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Archive for March, 2017

David_E_Scherman-_Lee_Miller_1944The entire gait of the French woman has changed with her footwear. Instead of the bouncing buttocks and mincing steps of ‘pre-war,’ there is a hot-foot long stride, picking up the whole foot at once.

Lee Miller (1907-1977), American fashion model, journalist, and photographer.

This quote dates from circa 1944.

Ms. Miller started her career in fashion as a model. She crossed paths with luminaries such as Man Ray and soon explored photography, which was not unfamiliar to her as her father was an avid photographer.  In the 1940s she was hired by Vogue magazine and sent to Europe to cover the war. Hence this quote.

a32bcb98b65839de4e7f92d16855a571The reason for the heavy-footed gait of the French woman? During the war across Europe leather was in very short supply and so other materials were used for shoes. Wood and cork were common alternatives and the wedge silhouette became popular. There’s not much we can do in a wedge shoe than pick up the whole foot!

Speaking of the wedge, it’s back … again. Not that it ever really went away since its reappearance in the 1970s. But the fashion mags say the trend is bigger this season.

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Oscar de la Renta commemorative postage stamps. 

When I was in college I worked part time in a neighborhood dance wear and accessories shop. Ingeborg, the German-born owner of the shop, was a stern boss but she was a good businesswoman, had an discerning eye for quality, and could be very generous to her employees.

I learned about a lot of different things from Ingeborg, including the attraction of a postage stamp. Among my tasks each morning was a walk to the bank and sometimes the post office, where I was to buy commemorative stamps only. Commemorative stamps? I had no idea.

Commemorative stamps are limited edition postage stamps that honor a person, place, or event. There are perhaps a dozen or so to choose from at any one time. Like miniature pieces of art they are always more interesting than the usual stamp and brighten up any envelope. Ingeborg didn’t ever say she wanted a particular stamp, she left it up to me to choose. So this is something I have been doing (and enjoying) a long time; at first for her and now for myself. Like Ingeborg, I only buy commemorative.

02-oscar-de-la-renta-stampsEarlier this year I read in WWD that there was to be a stamp commemorating the late and beloved American fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. The stamp was two years in the making and finally released on February 16th 2017. To celebrate, the fashion house hosted a release ceremony with formidable speakers Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Hillary Clinton, who was a good friend of Mr. de la Renta and the man who designed her original pantsuits.

(In her speech that day, Mrs. Clinton reminded the audience that Mr. de la Renta was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. “And let there be many, many, more immigrants with the love of America that Oscar de la Renta exemplified every single day,” she said to a reported thunderous applause. He became a US citizen in 1969.)

You bet I was excited to make my way to the post office and get the fashionable commemorative stamp. They’re so lovely.

Thanks Ingeborg, wherever you may be, for gifting me with a lifelong appreciation of a postage stamp.

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Our industry, not unlike the housing industry, saw too much square footage. Thousands of doors opened in the nineties and aughts, created a bubble and like housing, that bubble has now burst. We are seeing the results, doors shuttering and rents retreating. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future and may even accelerate … The U.S. market is oversaturated with retail space and far too much of that space is occupied by stores selling
apparel.

– Richard Hayne, CEO Urban Outfitters, Inc.

Mr. Hayne is commenting on the current challenging times for retail bricks-and-mortar. Urban Outfitters sales are slumping and they’re not alone – The Limited, Wet Seal, and BCBG are facing insolvency. Macy’s and JCPenney are laying off workers and shutting stores.

What’s up? Well, like Mr. Hayne says there’s too much retail space and an overabundance of product. Combine that with customers’ lack of fashion interest and a desire instead to spend money on food and travel. Plus people more and more prefer to shop online.

Old-fashion gal that I am, I like shops. But lately I have noticed that I can’t find what I want and customer service is lackluster, even at local boutiques. It seems that a big wet blanket is draped over retail establishments. Walk in and there’s no energy, no interest, no interaction. Why stay? Why buy? There are exceptions, of course and I try to support those that I find.

These are interesting times for fashion and retail.

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logo2There’s nothing more fashionable than standing up for yourself and that’s what women have been doing for decades on International Women’s Day, always celebrated on March 8th. (1909 was the year of the first organized Women’s Day held in New York). But this year the day is supersized as women across the globe are ready for day of action, called International Women’s Strike or A Day Without a Woman.

The intent is to highlight issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay and opportunity, gender violence, and environmental justice. Ways to participate are:

  • (if you can) stay home from your job, or leave early and refrain from all labor
  • don’t shop except at small, local, and women or minority owned establishments
  • wear red in solidarity with the movement

Women from over 50 countries organized International Women’s Strike after the success of the Women’s March in January. They say:

In the spirit of solidarity and internationalism, in the United States March 8th will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women.  
March 8th will be the beginning of a new international feminist movement that organizes resistance not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad.  

Yes, we persist!

 

 

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What a perfect combo – SJP driving a super cool vintage station wagon. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

Are you a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker? Find her in a thoughtful Q&A with the new online magazine, sbjct.  (Subject without the vowels.)

Co-founded by Erin Walsh and Christian Hogstedt, sbjct features “extraordinary individuals and the subjects that move and inspire them.”

I think readers will be intrigued. Certainly they will have a little something to ponder from these interviews, which offer more depth than the usual magazine fare.

Check out SJP on sbjct.

 

 

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Claudia Schiffer, the Guess Girl of the 1980s.

… the new generation doesn’t have that much loyalty about anything. They change their minds so fast, they have zero focus on loyalty – except if it’s a pair of shoes that are very comfortable, and a handbag that will be special. Because of the availability of so much product makes almost everything less interesting, they want to be different. So they buy vintage pieces. So we go back to square one and create things that people have not seen for the last 25 years. We come full circle.

– Paul Marciano, co-founder of Guess.

Guess is celebrating 35 years!

The story goes that Mr. Marciano and his brothers ran a fleet of successful stores in France when in 1977 they vacationed to Los Angeles. Who knew that the four gentlemen would fall head over heels in love with the LA vibe. But they did and relocated, pronto! They opened up a shop in Beverly Hills featuring their now iconic “Marilyn” designer jean style – tapered, stone-washed, with ankle zipper. Their jeans became the 80s Must Have.

Now 35 years later the brand is revisiting their history with the Originals 1981 Collection. Designer/rapper A$AP Rocky and Mr. Marciano’s 22-year old son, Nicolai work together on the vintage-inspired collection.

As for Mr. Marciano’s point about Millennials’ lack of brand loyalty,  from what I read in WWD and elsewhere it’s quite true and posing a challenge for designers, brands, and retail.

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