August 27, 2021

Fashion Coffee Hour’s 1st Birthday


The past year has been very exciting for Fashion Coffee Hour. With 52 episodes it’s hard to summarize but it is easy to find a couple of our favorite episodes and adventures. Treat yourself to the sumptuous Valentino Fall Haute Couture 21/22 show on YouTube. Look for the House of Gucci movie that is coming out November 24 (trailer here). And stop by to see us at the Fine Art building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Mondays. Stanley and I would love to have lunch with you. In the upper left photo we took a selfie with Leslie Logsdon, a regular coffee hour attendee. The Art Institute is a stone’s throw from the Fine Art building so add that to your list after lunch. Unfortunately the Obama Portraits were only here for a short time before going on their national tour. Stanley is a display artist extraordinaire and does a window display contest every year called Project Windows in conjunction with the Art Institute. He made us all laugh with his ivy covered jacket that he made in the spirit of Barack’s portrait. The Art Institute, voted best museum in the world has something for everyone.

Thank you for your support,

Marcy Carmack and Stanley Smith

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October 1, 2020

Fashion Coffee Hour


Between moving and my new project, I’ve been a bit silent. I am now super excited to announce our new Zoom show Fashion Coffee Hour that I started with my friend Stanley Smith. Each week I choose a different fashion topic and we talk about it. Stanley and I thought that with all that is going on this was a way for the fashion minded to take a break and join us. 

We are still in development but so far we have talked about Dior, Jacquemus, Norma Kamali, Wes Gordon, Sustainability, Catherine Deneuve and Dries Van Notan. I think many of us could talk about fashion at great length but the show is only an hour. We have a couple of regulars already so either join us in our Facebook group with this link: Fashion Coffee Hour to watch it there or respond here and let us know if you’d like to be a guest. We are having so much fun!

Mondays at 6pm CT

July 19, 2020

Pencil's and Lipstick Podcast


Check out Kat Caldwell's interview with me for her podcast about creatives.
June 24, 2020

Paris Today and Tomorrow

, , by MARCY CARMACK | Edit
I'm so happy I went to Paris Fashion Week in October before COVID19 hit because fashion week will never be the same. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. I also don't know when anyone will be able to travel safely domestically or internationally.

Fashion week is over according to Alessandro Michele, creative director at Gucci.  He has always been a maverick so it is no surprise that he will be the first to go to seasonless collections twice a year. He has shone a light on the excesses and unsustainability of the fashion industry.

No matter what happens with fashion week, Paris will always be the fashion capital of the world. Even if you don't go to fashion shows you can get a very good education in fashion just walking the streets, looking in the windows and taking in the street style. It's in the sky as Coco Chanel famously said. You can gain knowledge by osmosis much like it is in New York City. 

Fashion is so deeply imbedded in the DNA of the Paris and it's citizens. The roots go back way back. My favorite department store, Le Bon Marché (Bon Marché for short) was founded in the early 19th century as a small shop. By 1865 it became the world's first department store. On this trip I stayed in Saint Germain in the 6th Arrondissement so it was an easy jaunt to Bon Marché. Dare say, I went more than once.

The famous newly renovated Hotel Lutecia is a fabulous Belle Époque hotel that is across the street from Bon Marché. And a great place for a drink after shopping.

Andrew Gn is a favorite among many San Francisco women I know because of his exquisitely executed and  feminine ready-to-wear. He comes in person to see his favorite ladies and that is a huge draw. What other Parisian designer makes an in-person appearance these days? Definitely makes them feel special as they should at his prices. His spring/summer show did not disappoint. Showing in October meant these clothes should of been shipped this spring. With COVID19 making it only available on the web, when and where are these ladies going to wear it?

Thom Browne is an old friend who I've known since he started his business. I have watched him have a pretty meteoric rise to fame but when I said that after the show he demurred and declined that description.. Being a designer today or in any day is not an easy road. It definitely has it's ups and probably more downs even when you have made a name for yourself. The problem is you never make that much money with ready to wear until you are a big enough brand to get licensing deals. Ermenigildo Zegna bought 85% of the company in 2018 for a half-billion dollars so while it wasn't a licensing deal, I think we can agree it was an awesome deal. Very happy for him.

Thom's show before the show was almost as exciting as the show itself. All these devotees running around in gray with his trademark red, white and blue grosgrain ribbon details. It was something.
Met this nattily dressed gentleman with a beautiful Thom Browne camel coat. I wore a Thom Browne oxford cloth blazer. I added an Ines de la Fressange scarf because it was red, white and blue; and French!
As you can imagine I've seen many of Thom's shows over the years and each one is more creative and original than the last. This show was no exception. The fact that he shows in Paris is beyond. This time he showed models with wire bustles and hair stacked high like a Louis XIV court.

Au revoir Paris, we will wait with baited breath to see how the new world shakes out.
May 9, 2020

Carine Roitfeld and amfAR

As Covid rages on, our favorite French fashion editor, Carine Roitfeld produced a virtual fashion show fundraiser with amfAR. It reminds me of the "One World" benefit concert that Lady Gaga produced last month but not quite as impactful. Probably because there was no way the designers could give like the musicians. In the fashion rendition the stars are the models. 

And now without further ado...

April 9, 2020

Fashion Post-Pandemic

Gosh how drastically the world can change in a month. At the end of February I signed up for an online coaching course and it couldn't have better timing. That means I haven't been following fashion for the last five weeks because my course load is kind of heavy. I also jumped off Instagram for a much needed break after 10 years. I hope you are well and doing something that enriches your life whether it is spending quality time with family, doing your business online or reading books. A feeling of progress is important to me as the world stands still.

What do I think the fashion world will look like after we get out of this? Like the rest of the world, it will be very different. People will not be interested in conspicuous consumption. We need another Chanel bag like a whole in our head. And we will not feel the need to follow every single trend. There will be a continued interest in our planet and crystal clear knowledge that the fashion industry is a major polluter. Sustainability was a buzz word before covid and will continue to be. There is a doctor on the cover of the April issue of Vanity Fair Italy. Does that mean there will be less focus on celebrities? While America has a keen interest in Hollywood and rightly so, I think there will be even more variety on the covers of Vanity Fair, Vogue and beyond.

I did get a little insight on fashion shows in particular from a well known Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort. She said the designers will go back to intimate shows in their ateliers. That's the way it was when I got into the fashion industry. Everything is up for renewal she says.

February 1, 2020

Designer handbags in 2020

, , by MARCY CARMACK | Edit

For my first post of 2020 I looked back to see how far we have come in the last decade in the designer market. The dynamics are changing at a faster rate than ever before. We have seen a dramatic shift in how business is done and a shift in the perception of consignment. As designer goods became more and more unattainable, the proliferation of the secondhand market boomed. Consignment used to be dusty cramped shops for the intrepid. When we started the RealReal in 2011 the elevation of secondhand goods began. Today designer consignment while less than brand spanking new, still commands a hefty sum. Gone are the days of getting a steal on a secondhand Chanel bag.

A statistic that I stumbled on when doing this post was too compelling not to mention. thredUP reports that secondhand fashion is growing at a 21x faster rate than retail.

For those that don't want to pay for a new or used Chanel bag, there is the hush hush market of designer fakes. The replica market gets bigger and bigger every year with our voracious appetite for anything designer. The difference is that yesteryear the bags were bought in person on Canal St in New York City or somewhere else in a semi-secretive way. If the suppliers were caught there were hefty fines. Today they are bought online and you can get advice from a subset of called the RepLadies. They are a self-described "happy place" and discussion page about replicas and fashion at any level. This group has grown exponentially with their online presence to 71.9k members. says a fifth of all luxury buyers have a fake and they probably bought it using social media.  I started to wonder how every woman in O'Hare airport had a designer bag—I kind of forgot about the fake market for a second. The demand for this status symbol is at an all time high. Now that every woman has one no matter what iteration do you really want one? I think the answer is still yes. Designer or consignment is more than I want to spend but I haven't really been interested in fakes which are referred to in air quotes "Chanel bags".  Nothing wrong with it and never say never but I just don't scour the internet for bags. I recently bought a couple of high quality leather handbags the old fashioned way in person. Each company finding a great niche in the market because of the high prices out there. 

Is it safe to say that we are awash in handbags of all types? Maybe that means the prices will come down with all that supply. Not yet—not until the next recession. Oops another hush hush topic.