Meh – a fashion moment

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Last week the world passed me by in a blur. It was one of those weeks where I was so busy with one area of my life that I did the bare minimum to keep everything else functioning. I’m helping out a friend with her business while she’s away on holidays and given that I have only a fraction of the necessary knowledge, was flying by the seat of my pants on the verge of panic most of the week. The phone ringing sent an icicle of dread to skewer my innards, not knowing if I was going to look like a complete moron when someone asked me a question. Fortunately, many of the phone calls were marketers of some description and I was probably the only person they had called that day who was actually happy it was them on the other end. Not that I didn’t hang up, but hopefully they sensed my joy.

One of the moments that stood out in the fog of the rest of the week happened as I was walking past Hermes. Normally I glance at the windows and like your average woman, move on. I barely spared a moment to consider the likelihood of ever purchasing an item from the store. Sure I’d love a Kelly bag, but realistically, I’m unlikely to ever think that $25,000 for an entry level bag is a justifiable expense. On this day though, out of a side door came a swirl of models, dressed head to toe in garments that I could barely fathom the price of. The first impression I had was that they were all teeny tiny people, though strangely enough very tall, wearing various shades of caramel. Their skinny legged pants that fit without a hint of stretchiness skimmed their fragile looking ankles, at length that very few people can carry off without looking like an awkward teenager who suddenly grew. Their heels were so high, anyone but a professional would be kissing the ground like the pope. They swept out one door, walked two steps then flowed in a line through another door which was blocked to the public by a security guard. It was a mysterious manoeuvre that I will never know the purpose of, and part of me is insanely curious as to why it happened. What was the purpose of going in and out of the same building through a door mere steps away?

I was left with the impression of beautifully made clothes in lovely fabrics, worn by someone who was shaped completely differently to me and frankly, mostly everyone. I thought about it, and even if I had the money to spend on these clothes, the problem is that they wouldn’t suit me even though I’m fairly averagely sized. Fashion is something that isn’t made for most of us. If I took the time, I’m sure I could understand what makes one design different to another and where the inspiration for particular pieces came from. But like learning the workings of an internal combustion engine, I have the mental capacity for it, but not the interest. A friend of mine who is obsessed with fashion, says that it makes the world a more beautiful place. I’m all for that, but I really don’t think that’s where most designers are going. It seems to me that by making clothes for and advertising clothes on people who bear only a passing resemblance to everyone else, you are really only interested in beautifying a very small section of the world. There is a reason for flowers to be colourful and a point to the stunningly beautiful wings of a butterfly, but the purpose of high end, ridiculously expensive fashion still eludes me.

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When does marketing become cheating?

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Being a less than successful author leaves you open to a whole lot of helpful hints on how to make your book sell better. Given than none of the people offering advice have been in publishing, and I know almost nothing about marketing (what the f**k is a hashtag anyway?) these conversations tend to go round in circles. Friends in marketing for other industries have offered some useful insights, but none that my PR retarded self has converted to actual sales.

Several times the subject of “buying” reviews from India has come up as a suggestion. My immediate reaction has been “can’t, that’s cheating”, but the reply I got today was “no, that’s marketing”. The theory is that you have to spend money “advertising” your product, which in book terms means getting reviews and your book noticed. If you have a few hundred dollars to throw at it and it’s the most effective way of getting a return on that investment, then the logical path to follow would lead to the sub-continent.

Is it morally any different from buying a cake from the supermarket and dressing it up to pass off as your own? Taking the tags off new items of clothing and pretending they’re old? Buying ad space on a website that will then give a glowing review to your product? Pretending you have the degree you nearly finished? I knew someone who did that and I don’t think they were ever pulled up on it. These are all things that go to your credibility, but are hardly going to bring about the apocalypse.

The thing is, I’ve read a few books that had lots of amazing 5 star reviews, and realised after finishing that there was nothing redeeming about it and a book with that many typos and grammatical errors, as well as leaps in logic would never on its own get such a good rap. So I know they bought the reviews and I won’t read anything by that author again. Their next book might be a huge improvement, but I’ll never know (unless one of my favourite book bloggers recommends it and everyone else is reading it, then my militant stance will be out the window).

“But your book is good!” is the next response. Thanks, but everyone thinks their book is good or they wouldn’t put it out there. Also, you like me so you’re biased.

Marketing is never going to be my thing and I have enormous respect people who do it well and come up with new and exciting ways to promote their books. People outside the industry might not get why most of us will never buy reviews for $5 a pop, but writers in there for the long haul want to build up goodwill and loyal readers. After all, who is actually doing it for the money?

Looking Crap

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Why is it, when you are looking crap, that you always run into someone you don’t know very well? Strangers don’t care and if you saw someone you are friends with, you could explain, have a bit of a laugh, and then move on, secure in the knowledge that they knew this wasn’t how you normally looked. But it’s never the last group of people, it’s always the first, which comprise (in order of descending levels of horror): The last person who dumped you, your old boss or former colleagues, any previous exes, your exes’ friends and people from school you never wanted to see again.

I’ve just been away skiing for a week and last night was looking definitely worse for wear. I’d been out in the sun and wind and drunk too much wine in a superheated lodge so resembled one of those dehydrated chips you find periodically under the couch cushions. Two days of driving failed to add any to my level of moisture. I’d also forgotten to take my tweezers so after nine days, my militant and well organised eyebrows were staging a successful coup to take over my face. To compound the problem, we’d stayed at a friend’s working sheep farm on the way home. As they are on tank water, we were all conscious about water conservation so didn’t shower which might possibly have led me to forgetting to brush my hair too. We then went out into the paddocks on the back of a ute and “helped” (I use that in the loosest sense) with the lambing. A smoky bonfire lunch of charcoaled sausages later and the overall package of utter degeneration was complete, from my muddy boots to my birds’ nest hair.

Stopping for takeaway sushi on the way home seemed a great idea at the time. Our local Japanese is quite nice and knowing the menu, I could order from the car and we could just grab it on the way home. Unfortunately, the snatch-and-go didn’t go quite to plan. The food wasn’t quite ready, so I had to wait, antsy as all hell, given my current state and wishing I had been driving the final leg so spared the indignity of appearing in public at all. And of course, while standing there trapped, the door opens and in walks a well-dressed couple. Thinking they looked familiar, I glanced at them for slightly too long and was then forced to acknowledge the presence of my former boss. He gave me a solid once up and down followed by a condescending smile. Given our working relationship had ended on not a great note, the judgement was mortifying. Clearly, I had “let myself go” after having children, spectacularly so. Saying something in these situations can only make it worse, so I tried the next option of just brazening it out and pretending everything was fine and I was aiming to look homeless – its the latest hipster look!

As I spent a bit of time today doing some grooming, I assured myself that I didn’t care and that no one probably even remembers who I am, should chat at the water cooler happen to come around to former workers they’d recently bumped into. Unlike school, at least there are no reunions for former workplaces. Not that I care that he saw me like that. No, really I don’t. Promise. I’m just going to wear a paper bag with eye holes cut out from now on, unless I’m coming straight from the hairdressers.