‘Very positive’ vibes for Musk as he rocks up to Met Gala with his mother

Image of the week: Musk at the Met

This year’s Met Gala theme was “gilded glamour”, which seems like something of a busman’s holiday for its mega-rich attendees – none of whom are, of course, as intergalactically wealthy as Elon Musk, seen here in Tom Ford with his Dior couture-wearing mother Maye Musk, a septuagenarian model, dietician and motivational speaker.

This was not the Tesla chief’s first trip to Anna Wintour’s annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, having previously posed for cameras with ex-partner Grimes at the 2018 event.

Amid the inevitable shop talk about making Twitter less “niche” and more “inclusive”, Musk toasted the “very positive vibe” of this year’s gala, suggesting its celebration of style could act as a post-pandemic tonic of some sort. “I basically dressed like I’m from Downton Abbey or something,” he told journalists, which wasn’t quite the time period or continent Wintour had in mind, but close enough.

In numbers: Fashion flop

Online fast-fashion company Boohoo saw its pre-tax profits slump by this much in the year to the end of February, it revealed this week, in a sign that its e-commerce pandemic party might have peaked for now.

Drop in the UK group’s share price in the hours after its annual results were announced, amid warnings that revenue growth will slow to a halt as inflation-battling consumers return more items.

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The company, led by Offaly-born John Lyttle, expects to source this much of its clothing from Europe and northern Africa, reducing its supply from China amid rising freight costs and shipping delays.

Getting to know: Fabrizio Freda

As chief executive of beauty behemoth Estée Lauder, Fabrizio Freda (64) is a big believer in the post-Covid “make-up renaissance” as we learn to leave our homes again. Notwithstanding the recent lockdowns in China, where the growing middle class is conveniently “very passionate about beauty”, Freda remains “incredibly optimistic” after the most recent quarter “proved the vibrancy of prestige beauty”, he says.

While the Estée Lauder brand itself goes back to the 1940s, the American company also owns MAC, Smashbox and Bobbi Brown and other lines aimed at Gen-Z and millennials and this week’s earnings call saw Freda reference TikTok and the metaverse. The Neapolitan businessman, a veteran of Procter & Gamble, says his leadership team benefits from a “reverse mentoring” scheme – listening to younger executives, he says, mean they “never lose their touch”. Sounds wise.

The list: Flash crashes

In a Monday morning to forget, a transaction-inputting error by a London-based Citigroup trader sparked a sudden sell-off across European markets, temporarily wiping out €300 billion off their value in minutes. Such a “flash crash” is rare, but there are precedents, as this brief history shows.

1. Pound plunge: Sterling nosedived 9 per cent against the dollar overnight in 2016, with the crash later blamed on a mix of algorithmic trading, complex trading positions and inexperienced traders.

2. Knight Capital glitch: In August 2012, US financial services firm Knight Capital deployed a new software update. It did not go well. A bug saw it inadvertently purchase billions of dollars’ worth of shares, costing it at least $460 million.

3. Singapore crash: Stocks on the Singapore Exchange lost up to 87 per cent of their value in October 2013, a plummet that led to new regulations to prevent a repeat.

4. Blue-chip blues: Japanese companies like Toyota and Honda were among 42 stocks that were part of a “fat finger” or human error trade in October 2014, with the broker entering then swiftly cancelling the transaction.

5. Spoofing game: In May 2010, the Dow Jones fell almost 1,000 points in minutes after a $1 trillion flash crash was triggered by high-speed software engaged in a practice known as “spoofing” the market. The self-taught British trader responsible was sentenced to a year’s home confinement… in January 2020.

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