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.”
I posted this video last week, just when I arrived at the London Hotel in New York, and then I had to take it down because I couldn’t stand the way I said “cute," the way I made it a five syllable word. But now it’s back up! Because you know what? It probably sounds like every home video we all have of us opening gifts, with that “talking to animals” voice. In other words, it makes me sound totally insane, and maybe that’s what I deserve after receiving an 800 dollar Gucci bag for free. To have the internet see me use my “talking to animals” voice. On a handbag.
The bag is available at the Gucci flagship store in New York, and 100% of the proceeds go to Playground Partners of the Central Park Conservancy. (Extremely generous-- this isn't one of those 20% of the proceeds things.) It was also the goodie bag at the Gucci/Madonna charity event last Wednesday night, so there are already a few popping up on ebay. But you won’t see mine there. I’m thinking about putting it on top of my toilet, like people do with their Oscars, to play down the majesty.
(If you’re wondering why I say “Just another luxury hotel room” with faux displeasure it was because I recently stayed here.)
I got back to Paris on the red eye from New York yesterday and I can honestly say this trip was so much more than I expected it to be, and I expected a lot. I still can’t believe that last Monday morning I was in my apartment in Paris, surrounded by graffiti in Belleville, and then that evening I was in this luxurious hotel room on 54th street in New York.
One of the more interesting parts of this trip was that the four bloggers got to take a 30 minute guided tour of the new Gucci store in New York at 56th and 5th (the biggest Gucci store in the world) by Gucci C.E.O. Mark Lee.
Here, you’ll see, I snapped a shot of Mark’s shoes, staying true to my blogger habit of footwear snapping (me and Olivier Zahm I guess). What brand did you say they were again, Mark? Something Italian. Gee, it’s on the tip of my tongue…
Mark couldn’t have been nicer. And yes, I’m going to talk more about the tour this week, because the store is interesting, the business side of things is fascinating, I think.
But first, let’s indulge ourselves: Cory Kennedy showed up halfway through the tour, her hands shoved in her pockets, blowing pink bubbles with her gum, and taking pictures with a disposable camera. (Click, wind, wind, wind.) Here’s a video of Cory and her friend cooing over a pink clutch.
Don’t even get me started on the sadness (read the last line). From WWD Thursday:
Most celebrities would be content to wrangle three or four of their A-list brethren to show up at the benefit for their pet cause. Madonna managed to bring out the entire index of people who appear in Us Weekly. At the United Nations Wednesday night for her Raising Malawi/Unicef benefit, cohosted by Gucci, there were Kabbalists (Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore), Scientoligists (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), divas who would normally be considered the competition (J. Lo and Gwen Stefani), designers by the truckload (Donna Karan, Narciso Rodriguez, and Diane von Furstenberg), and enough moguls to host a panel at Sun Valley (Jeff Zucker, Donald Trump, and Barry Diller). Not to mention Gwyneth Paltrow, P. Diddy, Alex Rodriguez, Amy Adams, Debra Messing, Drew Barrymore, and Rosie O’Donnell. “That’s what friends do for each other,” said the comedian who arrived at the party around 7 p.m. as the photographers went snap snap snap. Even Martha Stewart was walking around the joint with a digital camera. “It’s for my blog,” she laughed. “People love to look at pictures.”
The morning of the event, I was talking to my Dad on the phone in Vero Beach, Florida, and he was jotting down the celeb names that I knew would be there, the ones on the invite (Drew Barrymore, Adrien Brody, Demi and Ashton, SJP, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek), so that he could tell his friends at the bank where he works. I mean, I knew that there would be celebrities there, but I had no idea they’d be roaming like free-range chickens. Still kicking myself for the missed photo-ops. I'll direct you one last time to Betsy, who got the most unbelievable shots.
What I'm about to say is going to sound strange, especially coming right after the Lancome thing, and you will either feel happy for me, or be like, “Huh, really? Her? AGAIN?” But here it goes: I’ve been invited by Gucci to fly to New York for a dinner being hosted by Madonna this Wednesday night. As their guest. Hotel, dinners, tour of the new Gucci store by the CEO… I hear a Gucci bag will be involved. I still can’t believe this is happening. I got this phone call just before Christmas and I thought it was a joke, but I am, umm, just a wee little bit excited? You know, whatever. Dinner with Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker, I’ll get through it, I GUESS.
I do have a word to say about the ethics of all this, and I’ll get to at the end of this post.
Check out this site Gucci has made in honor of the occasion, for their Big Fat Gucci store opening in New York — that’s my name for the event, not theirs. They decided to call it “Gucci Loves New York.” Oh well. It’s okay, Gucci; I guess that name’s pretty good, too.
I was interested to see who the other bloggers were, since we would eventually be meeting, and meeting other fashion bloggers is always like meeting your sister in the middle of the dessert. Bloggers, we are family.
One I know already: Susie, from Style Bubble, who I met briefly at the Hyeres Fashion Festival last summer. I’m excited to spend more time with Susie and hope to ask her the question we all are thinking, namely, how she manages to blog 50 times a week. With pictures. You need to give me some time management lessons, Susie. But please don’t tell me that I can’t look at my pores in the mirror for four hours every night. That is my favorite part of the day.
Like her, I am shocked to see the Cory Kennedy will be there with us! Okaaay!
I feel a bit like Kim in Bye Bye Birdie. It’s like I’ve been picked as some symbolic representative of fashion bloggers. But I know that while that analogy does sum up the total randomness of it all, it’s a bit of a fantasy to think that other fashion bloggers will feel that I am representing them. There will be a lot of people out there who would rather be sharing air with Madonna than having me do it for them. And it is for this select group that I want to not eff this up. Seriously, I’m going to blog the shite out of this for you guys.