When I was coming of age in the 80s and had stars in my eyes (Back then money seemed to be everywhere, and everyone wanted to live the high life in NYC. High being both relative and specific.), Donald Trump was someone to watch. He seemed to epitomize all that was happening in that era—smart and swaggering, a real money maker. And his wife, that blonde with the Eastern European accent and her BIG puffy dresses, was continually featured in every society and gossip column. They were something.
Ah, then there was the tumble, and he lost his fidelity and maybe his way (but probably not, it may have looked like he was tanking but we now know this man always had a plan). Well, he's BACK and on top and these days America loves him. But for my money the true star of the family is his beautiful daughter, Ivanka.
This young woman has inherited the best of both parents. She has a softer, more refined beauty than her mother ever did, and she has the savvy of her father without any of his obnoxious behavior (don't get me wrong, I like him—and in real life he's a true gentleman). She’s smart. She's gorgeous. And she has true style.
I suggest you take a look at her book. It's a new chapter in an evolving legacy of success—whether you like it or not. I'd say she’s Trump ascending. She's really on her way!
Like many people in the fashion industry, I was addicted to the first few seasons of “Project Runway” but certainly never took any of the contestants seriously in an Alexander McQueen sort of way. The contestants always seem to be cartoon characters who could sew…some of the time. (I remember running into Austin from Season 1 on the street and gasping, not in recognition, but in horror at the over application of neon pink rouge.)
But moving right along, I was literally stopped in my tracks when I saw Christian Siriano beside Narciso Rodriguez and Proenza Schouler in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue just before show week in New York. Firstly, a major retailer believes in his collection enough to invest in giving him floor space during one of the toughest times for retail ever. Secondly, they gave him the front window right next to the main entrance and placed him next to some of the most proven young design talents of our time. My interest was piqued.
Personally, I’ve always felt that Siriano’s designs leaned toward the world of beauty pageants, but as a former scribe I obviously decided to poll some experts. A friend who writes for the Financial Times and Vogue China (among others) stopped by the Untitled 11:11 presentation just before the Siriano show up at the tents. I was surprised she was going, but she assured me that he was something to watch. He can sew. Fine. His designs are somewhat interesting. Check. He merchandises his collection. Ok. But then I asked her if she thinks he would be where he is if not for “Project Runway.” She looked over her glasses and down her nose at me and said, “What do you think?”
Well, here’s what I think, if you care to know. I think that a lot of people love “Project Runway” because it offers a chance for the common man to walk off the street, to make a dress or two out of trash or recycled jeans, and to win the hearts of America. It harkens back to that favorite of all American mascots: The Underdog. And, I think that Christian Siriano is the first Underdog to graduate from “PR” who has a fighting chance to go up against the big boys and girls of fashion. The real beauty of the formula is that those same people who voted for Christian Siriano to win “Project Runway” are the same people who Saks and other retailers are hoping will buy his clothes. This time around, it’s Melva from Houston who will decide if Siriano is in or if he’s “aut.”
There's an upswing in the intervention trend. Apparently, everyone is doing it! We know it's hot when TV has a show devoted to the subject. Even if a show isn't positioned as "intervention TV," we can see when that tone and tempo is running the storyline - take a look at "The Biggest Loser." All the makeover shows are about an intervention, if you think about it. "Gosh, you look like dog doody, let's do something with that hair, never mind those teeth!"
Intervention comes with its share of crying and anger. We love to see people cry and have their "come to Jesus moment." Let's not forget, America LOVES a comeback story, it's in our DNA. "Those losers from the continent, they made good after all!"
But intervention with a client, now that's a scary scenario. If they don't like what you have to say then in the infamous words of a toughie, that's actually quite nice in real life, no matter what you think of his hair, "you're fired!"
We've had our share of client interventions. And yes, some went better than others. It all depends on how you handle it (tactfully) and if you make the case that you're only trying to help (their image and ultimately bottom line). But it's amazing what kind of silliness may get thrown into the mix as you present your case. The rationalizations could run the gamut from the supernatural (I'm not at liberty to share details here) to the stubborn (they've always liked our product just the way it is so why do we have to change?)
Honestly, I don't have great advice on how to do this perfectly, but what I can say is this - don't be afraid to try. And here's why... It's a matter of integrity. Later, when your peers look at the brand and wonder how it got its head so stuck in the mud, you're going to want to know that you tried. The client may not listen, but you will know you gave it your all, and that is what you're getting paid for, after all. So do it!
Running a business comes with a load of stress. You're dealing with HR issues, cash flow, new business outreach, keeping current clients happy, long term planning (oops, we're outgrowing our space), etc. That kind of stress is bound to produce some "bad behavior" every now and then, aka, “What the heck is going on here!" Raised voices? Yep, that could be me. But one thing I have learned is it's never really a good thing to raise the roof. It just proves you can't take the pressure, and most of the time (though your case may be justified) the person in your sites is trying as hard as they can. That's most of the time, but not ALL of the time...
So, when I heard about what Kanye West did to Taylor Swift I had empathy - yes, I've lost my head before (but not on national TV, praise goodness). I also thought, gosh, what a bad move. Not only for Kanye (he finally went too far) but also for Taylor who didn't deserve to have her moment spoiled that way. Apparently, he called her and apologized. And apparently he had a "good" reason for his behavior, his mom's death. But all in all a sad moment, one that he may always regret, somewhere deep down inside. Don't worry Kanye, America likes to forgive those that mess up, it's our way. And Taylor, you did win, after all.
But there was a winner here, and his name is Jay Leno. Good night for ratings. So, does bad behavior ever go right? For Jay it did. And once in a while when I do flip out on someone who really isn't doing their job and they get back in line, I find the tough approach does help. It's unfortunate, but true. "Hey you, what's going on over there!"