Friday, March 18, 2011

French Institute Alliance Francaise: 59th St and Park Ave

Fashion talks at the French Institute Alliance Francaise was a wonderful surprise.  I attended the first evening in the series during which Tory Burch spoke about her secrets for success: the people who work on her team and her passion for fashion.

Tory Burch has only been in business for 7 years and has no fashion education (other than her admiration for her parents' style when they got dressed up for evenings out; she graduated Penn with a degree in art history).  However, her American sportswear style (with the iconic logo that she had designed by an outside firm) has been what seems like an unstoppable force.  Currently she has 45 retail stores, which is expected to be 60 by the end of the year (is there a recession?) and she went from having one employee working alongside her at her kitchen table to over 800.

She explained that this business road was very bumpy (her first collection at Bergdorf's sold only 2 pieces), strained (early years were very cash constrained), and not glamorous (visiting sewing factories in China and pleading with them for a partnership). However, she put her all into her business and surrounded herself with people who believed and worked hard with her.

It was clear that the evolution of the business was continuing and it was inspirational to hear about how this young woman did so much with so little, all while keeping straight her priorities about her children (3 sons and 3 step daughters)--no blackberry or phones on when she gets home to have dinner with her family.

This is the first event I have attended at the French Institute Alliance Francaise, but if this talk is any indication of the caliber of events, this will certainly not be my last.  I would highly recommend checking out their website:  Jewelry designer Lorenz Baumer is scheduled for March 30th and Oscar de la Renta is scheduled for April 4th.

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