Penney Profits Fall 36 Percent:
According to the cookie-cutter emporium
for the mediocre, J.C. Penny sales were hurt
by cutbacks in consumer spending (they forecast
further sales declines).
According to reports, “Sales and
profits have been battered as its middle-class
shoppers tighten discretionary spending
in favor of necessities, squeezed by rising
fuel and food prices, declining home values
and a credit crunch.
Last week, Penney said July sales at stores
open a least a year fell a deeper-than-expected
“In this difficult consumer environment,
we have continued to focus on tightly controlling
all aspects of our business,” said
the CEO Myron E. Ullman III.
The company tried to protect margins with
tighter inventory controls, and said comparable
store inventory levels at the end of the
second quarter were lower than a year ago.
Sales of women’s apparel and shoes
were stronger than other items, while sales
of home goods and jewelry were the weakest.
I guess this was bound to happen. With
an apple costing $1.25 and gasoline burning
up paychecks all over the US, it was bound
to happen. Perhaps stores need to do more
for customers - like serve lunch or give
yoga classes in the athletic departments.
That way the consumer has a real reason
to leave home. Plus it’s hip to offer
the consumer a bit of his or her lifestyle
while on the run.
SIMONE MIRMAN PASSED AWAY:
Simone Mirman, milliner to the
last generation of Englishwomen, including
Queen Elizabeth has died. She was 96.
"I only make hats," Mirman said.
But she did more than that: she offered
women reassurance about their appearance.
Born Simone Parmentier in Paris, she served
her apprenticeship with Parisian milliner
Rose Valois at a time when there were almost
as many hat shops as cafes in the French
capital. She then joined the atelier of
the couturiere Elsa Schiaparelli, and learned
to make hats that flattered the wearer.
In 1937 she eloped to London with Serge
Mirman, whom she married two years later.
Neither spoke English, but she soon headed
the hat department of Schiaparelli's shop
in Mayfair. With the outbreak of World War
II, Schiaparelli closed down, but bequeathed
Mirman her list of customers. She and Serge
lived in a Paddington attic, which they
turned into a salon during the day because
wartime clothing coupons were not needed
In 1947, her customers followed her to
better premises near Hyde Park, and five
years later to Belgravia, where she ran
a salon for almost 30 years.
The Mirmans re-established old connections
with Paris, and with its new fashion wonder,
Christian Dior, for whom she made hats,
while Serge was licensed to sell Dior's
branded accessories, especially nylon stockings.
She also worked for Norman Hartnell, couturier
by appointment to the royal family, who
bought hats from London's premier milliner,
But in 1952, after Princess Margaret reportedly
thought Thaarup's prices too high, Mirman
was invited to show her wares at Buckingham
The royals began to patronize her, and
the Queen and the Queen Mother later granted
her their warrants. All three royals wanted
different personal styles: the Queen Mother
harked back to the aureolate hats of her
youth, wide-brimmed and cargoed with frail
flowers and feathers; Princess Margaret
wore whatever was most modish; once Princess
Elizabeth was crowned Queen, she chose her
headgear to please the camera — brims,
if any, turned back to reveal her face,
crowns all-encompassing to hold her set
hair safe beneath, clear colors to match
Hartnell's ensembles, and unusual materials
to stress her non-mundane presence.
Mirman's most remembered creation was
a dramatic Tudor headdress for the Prince
of Wales in 1969.
Mirman stayed fashionable into the 1970s,
making fun versions of the mid-1960s brimless
helmets appliquéd in plastic "jewels",
and a cap with a PVC visor like a welder's
After the hat business dwindled, she worked
with daughter, Sophie, selling leather accessories
and hats. She retired to France in 1990,
where she painted until her eyesight failed.
Serge died in 1980. Sophie, who founded
the Sock Shop chain and the children's shop
Trotters, survives her.
MADONNA KICKS OFF “STICKY
AND SWEET” TOUR IN THE UK WITH THE
HAT AS A SIDE KICK:
Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's
Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried
images of destruction, global warming, Zimbabwe's
authoritarian President Robert Mugabe —
and U.S. Senator John McCain. Another sequence,
shown later, pictured slain Beatle John
Lennon, followed by climate activist Al
Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's
Democratic rival Barack Obama.
The rest of the show had the usual Madonna
fixtures: sequins, fishnets, and bondage-style
outfits drawn from the 3,500 items of clothing
reportedly whipped together by 36 designers
specifically for the tour.
Dancers sauntered across stage in top hats
and tail coats, and Madonna tried her hand
at break-dancing and pole-dancing.
Some 40,000 fans — many in pink
cowboy hats and boas — were treated
to a heavy metal version of "Borderline,"
while "La Isla Bonita" served
as backdrop for a flamenco routine. The
show, billed as a musical mishmash of "gangsta
pimp," Romanian folk, rave, and dance
— was an homage to Madonna's reinventions
over the past three decades.
"Sticky and Sweet" goes to London's
Wembley Stadium on Sept. 11 and Paris on
Sept. 20. From there, it goes to North America
and wraps up Dec. 18th in Sao Paulo, Brazil.