I sure do love leopard print, and one of my major fashion regrets is that I missed out on a two-toned leopard-print dress by Dolce & Gabbana in 2010. After I saw this bit of perfection on Rihanna I searched for it everywhere but to no avail. It was sold out in my size.
I’m still looking for that dress on eBay, resale stores and other places. Someday, I WILL find it in my size. But, back in 2010, I consoled myself with a purple leopard Dolce.
There’s something that bothers me about this dress. Even though it seems to be the same basic idea as my beloved Diane von Furstenberg leopard dress, the differences make it very “Real Housewives promotional photo” to me: the color, the shinier fabric, additional ruching, lower neckline and slightly higher hemline. Sigh. I think it fits me nicely, but it’s got a tacky bandage-dress vibe. Earlier this month, I looked at the dress in my closet and wondered: “When should I wear this again?” Then I realized I was about to go to Miami’s South Beach. Perfect. If you need to find an appropriate outlet for something that’s a little trashy, Las Vegas, Miami, the Jersey Shore and Manhattan’s Meatpacking District are your ideal destinations. Miami it was for me, because I can’t bring myself to go to the Meatpacking District these days. I remember that area from the ’80s and early ’90s, when there was nothing there but the 24-hour restaurant Florent and the club Tunnel and the drag queens who frequented both. It depresses me to see the neighborhood looking like Fraternity Row now, with bandage-dress-wearing New Jersey girls staggering drunkenly through the cobblestone streets on wobbly heels with their khaki-wearing, bottle-popping boyfriends. (I’ll be as snobby as I want about poorly dressed-and-behaved Jersey peeps, because I’m from Jersey and I know there’s no local law demanding you be as cheesy as possible for life. SNAP OUT OF IT!)
Anyway, this is how I wore the purple Dolce to a random restaurant in South Beach last week.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Dolce & Gabbana (2010)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Lip color: Tarte LipSurgence matte lip tint in Lively
Necklace: My own Mud Flap Jill design
Here’s a close-up of the necklace I’m wearing in that photo.
While I haven’t gotten to wear Rihanna’s two-toned leopard dress yet, we girls do have that piece of jewelry in common. In 2011, I blogged that I thought my ruby-nippled Mud Flap Jill naked-lady necklace would be perfect for the pop star, who has a collection of delicate-but-naughty pieces. A year later, my dream came true: Rihanna wore my necklace! It was such a thrill to get pictures of her for my scrapbook.
That was the primary benefit, by the way. Everyone thinks that if a mega-celeb wears a designer’s piece, that the item flies out of the store (or website). I’m sure it might work that way for affordable items or very well-known luxury brands with lots of pre-celeb customer recognition, but that’s not what happens with my small high-end business. My friends who design higher-priced clothing for their own labels or who own small clothing stores aren’t rolling in dough after a celebrity sighting either. As I’ve written before in a The Bitchtastic Guide to Business™ post, fame does NOT equal fortune. I like to tell you the truth about business here, and I’m not going to pretend that Rihanna moment did anything for me sales-wise. But that doesn’t mean seeing her wearing my design wasn’t awesome. It totally was! I still love looking at the photos. Now if only Bad Gal RiRi would wear the gold-plated, larger-size IDGAF necklace I sent her as a follow-up. I feel sure that if her peeps showed it to her, she would adore it because she’s always telling people that she doesn’t give a fuck. Her latest album is called Unapologetic, for crying out loud. Also, she should revel in that final WENDYB by Wendy Brandes gift because, in addition to #phuckyoconsignment, my updated business strategy includes #phuckyocelebrity. No sense in handing out famous-people freebies if sales don’t result, especially when the celebrity in question is drowning in free Prada and Givenchy. I’ve got neither the gift-giving budget of those big design houses nor the international brand-name appeal. It’s okay. If I were the celeb with a pile of free goods in front of me, I’d pick the Prada before the unknown names too. But that means that from now on, I’ll gift for only love, not business reasons, hunty!
Anyway, I’ve linked my purple Real-Housewives-worthy purple dress to the Visible Monday Post at Not Dead Yet Style. Check out the post to see what a lot of lovely blogging ladies have been wearing lately.
Gabriala @StyleHigher.com says
There are so many things I want to say after reading this! You are such a crack up! But mostly I have to comment about the idea that if you get a celeb to wear your brand you will become successful and business will take off. You know that is so not true. Even if a business did get a rush in sales after a celeb promo, it is TEMPORARY. It fades over time and the business is back to the marketing drawing board. It is a forever grind for a small business, I feel you Wendy B. And I need to wear your fabulous necklace on my blog too. Seriously and soon. xoxoxox
Thanks, Gabriala. I’m so tired of people thinking that just because a famous person wears a freebie once that a business has it made and the owner can just sit on her ass for the rest of her career! I mean, I’m not MAD that they think that because I would have thought that myself before I went into business, but I want to educate people that it’s not that easy!
Alexis Grace says
I think you’ve absolutely made the purple dress work — but I can see why you love the other (it is pretty fantastic).
As far as your new policy on gifting is concerned— wisdom my dear. Wisdom! I am a firm a believer in value-ads (adding something on when something is already being purchased), but freebies for freebies sake rarely see any real roi….. and those are my biz thoughts for the day!
I’ve done VERY little celebrity gifting because I can’t afford it. I did feel super-strongly that these pieces were perfect for Rihanna so I don’t regret doing it, but I am definitely NOT making it a habit for business purposes. For love, it’s different. If I feel passionately that someone should have something, that’s fine. In fact, for a year, I’ve been turning down a lot of charities that ask for auction donations while giving me all this nonsense about how their event will promote my business so much. I know I never get anything business-wise out of that. But recently I reached out to some people I didn’t even know to donate something to their auction, just because I felt strongly about it. I expect absolutely nothing from it for myself and I’m 100% happy that I did it. In fact, if anyone reading this is in the Detroit area, you can still get tickets to the event to help out a young woman with no health insurance who is in a coma after an allergic reaction: http://www.onelovechantel.blogspot.com/
If you go, bid on my “Heart You” earrings to help Chantel come home!
We need more color-block leopard print dresses, and less Hervé Léger tributes, unless they combine the two. That would be interesting.
Speaking of, I wonder where the public got the idea that if a celebrity wears it, then they will come. It would be great if it did really work that way, but it doesn’t in the long run. The creator has to be the celebrity to beat the celebrity.
Gifting for love > gifting for fame and fortune.
Jet aka Punk Glam Queen says
First, the dress looks amazing. I know you had your heart set on the other and I actually look when I’m in consignment shops hoping I can find it for you. But this one is pretty damn sexy on. Now, celebs and and freebies. While I never sent freebies when I had my shop, I was interviewed extensively by periodicals like the NYT, the VV, and women’s magazines (many of these publications interviewed me multiple times). Oh and lets not forget the media news I did. Would you like to know how many sales I got from all that? ZERO. The phone would ring off the hook, they’d all want free consultations, even going so far as to asking me to teach the classes over the phone for free. Lesson learned. Always was happy to speak to the media, dispelling myths, but it did just not an inkling of good biz-wise. So I respect your decision and think you are very wise for making those choices! XXX
Patti @ NotDeadYet Style says
Gasp! You are movie star gorgeous, Wendy. I love that you wore a delicate necklace with this WOW dress. I also appreciate you sharing your business with us – it makes us feel like a (small) part of your success. And thanks for linking up to Vis Monday.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and loved this dress when I saw it on Visible Monday! Love that you are helping the woman in the hospital and enjoyed reading your comments about gifting. Kate Middleton seems to make everything fly off the shelf, but other than that, I’m clueless!
But, back to Florent – I miss it!! Loved when the meatpacking district was a hole in the wall and was… a meatpacking district. Back when you had to direct the cab drivers to Gansevoort 🙂 Those were the days.
Ha! The cabbies were always like, “WHAT?!” when you said the name of the street!
Susan Partlan says
The purple dress is great! More importantly though, you’re such a good person Wendy.
I’m just a work in progress, Susan!
We all need at least one “trashy” frock, although I can’t see you making ANYTHING look trashy. xoxoxo
I have to ask Stacy Lomman to style this dress in a way that punks it up a bit and gets me away from that reality show look!
Wendy, this made me laugh so hard, esp your bit about real housewives promo dresses!
I didn’t realize that a celebrity wearing your piece wouldn’t immediately result in tons of sales, really surprised to learn that. Like you, I love bad girl RiRi
You live and learn, right?
You look purty in purple 🙂
I keep wondering if there’s any way to toughen that dress up!
Frannie Pantz says
LOL “A little too Real Housewives intro”. LOL Aw that is too funny, but this dress is really pretty and I love the color on you! Good luck on your search! I can’t wait to see if you grab it!
The Good Will Hunting Paralegal says
I think you could toughen it up with high-heeled booties, black fishnet or opaque hose, and maybe a big cuff bracelet. Shortening the hem might work, too. I’m also thinkin’ cool temporary tattoo 😀
You do always look like a photogenic fashion icon or a movie star, but I have to admit, this is not my fave of your dresses. Pro’bly ’cause I hate any reality TV program about big bucket o’ crazy wives 😛
Yeah, there needs to be a change to the shoe here …