Archive for the 'articles' Category

where's your Bozo line?

“Anything Pink Rocks,” an article in the March 26th New Yorker, profiles Jimmy Webb, the now legendary Trash and Vaudeville salesman. Apart from being delightful, Jimmy has some great things to say about getting dressed. I liked this one sentiment in particular:

“Dressing is all about the whole look. If one thing stands out, you’re a beautiful coat walking down the street, or a pair of pants on the subway. With everything on, even if the elements are different from each other, it blends. You can’t cross that line to Bozo, though. You must never cross the Bozo line.”

I think we all have our own personal Bozo lines– for some, that means mixing patterns or bright colors; for me, it generally trips me at jewelry.

How about you? Where’s your Bozo line?

risking it

Before it falls into the dusty bin of style articles past (or into the NY Times paid archives), I’d like to point out this Thursday Style section feature on Portero.

My interest springs from the misadventures of a friend of mine, Cristina, to whom I introduced the wonderful (though not always straightforward) world of eBay luxury goods. She gleefully PayPal-ed Lacoste and Dior– and at a fraction of the retail price, of course. The polos were perfect, but one evening the gold ‘C’ (dangling alongside the Dior ‘D’ on her new white leather saddle bag) spontaneously split. After a sobering trip to the Dior store (“This is not our bag,”
they reported dourly), my friend wondered however could she have known?

Apparently, when evaluating eBay sellers, all one need look for is Portero. Portero uses eBay as a selling platform, and for a fee and some up-close-and-personal time with the item in question, Portero will recommend a price to the seller and guarantee authenticity to the buyer. They’re now striking deals to re-sell luxury goods with companies, too…read for yourself, below.

Cristina’s e-saga didn’t end badly. For fear of damaging his eBay seller rating, the purveyor of her faux-Dior accepted the return of the injured purse and issued her a PayPal refund. No, Cristina didn’t lose money, but think of all that wasted time, and the mental duress of accepting Life Without the White Leather Dior Saddle Bag.

Next time, there’s a better way to go. Kudos, Portero.

August 11, 2005
Luxuries Online, and They’re Real
ONLINE shopping exchanges like eBay and Amazon are sort of like the Wild West of fashion, an untamed frontier where you never really know if that Takashi Murakami cherry-print Louis Vuitton bag was originally purchased in the Fifth Avenue boutique or a vendor’s stall on Canal Street. This is a sensitive issue for luxury goods executives whose job is to maintain the integrity of labels like Prada, Hermès and Tiffany & Company, companies that typically turn up their noses at dealing in used goods, even if they are authentic.
Although some companies have resorted to litigation – Cartier sued Amazon last year for selling what it said were knockoffs of its watches; Tiffany filed a similar action against eBay – others have begun to consider a secondary market for luxury fashion and accessories, comparable to the concept of “certified preowned vehicles” introduced by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar in the 1990′s.
This week Tourneau, the watch retailer, began a partnership with Portero, a year-old online company that specializes in upscale products, in which Tourneau will verify the authenticity of any of the watches resold on Portero that are also carried at Tourneau. This week an 18-karat-gold Rolex, an Ebel chronograph and a stainless steel Breitling were available on the site along with a note that they are part of Tourneau’s “certified preowned” program.
Most online shopping requires a healthy dose of consumer skepticism when it comes to bidding for popular accessories, but Dan Nissanoff, the president of Portero, said he expects the affiliation with Tourneau to encourage shoppers to bid more confidently, and higher.
“This takes out the problem of counterfeiting and misrepresentation,” Mr. Nissanoff said. “The experience that customers have on a marketplace like eBay, despite the fact that the original brand had nothing to do with this, affects the brand because they are still blamed in some way if the item is damaged or counterfeit.”
MR. NISSANOFF has approached several luxury goods companies with proposals to create similar relationships, in which the company would name Portero as an authorized resale channel for its products. (Portero uses eBay as a platform to present its auctions.) The goal is to reduce the stigma of buying secondhand designer merchandise online, for company protests have so far done little to stem the flow of such merchandise. Last year eBay sold $60 million worth of Louis Vuitton products and more than $1.5 million a month of Rolex watches, according to data provided by Mr. Nissanoff.
“Luxury branded goods are beginning to have residual value if they are managed properly,” he said, suggesting that an Hermès Birkin bag can be quantified in the same language as a late model BMW. In his opinion it can. “A Birkin bag to most people sounds like the most obnoxious, frivolous expense of the luxury market, when in fact it has the most economical value.”
Bag Borrow or Steal, a Hollywood, Fla., company that began lending designer handbags last year through its Web site for a monthly membership fee, has helped justify Mr. Nissanoff’s conviction that there is a potential market for leased luxury goods. But Portero is only beginning to identify the brands and products that will ultimately hold their value, a relatively scientific process of studying auction histories from its records as well as those of eBay.
Michael Sheldon, the chief executive of Portero, said he could predict a resale value within a range of 15 percent. Still, a limited number of fashion brands generate consistent interest during online sales. He cited Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, St. John Knits, Valentino and Pucci as those with the most legs, though the longer buyers hold a season’s hot item, the less likely they are to recoup much value.
Bugaboo strollers, on the other hand, have proven to be lucrative at Portero, Mr. Sheldon said, as more than 20 styles that originally cost about $1,000 have sold in the last six months for an average of $800. It is the classics that hold up the best.
“The trendier something is, the faster it diminishes in price,” Mr. Nissanoff said. “We’ve had couture looks by Karl Lagerfeld, but because they were so extreme, they were not as liquid.”

designer worship? no, gracias

Probably for the same reason I don’t study up on the members of my various favorite bands, I really do not take more than a passing interest in designers as people. It’s not that I fail to appreciate talented folks– it’s just that, like in the case of music, it’s the creative product that I care about. Talking about a designer is so amorphous; I prefer to discourse on a particular piece or line (and then I can go on forever).

However, when designers start talking style theory, when they manage to inspire me to try new looks, to wear things different ways, I start to pay attention. This month I unearthed two nuggets of inspiration buried in pretty divergent publications: the first is from July’s Glamour; the second, the July 4th issue of The New Yorker. Both are sage sentiments courtesy of– you guessed it– designers:

** “In [John] Galliano’s book, perhaps the biggest fashion Don’t isn’t putting together a bad outfit (kudos to you for trying!, he’d say); instead it’s getting stuck in a style rut, wearing the same looks over and over again.”

I hear that! Easy as it may be to throw on those tried-and-true hit outfits, repetition erodes any undertone of risk, of subversion. Wear a new ensemble, something you swore you wouldn’t leave the house in, and you’re a sharpened knife.

** “Yohji [Yamamoto] likes to say that ‘perfection is the devil’”

Hallelujah! Have you ever felt dissatisfied with an outfit and realized it’s because it’s just all too perfect? Worse yet, that it all matches?!? I say nothing beats a well-executed clash. Black and navy? Oh yes, please. Stripes and flowers? I’ll take seconds.

sunglasses: essential accessory and pervasive offender

Like eggs in a frittata, the key ingredient to style is attitude, and for that reason alone, sunglasses are a cherished accessory. I mean, if I’ve learned anything at all poring over the pages of US Weekly (weekly), it’s that celebs look great because early on they are inculcated with the necessity of wearing great shades.

You and I love them, too. And we’re willing to search far and wide for the shades we crave at that moment in time (right now, it’s me and my aviators). As is stated in yesterday’s NY Times article “Sophia? Is That You Behind the Shades?” (go to NY Times article), you don’t have to break the bank to buy cute sunglasses– prices range from St. Mark’s Place cheap to I-always-throw-money-around-wildly expensive.

Yup, everyone’s got ‘em, and we acknowledge and appreciate the unmatchable irreverence they bestow. But don’t over-wear them! My rule is, unless you’re about to put them back on at any moment, sunglasses shouldn’t be stowed atop the head. They’re your shades– not a headband. Here are a couple of situations in which your shades should absolutely be in your lovely handbag (and not pushed up on your head):

** at a meal (unless it’s outdoors)
** in the office
** at night (!)

Like suede in summer, the wrong usage can transform your beloved, chic wraparounds into a tacky over-embellishment. And why ever would you want to do that?

reading fashion magazines?!??

If you’re like me, you rarely actually read fashion magazines for fear of coming upon a phrase like this one:

“…when Karl Lagerfeld amplified the house’s signature gestures with his own subversive wit.”


It’s the images I’m there for, so mostly I just page on through and soak all the pretty pictures up. But once in a while, settling down to read fashion magazine editorial can unearth a golden nugget like this one in May’s Vogue:

“Metallic is a good investment,” [Veronica Webb] says. “It’s one of the four trends that always come back.” (For the record, the others, in her opinion, are peasant, Western, and animal prints.)”

Now there’s some food for thought!