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Banana Republic

Banana Republic is a chain of "casual luxury" clothing stores owned by Gap Inc., which also operates The Gap and Old Navy stores. Founded in 1969, The Gap is a mid-scale specialty retailer, while Old Navy was launched in 1994 as a value chain.
The original Banana Republic, which began in 1978, was a two-store safari and travel-themed clothing company. The majority of sales came from its eccentric catalog, which presented high-end and unique items with chatty, usually fictional, backstories from exotic locations, as well as more pedestrian high-volume products deliberately spiced up with a similar treatment. The company competed directly with the J. Peterman catalog later satirized on Seinfeld. As Banana Republic expanded its retail operation, it became known for the themed decoration in its stores, often featuring authentic elements, such as real Jeeps and foliage, as well as atmospheric elements, such as fog and steam.Gap Inc. acquired Banana Republic in 1983, eventually rebranding it as a mainstream luxury clothing retailer. The unique tourist-oriented items, which arguably gave the brand its differentiation, were phased out. For a time, Banana Republic ate into Gap's consumer base. To set itself apart from Gap as a more upmarket brand, Banana Republic occasionally buys and refurbishes historic buildings for its retail locations.Today the company operates nearly 400 Banana Republic stores in the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada. It has announced plans to open four stores in Tokyo, Japan in September 2005.

Italian jeweler Bulgari (often written "BVLGARI") was founded in Rome by Greek emigrant Sotirios Voulgaris in 1884. Once only known for its jewelry, the company today markets a whole line of products, including handbags, fragrances, accessories, and hotels. The name "Bulgari" is an adaptation of the founder's last name.There are more than 150 Bulgari retail locations worldwide. Bulgari's New York outlet is located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The Bulgari family also owns the luxurious Bulgari Hotel in Milan.Today, Boulgaris's grandsons Paolo and Nicola Bulgari are chairman and vice-chairman of the company, respectively. The Bulgaris' nephew Francesco Trapani has been CEO of Bulgari since 1984.Trapani's goal to diversify the company was first acted upon in the early 1990s, with the release of the Bulgari perfume line. Bulgari grew in popularity as it offered more products, and the company was listed on the Borsa Italiana in 1995.The company has seen 150 percent revenue growth between 1997 and 2003. Outside investors hold 45 percent of Bulgari's stock.Popular among millionaires and celebrities, Bulgari jewels often fetch tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Pierre Cartier
Born 1878, died 27 Oct. 1964. His full name Pierre-Camille Cartier. He was one of three sons of Alfred Cartier and the brother of Jacques Cartier and Louis Cartier. Pierre's grandfather, Louis-François Cartier (1819-1904) had taken over the jewellery workshop of his teacher, Adolphe Picard, in 1847, thereby founding the famous Cartier jewellery company.In 1902, Pierre opened and began to manage the London Cartier store and in 1906, he opened the New York store, moving it in 1917 to the current location of 653 Fifth Avenue, the neo-Renaissance mansion of banker Morton Plant.
After the death of Louis and Jacques Cartier in 1942, Pierre was based in the shop in Paris until he retired to Geneva in 1947.Pierre was one-time owner of the Hope Diamond, selling it in 1911 to Evalyn Walsh McLean.

The House of Chanel, more commonly known as Chanel, is a Parisian fashion house in France.Founded by Coco Chanel by 1909, the small shop selling ladies headwear had moved to the upmarket Rue Cambon within a year. The house became especially famous with its signature Chanel No. 5 fragrance - so called as it was the fifth attempt at creating a Chanel perfume that Coco Chanel liked - and the popular Chanel suit, an elegant creation comprised of a knee-length skirt and trim, boxy jacket, traditionally made of woven wool with black trim and gold buttons and worn with large costume-pearl necklaces.After Chanel No. 5 was launched in 1923, Coco Chanel's fashions became well-known and were purchased by the high flyers of London and Paris society alike. Chanel took to living at the Hôtel Ritz, and her suite of residence is named the Coco Chanel Suite even today. The German designer Karl Lagerfeld now presides over the house.Chanel is also known for its quilted fabric which also has a "secret" quilting pattern sewn at the back to keep the material strong. This material is used for clothing and accessories alike.

Chopard is a luxury watch, jewellery and accessory company founded in 1860 by Louis-Ulysse Chopard at the age of 24. Nearly 140 years later, the company is highly regarded in the watch making field for creating precious watches and mechanical complications. Chopard's initials, L.U.C. can be found on some of their watches.They are most noted for their "Mille Miglia" and "Happy Diamonds" series.

Christian Dior
Christian Dior (January 21, 1905 – October 24, 1957), born in Granville, was an influential French fashion designer.In 1946, Christian Dior established his main house of couture in Paris with the backing of a textile magnate Marcel Boussac. In twelve years he expanded his business to 15 countries and employed over 2,000 people.Dior is known mainly for the 1947 "New Look" which employed narrow shoulders, constricted waist, emphasized bust, and long, wide skirt. His designs represented consistent classic elegance, stressing the feminine look. The New Look revolutionized women's dress and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world. Dior spread his fashions around the world when he and his partner, Jaques Rouet, started franchises in the fashion industry. In 1953 Yves Saint-Laurent became his assistant and was destined to be his successor but was reluctantly forced to leave when the time came for his military service. On returning, after trouble with his temporary replacement Marc Bohan, he soon opened his own maison de couture once his obligations were over.He was continually feuding with his elder brother Raymond Dior and one of his earliest childhood memories was that Raymond would always lock him down in the dark cellar beneath the house in Granville whenever he had the opportunity, then go scouring the garden searching for critters to push under the door. Once he had made his fortune he attempted to rebuy the house where he was born but the new owner (Granville town council) rejected his offers. He refused to set foot in the town of Granville for the rest of his life. However, when Jean Cocteau bought the small château at Milly la Forêt (Essonne) and Christian Dior shortly afterwards bought a disused water-mill in the same village, he persuaded his brother Raymond to buy a fermette in the village of Noisy sur Ecole (Seine et Marne) only 4km away. On the rare occassions when they found themselves together it usually ended in dispute with Raymond calling his brother "filthy queer" while Christian replied with "impotent drunk."Towards the end Christian was living a hectic life with injections to wake up in the morning, injections for his appetite, and further injections to sleep. His niece, Françoise Dior, was once his favourite (at her marriage with Count Robert-Henri de Caumont la Force it was Christian Dior who gave the bride away at the ceremony while Raymond sat drinking the time away in a local bar) but held Nazi sympathies, openly blamed his Jewish manageress who procured his medications along with a collection of young men, of being part of a Jewish plot forcing him towards his death. For once Raymond agreed with his rebel daughter, discounting the Jewish plot theory. Normally under French inheritance law, having no children or parents, Raymond should have been his logical successor but the rift provoked by Françoise caused him to disinherit his close family totally.The plump Dior, who suffered from heart trouble, reportedly died of a heart attack while undergoing a weight-loss cure at the spa in Montecatini, Italy, in an effort to make himself more desirable to his young North African lover, singer Jacques Benita; the death reportedly occurred in the lobby of the Hotel Pace after an after-dinner canasta game. "Alexis: The Memoirs of the Baron de Redé", the 2005 memoirs of Paris socialite Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé, however, suggest that the fashion designer actually died of a heart attack after a too strenuous evening spent with two young men.Although his death made N°1 in all the French press it was immediately forgotten, overshadowed by the launching of the first Soviet sputnik three days later.At the time of his death, Dior salons had been opened in 24 countries. The Dior firm—successively led by designers Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, and John Galliano—continued to be a fashion leader and was associated with a much wider range of merchandise, including menswear and household linens.

Givenchy is a line of clothing, accessories, perfumes and cosmetics. It was founded by designer Hubert de Givenchy, who retired in 1995. John Galliano succeeded him as designer, but his tenure was short, as he was replaced by Alexander McQueen. In 2001, designer Julien McDonald was appointed Artistic Director for the women's lines, while in 2003 Ozwald Boateng was appointed the designer for the men's range. Clothing lines include haute couture as well as ready-to-wear men's and women's fashions.The most famous patron of the brand was Audrey Hepburn in films such as How to Steal a Million and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Gucci, or the House of Gucci, is an Italian haute couture establishment. It was founded by Guccio Gucci (1881-1953) in Florence in 1921.Like many other high-fashion companies, Gucci began as a small, family-owned saddlery and leather goods store. Guccio Gucci was the son of an Italian merchant from the country’s northern manufacturing region. As a young man, he travelled to Paris and London, where he "gained an appreciation of cosmopolitan culture, sophistication, and aesthetics." Gucci opened his first boutique in the family’s native Florence in 1921 and quickly built a reputation for quality, hiring the best craftsmen he could find to work in his atelier. In 1938, Gucci expanded and a boutique was opened in Rome. Guccio was responsible for designing many of the company's most notable products. In 1947, Gucci introduced the bamboo handle handbag, which is still a company mainstay. During the 1950s, Gucci also developed the trademark striped webbing, which was derived from the saddle girth, and the suede moccasin with a metal bit.Guccio and his wife Aida Calvelli had a large family, six children in all, though only his sons—Vasco, Aldo, Ugo, and Rodolfo—would play a role in leading the company. After Guccio's death in 1953, Aldo helped lead the company to a position of international prominence, opening the company’s first boutiques in London, Paris and New York. Even in Gucci’s fledgling years, the family was notorious for its ferocious infighting. Disputes regarding inheritances, stock holdings, and day-to-day operations of the stores often divided the family and led to alliances. As the Gucci expanded overseas, board meetings about the company’s future often ended with tempers flaring and luggage and purses flying. Gucci targeted the Far East for further expansion in the late 1960s, opening stores in Hong Kong and Tokyo. At that time, the company also developed its famous GG logo (Guccio Gucci's initials), the Flora silk scarf (worn prominently by Hollywood actress Grace Kelly), and the Jackie O shoulder bag, made famous by Jackie Kennedy, the wife of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.Gucci's London boutique.Gucci remained one of the premier luxury goods establishments in the world until the late 1970s, when a series of disastrous business decisions and family quarrels brought the company to the verge of bankruptcy. At the time, brothers Aldo and Rodolfo controlled equal 50% shares of the company, though Aldo felt that his brother contributed less to the company than he and his sons did. In 1979, Aldo developed the Gucci Accessories Collection, or GAC, intended to bolster the sales for the Gucci Parfums sector, which his sons controlled. GAC consisted of small accessories, such as cosmetic bags, lighters, and pens, which were priced at considerably lower points than the other items in the company’s accessories catalogue. Aldo relegated control of Parfums to his son Roberto in an effort to weaken Rodolfo’s control of the overall operations of the company.Though the Gucci Accessories Collection was well received, it proved to be the destabilizing force that brought the Gucci dynasty crashing down. Within a few years, the Parfums division began outselling the Accessories division. The newly-founded wholesaling business had brought the once-exclusive brand to over a thousand stores in the United States alone with the GAC line, deteriorating the brand’s standing with fashionable customers. "In the 1960s and 1970s," writes Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, "Gucci had been at the pinnacle of chic, thanks to icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Jacqueline Onassis. But by the 1980s, Gucci had lost its appeal, becoming a tacky airport brand.It didn’t take long before counterfeiters ravaged the company’s pomp by flooding the market with cheap knockoffs, further tarnishing the Gucci name. Meanwhile, infighting was taking its toll on the operations of the company back in Italy: Rodolfo and Aldo squabbled over the Parfums division, of which Rodolfo controlled a meager 20% stake. By the mid-1980s, when Aldo was convicted of tax evasion in the United States by the testimony of his own son, the outrageous headlines of gossip magazines generated as much publicity for Gucci as its designs.

Guess? is a name-brand clothing line that uses a question mark as its emblem. It's known for its sexualized advertising campaigns, which have featured mostly black and white photographs of models and actresses such as Claudia Schiffer, Drew Barrymore, Anna Nicole Smith, and Paris Hilton.Guess also markets other fashion accessories besides clothes, such as watches and jewelry.

Juicy Couture
Juicy Couture is a stylish contemporary line of casual apparel based in Pacoima, California. Juicy is very well-known for their sweatpants and velour tracksuits, which have been made famous by the many celebrities who wear them. The line is sold in upscale department stores and specialty stores.Entertaining slogans often adorn Juicy apparel, such as "Choose Juicy" and "Dude, Where's my Couture?". The signature Juicy Crest, as well as the phrases "Love, P&G" are stitched on the inside tag of each item of Juicy apparel.The company was co-founded in 1994 by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash as Travis Jeans Inc., a line of maternity jeans named for Nash's son.The brand was originally popular on the West Coast of the United States, when their fashion lines focused on comfortable women's sweat suits and sportswear.Nash became Gela Nash-Taylor in March, 1999 when she married bassist John Taylor of Duran Duran. Taylor and Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon performed at a party launching the line's East Coast debut in New York City in November, 1999.Juicy Couture added collections for men and children in 2002, and bathing suits and accessories for women, including shoes, handbags and jewelry (including very popular charm bracelets) were added to Juicy's line in 2004.In 2003 Travis Jeans Inc, which owned all of Juicy assets, was purchased by Liz Claiborne Inc. for US$53 million, plus a percentage of future earnings. Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor remained co-presidents of the company, and remain the creative minds behind Juicy Couture.A flagship store was opened in Las Vegas in October 2004. Five more stores were planned as of 2005.In 2005, Juicy licensed their name to T-Mobile for a designer version of their Sidekick II smartphone, and to Movado for a line of Juicy watches.

Liz Claiborne
Liz Claiborne (born Elisabeth Claiborne Ortenberg March 31, 1929) is a Belgian-born fashion designer.She was born in Brussels and raised in New Orleans. Rather than finishing high school, she went to Europe to study art. She worked in New York as a designer for 25 years before starting her own design company Liz Claiborne, Incorporated in 1976. The firm grew from its origins designing active sportswear for women, to a billion-dollar enterprise with a full line of clothing for men and women.She retired from active management in 1989.

Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren (born October 14, 1939) is an American fashion designer.
Born Ralph Lipschitz in Bronx, New York, to Jewish immigrants Frank and Frida Lipschitz. His father was a house painter. Much as Robert Denning, the interior designer had grown up with a bare lightbulb, but went on to create for others an environment of society and old-money, Lauren too would clothe and accessorize anyone to look the part for society and the country-club. A world that neither had any exposure to as a child. This look would eventually become Polo Ralph Lauren.At a very young age, Ralph started working after school to earn money to buy stylish, expensive suits. Even then he preferred quality over quantity, and his attire soon gave him a trendy reputation among his peers.Ralph attended DeWitt Clinton High School, on Mosholu Parkway, in the Bronx. Other luminaries who attended DeWitt Clinton include Burt Lancaster, Robert Klein and Stan Lee. At age 16, Ralph and his older brother Jerry changed their last name from Lipschitz to Lauren. Some people consider this a denial of their Jewish heritage; Ralph considered it necessary for success.Although Lauren's future was to be in the clothing and fashion industry, he did not attend fashion school. Instead he went to the City College of New York where he studied Business; he dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964, he served in the United States Army. He married Ricky Low-Beer in 1964. He then worked as a Brooks Brothers salesman before purchasing the Polo label that he started from Brooks in 1967. In 1968, he opened his own tie business, Polo Fashions, after securing a $50,000 loan from a financial back

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