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!