Today, Kohl’s launches its third Design Nation designer collaboration. This time it’s with French designer Catherine
Malandrino, who has worked for the couture houses of Emanuel Ungaro and Louis Feraud and worked on the re-launch of Diane von Furstenberg in the late 90′s. She’s been on her own for the past 10 years, and her work is, apparently, admired by many celebrities (she also has a boutique in NYC.)
However, I found this collection to be a bit disappointing. The collection is very youthful and somewhat kitsch-y, with sweaters emblazoned with PARIS, or an Eiffel Tower, or PARIS JE T’AIME scrawled across what would otherwise be a very chic burgundy blouse. The cuts of the sweaters are overly boxy, and while I don’t mind the pleated and gored skirts, I feel they
are kind of difficult to match with anything outside the collection. The colors are limited: lots of black, and black lace with some blue and burgundy. Most of the pieces in my local Kohl’s store are black, and while the materials are very nice, and the workmanship is fine (as in all the DesignNation collections,) there wasn’t much to invite anyone over the age of perhaps a youthful 30 to purchase.
Which makes me wonder: when a store has a full-blown juniors department, and several other designers who cater to youthful sensibilities, why bring in another collection to cater to an under 30 crowd? Is there that strong a belief that women over 30 are buying mostly for their teen-agers and not interested in fashion? or is it some other wrong-headded marketing scheme that says one has to capture the 24-30 demographic to make them consumers for life? Honestly, I don’t think there is any one brand that I knew in my 20′s or 30′s–Levi’s not withstanding–that I would shop at regularly today because they completely forgot that I grew up and have different needs. Most mass market store brands come and go with fairly good frequency, so whether or not one captures the youth demographic of one generation does not mean at all that the brand will continue to be purchased if it does not grow with the group it chooses to court at any length of time.
This whole bit of a “brand for life” is ridiculous. and unless you are a true luxury brand, it’s wrongheadded in the wrongest of ways. Honestly, the one brand I remember from my youth–Diane von Furstenberg–is one I would buy now because von Furstenberg has not ossified her view on one age demographic. Unlike Betsey Johnson, who has struggled to survive because , I believe, she never offered her older fans anything that would suit their lives and their lifestyles (perhaps it’s because of her own outlook on life? who knows.)
So, even though I found one dress in the collection I liked, it’s a special occasion dress that I would not have much use for as my wardrobe is overwhelmed with special occasion dresses and not enough regular occasion dresses.
Oh well. I’ll just look forward to the Peter Som collaboration in the Spring…..