Fashion is a sport with fixed betting. It's not for light weights and certainly not for the naive. High stakes Fashion tends to be played by it's own rules with weighted dice. Very little happens by chance. Almost never does someone come from the Port of Authority with a Singer sewing machine and a dream and end up as Creative Director of Liz Claiborne. It doesn't happen.
What is more, one doesn't necessarily end up winning CFDA Awards without the consensus of a committee, let's say the leaders of the organization, and to some degree the membership. But there are surely outside forces up the street and around the corner that play an important , if not a silent role in all of this. It ain't Lotto. Being In it to win it is an oversimplification. Having a company ,constitutes "IN IT". But, there's "In It" and and just in it. Design ability or talent, let alone sales in the market place aren't necessarily deciding factors. This is where it all becomes rather murky. Clearly, night vision glasses are an accessory necessary to find ones way.
Peddling is not easy in 5" Laboutins , but with the help of a darkened windowed Escalade , one can teeter around without much problem. Sitting comfortably behind ones desk and holding audiences with the constituents is certainly even easier. Influential editors placing designers in key positions of large, and important companies has become the new substitute for headhunting. Head hunters per se are a thing of the past. For lower level positions they have their hands full , but for big game hunting , they pretty much stay at the campsite. The major players come to the most influential magazine editor(s) for direction. They need to be editorialized and touted and appreciated by these magazines. They want to pump huge advertising budgets into said magazines so these editorial pages are guaranteed, so they ask the the big game headhunter who they should hire. There is a list of malleable favorites. Malleable , meaning designers who will answer to the editor's whims as well as the demands of their employers. In this way everyone is happy. I can't imagine as Creative Director of an international brand having to take direction from a magazine as to what should be in or not in the collection I'm about to show, but that's the price of stardom. That's akin to guzzling fish oil.
It's all very neat. The press love a love match and the magazine has satisfied it's appetite for control. Control is the operative word.
To list these love matches is tedious and unproductive, but when you see odd marriages fall to bits, you have to ask yourself what went wrong? Companies make silly choices or they make hasty mistakes. An Isabel Toledo was a pretty clever choice for Anne Klein and yet someone pulled the plug before the lights were turned on. That was a boo boo. But Todd Oldham for Old Navy,Patrick Robinson for Anne Klein and to a degree for Gap is a bit iffy, and Lars Nillson for his last 3 positions were all examples of companies buying the Kool-Aid by the keg.
It's great to have your number called. It's a designer's dream , but too often these are capricious choices with little basis in sound business management. Fashion is a business and one that should operate as one.How about the best person for the job and not the pet who pleases the Wizardess of Oz.
This shouldn't be a fixed dog race.
On the Street…Via Valtellina, Milan
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