Some things trickle better than others

By Bill Colvard - [email protected]

Trickle down economics doesn’t.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 35 years, it should be that. When trickle-down first became a thing in the early 80s, it made perfect sense to me. At the time, I was designing ball gowns for very rich ladies and a sufficient number of their many shekels slipped through their diamond-encrusted fingers to keep the wolf away from my door. And yes, sometimes I did feel trickled on.

But it should be noted, my sister who designed kitten sweatshirts for K-mart, made way more money than I did. More than double in fact, plus a company car, which I certainly did not have, so she was getting a whole lot more trickle up than I was getting trickle down. To be fair, she designed more than kitten shirts, but you’d be stunned at how many of those she was able to move in the 80s and 90s. You’d be stunned at how many of those same shirts I see out on the street around here even today.

But even as the cash began its long rise to the top, the fashion still flowed down. My sister kept close watch on the colors I was shipping to Neiman-Marcus each season as those were the colors she’d be shipping to K-Mart the next season.

And the silhouettes and cuts that I was selling for $5,000 were just as interesting to the designers of $500 dresses as they had been to me when I saw them on the Paris runways for $50,000. Likewise, the makers of $50 dresses had a keen interest in those $500 dresses and eventually my sister would be tearing her hair out trying to figure out a way to make those $50 dresses for five bucks.

It has been ever thus.

But the times, they are a-changing.

Recently, Hanne Gaby Odiele and John Swiatek, up-and-coming fashionistas who worked together on Alexander Wang’s Balenciaga campaign, got married on a farm in upstate New York and the internet is awash with photos of Balenciaga-clad bridesmaids lounging on hay bales in and out of rickety old barns. The smug faces of these bored glitterati show just how trendy they think they are. Picture after picture screams out; look how terribly trendy we are — hay bales at a wedding ceremony; look at our drop dead style — a bridal portrait in a pasture full of weeds. Oh, trendy trendysetters, we.


My baby sister — not the one with the kitten shirts but the one who has lived her whole life in Wilkes County — had a country-themed wedding in 1983 where all the guests sat on hay bales at the outdoor ceremony. The bride wore her gray suede cowboy boots around which I devised a white eyelet dress that would have been the envy of any Edwardian farmer’s daughter. Guests got gussied up in their best cowboy shirts and boots with jeans for the gents and prairie skirts for the ladies, which in a stroke of Ralph Lauren-infused luck, the stores were full of that year. Dad escorted the bride down the hay-lined aisle on horseback and after getting hitched to her new groom, she exited the same way, riding off into the sunset on horseback with her new groom.

It was very romantic, very stylish and I would be surprised if the entire budget was more than 500 bucks. And to this day, I don’t think there has been a wedding in the family that didn’t have at least one hay bale somewhere and usually a lot of them. On occasion, if someone was trying to get fancy, the bales may have been wrapped in fabric or something, but rest assured, there was hay involved and more likely than not, the bride was wearing cowboy boots. It must be in our genetic code.

So now, 33 years later, these Euro-trashy swanksters think they can march over here and get all Zoolander with a bunch of hay bales strewn through the countryside like no one has ever seen a farm before. They think they are trend setting for the little people.

Not. Been there. Done that. For literally generations. The one-percenters have taken all the money for themselves and now they can’t even use their immense wealth to generate some new fashion that might ultimately work its way down to the rest of us. Instead, they’re stealing our style instead.

As far as I’m concerned, they can trickle it up their Balenciaga-covered butts.

By Bill Colvard

[email protected]

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

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