Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Style is so omnipresent in New York that even the water bottles are intimidatingly fashionable.
Turns out this Missoni/Pelligrino collaboration was the most stylish thing I would see on the day when I take a 'diva' shopping tour of the garment district with my fellow expat blogger Notes by a Stylist. Immediate alarm bells were ringing due to the use of the word diva in the title, being as I am neither a 6 year old girl who shops at Claire's Accessories or living in 1996.
Whenever alarm bells ring they never cease, they just get louder. When we met the tour guide on a Midtown corner, the bells are shaking my very core. She is wearing a waistcoat that was surely fashioned from my bathroom rug, with an iluminous pink nylon handbag. It wasn't like I expected her head to toe in Rodarte, but she looked like she was dressed in the dark by a four year old with A.D.D.
We are told of the excitement and bargains ahead and are quickly herded to an anonymous looking office building around the corner where we all squeeze into a lift and arrive on the 10th floor. When we pile out, I spot the showroom for a cool department store brand and realise I have judged the whole thing too hastily. But no. We're not going there. No. We're going to the showroom of a coat designer, who I've never heard of who. But not to worry, because she has a crumpled copy of an old Oprah magazine, proving firstly that someone at a magazine once liked one of her coats and secondly that they normally retail at $1000. That's $1000! The showroom assistant shouts this as if she's talking to a group of Primary school children learning basic addition. "That's O-pa-raah! That's one thousand bucks! But for you today, most pieces retail at around... $300. That's a saving of...(nods her head excitably) SEVEN...HUNDRED...BUCKS!"
I have no interest in a new coat costing $300 so I mooch around sulking until I am pounced on by the actual designer. Why is she hawking her own stuff? Doesn't she have better things to do? Like...design something?
"You have to try this on!" she says.
"No thank you" I say looking at a purple boucle wool coat so old fashioned my dead Nanna would have hesitated to wear it to bingo.
"No. You have to try it on!" she persists.
"No thank you."
"I'm not taking no for an answer!"
"You know honey? This coat would be great for your with your big boobs, it's really flattering with the shawl collar..."
Yes she did. She really did. She went there. Ok, so it's no secret to the world that I have large breasts, they are right there every day, for all to see- distracting men from what I'm saying and making me look like a hooker in every blouse I wear. They ruin fashion choices, I need a second mortgage every time I buy a bra and I will never stand up entirely straight. So guess what? What I do not need, is this to be shouted out by a woman I just met in front of a group of strangers. I pause. Fix her with a menacing stare, the smile and say:
"I. DON'T LIKE IT. I DON'T LIKE YOUR COAT."
That sort of set the tone from there on in and Sara and I are like bored schoolgirls being dragged around an automotive museum. The depressing cycle of overpriced tat continues for hours, broken up only by the odd bit of cheap tat. At one point we're not allowed in a showroom because a buyer is there and the tour guide whispers.
"The buyers don't know we have these tours..."
Oh reeeeeeally? So the people who work in the industry don't know this goes on? I assume they are not only idiots, but also don't have Internet connections to google 'garment district showroom shopping tours'?
When we are at the point of no more we are taken into another showroom and the designer introduces herself by telling us she's hilarious. That's hilarious with lots of exclamation marks!!! I walk out and Sara follows. We skulk around outside for 15 minutes wondering before Sara has a genius plan. We're going to let everyone know what we think about this, in the most British way possible: We're going to run away.
No complaining, no honesty, no embarrassment. We prod the lift hastily, bolt out of the building and hail a cab on 7th Avenue and head for lunch where we drink to forget our Post Traumatic Dress Disorder.