Friday, August 20, 2010

Fashion's Night Out: Take 2

This event would be more aptly titled: Freeloader's Free For All. It's not about shopping, spending or buying. It's about (not) FREE publicity for the engine of the fashion industry (press, Anna and petting zoo members) and giving a ton of people the illusion for one night of being honorary members of the club. September 10th will be the equivalent of a ban on the velvet rope policy... in some places, not all. I don't know about you but I'm tired of the press blitz on this dubious Night of a Thousand Bars. I'm all for the regeneration of the idea of retail. Fashion is meant to be bought, worn and enjoyed. Stores, besides the Internet, are the best places to find it. It's an industry filled with very creative minds that need the renewed support of the masses but this is not the answer, but more a question. Why stage this Fabuganza when it appears not to have sold clothes? If stores still refuse to share the numbers of last years event, then there most likely are no numbers to share. It looks to have been a costly benefit with little or no paying guests.

There's nothing wrong with a great party that is open to the world I only object to the pretense that this shindig actually makes money for stores and designers. What I saw last year were a few stores (Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys and Saks) filled with lots of drunk people whose hands held drinks and nibbles, not shopping bags. It was an electric atmosphere that was really exciting but not one with hordes lined up at cash registers or crowding dressing rooms. I expected to see action you see at a huge sale where everyone dispenses with modesty and strip in the aisles. I didn't see any of that. Shoe departments were overrun and some designers making personal appearances were swarmed with adoring fans, but no shopping. When I went to the top floor of Barneys and chose a few coffee table books I was the only person on the floor and that included the sales people. It took 15 minutes to find someone to take my money. I bet a number of people honed their shoplifting skills that night. I can't be sure of that because no stores are coming clean regarding the outcome of the event. I bet there was a bit of free shopping that went on that was an unexpected loss for some. I'm just speculating, but the environment was perfect for it. When I was leaving Barneys to head to Saks, I was one of the very few people I saw with a shopping bag.

I hope the night does more this year. I think the expectations of doing business have been lowered considering the big ticket items are T-shirts and fake Barbi dolls. I feel kind of bad for the designers who have to tear themselves away from the last minute preparations for shows. It would make more sense to throw the party the last night of the shows but whatever. I'll still go to see all the drunk hordes clogging Madison, Fifth and the Meatpacking district. It's more a spectacle than anything else and at best a night where there are some signs of life.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 11th Hour

It's countdown to post time. The spring collections are in the paddock getting brushed, massaged, accupuntured and doped as they make their way to the gate. I love this time, though when I was grooming a sleek thoroughbred getting that filly ready for the race, I was a nervous trainer wracked with fear. Would she come up lame the morning of the race? Heaven forbid, would she colic the night before? How would she do on a muddy, sloppy track? God, would she throw a shoe in her stall with no blacksmith there to reshoe her in time? All those worries and countless more would haunt me leading up to the big race. Every designer is plagued in one way or another with these fears. How about the ones who had entered Shetland Ponies on stilts hoping to get past Vet check and onto the track. The ones that caused the most consternation were the nags with a prosthetic leg who might lose it on the first turn. Collection time is nothing less than a horse race.

We all hoped to win, but there was justice in placing in the top 3. No one wanted to be the last horse at the finish line when all the others were back in the stable. But that scenario happens every race, every season. The last days of August are cruel with a time clock haunting ones days and nights. The struggle of getting ideas realized, fabrics stuck in customs or worse, not shipped at all. Samples held up in contractor's factories due to a log jam of other work; production for a big name or the sample priorities of said big names. There's the killer of the all important embroideries coming from India, France or China which are stuck at JFK due to a customs sweep because they happened to be on the same flight as a load of drugs and contraband. I love that one.For some unfathomable reason, your jewels of the collection are held hostage over a bundle or 12 of coke which is enroute to another big name design house. Just give them their shit so I can get mine......

Probably the hardest task is trying to marshall the troops to work together as one. Coercion rarely worked. Pleading was out of the question. Once they realized your desperation you were fucked. It was an open invitation for mutiny. All of the above situations were just a few of the hurdles that over faced this Race Track junkie. As insidious, as odious as the whole process could be, the satisfaction of a race well run was the reward. I admire the determination and passion that spurs on all the entrants: small, medium and large. The crowd can never get enough. The guys who call the race love it just as much and the jockeys; those gorgeous gals and guys who pilot those babes to the finish line all love the excitement of the sport. I'm right there with them. Handicapping a race is fun and a game of chance built on a science that doesn't stand up to any legitimate proofs, but is fun nevertheless. The reality is the end result. Front runners are often run down by the long shot and every once in a great while that Shetland Pony skirts the pile up at the final furlong and takes the big prize.
See you at the races, but bring an umbrella in case it rains.........

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Who or what is Daphne Guinness ?

How many of you ask that question? Am I the only one who doesn't quite get it? Not that it's any sort of joke or trick question, but what exactly is it? Fashion always has its patron saints. There was Wallis, Mona Bismarck, Babe Paley, Nan Kempner, Jacqueline, Anna Piaggi, Isabella Blow and lesser nuns who lived and died for the sake of fashion and for us, its pilgrims. These girls gave it their all. Some gracefully and others less so. All in all, they devoted their every moment on this earth to fashion, to style. Maybe it's the times we live in where everything is racing, racing to some unknown end. With that acceleration comes shortened nerves and shortened attention spans.
Fast is the operative word. Fast fashion and even faster trendsetters. Then there is Daphne, the tiny, turbo-charged tornado, the fastest fashion flack in the North, South, East and West. I don't think anyone has ever gobbled up the trends and spit them out any faster than this girl. She may have been an offshore weather disturbance a couple of years ago, content to be Mrs. Spyros Niarchos. Suddenly, there was a shift in the wind patterns and this little gale force breeze developed into a Hurricane strength, Haute Hellion. In her wake are the splintered remains of every important collection, opening, party and funeral. No venue or event of cultural importance has been left standing without signs of her path. Debris, quel Debris!
On the one hand, I must stand back and applaud her incredible energy, focus and passion. Daphne has given a new definition to the word possessed. If fashion needed one cheer leader to keep the home team energized and in the winner's circle it would be she. Her embrace of all things avant is fearless and stunning to behold. There are hordes of the fashion obsessed who must see her as messianic, a veritable force of biblical proportions. No one does it sooner, bigger, grander or more outrageously than Le Daphne. A divorce settlement of 20 million pounds helps keep the shopping bags full. That said, what's up with all this manic drive? When did fashion, or more specifically, a dress or shoe become someone's raison d'etre.
I wasn't particularly interested in her until she started showing up for the openings of paper bags all over the world almost daily. The hair, the blinding style choices, her way of appearing in public and in print in the most over the top get ups all screamed, "Over here! Over here!" She was BFF's with Isabella Blow, Alexander McQueen( she refers to him as Lee....they were that close) FWB's with french pseudo-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and the patroness of every couture house from here to Avenue Montaigne.
Bells went off when my plans to attend the Christie's auction of "Issie's" personal effects were scuttled. There was a particular Philip Treacy designed litter box I HAD to have and Le Daph decided that she couldn't let the "hoi poloi" (pas moi) get their unannointed paws on these treasures. After consulting all 270,000 of her FB and Twitter friends, she was advised to purchase the estate in full and keep it safe for Issie's memory. This was a huge gesture of generosity, but one I still find disingenuous, even self-aggrandizing. Perhaps, Issie would be alive today had her financial woes and depression not gotten the better of her fragile sense of self. She cried for help to more than just McQueen. Daphne was on that conference call as well. The ex-wife of Greece's largest shipping magnate and an heiress to the Guinness Brewery fortune didn't appear to do very much to help one of her best friends. I'm sure there are 6 sides to this story, but in the end she was more than willing to take possession of Isabella's personal effects. It looked a bit like she'd rather save the clothes. I know that sounds heartless and mean. Maybe it is. Maybe she is. The image of her in billowing mourning couture at McQueen's funeral is a perfect example of erring on the side of humility. More than likely, she's nothing more than another confused person just trying to find love and admiration in all the wrong magazines, newspapers, front rows, blogs, VIP sections and watering holes.
Opinions are just that; the thoughts of others, and usually have little to do with the person being discussed. I could be totally off base and take responsibility for that. Gossip is so outre, and this is a mix of that and other ingredients. Sorry, mean it.
Her 3 kids who range in age from 21 to 15 are no longer babies. As a bride at 19, she did her mommying early and is free to indulge her interests. Still, they must be content to spend quality time with Mummy through the pages of rags and mags. That's unfortunate. It's not the same as being there, but in the case of Le Daph, that's life in the dressing room.
I've spotted her around town with a strikingly outrageous black man, her male alter ego. I believe he's called Martin. Together they make an amazing visual statement. It's a floor show of the loudest order. If it weren't fashion no one would pay any attention.
I love this last picture of Daphne with Lynn Wyatt and Lagerfeld; the original with the sequel. Sequels rarely entertain like the original version. They tend to be club footed in comparison.
Le Daph appears to be a skunk haired, pint sized, line backer shouldered, malnourished, champagne swilling, ambitious little Heiress. "Last Empresses for $1000.00, Alex?".

What's Black,White and Overdressed?

This is today's parlor game. The first 20 readers who get the correct answer will spare me the torture of spelling it out.......unless you're all suckers for punishment!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Allure of Rumors

Rumors are so seductive. The idea of someone knowing something particularly compelling before it's a known fact and able to spread it around is strangely sexy. The one with the tidbit is the one everyone wants to have. What could be sexier? Does it matter if the information is true? Does it matter in the long run when things happen everyday? Is it really that important when it has to do with fashion which by its very nature is a spinning wheel of fortune? I don't really think so. But an awful lot of people do. They absolutely hang on every implied word to suss out the news. Fashion people have an unusually intense interest is being, having, doing, and knowing things FIRST.

I foolishly fell victim to the ever grinding rumor mill and blurted that Karl Lagerfeld was retiring from Chanel and Alber Elbaz was taking his place. I certainly got my rather long tail caught in the cogs of that wheel and felt like an idiot. My motives were pretty honorable....I wanted to share a big news story with you guys , but opened my mouth without proof and ended up looking like a Fashionista F#+% Up. I'm a proud cat who prides himself on being objective and informed......most of the time. We all fall off the wagon of Integrity every once in a while. To err is human and feline. I almost blurted a truly preposterous rumor after that that was so bizarre and inflammatory that I actually did all that I could to verify it and couldn't so I didn't say anything. That was agonizing because it was truly incredible in its tragedy and scope. The scary thing is that it was more premonition than rumor because one half of the story was totally false and the other half came to pass only weeks later. I didn't sleep(literally) for some nights after that and I fear it caused the end of a friendship that I valued and miss to this day. That's part of the fallout from rumors. They serve little purpose but to make the teller feel as though they have an edge and the audience wastes too much time trying to solve the mystery. What is, is. What isn't yet, is. So it's all the same in the end.

Boredom is the great catalyst for the turbo rumor. It's been a hellish summer. We've all fried in our own fat for weeks and nothing truly interesting has come down the chute for months. We're waiting for that big anticlimax, the Collections in September and let's be honest, we're all craving something yummy we can gnaw on. What better thing to claw and chew on but a story about a major changing of the guard at some influential fashion houses? I'd get excited about it if the end result would mean truly awe inspiring design and a landscape forever altered. It just doesn't work like that in real life. If one actor leaves the stage, then the replacements tend to be the sort who are unable to adopt a new character. It's sort of the "Same S*&^%$, Different Day Syndrome". This isn't to say the new names in possibly newly vacated slots aren't without talent, only that theirs is almost always specific and static. Karl Lagerfeld is the consummate chameleon and perhaps the only designer working today with that skill. It's difficult to get excited about the game of musical chairs at European design houses when the players will more than likely take their same bag of tricks from one gilded salon to the next. It's a bit like Fashion STD's. The problem starts in one house and gets passed around from one to another until the whole system is compromised.
So I won't kill the suspense of what is or isn't on the horizon by laying hints. I don't want to disappoint or stick my paws down my throat. Let's just wait and see. Someone very wise said that all thoughts, stories and that includes rumors must be tested and examined to know if they're true. The first question being,"Are you sure that this is true?" The second being, "Can you absolutely know that this thought(rumor) is true?" If the answer is no to the second question, then it isn't and will stay that way until it is. That is unless it isn't.