The headline read that Lacroix has filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11. This, a day after I had had a decidedly depressing reality check. I've grown used to the weekly news of one or another company hitting the sidewalk face first. This news was a misprint...it had to be. When you factor in the European fashion houses that have been the examples of individuality, masters of Haute Couture, household names and the pillars of this business, Christian Lacroix has been in that rarefied group since the late eighties. That doesn't include the years he shook the establishment and the world with his brilliance as the designer for the house of Jean Patou. His first major contribution came with the modern version of the "pouf". It's volume and over blown effect was synonymous with the times in which it emerged. The world and this country were on a roll. Remember the Steinbergs, Saul and Gayfryd....the prince and Princess von Thurn and Taxis....Henry Kravis and Carolyne Roehm.....Bill and Pat Buckley,Nan and Thommy Kempner,Georgette Mosbacher, Anne Bass, Harriet Deutsch and on and on? These were some of the go getters in New York and internationally who personified the richness of the 80's. My god was it rich. Park Ave. was a boulevard of Bucks in a way it's never been since. Lacroix was the uniform of choice for those Ladies .He was the envy of Valentino, SainLaurent, Dior, Givenchy, Blass, Oscar, all of them. He struck a heavenly chord which no other designer at that time could play no matter how perfect their Piano. When he left Patou to open his own couture house the world was lining up. There was nothing less than promise. The eccentricity that was born at Patou became something richer and more fully realized under his own name. I'll never forget the utter grandeur of his muse and most important model Marie Seznac, she of the silver grey hair who would later become the Directrice of the house. Every confection she showed was more startling than the last with a riot of detail, color mixes combining shades and hues straight from old master paintings. You'd see Goya or Winterhalter in a mix that seemed like madness but was so brilliantly controlled. The couture that Lacroix introduced was at once totally modern and unimagined . It hearkened to a time from the past but at once was totally modern...one without rules. Granted, it was for many an acquired taste , but something impossible to ignore. Impossible in it's ability not to seduce. Our eyes were forever changed. With the new house came the ubiquitous perfume which did poorly and stresses mounted with the parent company LVMH. One thing led to another in the miasma known as Corporate. His house was sold to the Falic Group, a Texas based company whose DNA couldn't have been more alien to Christian's. But they moved forward despite that unfortunate shotgun marriage. Lesser priced collections spun off such as Bazaar and Christian Lacroix Jeans. Why everyone thinks jeans are the great pot of gold I have never understood, but there you have it. It is not an official end to the house as there are suitors in the wings, but the Couture collection scheduled to show in July is in question as is a Spring 20010 collection. With a court appointed trustee one's future is not one's own. Others at this point call the shots. That is an ugly reality that can not be underestimated. As much as there is a future and desire in the public and the House in particular does not hold sway over a trustee. That person's decision is the rule of law. With this in mind it is a very precarious and sad situation that the House of Lacroix must come to terms with. It has only rarely broken even or turned a profit since 1987. This is a documented fact which does little to bolster his chances of survival. He has always struck me as a realist and a very grounded man. I can only think that this turn of events is viewed by him as an opportunity and not a death knell. Opportunity has always come to him and there is no doubt that it will again. Christian Lacroix may be one of the highest profile designers to be affected by this economic tragedy, but his example which will be one of humility and grace is a lesson to all who may find themselves in a similar predicament. One step back makes for the possibility of 20 steps forward. One must only believe and have faith. We are not our businesses and our businesses do not define who we are and the value of who we are.
I hope and believe that the future is a heartbeat away for him and for the rest of us who are on similar journeys, though they may not have been journeys of our choosing.
I promised I would continue my coverage of this reality based train wreck and I've tried. I've honestly tried. I've set the TV to record it in case I have any excuse not to be home witnessing it and have managed pretty well. Nevertheless, I find myself checking in to see what new goodies they have in store for us the fashion starved. This brand of food will send us to an early grave. There are no nutrients in this glob of offal. It doesn't qualify even as suet. At least birds can find sustenance in suet. This is 100% sludge.
Isaac and Kelly and Fern don't even look amused. The guest audience of "industry giant" look appalled and I for one have had to turn it off more than once. The quality of entertainment and insight one expected to glean has become more a cautionary tale. If anyone with the brain the size of a bed bug still wants to be a fashion designer I would hope they'd consider advanced ambulance chasing or even intern as an assistant crack whore. This view of fashion takes the aspiring designer straight to hell. Though hell is paved in good intentions there is little room for these duelling designers (with 1 or 2 notable exceptions). I've rarely seen such a hodgepodge of mean spirited chest stabbing neverwillbe's.
The absurd tests and challenges are things no self respecting designer would ever attempt. Quality has always been the last word in design or any pursuit for that matter. Imagine altering a botched shoulder pad in a lined jacket? That translates to opening the lining, re-setting the pad and then closing the shoulder seam of the lining ....by hand. Oh, and then there is re attaching a botched zipper and hemming a skirt, both things also by hand. I forgot to mention you have about 20 minutes to do all of those tasks. For the layman with no experience in these things , any 1 of the separate tasks to be done correctly and neatly takes at least that long. So to judge a contestant on their ability to pull it all off in the allotted time isn't a test, it's a travesty. Now let's turn a jacket into a multipurpose garment that is functional, original,skillfully constructed and ultimately qualifies as FASHION. They all lost unless you consider an ugly ski suit with a wrap around blanket shawl or a down sleeping bag coat (a quilted body bag is closer to the truth) that you can sleep in on a sidewalk when you've been booted from your 12th job on seventh ave.as FASHION.
At this point I lost interest, my dinner started to back up on me and I couldn't sit and look at Norma Kamali or any of the other celebrity guests aping interest. If any one of you was questioning if fashion is alive or dying the celebrity jury is still out. This humble viewer has to weigh in. It's in it's tertiary state. It's time to call a priest in, start gathering wood for the pyre or run to the nearest Home Depot and buy a shovel. Any plot of earth will do. Start digging and buy some lye while you're at it. Methinks there will be a stench like we've rarely experienced. I will not bore or horrify you with more coverage on this show. There's more to be had watching an infomercial or pulling your own wisdom teeth with toy pliers.
Isaac, Kelly (whoever you are) and Fern, you should all apologize to the viewing audience. One can not squeeze caviar from a slug. This menu are slugs served 10 different ways, and none are palatable or remotely yummy.
Those are Isaac Mizrahi's parting words to the poor unfortunate who finds himself out of the race for super fashion show stardom. It's his Heidi Klum dismissal. The 3 words that will haunt the shattered contestant , and we the audience once he's uttered it about 2 or 3 times more. On the first episode he said it at least twice. Well the first episode got off to a rollicking start in total copyright infringement fashion. It is a poor man's project Runway and that isn't saying much. Especially, when you consider PR is about as bankrupt a sorry assed scripted pseudo reality show can get. The Fashion Show starring the irrepressible Isaac( I'll do absolutely anything vulgar, affected, crass and insipid ) Mizrahi and Kelly(where the hell did they dig her up?and by the way, who is she and what credentials if any does she have as a judge/host/critic) Rowland and Fern ( I can get you a venue, lights, seating and a steamer for your runway show, but it's gonna cost ya) Mallis, and a special guest judge from the heights of 7th Avenue Aristocracy. In this case it was the humble and benevolent uber design genius Ellie Tahari! WOW!!!!! The "talent " was iffy at best and appeared to be the rejects from PR. The most memorable by far was the evil latin cross dressing dwarf Merlin. He snapped and bitched his way through the first mini challenges and managed to alienate every contestant in the first 10 minutes. He undoubtedly alienated the whole viewing audience . For this reason he will easily be every ones favorite and the show'snemesis. In the self confidence dept. he's got it hands down. Nothing shakes him. He is totally and utterly politically incorrect , selfish, controlling ,self absorbed and bent on undermining all the others. He's clearly got what it takes to shine in this biz: a smidge of talent and a frightening attitude. His drag is a bit off putting but I guess he's the latin version of Thom Browne; inappropriate and ludicrous get-ups....but again those are magical ingredients. The challenges and the whole concept of the show complete with the arch editor from some marginal magazine makes it just an ersatz version of it's step sister Project Runway. Why this gang got together to put on such a silly and sad sloppy seconds version of the original is just beyond me. It's not like watching a car wreck. It's more like watching the folks who will end up in all that twisted metal get into the car, not bother with seat belts, look for the car keys(which they can't find ) and eventually opt for taking the bus. In other words, the hook factor is missing. Nothing happened but bad , boring bullshit. The runway itself is the star of the show. The industry titans who watch the shows and judge are a bunch of B-listers. When CynthiaRowley isn't even at the table you know they're scraping. But then again, it was the first episode so there's time for them to talk to Cynthia's people and get her on. The piece de resistance was when they had a super duper socialite as one of the challenges for the "designers" to dress for a series of VERY important events she would attend. They need to design around her trademark tresses and enhance her mega-watt, high voltage fabulousness.....When the door opens and in slithers Tinsley Mortimer I almost threw my WII remote wand through the screen of my 60"plasma. At this point it was either time for more meds or work it through like Adam my therapist suggests when the world becomes all too much. So I'm working through this with your help. We have to fight the urge to look away because there is a life lesson to begleaned watching this "Reality Fashion Show". What that lesson is I'm not in the least bit clear but by season's end , I'm sure one of us will figure it out. Let's keep in close touch. Maybe we can help each other through the horror and grief that will rain down on us . But never fear, Fluff is here and I've got at least 3 or 4 lives left. If this thing kills you, I will survive it and caution those who come after that the travel channel or that infomercial on freebie wheel chairs are more satisfying educationally and have more humor, like when Nana does 360's in her chair and doesn't hurl. Til next week," Bye bye Darling."
Long ago when I was a kitten , happy in the safety of home and only curious about life I discovered Vogue Magazine. This incarnation of Vogue was very different than what it is now. Diana Vreeland was in the driver's seat and it opened the doors to a world of sophistication, glamour and mystery. I would curl up on our sofa under the window where the sun would warm my back and spend hours entranced by every page and all it offered up to the senses. Even the typeset and the size of the magazine was enthralling. It was a much magazine in those days. We're talking 1972 or so.
My interest in fashion and fashion magazines were the worlds they conjured. Part of me knew it was artifice , but the other part knew instinctively that artifice and imagination could be the sole ingredients in creating a way of seeing and living....a real world of one's own making. Vogue did that for me, and for that I will be eternally grateful. My disillusionment with what that magazine has become can never take that away from me. I designed my world long before they went to work disassembling it.
The spell that held me wasn't specifically a dress, the cut of a gown or the way a sleeve was set , but more the overall mood that the photographer's eye captured. Fashion was synonymous with a way of looking at the world. It meant a heightened existence, not school uniforms, gym class , Little League or choir rehearsal on thursday nights. Fashion was a place with an address that was mine. There were lots of fantastic models in fabulous clothes, makeup, and jewels , but it wasn't until I stumbled onto my first issue that had Margaux Hemingway on the cover with a huge spread inside that I became fixated. She would become my definition of and the personification of beauty. From that moment , Fashion had a face and a body and it belonged to Margaux. This is still years before I considered fashion as a career. Frankly, I didn't understand that it could be one, certainly not one for me. Where I grew up, fashion wasn't even a topic of discussion. Certainly, not a topic for a 12 year old boy. So it was my own precious secret.
When I fantasized about my future, Margaux was my pal. When I thought up wild getaways to Marrakesh or Tahiti, she was my travel mate. I wanted to watch her dress, put on make-up. I wanted to brush her eyebrows....oh God, those heavenly eyebrows. Her beautiful athletic body and naturalness that was evident even then to a kid. There was something so real and open that photographers consistently captured. In retrospect, I believe she was incapable of hiding or separating who she was as a person from the glamorous model on the page. It was Margaux completely done, or Margaux the person. It's this quality of realism, even superbly transformed and heightened that sparked my imagination. This is the quality in models who would come later who inspired and haunted me. There is something about my personality and theirs or at least the look of them that touches me. The bizarre and unnatural do nothing for me. Natural beauty complete with flaws excite me.
Margaux had a meteoric rise to fame and then a life with many problems that were never kept private. The press was all over her and helped to shorten a life she struggled to get and keep on course. To this day I feel a loss when my thoughts wander back. The Met exhibit on Models as Muse, makes me think a lot about the different faces that launched a thousand ideas. Her face and beauty alone set me on my path.
Ironically, shortly before she died I had the very unexpected pleasure of making her acquaintance and thanking her for the gift she gave me, the one of which she was wholly unaware. It was pouring rain on a late afternoon and I was walking down Madison Ave. looking in boutique windows. At a red light I found myself standing with my umbrella next to a very tall and soaking wet woman trying to hail a cab. Instinctively, I offered to share my umbrella while she waited for a cab to stop. When she faced me to say thank you and how sweet I was to shield her, I realized it was her. I was stricken and struck dumb. But , as you don't come face to face with your dream model everyday, I introduced myself and gushed . She seemed so surprised and moved. I wished her well and told her what a fantastic model she was, that she was my muse for many years.When the cab came, I opened the door for her and she gave me a warm embrace and kissed my cheek. As the cab pulled away she lowered the window and waved goodbye. I continued down the ave. but now with out my umbrella. I gave it to her to keep; a small token of my appreciation. It didn't matter that I was drenched, now. At least the people I passed didn't notice the tears streaming down my face.
Joy or sadness?It's hard to say. They both are so closely aligned.
Remember the that great classic Model/fashion movie of the late seventies"Lipstick" starring Margaux Hemingway? It was my road map. Margaux Hemingway was my reason for living. Talk about Model as Muse, she was my sun , moon and stars. There were others like Renee Russo and Lisa Taylor , but absolutely none came close to Margaux. When that film came out I bought the soundtrack before the credits finished rolling and it became the soundtrack to my every waking moment. There was a song on it that repeats the line again and again, "my body, my body...everybody wants my body...". I am a little confused if this is a "Lipstick" attribution or am I mixing it up with "The Eyes of Laura Mars"? Both flicks focus on fashion, super models and serial murders, which makes them uniquely appropriate themes relating to the Gala. Well that's what spun around my brain last night channeling the thoughts of Anna Wintour and her posse. It was such a Lipstick/ Laura Mars moment . An exhumation , if you will of the days when models were the inspiration for so much that was life changing in fashion. Models as Muses are a thing of the past. They have been replaced by iron fisted magazine editors who've sold them down the river for actresses. ANY ACTRESS . So the models and actresses turned out in droves. Oldies , the current indistinguishable faces and the new preteens on the scene. The fact that so many were in short couture was a welcome and sexy change that gave the evening it's sizzle. Designers were there en masse as well. Marc Jacobs has had the most incredible transformation of all. Escorting Kate Moss, it was tough to choose which of them was more striking. He's grown very handsomely into his mega-stardom. She looked so good you barely recognized her,maybe that's what was so great about Kate. You almost thought she was someone else. She exuded glamor as did he in that movie star sort of way. Kind of a polished version of a tired looking Tom Ford. The only downer , besides Anna and her Peeps( that whole Vogue gaggle) was the unexpected Azzedine Alaia debacle. It appears his clothing ,photographs and influence as a torch bearer in the exhibit was conspicuously absent. Someone at Vogue screwed up and forgot to invite and include him. Considering his place in the line up of super greats and only one photograph by Gilles Bensimon from Elle was included , he decided to pull his clothes from the exhibit along with the designs he created especially for Naomi, Stephanie Seymour and Linda Evangelista to wear that night. BIG BOO BOO. This of course was mentioned in the New York Times blog" On The Runway" by Cathy Horyn. It's not like they forgot to include Zac Posen or Proenza Schouler, but the giant of design Alaia. Well there will be hell to pay and this debt will take some time to work off. What could Ms. Wintour and her minions, especially her Go-To Girl Alexandra Kotur NOT have been thinking? With the air so thin on Mount Olympus where they frolic, someone must have had a brain fart. I can safely say that an unpleasant odor will settle on this town for some time to come. The party went on, but it was one of the biggest faux pas thus far. Maybe it's just a sign of age..... Perhaps it's because Alaia doesn't buy ad pages in Vogue....Maybe LVMH, the exhibition's sponsor has a bone to pick, though I doubt it. I'd say it's early senility on the part of Conde Nast , it's irreproachable Editor and a support staff that only knows the words Brilliant and Yes. A new phrase they should add to their lexicon should be " S***, did we ever F*** Up....."
Yesterday, while slogging through the damp, lukewarm drizzle I passed Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein standing in front of 550 Seventh Avenue trying to hail a cab. I make a point to keep my eyes at face level in this town for the simple reason you never know who you'll see. If one did that all the time, you'd be shocked at who you'll pass or happen to be standing next to. Seeing him gave me the urge to go up and say something complimentary. His work and taking over as Creative Director of CKlein has been pretty extraordinary. My perception of him has always been positive as he's very talented and appears to be an honestly kind soul. But it was friday, I felt like something the cat spit up, so I kept on moving. When my errand was done some 10 minutes later, I returned the way I'd come. There he was still standing there trying to get a cab. You'd have thought he was a black person trying to get one to stop. Black people tend to wait 5 times as long to get a cab. It's got something to do with their complexions , I think. Maybe they're just hard to see, even at 9 in the morning. I don't know , but it takes forever for people of color, especially people who are black to get cabs. ...until recently when the economy went to hell and everyone stopped hailing cabs. Then one could see 4 cabs almost run an unsuspecting black person over just trying to beat the others to the fare. That was off topic but too much fun to avoid. Anyway, 10 minutes later he was still there getting soggy and looking a bit frustrated. As I have little self control and an overabundance of chutzpah I walked up to him to say hello and tell him how much I admire his work. He could not have been sweeter. Not just polite, but charming, affable, relaxed, natural, even humble. I felt a bit like a stage door Johnny, but he was such a normal human being. What fascinated me most was his eye contact. He never took his eyes away from mine as we spoke. He lamented that he loves his work, but that it's exhausting. That was so interesting, because I believed him. I think the guy actually works and doesn't leave it all to assistants like Calvin did. I felt like I wanted to offer him a meal and a comfortable seat. We all know that his success and reputation precedes him, but nevertheless he was a first class gentleman. He asked me how my day and week had gone, what I did and how things were going . Very considerate.
My faith was restored to some degree. There are great celebrated designers in fashion who have held onto their humanity. Francisco Costa is an example for many.
Some of my closest friends( who double as my harshest critics) say my posts are too long. I guess they are at times. I've been accused by my mate as being very "Chatty". It's become a joke, but I fear it's true. On a press junket I was scheduled to be interviewed by 8 publications in one 5 hour stretch. As horrified as I was at the prospect,having just landed 2 hours before this gluttonous press feast was to begin, I rose to the occasion and just started chatting. My hosts/handlers constantly had to yell cut and drag in the next journalist or t.v. crew to grab their pound of flesh. Next thing I knew , my mate had spread it around the suite that yes in fact I was "chatty" and would gleefully go on forever without a choke collar to bring me to heel.When I like something or someone , I enjoy talking. Otherwise, I'm shy.
So quickly, I wanted to say that stuff is happening in town at the speed of light.
Henri Bendel's is closing it's Fashion departments. Anne Watson , it's fashion director is going to have to figure out a new title. We had a great visit a year ago at some function that escapes me and talked almost 2 hours without pause. Whatever it was we discussed also escapes me, but she's a great gal. I got the distinct impression she enjoys a good chat.
Dolce and Gabbana are headed for a tumble. I said this at least 6 months ago and a few notable blogs like Business of Fashion and that heinous spamometer Fashionista took me to task over such a falsehood. Mark my words, the clock is ticking VERY loudly. All retail/wholesale operations in America are going to come to a close. The Director of marketing in North America, Mr. Taub is out and no one is replacing him. Italy , the home base is in for it as well. All is not right in that grand house of cards. Though the press is trumpeting the unveiling of the new fragrances , which will be a lucrative market, it doesn't erase or explain the fact that the collections will cease to be distributed in the U.S. I won't chatter on, just remember I called this spade a spade.
Michelle Obama needs to get wise to the fact that there is little or no color in her wardrobe and Ikram is one likely culprit. Last week she wore a dress by a little known designer who showed the collection on all black models. Well, just because black girls wore it doesn't make it the work of a a black designer. Desiree Rogers, her social secretary is too busy trying to get her mug on a mag cover in Oscar de la NO NO , to do the job at hand. Give some helpful and needed advice to your boss and stop trying to be Leticia Baldridge. She was self effacing and an extremely professional Social secretary. In fact, Leticia did little or no horn blowing until after the Kennedy White House years. Desiree is too much self and way too much face. Maybe that's what she studied at Harvard Business School.... This whole Michelle wearing the clothes of Black designers is a bit tired , but the fact that she's consistently NOT wearing them begs the question....What's up with that?
I'm not one to gossip, so you didn't hear it from me!
Alexandra Kotur,Vogue Special Events editor/coordinator at left.
The big night where Anna waves her magic wand, works the velvet rope like a bouncer from the Bronx and anoints the pilgrims with her special brand of holy oil (cod liver) is only 2 days away. The Costume Institute bash is about to erupt. The Model as Muse is this years theme. It sounds like one thing: the models who have been the force behind the creativity of the worlds most important designers since time and vanity began. That is intriguing when you consider how many movements have come and gone in fashion over the past 100 years or so. That is a too tall order, so something a bit more manageable would be easier on the eye, not to mention the weight and contents of the gift bags MUST be considered. Too much ephemera and they'll have to be in shopping carts. I thought this would simply be a time line of the some of the most influential faces that launched many a ship, dinghy or inner tube , but it appears to be more than that. It sounds like more of a diving off point than the point itself. I was reading that not only will there be lots of images of the super models of long ago( Dorian Leigh, Lisa Fonsagrives, Dovima , etc) who inspired Dior, Fath, Mainbocher, Givencht and YSL, but also the more recent gang. Girls like Linda, Amber,Nadja,Naomi, Christy and so many other GREAT faces from the 80's and 90's. It seems that there will be lots and lots of fashion on display as the by product of these women's participation in the most newsy form of the creative process ;Faces as Fulcrums of Fashion. There was a great piece in this weeks New York Observer. It focused on Anna's new/not so new protege, Alexandra Kotur. She with the name that had to come from Conde Nast Central Casting. It seems the physical and visceral layout of the show is from her very simply , coiffed head. There will be tableaux of many designers work connected to a movement and muses of that time. There will be historical references to women and clothing of great import. There will be a ceiling of suspended mannequins in looks to amuse and confound. All in a very sensory sensationally staged way. The piece on Ms. Kotur did steal some thunder from the circus which has come to town .Even though it's been curated by Harold Koda with assistance from Koehle Yohannen (who intrigues me more than the whole lot of them) the focus and credit was all directed towards this behind the scenes , hand picked Go-to-Girl of Anna's. They went to GREAT PAINS discussing how behind the scenes, under the radar,and publicity shy worker bee that she is. What I found contradictory is that Ms. Kotur, who has no interest in being photographed with the gals, or having her name mentioned in connection with the projects and responsibilities of her job is anything but off the radar. She is a very intelligent and creative force at Vogue. She more than deserves the credit she gets and will get after the circus loads up and leaves town. What puzzles me is that they go on and on about how "old -fashioned " she is. A simple girl with a dream. Always in the background. A faceless, selfless worker with no interest in promoting her good works. Eve Harrington comes to mind; this dark, questioning mind of mine.The photos that accompanied the story were more telling: 2 or 3 dressed in couture(taken from the pages of party pics in Vogue and then one so self consciously staged of her on a bicycle complete with handle bar basket. The little shift she wore was so humble and the expression enigmatic. Come to think of it, her expression is permanently enigmatic. Sort of the strict look of a fashion Nun, a mix of Isabel Toledo seriousness and carefully controlled hauteur.
The minions love her in the office . Andre ,Grace and Hamish had only good things to say. She sounds like a real team player! She's after all an old -fashioned girl. But I've seen her in the pages of Vogue as one of the major players shot in amazing clothes at amazing venues for the last 3or 4 years. Shes photographed repeatedly with Marina Rust, Aerin Lauder-Zinterhoffer and Lauren DuPont; Society's Young Guns. (I have to say, that Lauren is my Beauty of Choice. I have to write about her because she embodies a very fresh, healthy attitude towards her unique position in life, her image is very natural and self effacing. She was once a market editor at Vogue editor possessed of the best manners of them all and is really much more off than on the radar.... but I digress.) So what's up with the reshaping of history? None of this matters, honestly except it's so typically and patently sort of not really exactly FACT. Fact finding is a very essential job at Vogue unless it concerns the staff. This is a perfect example of Alchemy at work in this laboratory of mad scientists/editors/designers/hacks, you name it. One part Puff, not Fluff, 6 parts gratuitous clap trap, and a little arsenic to taste and you have a full blown Souffle a la Conde. Looks good. Smells good , but think twice before you taste.
And for those of you who might find my attitude on this matter catty, and wonder if I intend to attend the Gala, I stopped attending when the price of dinner was higher than my rent. I was forced to choose between a plate of mutton a la muse and paying rent on my 5 room parlor floor of a 250 year old brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. You do the math. Call me parsimonious and small minded. I'll cop to that.