Bridget Foley’s Diary: The COVID-19 Impact Phillip Lim — Time for a Reset

Before Christmas, when no one had yet heard of the deadly coronavirus that would change our lives overnight, Phillip Lim wanted to push reset. Approaching his brand’s 15th anniversary, Lim found himself dealing with issues hardly unique to him — that the pace of fashion, its relentless speed and mind-set of more, had become negative forces in the culture and a drain on our humanity. “What are we doing? Why are we just running this race just to keep up? And what is the goal, what is the finish line?” he shared his soul-searching questions with WWD. Taking a step back “to allow myself the time to think about the act of joyful creation again, not just the hustle,” Lim decided to forego a runway show and instead threw a spirited come-one/come-all house party at his New York store.
Lim acknowledged that shows are expensive to stage and business was already challenged. Now, he and his partner, 3.1 Phillip Lim chief executive officer Wen Zhou, are determined to live their values, which Lim summed up as “humanity first.” But, he acknowledged, looking after employee needs as the industry implodes presents “a Catch 22 — we don’t have a source of income.”
The

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: COVID-19 Impact — Angst on Orchard Street

Daniella Kallmeyer is exactly what most people don’t think of when they think of “the fashion industry.” Not the woman herself. Her look is casual-urbane, and her demeanor, a combination of mindful au courant cool and old-school gracious. Kallmeyer’s business, which bears her surname, is the outlier, in perception if not in fact — tiny and off the grid of major name-recognition. It takes the notion of “small business” to its most extreme manifestation. She is self-financed, runs the company and designs the clothes solo. And by the way, she can make an arty table chic enough to anchor a small, artfully minimalist retail outpost. After being forced to lay off half of her staff last week, Kallmeyer now has an employee roster of one, apart from herself.
Kallmeyer launched her company 10 years ago. Developing her aesthetic has been a process, which she described during a Fall 2020 appointment as seeking to “explore the gender binary and breaking down the typical idea of femininity,” with a focus on polished but relaxed tailoring. Early on she found favor in Japan. That country accounted for the lion’s share of Kallmeyer’s business, until recently. Long skeptical about committing to physical retail, in June,

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: The COVID-19 Impact — Amy Smilovic Invokes ‘Capitalism With Sensitivity’

Amy Smilovic has long been a standard-bearer of independent American fashion executives. She stealthily built her Tibi brand into a contemporary powerhouse with staying power, even after a dramatic shift in creative direction about a decade ago, from sweet girliness to a cleaner, more urbane look. In her two-plus decades in business, Smilovic had navigated major upheavals — 9/11 and the 2008-09 recession — without every laying off a single employee. That run ended last week, when fallout from the coronavirus pandemic forced her to terminate a full 30 percent of her 85-strong work force. It devastated her, and her goal is for the company to emerge from this crisis strong enough to bring those people back. “I believe in capitalism that has sensitivity to it,” Smilovic said.
WWD: This is all stunning, isn’t it?
Amy Smilovic: It’s stunning when you’re measuring time and minutes, when you can’t believe where your head was on Monday versus the previous Friday. It’s insane.
WWD: No one knows where it’s going.
A.S.: No one knows where it’s going. You are left to horrific imagination on how bad it could be. The health stories are devastating, when you read that hospitals are turning away people over 60 in countries

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Rich People, Do the Right Thing

What’s going on with luxury retail? As in, why is it going on? With every public official and medical and scientific expert out there pleading with people to avoid all nonessential public encounters that require physical interaction closer than that six-foot distance, how can the lords of luxury continue to keep their doors open for business in locales where governments haven’t mandated closure?
People need some of what Walmart sells — food, groceries, pharmaceuticals. Ditto, Target, CVS and Walgreens, all now partnered with the federal government in trying to stem the coronavirus crisis. Workers at such retailers — sales associates, managers, stock people, security, delivery, all of them — are now in the same category as health-care providers: Their work is essential. They are at risk for the greater good, and God willing, their employers are doing everything possible to ensure their good health. (A monetary bonus during or at the end of the crisis would be nice, too.)
But Dior? Chanel? Ralph Lauren? Prada? Nobody needs what they sell; by definition, luxury is a world of want, not need. For what greater good are their retail employees now endangering themselves and, should one become infected, everyone she or he comes in

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Martin Margiela Speaks!

Martin Margiela is back and talking. Thirty years after he first mystified and enthralled fashion with his nonconformist brilliance, and 11 years after he walked away from the industry following his 20th anniversary runway show, the designer is the subject of Reiner Holzemer’s documentary film “Martin Margiela: In His Own Words,” which premieres tonight at the DOC NYC Film Festival. The director’s previous works include films on William Eggleston, Juergen Teller and, most recently, the 2017 “Dries” (as in Van Noten).
Margiela is widely considered one of modern fashion’s most important designers, his influence continuing today in all sorts of arenas — deconstruction, streetwear, repurposed vintage, down-off-the-pedestal haute couture, alternative show venues. Anyone with a casual interest in the edgier aspects of fashion’s recent past should find plenty of interest in the documentary; serious fashion-history obsessives will be all aflutter to hear firsthand the designer’s perspective on his career. Margiela’s conversation volleys between esoteric musings and pragmatic dissection of craft and problem-solving; from the start, he distinguished himself as both renegade creator and skilled artisan. He was also a designer who for two decades navigated the uneasy terrain of a challenging industry, and he offers a brief, stinging assessment of why

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: Anna’s Family

It started with a forbidden trip to the cafeteria. The unwritten rule at Parsons, back when Anna Sui matriculated, held that design students should not hang out in the lunchroom. “It was considered a bad influence,” Sui recalls, “because you’d mix with everybody else. But guess who was always in the lunchroom?” Rebellious types? Yes. Wildly creative? Yes. Intriguing? You bet. “That’s where I met Steven [Meisel], in the lunchroom.“
Meisel was then a student of the apparently wayward discipline of illustration. After some mess-hall mingling, he invited Sui out dancing that night. She arrived with her then-boyfriend, and Meisel, with “his entourage.” At one point, he beckoned her over to his table and made a suggestion: lose the boyfriend and hang with us. Bye-bye beau, hello lifelong collaborator and friend. “We just started going out every night. My apartment became club central,” Sui says.
The relationship became more than social — Sui would style shoots for Meisel; he encouraged her as she navigated the creation of her own label. That trajectory started with a hiccup: Sui was working for an apparel company called Lenora. Inspired by punk-rock friends who made jewelry that sold at “cool rock stores,” she aspired to the

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: InStyle Marks a Milestone

The Big 2-5. With its September print issue, InStyle magazine celebrates its 25th anniversary. The magazine launched just as fashion was in the early throes of its passionate love affair with celebrities of the Hollywood sort, and well into the transition from supermodel to celebrity covers that would ultimately rule unchallenged until social media provided the classic model genre a platform for self-reinvention. InStyle’s maiden raison d’être was to cover and celebrate celebrity culture, and in homage to that heritage, celebrity is a key element of the anniversary tome. This print issue hits newsstands on Aug. 16, with stories posting throughout August.
Now, at a fractured time in the culture and fashion, the issue, via its two major fashion features, provides a delightful reminder of fashion’s purpose at its most basic level — to bring joy while helping women realize their most beautiful selves. And if along the way glam celebrities offer some inspiration, all the better. The cover story features the divine Julianne Moore in a smart interview with Helena Christensen. Moore wears fashion from the decade of InStyle’s birth, the Nineties, in a shoot by Phil Poynter styled by Karla Welch. The other major piece, written by Eric Wilson,

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Bridget Foley’s Diary: The Message Walmart Could Send

A thin marigold banner atop the homepage bears a somber message: Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the events in El Paso. See our statement.
One click on walmart.com takes you there. We are in shock over the tragic events at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where Walmart store #2201 and Sam’s Club #6502 are located. We’re praying for the victims, the community and our associates, as well as the first responders who are on the scene. We’re working closely with law enforcement and will update as appropriate. 
Following the shootings in El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio — and let’s not forget the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., where “only” three people were murdered — anyone who believes in God has surely said a prayer for the dead; the injured; their loved ones; their communities — specifically, the Hispanic community that was so perversely targeted in El Paso; the first responders, and maybe even for the villains and potential future villains who, for whatever reason, are filled with the hate and rage that leads them to commit such atrocities. But prayers without action are at best hollow and at worst hypocritical.
Today, you can walk into about

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