Joyce Culver, 92nd Street Y"Fashion advertisements are hateful," said Isaac Mizrahi at tonight's 92nd Street Y panel discussion on the future of fashion, "but they work." Glamour's Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive moderated the talk between The Washington Post's Robin Givhan, Ashley Olsen and Isaac. The group discussed Michelle Obama, the economy, Ralph Lauren's ad scandal, fast fashion and the fate of platform heels while Mary-Kate Olsen and Justin Bartha cheered from a few rows back. Robin and Isaac spent the first ten minutes relishing the First Lady's effect on the fashion industry. Robin heralded the example she's setting "for women over thirty with busy careers and families who feel disenfranchised from fashion," while Isaac finds her balance of mass and high fashion "so inspirational." Cindi asked the group why the fashion industry is so hated and Robin brilliantly responded that people have no problem condescending to fashion because it's a women's industry. "No one ever says spending thousands of dollars on season tickets for football is a waste of money, but spending $5000 on a dress..." to which Isaac almost jumped out of his chair in agreement. "Right on! Misogyny rears its ugly head again!"
Ashley did get a word in edgewise; Cindi asked her about the flood of celebrity fashion lines and Ashley diplomatically said that the reason it worked for her, and not so well for others, is because most don't want it for the right reasons. "Most get involved to have a licensing parter and build their personal brand, you have to want it. I never wanted to be an actress [when I grew up] so I'm not coming at it from a 'celebrity' stand point," before repeating that this is her career, that she loves fashion. Highlights included Isaac's declaration that fashion magazines are too obsessed with celebrities and Ashley's assessment that Opening Ceremony is the best place to shop high/low for special pieces. An audience member asked what she'd tell a young girl who wanted to look stylish on a tight budget and the Olsen answered, "Vintage." Also, Isaac loves low-heeled shoes while Robin and Cindy vote platforms forever. Robin can't wait for the 80's trend to die and Isaac loves shows like Sex and the City and Gossip Girl because even though he's aware they use stylists, all the girls appear to relish the process of building an outfit and that's what inspires women to be stylish (though he loathes that they teach girls not to wear the same thing twice). And Ashley called Mary Kate her "number one teammate." And finally, it was a psychic reading post-Lehman Brothers that inspired Isaac to finally open his own store mid-recession.