Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Inspiration: A needle buried under a mountain of rubble.

Inspiration is so easy and yet so hard. Good weather, a beautiful piece of music,perhaps someone passing just beyond your periphery. It takes so little and yet one must be totally attuned to ones inner compass and the world around you. The glass needs to be half full , not leaking out of a hairline crack.

Working on a new collection, the Fall 2009 season, is a time when we try to get pregnant with a belly full of ideas. Even one healthy idea complete with 10 fingers and toes and hopefully a head complete with a mind. My method is to go on a book buying binge. Anything to do with art or culture, fashion from the past or present, anything that allows me to close my eyes and start to see. Moments in time, like now cause the clouds and darkness to descend but night vision glasses or the strongest inner torch are my weapons against the abyss. The gravitational pull towards utter blackness is the hardest thing to avoid. Newspapers and magazines are poisonous to my psyche, so I seek out people , places and things that cast a glimmer of light. In the light resides possibility. In possibility rests hope and in hope lies the road map to creation. Traveling to a far off place for many is a sure fire journey to a fresh vision. To my thinking, the problem with escape is that your bags are loaded down with the you you're trying to leave at home. I choose to stay and seek a warm , well lighted place within.

Though this inspiration is chiefly directed towards a creative end, it also has everything to do with ones desire and ability to face each successive day and the obstacles that over face us . Being creative in life has a direct effect on how creative we will be in our work. One cannot be separated from the other. That's what makes getting up in the morning so challenging. That idea of being born alone and dying alone also pertains to going through each day alone. Being supported by friends, families and lovers makes it easier , but the road is still solely yours. I never feel as alone as when I’m faced with a blank piece of paper staring me down, waiting to be filled.

Many people don’t feel the need to find inspiration. It’s considered irrelevant or too much of a luxury; one that is no longer affordable. Better to revisit old hits or misses and cobble together something that resembles newness. The same thing recast with an exclamation point instead of a comma. Tearing out pages of others efforts and tacking them to your wall …the old “possession is 9/10ths of the law “excuse. The most creative soul search is the buying it in a store and sticking your label in it. The number of people who play these creative games would shock and appall many of you, but that has become the rule and no longer the exception.

Themes are a popular route. Cultures from before, mythic characters or periods of fecundity sends some designers into a realm of the senses. The world of the pre-Raphaelite courtesan or the society beauty who lives and dies for fashion . Often, rich visual feasts are mined . Other times redundant periods of the near past are used as the dead horse to continue flogging. Whatever the case, I find specific times, place or people too often fodder for imagery too easily recognized or too dated to qualify as modern or valid for the present.

To be brutally frank, One can ask the question,” What the hell were they thinking to trot that down a runway?” I have no more right than the next kitten to pass judgement on another’s method to their madness. I only know that it isn’t easy and if it were everyone would consider themselves a designer. …. BUT EVERYBODY DOES.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Is the Lincoln Tunnel the portal to the Black Hole? Is Atlantic City the fabled Elephant's Graveyard? Does every straight man's idea of dressing up consist of a "dress shirt" worn untucked with a pair of "dungarees"? Is the one item that every woman in this country, or on the east coast, shelling out for a pair of stiletto heeled suede boots with a buckle on the side of the leg?Am I alone in these observations or am I just being an unkind and overly critical snob?

This weekend found me, or perhaps lost me in AC ( Atlantic City) for a Madonna concert. It seemed like a good idea; a lark which I figured would take my mind off of the fact that this country and the world is going headfirst down the toilet in a counterfeit Kate Spade bag. Yes, that's just how ugly the reality is. I digress, so back to the scene of the crime. I curled up in the back seat of our comfy super sonic SUV for a short cat nap and awoke in Sin City. From the moment we checked into the only "boutique" hotel on the boardwalk( The Chelsea) I started to see repeats of the same look over and over and over again. Obviously, Madonna was the only game in town considering the people massing at the front desk and all over town. I wouldn't say that it was a bridge and tunnel thing(I'm not going to be a bitch ) but there was something decidedly down market about the guests . Whenever I see people checking in at hotels and their clothes are on hangers instead of suitcases, I start to draw certain conclusions. Ok, so I'm a snob, but I thought when one travels, one carries ones clothing and personal items in overnight bags , or suitcases or at worst in an over sized IKEA plastic bag(.59) but NOT on a hanger. There were lots of hangers being bandied about.

Nevertheless, there was an electricity in the air. Everyone was clearly ready to party and have a very good time. Her newly-divorced Highness was in town and the party was clearly getting started! We took in the floor show and immediately started to pick up on the trends. Actually, it was one trend that had taken hold of this gang. Very high , high heeled boots. I'd have to say 8 out of every 10 women were teetering in them. Some were pros at stepping confidently in them , while others were walking with heels seesawing from left to right at 45 degree angles. Each foot was on its own special flight path trying to get their precious cargo to the elevator or the bar; whichever was closer or easiest. The swains in attendance were all pretty nondescript in jackets over jeans and Geoxx shoes. I spotted some cowboy boots , too.

Once we were in our room and taking it easy before the big event, we checked out the movie channel for some entertainment. I thought we should test out the flat screen and nibble on some beef jerky that the mini bar was offering.....yes, beef jerky, and gum. Before we could see the latest Hollywood hits we got lost in a sea of "Adult" selections. If I say there were about 50 -60 movies being offered I wouldn't be exaggerating. What I found even stranger was that in all 60 selections there was only one GAY movie . It was so obviously an afterthought I felt pity for it. That poor guy (a solo, no less, when everything else was 2somes, 4somes, gang bangs and whole cheer leading squads) must have felt so alone and lost. I know, I could relate. I didn't see anyone who remotely resembled me.........

The 3 of us were hungry and decided to go to the restaurant on the 5th floor before heading over to the concert. That's when the trending began. Boots, boots and more boots. Groups of friends were meeting up in the bar and it was as though they all went to the same store. In some cases the boots on a couple of women were identical . They tended to wear what looked like sweater dresses, tights and boots. The sweater dresses were all VERY short and the boots very high. There were a lot of sweater tube tops over minis with tights and boots. Everyone in that room for the most part was thirty-ish. Once I took in the scene an insidious look for the guys came into focus. I feel a bit blind to how men dress, because I just didn't realize that there is a costume that is de rigeur of almost every man walking upright. I mean a costume with almost NO VARIATION at all : untucked dress shirt over jeans. Oh, and whether the guy is overweight or in good shape, the shirt is at best 2 sizes too big. Most of them , when you looked closely, were overweight. But the beauties with fit tight bodies didn't dare be left out, so their shirts were over sized too. Now, I'd seen this over this past summer on the weekends at the beach, but I just assumed it was hot and linen loose fitting shirts worn out were more about comfort, ease and being cool. I had no idea that this is the uniform for men to feel in the step. On Point.

After 1 hour and not getting served dinner( the kitchen was overwhelmed with the timing of the concert goers) we left and headed over to the venue. I was hungry , pissed and stymied by the throngs and their utter lack of individuality. Inside the huge hall I grabbed a couple of bags of popcorn and we headed for our seats. Considering the concert started an hour later, there was plenty of viewing time. The audience in the end was the real show. But from a bar of maybe 100 to a hall of thousands , I still saw the same look until I couldn't look any more. It was at this moment that a pair of UGGZ walked past and I was re booted. I was actually thrilled to see a pair of UGGZ. That girl was the Iconoclast, she was not afraid to go headfirst against the tide. There were some very trashy silver glitter 6 inch pumps, but that's what I expected. The UGG factor threw me for a loop.

Well the concert was fun. Visually it was incredible. Audibly, it was a little disappointing. Maybe because her divorce had been granted that day or she was tired from a long tour, there wasn't much Snap Crackle Pop. Soggy, a bit flat and a little too long is closer to the truth. I did have my eyes opened to what people are wearing at night. It ain't designer, that's for sure. It's totally middle market to tarted up lower end. Considering we're all basically broke it doesn't really matter as long as we spend something on having a good time and feeling like we look cool. I just wish people would take a few more chances and try to push the envelope a bit. When I saw a guy with his shirt tucked in, even with a bit of a gut, he looked so much better and sexier than his Brothers of the Perpetual Cover Up.

You'd almost think it was a form of male maternity wear.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I recently received an email from a friend which struck me as rather questionable, yet hilarious.It was a picture of a woman in an Angel's outfit. The message was basically that Heaven didn't want her so they sent her to my friend and he wasn't sure he wanted her and was sending her on to me. I was instructed NOT to return her to the sender.

It was all a joke but it got me thinking about things, life, work and how we all get through it...or don't. I'm not a religious or terribly spiritual cat, but I have certain things I believe to be so and one is the presence of something out there that is greater than me. Now ,is it God or Buddha or a flock of Angels or what? I don't know, but I feel there is something there. I also believe that we're all watched over despite good and difficult situations that befall us. Life can't be explained or controlled. Life happens and we're here for a stretch of time to participate in the whole experience.

Now , whether it's individuals that are there for us or just one, we're covered. It seemed so ironic to get this particular Angel because she is the antithesis of the woman I have in mind in my work. In fashion , she is not really someone I would call my client, but I would bet she's still somehow my special Angel. I don't pretend to think or say I've ever seen one, but one hears of sightings all the time. Usually, these take place in remote locales , but what is more remote than a grungy city street outside a bar? For the same token one never chooses who or what in this very sacred category. My idea would be a wildly elegant spirit with every detail a perfect piece to a divine puzzle. If my Angel is this one, I would have to say all of the pieces do in fact fit. They just aren't the divine pieces to the puzzle I would have imagined. That's what's so confounding and yet so perfect.

My life's work is about creating an ideal of utter balance, mystery and allure. It's a journey that never ends and one that has everything to do with a honing and dogged refining of ideas to mine my way to an essential glamour. Nothing more and nothing less. Some of you may think this a misogynistic image that I share with you, but that is the farthest thing from my intention. So please don't turn your minds off to what I'm trying to articulate. If this a statement about fashion or taste it is also a statement about our own validity as people with something special to contribute in this life. If my Angel is this one, I'm thrilled that I have someone looking out for me and helping me through this life I've chosen. She keeps me honest. Most importantly she keeps me inspired.

My Angel encourages me to do the hardest thing of all: She keeps me going. Keep your eyes open at all times, you may just be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of yours. When you do, say "Thank You" and mean it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ralph Rucci

I have a confession to make. I've been wrong about this man. I've criticized him and feel I owe him an apology. I think that in some way I've discredited him and his uniqueness . He is truly a master. Ok, I think an arrogant one at times, but great talent has all kinds of human foibles which are not always easy to take, but it should never take away from the exceptional qualities they possess. He is unquestionably one of the greatest designers we have in America, and a designer who can stand up to the greatest in the world.

I recently looked at all of his collections, books which include his work and his own book of his work. Chado Ralph Rucci is a designer who will go down in history as someone who changed the way we all look at fashion. The designers who comes to mind when I think of his power and vision are names like Geoffrey Beene, YSL, Balenciaga,Dior, Poiret and Vionnet. All of these people changed the way we see fashion, style and the absolute mastery/mystery of creation. It's about finding a new language to express the idea of BEAUTY. The sheer force of his vision and unwavering belief and commitment to his message is the challenge they all faced at the risk of what was considered accepted...the status quo.

What is so profound about his journey is that to this day he faces a journalistic public that resists giving him his due. I have been part of that blind mass. He's a designers' designer. Research, experimentation, starting and stopping, scrapping an idea until it communicates the idea he intends. The stress that goes into this form of perfectionism is one that most people in fashion have neither the patience , drive or commitment to go through. He is the antithesis of fast fashion. He makes a tee shirt a work of art. I've seen piece after piece which and wonder how he came to that particular choice of cut or detail. The cost is extraordinary, but at the end of the day one is investing in an article of clothing that will be a collectors' treasure long after he and the rest of us are gone.When one considers how the most important press: Vogue etc. , ignore him month after month is criminal. This is a talent that makes so many other would be talents look like school boys and girls.

I only hope the world wakes up and begins to acknowledge him for who he is and the contribution he makes day after day, season after season, year after grueling year. The man is a force of nature.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


The definition of a rumor is a lie, gossip or half truth parading as fact. Many are false ,many result in the truth. Many are a combination of both. Being the subject of rumor isn't always pleasant , but it makes for interesting weekend reading, n'est-ce pas? So here are a few that are in fact true, others that remain to be seen and yet a couple more which are any ones' guess.

Todd Oldhams' contract as Design director at Old Navy has not been renewed : termination.

Patrick Robinson will again not make it through to the end of his contract as Design director at Old Navy.

Badgley Mischka Collection is a loss leader at Iconix Brand. The divisions for sportswear, jewelry and shoes are being eliminated. The freestanding store in L.A. is in question as is the New York Flagship ,which was in the planning stages.

Dolce and Gabanna are in trouble financially. They've shuttered their swanky Fifth Ave. showroom, let go the U.S. ceo and are not replacing that post. The new showroom will be decidedly less smart downtown in the land of SoWhat.

J.Mendel is also on the brink of collapse. Susan Sokol has been hired to save the ship, but the whole design studio save 1 or 2 people have all been let go. The spring collection was a clear indication all was not well. No runway show, few styles and sad ones at that. Susan Sokol is generally the advance person for the Grim Reaper.

Ralph Rucci is essentially broke, again. Too much of a good/same thing.

Kimorra Lee Simmons and Baby Phat are a House of Cards. Fabulosity is headed for Foreclosure

Andre Leon Talley is no longer the Court Favorite, or Jester for that matter. Is he headed to the Tower?

A foreign Editor of Vogue is starting to threaten the position of another Editor of Vogue. Advertising pages have dropped off steadily. Top Brass are questioning her tenure.

Liz Claiborne Co. is headed south. Desperate measures have been taken , but the Miziah is a false idol.

I'm not a cat, just your basic junk yard dog. At the same time when I see a tasty looking bone, I'm going to bite it and chew away.

Grade: P -

Todd Oldham
Patrick Robinson
Stores are all being rated at the moment because the 3rd quarter has just ended and we're on our way to the home finish of the fiscal year. Some performance levels are all being watched a, analyzed and judged. With the holidays looming, this is when most go for the gold. Unfortunately, this year will have very few finishers let alone winners. I know this sounds dull and redundant to hoe the same old tired earth, but there are a couple of things I found when studying this final analysis. Performance , or a stores profits and losses are not all tied to the consumer going broke over the course of a New York minute, but also product and it's validity, appeal and quality.

The usual suspects are not doing that well, the hyper LUXE chains like Saks , Niemans and Nordstroms. I always thought the rich stay rich and keep on shopping as long as the door is open. Not so , this time . Yes , they keep shopping but with less abandon and in more specific ways. Impulse purchasing is on the wane. Only really specific needs are being satisfied. Granted, those needs are pretty sweet, they aren't just going from department to department and buying something from each of them. It's a $10k custom made ostrich bag from Bottega and not the golden woven satin evening minaudiere as well. See, they are making judgement calls and taking one, not both.

The stores whose performances surprised me most were the Gap and Old Navy. These are very inexpensive chains with tons of product at prices many people can afford. You can go in and get a few things and still have a few dollars left for Red Lobster. Analysts from WWD, the NYTimes and Wall St. seem to think that the reason for the loss of profits and the customers ambivalence is not price but product. Lack of interest and the wow factor. Flat and boring looks that fail to inspire the customer. Fashion that isn't. Dullness. Boring unnecessary clothes. This is not the way this fairy tale was supposed to end. The Gap with Patrick Robinson at the helm and Todd Oldham steering Old Navy were touted as BRILLIANT creative directors to the rescue. It looks like neither has been particularly adept at the task. Both designers have lots of experience and in some circles are thought to even have talent. Neither have ever exhibited much vision in their past posts and it's unsurprising that they continue along the same path.

Patrick Robinson is a lot like Lars Nillson. He's a serial non-starter. He goes from one plum assignment to the next, but never stays long enough for the credits. Somewhere in the middle of the show he's left the building. Anne Klein, Perry Ellis , his own label, Armani, Paco Rabanne(that one still leaves me scratching my bald head)and now Gap. Having married a priestess at Vogue has been his one true success story. She has kept him in front of the press and is certainly instrumental in helping these choice jobs land in his lap. In his case it's sort of presumed talent by association. When Gap took him on, there was going to be a whole new look and a push to make the store a competitor with the likes of Banana Republic, Abercrombie, Club Monaco and J.Crew,don't let me forget Target. At this stage he's running the store behind Kmart and steadily into the dirt. I ask myself why. I answer my query with this: High fashion, middle market or the moderate to low end all calls for an imagination , talent and the ability to produce while working within a structure alongside a good team. He's unable to do these things that add up to a success story. Asked recently in an interview regarding his project with Target, the interwiewer asked how people can discover their own personal style. His answer was to cut out pictures from magazines and emulate what you see. When his personal style was questioned and he was asked who he models it after his answer was "no one" . It's his unerring taste and eye that has made him style himself. He said that jobs like Armani, Anne Klein, Rabanne a nd Perry Ellis were his chioce, the jobs were his choosing, not that he was recruited and hired....and fired. The hubris in that statement could sink a ship. His greatest desire at this moment is to find the"perfect bathing suit for his new swimming pool". How many times can they afford to going barrelling down the freeway against oncoming traffic?

Old Navy should be a no brainer. It is a brilliantly conceived idea for the marketplace. Take the latest trends, the staples of today's culture and churn it out at very very reasonable prices. Basically riff off the zeitgeist , follow what should be a strong Gap model and sell circles around it and the rest of the competition. That's not to say it's a task for anyone to pull off, but it's not brain surgery. What it does call for ,though, is a brain . Todd Oldham is that brain, or is supposed to possess one . Todd is an interesting subject. He had a collection for several years that was cleverly based on over the top clothes that spelled F-U-N. M-A-D-C-A-P. Coming from Texas and learning to sew on his Grandmother's sewing machine and finding his way to the big city, and on and on and on. Then he hits the big time. He's self deprecating, and humble and so Aw Shucks you just have to love him. Then the public tires of the same clothes season after season and his coterie of famous edgy celebrity pals. That includes Susan Sarandon, which I always found puzzling. After that circus packed it's tent along came Laz-Y-Boy. That was more of the Aw-Shucks I'm such a normal cool guy I want to make Laz-Y-Boy in my own image. Did you buy one? I didn't.

The gig at Old Navy, which was to be the lion's share of his projects and income is getting the same rap as Robinson's at Gap. Flat,dull, boring and not performing up to the expectations the company gad when he was hired. It looked good in the beginning. It was fashion being sold not just $9.00 polo shirts, but it's been diluted and not drawing the customer in or causing them to buy. Maybe he's spreading himself too thin. Maybe there is just too little to spread. Half the time he's in L.A. doing inane reality TV, which keeps him out of the studio and on channel 675 for 6 weeks at a time. That's valuable studio time for such an important position. Unlike the good old days when one created 3 collections a year, Old Navy has something insane like new product deliveries ever 4-6 weeks. Constant freshness. If you're missing in action then who's minding the store? It must be a team of assistants, but ones who need direction. Faxes and conference calls , sketches on napkins from Spago or the Chateau Marmont are probably not enough to lead the troops to victory. Todd and his partner in business and in life( notice the order in which I list the connection) seem to be so busy scoring the next deal that they neglect the ones that are already crowding their paper plate. It can't be Chinet, because it keeps falling to the ground.

We will see how these behemoth chains shake out in the 4th Quarter. I'm watching closely. Buying so-called talent has become a lesson in futility. The list of talent that keeps coming to the fore is consistent in it's lack of foresight and wisdom. This country , up until last week, has shown it is masterful at repeating the same mistakes again and again until they finally make such a big mistake they decide to make a change. I wish both designers luck. We'll see where the Wheel of Fortune stops. Vanna, give it one more spin and let's see if they can put together the puzzle.

The audience has the answer already: Grade : P -
( meaning: Passing , but below grade level)

Friday, November 7, 2008

This (kidney stone) Too Shall Pass.

Reading the paper this morning on the way to the office was very depressing. Stores like Niemans' and Saks and Nordstroms' are all sucking wind. Sam's Club and Costco are riding the crest , for now, but most everyone else is not. Louis Vuitton has wrapped itself in a Murakami insecurity blanket and nothing seems to sell unless it's 50-60% off.

Now on the one hand, it's attractive to many of us with little or no play money but the larger picture is turning black at it's edges and moving steadily towards no picture at all. I'm feeling a low grade sense of panic. I'm a fearless and undaunted breed, one who was bred in the times of the Pharaohs. But I'm also a cat of today. The reality and gravity of what has befallen us, and those of us in the fashion business is daunting, to say the very least. Getting depressed or paralyzed does nothing but invite more of the same. It also infects those around you and the environment in which you work and live. For that reason, I'm fighting the urge to panic, but it's a roller coaster of emotions that will not slow down.

Why would Louis Vuitton pull a Murakami blanket over it's head? What is a little splash of prohibitively expensive color going to do , when most people don't have a pot to .... in? To my mind, I find that idea absurd and irresponsible. Most of all, because the lure of the whole selling tool doesn't come with an incentive. Everything is priced at the top of the scale. The most you'll get at a bargain is perhaps a key chain. It's elitism at it's most brazen. Marc Jacobs has been in Paris too long. Time to come back to the hood for a bit of a reality check.

The present situation in this industry is a mix of facing facts or sticking your head in the sand, sand which has turned to quick sand. We must do something, and it's now or never. I won't indulge myself like I did last year. Friends and family will get more love than actual durable goods. Love and friendship tends to be more durable, anyway. Good times together and simple luxuries like dinner and films together at home, or trips to museums and places that open your eyes and soul are the food we need for sustenance. We need strength. The gym or simple exercise is much more satisfying to the body and soul than a new LV/Murakami garish bag, complete with vulgar decoration and a ridiculous price tag.

I honestly don't mean to karp away like an envious outsider with my nose pressed to the store window, but it just doesn't make sense. I am a player on the same field and am not even remotely removed from these repercussions, but I want to find a responsible way of managing this beast. I want to survive as much as the next person, but not at a cost that drives everyone away and me and my life's work into a ditch on the side of 7th Ave.

It feels like a large and angry kidney stone that must pass....and there is no detour for this one.
It's going down a one way street, and it appears to be gathering speed. My only hope is that the passing is swift and we can all get on with the business of life which starts with a big load of JOY!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's only a DRESS........

First off, We have a new President and his name is President- Elect Barack Obama!
I for one am extremely happy and relieved. This is so much greater than just an historic moment. It's America's chance to regain it's dignity, humility, honor and respectability. It's also the absolute definition and personification of that idea of CHANGE. I'm heartened and encouraged that perhaps we don't have to go down in flames after all. This cat has had at least 7 or 8 lives, but if this is my 9th, it will be one of the sweetest!

Those of us who are working stiffs,whether successful ones or less so, have been tossed around like ping pong balls for so long now, we've forgotten what it's like to enjoy a quiet , still moment. The possibility to relax one's mind and body is so foreign that it felt like something from childhood. The night of the election my mate and I had some of our closest friends over to watch the unfolding of history being made. We got a little crazy and decided sunday at Costco, history might unfold a little more dramatically in high definition on a 52" screen. So what the hell ,we crammed it into the car ( I lay on top of the box because I wasn't walking back to the city) and brought the monster home. Presumption led me to choose a menu decidedly 'SOULFUL'. That means: fried chicken,barbecued chicken, ribs,greens and enough Veuve Cliquot to serve everyone at Chicago's Grant Park.

The energy in NYC all day, from the polling centers to the subway and streets of midtown was surreal. When we all converged at the apartment it was a veritable United Nations. From my German boyfriend another German and A Swiss , to a Lebanese, Jamaican, Martinquean,New Zealander and 2 of us who are Americans, it was a world wide audience. The jokes and comments were flying with every ones own particular take on the country, the McCainPalin pas de deux, and the hopes and fears for our future. It was hard for me to sit still and just watch the returns, so I stayed busy bringing in and out food and bubbly . My faith was sound but my nerves were shot. All I could think about was if things didn't go the right way, the horror of what 9/11 did to our lives ,businesses/jobs, sense of security inside and out ,and the present nightmare with it's ground hog day effect might just brake my flagging optimism. So I kept moving.

When the west coast states closed their polls and in a matter of seconds Obama was over the top with electoral college votes and named President -Elect, you could feel the earth rumble. Maybe it was the subway, but I choose to see it as a major ground shift. Such an incredible moment. Guys were crying and holding each other, hugs and kisses were flying all over the room and a new day had dawned at 11p.m. at night.

My mother called, who had worked the polls in my hometown from 6a.m. til 9p.m. at 78 years old. She was in tears telling me how happy and proud she was. She wished that my grandparents had lived long enough to see a country that had discriminated against them and my parents and me for that matter, finally turn around and pay a man of color the highest honor, and vote him into the highest office. I felt so incredibly good inside and so much love and respect for my parents and Grand parents who sacrificed so much for me and so many others like me. Watching the crowd in Chicago and seeing Oprah and Jesse Jackson and so many people in tears made me realize just how momentous this is. Even Andre Leon Talley stood there in the crowd . There was no V.I.P. section. Everyone stood together. Like it should be. Americans first....celebs second.
The concession speech was impressive and filled with good will and humility. Fortunately, Ms. Palin was mute. Cindy McCain was very beautiful in what could only have been Oscar de la Renta. That woman has taste and great style and the bucks to pull it off. Still, that suit was perfection.

When President Obama and his family came out to greet the masses it was an electric moment.
We all have waited so loooong for this election to happen and it was finally over. The First Family looked so real and so natural and happy. It was mind boggling how cool they all were in view of the reality that was that moment. All eyes were on Michelle Obama and her dress. Comments were ricocheting off the walls as to what she was wearing. No one knew. It was puzzling in it's unusual detail. My feeling is very personal. People make choices to please themselves except for those with stylists and handlers. I knew there would be an uproar but SO WHAT.....Actually, I was amused and thrilled that it obviously wasn't Oscar, the GO-TO GUY for every political maven for the last 3 administrations.

It appears that Narciso Rodriguez was the lucky guy. I'm happy for him, I'm glad Michelle Obama, our new First Lady, exercises her free will in her choices in fashion and the press and armchair experts should take a chill pill and get over themselves.

Like it or not, for God's sake......IT'S ONLY A DRESS.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Turn of the Screw

Today is the 1st of November. I just love autumn. So many things which were alive and fresh and vibrant are now dried, dying and tumbling to the ground. The same is happening with the trees and foliage.... The attrition rate between man and nature is a road race that man appears to be winning.

As much as I hate change personally, I get a kick out of it all around me. Seems everything is moving at a faster and faster rate. Politically, we're steamrolling into the station called Obamaton,D.C. It's looking like a freshly scrubbed metropolis of the future. Monumental ,yet people friendly. Money is scarce but hope is is alive and starting to fill the pockets of the masses. It's going to be the currency with which we conduct the business of life for a while.

I'm amused to read that in the business of fashion, designers are weighing in on how they plan to weather the Tsunami that is building and at this very moment is about 100 miles off the coast, each one of our coasts. DVF is cutting only what's ordered. Peter Som has finally gotten the heave ho from Blass so he'll concentrate on his namesake collection, which believe me needs some concentration but is also a much better fit. Oscar is chopping away at expenses but building more freestanding stores. Tory Burch is "connecting" more personally with her clients and "asking them more of what it is they want. Tahari doesn't know what they're doing and others like Cynthia Rowley are opening stores in the far east and stocking their own stores , so as not to rely on major dept. stores more than they must.

Yet others have grander, more vaunted /veiled solutions. This was rich. Ralph Rucci is going to work more with his archival fabrics and buy much less. Translation: he's overbought for years, has a ton of old stuff sitting on shelves in storage and none of the top luxury fabric suppliers is in a rush to sell him more , because he still hasn't paid for the old stuff he's going to work with this season. Sounds harsh, but that comes from sources in the industry who wish to stay anonymous. He also plans to do his fantastic embroideries and surface treatments which are part of his trademark In HOUSE. No more Lesage in Paris or other embroiderers abroad, but some good old home grown talent. This is clever thinking.... keep those jobs on Main St. and not on Rue de Over-prixed. But when asked how this will affect his prices he was very quick to say that there would be no change in price because the labor is so expert and intensive. If anything the prices will rise, which is appropriate for his precious creations.He doesn't learn that you have to give a little to get a little. Fabrics alone which have passed the year mark lose their value. They can depreciate by as much as 25% . this is a drop in overhead expense right there. Another anonymous source who is a buyer says that they are not doing well. They are "trying " to get people in to buy. Where is the logic. There is no logic. In the past 2-3 months Ralph has been honored at the White House and at the Cooper Hewitt and as a result he must think his press speaks for him and for itself. He has been chosen.... Chosen is a multi faceted word with many sharp edges to it. I fear he may wake up and see a house of cards that's blown itself right off the map.

If Chanel is categorically lowering the prices by 10-15% at least for the pret a porter, why aren't we seeing how we can do the same? Instead , companies like J.Mendel have hired industry experts like Susan Sokol to come in and move the mountains and stem the tide. She went to Vera Wang to do the same, and Michael Kors, and Pegasus , and Donna Karan ,maybe even Calvin Klein, not to mention her own consulting firm. This blond Rain maker is a size 4 messiah with blown out hair. That company needs design direction and a sharp pencil. Instead, they've let go of the bulk of the design team and staff and have hired her instead. She doesn't sew, she commands a huge salary and is full of wildly impractical solutions. Grow it, grow it, grow it is her mantra. I don't know, but I smell the smallest trace of smoke.

So change is in the are. The screw turns and some are setting themselves up to be screwed. Time for some humility and tough choices. Hubris has gone the way of a new Bentley's just this side of way too expensive.