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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:36 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Isaac Mizrahi, Jews, , Ralph Lauren, reporter, Teri Agins, Tommy Hilfiger,   

    The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever 

    The time when “fashion” was defined by French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by elite has ended. Now designers take their cues from mainstream consumers and creativity is channeled more into mass-marketing clothes than into designing them. Indeed, one need look no further than the Gap to see proof of this. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal, reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, anmd licensing to image making and financing. Here as well are fascinating insider vignettes that show Donna Karan fighting with financiers,the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and the commitment to haute conture that sent Isaac Mizrahi’s business spiraling.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:15 am on December 20, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alcohol distilling technology, ambassador, , basement of Broadway Presbyterian Church, Beatrice, Brandy, Broadway Presbyterian Church, , Cognac, De gustibus non est disputandum, , Ennesâ, , former Soviet Union, , gourmet food, gourmet soup kitchen chef, Jose Terrero, Machivenyika Mapuranga, Meal, Michael Ennes, , , olive oil roux, , reporter, , , , , Zimbabwe, Zimbabwian politician   

    De gustibus non est disputandum 

    In the former Soviet Union, cognac was the expensive booze of choice, while whiskey was relatively unknown. Technically, you can only call cognac the brandy from Cognac in France, but the Soviets did not care much about that, already abusing Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée with Soviet Champagne.

    In any case, high end Armenian brandy was considered the ultimate drink. Armenians were one of the first to invent the alcohol distilling technology, and Armenian brandy, by the way was the very same drink that Odysseus used to knock out the Cyclops.

    The reason I remembered all this, is because two news articles reminded me of a Russian saying: to a pessimist cognac smells like bedbugs, to an optimist – bedbugs smell like cognac. Good cognac has a rather peculiar smell, and some say that it smells exactly like squashed bedbugs. Although I smelled cognac often enough, I’ve never smelled squashed bedbugs. Thus I can’t really say if the saying is true, or just an artifact of crappy Soviet cognac.

    Consider the contrasts:

    In Zimbabwe people are eating rats:

    “Twelve-year-old Beatrice returns from the fields with small animals she’s caught for dinner.

    Her mother, Elizabeth, prepares the meat and cooks it on a grill made of three stones supporting a wood fire. It’s just enough food, she says, to feed her starving family of six.

    Tonight, they dine on rats.

    “Look what we’ve been reduced to eating?” she said. “How can my children eat rats in a country that used to export food? This is a tragedy.””

    Zimbabwe’s ambassador to United States, Machivenyika Mapuranga, told CNN on Tuesday that reports of people eating rats unfairly represented the situation, adding that at times while he grew up his family ate rodents.

    “The eating of the field mice — Zimbabweans do that. It is a delicacy,” he said. “It is misleading to portray the eating of field mice as an act of desperation. It is not.” “

    It’s hard to be optimistic about rat eating, but I guess it’s not as difficult for Mr. Mapuranga.

    On the other hand, it’s probably pretty hard to be pessimistic about gourmet food served in some Manhattan soup kitchens:

    “The multicourse lunch that Michael Ennes cooked in the basement of Broadway Presbyterian Church last week started with a light soup of savoy and napa cabbages. The endive salad was dressed with basil vinaigrette. For the main course, Mr. Ennes simmered New Jersey bison in wine and stock flavored with fennel and thickened with olive oil roux.

    But some diners thought the bison was a little tough, and the menu discordant.

    “He’s good, but sometimes I think the experimentation gets in the way of good taste,” said Jose Terrero, 54. Last year, Mr. Terrero made a series of what he called inappropriate financial decisions, including not paying his rent. He now sleeps at a shelter. He has eaten at several New York City soup kitchens, and highly recommends Mr. Ennes’s food.”

    The gourmet soup kitchen chef is an optimist though:

    “Despite the care he puts into his cooking, he doesn’t mind a little criticism.

    “They’re still customers, whether they’re paying $100 a plate or nothing,” Mr. Ennes said. “One thing we do here is listen to people and let them complain. Where else can a homeless person get someone to listen to them?” “

    I grew up with the Soviet media feeding me horror stories about life in America, and I know that indeed, looking at the world through the eyes of reporters is “looking through a glass darkly“. I trust the CNN reporter over the Zimbabwian politician because the latter has a much keener interest in misrepresenting the reality. But on the other hand, the efforts of the New York Times reporter to find the several homeless critiquing the free gourmet cuisine seem a little artificial. I bet 99% of them were rather grateful for tasty meals. But then, I don’t doubt that the New York City homeless can be rather picky — I’ve seen some refusing and even throwing offered food at the would be Good Samaritans.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:11 pm on September 2, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blink dog, , , , , Game controllers, Griffin PowerMate, , , Logitech, , , reporter, Shuttle Inc., Trackball, , Verizon towers, Viewsonic   

    Blinking Tema’s Stuff 

    Thanks to the wonders of the WaybackMachine Lebedev watchers can track what everybody’s favorite Russian designer has in his office at temporal markers A B C and D. If you open these links in different tabs of your Firefox browser (you are not using IE still, are you?) you can use a technique that astronomers call “blinking” to see the changes in Tema’s fine equipment.

    The most puzzling change is from B to C to D. It looks like he didn’t like the new Herman Miller Mira and went back to good ol’ Aeron.  I am surprised that he isn’t using dual monitors yet. 

    Also notice how the picture on the monitor does not reflect the changes up to D.

    So far the only exact matches to my equipment is the chair and the wastebasket. My Intuos2 is a smaller 4×5, my Griffin powermate is black, not silver, my camera is a cheaper but better Digital Rebel, instead of post-its I use a police memo binder with a reporter’s pad inside, my keyboard, trackball and mouse are made by Logitech, the dual screens are Viewsonic VP171b, the computer is a Shuttle XPC. My cigar ashtray which gets used only a few times a month is made out of radium glass. My cellphone is cheap and looks like a brick, but thanks to all those Verizon towers that irradiate everyone around, has awesome reception. And for pens I use whatever is left from my office supply therapy.

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