Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Untitled #1

Summer's here. The longest day has come and gone and all is wet, grey and grim in NYC, the fashion capital of the world, as we once knew it. The new guard is safely immune to the next elimination round. The power base has shifted and we can all rest easy that a new day has come.
That said, I have a deep and abiding apprehension of what waits around the corner. The standard that is now set by the likes of Rodarte,( no offense Anjo) Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Marc Jacobs and others too obscure to mention make me feel the film was switched when I came back from the rest room. It started out as a clever , elegant comedy . There were some interesting and amusing characters and then suddenly it was another sequel of SAW. Blood, guts, unspeakably bad taste , no taste and a whole lot of screaming. Don't get me wrong , I love a bad movie that's good , but I don't like trash . The screen is crowded with a lot of trash .
I wonder what the shows will bring. Some great collections I'm sure. This recent award ceremony will likely inspire some of the newly knighted to raise their game, and that's going to be a good thing. Others will scramble to try to prove they are all that and more, which is usually a fatal path to tread. The old guard will hopefully come through with masterful collections proving that the praise belongs on their shoulders. They are the Outliers. They've done their time on 7th Ave. and have their acts together. There is still lots to be gained and brought to the table by their experience.
I think about the names which have taken a back seat of late. Names that commanded so much attention. What happened to Zac Posen? Really? Where did he go? Did Diddy do a dirty and Dis inherit him? Or did he have some untoward experience that has been muffled and stashed away by the press. And Marchesa? Is Mrs. Weinstein too busy to work? One would have expected Harvey to strong arm an award nomination for his bride. She's got a company that is every bit as good or better than Jason Wu. Where is Thom Browne? Let's be glad that that question can remain unanswered for the moment. Beyonce and the House of Dereon? JayZ certainly has the heft to force her down the public's throats....what's up with dat? Phat Baby....what happened to the mother of Fabulosity? Don't answer that, another blessing in disguise.
So there is a lot to ponder. I think the shows will be made up of competing contestants from the Fashion Show , Project Runway, the hosts like Isaac , Fern Mallis( yes I hear she's doing a collection....NOT) and Kelly Rowland's, The House of Butterick. I can't wait. The best thing is I won't be doing one and can sit back and enjoy the cavalcade of stars.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


congratulations to the winners. it's a rags to royalty ascension for rodarte. they have come a long way, only the looks are the same only now with fancy styling.there should be a stylist of the year award, for they are the ones that give credibility to collections which on their own would be a bunch of pieces held together with thread and wires. i just don't see the brilliance or strength that such prestigious recognition implies by the most coveted of awards to the fashion community.alexander wang just flies right over my head or past it. it's the most flagrant , grandiose mediocrity. but hey, i'm just a sightless viewer. that is not to say he hasn't created some lovely things but it's a handful of bits not a body of work that says wow. the press must be nourished by specks of dust. proenza scouler is yet another example of burgeoning talent, but the accent is on burgeoning. to show accessories for a couple of seasons which have not shown their popularity or saleability or even a following of any size begs the question, what's up? it's a beauty pageant. the rest of them, marc jacobs, ralph as mr. poularity , well so what. smugness is the new substitute for humility and grace. i just don't see the point of it all .it's not a love fest i can appreciate. i'm just a bit of a sour puss cat, but i would wager that i speak for some who come away from this display as one of insipid political manipulation. it used to be a night of glamor and excitement. now it's just another night.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heading towards the finish line.

Unzipped. More like Undone. That's what this feels like. I feel undone. Every hour or so my mood swings like a pendulum. I can go from lightness to total blackness in a NY nano-second. That's probably the hardest thing for me and those around me. No one including me knows which mood I'm in or about to get knocked out of. Kind of like the book we read in high school, Lisa Bright and Dark.
This is Fluff, peaceful or postal. Knowing and accepting reality is like swallowing the bitterest pill. If I could just hang onto one feeling and proceed from that the days would have a rhythm that would carry me through. Instead, there's a cacophony of emotions, and a beating of drums in my head that does nothing but interrupt my thoughts and actions. Spasms of action and hardest of all spasms of grief. Ok , so that's the heavy part.
On a lighter note, I feel pretty good in the midst of preparing my farewell. There's so much to do, finish and loose ends to tie up that I don't have lots of time to sit and brood. Mostly, at night I find myself going over the near and distant past or first thing when I awake. But the bulk of each day is spent finishing orders , taking care of tons of details and trying to get everything in order for the end of July. To that end I am slowly and steadily moving.
There will be a certain degree of fallout , but that is a fact of life. Not every package will be tied with a pretty bow, but I will do my best to do my best. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How many lives does a cat have?

Over so many years this cat has done one thing and one thing only: design. Granted, it's taken different forms but the essence has been consistently the same. From a fledgling kitty with 1 good idea to a full grown force with multiple collections yearly. From cutting out pieces on the kitchen table to a staff of 8. With accounts in some of the greatest stores in this town and cities across the country. This is only to say, I've had a career and made my mark. My success has always been more critical than financial, but I've been able to do as I please and live a life I only dreamed so long ago.
There have been ups and downs throughout, some more dramatic , others just benign. Through each shift my resolve never wavered. I have been an optimist in the most dire circumstances. I just never considered anything in life or business that might be big enough to blow my little house down. But the whole idea of one's house being blown down is a bit of a cop out. That's putting the blame on outside forces and not a decision made from within. Houses of this sort tend to implode.
In the recent months it seems like business slowed to a halt. A marked drop in client traffic coupled with stores cutting back budgets created a malaise that developed into a form of paralysis. Quite rapidly, life as I once knew it was altered. Off days outnumbered on days. A sense of earth slipping out from under me was becoming a constant. Optimism started to erode and a cloud of frustration and anger took it's place. I still wouldn't let myself think that things could end, that the house might come down around me. The election of President Obama was a balm for a brief moment, though I'm a realist and know that these circumstances which affect us all won't change overnight. I did hope that there would be a more rapid return to activity in the marketplace. That was wishful thinking.
Though I took a hard look at the situation at Christmas I backed away from taking THE STEP.
I just wasn't emotionally ready I guess. Too much of my identity(secret identity)was tied up in the identity of the collection. It had been that way for so long , I just couldn't separate myself without feeling like I was cutting out my own heart . Fortunately, I've gotten past that and now am able to distinguish me from it. If the company ceases to exist in it's present form doesn't mean that I cease to exist.
That was a gargantuan hurdle for me. When you're somewhat insecure by nature and you have something that people look up to or in turn respect you because of this thing that you do , it's frightening to let go. It's like falling off a tower. My tower shielded me and brought me a degree of respect and notoriety. It also brought pleasure and satisfaction to countless people . The decision to close up shop is the hardest thing I've ever done. But that's exactly what I'm doing.
So how many lives does a cat really have? I can't answer that. Crossing an invisible line from what I've known to a place that is at the moment dark is taking all I have inside. There's a mix of excitement and fear. Relief and crushing sadness, but on a good day a fair amount of hope.
It's that hope that gets me from yesterday to today and onto tomorrow. I've had a great run. I've made some pointless mistakes but all together it's been an unregrettable experience. I've been so fortunate to have had this rare opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives. That's what fashion can do. A designer is more a doctor than just creator. She or he gives a person something from the inside out. A good designer makes the client more confident, more beautiful and most of all feel their best. That's what I tried to do each day.
Now to wind it down and plot my next move. However many lives I've had , I'm now onto the next. If this one is half as interesting and exciting as the last I'm in for a hell of a ride.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lacroix Redux

Well the good news is that Christian Lacroix's Couture house is under bankruptcy protection, our equivalent of Chapter 11. The bad news is whether this comes at a time too close to preparing and showing the Fall couture collection. This is a difficult situation fraught with obstacles both legal and financial. Though he's sworn to give his all, "200%" to use his words, he hopefully will be able to manage all. That is just what is so amazing, inspiring and incredible about the designer and the man.
If you look critically at him and his contribution these past 25 years , you will see what I would consider the perfect designer. The focus and the essence of Lacroix are the clothes. Always and only the clothes. Yes, Absolutely Fabulous made him a household name and a mega- watt superstar like Manolo and Chanel in the lore sense of the word. But that deification was for entertainment value and not of his doing. He has always remained behind the scenes and has let the myriad collections , whether his own or others like Pucci speak for themselves. At the end of the day if the clothes have no legs of their own it doesn't matter how much you try to do the talking for them.

Years ago, when I was just a kitten I had the pleasure of meeting him twice. The first meeting was a complete accident. At that time I was between jobs( translation: jobless and broke) . Thanks to the generosity of a very close friend who was neither jobless or broke , I found myself shuttling back and forth to Europe acting as a second pair of eyes, searching out fabrics for multiple collections he designed. To be destitute in all the major cities in France , Italy and Germany beat turn style jumping and 1 slice of pizza a day in this town. It was particularly pleasant when you factor in travelling business class, staying at 5 star hotels and ending grueling days at fabric shows in night clubs and discotheques til 3 and 4 in the morning. Just some background for you.

So on one of these trips I completely forgot that France had decided that Americans needed visas to enter the country. No one at Kennedy asked for one so it came as a rude shock when I landed and could not enter any part of Paris beyond a holding area. After hours of my best friend at home arranging through his family in Germany to get me a visa to pass through Paris and head for Germany, I eventually got out of the annoying airport and onto the fun that was awaiting me. As I waited to be set free or sent back from whence I'd just come they let me sit at a departure gate and sweat it out. This was right when Lacroix had just left Patou to open his own house. As I sat sweating two men sat down directly across from me. When I looked up I immediately recognized them both. Locked in conversation was the man , THE MAN and his business partner, whose name I think is Jean-Jaques Picart. So I just stared in wonder and waited for the right moment to interrupt them and play stage door Kitty. Well, if I said he couldn't have been more charming , gracious and kind listening to me gush, I'd be lying. I gushed and he accepted it with humility and sweetness. He went a step further asking my name , where I was coming from, what I did and where I was headed. This gave me a chance to share my pathetic, silly tale. He tried not to laugh but I could see his grin was fighting a guffaw. It was one of those Haute moments when the planets align and having the opportunity moments before probable deportation to make chit chat with Christian Lacroix. It sure as hell worked for me and I dare say it would have worked for you, too!

Let's jump ahead about 6 years. Now with a collection of my own, though still cash challenged , I'm back in Paris with the gang and we're tooling down the boulevard of dreams in a cream colored convertible Mercedes. You see, my friend continued to become more and more successful and continued to treat me like a king. He'd recently met Christian in Italy and had been invited to drop by the House when next he'd be in Paris. So he says over the blasting radio, "Let's go see Lacroix". At that moment,try as I might, I couldn't come up with a better option so off we see the King. It sounds crazy, but I'm not making this up.....we went to go hang with Christian Lacroix at his couture house.

We were announced and directed to a very comfortable sitting room . The one with all that cool furniture designed by two hot decorators at that time, Garouste and something or other. White couches with bold contrasting black trim. After a few moments in bounds Monsieur Lacroix like a large puppy. He greeted my friend warmly and introduced himself to the 2 of us. When we sat down a person came in with a tray of 4 glasses and an iced bottle of Vodka!!! As Christian was filling the glasses he looked up at me and said something that knocked me over. He asked me if we'd met years before and wasn't it at Charles de Gaulle airport as I was waiting to be deported. I admit I was blown away. He filled my glass again because at that moment I did my first of several shots with the Master. It was too much. He actually remembered me and my predicament after so many years and so many triumphs .

The whole visit was so interesting because he is so interested. He wanted to know all that each of us were doing. How are lives and careers were developing and if we were finding satisfaction in the web that is fashion. Lacroix was exceedingly practical, candid and humble. No bullshit only straight forward talk; engaging and engaged. We were beside ourselves by his humanity.
When we said our goodbyes and headed outside to what was becoming a beautiful Paris dusk, he came to the door and wished us all well and thanked us for the visit and timely diversion.
He was so lovely and I've never forgotten his kindness. It is in such short supply in this business and in the world. I say a prayer that what happens is for the best and that he and his marvelous house are spared. But no matter the outcome he will be fine.

It's who he is , not what.