Sunday, June 22, 2014

In the Market Report by Laurel Marcus

"Summer Fashion Kool-Aid" 

Here are some things I've been thinking about, reading about, or experiencing lately. Several are shoe related so I will attempt to start off on the "right foot."

Miley Cyrus
SEEN IN BLOOMINGDALE'S DESIGNER SHOE DEPARTMENT: Two beautiful young girls being served champagne as they tried on literally every pair of Chanel shoes from the sandals to the over-the-knee boots (yes, they're in stock already)! I'm not sure how many pairs were actually purchased between the duo but let's just say that the salesman could not have been happier to see them. This scene definitely reminded me of  Miley's London Chanel haul from last summer

 DIFFERENT DAY, SAME SHOE DEPARTMENT: An advisory: Don't even think of trying on the "shoe of the moment" seen on every major Hollywood starlet since early spring, known as the Stuart Weitzman "Nudist" (even footwear has jumped on the naked bandwagon these days) if you are over 50 and have "aging" tootsies. Just as you wouldn't (hopefully) rush towards the smallest bikini in middle age, more is definitely more when attiring your feet as well. Supposing that you could maneuver in these five inch heels for an evening (there is actually some padding which minimizes the pain of a high heel) they will not be flattering if your veins are popping out and your dogs are barking to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Cover Me." I took these puppies for a quick spin around the selling floor in the interest of all the hype and it was horrifying!

Givenchy skate shoes
DIFFERENT DAY, DIFFERENT SHOE DEPARTMENT: I recently bought two pairs of Givenchy skate shoes on sale at Barney's.  Still debating if they're keepers or going back as I'll surely not be popping a kickflip in this lifetime. I've always preferred sandals to closed in shoes in the summer but I'm definitely rethinking that stance after my SW "Nudist" encounter! Decided that a pair of Fendi low wedge mixed media (part elastic and animal print) sandals were the perfect compromise of style and comfort. 

Fendi Sandal
BROWSE IN SHOP WINDOW, BUY ONLINE: I have mixed emotions about jumpsuits. In theory, what could be better than an adult "onesie" however in practice they're annoying when you need to visit the restroom. Zara has a super cute floral one in the window but it sold out. There should be a law that sold out items must immediately be taken off of displays!   Hooray for zara.com...order was placed at 5:17 p.m. and delivered to my door less than 24 hours later. How do they do that? It's the fashion equivalent of Chinese food that appears before you hang up the phone or more likely these days, click  "order now." Fast fashion, indeed!

Elizabeth Hawes titles
 ON THE LITERARY FRONT: Elizabeth Hawes was "The Most Brilliant American Fashion Designer" that you've never heard of according to T Magazine (New York Times Sunday Mag of June 15 http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com) Hawes chronicled her  fashion career first as a "copyist" in Paris making knock-offs of Paris Couture and later as her own label beginning in the late 1920's through the '60s as well as being a prolific writer who published nine books. From the article I was inspired to read "Fashion is Spinach" which I discovered, amazingly enough, is available free online.

Elizabeth Hawes, designer and author
http://archive.org/stream/fashionisspinach If you plow through this book which details her early years in the biz, you will learn about the life-span of a trend (it's about three years), the difference between being merely fashionable, being stylish and being chic (a word for which there is no English equivalent which should tell you something according to Hawes), not to mention her insight into the fascinating world before "ready to wear" became a thing. I can't help thinking that if Ms. Hawes was alive today perhaps, in the spirit of Lady Gaga, she would have designed a dress of Popeye's favorite food  although she obviously didn't mean that "fashion is spinach" literally.

 PART DEUX ON THE SUBJECT OF READING: What's with the proliferation of fashion business retailer/designer/entrepreneur "How I Made It" books being published lately? First there was "By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop" by Gilt founders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. The book details how the two authors met at a mixer as Harvard Business School students and decided to form an unholy alliance that would eventually rob me of most of my savings (haha). I've since quit that addiction and hardly ever look at the sales. (RIght!) Then there's "The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It Into A Global Brand" by Juicy Couture founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor.
These two smart women started their company by forging a bond over good t-shirt design. With $200 and Gela's one-bedroom Hollywood apartment as a workspace, they turned Juicy into a brand which they eventually sold to Liz Claiborne for $50 million. Their mantra was to never create anything they weren't obsessed with. They have a new line called Pam and Gela currently available at Bloomingdale's. Next there's "#Girlboss" by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso who is worth a cool $100 million and went from dumpster diving thief to internet company chief. I have not read any of these books and therefore can't recommend or discourage you from doing so but perhaps they'd be good beach reading.
Lipita Nyong'o in Vogue
If you prefer a magazine to a book at the beach: pick up July's Vogue with first time covergirl and style star Lupita Nyong'o.  In a similar vein to Gwyneth's non PC comment about online commentary being like going through a war, Ms. Nyong'o mentions that Red Carpet season was like a "war zone" and she was basically shell-shocked by all the attention and all the photographers. Of course, she is not a stupid girl ( they don't give out those Yale degrees to everyone) and begs editor and writer of the piece Hamish Bowles not to feature her comment in bold which he didn't. Good move, Lupita. It's so much better to ask for what you want or don't want than to leave it to chance. At least you go on record and there's a possibility that your wish will be granted.  In addition, the Mikael Jansson photos of her (cover and inside photos) are totally inspirational. Shot in Marrakech amidst a May heat wave there's a marketplace scene, a balance ball, the obligatory swim suit however my favorites are the bathtub as well as Lupita vs. cobra. Jansson recently punished the visual world with the shot of Kendall Jenner topless but he somehow manages to redeem himself here. 

Willagirls at work
 MORE WITH THE PRINTED WORD: "I read the news today, oh boy" (oh girl?) Apparently the tween is replacing the Avon lady at least according to this WSJ article. http://online.wsj.com/articles/move-over-avon-lady-the-tweens-are-here-1402961170 Tweeners between the tender age of 8 to 13  are having "Tupperware" type parties where they sell a skin care line aimed at them called Willa which was formerly available at Target. The sales reps (they really ARE salesgirls), known as "Willagirls" can make money by selling products and recruiting their friends to become Willagirls too. Just wondering at what point they will run out of girls to sell to? Products featured include the "sleepover travel kit" that can be later used as a pencil case for school. I also learned that the Mall is a four letter word now; a once cool hangout a few years back, hence the downward spiral of stores such as Aeropostale, American Apparel and (thankfully) Abercrombie (the worst offender). Now if only they'd close the Fifth Avenue store and replace it with something less sidewalk blocking, touristy, scented and obnoxious! For more about the downward spiral of stores such as American Apparel and Abercrombie and the answer to the question of whether sex no longer sells t-shirts, check out Vanessa Friedman in the Times here. http://runway.blogs.nytimes.com/ 

WHICH SEGUES NICELY INTO: Dressing for success not excess.   I've had to reacquaint myself with what constitutes appropriate office attire.  Not for me, but for my rising-college-senior daughter who is employed as a summer intern at a big time real estate firm and must dress in suits or business dresses. Clubbing LBD's need not apply and it's been a struggle to imprint the corporate stamp on her wardrobe yet do it in a youthful, style conscious way. Once again, footwear has become all important as loafers, low heeled pumps and ballet flats have taken a toll on her youthful, vein-less, normally unblemished feet, now covered in blisters. When she was caught at work, Band-Aids in hand, she felt the need to explain to her supervisor. "I'm not used to actual shoes,"  as her college days are spent in sneakers and flip flops.   Thankfully that means no champagne, no Chanel, no "Nudist" high heels. No need to put my foot down.





Laurel Marcus



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