Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Laura Stephen Appears in Dress Code

Introducing Laura Stephen, the subject of my most recent Dress Code column in Berkshire Living magazine.
According to Laura, business changed at the end of the summer due to pressing economic concerns.  She discussed the two extremes dancing in shoppers' heads: necessity and desire.  "People want something that speaks to them emotionally," she explained.  

"Really speaks to them in a powerful way," if the luxury market is going to survive in light of our current economic reality.  

As for Armani, where Laura is vice president of women's ready-to-wear, "We are watching our business," she revealed.  "Business is steady for us." Nevertheless, when it comes to trying new and untested merchandise, the company has to be cautious to avoid adversely affecting its profits.  As for the fashion industry overall, Laura does not mince words:  "Business is terrible right now."  

Indeed, about two months after I spoke to Laura about how the downturn is affecting the luxury end of the fashion industry, the stock rating of high-end retailer Barneys New York was downgraded to below junk bond status.  Ouch!

As shown in the bottom, behind-the-scenes photo, we needed to tape Laura's fabulous silk Fendi dress to her back because the straps kept falling.  

What helps to keep Laura's life in balance?  She runs about 25 miles every week and travels around the country to run in relays for various causes.  Whenever she's not traveling, she runs across the Brooklyn Bridge daily, usually beginning at about 5:30 am.  

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