Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shopping with the Beautiful People

In the January 2011 issue of Vogue there was an article called “Lady and the Trunk” about Lauren Santo Domingo’s new venture to launch the online trunk show, Moda Operandi.

Lauren Santo Domingo in the January 2011 issue of Vogue. Photo by Robbie Fimmano.

According to Ms. Santo Domingo, Moda Operandi would offer a chance for fashion shoppers at the top to buy designers’ looks straight from the runway, clothes that may never make it to the stores if buyers don’t order them. I didn’t have a problem with this concept as it was described, what drove me crazy about this article was the following quote from Ms. Santo Domingo:

“The women with the wherewithal to purchase those clothes off the runway are being shut out,” Santo Domingo says. “For a lot of reasons, it’s impossible to get these items.”

Excuse me? Shut out? Ms. Santo Domingo is a Contributing Editor at Vogue, and married to Andrés Santo Domingo, a hugely wealthy Colombian beer heir. Her great big wedding dress, made by Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, worn during her January 2008 nuptials, is now part of the collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If she saw a look on a runway she had to have I find it very hard to believe she couldn’t call up, say, Prada and ask, “Miuccia, will you please make look 42 for me?”

This dress, by Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci, took over 1,200 hours to make. Photo by Arthur Elgort.

My general disgust for this quote led me to contribute to a lively discussion over at The Taxonomy of My Wardrobe, where the divine Veshoevius was talking about the completely unrealistic and often ridiculous clothes offered in fashion magazines lately. The general consensus was Thank God for Blogs, to help keep fashion real.

I found Moda Operandi’s new website and saw they are now taking applications for membership. There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the application to the effect that not everyone who applies will receive membership. It’s not just a matter of giving your name and email. You have to list your favorite designers and give your occupation and tell your zip code too. I was surprised I didn’t have to divulge my bank account and current financials.

I applied for membership, thinking if my Brooklyn zip code didn’t do me in, then my occupation of freelance writer/fashion blogger would kill any chance I had. I filled in the application on a lark since I expected to get a rejection email, which I would then turn into an angry rant to post here about the disgusting sense of entitlement that so very many New Yorkers display and how they then launch companies based upon that sense of entitlement and just who do they think they are, anyway?


What I got instead of a rejection was an email telling me my membership was approved. Either it’s not as exclusive as they claimed or maybe Ms. Santo Domingo’s business partner, Aslaug Magnusdottir, who was the Vice President of Merchandising at Gilt Noir, a branch of Gilt Groupe (albeit reserved for the biggest spenders who dropped 10K or more in a single year), knows they must cast a much wider net than just Manhattan fashion fanatics to make this company work.

The website is scheduled to launch today, featuring the Fall 2011 looks available from Alexander Wang. I am curious about the fashion on offer. I am even more curious about the prices and how Moda Operandi will deal with sizing and returns. I’ve read online that Ms. Santo Domingo has stressed this is not a “buy now, wear now” kind of experience. She’s right, it reminds me instead of the old military joke of “Hurry up and wait.” You only have a certain number of days to preorder pieces from a designer’s runway show and whatever you select will require a 50% deposit. It will then, however, take anywhere from six weeks to six months to receive your purchase. Fast fashion this is not. But will your ardor grow for that little Proenza Schouler number you ordered months ago or will it be disappointment in a box, made worse by your high expectations during all that waiting?

If you fill out the Moda Operandi membership application let me know how it goes for you. I’m sure you’re a shoo-in. Or is that a shoe-in?


sacramento said...

I will stick to:thank God for Blogs, to help keep fashion real.But do let us know how you get on with it.

fashionoverfifty said...

Interesting concept--will be following to see how it develops. you're in!

Cloud of Secrets said...

Yes, I'm interested to read your thoughts on the site operation, too. I wonder what they'd think of a northern Wisconsin zipcode, and homemaker job!

I'm curious about the world of online trunk shows and sample sales, but not curious enough to apply with personal information yet.

jill815 said...

Hi Sacramento, I like to check out what the beautiful people are wearing but I always come back to keeping fashion real!

jill815 said...

Hi Fashion Over Fifty! I'm with you, it is an interesting concept, the online trunk show. I don't know why I thought it would be ultra-exclusive, I first read about it in Vogue with over a million other people I'm sure!

jill815 said...

Hi Sarah, I've missed you! You should fill out an application, so you can check this stuff out too. The prices for Alexander Wang's clothes were not as high as I expected. Not that I will be buying any. I plan on doing another post because I'm so curious on how they will make this work once Fashion Week is over in NY. I haven't read about whether European designers are in on it too. At this point, based on the Alexander Wang clothes they are offering it really seems like you can buy exactly what you saw on the runway.

Collette Osuna said...

Hello....lovely post:)
I found your blog from Bellas over 40 blogger post. You and I are featured and Im so happy to meet you. Following your blog now:)
Anxious to hear more about the trunk shoes as well:)

Stop by and say Hello:)
Enter my EL Vintage Giveaway!!♥

jill815 said...

Hi Collette! Thank you for stopping by and for following my blog. I saw you featured on Bella's blog too but I have to say I have seen your picture and my first thought was She can't be 40 or over! Bella either, how are you ladies so young looking? I think you two need to post on your beauty secrets. I am madly working on a post about the Van Cleef & Arpels show I just went to. As soon as I finish I am coming over to your blog!

Veshoevius said...

Six weeks to six months is a long time to wait for a garment (especially with the short time scale over which things seem to be deemed in fashion these days - in London you get three months tops!) - will be interested to see how you get on with this company.
What a wedding dress hey? My God! It beggars belief that such a woman (Santa Domingo) could not get whatever she wants (but then her list is probably pretty demanding!!)
Interesting post and thanks for the mention!

jill815 said...

Hi Veshoevius, I'm planning on another post about this company, I have to admit, it's fascinating so far. The clothes you order now will not be shipped to you until sometime in late summer/early September, so of course, just for the season they were designed for, but I guess I am a "Buy now, wear now" kind of a shopper. Not to mention everything I've seen on offer so far is way out of my price range.

tinyjunco said...

"I was surprised I didn’t have to divulge my bank account and current financials."

hehe, they ask for the zip as proxy...maybe ms. santo domingo thinks she is helping the less fortunate with this venture - you know, so she can be renowned for her 'charity work'. pfft. i'm just glad my sewing and design skills are decent! steph

jill815 said...

Hi Tinyjunco, thanks for stopping by! I love that you think the zip code is the proxy! So funny, and you know, you might be right. I like looking at the offerings on Moda Operandi, but I'm shocked by the prices, just as I knew I would be. It also boggles my mind that anybody is wealthy enough to afford these clothes without a second thought. Wow.