Steam Punk Wedding

My daughter just attended a wedding in Portland, Oregon with a Steam Punk theme.   Steam Punk was new to me so, after doing some research, I would describe it as Victorian with attitude.

Based on my daughter description, the wedding sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime event. Held on a Saturday in a large park, the beautiful sunny day brought out the usual park goers – families, dog walkers, lovers and joggers.  When the wedding party started to convene, all activity by park-goers came to a screeching halt and all eyes were on the big event.

All of the wedding party and guests were in Victorian attire. The bride wore a black and white striped Victorian dress, all groomsmen wore kilts and there was an assortment of variations.   I am including some of her pictures to give you a full flavor.

So now, when your child or grandchild mentions “Steam Punk”,  you can surprise them with how hip you are!

Time for a reality check.


A friend recently sent me an article about Delta flight attendants from the recently merged Northwest Airlines filing a grievance over availability of the red dress uniform.  That sounds innocent enough but wait until you hear the rest of the story.

As you probably remember, five years ago Delta hired Richard Tyler, a New York designer, to create a new, updated look to replace the old, drab uniforms for flight attendants and ticketing personnel.  He came up with a classic navy suit with blazer, slacks or skirt and vest, navy dresses and a spiffy new white blouse with red accents.  As an alternative, the selection also included a red wrap dress.   “I want them to look sexy and great, but you have to keep that classic look as well,” Tyler told the Associated Press at the time.   The red dress has become the object of the dispute.

The Northwest employees began wearing the Delta uniforms on March 30 and shortly thereafter, their union filed a grievance against Delta for not offering the red dress up to size 28.  Delta only offers that dress up to size 18 but other uniform choices are available in the larger sizes.

Now I am just shaking my head over this whole thing.   I remember traveling on Delta right after the new uniforms came out and asked one of the flight attendants how they liked the new choices.  She, wearing the navy suit, said everyone was quite happy.  She pointed to her co-worker (about a size 2), wearing the red dress and commented how attractive it was on a tiny person but said that she did not think it was flattering if one is a bit larger.  Now this comment came from probably a size 10 or 12.  She had wisely determined which of the new uniform choices most flattered her and did not choose the less flattering option.

The wrap dress is styled much like the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses that have made such resurgence in the past few years.   However, this is where the similarity stops.  The DVF dress is made of a synthetic knit, which molds to your body and offers some stretch.  It can be quite flattering on a variety of body shapes and larger sizes.  The Delta dress is constructed in a woven fabric with no stretch.  Since the style tapers in at the waist with a slight  flair to the skirt, it will look best on an hourglass figure or at least one with a tapered waist.  The fabric choice is no doubt made for safety reasons.  In the event of a fire, a synthetic knit would melt and cause severe burns.

In the five years since the new uniforms have been in use, I have probably not seen more than a dozen flight attendants wearing the red dress.  Certainly, that might be because the separate pieces have more versatility, especially if one is on an overnight flight.  It strikes me though; that many of the attendants do not choose the red dress because they do not feel it is flattering.  I remember when   there were height, weight and age restrictions for flight attendants.  I applaud those having gone by the wayside but is there not a limit?  How can a size 28 maneuver in the confined spaces in which a flight attendant must work?  And really, is this grievance truly about wanting to wear that red dress or is there more to it.  It obviously has nothing to do with what style will be the most flattering.

The world’s most impossible to get handbag

Hermes, the French company that manufacturers the legendary Berkin and Kelly handbags, actually showed a 3.2% profit in first quarter.  The sales increase stands by itself in an economy where consultants project a 20% contraction of sales in luxury lines such as Gucci, Louis Viitton, Armani and others.  What is their secret?

Hermes started as a saddle maker back in 1837.   Now, they are primarily known for their exclusive leather handbags and wallets although their scarves have enjoyed great popularity.  The company’s Chief Executive, Patrick Thomas was quoted in an article in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “We are not fashionable, and we avoid being fashionable.”    The two most popular handbags are the Kelly and Berkin.  The Kelly was a favorite of Princess Grace and thus got its name.  The Berkin was named for French singer, Jane Berkin.  It seems that she sat beside the Hermes president Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane trip carrying a Kelly bag.  During the ensuing conversation Berkin remarked that she found the Kelly bag difficult to get into.  Mr. Dumas asked her to draw her dream bag.   Although the story has variations, ultimately Hermes produced the bag and presented it to her along with a $5000 bill!   She only owned one of her namesake bags and in 2006, when she announced she was retiring the bag, she was quoted stating, “I love my Berkin bag, but I lug so much stuff around in it I believe it is part of the reason I have tendonitis.”

These handbags are among the most expensive on the market.  A Berkin starts at $7000 and can go up to over $100,000, depending on materials and customization.  One devoted client stated,  “Every time I see another women carrying a Birkin in a color that I want, I get bag envy.”   She added, “The more you can’t have something, the more you want it.”  Therein may lay the key to the company’s success.  Victoria Beckham’ husband, David, presented his wife with a Himalayan diamond studded Birkin for her last birthday, costing 80,000 British pounds.  This purse joined her collection of 100+ other Hermes bags (over $2 million dollars worth according to of ostrich, crocodile and other exotic leathers.

Faithful customers place orders for bags in unique colors or leathers, creating a waiting list for sometimes years.   Custom bags may require waiting for up to three years. Although the styles remain the same, these variations coupled with the quality of workmanship, scream exclusivity – something that Hermes carefully guards.  Each bag is hand- stitched, using the same artisan from start to finish.    The Paris workroom produces only five handbags a week, which helps, explain the waiting list.  The company does not take a deposit and does not penalize the customer if the order is cancelled.  They do not reveal what percentage of their present sales is attributed to the back orders from their waiting list.

There is definitely something special about carrying a Hermes bag.  Three years ago while we were in Florence, Italy, I bought a Kelly look-a-like bag.  To my untrained eye, it looked like an exact replica.   Apparently, I was right.  We were skiing and had dinner in a popular restaurant in Vail.  The hostess, as she was seating us gushed, “I really like your bag.”  I just smiled demurely and respond softly, “Thank you.”