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By Julie Bliss
This week, The New York Times reported that the nation's top fashion merchandisers, who have long been neglecting the over 35 customer, are now making forays into recapturing the fashion conscious and extremely affluent woman.
The outraged cry of women of a certain age, who for some reason still think they could look good if they just had more silk shantung, has been heard at last. Retailers look to redirect the bottomless cash flow the disenfranchised women are known to possess away from cosmetics and plastic surgeons and into their own patch pockets.
Long known for their sassy take on youthful style, Abercromie & Fitch will introduce their new line Cagney & Lacey. The sportswear separates are designed to expose, not the bare abdomen, but the tiny area between the ankle and the top of the foot, an area of the body where older women have much less trouble.
With the launch of Not Pregnant Anymore, But Still Fat!, the house of uber-trendy Tommy Hilfiger introduces their line of nautically inspired tunics, capris and ultra-hot trench coats that all can double as actual boat covers.
Hilfiger spokesman Martin Nevermarried revealed the new line at a press conference Friday promising smoking-hot styling in an easy to shop venue filled with comfy lounge chairs and Dove ice cream bites. The Orlando, Florida flagship store, earmarked for a July soft opening, will be designed by text message voting and will include cash registers and lots of hanging things.
Not to be left behind, P-Diddy is opening his chain of shops for her to be called, "I May Be Yo Mamma, But I Still Look Fine!" Designing for the older woman with style presented no problem for the King of (what is he the king of again?) who noted, "I don't actually do anything. They just use my name."
Oprah Winfrey and Donatella Versace have teamed up to produce a line of clothing that promises to be high on style, but hard on the pocketbook. A Versace spokeswoman boasted "No one will be able to afford theses pieces except Oprah." Look for cozy cashmere bra and panty sets and spun gold winter weight trousers to appear on the Oprah show early next year.
The Gap, another house of design that had been fruitlessly chasing the younger, trend conscious consumer is scrapping their entire jeans and T-shirt empire and starting over as Muu-Muu, featuring gauzy handkerchief hemlines, Maude-inspired pantsuits and high waisted all-way stretchpants. One Gap insider explained the new direction, "We feel the Goddess look is the hot style trend of the oughts (2000's). Women are tired of tucking their butt and belly fat into the low rise jeans. Today's woman needs layers and layers ofclothes to feel sexy - underneath it all. We can probably sell them (fat women) three or four whole outfits to create one layered look. No skinny twenty something would ever buy that much stuff."
Style maven Steven Cockatoo stresses the importance of accessories and hopes the design teams will not forget to include huge brimmed hats, bold flowery earrings and owl eye glasses in their lines. According to Cockatoo, kooky colors and large chunks of plastic draw attention up to the head, away from the body, adding to the illusion of quirky menopausal dementia.
The Fab Five are also getting in on the act. Bravo has plans to expand the Queer Eye concept for middle-aged women in a new series tentatively titled Queer Eye and More Pie. A corresponding clothing line will feature five simple black pieces accompanied by dessert.
Jessica Simpson and husband Nick Lachey have no interest in opening boutiques for old, oversizers. Jessica spit out her drink and laughed until she peed when asked.
© 2004 Julie Bliss
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Bliss is a freelance writer from Fairfield, CT with many credits, but no actual credit.