Wednesday, September 12, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Yesterday started grey and muggy, but the heavy atmosphere was abruptly broken by a crackling afternoon thunderstorm. Today, the recipient of that that change was a gorgeous day.

Both days were originally scheduled as days off, but intervening commitments altered that plan.
I got half of each day free to get my laundry and grocery shopping done, plus meet up with a friend at a cafe and see how late summer is treating Central Park.

Yesterday afternoon's commitment was actually quite informative and entertaining. I got to attend a "fitting" session at my company's design center. The session involved about a dozen outfits that will be part of the Spring 2008 collection. Months ago, I had attended a brainstorming session at the same location that sort of kicked of the early stages of creating this seasonal collection, so it was quite an experience to see where those early notions had led.

I was present as sort of an auditor, observing how the design team would review the various ensembles that were to be modeled by two sample-sized ladies. The design team and other technical experts present would carefully look at the effect of each separate garment, and also how that piece worked with the other pieces being worn by the model. Critique was done. Notes and adjustments were made as deemed wise. Some pieces were judged to be absolutely fine and ok'd for final production.

What was really exciting was that every so often, the team would turn to me, as the only one present who actually works with customers on a daily basis, for my opinion. Both my personal esthetic opinion, but also what I felt would be the reaction of next spring's customers to the product. It was an amazing opportunity to have my say, and for the most part, I feel that I was both candid and diplomatic.

However, I am one who will speak my mind, as as someone who used to sew all my clothes, has followed decades of fashion trends, and just loves design, it was very difficult for me to praise anything that I truly thought was no good. So, I did give some "constructive" criticism on a few ensembles. I think that my words offended at least one or two members of the design team, who take themselves fairly seriously, and were not expecting to hear what I said. Too late now. I said what I said. (At the end of the session, I did speak to one of the veterans of the team, about whether I should take another look at a piece that I had deemed sort of soporific, and she said, Nah, don't worry about it. What you said was honestly what you felt. That's good for us to know.)

It really was fun. All sorts of notes were taken and computer entries made and photos clicked of various stages of the design decisions made. Being present gave me a much better notion of just what goes into creating a finished collection. I would love to attend another session, and hope that being outspoken will not result in my being banned.

This morning I was off to a very early meeting of store managers from my district. The agenda was very mixed, and as usual time ran out before all topics were covered. I did make a point of sort of cornering my boss's boss (who chaired the meeting) afterwards to try to sort out some matters that need sorting out to help my store to continue to be properly staffed. I think that I got my points across and also heard my boss's boss's points. We are not totally in agreement, but at least we better understand what situations do need attention.

This evening I am heavier by the consumption of several slices of various types of chocolate cakes, due to the generosity of my fellow managers at this morning's meeting and that of an afternoon cafe stay with friends. This was my 62nd birthday. It seems amazing to me that I could be this old, and now actually qualified to collect our country's Social Security (national pension plan with its iffy present and future funding.) There is no way that I plan to retire any time soon, but it is strangely comforting to know that I have crossed the line to qualify for the minimum amount of monthly payments.

Back to work tomorrow. Many challenges await. Even better, I also will have the day off on Saturday!

Pleasant dreams.


  1. Frances Many Happy Returns for your birthday. Your meetings sounded very interesting - so did the cake.

  2. Lord it reminds me of the devil wears Prada! Chocolate cake in central park cafe with friends seems to me a splendid way to spend at least part of ones birthday, I feel the need to go and seek out a french patisserie and eat it on your behalf!

    Happy belated birthday Frances!

  3. A very happy birthday. I'm sure you have gained respect by being outspoken, it's far better, in my view, than telling a pack of lies! It does sound rather glamorous spending ones birthday in Central Park. Lucky you!

    Best Wishes, Crystal xx

  4. Very Happy Birthday (belatedly now), Frances. I agree with UPL about Devil Wears Prada - good for you for being honest and outspoken; you shouldn't waste all your experience and knowledge...if they can't hack constructive criticism then they won't be designing for long (especially when their clothes don't sell!) sounds as though you rarely get time off - so enjoy your Saturday in NY. x

  5. Oh Happy Birthday Frances, and a lovley blog to go with it too. How fortunate that the design team are able to consult someone with your expertise and knowledge of the customers...I should think your comments are very valid and they would be mad not to consulte you again!

  6. Happy birthday for yesterday Frances. Good for you for speaking up - otherwise, surely, all too Emperor's New Clothes!

  7. Hi Frances and belated Happy Birthday. I'm sure your input into the session was very valuable, after all the reason it was sought was because you are working at the sharp end. It must be more difficult for you to sell garments you don't 'believe' in so it's important that the powers that be know why a line might be slow to shift. It's fascinating hearing about your work. The chocolate cake sounded very interesting too!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my blog and for the advice regarding Tom's gallery. The gallery changed what they were showing last April with the aim of banishing the touristy landscapes and attracting more 'fine art'. In that sense they are still finding their way and to me it's a little chaotic. They do, however, have some very good contacts so it's now just the old story of hoping the right people will come through the door.

    Yes, I think I will have to firm with the pain in my Welsh class! As for the pain in my shoulder, well I'll keep doing the exercises and hope life improves! Best wishes, C

  8. Oooh the sheer glamour of it...don't suppose you kept a slice of chocolate cake for me did you? Oh well! no doubt better for my comfortable figure!

    If they can't take honest critique, then they shouldn't be in the business.

    Glorious blog my friend.

  9. 62yr's !!! you look amazing..xxoo
    I would have told them to, theres nothing worse than trying to sell something you don't like, i know i've tried...xx

  10. Belated happy birthday! You certainly dont look your age!
    What is your secret?

  11. I agree, you look wonderfully young. And chocolate cake in central park, as others have said, would be high on my wish-list of birthday treats. I also agree that your frankness would have been welcome and constuctive.

  12. Ooh, happy birthday, Frances. How lovely to be involved at the design end as well as with the selling end of things. I'm sure your input was much valued, and I feel sure you would have been diplomatic, too - after all, what's the point of asking for someone's opinion if you don't want to hear the truth?

  13. Wow - you are a force to be reckoned with and then some.

    Hapy Birthday again and a big Purple Hug for being such a lovely person . . .

  14. Hello Frances and a very very happy *(belated) birthday to you. I have been having a catch up yet again and just love your paintings; you are exttremely talented. As for the meeting, well any company worth their salt should value an honest opinion far more than one intended to curry favour; good on you! xx

  15. Just caught up and realised I'd missed your birthday. Belated Birthday greetings dear frances, hope it was a good one!

    Evie back from NY she had a fantastic time, did alot in short space of time, now exhausted!

    Elaine XX

  16. Hello Frances, It seems that I am late but never the less , I can still wish you a very Happy Birthday and tell you chocolate cake is always my choice for a birthday treat.
    I wish you could enjoy the scent of Lavender in my house. I have picked, dried and am making some Lavender bags, the whole house smells beautiful as it drifts from room to room . Maybe I will send you one.
    Glad to hear at last you have that vital link with the design team, good for you. An interesting day in many ways. Enjoy your Saturday off.
    milly x

  17. Frances thank you for the lovely comments you left on my blog...I also loved Briar Rose's blogs and really miss her contributions, maybe she will join us again someday....happy days. PR x

  18. Good Evening Dear Frances,
    I think it was good that you got your point across, well done for bringing it up, especially when you are so valuable to them.

    So glad you enjoyed your birthday with friends in Central Park,and chocolate cake, wonderful, certainly would have been my choice too.

    The Pension will soon be winging it's way to me after Christmas.!!
    Thank you so much for your kind comments and message Frances.


  19. Happy birthday! I'm sure it is your serenity that keeps you so youthful.
    I used to visit New York almost weeklt.....stayed at the Lexington. I suppose it is still there? How far are you from that? And there was a wonderful drugstore across the road that sold delicious creams and potions.......cucumber moisturiser....wonderful..

  20. Just catching up with blogs, yours is great as usual. I'm pleased you speak your mind. Hope you had a wonderful birthday. Chocolate cake would be my choice too.