FNO, No, No, No!

Lord. It’s Fashion Week…again.

I have absolutely nothing to do with Fashion Week, but I do live in New York and work for Patricia Field so there’s some shoulder rubbing by default. And as much as I proclaim to hate fashion, it’s not completely true. I love clothes and I do think some people can make beautiful art out of it (McQueen!). I’m secretly flattered to receive the occasional invite to runway shows and I always try to make The Blond’s show because they are beautiful souls and I enjoy what they do. I just hate 80% of the people in the industry of designing and selling clothes, including myself sometimes.

So I thought I’d give you a random report from my own tiny frontline:

We had a Fashion’s Night Out party in the store on Friday night, which featured Amanda Lepore and Cazwell DJ-ing, free cupcakes (Delicious by Danielle), free coffee (Bustelo), free makeup (Maybelline), free booze (Skyy Vodka and Golden Star Tea) and an appearance by Ms. P herself. In a retail clothing store…you know, with glass shelves and mannequins perched delicately on high places and a thousand little items that can easily be shoved in pockets:
I didn’t really have to do much this time around except hire three security guys and show up. Jesse sent me two from his places and I hired our friend Rizzo to do the door. Done and done. Slapped on a faux ponytail, some false eyelashes and a pair of the most uncomfortable Louboutins ever created and rolled on in.

It started at 8pm, I got there at 9 and it was already impossible to move. Mannequins swayed precariously in the tide of bodies. Pat wasn’t even due to arrive until after 10pm, so it was obvious it was going to get really ugly. The bar area downstairs was even worse. And it was all little kids. Piles and piles of well-coiffed and decked out teenagers, mostly black, packed like sardines in the bar area, waiting for a turn at the booze. Hmm. They looked adorable, but dangerously underage. Luckily it took so long to get to the bar that it was impossible for any of them to get drunk.

I am trying very, very hard to live a conscious, centered life these days. I don’t want to fight with people, I don’t want to be impatient, I want to be serene and kind. This is not a simple task because I am not a serene, kind person. I’m cranky and quick to react. But those reactions cause me pain, and I don’t want to hurt, or be hurt anymore. The joy of the fight has left the building.

But of course, alway, always in these crowds I am tested. And this is why I hate fashion people so much. They’re assholes. All of the things that feel imperative to me are not even on the radar for them. They don’t give a shit about the planet and what we’re doing to it. They don’t care about animals. They don’t care whether children were forced by economic need to sew the beads on their dress. They’re not very nice to each other. There’s no love or light, there’s no deep connection. It’s all surface and bitchiness and getting close to the famous, regardless of what they’re famous for. It’s pointless. It makes me want to set fire to things.

This is a generalization, and there are a few good ones mixed in there. And even many of the bad ones aren’t really bad, they just aren’t very awake. But I am not evolved enough myself yet to be able to gently bring them into my mindframe with delicate leading by example, so the less contact we have, the better really.

I have been working on Sushi, our head Buyer and Creative Director, for years on the fur issue. This is Sushi, with Moto, our other Buyer, more on her later. Cute, right?
My main arguing point with Sushi is that we are an inexpensive store and the fur is coming from the dodgiest of places, dodgy as in most likely some cracked out Chinese man grabbed a small animal, jammed it live on a hook, then slashed open its belly and yanked out its internal organs while it twisted in agony. Then he did it again. And again and again, because demand for cheap fashion is high. Then he took the pile of tails and sent them to someone who washed the blood off, stuck a key ring on, and sold them to us for a very reasonable price.

The people I work with are pretty great for the most part and although they pretend to think I’m nuts, they really don’t, and over the years have begun making concessions. I’ve got everyone in the office drinking out of a Britta instead of buying plastic bottles. We print and wipe with recycled paper. And this season Sushi and Moto were able to find some really good fake tails to keep up with the obscene hipster raccoon and fox tail obsession that is currently sweeping New York City. They were so pleased to present them to me and I felt happy that they a) cared about my feelings and b) were starting to get it.

Cut to the party, I’m getting knocked back and forth but seeing cute people I haven’t seen in a while and everyone is up and happy and being friendly. One crazy girl I know is walking around topless and casually asks me where to find the bikini tops. I love that. I’m happy with my hair and choice of outfit. Someone tells me I look like I’ve lost weight. Someone else walks by and hands me a cocktail. Life is grand. Here’s a shot of Moto and I looking foxy with our new completely pointless mini mini gloves:

I am smiling and facing a woman who is digging through a giant martini glass holding a display of tails. She waves them at her friend, trying to decide on a color. I say happily, and really just as a passing remark, having a little Cher in Clueless moment and not intending to get into any tedious fur conversation, “They’re faux!”

Her face twisted into the ugliest of masks, and she threw the tails down in disgust, and said, “Fuck PETA.”

It’s hard to describe with words the clear energy of hate she sent my way, and I had no choice but to turn my back and start a new conversation as quickly as possible to try to deflect the wave of darkness I felt. Because what I really wanted to do was turn back around and punch her square in her ugly rat face. But underneath my anger was a pool of hurt. She hurt me. I was happy, I was being open and friendly (a rarity), those tails were a sort of gift to me from my co-workers and their presence meant something to me. I was trying to share my good mood and she spat on it.

As an aside, I am not a fan of everything that Ingrid Newkirk and PETA does to get attention. I support the cause, but I think that the extremes can hurt the cause sometimes, and this was a witness to that very point. It was more that the slap of the momentary good mood wounded me.

Rabbit sent a text from outside, she couldn’t get in. I went to the door and looked out upon the faces of a mob of people jammed up against the store all the way out into the street, desperately clamoring to get in. Russian Dennis was actually holding both sides of the door jamb and using his body as a barrier to keep them from entering. I ducked under his arm and elbowed my way outward and shouted at people to let her through, and somehow we pulled her through the fray. As I managed it one man with a giant camera who was pressed up against Dennis and looking pained, said sadly, “I just want to get my story and go home.” I pulled him through too, and we stumbled back into the store.

We fought our way through the crowd and back downstairs, side-stepping a clusterfuck of cameras and fans surrounding Pat. She looked calm as lights shone in her face and people jostled and pulled at her. Her assistant and my pal Ingrid looked stressed in the glare of the spotlight; it’s her job to organize and control at these events and it’s scary how famous Pat has become and how intensely people desire to make contact.

Sushi grabbed a bottle of vodka from the bar and we retreated into the office. It was the only safe place to be and about 6 or 7 of us gossiped happily in the small area that I spend much of my days. Moto, who I call my Teacup because she’s tiny, funny, gorgeous, and you want to treat her like a fancy pet, was being trailed by one of our vendors, one of the few straight men at the party who obviously had an interest in her. He followed her into the room and stood near the door.

I still felt creepy about the encounter with the woman. Why is it we can have twenty good moments and then we’ll fester on the one bad moment? What is that bit of self destruction?

I turned to Moto to tell her the story. She doesn’t give a shit about animal or human suffering or the planet, but she loves me and tries to pretend that she cares. I knew she’d listen and I wanted to purge the residual feelings so I could get on with the night happily. But before I could get the full story out, the straight dude, who was already getting on my nerves with his continued and unasked for presence, piped in with his own hatred of animal rights types and his love of fox fur tails. 
And that was the straw. I shouted him down:
“You are in MY HOUSE right now, motherfucker! You are in MY OFFICE. I am talking to my friend and I don’t want to HEAR YOUR SHIT about fur. I don’t WANT TO HEAR IT. If you want to stay in this room, I suggest you SHUT THE FUCK UP about PETA and fur for the time being.”

Ahhhh…NOW I felt better. I certainly didn’t say anything enlightening or evolved, but I did manage to pass the crappy energy on. I heard him mumbling something about how people get so excited about the issue, and to his credit he didn’t argue it any further. I think he really liked Moto. 

Someone else came into the room and said Pat had gotten so frustrated with the abuse that she’d actually shoved someone. And that was our cue to leave. We struggled our way back through, up the stairs, and out through the still thronging front door. I wobbled on broken feet. I hate those fucking shoes. 

The streets were almost as bad as the store. Hordes of fashion types threw themselves in the street trying to hail cabs. We walked for blocks, my feet screaming. I was on the verge of tears of pain. Finally we spotted an open pedi-cab, a guy with a bike attached to a rickshaw seat. We ran for him and made it, and he pedaled the three of us (Rabbit, me, Moto) all the way across town to the West Side to BES, where Rabbit sings occasionally, draped on the bar with a microphone. The night was beautiful and our driver whipped in and out of traffic easily as we passed people desperate for cabs. I laughed and clapped like a little kid, it was the highlight of my night, the buildings and lights, the traffic, the warm night air. We passed another pedi-cab full of girls and we blew kisses at each other. It was exactly what I needed, although it ruined Rabbit’s eyeliner. 
We were greeted at the door by gorgeous, well-dressed men (gay), seated in a luxe setting and handed drinks in heavy, elegant glasses. I watched people dance, lovely people for a change–pretty girls, not the tedium of models but real girls in their Fashion Night finery, handsome men who looked creative and interesting and who smiled at us and danced well. Not a hipster or celebrity or frat boy in sight, just some weird, elegant amalgam of the best that New York can be in rare moments. I sat in between my girls and sipped my drink, well buzzed by this time, and sent out a little message of gratitude to the Universe. Some people suck, but not all of them.

Shoot the Messenger

The furor that animal rights activism stirs up confuses me. Like Roger Daltrey’s statement regarding his Teenage Cancer Trust Fund: “It is a blot on our society when, if these teenagers had four legs and fur or feathers we would raise the money in a year. It’s tragic and it makes me want to fight even harder.”

Mmm…Okay, Roger. PETA fired back that it has been shown that not eating meat greatly reduces the risk of cancer, and that they already publish a list of cruelty-free cancer foundations always looking for donations. I doubt that anyone who is truly concerned about animal cruelty is thinking it’s awesome that teenagers get cancer. And come to think of it, one of my lifelong friends lost her beautiful 3 year old daughter to cancer (HANNAH’S GIFT) and she has never once yelled at me for donating to the Humane Society. I’m assuming this is because she understands that my desire to see an end to animal suffering doesn’t preclude the sadness and concern I feel for her loss.

Every few days or so, on pretty much all of the facebook animal rights groups I belong to, some redneck will sign on and comment with an aggressive version of, “I love animals. They’re tasty.” I know it’s just lonely morons looking for attention, but its interesting that the ire is pointed in the direction of animal rights more than any other causes. You never hear of anyone giving shit to people working to put an end to child abuse. Anyone who tried would be vilified for life.

I do understand that the issues are on very different levels of importance to many people, and that there is a frustration with the retards and fanatics that seem to populate animal rights groups more than others:

There is a phenomenally irritating woman in my neighborhood that I’ve been passing on the street for years who is constantly pulling strangers aside to discuss animal rights. She’s too addled to remember that we’ve spoken before, even though she got me on her email list once and it was a death-struggle to get off of it. So she yells at me when I’m wearing faux fur and I cross the street when I see her so I don’t have to take another flyer. Sometimes she stands outside Whole Foods singing off-key, made-up tunes about how vegans have better sex lives. Yeah, that’ll work. Drew and I commented last Thanksgiving as we went in to get a tofurkey that if we were at all meat inclined we might have bought some cold cuts for the express purpose of flinging at her.

There are also the rage-a-holics. I am not of the angry hang-em-high mindset that some get regarding fur and cruelty. I’m happy that Michael Vick lost his fortune and went to jail because he deserved it for the horrific things he did to his dogs. But I’m mostly relieved that because of his crimes the laws are changing and awareness has been brought to the plight of dogs used for fighting. I don’t want to see him castrated or torn apart and I understand that if we are to promote non-cruelty on one hand, we can’t be screaming for blood on the other.

I get angry and feel great sadness when I hear or see cruelty, but I believe if we are kinder to each other, we will be kinder to animals, and vice versa. And that, to me, is the whole point. So I understand the resentment of fanaticism. I don’t believe that throwing paint or attacking someone physically is going to change their mind about wearing fur, eating meat, fighting dogs, etc.

But I’d like all of you who are out there mocking vegans and animal rights activists to think about this: There is nothing funny or acceptable about cruelty, in whatever form it is channeled. Regardless of the messenger, the message is real.

It is obscene to me that a show like “I Love Money” created a game where they fling chicken carcasses in catapults. Really? Are we that unevolved? I think we’re just disconnected and because so many animal rights people behave like crazy nerds, many of the less thoughtful of us refuse to align themselves with the cause. We think it’s hilarious to fling the headless bodies of a creature who lived, felt, and died, not eating them with gratitude, but treating them like garbage simply because we aren’t paying attention.

I am not insisting that my friends give up meat or throw away their fur jackets this second. I’d just like to ask you to have a little respect for the creatures that you’re eating or wearing, regardless of the how you feel about animal rights organizations: know how it got to you, remember that it was a living creature, and have some respect for the life it gave to sustain or clothe you. That alone will help shift the consciousness of the world around you and eventually bring us to a kinder space.

In other words, it’d be nice for everyone to remember that just because there’s a nutbag on Houston Street singing about how sexy it is to forgo eating turkey on Thanksgiving, it doesn’t make the plight of turkeys everywhere any less real.

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