Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities




A few weeks back, I attended a book signing for Ralph Lauren. Held at Bergdorf Goodman, it was complete with champagne, fancy hors d’oeuvres and photographers to capture it all. A very tanned Ralph was there to sign copies of his gigantic new tome, Ralph Lauren which recaps his 40-year career as an iconic American fashion designer. It was a see and be seen soiree for the Upper East Side set. I actually enjoyed myself that night. My co-worker and I got a kick out of looking at all the rings with diamonds the size of a baby’s fist: ‘Look at that one. No, this one is bigger!’ In between my people-watching, I couldn’t help but to think about all the folks who fall into a completely different end of the economic-social ladder that would never be invited to such a shindig. (By the way, the only reason I was there is because I work in publishing.) Back in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s, there was a crew that supposedly began in Brooklyn called the Lo Lifes because they all wore (you guessed it!) lots and lots of Polo gear. Now, many of these kids went off and did some very ugly things in the name of the Lo Lifes but from what I understand the original crew was pretty innocent - just looking for a way to express themselves in an environment that rarely understood them. Now, let me get this out of the way. I don’t condone anyone spending rent/mortgage money or college tuition dough on clothes for teenagers. Anyone who reads this blog (I love all 8 of you!) knows how I feel about living within one’s means.

So back to Bergdorf’s - as I watched all the chosen Upper East Side elite clink glasses and catch up on their yachts and Becky’s boarding school; I thought back to those kids who used to fiend to get their hands on some Polo. I still love the way inner city youth can flip a Polo outfit from preppy to gangsta. Many of them don’t even know what polo is. As long as that talent is channeled (not exploited) - and trust it is a talent - it’s a dope thing to observe/celebrate. But I digress -- I’ll post on that another time. Although Polo is a lower-priced line to Ralph’s other labels - it’s where he sees the most profit. I’m not mad at him for being a smart business man - how else would his precious daughter get her candy stores? But while I was at that event, I was forced to wonder what it would be like for those two very different worlds to collide. I don’t think either really knows the other exist. To some degree, I have a similar conversation with myself at most of the fashion events I attend because so much of high-fashion is influenced by what young people are wearing on the street.

A tale of two cities indeed…

P.S. - This post was just something I needed to get out. There’s no real ‘point’ to it. It is what it is - a random observation on my part.

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