C’mon Apple: be the new new Celine

So, Jony Ive, former chief designer and consultant at Apple, and the man most responsible for the visual charm of Apple products, the man who helped turn computers and phones into objects of desire, who made them more than just a vector of functionality, but rather ID cards – and his former employer reportedly agreed break their last ties.

What does this mean for the “mixed reality” headset, that over-the-eye gateway to the metaverse that Apple is rumored to release in the second quarter of next year? In other words, what does this mean for those of us whose willingness to interact with an alternate reality can be changed with such a device?

After all, if a company could ever solve the problem of developing a piece of equipment that would make you want to wear a device on your face that would allow you to enter another world while your body existed in this one, it would be the Apple.

If ever a company can overcome the precedent of Google Glass and even Oculus and create a wearable that doesn’t feel like a computer, it will be the company that has done it with laptops, music, headphones and, above all, the smartphone. If ever a brand could solve the challenge of making the entrance to the Metaverse fashionable — after all, that’s a different issue than fashioning the Metaverse, but just as important in making the Metaverse meaningful (and accessible) — most likely it will be Apple. .

Except maybe no more.

Without Mr. Ive, is Apple’s time as a bridge between hardwear and softwear really coming to an end? Are we at a tipping point between the old Apple and the new – between Apple as it was and another Apple as it could be – like Celine Phoebe versus Celine? Edie Celine?

Either way, it heralds a different kind of paradigm shift.

For most tech companies, a designer’s departure wouldn’t be a big deal in the public eye, but part of Apple’s brilliance was that the company borrowed a way from the fashion world to stimulate consumption.

It was Steve Jobs’ insight that fashion strategies could be co-opted and applied to previously dull and boring consumer electronics to become tactilely and visually enticing—thinner, sleeker, sleeker—and help the company transcend its industry. It was Mr. Jobs who realized the value of a new model for every season; who understood how planned obsolescence, an essential premise of fashion, can be applied to functioning; and how a value system can be built into the aerodynamic lines of a device so that it becomes something more than the mechanical sum of its parts.

And it was Mr. Jobs who partnered with a young designer named Jony Ive, a London-based Brit who joined the company in 1992 and defined Apple’s look for decades, inspiring brands for a whole week of fashion accessories (cases for iPad, iPhone cases). for offerings.

It doesn’t matter what after mr. Jobs death in 2011, Ive stepped out of the shadows with CEO Tim Cook to become the face of the company. If Mr. Cook was a humble technocrat. I was a visionary: a friend of Mark Newson (Lockheed living room designer) and designer Azzedine Alaia, a proponent of the fusion of technology and fashion that occurred during the debut of the Apple Watch in 2014.

First there was the hiring binge: Paul Deneuve, a former YSL chief executive, became vice president of special projects in 2013; Patrick Pruneau, formerly of Tag Heuer, as Senior Special Projects Director the following year; and also in 2014, Angela Ahrendts, former Burberry chief executive, as senior vice president of retail, and then deployment.

There was a presentation shortly before New York Fashion Week; dinner party in Paris at Mr. Alaia’s and showing at the Colette concept store; starring on the cover of China Vogue; and finally the appearance of Mr. I hosted the Met Gala with Anna Wintour in 2016.

However, in the end (and despite collaboration with Hermès), the watch became not so fashionable Destroyer as a gadget for health and wellness. mr. Deneuve left in 2016; RS. Ahrendts and Mr. Pruno in 2019, in the same year Mr. Ive became a consultant.

Since then, Apple has not had a chief designer, and there has been no designer voice among the design choir. Apple’s top management; there is no single, dominant visual point of view. Instead, Mr. Quince’s mandate was split between Evans Hankey, vice president of industrial design, and Alan Dye, vice president of user interface design.

However, Miss. Hankey and Mr. Dai worked together with Mr. I’ve been using products like the MacBook Air and watch for years now and it seemed like, at least nominally, Mr. White. Ive retained his connections as a keeper of the flame and aesthetics.

Until now. That’s why the future headset and how it will look is so important. Perhaps, given the potential timing, this will be the last product Mr. Quince’s fingerprints on his design. But perhaps it could be a sign of something more.

Both Apple and Mr. Ive declined to comment on their relationship for this article. But if Apple proves that this could be the beginning of a new era, rather than the beginning of the end of its commitment to style as a signifier, rather than the beginning of watered-down versions of what came before, with almost clichéd rounded edges and a sleek silver body, that would be the first real test. This is an opportunity to change the design of not only the product, but also to explore what we think about the product and Apple itself. And while Mr. Ive has reportedly been fiddling with the headset over the last few years of his contract, it might have been preferable not to repeat as much as to redefine.

Indeed, the fact that watches have not changed the rules of the game and become the driving force behind the industry means that Ms. K. Hankey (or anyone else, who knows?) has to assert herself by creating something new like this designers do when they take charge of a brand.

Think of it this way: Gucci and Celine or MaxMara? Turn everything we think we know upside down and redo it for a new reality, or just repeat the movements reliably, albeit boringly, over and over again? All signs point to the MaxMara model, but if there’s one thing fashion teaches us, it’s that brands can survive a designer switch if the company truly cares and empowers that designer.

Once upon a time, Apple learned some valuable lessons from fashion. Let’s see if he can do it again.