Tuesday, January 20, 2009


It's another day in this cold week. Then again it's not at all just another day. Today is special. We all have something to celebrate , think about, digest and in the end celebrate. We have a new president today. He's black, young, smart, charismatic, and he'll hopefully lead us out of this darkness that has obscured our hopes.

My mother has gone to Washington to witness this first hand. I will tune in on my computer at the studio. Emails and texts will fly back and forth. My faith and hope have been restored for now and I hope that we all have something to feel good and proud of. We can take pride in ourselves.

Fashion will just have to take a reluctant seat at the back of the bus. So much more is important.What we do and how we live is far more important than what she or we decide to wear. Today, we can focus on our souls and just keep our bodies warm.

It's another Tuesday, but it's the biggest Tuesday this country and the world has ever seen. Let's savor and enjoy it like it's the last.

Tomorrow will be Wednesday.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Defining ones' self by who one is and not what.

For the past 7 years , I've been caught in a web of feeling what I am is who I am. My work is a direct reflection of my worth as a person. Riding high, then all is fine in the jungle. Sucking wind and I'm the poster child for Losers. This situation has been one that I've been physically, emotionally and mentally unable to make sense of. Totally at a loss to find myself, Fluff,within this morass of details,dilemmas and dyspepsia. Self reflection, analysis and feel good remedies have been helpful channels but at the end of the day, I haven't been very good at separating me from my work.

Now with the fashion business going through such drastic changes, it's almost been an un -asked for blessing. A strange sort of answered prayer. Business isn't particularly good. Design is not the focus of the public , the stores or anyone else. So the thing that defined me , that made the sun shine or the storm clouds open, suddenly did something very unexpected: It stopped time. For some this would set off alarms and flashing emergency lights. Well, it did the same for me, but in the end of the day I had an epiphany. I'm not my work. I'm ok ,even if the work suffers.

Whenever something unplanned happened I would take it as a statement on my own personal self worth. If I had an amazing coup, then I was a winner. If I had a rejection or overdrew the account and couldn't cover all the bills, then I was the lowest of the low. I had this ingrained idea that I was responsible, culpable and guilty of any and everything that came down the pike. That pike didn't have to belong to me, but still I felt responsible. This all goes back to childhood like most troublesome conditions. There's nothing new about that turf for any of us.

Looking at it now, and looking back on me then, I see how selfish and self absorbed I've been. That is not something I'm proud of , but it helps explain what was at work . The point of my sharing this with you is that good things keep coming from this bad thing we're all going through. It's forcing me to grow up....rather late in life, but it's never too late to grow.

Not everyday is a picnic, nor will it ever be. I just try to remember that when the shit hits the fan, I can give myself permission to duck. You can too!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Isaac Mizrahi is Liz Claiborne spelled backwards

Well Isaac is in the house! Let's get this party started. I can feel the pulsing bass, the smoke machine is pumping clouds into this too crowded space and we have yet another debut. A Deb ball of huge-ish proportions. The first collection by Isaac for Liz is unveiled!!!!!! It's everything that we hoped it would be: Fresh,Exciting,New, Modern and a completely new face for the battered company that used to rule the seas of American Retail. This collection is so hot it sizzles. What will amaze you and me is that it is PURE ISAAC MIZRAHI ALL OVER AGAIN. Only this time it has another label attached to it.

Isaac is uncharacteristically at a loss for words on this launch. He says the current economic "thing" is just the right time to split from Target and do a collection for the 35 year olds... These clothes answer all the needs of that perpetual 35-er and her lifestyle. She doesn't want to be brought down by this recession"thing"...she just wants snappy, now clothes and he's delivered them.

Some clean quirky graphic pieces with staid toppers and separates that go from here to there without so much as a "what should I wear?". It's all so RIGHT. So HOPEFUL. But in Isaac's world, the worst of times are actually the best of times. After all, this "thing" going on right now isn't something to get upset over. It's like life.

He's a fascinator.

Adding Insult to Injury.

This has been another one of those banner weeks in the fashion capital of the world (other than Paris, of course). The poster boy for displaced and discarded Designers, Peter Som received yet another blow to his tenuous hold on the career that was to bring him to the pinnacle of success and notoriety. His big bad backers, The mysterious NRDC folks pulled the plug on his financing. Isn't it enough to go the way of the house of Bill Blass? No they had to take things one step further and walk out on him weeks before his Fall 09 collection is to open.

Heart and compassion on the avenue has gone the way of Madoff's billions... up in smoke. Here one minute and gone the next. His talent has always been a big question in my mind, but Puss Cats aren't known for having the largest of brains. What we do possess are very acute instincts. Mine has always questioned his ability to inhabit the larger stage. I don't think that his eponymous collection has been particularly compelling , though I've seen it hanging in great shops here and on the continent. On a visit to London there was a whole area devoted to his offerings. All I could think was, "Well done...good PR....you go Peter!" The clothes were ok. Not bad, but not particularly good either. Just a stew of ideas simmering on a rack at Selfridges.
He and his business partner seemed rather sanguine and at the same time optimistic . He'll surely find other backing with all the press he's garnered these last 2 or 3 years. NRDC was a full service shop. They got the stores, the press, took care of the shows, propped up their Wunderkind, and played master shills. Surely, they brokered the Blass gig ( with Anna Wintour's help, no doubt) and stood back and watched the pilgrims come to worship. The scheme was a good one. One minute he was a non-entity. The next he's on every one's lips. Even designing interiors for a boutique hotel. Not bad.

But then the cold light of day must follow the heady intoxicated night. Blass busts and then the economy heads south. All the best layed plans and promises of NRDC move in the very same direction. They must look after their retail concerns: Lord and Taylor and other nondescript businesses and all bets are off.

The one smart thing Peter did in the whole Blass debacle was to hold onto his company. Only he only did that in the most haphazard way. It really was held onto by NRDC, so when they dropped it, they basically let him tumble with it. I'm sure they all had the very best of intentions.

But as we all know, all too well is that Hell is paved with good intentions.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Baden Baden: Sometimes checking yourself in is the best revenge!

Taking the cure….Taking the Waters….Taking time for Ones self….Taking it easy….Taking 10. These are all euphemisms and turns of phrases for what this Puss Cat did over the Christmas holiday. I checked out, checked my 3 bags (in business class one can take 3 and not just 2!) and checked myself in for a short and much needed “cure” at the fabled sanitarium in Baden Baden, Germany. This kitten was sufficiently cooked to well done on both sides that it was time for some serious care. If it came from the attentions of a licensed member of the medical community or was as simple as a few forced dunks in an ice-cold thermal bath, then so be it.

Baden Baden, a lovely historic city in southern central Germany is the home of a fabled spa. The thermal baths and mineral rich waters are the main attraction. It was the destination of many of Europe’s aristocracy and plenty of American social climbers at the turn of the century. If you need to know more, then Google it. I’m not here to educate but to elucidate. Suffice it to say it’s a rest stop on life’s highway. I needed a rest so I pulled over.

The curative properties of natures’ thermal pools are something out of science fiction. Arriving like a cat in a sack: all claws born out one moment were eventually withdrawn the next. The spa was nothing but beauty, comfort, quiet restraint and a delightful regimen of exercise. Delicious breakfasts, lots of hot cups of mineral water and forced marches through glorious woods was the order of most days. Massages, plenty of moisturizing and non- stop napping brought me back from the precipice. Some unconventional therapies were offered of which I hungrily partook: Pilates: fabulous for regaining core strength, yoga which put the yin back in my yang and Chanting. I could swear we were all droning,”OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA” but I was so blissed out I couldn’t say for sure.

The activity that was most restorative, relaxing, and addictive was the sauna. This was no steam bath a la Jack La Lane, New York Sports Cub or even that pretentious steamy den of iniquity at the University Club. This was a world-class sauna complete with a conductor! Everyone, both men and women,(NAKED) sat together on tiered wooden benches as the maestro worked his magic. He carried a wooden bucket with a liquid called Acacia, of which he poured copious amounts onto the piping hot rocks. This liquid produced a steam similar to the scent of eucalyptus. Similar, I say but very different. This was like a gas that was simultaneously pore opening, sinus searing, and brain numbing BLISS. One felt as though one was being turned inside out. It produced such heat and an atmosphere of menthol that you just felt unable to put up any resistance. Next thing I knew the conductor starts swing a wet towel in a circular motion over his head, which gets the air whipping around and around. At this point he’s yelling “Jawohl”(YA-VOLL) and the hot air, now moving around the room like a tornado, made me feel like I was going to incinerate. Everyone starts moaning, screaming and gasping, but he doesn’t stop. This Kitten was howling and praying, but twas such sweet torture I dared not ask for emergency assistance. When he finished we all clapped and cheered. This was by far the most incredible CPR for the body and soul.

Now the men and women naked together in the sauna and hot thermal pools thing was NOT something I was prepared for. The dressing area was my first hint that something was amiss, but I just played along and tried to avert my eyes. Luscious robes and comfortable slippers were all we were given. Little did I know that this was a co-ed experience. It was a bit disconcerting to be honest. I’m not used to sitting with nowhere to look but at some woman’s unclothed body or vice versa. It didn’t help that I was “different” from everyone there: an oddity, the only minority. Some people enjoy being stared at. They find it food for the ego. I don’t. It makes me feel like I did growing up. Other children pointing or teasing me or talking about me so that I could hear. This was purely a case of being considered exotic but it took some getting used to. I must admit that some pleasure was gleaned from being an object of curiosity. It gave me the chance to ogle some rather extraordinary specimens . This mixing of the sexes was also important to the overall experience. It was a humanizing setting where everyone was on equal footing. Politeness, mutual respect and a focus on doing good things for ones body created an environment for healing.

The days flew by and so went many of my cares. In the final hours of my stay I started to get that feeling of anxiety and fear that filled my bags coming over. The thought of New York, the business, the Fall Collections just around the corner…all these thoughts started to take the place of my feelings of refreshment and renewal. It seemed like a dream and a waste to so quickly forget this little rest; this kleine pause. I can see the real work ahead is to live in the moment. There is no changing what is without, only what’s within. That alone is a herculean task, but one I’m ready to tackle today.

Tomorrow is just that…. tomorrow.