Friday, January 2, 2009


In the US - southern Florida -- for Christmas break. All around us life swirls in ways that can only happen in America. Say what you like but this is a country with a very very deeply ingrained sense of hard work, hope, 'anything-is-possible' mentality and astonishing belief in happy endings. It seems like NYC apart, America cannot understand cynics. Of course, all this comes at a (sometimes huge) cost to individual and nation, but still, the innate positive mentality -- cranked up to full volume during the 'holidays' -- is something to ponder and, in places, admire.

So 2009 is here. Just this fact signals 2008 is over which, in itself, is cheering. Not that 2009 will be easy - nope, not at all -- but at least the deep economic pits we are most certainly going to visit will be expected...very little of the precipitous falls of 2008 were expected at all (Lehman gone in 72 one saw that coming).

Some important questions with which to look into the new year:

1) What will the relationship between money and fashion in 2009? As has been said before on these pages, fashion, ie, the desire to adorn and dress ourselves is a fundamental part of human self-expression. So we should be clear that the importance of fashion isn't going to recede because of the recession -- although we can expect a crescendo like baying from the usual naysayers who bang on about how fashion is essentially frivolous and not connected to any 'real' need etc etc. Be that as it may, the key thing to note is that, more than in a very long time and for some years ahead (at least), the relationship between money and fashion is going to be thrown into sharp relief.
Anyone who deals with fashion -- selling it, writing about it, marketing it and making it -- MUST contend with this issue. For the consumer, its not anymore just about looking good....its about looking good on a budget and this is going to reverberate all through the fashion food chain. The fashion industry will have to understand and accomodate less spendy shopping behaviour. The Guardian tells us that Chanel in Rue Cambon - that bastion of luxury and symbol of fabulous, untouchable wealth -- has cut 200 jobs as even it feels the pain of the economic downturn and that Prada advertised price cuts in the windows of its Milan boutiques (yikes!) last month. Yup, everyone's gotta re-think.

2) How to spend money on fashion when money is tight? Mindfully....that principle of conscientiousness and balance that Gautam Buddha gave us over a thousand years ago works very well anywhere you apply it. For sure. The re-working of our finances that we most definitely will feel this year should push us to purchase what we want having saved for it and to keep and wear our purchases for yonks. The good, old fashioned way to shop for our wardrobes. We need to remember the joy of waiting to get and the exhilaration of receipt.

3) Money can buy fashion, but can it buy style? No. Real, actual style is something that originates within a person, is indelibly peppered with stuff about them, feeds off individuality, evolves over time and is/can be as fresh as every new thought the individual has. None of which can be purchased.** The paucity of credit must force us to evaluate each purchase within the context of our style and be confident in this. Use the current economic situation to learn about your fashion self.

**While advisors like DeviDoll (for example) cannot decide your style for you, they very much can offer inspiration and content. In 2009 DeviDoll will take this role very very seriously, providing many opportunities for style inspiration and style experimentation...stay tuned).

There are many more questions to be sure but I thought these 3 are good to start with. And added to them a sage snippet from Cintra Wilson in the (very well written) New York Times on the first day of 2009, which (under the auspicious eye of Ganesha, Lord of Auspicious New Beginnings), I am going to use as a road map for keeping my fashion life alive in the hard economic times ahead:

"At the finish of any regrettable life episode, we invariably go back to basics to distinguish values that are real and indissoluble from those that are false and temporary. In doing so, we rediscover joys we forgot during our manic race to the dead end."

Happy New Year, indeed.

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