Monthly Archives: January 2013

SPECIAL REPORT: HATS AND THEIR OWNERS DESCEND ON FIT

As Hue always says, one gal in a charming chapeau is enchanting, but a flock of femmes fatales flaunting their fantastical fascinators is nothing short of a fabulous affair.

Hats off to the Hat Ladies of Charleston, who toured FIT during a trip to New York. And to Vernell Washington, Fashion Buying and Merchandising ’81, for organizing the visit. Washington, diva-in-chief of GrandDiva Enterprises, sells hats made by Grace Mark, a millinery magician from Nigeria.

Vernell Washington ’81 in a hat that could turn any wintry day into springtime. She has great taste in magazines, too.

The self-anointed Top Hat of the group is one Archie Burkel, whose grandmother was the famed Hat Lady of Chicago. Burkel organized the Hat Ladies 12 years ago because she didn’t want to be the only one in the room sporting a wild head topper.

“We are dedicated to loving hats and doing good deeds while wearing them,” she proclaimed. “It’s fashion with compassion!”

The Top Hat in a top hat: Archie Burkel, founder of the Hat Ladies.

In Charleston, the Hat Ladies lead house tours and bring hats to the children’s hospital, assisted-living facilities, and homeless shelters. “Hat is part of heart,” she pointed out.

The next day, the Ladies held a Hats of the World Luncheon (HOWL) for the women of the United Nations, at the Permanent Mission of Romania.

“Oh, we pull a lot of things out of our hats,” Burkel said with a smile.

The Hat Ladies of Charleston, posing in FIT’s David Dubsinky Student Center. Grace Mark sits on the left, next to Vernell Washington.

OVERHEARD AT “FASHION AND TECHNOLOGY” AT THE MUSEUM AT FIT

Around lunchtime on a gloomy Wednesday, visitors stepped into The Museum at FIT for a show about “the impact of emerging technologies on the nature of fashion and production.” Some were awed by the objects, like a marvelous pink polyester dress by Mary McFadden with her distinctive pleats. Others had their minds strictly on how these innovative garments would look in their own wardrobes. Here are some comments Hue couldn’t help hearing that afternoon.

On the right, the aforementioned Mary McFadden dress, complete with pleats (seeing them may require squinting and/or imagination).

“For once I don’t look at [Issey Miyake’s] clothing and think you have to be really thin to wear it. It can be for the average woman.”

“My! That’s a fat jacket. . . . Like a fat trash bag.”

On a rectangular white dress made from paper-like fabric: “I hope no one confused her for an envelope at the post office.”

“I like this BAAAAAAAAAGGG!”

The mannequin on the left wearing Gareth Pugh is holding the baaaaaaaaaggg.

On a pair of Nicholas Kirkwood shoes with multicolored electrical wires: “I know people like shoes, but those are too crazy for me.”

A short exchange after watching a video clip on digital T-shirts:
“What if you get wet?”
“ZAP! . . . That’s a good question.”

A fuchsia Cardin dress with molded 3D shapes. Hue wonders if it’s machine-washable.

Guest blogger Gaby Campoverde is a sophomore from Swarthmore College studying Art History and Linguistics. In her free time, she enjoys taking long walks in the city, staring at window displays on Fifth Avenue, and spending quality time with her Yorkie, Jamie.

RUNNIN’ A TV STATION AIN’T EASY

Hue has never started a business. The opposite is true of Marguerite Moore.

Moore, who teaches classes at FIT’s Enterprise Center and who blogs for Hot Topics Insider, wrote Love and War, The Human Side of Business: The Tale of The Arabic Channel about the cable station for Arabic speakers (channel 507 on Time Warner) that she and her husband Gamil launched in 1991, while she was working at Lehman Brothers. Since then, it’s been a trial by fire of buying content, selling advertising, and struggling to turn a profit in the wake of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks.

Moore has a built-in readership; she plans to teach the book to BE261: Starting a Small Business this spring. Hue sat down with Moore to ask her about the channel and the book.

Hue: What are The Arabic Channel’s most popular shows?
Moore:
We run a lot of soap operas and films, from Egypt, Syria, and Dubai. Movies about [medieval Egyptian sultan] Salah El-Din, Genghis Khan, and Anwar Sadat, have been very popular, as has a documentary on the October 6 War [also known as the Yom Kippur War], when Egypt conquered Israel. We used to produce our own news, getting the feed from the AP. Now we show Al Jazeera.

Marguerite Moore and her husband Gamil hold a quick confab inside The Arabic Channel HQ.

Hue: Running an Arabic channel must get politically dicey these days.
Moore:
We entertain all faiths and try to be apolitical. But it’s not easy. When we show the Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer of Mecca, our viewers like that, but one Christmas we put on the Orthodox Mass, and we got complaints.
Shortly after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the FBI visited us. They wanted to know if we had been contacted by anyone involved in the bombing. They tapped our phones. We didn’t realize that the FBI was aware that The Arabic Channel existed. And every time we picked up the phone, we had to be careful.

Hue: How did you come up with the title for your book?
Moore: I was having difficulty with that, so I had lunch with my friend Merry, who is a big reader. She said, “Love and War. The book is about a marriage, going back and forth between love and war, and the World Trade Center attacks are a kind of war. And you’re relating what happened to you, which is the human side of it.” Every time I was writing, I’d think about those elements.