Filipa Fino Talks Fino File, Fashion Before Bloggers and Her Favorite Fall 2012 Trends

  @cavanshays on February 15 2012 9:26 AM

I'm a little bit more old-school than the bloggers that are out there, said Filipa Fino with a laugh. After all, the fashion-industry veteran began her career before blogging was in the dictionary. Ms. Fino's resume reads quite like a dream, with time spent working for Allure, Harper's Bazaar, Ralph Lauren and Vogue, as the Accessories Director under Anna Wintour.  

Fino was at Vogue when the magazine first launched Vogue.com two and a half years ago. Once the Web site took off, Fino began to notice that her contribution had a life all its own. When she would feature a shoe from Barney's, the store manager would call her the next day to tell her that it flew off the shelves. It started striking me the speed of digital media. I'd never felt that sort of connection with people through the magazine. So that was a huge experience, she said.

Over time, Fino began to notice how even the blossoming, young fashionistas who worked under her at Vogue no longer read hard copies of magazines. Usually at lunchtime I'd read Women's Wear Daily and then I'd offer it to the girls, but they'd say 'no.' They had already read it online, said Fino. They didn't buy magazines, but they knew all the information.

And then the whole blogger-phenomenon came along. These young kids literally came out of nowhere and would be seated next to Anna and all the top editors at the fashion shows. And we would all ask 'Who are they?' Then you start following them and see that there are thousands of people listening to their voices.

Now, it is those very bloggers and the Web-addicted style mavens following them who Fino is focusing on. With her new digital magazine, Fino File, the former Vogue director is embracing the digital realm with open arms.

Everything is against print, even environmentally speaking, said Fino. Time, I think, is the other essential element that comes into this. Do I put this item up and be the first one to break it or do I hold it for Grace Coddington to shoot it and be published three months from now? My gut started saying [move to] the web. You lose that whole allure of Vogue, being the exclusive, but it doesn't exist anymore. Shows are steamed live, photographed, tweeted, put on Facebook immediately.

Fino knows that the magazine and publishing worlds are quickly becoming archaic. With hard copy falling out of favor, and availability increasing on devices like the iPad and the Kindle Fire, it is hard to image a world with magazines than it is to image one without in just 10 years' time.

People will have to adapt. That Is what I am starting to do. My goal is to marry the concept of editorial -- the alluring pictures, the context behind each product -- and the internet - being shoppable and immediate, said Fino.

With Fino File, Ms. Fino hopes to create the same emotional experience magazines have fostered for the past 100 years. She wants to hone in on the contextual elements of shopping. I feel like people still like to shop with a context behind it. It's that aspirational impulse to shop: 'I want to be that girl therefore I'm going to get that shoe or that bag.'

She is working with a small team to develop her digital magazine - consisting of herself, three writers, a creative director and a photo director. Though it is an entirely new platform, Fino is still developing it in the same way she would a hard-copy magazine. The writing is all editorialized; the photos are glamorous and alluring. But, in a twist, Fino wants to embrace the entire market - young and old, luxury and off-the-rack.

It is great to embrace the middle markets and know what is going on at Zara and H&M and J.Crew. The modern woman is the one who mixes her Chanel with her Zara jeans. That should not take away from the allure of what we are doing, she said.

Fino also wants to focus on immediacy. Nowadays what I feel has happened in the industry is that the timeframe of fashion has gone so far ahead of time. They're almost shooting themselves in the foot, she said. Right now we are in the midst of winter and you go into every store and you see bikinis and white pants. And you lose that feeling of tonight.

Immediacy has become very important, and being able to shop the product. But, to me, I still have not been able to become a big shopper [with online retailers] because it is not alluring. It feels clinical and informational. I want the emotional feeling Vogue gives of 'I want that shoe.'

Fino hopes to fuse the two worlds together with Fino File. I'm a believer that it is a viral world. It is not Vogue competing with Elle or W. We are all in it, giving different points of view.

The leap into the digital realm has been fast and furious for the mother of two and wife of Stratis Morfogen, CEO of Philippe Chow Restaurant Group. The first preview issue of Fino File was unveiled for Holiday 2012. The first official issue will launch for March 2012.

Fino has even been dipping her foot deeper into the social media pool as of late. With the cajoling of her editorial staff, she cozied up to Twitter and has already developed a solid follower-base.

Twitter, to me, is a fascination. My girls keep saying 'keep tweeting' but it's not instinctive for me to tweet, she said. It's amazing the response you get and that's fun. I never thought that many people would care what I'm wearing.

Coming from a world of structured editorial style, Fino finds Twitter delightfully colloquial.  It's a very informal format which sort of puts everyone on that same level. And you are communicating directly, using the language you would use with your friends at dinner.

Speaking of tweeting, Filipa Fino has been doing her fair share of it from the front row at New York Fashion Week.

One of her favorite Fall 2012 collections as of day four was Altuzarra. I loved every single look on that runway and I think those boots were incredible, said Fino, referring to the over-the-knee black leather boots that models rocked with everything from floral-printed pants to pencil skirts.

Another favorite was Alexander Wang, a former Vogue intern. He always pushes the boundaries. I love the fact that he brought the old girls out. He was our intern at Vogue! To see him now and what he has become [is great], she said. He really created a business; and his accessories collection is so strong and so sophisticated, and at the right price point. All the right things.

It is pretty amazing to see someone coming out of nowhere, competing against all the big names with heavy branding. Here's this kid who came into the fashion industry and is making it for himself. That is incredible. He does push it, he's not scared.

We also had to ask Filipa about what she knows best - accessories. For Fall 2012 she is looking forward to boots, simple handbags and fur.

I am excited for boots. The high boots are back. I am very happy about that. Amazingly, handbags are as plain as you can be. It's Plain Jane; it's just zippers with very little elaboration. I do like that. It allows color to play a bigger role and it allows the look to be a bit more feminine.

As for fur, Fino loves the modern twist displayed on the Fall 2012 runways. To me I think fur is fun; and you can great faux fur. It's modern [now]. It's bits and pieces. That full coat might feel heavy and wrong; but having the collars and sleeves and trims even on accessories, it gives you that luxe element without the heaviness of full fur. You can update your look very easily.

Of course, since fashion is 12 steps ahead, it is often difficult to remember what trends are popular for Spring 2012. Even Ms. Fino had to take a moment of reflection to call to mind the fair-weather collections.

I loved all the white and all the lace. The 'lady' is coming back, she said.

If your budget only allows for one major splurge this spring, make it a belt. If you are going to buy one accessory this season - buy a great, thick belt, she said, noting YSL and Celine's from the runways. They can change your wardrobe. Something so small and insignificant can make a huge difference.

She is also loving prints for the season, particularly the mix of multiple (even clashing) ones.

I love the mixing of prints and printed accessories. But it was always very planned out, matchy-matchy and meant to be a very feminine look, Fino said. What we see now is prints being very rock-n-roll cool. Some are digital prints others are mixed in colors and patterns. A lot of times the crazy you think, the more it works. I totally believe in that.

 You can always put a neutral accessory that will sort of tone it down and that you can be loud with a red floral pant and a purple floral top and cool it down with a beige handbag. It's about balance.

This spring, Filipa Fino will be gearing up for the big launch of Fino File's March 2012 issue. Right now, the magazine is slated for seasonal release; but there is already talk of monthlies as well as international expansion. An accessories collection might also be on the horizon.

Right now I see myself as an accessories expert. I enjoy mentoring young designers and creating their shoe collections and their jewelry collections. I don't say no to anything. If it is in the realm of accessories, I'm in. It is my passion. It is something I've [dedicated myself to] for the last 11 years, she added.

As I said, especially the fact that these bloggers are so young, I do think that an older person -- who has been there, who didn't have a cell phone, who had to schlep those garment trunks without GPS -- can say something with a bit more experience.

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