Tag Archives: Vivre

Is Luxury Dead? Lower Prices for J. Crew? Is 60% Off the New Black?

DISCLAIMER: The following report is rated M for Mature; it descends to new lows in its frequent and flagrant use of the M word (money) and it is intended only for adult readers.

MPAA

MPAA

Everywhere one looks there are stories about “the death of luxury.”

JP Morgan recently called upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue “the Gucci Blue Light Special,” referencing the deep discounts they have taken this fall. Below, the company’s sale page on their website.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue

The International Herald Tribune (as well as the NYT) ran a story Monday, “Luxe is losing its edge,” with the focus on struggles facing high-end jeweler Bulgari.

Courtesy Bulgari

Courtesy Bulgari

The story also talks about stores cutting back on expansion plans, like Burberry, Cartier, Saks and others.

The “Sale” notices do continue to pour in via both email and standard mail, many from establishments one would never associate with such aggressive price cuts, like this one from Barneys:

Barneys New York

Barneys New York

Previously, *if* for some insane reason stores felt forced to discount at this level, they hoped and prayed it would not negatively impact their image as purveyors of luxury goods.

We cannot remember the last time (if ever) we saw Burberry Prorsum selling for 60% off their original price, as is the case with the Empire Cocoon Coat.

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Burberry Prorsum Cocoon Coat

Not everything at Burberry is marked down at that level; this children’s Argyle Sweater is “only 30% off.”

Burberry

Burberry

The same is true for the children’s Wool Duffel Coat:

Burberry

Burberry

There is even a post at Vivre Magazine online asking if “60% Off is the New Black?” The story raises the question that TP considers the elephant in the room for retailers:

“As stores slash and cut their prices just to hear the cash registers ring, you wonder if consumers will ever want to pay for full price for anything ever again. When this is all over, will any customer actually walk into ANY store and still look at Prada wallets and other designer handbags that used to be kept behind glass and are currently on tables and bins, the same way again?”

The Times ran a story in November “In Hard Times, No More Fancy Pants,” quoting one of our favorite authors:

“The era of conspicuous consumption, at least for the foreseeable future, has come to a close,” said Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy,” which explores the science of retail.”

In yesterday’s WWD a story made the case that “Flaunting Days Are Over as Consumers Cut Back.

The story by Sharon Edelson does feature an amazing Graff necklace that we simply had to share:

Graff Courtesy Photo

Graff Courtesy Photo

The piece is a little over the top in our estimation (this is where Great Aunt Molly would lower her voice and whisper ‘New money sweetie… you know what I mean.”).  Actually, the story channels GAM in a remarkable fashion:

“Logos are becoming less important, said Pedraza, noting that customers are starting to ask for unmarked brands. “People want very understated products,” he said. “They want to consume privately.”

“While people with new money tend to define themselves by their labels and what they spend, the rules are changing. People want to buy more classic luxury at better prices. They don’t want to be the people who are showing off.”

For many readers this is not exactly breaking news. How are you reacting? Are you simply purchasing necessities and/or discretionary items as desired, or waiting for markdowns? Or perhaps a mix of both…?

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While not considered a luxury retailer, J. Crew has also been in the news.  As reported on the WSJ Holiday Sales blog, J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler said:

“J. Crew is trying to adapt, he said, by making small investments in new concepts, implementing a hiring freeze… looking at lowering opening price points for its crewcuts kids line.

Did everyone notice the hiring freeze? We almost missed it upon reading about Crewcut prices, but it was noted in a story on GlobeSt, a real estate website:

“J. Crew has initiated a company-wide hiring freeze Drexler revealed, even during the holiday season… If someone wants to hire someone, someone’s got to leave,” Drexler said.”

Regular readers will remember Mr. Drexler’s comments shared in this post about lowering price points on some adult merchandise. Speaking about the overall climate for retailers:

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life…”

“Right now we’re all a little afraid,” he said. “If there’s anyone getting up in the morning and not saying ‘uh oh,’ then I’d like some of that medication.”

If Mr. Drexler locates a source for those meds we hope he brings enough for the rest of the class.  If not, we fear we shall be forced to make do with a little Prozac latte.

Indeed.

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Filed under Argyle, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion

Michelle Obama Inauguration Dress, More Election Night Fashion, More Preppy Sales

Happy Thursday to everyone!  We are more than pleased to see the weekend approaching. For some reason The Princess finds herself more than a little weary this week and the thought of relaxation is appealing.  Is it just us, or are you also feeling a bit sluggish?

We will update our recent posts on election night fashions momentarily, but first, an online site is reporting they know who is doing Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown!

According to theYBF (Young, Black and Fabulous) blog, an Atlanta designer has already been asked to create the dress.

“We’ve also learned from Atlanta Gossip that Mrs. O got a jump start on her Inauguration dress plans last week. She already tapped famed African American NY designer Cassandra Bromfield to custom make her Inauguration dress.”

We visited the Bromfeld site, and share one of the gowns featured online:

Courtesy Cassandra Bromfield

Courtesy Cassandra Bromfield

From the designer’s bio:

“Bromfield’s wedding dress and bridal designs range from African American wedding dress designs… like patchwork detail couture, an elegant silk taffeta halter dress topped with a satin faced organza duster with delicate French cuffs, to a sophisticated matte-jersey creation that gracefully drapes the body.”

Ms. Bromfield also writes a popular wedding blog.  We will await confirmation of the news on the gown’s designer and share it with you as soon as we know the information.

Now back to fashions already worn; we have a little more information on the Narciso Rodriguez dress seen below (for more photos click here) as worn by Michelle Obama election night.

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty

PHOTO: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty

The dress has been widely criticized, near and far. Here is a snippet from one of the Obamas’ hometown newspapers, the Trib:

“Unfortunately, two key tweaks to the runway version of the dress, presumably made to take it from cocktail-sexy to first-ladylike, disrupted its intentions and architecture.

First, the lengthened bodice. Second, the cardigan that Obama layered on top.”

And that is some of the milder criticism. Ouch!

George Chinsee

PHOTO: George Chinsee

Next, the navy suit worn by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Tuesday evening.

Rick Wilking/Reuters

PHOTO: Rick Wilking/Reuters

Amid much speculation about the suit’s designer, several blogs discovered it is an Elie Tahari creation. However, it is not available at every location carrying the Tahari line, as the navy colorway shown above is exclusive to Neiman Marcus. Below, a composite from New York magazine showing the suit in the Neiman’s catalog and Ms. Palin on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Neiman Marcus, Getty

Photos: Neiman Marcus, Getty

An individual appearing to be in the know left comments on fashion blog Trendbites in response to posts about the attire worn by Ms. Palin at the vice presidential debate:

“On behalf of my company…Tahari Arthur S. Levine (a division of Elie Tahari)… Dawn is CORRECT… the black skirt suit that Sarah Palin was wearing at the RNC VP Debate was in fact a Tahari Suit. In addition, she has also been seen wearing the same suit (which was made for Neiman Marcus as a special cut in blue) where she wore the blue jacket over the black skirt, getting more mileage for her money. Lastly, she has also worn numerous suits from our many divisions: Tahari Arthur S. Levine suits which are priced on average at 179.99 – 199.99 and which have been bought at either Macys, Lord and Taylor department stores…”

Below, a photo of Ms. Palin at the vice-presidential debate.

Rick Wilking/Reuters

PHOTO: Rick Wilking/Reuters

But here is the really big mystery: who did the dresses worn by Malia and Sasha Obama?  We have received multiple inquiries here at Princess InterGalactic HQ about those darling dresses.  Below, Malia in a red bubble-hem dress with center bow at waist and a cropped cardigan, both in red.

Jae C. Hong/AP

PHOTO: Jae C. Hong/AP

Many think Malia Obama is wearing this Biscotti dress, although with a different belt than the one sold with the dress.  We show it at Nordstrom; it is available at $110. There is a matching/coordinating cropped cardigan Biscotti offers as well, but that does not look to us like the one Malia was wearing.

Here is a better shot of both girls with their father, the President-elect.

Jason Reed/Reuters

PHOTO: Jason Reed/Reuters

Now to avoid any controversy, we do want to share that we have also confirmed who the President-elect was wearing Tuesday night:

He was wearing a Hart Schaffner Marx custom suit very much like the one worn at the Democratic Convention. There are more detail and photos of that suit here, our post with “The Inside Story on the Candidate’s Suit.”  Selecting this suit was another wise choice: it looked great and the Hart Schaffner Marx manufacturing facility is in the Obamas’ home state of Illinois.  Click here to see an almost identical HSM suit.

An update on markdowns being taken by retailers everywhere, beginning with J .Crew, now offering an additional 30% off their sale merchandise.

This will also act as our Argyle Update for the day, as we show the Boys’ cotton-cashmere duke-argyle vest, now more than 50% off its original selling price, before the extra discount is added to the mix. (“Subtracted” from the mix?)

Crew is also offering their wonderful Madras cabana bag; it is also discounted by more than 50%, and this is before the additional 30% discount.

Of course regular readers know we are fiends for madras, as evidenced by our goodies at the Preppy Princess Emporium, like our lush and lovely Set Point Towels.  (Psst…hunting for a gift? The monogramming on these is included at no extra charge!)

PreppyPrincess.com Set Point Towels

PreppyPrincess.com Set Point Towels

PreppyPrincess.com

PreppyPrincess.com

Neiman Marcus continues their online clearance:

Nordstrom is offering their Half Yearly Sale for Women and Kids.

And the online clearance is still ongoing at Talbots as well as their Collection Sale with merchandise like this Collection Jacket in Ivory.

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And finally, for today’s Pretty in Pink, we share one of our major obsessions here at the Prepatorium: the Globetrotter Vanity Case at Vivre, from Globetrotter’s Candy Collection.

The lining is done in an exquisite Liberty of London print. (The store on Regent Street is on TP’s list of Top 5 shopping meccas in Europe.)

If one requires a tad more room for their belongings, there is always the Trunk, also from the Candy Collection, and also exclusively at Vivre.

If anyone has info on the dresses worn by the Obama girls, please share!

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Filed under Argyle, Obama Fashion & Politics, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle