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Aurora James, Founder of the 15 Percent Pledge, Signs With UTA – WWD

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Aurora James — the fashion designer, creative director and founder of the 15 Percent Pledge — has signed with United Talent Agency.

The 38-year-old, a Toronto-native based in New York, is the founder of Brother Vellies, the luxury accessories brand worn by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beyoncé, Meghan Markle, Rihanna and Zendaya. Launched in 2013, the fashion line is handmade by artisans who utilize traditional African designs.

“Aurora is a visionary whose creativity and passion are transcending boundaries and shaping culture,” Darnell Strom, UTA’s partner and head of culture and leadership, told WWD in a statement. “We are excited to work with Aurora and expand her influence across multiple verticals.”

In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, sparking the Black Lives Matter movement, James created the 15 Percent Pledge — a nonprofit that encourages retailers to pledge at least 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, while offering consulting services. In the first year about 30 companies, including Sephora and Macy’s Inc., have signed the pledge, shifting nearly $10 billion of revenue to Black-owned businesses, according to the organization.

Recognized for her work and activism, James has received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Founder’s Award, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize, British Fashion Award, as well as two CFDA Emerging Talent nominations and a CFDA American Accessories Designer of the Year nomination. She also made Time’s 2021 100 list of most influential people.

At UTA, she joins a roster of clients that include Timothée Chalamet, Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, Tiffany Haddish, Ben Stiller, Paris Hilton and Jessica Alba, as well as content creators Emma Chamberlain, Bretman Rock and the D’Amelio family. In the world of fashion, the agency represents British Vogue’s Edward Enninful and model Gisele Bündchen.





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Droht ein zweites Mariupol?: Moskaus Truppen ziehen Ring um Sjewjerodonezk enger

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Droht ein zweites Mariupol?

Moskaus Truppen ziehen Ring um Sjewjerodonezk enger

Sjewjerodonezk und Lyssytschansk sind die letzten beiden Städte in der Region Luhansk, die noch unter Kiews Kontrolle stehen. Doch russische Truppen versuchen die Zwillingsstädte einzukreisen. Besonders ein Angriff aus südlicher Richtung könnte für die Verteidiger gefährlich werden.

Russlands Offensivbemühungen in der Ukraine sind an vielen Punkten der Front ins Stocken geraten. Anders sieht die Situation im Raum Sjewjerodonezk und Lyssytschansk im Gebiet Luhansk aus. Hier treibt Moskau seine Donbass-Offensive beharrlich voran. Seit Tagen liegen die beiden Zwillingsstädte unter russischem Dauerfeuer. Laut dem US-Militärinstitut ISW stoßen Truppen Moskaus von Norden, Westen und Osten auf die Stadt zu.

„Die Russen löschen Sjewjerodonezk wie Mariupol aus. In den Vororten der Stadt laufen Kämpfe“, teilte der ukrainische Militärgouverneur von Luhansk, Serhij Hajdaj am Wochenende auf Telegram mit. Zugleich wies er Aussagen von Russlands Verteidigungsminister Sergej Schoigu, kurz vor der kompletten Einnahme der Region Luhansk zu stehen, als „Unsinn“ zurück. Schoigu habe keinen Überblick mehr über die Lage seiner eigenen Streitkräfte.

Ziel der russischen Armee scheint es, die ukrainischen Verbände rund um Sjewjerodonezk und Lyssytschansk vom Nachschub aus dem Donezker Gebiet abzuschneiden und einzukesseln. Am Samstag wurde dabei ukrainischen Angaben zufolge gezielt eine Brücke über den Siwerskyj Donez zwischen den beiden Städten mit 240-Millimeter-Mörsern zerstört.

Wie gefährlich die Situation für die ukrainischen Truppen im Frontbogen ist, zeigen die Berichte des ISW. Demnach stoßen Moskaus Kräfte auch von der südlich von Sjewjerodonezk gelegenen Stadt Popasna langsam aber sicher nach Westen und Norden vor. Damit bedrohen die Kreml-Truppen die wichtige Nachschubtrasse, die die Stadt Bachmut mit Sjewjerodonezk und Lyssytschansk verbindet. Eine Unterbrechung der Versorgungslinie würde die Verteidiger vor ernste Probleme stellen.

Der ukrainische Generalstab bestätigte zuletzt andauernde Gefechte um die Ortschaften Toschkiwka, Komyschuwacha, Trypillya im Raum Popasna. Behauptungen russischer Quellen, wonach Truppen Moskaus die dortigen Verteidigungslinien durchbrochen hätten, konnten die Experten des ISW allerdings nicht bestätigen.

Sjewjerodonezk und Luhansk haben sowohl für Moskau als auch für Kiew eine hohe symbolische Bedeutung. Die beiden Städte sind die letzten in der Region Luhansk, die noch von der Ukraine kontrolliert werden. Trotz der schwierigen Lage zeigte sich Gouverneur Hajdaj optimistisch: „Unsere Truppen bekommen ausländische Waffen, bewaffnen sich neu, beziehen neue Stellungen – und ich glaube, dass wir im Juni zum Gegenangriff übergehen können.“



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Balenciaga Takes Crypto, the Causes of the Rich – WWD

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CRYPTO CRAZE: Was it because its show was at the New York Stock Exchange, or just customers wanting to pay with it? Regardless of the reason, Balenciaga revealed that it now is accepting payment in cryptocurrency. Given the plunge in their value over the last 10 days, one could argue the timing wasn’t ideal, but starting with the U.S., the brand will now accept crypto at its flagship stores, including on Madison Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, as well as on balenciaga.com. Other regions and e-commerce will follow, the company said.

Balenciaga store on Bond Street
Tianwei Zhang/WWD

The fashion house is still deciding what payment solutions provider it will use, but it will accept currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to begin with and other currencies will be added in due course.

As for the volatile fluctuations in value and whether that is cause for concern, the company said in a statement that, “Balenciaga is thinking long-term about crypto, and fluctuations in currency value are nothing new.”

The Kering-owned brand joins Tag Heuer in accepting crypto. The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned watch brand earlier this month said its customers would be able to pay at checkout in one of 12 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Ethereum through a solution provided by BitPay. — WWD STAFF

THE RICH’S CAUSES: The Sunday Times of London has outed some of Britain’s biggest philanthropists, and they include Selfridges’ former owners, the Weston family; David and Victoria Beckham; Cara Delevingne, and François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek.

The newspaper published The Giving List as a sidebar to its annual Rich List, ranking donors by the percentage of overall wealth they’ve given away in the past year, and to which causes.

Many gave to COVID-19-related charities in the wake of the pandemic, while the paper also noted that the 2022 list features more climate change activists than ever.

In addition to COVID-19, the fashion world focused on a variety of causes over the past 12 months, including health, education and Ukraine.

Lewis Hamilton, who’s collaborated in the past with Tommy Hilfiger and who’s an investor in W Magazine, ranked at number five on The Giving List, donating 20 million pounds of his 300 million pound fortune to youth, education and employment charities.

Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne
Lexie Moreland/WWD

The Weston family, which sold Selfridges Group last year, but which still owns Fortnum & Mason, Primark’s parent Associated British Foods and Holt Renfrew in Canada, came in at number 24. The family donated 182.5 million pounds to COVID-19 causes, education and the arts.

The family’s net worth rose 2.5 billion pounds to 13.5 billion pounds over the past year, making them the eighth wealthiest entry on the 2022 Rich List.

For the annual Rich List, The Sunday Times makes its own calculations of individuals’ and families’ minimum wealth based on information in the public domain.

It ranks the 250 wealthiest people living and working in Britain (not necessarily British citizens) and also breaks out smaller lists, including wealthiest musicians, and charity donors.

Number 35 on The Giving List was Delevingne, whose estimated worth is 41 million pounds, and who gave 400,000 pounds to environmental causes. Last year, she established her grassroots charity, Initiative Earth, which helps people regenerate their local ecosystems and communities.

Harry Styles, musician, fashion lover and founder of the new beauty brand Pleasing, was ranked at number 37. He donated 800,000 pounds of his 100 million pound fortune to “various causes,” according to the newspaper.

David and Victoria Beckham were ranked at 65 on The Giving List, with a 1 million pound donation to Ukraine following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country earlier this year.

The Beckhams’ wealth was estimated at 425 million pounds by The Sunday Times, thanks partly to David’s recent deal with Authentic Brands Group.

The Beckhams did not make it into the top 250 ranking, although their wealth exceeds that of fellow celebrities, including Elton John, Sting, Mick Jagger, all of whose fortunes are less than 400 million pounds.

Tying for number 92 on the Giving List were Pinault and Hayek and father and son diamond jewelry tycoons Laurence and François Graff.

The owner of Kering Group and his actress wife are sitting on an estimated fortune of 7.13 billion pounds and gave away 5.5 million pounds to COVID-19 and other humanitarian causes.

The Graffs, who ranked at number 56 on the 2022 Rich List have an estimated wealth of 3 billion pounds, and gave away 2.6 million pounds to COVID-19, poverty relief and African health charities over the past year. — SAMANTHA CONTI

 

Billie Lourd and Bruce Bozzi

Billie Lourd and Bruce Bozzi
Tommaso Boddi/Courtesy of Getty Images for Mujen Spirits

HIGH SPIRITS: Stepping into their party, Billie Lourd and her stepfather Bruce Bozzi are matching — both in baby blue.

“It wasn’t intentional, but we’re in sync,” exclaimed Lourd, bubbly and smiley, in an Autumn Adeigbo dress. “It tends to happen.”

“It really was not on purpose,” chimed in Bozzi, wearing a custom ’70s-style suit. (It was inspired by “tacky tuxedos” of the era, along with John Travolta’s look in the opening shot of “Saturday Night Fever.” It’s a creation by the family tailor, “Mario in Beverly Hills.”)

“I walked in and was like, ‘Look what I’m wearing,’” he continued. “She’s like, ‘Look what I’m wearing.’ We live together.”

“It does end up happening a weird amount,” said Lourd. “And we even match the bottle and didn’t mean to.”

The Mujen “Ai” bottle, that is — Bozzi’s new Shochu company (“ai” is Japanese for love; “mujen” means infinite).

While Bozzi — former co-owner of The Palm and husband to CAA talent agent Bryan Lourd — and business partner Sondra Baker began rolling out the distilled spirit (crafted in Japan for more than 500 years) in November, this was their official launch party, and Lourd was tapped as hostess.

“I was so excited to host this, because Bruce has been working so hard on creating this incredible brand, and I’ve been wanting to support him as much as I can,” said the 29-year-old actress, daughter of Lourd and the late Carrie Fisher. “It’s been so hard with COVID-19. We haven’t been able to do events and be out and do things like this. And when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it and was so excited. It’s a real family brand for us. We’re really doing it all together. A bunch of my friends are here, and his friends.”

The guest list included Billie Lourd’s husband Austen Rydell; rising actors Nico Hiraga and Austin Crute; former freestyle skier and actor Gus Kenworthy; Jamie Schneider Mizrahi and Nico Mizrahi; Sony Pictures executive Andre Caraco; film producer Jon Berg and guitarist Tim Reynolds.

“Ultimately, Sondra Baker brought me into it,” explained Bozzi of Mujen. “She was the visionary of this.”

The two first met in the ’90s at a gym in L.A. called Sports Connection. They were running on adjacent treadmills.

“Funny story, right?” said Baker.

They reconnected years later, finding themselves on the same school yard when their kids were in first grade (Bozzi is father to a pre-teen, Ava.)

Baker (who has a background in tech) discovered Shochu through her husband, and after learning that, when made with rice, the liquor is free of sugar, carbs and gluten, she saw an opportunity for a “healthier” spirit.

“I told my husband, I want to start this business, and if I do it, I want to do it with him,” Baker said of Bozzi. “He was involved before he even knew he was involved.”

They visited distilleries in the Kumamoto region of Japan, landing on a 119-year-old family-owned spot run by the founder’s great-granddaughter. They offer three Mujen bottles: “Ai Lite,” made with 23 percent alcohol, the “Original,” with 35 percent (intended to be mixed in cocktails, which were enjoyed at the party — names like “Tokyo Lemonade” and “Rosé Spritz,” created by mixologist Ash Miyasaki), and “X,” a brown-colored option, with 42 percent alcohol, aged for 10 years. Diane von Furstenberg is among the investors.

“She’s a very dear friend of mine, a very old friend of mine,” said Bozzi. “Her and [husband] Barry [Diller] — I brought it to their home for dinner, and she was like, ‘This is amazing. How can I be involved?’”

Mujen can currently be purchased online in 45 states via direct-to-consumer and available at select locations in New York and Los Angeles, found at L.A. hot spots like Alexander Wilmot-owned Gigi’s — the location of choice for the party — Jeff Klein’s The Tower Bar, private members club San Vicente Bungalows, as well as at The Grove’s Monsieur Marcel and The Little Door on Third Street.

“Anderson had never tasted it, and Andy loves the Ai,” said Baker, recounting Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen’s entertaining and booze-filled live CNN “New Year’s Eve” show, where they’re seen indulging in Mujen (Cohen is a friend of Bozzi’s).

“We didn’t know that they were going to have a four-hour commercial of Mujen on there,” joked Baker. “Anderson has the best quote in the history of mankind. He said, ‘It’s like a lovely siren licking you from the sea of Odysseus.’”

Laughing, she added: “I’m going to make T-shirts of that.” — RYMA CHIKHOUNE

NOT REALLY ROUGHING IT: Rather than simply release its summer 2022 campaign online, Neiman Marcus decided to bring the summer camp vibes to life with a retreat upstate for a select group of editors and influencers, for an adult take on summer camp.

Guests traveled to new “It” boutique hotel Inness, in Accord, New York, for a two-night stay all centered around the “summer camp” theme of the campaign. The itinerary kicked off with a dinner under the stars Wednesday evening, followed by drinks in the library and time around the campfire. On Thursday, camp activities like tie-dyeing, jewelry-making, candle-making and archery were indulged in, and later that evening, Studio 189 founder, Abrima Erwiah, hosted dinner, which was then followed by a campfire with s’mores led by Giacomo Missoni and Silvia Torassa.

The campaign, “Neiman Marcus Summer Camp,” features over 200 brands, including Santa, Acler, Oceanus, Rebecca Vallance, Mignonne Gavigan, Blue Sky Inn, Veronica Beard, Missoni, Zegna, and Jacquemus. It was shot in California’s Redwood Forest and in Texas.

“We’re all ready to get outside, get dressed up, socialize with friends and family, and travel. Our customers’ desire for pure, unadulterated fun and freedom is at an all-time high, and they’re determined to make the most out of this season,” says Daz McColl, chief marketing officer of Neiman Marcus. “The campaign concept evokes our borrowed memory structures of fun summer camp experiences rich in childhood nostalgia with a fashion twist you expect from Neiman Marcus.”  — LEIGH NORDSTROM

Balenciaga Takes Crypto, the Causes of

Inside Neiman Marcus’ summer camp campaign launch trip.
Mike Vitelli/BFA.com





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Frist läuft ab: Schnappt sich Lufthansa die Ita?

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Frist läuft ab

Schnappt sich Lufthansa die Ita?

Streiks, Pleiten und dramatische Rettungsaktionen – dafür war die Alitalia bekannt. Mit der Nachfolgerin Ita soll das völlig anders werden. Die Lufthansa denkt darüber nach, bei der Airline einzusteigen.

Erweitert der Lufthansa-Konzern sein Einflussgebiet nach Süden? Zum Verkauf steht eine Beteiligung an der Alitalia-Nachfolgerin Ita, für die der italienische Staat als alleiniger Eigentümer bis einschließlich dem heutigen Montag konkrete Angebote erwartet. Italien will dabei mit einer Minderheit an Bord bleiben und den Deal bis Ende Juni abschließen, hat Finanzminister Daniele Franco vor wenigen Tagen verkündet.

Lufthansa 6,85

Gemeinsam mit der in Genf beheimateten Großreederei MSC hat Lufthansa die Zahlen der runderneuerten und verkleinerten Airline geprüft, deren legendäre Vorgängerin stets von Streiks und Beinahepleiten begleitet war. Ebenfalls im Datenraum waren Franco zufolge der US-Luftfahrtinvestor Indigo, der in Europa an der Billig-Airline Wizz beteiligt ist, sowie im Verbund die Fluggesellschaften Air France/KLM und der US-Riese Delta, mit denen die Ita bislang über die Allianz Skyteam verbandelt ist.

Während Delta bereits erklärt hat, nicht mit eigenem Kapital einsteigen zu wollen, könnte Air France zum härtesten Lufthansa-Konkurrenten im Rennen um die Ita werden. Allerdings haben die Franzosen ihre Staatshilfen aus der Corona-Krise noch nicht zurückgezahlt, so dass ihnen direkte Akquisitionen seitens der EU untersagt sind. Ein möglicher Ausweg könnte die Zusammenarbeit mit dem Finanzinvestor Certares sein.

Die Lufthansa betrachtet Italien als ihren wichtigsten Auslandsmarkt in Europa. In Rom warb Konzern-Chef Carsten Spohr mit dem Konzept seiner vielen Drehkreuze (Multi-Hub) und Airline-Marken um Vertrauen. Die sukzessive Übernahme und Integration von Gesellschaften wie Austrian, Brussels Airlines und Swiss könnte zum Vorbild für die Ita werden, ebenso könnte Rom wie Zürich weiterhin ein bedeutender Luftverkehrs-Knoten bleiben. „Lufthansa hat sich auf ein Drehkreuzmodell spezialisiert und auf nationale Fluggesellschaften, die ihre eigene Identität behalten“, lobte jüngst der römische Flughafen-Chef Marco Troncone im „Handelsblatt“.

Das finanzielle Risiko einer Ita-Übernahme könnte Lufthansa im Verbund mit der Großreederei MSC in Grenzen halten, die neue Airline aber schnell in ihre operativen Systeme einbinden. Geführt von der italienischen Reeder-Familie Aponte sucht MSC wie die Konkurrenz von Maersk bis zum Lufthansa-Großaktionär Klaus-Michael Kühne nach Logistik-Investments, um die aktuellen Milliarden-Überschüsse aus der Seefracht unterzubringen. Nach den Worten Spohrs peilt Lufthansa bei der Ita zunächst eine Minderheitsbeteiligung an. Von der würde man dann sehen, was sich daraus „über die Zeit“ entwickele, hatte er vor einigen Tagen erklärt.



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