Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday - fashion alert!

I usually listen to music while at work. Sometimes I do the Ipod, if in the mood for things familiar, and sometimes the radio. I don’t usually like the radio because of all of the commercials, which are more distracting than not having the music and listening to the conversations going on around me here. I’m too cheap to go for one of the satellite radio thingies that don’t have commercials – though I am about ready to.

One of the ways I avoid the distraction of commercials is to listen to foreign stations over the internet. My last job took a dim view of using up their bandwidth for stuff like that, and put in software to prevent it. This place has not yet done that, but I imagine it might some day, but until then I have the earphones plugged in. I usually listen to French radio stations, because I really enjoyed my trip to France (seems like years ago – wait – it was) and listening to those French announcers brings me back there. And the fact that I don’t know French, so the announcers sound like part of the music. One of the other programmers at the last job did something similar, but he liked Russian stations. Too guttural for me.

Right now I am listening to my favorite station, Radio Flemme. I don’t remember how I came across them, but there is a web site - comfm - that lets you search for stations on line all over the world. One of the reasons I like this station is the really varied (may I say strange?) combinations of songs that they play. About half are French, a few Spanish, and the rest sung in English. They don’t go for the latest pop stuff, but pull from a varied pallet. They play Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Tom Jones, right now it’s Neil Young singing ‘A Horse with No Name’, as well as new stuff. What brings me to write this is that I just brought up the station and the song that they were in the middle of was Christina Aguilera singing ‘Oh Holy Night’. I am assuming that somebody there knows some English, and can distinguish Christmas songs from generic music, but maybe not. They play Christmas music quite often, so I am assuming that the person who creates the play list likes the feeling of extending the season, kind of the same way that stores now start putting up holiday displays in August. But right now, with the news accounts this morning of snow in the Midwest, soon to be in my old town of Rochester, all I can do is laugh. Nothing better than Jingle Bells when it’s 110f outside (not right now, but I did hear that last summer).

Ok – on to the fashion scoop. Right now there is a big bridal show going on above my head. I walked around a little yesterday, and was not impressed. It’s a small show, only comprising one of the halls – about 150,000 square feet, with only 80 booths. But these are large, and filled with mannequins dressed in yards of cloth. About half the booths have live models showing off the dresses, which provides work for several dozen Las Vegas skinny girls that don’t have the talent (read that as b**bs) for the ongoing shows, or would just rather work part time. But for those of you that have the need to know – the upcoming style is NOT white! It’s a color that I would call ivory, but next to the few white dresses it looks kind of like that old lace dress your grandmother might have in the attic, almost yellowing. One of the bigger booths has about forty dresses on display, thirty nine of which are in this ivory color (I’ll go up later when they are open and ask for the ‘official’ name of the color) and only one is bright white. All are strapless, and many have applied crystals. No more pearl appliqués, but shiny bits. I’m guessing that this is because the crystal patterns are glue backed and thus can just be ironed on while the old fashioned pearls needed to be manually sewed on.

An interesting thing to me is the prices. The attendees of this show are all buyers for stores; it is not open to the public. There are very few people attending – yesterday it almost looked like there were more people manning the booths than looking. When I was walking around about a dozen of the booths had girls walking on small runways or stages displaying the dresses, and quite a few had nobody sitting there looking. Most of the booths were large, each with a dozen or so chairs surrounding a small stage or runway. The girls would change in a small curtained off area and walk out. Some of the smaller booths just had the girls walking around out front. The amount you pay to have a booth at one of these trade shows is based on the square footage of the booth and the location – up front is more $$$. So the smaller companies have smaller booths, and not all can afford the space a stage and seating would take.

About 50 of the booths concentrate on brides dresses, but there are some with tuxedos, a few for bridesmaid dresses, some for veils, several with tiaras and jewels, one displaying steam cleaning and pressing equipment and even one that will do teeth whitening right up there in the hall.

But back to the prices – a dress that might be $3,000 at Nordstroms, or $900 at Penney’s, can be had wholesale for $279. In the big booth with the forty on display all had price tags, most were $259 or $279, with only one over $300 and that one was only $309. I saw some prices at other booths, and that was about average. So these yards and yards of fabric – yes, though the color is not white the style is still full, many with trains and lace – are wholesaling for under $300, and probably cost these guys $100 from China, or wherever they are put together. Most of the dresses are very well made, lined and hemmed and sturdy.

Being a guy, I don’t understand how those things stay up without straps. Most of the models displaying them don’t have enough on top to keep the cloth from sliding down. I heard one announcer talking about the ‘boning’ in the top. Are these dresses kept from dropping to the floor by the thin waist with the hips keeping them from sliding down, and a stiffness in the top basically keeping it pushed up from below? What are the poor girls without a defined waist doing? Is there some magic here that I don’t know about?

Anyway, I am glad that I am passed needing to care about this stuff. My coworker has two daughters that will someday be in desire of these items, and I hope that he has stared putting away a good portion of his paycheck savings toward those days. It seems strange to me that somebody would put so much money towards one day of celebration. I wonder if this is partially fueled by people’s desire to be famous, so fully expressed by American Idol and other similar shows. This provides at least one day for a woman to show off and be the center of attention, so why not outdo everyone else?

Several of the booths have signs proclaiming ‘Quinceañera’ dresses. If you aren’t familiar with this southwest event, I think it started in Mexico, it’s the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, I guess coming of age, or like a sweet 16 party or whatever. But from the ones we saw in San Diego it seemed more like a wedding without a groom. The birthday girl usually wore a dress that looked like a wedding dress, and extended family members came from near and far to celebrate. Flipping through cable tv in the middle channels they sometimes show girls spending a fortune of daddies’ money on similar parties. Most of the dresses displayed there are not white, but a whole rainbow of brightly colored dresses are on display.

I just had to walk upstairs to see how to spell Quinceañera, and found a tag on one of those off white dresses, and yes the color is officially ‘ivory’. The models were starting to get ready for the 9:30 shows, and it was very pleasant to stand there and look at those pretty young girls lined up in long fancy dresses. One of the smaller booths had seven girls on the runway, just standing there with no buyers looking. A small booth without a runway only had one girl, and she was clutching a cup of coffee looking like either she didn’t want to be there or she went to some awesome party last night and 9am was a little to early for satin and lace.

See, don’t I have a nice job? I enjoy my work, and look at all of the different things I get to see. A month ago it was hardwood floors, two weeks ago cameras and security gates, and now it’s lace and pretty girls. If I would have started work a week sooner (well, the shows will roll around next January) I would have had a combination of the consumer electronics show and the ‘adult entertainment’ expo filled with whips and leather and lots of skin, and girls that don’t have to worry if the strapless top will slide down (if they are even wearing a top).

I went back up after lunch and wandered around again. The color some places call ivory is very similar to what a different manufacturer calls 'light gold' and a different one calls 'dark champaigne'. White is now 'bright white'.

I did see one model that made it obvious that the dresses at this show were not fitted to these girls. She was rather thin (make that VERY thin), when standing with hands on hips and showing the low back on some dresses she reminded me of the ads for Bodies, the exposition at the Tropicana (don't click if you are squeemish). Meaning that she was more bone than anything. When she turned to show the trains and the back of the dresses as she twisted she pulled the front of her chest back away from the front of the dress, leaving about six inches of air between. Making it very obvious that the top of the dress - at least the front - was very stiff. (of the girl too)

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