Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I talk a lot about cost per wear. Basically you take the cost of your Proenza Schouler blazer (retails for $1,285) and divide it by the amount of times you wear it. So if you wear it every other day of the year (let's not factor in the dry cleaning bill just yet), that's roughly $7 each time you throw it over your shoulders. On the other hand, if you wear your Forever 21 floral strapless dress (retails for $22.80) to the club just that one time, then the cost per wear is $22.80. So in the long run, the higher priced item is the better value in this case. But that's not how we operate, is it?
Three years ago I had just started working with Tim Gunn at Parsons School of Design. Each year there's a benefit runway show that highlights the best and brightest of the graduating class. A lot of important people attend this show in hopes of finding America's Next Top Designer. From Anna Wintour to Barneys Julie Gilhart, true architects of fashion careers are seated at every other table.
While the evening was all about the students, I was not going to attend it in the printed pajama pants my Mommy sends me every Christmas. I set out to buy the most exquisite shoes I'd seen in a long time: the Yves Saint Laurent Dada pumps. When I was ready to purchase the shoes, a tiny voice told me to call up one of the stockists that sell YSL and have them put on hold until after work. Barneys didn't have them. Neither did Saks or Bergdorf's. I called both YSL boutiques and was relieved to find out that the second one had the last pair of size 38.5 in North America (this includes Canada and Mexico). Oh yes, there was another problem. Since I'd left a potentially lucrative career in pharmaceutical advertising for fashion, I'd taken a steep pay cut. I had to borrow the money from my boyfriend and pay him back in two installments. (Look of shame and embarrassment.)
At the 57th street boutique, the shoes felt like cinder blocks on a steep incline. I could barely walk in them and I certainly couldn't flex my feet; but I had to have them. The evening of the benefit show, I wore my beat-up flats to the venue and changed into the Dada pumps while sequestered upstairs. My boy Bill Clinton didn't notice them, but Anna Wintour certainly did. I saw her checking them out from a mile away and I felt marvelous! I felt even better after the event was over and I limped over several avenues to the subway, comfortably back in my beat-up flats.
You know how Oprah says that love shouldn't hurt? Well, neither should fashion. I only wear the Dadas once a year to keep the cost per wear ratio balanced and to prevent coming off as a hypocrite. I encourage all of my clients to donate or sell any items they haven't worn in over a year. Not only do I think the pumps make for great fashion, but I also regard them as a work of art; or at the very least, an important part of an important collection for YSL Creative Director Stefano Pilati. Excuses excuses. I'm a self-enabler. Sorry Dr. Phil.
eBay always has an abundance of Dada pumps, varying in color and style. Clearly there's a population of women (and men) out there who can't be bothered to walk around in these cinder blocks on nails. I'm not ready to give up mine just yet. I'm going to work with my cobbler to see what we can do to make them more comfortable. If that doesn't work, there's a spot saved for them on the mantle.