If any fashion editor ever deserved her own television show, it would be the legendary Candy Pratts Price. Few women can boast her institutional knowledge; nor can they match her famous big-personality persona.
With New York's Fashion Week now underway, I checked in with Ms. Price, the executive fashion director of Style.com, to find out what's happening on the runways -- and see how the industry is responding to America's tumultuous economic and political climate.
Below, Ms. Price discusses the childlike genius of Marc Jacobs, compliments Michelle Obama's style, and uses the words "glamour" and "whole-roasted chicken" in the same sentence.
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Huffington Post: To which collections are you most looking forward this week?
Candy Pratts Price: I'm looking for news and surprise. Time is precious right now. If you have something to say, you have to say it in a way that gets attention. That said, I walk into a collection and wonder, 'Are you going to overdo the green thing, or the economic factor?'
HP: What's the buzz on Marc Jacobs, who's showing tonight? He always seems to make news.
CPP: Marc is an incredibly talented player -- not just a designer. He's a player in the world of the business and in pop culture, like Andy Warhol was. He sees more than others.
He never gives previews, never reveals ahead of time.
HP: What did you think of his collection last year at this time (Spring/Summer '08), which featured those infamous shoes with the heels protruding from the ball of the foot?
CPP: I love those shoes. Marc's always done a great shoe. They're always very attention-getting because he has a lot of play with them. He likes a sexy shoe, but also a fun shoe. He can be childlike when it comes to shoes. He has a naïve side to him, which I like.
HP: Do you think that there's any mocking behind that design?
CPP: No. Perversity always exists. Sex always exists. He always has fun.
HP: Our economy is in the toilet, there's a rancorous election going on, the country's at war. How is the fashion community responding?
CPP: More shows than ever. The tents are alive. There's Fashion Rocks. Everyone's having parties. We're not in pharmaceuticals; we're in fashion. We've got to push that. We've got to entertain. The designer's job is to respond to what's going on around him and not to give up. I think all of them are feeling this way. We all have hope.
HP: Are they responding in terms of their designs?
CPP: Designers have all realized that the internet is quite alive. Information is getting to everyone quite rapidly. What they're showing and coughing up as art, it's based on how it's being delivered. You're not showing pieces to ten women around a swimming pool any more. You have to deliver to so many eyes. Japan is looking at what we do. Russia is looking at what we do. Designers have to balance their collections for a global audience.
HP: Who is the most zeitgeist-capturing designer on the scene today?
CPP: No one, really. There are so many designers and so many options. There is no one sensibility. This is not a head-to-toe generation. It's a high-low generation. We taught them that way and everyone knows how to do that now. We sort of service them that way.
HP: How to you excite consumers to buy fashion during a perceived recession?
CPP: It's our job to edit and show things to our viewers and readers and to give them whatever it is that's necessary. We're also under the global eye. We have to offer choices.
But I also believe that glamour is important. I like a whole-roasted chicken as opposed to a cut-up chicken. Presentation is important. I wouldn't want to receive you with a vacuum cleaner in my living room. It's about giving you good face. It can be done cheaply too. You can be rich and say this is a $9000 wine bottle - which you shouldn't -- or you can have wine in a glass that you got in a flea market, put on eyeliner, and say 'I'm Elizabeth Taylor.'
I think glamour is key in getting people to shop - for glasses, for movies, for eyeliner.
I think we put too much emphasis on, "Oh, the markets are tanking."
HP: What is glamour?
CPP: It's not really a fair question, because glamour means something different to everyone. For me? Give me good face. Offer me a glass of milk in a glamorous way.
HP:For what will this season be remembered?
CPP: There will be emphasis on sexy. You'll see a bit of neon. I think you'll probably be influenced by what's happening culturally. It's all being shaken up. There's the economy, the Dali exhibit, the elections; young and old will be responding to everything that's happening, so you'll get a little bit of everything.
HP: Any thoughts on Sarah Palin's style?
CPP: No comment. I don't know her, and I don't comment on people's style when I don't know them.
HP: Michelle Obama?
CPP: Met her. Like her.
HP: Like her style?
CPP: Everything about her.
This is an edited transcript of a conversation between Candy Pratts Price and Lesley M. M. Blume.
Follow Lesley M. M. Blume on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lesleymmblume