
Scissor season: Moody’s is expected to begin cutting ratings on banks any day now, and Bloomberg notes the consequences: Higher funding costs, curbed lending and another thorn in the side of economic growth. According to a Moody’s note last month, Italian lenders are first on the chopping block, to be followed by banks in other European countries. U.S. banks will also come in for potential downgrades, but are unlikely to see ratings changes until June.
A word of warning: if you are frightened by clowns, do not—I repeat, do not—see The Last Circus, a madcap, macabre fable from Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, who has been compared to Guillermo del Toro but who, in this film at least, seems to be channeling some horror fanboy hybrid of Fellini and Almodóvar. Highly stylized and brutally dramatic, The Last Circus, which premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival, can be stunning, captivating and frightening—that is, until it loses its mind halfway through
The people of Princeton University tend to communicate in a shared code. “The Dinky” means the train. “Wawa” means the store. “The Street” is the metonym for the eating clubs that line Prospect Avenue, the mansion-lined thoroughfare that bisects the campus. Discussion sections are better known as “precepts.” And when the university suspends a popular Read More