Fashion Week for All?
By Jennifer Wright
With the dog days of August upon us, New Yorkers are looking forward to that most delicious of autumn events—Fashion Week. I can’t wait! Neither can Donna Karan, who had a lot to say on the subject when I caught up with her at in her Urban Zen Sag Harbor Boutique, where she hosted a cocktail party for Agas & Tamar Jewelry Design and its creative director, Eli Halili.
Rumors are flying about how Fashion Week—and indeed the fashion industry—may be changing. Financial pressures are everywhere. Anna Wintour took a bit of heat last week for reportedly stating at a Council of Fashion Designers meeting that everyone in the industry should agree on discounts, saying that the “80% off” sales have been detrimental for all designers (although great for some clothes-crazed people who shall remain nameless). Smart, smart Diane von Furstenberg is said to have pointed out that price-fixing is illegal, at which point Wintour reportedly countered, “Is that something we can change? We have friends in the White House now.” No, the answer is no.
Wintour’s comments were actually in response to Karan speaking up about her concerns about the industry. Karan filled me in. “People—consumers—forget that they’re not just shopping for themselves. When they buy clothing, they’re helping to support an entire industry. Think about the fabric sewers, the pattern makers, everyone. And without the fashion industry, I wouldn’t even want to think about life in New York. We have to engage the consumers to remind them why they’re shopping.” Let’s just hope she meant those who still have money, as opposed to others who are worried about paying their bills.
While Karan may not be on board with Wintour’s ideas (Obama probably isn’t either, although Michelle did look lovely on the cover of Vogue), she loves Betsy Johnson’s. This blithe spirit believes Fashion Week should be open to everyone, and she’d love to stage a show at Madison Square Garden. Karan remarked, “I agree completely! I think relating to the consumer right now is probably the most important thing. Designers need to send good energy out, and consumers need to see the products in season.”
I also spoke with Karan’s guest of honor, Halili, about his work. Trying to integrate his Israeli heritage with old world style, he loves working in New York and says SoHo reminds him of Tel Aviv.
His beautiful jewelry—subdued, natural looking stones—complement Karan’s line. Halili even notes that as soon as he received Karan’s phone call he sensed her “great energy.” Let’s hope for more good energy at Fashion Week.