Hot Footing It

Last Wednesday night I was invited to sit ringside while a man and a woman conducted a discussion for broadcast. No, I was not in Las Vegas at the third (and thankfully last) presidential debate, but rather here in NYC at the taping of installment number 151 of the podcast “Pardon My French.” Created by photographer, illustrator, award winning writer Garance Dore, the episode is entitled “The In Conversation with Garance Dore & Phillip Lim”. The event, held at Neuehouse Gallery was presented by the website which sells previous season discounted spinoff of The podcast will be published on Dores’ eponymous fashion and lifestyle website ( and on iTunes October 27.

Part of the audience

Before the podcast began I had the opportunity to quickly peruse the clothing downstairs — the site of a dinner later that evening hosted by Zanna Roberts Rassi. I thought I had died and gone to fashion heaven when I saw the racks of glittery holiday offerings — I’m part magpie when it comes to embellishments. will soon have clothing from designer Tom Ford — although they have previously sold his eyewear and accessories the clothing line is new to them. I also checked out The Outnet’s in-house line Iris & Ink for more basic clothing. Seeing the festive accessories including colorful shoes and clutch bags (book clutches from Olympia Le-Tan as well as poured acrylic “word” clutches by Edie Parker) being pressed into service as great bookends or decorative objets d’art on bookshelves was an inspirational idea. Take that into consideration if you own any shoes that you (or your feet) have decided might be prettier to look at than to actually wear. Unfortunately that describes most of my shoe wardrobe!

Shoes & books

After procuring one of the three specialty vodka drinks from the bar –I made mine a Moscow Mule and I don’t even know Putin (ha) I settled in on the carpeted bleacher-type seating to watch the podcast. Originally from Corsica, Dore spent her teen years in the South of France, her young adult life in Paris and now lives in New York. She maintains that French gift of storytelling which you will hear if you listen to her podcasts or read her writing for publications like Vogue (American, British and Paris), The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, T Magazine, Elle, The Guardian, and New York Magazine; or her 2015 visual memoir “Love Style Life.” As she interviewed Phillip Lim, it became evident that the designer also had no shortage of interesting stories up his well crafted sleeve.

Illustrations by Garance Dore handed out at the event

Phillip Lim recounted his somewhat circuitous journey to the top of the fashion industry in a humorous, down-to-earth and engaging way. He was born in Thailand to Chinese immigrants who then fled to Southern California in the wake of Cambodian civil war. Growing up in Orange County in what he describes as a “super conservative community where I tried to assimilate by playing tennis and wearing a tennis outfit,” he claims, he didn’t trust himself to know that his calling was fashion.

Trying to fulfill the dreams of his seamstress “salt of the earth angel mother” (his biggest source of inspiration) and professional poker playing father (who Lim calls out as a mortifying example of a “hustler who dressed like a playboy and drove a pimp mobile instead of a station wagon”), he enrolled in Cal State Long Beach business school, but his heart wasn’t in it. One day in his third year there he abruptly left his accounting class and walked into a home economics class down the hall; a major he eventually obtained his degree in, without notifying his parents of the switcheroo. Once the cat was out of the bag his family didn’t speak to him for years.

Lim recounts how, as a child in grade school, he would watch his mother “transform things with her hands” and beg her to show him how to make the clothing that he coveted from MTV and music videos. “The musicians were self-styled in those days — they looked like the music they made; they looked like a tribe of people that I wanted to belong to.” After succeeding in the transformation of his school clothes Lim couldn’t wait to show them off. “I would get dressed and sleep in my clothes. I couldn’t wait till daybreak to put on my shoes and leave the house!”

“I didn’t have a dream, I just followed what excited me,” a principle that Lim still uses for inspiration in his daily life. Among other topics — how his company became 3.1 Phillip Lim (“I was hiding behind the number) which stood for “31,” the age that he and his business partner and friend Wen Zhou were when they started the company. Now celebrating his 10th year, Lim radiates Zen (spiced with the use of some four letter words) while speaking of how he survives the constant push/pull of fashion and the need to feed the beast by creating collections twice a year — definitely worth a listen as well as having a look at Garance Dore’s site.

Cocktail party at Stuart Weitzman boutique

The following night I revisited the shoe theme — doesn’t everything start with putting your best foot forward?– with a cocktail party hosted by Quest Magazine at the newly renovated Stuart Weitzman boutique on Madison Avenue. Gone are the wavy purple couches reminiscent of a groovy ’70s Austin Powers airport lounge. They have been replaced by a monochromatic, streamlined beige environment which I was told by a salesperson is “more contemporary… although Stuart liked it better the way it was before.” Yes, I’ll take character over blandness any day. Stuart Weitzman shoes often fit into that gap of being trendy but not so extreme as well as comfortable. In honor of TBT I wore my now Kindergarten-aged-first pair of true OTK Weitzman suede boots. I remember when I purchased them thinking they were so “Pretty Woman”– now they look tame.

Sonja Morgan

As the store filled up I spied several of the notables that one sees in a “well-heeled” crowd including members of the FIT Couture Council including Yaz Hernandez and FIT Chairman of the Board Liz Peek; and what event would be complete without a housewife? RHONY’s Sonja Morgan did casual chic, looking very youthful) in minimal makeup, skinny jeans, blue blazer and black patent leather YSL Tribute pumps. Was I the only one wearing SW’s?

Kimberly Guilfoyle

A face that perhaps is not that familiar to Manhattanites is that of Fox TV news “The Five” co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle. Just in case you prefer watching CNN I’ll fill you in: the diminutive (5’2″) Guilfoyle is known for her extensive (and expensive) high-heeled shoe wardrobe which along with her stunning legs, are always prominently visible from her foreground perch during the show. Perhaps this is a vestige of the reign of Roger Ailes, however, I would venture to guess that it is one which most red-blooded American males hope the Murdochs’ don’t end up shelving.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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