MIND YOUR words (a fashion scandal)

a photo of the incident as reproduced by
the Italian newspaper "Repubblica"

... mind your words indeed, and be they on a t-shirt. A scandal regarding Italy's current welfare minister Elsa Fornero was caused by the anonymous wearer of a t-shirt sporting the slogan "Fornero al cimitero" last week, which means as much as "Fornero to the graveyard". What's worse (or rather, what really made things bad) was that Oliviero Diliberto, a left-wing politician who served as minister of justice back in the 90s, posed with the stupid t-shirt woman. Now you may, or may not, be aware of the fact that there was quite some turmoil in Italian politics last week after a law project was passed by the current government which would grant companies greater freedom in sacking their employees, with Mario Monti and Elsa Montero being on the forefront of this very project. Independently of the exact nature of this law (critical though it may be viewed, no doubt about that!), I consider it of very bad taste to go around more or less wishing someone their death by what you've got written on your t-shirt. And, worse still, that a politician should pose for a photo next to the person wearing said t-shirt. This is definitely not a case of the stupidity and senselessness we are abundantly familiar with from myriads of commercial slogan t-shirts. This one was custom-made for the occasion, and the wearer expresses her opinion about minister Fornero in a very explicit and totally inappropriate manner. What's even more inappropriate, of course, is the fact that left-wing politician Diliberto sees no harm in posing with this woman. It is therefore totally understandable that Fornero should have expressed her concern and disgust in a ensuing press release. That said, I would like to quickly remind you of what was probably the most prominent and efficient appearance of a garment sporting a poignant slogan in a very political context - I'm talking about Katharine Hamnett's (and she is of course the master of slogans in fashion) hand-shake with Margaret Thatcher in 1983, when Hamnett made it very clear that she sympathised with the 58 % of the German population who didn't want Pershing missiles to be stationed on German territory ...

... vous êtes probablement au courant du projet de loi qui a été présenté la semaine dernière en Italie et qui rendrait nettement plus facile le licenciement d'employés dans tout le pays. Les responsables du projet au sein du gouvernement italien sont le premier ministre, Mario Monti, et la ministre du travail, Elsa Fornero. Il s'ensuit (et il est même assez compréhensible) que ni M. Monti ni Madame Fornero ont inspiré un surplus de sympathie à la plupart des italiens au moment où les détails de cette loi ont été publiés. Et pourtant, entre trouver quelqu'un antipathique et lui souhaiter la mort, il s'ouvre tout de même un fossé bien profond. Vous voyez donc dans la première photo, publiée par le journal Repubblica, une femme qui a assisté à une manifestation contre ce projet de loi et qui, par le slogan créé exprès pour cette occasion-là, voudrait envoyer Madame Fornero au cimetière, et ceci illico. N'en parlons pas, c'est un manque de goût total et la preuve d'une stupidité remarquable. Plus remarquable, pourtant, est le fait qu'il y a quelqu'un qui a bien voulu poser à côté de la femme habillée en "Fornero al cimitero" pour une photo et qu'en plus ce quelqu'un est bien un homme politique, l'ancien ministre de la justice Oliviero Diliberto. Il y a maintes manières d'exprimer son mécontentement, et ce mécontentement, dans le cas précis qui s'est produit en Italie, peut même sembler justifié. Et toutefois, il faut chercher ses moyens avec prudence et intelligence, et il faut voir avec qui l'on s'associe. Ceci dit, je voudrais aussi brièvement vous rappeler le cas exemplaire et le plus connu de l'impact du slogan imprimé sur textile dans le monde de la politique - cela s'est produit en 1983 lors d'une rencontre entre Katharine Hamnett (la reine du t-shirt à slogan) et Margaret Thatcher. A l'époque, la designer a choisi de se solidariser avec les 58 % de la population allemande qui s'étaient exprimés contre le stationnement de missiles balistiques du type Pershing en Allemagne. Autre histoire, autre mesure - et autre choix de mots, ce qui, même quand ils apparaissent sur un t-shirt, est bien décisif ...



"soon-ish" meaning, according to Sari Bibliowicz,
a beta version to launch in March, a full-fledged launch soon thereafter

... for an article in which I recently looked into innovative e-commerce solutions (the main focus was on on pre-order concepts like Moda Operandi and Couture Society) I caught up with Sari Bibliowicz from the soon-to-launch, New York City-based website Bib + Tuck. There was quite some buzz surrounding this website earlier on, after Vogue.com published a piece about it in October. Six months on a beta version of the marketplace is about to launch.
So here comes the full-length English language version of Sari's answers to my questions, for all you fashion-obsessed clothes traders out there ...

to create some buzz prior to the actual launch,
the "Fashion Forward" project was a collaboration
with ten of Bib+Tuck's favourite stylists/designers/bloggers

What exactly is Bib + Tuck?
Bib + Tuck is an exclusive online trading community for the fashion obsessed. Our hope is to bring together the hippest fashion bloggers, photographers, stylists, trendsetters, and good-old fashionistas to exchange their clothes, shoes and accessories.

Surviving in the city and staying stylish means understanding how to do more with less (space, time, and money). At Bib + Tuck we are anything but daunted by this task, it’s what really excites us! Even if we did have a millie to re-swag our style, we’d still be intrigued by a great swap. Trade my once-worn Manolos for last season’s Balanciaga Bag? Yes please!

In a city that’s got plenty of people willing to drop thousands for the new “it” item, we define ourselves not by the pieces we own, but how we wear them. Bib + Tuck is about fashion, creativity, and resourcefulness, minus the hassle and dank smell of a second hand store. It’s curated for us and by us, and it’s our favorite place to shop!

How and when exactly was the idea born?
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and we’ll admit it was our insatiable appetites for fashion that drove us to create Bib + Tuck.

As five recent grads living in the same building in NYC with no closet space to spare, having access to each other’s fantastic wardrobes meant we suddenly had endless options! Bib + Tuck is our way of expanding our style options without having to increase the size of our closets. We style the pieces we once loved so that they can be someone else’s inspiration, and browse each other’s profiles for something that inspires us! Our endless goal is to do more with less.

What's unique about Bib + Tuck with regard to other marketplaces?
a) We are invitation only and we take this seriously. It is not easy to score an invite and we want to keep our community exclusive and master our demographic – composed of creative, style obsessed individuals with an enviable closet.

b) It’s not like any of the peer to peer marketplaces out there. It’ visual, it’s style, it’s inspiration, it’s creative. It feels like thumbing through your favorite blogs. We like to think of ourselves as ‘The Sartorialist meets eBay’. We’re not just about the clothes – but about the people behind the clothes – it's a way to approach marketplaces that hasn’t been done before.

c) No money involved aside from shipping and a small transaction fee. Its like shopping at your fave website, but for free. d) The swapping is not one to one, you “sell” an item for virtual credits and then use those credits to “buy” from someone else.

How do you assure quality control?
By curating and being selective about the people on the website, we decide who gets an in and who doesn’t, creating a trusted community of like-minded individuals who all have the same goal; to replicate the experience of shopping in their sister’s closet. We also allow users to “report” an item if they feel it is misrepresented in any way. On our end, we will monitor all items closely and take strict measures on any fraudulent activity.

How do plan to make money with Bib + Tuck?
Lets face it, we have to make money to keep the site running. We keep it simple and transparent: $3.00 per transaction. No selling fees, no listing fees, no hidden fees. We use PayPal, a trusted source, for every transaction ...


PARIS, aller et retour

... it's been a bit calm on ParisVienne because, what can I tell you, well, because I went to Paris for the Semaine du prêt-à-porter, and things had been rather hectic before that, and they still are and will continue to be. ANYHOW, Paris was delightful, I interviewed some very interesting people and chatted with quite some Austrian designers and, well, I'll let you know more asap ... récemment, ParisVienne a été un lieu (virtuel) un peu plus calme que d'habitude, que puis-je vous dire, c'est à cause de la semaine de la mode à Paris à laquelle j'ai assisté, c'était excitant comme toujours, surtout parce que j'ai pu interviewer des designers très intéressants, et m'entretenir avecc d'autres gens encore, enfin bref, je pense que je vais vous en parler le moment venu ...

... the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne is situated on Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, just opposite the French president's residence, the Palais de l'Elysée, and even, as Didier Grumbach once told me, Fédération française de la couture is looking down on the palace as it's on the second or third floor, can't remember ... vous le saurez si vous habitez à Paris, je vous le dis au cas où vous n'y habitez pas, la Chambre syndicale de la couture parisienne est située juste en face de la résidence du Président de la République, sur la rue due Faubourg St Honoré, et les bureaux de la fédération sont même situés au-dessus du palais de l'Elysée, comme m'avait signalé Monsieur Didier Grumbach il y a désormais presque deux ans ...

... oh I know that there are many people who were not so fond of Formichetti's latest outing for the Mugler brand but I wouldn't really go as far as declaring it outright trash, don't you agree that this would be a bit harsh? ... je suis bien conscient qu'il n'y a pas grand monde qui ait été très content du travail de Formichetti pour Mugler, l'absence de Lady Gaga semble avoir mis en relief quelques faiblesses on va dire, mais je n'irais tout de même pas aussi loin que la personne qui a ouvertement déclaré que la marque, c'est pour la poubelle ...