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Fashion Notes

Remaking Martha: off Pedestal, on Tees

Stewart fans sport chef hats, aprons and T-shirts in support of her--or just for fun

September 06, 2002|BOOTH MOORE and MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

She's the woman we love to hate, who can turn out a flawless peach cobbler without mussing a single hair on her perfect blond head. But now, weeks after Martha Stewart's ImClone stock troubles began, there is evidence that popular opinion about the domestic goddess may be turning. That is, if fashion is any indication.

"Saturday Night Live" star Jimmy Fallon wore a "Free Martha Stewart" T-shirt to open the Nasdaq market in New York last week.

Since the SaveMartha.com Web site was launched in July, it has received more than 2 million hits and is now reporting brisk sales of "Save Martha" T-shirts, chef's hats and aprons, according to site editor John Small.

"We really are a fan site, but we deal with a serious issue, which is the double standard and misogyny in business and in the media.

"Save Martha stands for more than Martha Stewart. Whether it's Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard or Hillary Clinton, the media tends to turn against strong women," said Small, a New York-based business and political consultant.

At Y-Que Trading Post in Los Feliz, sales of $10 ''Free Martha Stewart'' T-shirts like Fallon's have been on the rise. ''It's taken a little while for the Martha tees to kick in,'' said store manager Haili Britton. Other styles designed by Y-Que owner Billy Tsangares feature images of Stewart behind bars, or slogans such as ''I Don't Do Inside-Trading!'' and ''God Save the Queen.''

The "Free Martha" shirts are a takeoff on the "Free Winona" shirts created by Tsangares after Winona Ryder was arrested in December on charges of shoplifting.

"The Martha shirts are more popular with boomers than with younger shoppers, who still are hot for the Winona tees," Britton said, adding, ''I'm 23, and I'm with the younger generation. We all hate Martha.''

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Bag to the Stars

Ferragamo may be better known for matronly, bow-topped shoes than for cutting-edge accessories, but the Italian fashion house is trying to change all that.

For fall, Ferragamo is touting its new Salvatore bag as a must-carry. Shaped like a doctor's bag, it is modeled after a pony-skin briefcase the late designer carried in the 1940s and '50s when he worked in Hollywood.

According to company lore, he used the bag to carry tools to the movie studios where he custom-designed shoes for Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall and others. In 1923, Ferragamo began his career as "shoemaker to the stars" when he opened a small shoe design and repair shop on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas Avenue.

Salvatore bags come in three sizes in black calf, black or brown pony skin ($455 to $895). Available at Ferragamo boutiques.

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School of Mentors

L.A.'s Otis School of Fashion has scored an impressive list of fashion designers to volunteer their time to be mentors this year. Students (who started classes last week) will receive design assignments and direction from Henry Duarte, Bob Mackie, Michelle Mason, Rick Owens, Cynthia Rowley, Jeremy Scott, Diane von Furstenberg, Trina Turk and others. Who knew back to school could be so glamorous?

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