Monday, August 25, 2008

Fashion, the Last Week of August

I went into some stores in midtown to see what was happening. Dear reader, I'm sorry to tell you, there was not a lot to report, and I'm talking here about women's fashion. The summer sales are over so the stores are stocked with fall but it was quite glum - a lot of black, not much ornamentation or decoration, austere shapes. The stores were empty, which can be expected because many people are away at the end of August. (Except for Abercrombie & Fitch which now has a velvet rope on Fifth Avenue to control the crowds.) Shoes are even plain, except for the fact that they're on high platforms. I'm telling you, it did not dazzle the eye, like a trip through midtown often can. Cathy Horyn says in The New York Times that the really good stuff from the designer fall collections comes into stores in September. I don't doubt that she's right, but I thought fall was delivered into stores in July and August. These days, they're practically putting up Christmas decorations in September.

And then I thought that with the stinking economy, a disastrous war abroad, and an uncertain election ahead, perhaps the designers and stores are reflecting the times with somber presentations and also playing it safe. One happy, optimistic exception is J. Crew, pictured above. The stores, the catalogues, the windows, and the web site ( now feature clothes in bright, cheerful colors like yellow, gold and orange. These seem like typically spring colors to me but I love seeing them now in an otherwise dark season. J. Crew is also expanding its accessories collection with glossy jewelry and decorated shoes. You walk into a J. Crew store in the middle of winter and it's like a joyful candy store -- pink, green, yellow, orange. You can't help but feel better. It lifts you up. And that's what clothes are for, no?

No comments: