Fall Fashion Kool-Aid: Lord & Taylor Launches “Birdcage”

The store-within-a-store concept seems to be the hot not-so-new retail ticket in the air. Last night Lord & Taylor revealed a canary; the second floor Birdcage, their new accessories hangout or ” concept shop featuring unique discoveries” and being young, trendy and mostly clad in black seemed to be the price of admission. Once your stodgy, spinsterly, old aunt’s store, Lord & Taylor wants you to know that they’ve now got HBC (Hudson Bay Company) game and they don’t mind getting up in your grill if that’s what it takes to let you know that they’re current. In fact, Birdcage is a name cannibalized from their restaurant of yore which featured birdcages as decor along with antediluvian tea sandwiches. What must it say about me that I actually remember being taken to the Birdcage restaurant in the suburban Philly L & T near where I grew up? It says that I’m probably not the customer that this Birdcage is chirping at, however I did stop to peck at a few items I saw.

According to a PR person that I spoke to (the very young and good looking Andrew), the list of potential vendors was collated  from about 80 to a neat 26 mostly jewelry brands (Deepa Gurnami, Lost Wax Studio, Vanessa Lianne, Ela Rae, Alex Woo formerly of Bendels fame), handbags (Lee Coren, Marie Turnor, Volver) beauty products such as Priti NYC (a line of organic nail polishes and nail care), Mullein and Sparrow (plant based apothecary line) plus a few products for the home such as Joya (home fragrance), and Flower Girl Flowers (small floral arrangements) as well as Frend interchangeable cover headphones. The set-up succeeded in making me lament the demise of Henri Bendel and the “Street of Shops” even more as I felt that this was a poor man’s imitation. (Another birdcage twist: It’s interesting to note that the old 57th Street Bendel location featured a huge gilded birdcage in their cosmetics department). Admirably and in Lord & Taylor’s defense, many of the vendors were chosen because they are either local or have some connection to New York City and many of the products are made here.

Liz Rodbell, President of Lord & Taylor

In attendance as “celebrity draws” were Bag Snob and blogger Tina Craig and The Glamourai’s stylist Kelly Framel. Both had their share of Instagram groupies or shall I say young women who idolize every word/photo that they prolifically post. It was hard to get a word in with the diminutive Ms. Craig but I was determined to ask her about the birdcage bag that I had seen her photographed with last week when she attended the New York City Ballet. Knowing that this event was coming up I thought it an interesting coincidence that she would be out with an actual birdcage bag and I wondered if there was some sort of tie-in or product placement. No, she assured me that there was none, her bag had a pedigree and was a Nancy Gonzalez crocodile birdcage (yes, I knew that was code for way too high-end to be sold anywhere but Bergdorf’s) but she agreed that L & T should feature a birdcage bag, as well as birdcage themed jewelry in this department. A large, open cardboard square frame printed with the Instagram logo was being passed through the crowd and Ms. Craig posed along with her two little girls at one point; quite adorable.

Images of the old Birdcage Restaurant in the background with Marie Turnor bags in the foreground

Much of the jewelry would appeal to a younger or less “seasoned” jewelry wearer than I, however I did enjoy gazing upon and touching the Marie Turnor “lunch, and dinner (slightly larger) bags” (they’re supposed to resemble a paper lunch sack (uh, Alber Elbaz inspired much?) made out of super supple leather, some metallic, some glazed, and some with raised embossing; all with that super squishy tactile sensation. I also coveted a Volver silver shirt-style vest worn by the rep however, only the bags ($595) were for sale. When I asked her how I could purchase her top or the “Pierced” style black leather tee worn by another rep, she took my business card so I’m assuming that if I do get to purchase these items it will be through the company itself rather than through Lord & Taylor. Oftentimes I find I do not understand retail at all! Why show something if it is not for sale at the point of purchase. I suppose I have trouble with the concept of the purely aspirational. By the end of the evening I saw very few people clutching Birdcage shopping bags leading to the assumption that this crowd was primarily here for the white wine, champagne, miniscule, elusive and quickly devoured hors’ d’oevres, cute individual cake/pudding desserts in a glass jar (I stuck one in my purse as I walked out) and for the DJ and social atmosphere rather than the shopping.

As the event space and selling floor became more and more congested with guests, many of the less hardy parked themselves on the banquettes of the adjoining junior shoe department. Walking by I noticed a pair of BCBGeneration booties which were bad knock-offs of last winter’s mythical Saint Laurent “Rangers”; the studded and multi-buckled combat boots ($2,400 seen on Kourtney Kardashian et al and sold out virtually everywhere). I half-heartedly picked the display boot up; it was as light as a feather. With that discovery I turned tail, took flight and winged my way home.

– Laurel Marcus

News about the DFR: Daily Fashion Report

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Above is a screen capture of our DFR: Daily Fashion Report  http://blogger.lookonline.com stats showing the number of page views beginning in 2006 when it was moved to Blogger’s servers. While the blog been up since 2002 we only have statistics for it starting when blogger gave us this stat program in 2006. The numbers indicate users accesses to the blog on our site — this is in addition to the 2700 subscribers who receives the posts directly to their email inboxes.

Most curious you will notice that beginning in 2012 our traffic started to rise from a relatively stable number of user sessions in prior years. In fact, the last 2 years has shown an increase well over 50% to sometimes 75% at times. We attribute this to Lieba Nesis and then Laurel Marcus joining us and to the widening scope and increase frequency of all of our postings. The most popular single posts have been Marilyn’s  “The New Best Dressed List” and Lieba’s profile “The Social Graces: Chiu-Ti Jansen”. These statistics only count the blog and its individual blog posts and not the entire lookonline.com site. The most popular article of all time remains “How to Get Into a Fashion Show” written by Laurie Schechter and we estimate over 250,000 users have accessed it since it was first published.

Also check the Masthead out as we have a new “Managing Editor” who will be working with our editor-in-chief Marilyn Kirschner reviewing all articles that are sent to us for publishing in the future. See masthead He name is Deborah Brumfield (the wife of the publisher Ernest Schmatolla) and for 33 years was the editor of the Fashion Calendar. As many of you know, the Calendar was sold to the CFDA effective October 1.

– Ernest Schmatolla



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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