Leather. Wool. And Snark.
The ever controversial and brilliant “critical shopper,” Cintra Wilson, who penned the glorious (or evil, depending on who you ask) review of the JC Penny that landed in Manhattan last year, has published her final column for the New York Times. Sad face. A collection of the best kind of snark (biting, brilliant, and self-deprecating) from her column over the years below.
Chloe store – 850 Madison Avenue
“Unlike the Justin Timberlake album that oozed from start to finish over Chloé’s airwaves, Mr. Andersson apparently has no intention of bringing sexy back…Getting out of one black dress with a high swoop neck and a structured waist proved nearly impossible. The wool constricted violently; I could smell the agony of other women who had been trapped in that dress before me, and had possibly died in it ($2,400).”
Dolce & Gabanna – 660 Madison Avenue
“Sitting among suitcase-size handbags made from giant robot snakes was a crocodile bag the same size, shape and color of a human torso. This seemed to be deliberately marketed toward women who prefer their husbands disassembled, and in the overhead compartment ($49,000).
An example of superlative service: You have selected over $30,000 of garments — and there are three of them, total. They are carried into the “special” dressing room (the one with — no lie — what I believed to be actual cheetah fur covering the doors). You remark: ‘I’ll be in here for a while. I am going to do a pile of blow and clean my gun.’
The sterling professional, instead of dialing security, quips that you’ll be ‘needing another drink.'”
Eva Gentry – 389 Atlantic Avenue
“Lying in a white box surrounded by tissue was an interesting Margiela collector piece: a black Victorian-style mourning coat, apparently made for someone 18 inches tall — the preparation, perhaps, for an American Girl funeral.
“It’s taxidermy-esque,” I commented to [the store clerk].
“We love that stuff,” she gushed.
“Dead kids,” I agreed.
Ann Taylor – 2015 Broadway
“The line has always offered tasteful middle-management office classics in wool with just enough spandex to vaguely suggest a Sarah Palin strip-o-gram. My shorthand for the look was always ‘capitalist burqa’ or ‘corporate office submissive’: cubicle-wear of so-so quality for the single girl in her late 20s whose self-esteem has been almost beaten to death by the beauty industrial complex and whose decent education has been punished with a thanklessly demanding office job…
[F]or this dreaded excursion, I paired my newly mutilated motocross pants with a black 82nd Airborne ‘Death From Above’ T-shirt and boots from my ‘Frankenhooker’ collection — an outfit loosely translated as ‘No, I’m not interested in a Michelle Obama-inspired, stretch satin, office-party ‘mistletoe moment’ dress, thank you very much.'”
Agent Provocateur – 133 Mercer Street
“I guessed that a rack of short see-through plastic raincoats were designed for something akin to intimate pudding wrestling. Then I realized they probably were really designed for … I can’t remember what, because when I got home, I snorted Clorox and bleached the thought right out of my mind.”
Barney’s Co-op – 194 Atlantic Avenue
“The affable staff — primarily wispy, 20-something hipster boys with conked neo-rockabilly hair, jeggings, buffalo-plaid shirts and dainty little sneakers in silver or leopard print — tends to look like a skateboard team composed of the cast of ‘Glee.’
I felt queasy seeing so many luxe faux-military fatigues, in Brooklyn’s fanciest new retail establishment. It felt a little too disconnected from the fact that we still have an actual war going on to be surrounded by rich Brooklyn moms pushing four-digit sticker-price strollers, chatting on new God-phones and fondling $965 Helmut Lang leggings while dressed like extras from ‘Apocalypse Now.'”
Pierre Hardy – 30 Jane Street
“At first glance, the shop might be the front office for an international weaponry brokerage, an illegal plastic surgery cult or perhaps an entertainment law office-slash-sex dungeon. The (presumed intentional) effect is to cause the shopper to question her own validity. Should she potentially corrupt the space inhabited by these rarefied shoes by insinuating herself into it, or should she should let all her credit cards slide from her fingers into the middle of West Fourth Street, lie down on them and succumb to a coma of existential ambivalence?”
Dior – 19 East 57th Street
“A pair of $1,850 toeless peek-a-booties made of stiffened black lace seemed too fragile for a memorable night in Manhattan, but perhaps if you were carried from limo to sofa, you could get a couple of months out of them.
“Dior splashes shamelessly into the theater of spectacle, for those in a position to flaunt conspicuous consumption. Today’s new look isn’t aimed at shaping an independent new woman, but at adorning mistresses and new trophy wives in the sartorial equivalent of hula skirts made from 500-euro notes.”
JC Penny – 901 Sixth Avenue
“J. C. Penney has always trafficked in knockoffs that aren’t quite up to Canal Street’s illegal standards. It was never ‘get the look for less’ so much as ‘get something vaguely shaped like the designer thing you want, but cut much more conservatively, made in all-petroleum materials, and with a too-similar wannabe logo that announces your inferiority to evil classmates as surely as if you were cursed to be followed around by a tuba section.'”
“[D]esigners seem to be enjoying a post-shame era… Liz & Co., an offshoot of Liz Claiborne, key provider of looks that say ‘I have been in a senior management position at this D.M.V. for 34 years.'”