Who Needs Star Power?
Since we didn't have any major shows today we consoled ourselves with a shopping trip to the outlet malls just north of Lake Como in Switzerland. Fox Town Factory Stores are about 45 minutes outside of Milan. The mall houses outlets for Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, La Perla, Prada, Missoni, Etro and Versace. We didn't go into the Versace store because we were frightened off by the yellow Big Bird coat in the window. But as we browsed the other stores, we learned that a lot of the runway collections lose their magic when they are hanging forlornly on sale racks far from the va-va-voom runway strutters.
For anyone in the neighborhood, we are pleased to report that the Prada outlet was stuffed with pieces from last fall. But we didn't buy anything because we couldn't get over the fact that in our mind everything was stamped with an expiration date that had long since passed. We loved the photo print skirts, but just couldn't see wearing one at this late date. We loved the jewel-trimmed coats, but their moment has passed. Covering the fashion industry has reduced our attention span to a nanosecond. Someone please slap us upside the head with a brooch and tell us to get over ourselves.
At the YSL store, it was possible to find plenty of relics from Tom Ford's last collection for the house and at Dolce & Gabbana there were plenty of leopard print scarves waiting for eager shoppers.
We left the mall with only a Missoni ski cap, but we think it makes us look cool -- like a snowboarder. Who's being more financially responsible than we are?
Sunday evening we attended a dinner hosted by the folks from Max Mara. It was one of those splendid evenings when we don't have to look at a menu; the waiter just tells you what's good and what's particularly fresh. Over dinner we learned that although Max Mara doesn't have a famous designer helming the line, it is one of the largest family-owned businesses in Italy. The family that owns the company -- famous in the U.S. for its well-tailored women's coats and trousers -- also owns a couple of banks in Italy. Take that Prada, Versace, et al! Max Mara sponsors an arts competition for female artists, in part because the family has always been an avid collector of contemporary art. They also produce a tasty brand of parmigiana cheese.
Over the course of dinner we learned how different life is for many of the fashion journalists in Italy. While we'd get thrown out of the Washington Post home office on our ear if we accepted expensive gifts from designers, we listened as one of the Max Mara folks described a meal with an Italian writer during which she showed off the Roberto Cavalli chinchilla coat that had been a gift from the design house. She also had a jeweled bracelet that had been a gift.
We received a wedge of cheese that we fretted about until we determined that it was under the $25 maximum.
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