September 16, 2007

What's in a Name?

To look at me you wouldn't know that I am a closet fashionista (not a bad pun considering that it is 7:30 on a Sunday morning). I don't dress the part, although I might be inclined to if I had limitless resources and a different-sized body. I am just intrigued by fashion. It's my guilty pleasure. I love to look at it, read about it in both print and blogs, and talk about it with Nora. So of course we were both excited to learn that designer Vera Wang was introducing a line of clothes for Kohl's. Previously, Kohl's biggest designer was Daisy Fuentes so this was clearly a step up. We read about it in the newspaper and then checked out Wang's designs online. The site is very sophisticated and a dramatic contrast to the rest of the Kohl's website. Nora and I expected big things.

The arrival of Simply Vera in the stores happened to coincide with Nora's first trip home since May and we both felt a pilgrimage to the Kohl's in Ventura was in order. Hopes were high as we cruised down 101, fortified with a delicious breakfast at D'Angelos, headed off to purchase our first Vera Wangs. When we entered the store and spotted Simply Vera we were greeted by a frenetic employee (she must have consumed way too much caffeine) who told us how great the clothes were and then attempted to demonstrate her fashion knowledge by pairing a skimpy faux chiffon dress with a stiff hopsack-looking, slightly misproportioned and very bulky short jacket. We overlooked this interruption of our pure shopping experience, disregarded her unsolicited suggestions, and investigated on our own.

There was lots of black, contrasting with an unusually large number of items in various shades of purple--ranging from neon bright to washed out lavender. Although we aren't usually attracted to lavender we still persevered, hoping to find one or two treasures in the collection. Then we started touching the clothes and realized that the fabrics were heavily polyester and other man-made materials. The sort of fabrics that snag the tips of your fingers and not pleasing to the touch. Considering the prices of the garments, the cheapness of the fabrics was a significant disappointment.

We collected the right sizes for Nora in a selection of little black dresses, a hilarious faux brocade bubble skirt (Vera, what were you thinking?), as well as a few shirts and sweaters. Nora tried everything on and nothing was exceptional. The clothes didn't look like anything she would wear and I'm pretty sure Vera wouldn't either. There was one black dress with royal blue satin straps that was cute on Nora but when we looked at the quality of the fabric and the construction we left it behind in the dressing room, too. The clothes were a bust, but since we were there we decided to look at all her products: shoes, purses, gaudy jewelry, towels and bedding. I regret to report that the only thing I might have considered purchasing were the towels. They weren't anything special but some of the colors were nice, they had a good weight to them and they appeared to be the only product she made using natural materials.

We went because of Vera Wang, and we left because of Vera Wang. I hope that other consumers will feel the same way about SimplyVera, and Ms. Wang and Kohl's will be forced to acknowledge that their insulting attempt to provide designer fashions to the masses was a failure. Even us low-budget closet fashionistas deserve better than this.


Margaret/Maggie said...

here, here!

Patty Palmer said...

Ouch! I saw the Simply Vera collection on Oprah the other day. Some pieces looked okay, but overall I wasn't taken with the silhouettes. Still I was intrigued by what the store might offer. Won't go now! Thanks for sparing me a trip to Ventura.