Monday, January 15, 2007

The Public and The Private: The doozy

The Public and The Private: The doozy
this is what i am talking about! (see previous post, "middle school girls gone wild")
43.4% of teenage girls want to be celebrity assistants when they grow up?
they don't even want to be celebrities themselves. they want to assist one.

their identity is wrapped up in the celebrity du jour who most likely gained notoriety due to whom she is dating, her hair cut/color, her weight, handbag and/or last name. we (not even sure who "we" is but...) effectively taught an entire generation to value these things above all else. we've created a herd whose shepherd is paris hilton/mischa barton/britney spears, you pick.

i am trying to envision the resume required for such a job.
education: communications, BS? not sure a college education is required.
experience: read over 2000 issues of US weekly, own the entire DVD box sets of the O.C., One Tree Hill and the Simple Life, abercrombie sales associate.
skills: 25 tmpm aka text messages per minute???

the princeton review has a best entry-level jobs handbook with a chapter on becoming a "personal assistant to someone famous" that explains the position.

Celebrities write books, direct movies, star on television shows, and run giant corporations, so they are left with very little time to make dinner reservations, shop for birthday gifts, pick up the dry cleaning, and answer the telephone. That's where a personal assistant comes in. It's a great job for people who want a glimpse at how the truly fabulous live. It's also a great way to break into glamour professions because of the many of the contacts you make—not the dry cleaner, necessarily, but many of the others—will be invaluable.
glimpsing at how the "truly fabulous live"? i'm sorry but when has glimpsing ever gotten anyone anything they really wanted ESPECIALLY a fabulous life (fabulous being a VERY relative term). their seems to be this weird delusion/belief that proximity is a means to an end. that you don't really ever have to earn (via education, work experience etc.) anything, you can just make reservations for it and poof you've got the beamer, the couture gown and eat your cheerios in cristal.

the following paragraph on "perks" confirms this delusion. proximity trumps even salary.

Most assistants are drawn to the job by the glamour of celebrity, not by the promise of cash. As one explains, "I was too naive at that point to know [that I should negotiate my starting salary]. It could've been negotiable, but it was so exciting to be offered the job that I didn't ask." Asked to name the fringe benefits of their job, assistants list "free travel and life experience" and "the opportunity to know an American legend on a personal basis." For a personal assistant to a major fashion designer, the major perk was "the clothes, hands down. We had the best wardrobes in town. I hate shopping now. It was definitely the best."
as a fashion designer sans celebrity status and who does not desire to attain celebrity status this example was very interesting to me as i have paid my interns in cashmere and lunch. they did not come to work for me so they could sit next to an "American legend". they came to learn how to run a small label, and design knitwear and that's what i taught them. valuable skills for fashion students developing their own voices and own careers.

i know i use this word WAY too often (and i probably won't stop any time soon) but, celebrity assistant is not a sustainable career choice. one does not need experience making reservations, picking up laundry, and shopping for birthday gifts. these "skills" do not create a foundation from which to develop a vibrant, meaningful, fulfilling life. having said that, i am assuming that that is everyone's goal or at least eventual goal. it is clearly not.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

te casan review

there is a new shoe store called te casan on w. broadway and grand-ish which normally wouldn't grab my attention in the shoe saturated soho neighborhood of nyc. but this place opened with a rather unique concept.

Té Casan opened the doors of its New York flagship store at 382 West Broadway - in the heart of Soho. The tri-level, 7500 square foot space was designed as an exclusive “retreat” for women, offering a full range of hand-crafted, limited edition footwear at “attainable” luxury price points.

The brand’s seven emerging designers, which have designed footwear that range in scope from high-end trainers to crystal-encrusted stilettos, have been designated space on specific floors to artfully showcase their individual collections. Signature features unique to the space include a specialty tea bar and custom-made fitting booth(s). Té casan will introduce new silhouettes to the store on a weekly basis to ensure the look of the collection and each visitor’s experience remains fresh and exciting.

Té casan values its clientele and offers a premium level of hands-on customer service designed to take the customer shopping experience to the next level.

i took a visit and overall, i think i like it?
the reasonable prices, seemingly high quality spanish construction, the unique designs, the individual designer boutique w/in a larger space idea.

the tea room, seems silly. i mean can you think of store where that ever actually works? ok maybe nicole's at nicole farhi, but that's different. when you are in a shoe store you are shopping for shoes if you wanted tea or coffee you stopped at balthazar/starbucks/dean & deluca earlier.

for those of you who know me, you know i am not a fan of anything HUGE especially when it comes to restaurants and i guess that goes for shoe stores too. so the tri-level and 7500 square feet part is not so appealing for me. the pragmatic business women in me could stop thinking, "that's A LOT of rent and that's a lot of shoe selling per square foot". too much space, too much energy to light/heat/cool, keep clean, fill, too much.

i do like the idea of "premium level customer service". its hard to get any sort of question answered in most new york shops so i appreciate a bit of attention. BUT, the salesman at te casan literally followed me around the store (all three floors, paused when i paused, moved when i moved), went to the stock room to get shoes i hadn't asked for and when it came time to check out, he had me sit where i was while he swiped my card and delivered the receipt?

note. i did buy a pair of shoes. or actually uluru did for the fall/winter 2007 photo shoot later this month. i have been playing with masculine-feminine juxtaposition (not to be confused with androgyny) and these shoes are exactly what i have been looking for. thankfully most models have large feet like me and the shoes become mine!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

always my favorite christmas present

i'm halfway through and thus far my favorite essay is buried answers by david dobbs.
it is an article about dr. allan schiller's crusade to revive the autopsy.
here are a few tid bits:

-"This is the point that Schiller, a champion of the autopsy, means to make: even in today's high-tech medical world, the low-tech hospital autopsy -- not the crime-oriented forensic autopsy glorified in television, but the routine autopsy done on patients who die in hospitals -- provides a uniquely effective means of quality control and knowledge. It exposes mistakes and bad habits, evaluates diagnostic and treatment routines and detects new disease."

-"The United States now does post-mortems on fewer than 5 percent of hospital deaths, and the procedure is alien to almost every doctor trained in the last 30 years."

-"...numerous studies over the last century have found that in 25 to 40 percent of cases in which an autopsy is done, it reveals an undiagnosed cause of death."

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Your Cheap Sweater's Real Cost

here is the article found in the chicago tribune that recently devastated me. i mean sobbing, hiding in my room, snotty nosed, think my life is over, i'm such a hypocrite, packing up, kind of upset.
how was i so blind?
when did this happen?
how fast can i close up shop, without having to move back in with my mom in wisconsin?
and then what would i do? how can i have no impact?

i don't know.

to oversimplify, the article says the growing global demand for cashmere (cheap) is causing over grazing in china/mongolia which leads to desertification which causes, dust storms, which attached to urban air pollution to create uber pollution "clouds" that make their way, all the way to seattle and cause serious air quality health issues globally. blood on my hands?

BUT here is why i went into cashmere.
1) i love it. its snuggly, warm, light, soft, luxurious, and forgiving.
2) i wanted a cashmere "wife beater". (there i go again, total hypocrite. but you know exactly what i am talking about.) my favorite, long, simple silhouette but, in a fabrication that is socially versatile in a multitude of social settings.
3) i had developed a relationship with a really cool manufacturer, not a "garmento", willing to produce for little old me and who i continue to have candid, honest conversations about fair labor practices. this is a fete in and of itself. my industry is not know for its people of character.
4) asian textile quotas were removed and i knew the price of cashmere would be a bit more accessible.
5) it lasts, its timeless. i was and am currently wearing cashmere that was my grandmothers. i know for a fact that beautiful, grey, knit, cashmere scarf i wear everyday is from the 1960's.
6) cashmere is usually (should be) an investment, a piece for "the collection". (ie my well edited closet relatively void of trendy, disposable garments not worth investing in due to their short lifespan and unoriginal presence). that, much like a good pair of jean(s) acts as the foundation for which my wardrobe stands. for me, that's great value.
7) the cashmere goats have (or had :() it pretty darn good. it is in the best interest of the shepherds to keep these goats healthy and happy.
7 1/2) "goats which are properly kept and combed should not tweak the conscience of all but the most extreme animal protectionist (who will suggest a petroleum-based alternative for equal warmth and breathability, which has its own drawbacks)"(, christine lepisto)
8) no need for pesticides. and it doesn't take someone very long to hear me get up on the soapbox about conventional cotton/pesticide/herbicide use/big agribusiness. i'll save that for later, but if interested now, check out the pesticide action network, or the sustainable cotton project. be floored by the truth behind "the fabric of our lives".
9) it can be hand washed and laid flat to dry. no need for dry cleaning (chemicals, energy) or dryers (co2 emissions).

but here's the catch.

i wasn't the only person who knew cashmere was so cool. walmart, the gap, saks, target, costco, etc. all caught on and decided to make cashmere as available as the cotton t-shirt. as the tribune article illustrates (albeit a bit alarmist in my opinion, but i could just be trying to make myself feel better) this is not without serious consequence.
which brings me to consumer habits, primarily over consumption.
i want to know which came first? our insatiable desire to shop/consume OR big box retail and the fancy marketing that tell us this is what we are on earth to do, consume. have more, better, cooler stuff than our neighbors?
the more we consume, the more we demand lower prices, ie more disposable items to keep up with our consumer habits.
but what do we end up with? the same shit as everyone else, credit card debt and a poisoned planet.

but the thing is, cashmere sweaters are not meant to be $19.99 as created by the "push pricing" practices of retail giants like walmart. its not sustainable. cashmere is the product of an ancient herding tradition and a limited resource to be protected.

so this is what i have decided for me and the future of uluru.
i am doing my best. i am really rather insignificant. i will stay informed. i will continue to do my best by pursuing (aka begging mills to sell little old me) eco-friendly yarns and fabrics, work with worker owned coops, require "fair labor" manufacturing, work local when possible, find ways to minimize plastic packaging, used recycled products in the office, ride my bike to work, write a book about "the collection" theory etc. etc. etc.

"bird by bird" as anne lamott would say.