A conversation with Jeff Garelick, Director of Sales for Wilkes Bashford.
Phipps: This question will take me a minute to setup, but I hope we get somewhere good. So I'd like to talk about the collection you showed in just a minute, and I brought pictures so we can walk through. But one thing that stood out to me in Simon Fashion Now was that the models were good. There was the right amount of personality and professionalism.
Phipps: No one blew kisses from the end of the runway, there were no exaggerated winks or hips. They all walked well. And it's interesting to me that the models are all booked out of Houston or L.A., and travel with the show as basically its cast.
Phipps: One thing I didn't like so much was the lighting. It's a photographer thing. Outdoor-daytime venues are sort of frustrating by their nature — the mix of sunlight plus show-lights can be frustrating, if colors really matter to you. And the lighting changes with time, its quality changes, in an important way. Also with where the models are on the runway, during their exit. And the crew also would randomly turn off some of the runway lights, and then add those disco swirling light effects. Oh, and I'd like to grumble about the photographers' riser, though there is almost always something or someone to complain about, on the photographers' riser. It's a photographer thing.
From the Wilkes Bashford runway show at Simon Fashion Now, Stanford Center. Models: top, Dwayne Daniels and Kristen Ottea; bottom, Leandra McPartlan. Photographs by the author.
Garelick: (laughing) Yes, sure.
Phipps: But how about for you? So finally, finally we're there. That was all my setup, that was all my experience. How about for you? Is there anything you particularly liked? Or is there anything you wished for?
Garelick: Yes, I think, what particularly stuck out were the models. I think as you said, they were just the right look. And I joked with people that it was wonderful that we had models who showed teeth. Which means they were smiling. So that in particular stuck out. I think for us, because it was a live show, and I was watching the audience, the other thing that stuck out particularly during the daytime show was the crowd. It was set up nicely in terms of the seating, and I do think the audience was interested in our particular collection, and receptive. Sometimes we do shows and they are artistically interesting to people, but they don't hold a tremendous amount of personal interest.
Phipps: There's a trend I'm seeing more of now, we're seeing more shows start with musical and dance introductions.
Phipps: What do you see on your end? Are people coming to you, offering that kind of production aesthetic?
Garelick: No. For us, because we are a retailer, and representing fashions, the fashions we have in our stores, the real focus is on the outfits and the flow of the show. So it's less about general entertainment. It's more specifically about the fashions. And I think if you're looking at designer fashion shows, there are different types. And there are different purposes. For the production. Whereas a fashion show by a retailer is really to showcase and inform and reach a consumer.
Phipps: I think, also, my perspective on that is, I think it makes it more accessible to a general audience. The musical stuff. People for whom it's not enough to just see fashion walking a runway. The musical stuff makes it more accessible to them, more entertaining or digestible.
Garelick: Yes. Yes.
Phipps: Quick little detour. Current trends in fashion. Right now: What's a current trend for men/for women that you like? that you don't like?
Garelick: Oh, sure. For men, a shorter jacket, softer shoulder is a big trend.
Phipps: But what about for you? In terms of more personal taste.
Garelick: Oh, me personally?
Phipps: What's a current trend that you like.
Garelick: (laughing) Oh, yes, that's interesting. I like, shorter jackets with softer shoulders. Yes. Shorter but still classic.
Phipps: How are lapels going?
Garelick: Lapels are narrower. I do actually like a narrower lapel. Double-breasted are coming back strong. In Men's, and in my own fashion, some things are somewhat timeless and classic menswear. Which is where I tend to fall myself, in that I like pieces that are timeless. That will always, always will work, with slight modifications.
Phipps: What's a current trend you don't like?
Garelick: I don't like trousers hemmed too short.
Phipps: Where is the waistline on women's trousers going?
Garelick: Women's trousers, the waistline is going up.
Phipps: They got ridiculously low.
Phipps: And it's so unflattering I thought.
Garelick: I agree. My own style tends to be a little more classic, and I think midriff-exposing is not the best trend ever.