Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and...

So why am I calling this entry such a weird title? It's simple. I believe in getting more bang for my buck not only when I'm parting with (preferably at wholesale) cash but also when I attend a hyped press event in my job as a fashion reporter. In the latter category I recently attended three Holiday events that ran the gamut from terrific to what were they thinking.

First up was the Swedish Midsummer Cocktail party, ostensibly to celebrate the best in beauty and fashion on the eve of midsummer. So where did this great concept go wrong? First of all, WHERE WAS THE FASHION? A colleague and I expected to see gorgeous Swedish blonds drift across the room dressed in the latest designs or at least have a set-up where the merchandise could be checked out. No deal. Instead we waited for something, anything to happen. Again no dice. The country's pop singing group's (who were slated to perform), sound system went on the fritz so no entertainment for the first two hours (this was a three hour party) and not much in the way of traditional Swedish food. While we didn't expect a whole smorgasbord, the skimpy hors d'ouvres and "traditional" cookies just didn't cut it, especially with the Svenska vodka as the only drink. Note: Every event needs white wine, sparkling water and a choice of sodas. To top things off, there was no press kit, a huge no no. To me what could have been a great opportunity to showcase the best in Swedish fashion and beauty – not withstanding the gorgeous Swedish kids who attended – fell short of its intentions. Better luck next time.

Thinking back a bit, we'd have to compare this event to one we attended in May for the skincare launch of Blue Lagoon at a breakfast held at the Cornelia Day Resort. For anyone familiar with Iceland, the famed Blue Lagoon is a natural thermal spa set in an otherworldly glacial setting. Not only was the consul general of Iceland on hand, we were treated to breathtaking video clips of the lagoon itself, complimentary hand massages with the brand's latest product and a comprehensive press package/goody bag. In short, I wanted to catch the next plane to Reykjavik. And going even farther back, my colleagues and I still talk about the Montreal Fashions on Ice event held at the Rockefeller Center skating rink which featured professional figure skaters gliding around in the latest fashions from Quebec's top designers and sponsored by the Quebec trade commission.

Now for the good. I totally enjoyed the Sears/Kmart holiday press event. Held in a huge loft space in Tribeca (just getting there was a trip), this was my kind of event. When I talk about crap versus couture this is what I'm getting at. Clothes and accessories that offer MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK and the merch on display offered the fashion savvy shopper just that. I fell in love with a gray flannel pea coat, the antiqued leather bomber jacket and a deep plum dressy crop sleeved jacket and skirt – very Vera Wang-ish at a much better price point. Don't get me wrong, these clothes are extremely well made and I plan on making a pit stop to the Sears Center in Rego Park in November when the holiday stuff comes in. This event was so much fun I even got excited about the Kmart tool display and the Martha Stewart bedding. Let me just mention that scattered throughout the loft were fully decorated Christmas trees that set the mood and a lots of pastries to nosh on. As you can probably tell by now, the way to my heart is through my dessert-loving stomach.

My last foray was to that celebrated toy store, F.A.O. Schwarz and its annual holiday press preview. What kid doesn't dream of getting a gift from this iconic retailer? I sure did growing up, and still do after checking out this year's must-have goodies. What I especially took note of was the emphasis on eco-conscious and environmentally-friendly toys like the certified organic cotton plush Patrick the pup, the recyclable EPA foam building set and a Santa Claus plush doll dressed in environmentally-friendly green on one side, which is meant to be worn all year except for the red suited side which is only worn on Christmas. This is a terrific way to make kids aware of our planet's fragile eco-system early on. And what could be more fashionable than being an environmentalist? On another note, in keeping with the kid theme, F.A.O. Schwarz set up a mini ice cream parlor where the press could indulge in cones or sundaes with all the trimmings. In addition, waiters passed around trays on mini cheeseburgers and teeny cups of French fries. Perfect!

Now, back to the Good, the bad and… are they kidding? Did you happen to check out the latest issue of Vogue? The one where the mag's editors rave about the affordable must-have fashions under 500 bucks? On what planet is a wispy three or four hundred dollar top considered affordable, or the overpriced shoes that will look dated next year? By the time I mentally put together an outfit, I figured I'd need a small bank loan to pay for this stuff. And honey, we all know that fashion editors never pay retail (if they pay at all), so what does this article prove? That anything under 500 bucks should be considered a steal for folks in the "real world." Like hello?

Therefore, in no particular order, I'm passing along a few fashion suggestions. If you live anywhere near a Forever 21 boutique, don't be afraid to go in. Forget about age as there are plenty of great bargains that us over 21 year olds can wear. Just the other day I noted a great looking cotton safari shirt and a button front tunic. Both came in khaki, that accessorized with either fab animal pattern or vintage chain belts could easily pass for a version of Saint Laurent's iconic '60s safari jacket. Remember Marc Jacobs' trendy mouse shoe? Well his vinyl version retails for around $125. I happen to think that's highway robbery for a summer jelly. However, for those lucky enough to shop the main floor of Montreal's fashion savvy boutique Simons, they imported their own version in clear white and pink. We snapped it up on sale no less for a whopping ten bucks, down from twenty- five. The Canadians were too smart to pay full price. With the money I saved, I could have (but didn't) buy one of Holt Renfrew's gorgeous enamel bangle bracelets, which at around ninety bucks segued into my couture category.

Back on my home turf I wandered into my neighborhood Sloan Kettering thrift shop to scope out its just-in shipment of new Chanel rtw. While this designer naturally falls into my couture category, don't let the name scare you, as there are were some great albeit relatively expensive pieces worth investing in, such as the classic black boucle jacket to wear forever and with anything in your closet. This is real investment dressing for the price of a pair of designer shoes and much more tongue-in-chic.

Until next time, C&C.

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Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row