Neiman Marcus Gala

Everyone has been writing really fabulous reviews of the Neiman Marcus Gala. I don't want to be the one journalist that doesn't, but it's taken me a week to translate that event into words. As much as I want to support every fashion event that happens in Seattle, there are some events that just don't register with me. People were trying way too hard. I was trying too hard! I didn't notice at first, but my nose slightly tilted upward as I sifted through $1000 fur vests like I could actually afford them! The undefined "black tie" had people dressed to polar extremes. Some women wore evening gowns, others wore cocktail dresses, and a select few chose to cross all boundaries of what's trendy. It's funny because galas like this demand that you wear designer threads like they're nothing special - "These old things? I've had Louboutins for forever..."

Photographs Courtesy of The Bellevue Network

Apparently Neiman Marcus is above selling things. I heard one person complain that they couldn't find anyone to ring them up! However, not many people were actually trying things on. The store reminded me of one of those perfectly placed dining rooms that nobody ever uses. If they were smart, they would have asked everyone to come in the worst outfit they own. This way, it would have been easy to talk them into a better one. Unfortunately, everyone was wearing the finest threads from their closet. Why would they take them off to try anything on? They already look fabulous! Well... for the most part...

I got the one up, one down from at least 20 women with the worst plastic surgery jobs I've ever seen! If we ever want a Housewives of Bellevue, we need a better plastic surgeon! I was scared. Seriously... I was about to go hide behind the fur vests and throw one at the aliens so they wouldn't attack me with their Christian Louboutins and fangs!

It's pretty sad when the sales staff at Neiman Marcus looks better than everyone else. I don't know where they came from, or how they were recruited, but they all looked very well put together. One of them was wearing these adorable red Valentino heels (below). My question is how a sales employee can afford $900 Valentino shoes when she hasn't had a day of work yet. Doesn't add up, right?

Sales Staff

Like I mentioned before, we really need to define the term, "black tie." Wear What When blogger, Laura Cassidy, mentioned this in her Semi-Formal in Seattle entry. The fact that nobody really knew what to wear lead to a lot of polar fashion extremes. This is why I created a "Best Dressed" and "Worst Dressed" list. If you'd like to see more of what people were wearing, check out Needle + Thread. Kam was my official photographer for the evening, so all these pictures came from her.

Best Dressed

Amazing shrug over a Dior suit.

Simple. Chic. Great pop of color.

Beautiful open back with exposed zipper.

Worst Dressed

Scary thong woman. I know you saw her.

Yo Gabba Gabba?

At first, I couldn't tell if this is a house arrest anklet or a really hideous bag alternative. Turns out, it was a really hideous bag alternative.

After all of this contemplation... I finally have my answer to Alison Brownrigg's question from NWSource - Stores like Neiman Marcus, Jimmy Choo, and Hermes are definitely too expensive, even for wealthy Bellevue, given the state of the economy. According to Bureau News, "Luxury stores have been hit hard as affluent shoppers have retrenched after years of splurging on designer goods and are much less willing to pay high prices for status." The design plans for the Bravern were made in 2006 when the economy was thriving. Three years later, and a lot has changed. I've been working in retail the past two years, and it's not pretty. If you're not a Target or Macy's with a shit ton of Sunday ads full of coupons - good luck.

According to the
Bellevue Network, there were a lot of sales opening weekend, but let's just be honest and readily admit that stores have return policies, and the bubbly allure of having Magic Johnson in the same room as you when you bought that dress is going to die down once your mortgage payment comes around. Washington isn't the place for luxury retailers. We never have been. I don't care how many wood planks and textured walls were installed inside the Bellevue Neiman Marcus. That doesn't make it Northwest.

Perhaps I'm partial, but Nordstrom is a Seattle native, and Neiman Marcus doesn't quite fit in. If nobody has been buying Gucci from the Bellevue Nordstrom boutique, why would they buy it at Neiman Marcus?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your critical viewpoint of this gala! I've read comments on the local papers' blogs from people completely dismissing the event because they don't see any purpose in celebrating fashion. Then I've seen local fashion bloggers celebrating the event because it's fun and disposable and who cares?! So I really appreciate that you are actually picking it apart and pointing out that even the wealthier folks who may have attended may experience some buyer's remorse when they get home and the fun of the party wears off (no pun intended). Also I love that you're willing to name the "Best" and "Worst" dressed of the bunch. Anyway, from someone who definitely could not attend this event, but enjoys reading about fashion, I just want to say thanks.

lydia said...

Haha! Thong lady was scary!!!
I will never ever find myself in that mall. If I had an extra $900 it would not go for a pair of shoes, I would rather donate to the local food bank to help my neighbors with these hard economic times, my green converse will have to last a little longer. ;-)

Monica said...

excellent fashion news !

Taryn said...

woww...that very last picture with the awkward ankle bag actually made me laugh out loud. crazyyy!

Yuka said...

wow i really enjoyed reading this. it made me think of things in a different perspective. hm.

Kam Martin said...

hey there lady... thanks for not schmoozing and glossing. it's a pretty store, with pretty things, but realistically, having been unemployed 8 months out of the last 12, and working retail most of my life, it's a gamble. and it's a 'let them eat cake' gamble in my opinion... i loved seeing the pretty clothes, and all of the money raised went to charity, but... isn't excess what we're all trying to recover from right now ?

oh, and as an aside, style-wise i loved thong lady. she didn't half ass it. anyone who commits to personal style that strong... has my respect. scary or no, she worked it. talk soon...

Dustjacket Attic said...

Really interesting post, loved the viewpoints and pictures.


Couture Cookie said...

Right, so many fashion events/galas are like that and it's getting so old!! I really enjoyed reading your critique.

However, I kind of like those neon fur hats... one man's treasure, another man's trash! :)

Natalie said...

ahhaha i love the last pic with that, i think alcohol detector? hahha i love neimans, but yeah it's super overpriced. and u live in seattle, i really wanna take a long roadtrip up there and get some seattle's best coffee of course! hahaha :)



Grace Like Kelly said...

I really liked reading your review!!!! Im so with you on so many points....Im not in Seattle anymore but lots of my friends went to the opening and had a lot of the same observations you had. love your honesty and your writing!!!

Youa said...

Nicely written and I couldn't agree more. I was wondering where these 'wealthy' people lived. :)
... and OMG, I cannot believe the fashion faux pas!

-Seattle Savvy Insider- said...

Good post Darrah. I did have to laugh about the anklet bag comment. That's a Chanel Ankle Bag from S/S 08 but that doesn't mean it's right. Especially since it looks more like a House Arrest Anklet than a fashion accessory. LOL.

Annie said...

The sales staff do look intimidatingly amazing. And I love that dress with the exposed zipper!

Anonymous said...

These posts are so dumb!!! You are the reason people fear fashion and conform to what they think is safe. I agree the woman with the skanky dress was just trashy, but the woman with the Chanel ankle bag was so cute that night. She also wore a beautiful Gucci dress, but no one can blog about the positive without trashing almost everyone first. No one has style in Seattle because of pretentious comments like these.

Darrah said...

Anonymous - It's actually people like you that steer journalists away from reporting the truth. I refuse to sugar coat the event for the sake of pleasing everyone. I don't care who made that ankle bag... I stand by my original comment. It was hideous. My aunt gave me a similar accessory, and I refuse to wear it. Not only does it give you cankles, but it takes away from the design of your shoe.

Michael St. James said...

Looks a hell of a lot more interesting than the Neiman Marcus event in DC! LOVE that black gown with an exposed zipper! Hate the pretentious people that strive to make fashion as boring as possible.

Fawn said...

So glad you wrote on this event Darrah! I saw the promos in Seattle magazine last month and I was really curious about how people would receive a Neiman Marcus here. I agree, it doesn't belong; not even in Bellevue.

Another note: The ankle bracelet bag was hilarious!

Tarah said...

LOVE your post Darrah! I'm not gonna lie I had a fabulous time soaking it all in, so sad I didn't run into you! I can't shop there and feel justified but I can have fun looking around at all the clothes and the shoes (ohhh the gorgeous shoes!). The people watching is what made the event to be honest with you. Sooo many bad plastic surgeries, enjoyed the thong woman and we actually asked that guy you photographed as an employee - he was actually a model (forgot the agency name he told us), I don't think he really worked there.

Oh and in regards to the male models that were there - so hot! ;) Good times!