I’ll be whipping out posts on my Paris Ready to Wear experiences for Chicago magazine this week, as fast as my sooo French home internet connection will allow. (Yesterday, it seemed to be on strike, so from 4pm until the time I left for Yohji at 8pm, I was working in the red glow of Café Chéri(e) across the street. All the PR people that called me surely thought I was in a nightclub.)
Spring 2008 is out, and it is the best issue yet! (Do I always say that?) But truly, I think Stacey Jones and our art director Jennifer Moore outdid themselves. Below are scans of my own stories (after the jump), including: a glimpse into the home (and wardrobe) of Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut Chocolat, interviews with retailers Ikram Goldman, Heiji Choy Black, and Tory Burch, a "Fashion Personality" quiz (with a truly cool illustration by Silja Gotz), and a few shorter trend pieces.
I don’t even know how or when this started, but my sister Aimee and I once had a joke about French kids loving pencil cases. It has to do with a certain tidiness we find in the French school child, perhaps partly imagined, as we have never been in French school ourselves.
But I’ll never forget when I received in Florida a handmade booklet created by my cousin Jeanne and her fifth grade class, telling us all about their lives in their village of Viré. How they wrote so carefully on their wee little sheets of graph paper! The penmanship! I asked my cousin recently and she said they took all of their class notes on graph paper, so that certainly helped dissuade from the big, loopy style that females seem genetically disposed to in America.
It had been years since we’d mentioned the pencil case thing, and I had forgotten all about it, until I wore a 1940’s navy top with polka dots under a Mont Saint-Michel eyelet sweater one night when I was home from Christmas, like a petite écolier, and my sister Aimee took one look at me and said, “You look very French. Like you should be carrying a pencil case.”
Since we were given this great access of touring the new Gucci store in New York with CEO Mark Lee, I thought I’d ask Mark if he’d read Dana Thomas’s book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster (he hasn’t, but he feels like he has from all of the articles he’s read on it -- same way I feel about War and Peace!). There is a fascinating chapter about store architecture and the revamps that occurred once business guys like Bernard Arnault of LVMH, and not old fashion families, began running these companies. It was a trend to hire the same big name architects (Chanel, Vuitton, and Dior did it), and so I thought it was interesting that Gucci broke the trend and had Frida Giannini design the store herself with the help on an architectural team.
The store is full of “subtle Gucci details.” Like these panes of glass that look like the Gucci stripes at certain angles, and the rug that looks like the sporty fabric used to make those stripes, if you were to put it under a microscope.
They're very proud of the staircase. I think it's quite beautiful.
The money thing is fascinating to me. That whole idea where in a down economy people still spend money on luxury items; they want something special. The store is really underlining the heritage of Gucci, emphasizing that they came from trunk-making, craftsmanship. They’re highlighting old pieces from their archives in a sort of in-store museum downstairs. Frida is using old fabrics for inspiration. Everyone loves quality. As opposed to a stronger sexy image during the Tom Ford era, the heritage/quality line appeals to our most noble human tendencies, which seems to be the way to go when our economy isn’t doing well.
There were several people on the street with Gucci bags in the
blocks around the store, and as I passed one couple (who happened to be
on vacation from Italy), I said I was a journalist and asked them what
they they had bought. A Gucci Hearts NY bag.
“Did you just decide to get it today?” I asked.
“Yes, I think it’s good souvenir.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I am teacher.”