Ms. Scafidi Goes to Washington
I'm back in New York after testifying before Congress on intellectual property and fashion design, and frankly I'm still surprised and delighted that the issue is being taken seriously. Within a few years I've gone from not writing on the subject at the advice of older academic colleagues -- despite the fact that fashion is a $350 billion plus industry -- to speaking to the nation's lawmakers about it. Of course, having tenure helps.
I promised more details about the hearing on H.R. 5055, so here goes:
Favorite moment: Representative Maxine Waters turning on her girl power and owning the room. As she said to one of the bill's opponents, "You asked what Congress knows about it? When you talk about women's fashion and design, fortunately there are a lot of women in Congress now. We know a lot about it." And she did, citing issues regarding quality control, artistic vision, and consumer expectations.
Second-favorite moment: Representative Darrell Issa asking me who I was wearing -- actually an important and relevant question. (He's got 37 patents of his own, so he knows a few things about innovation.)
What to wear to Congress: So what was I wearing? Luckily I thought about this in advance -- the hearing was about IP and fashion, after all! Washington is fairly conservative in fashion terms, and a congressional hearing is a serious matter -- so a dark suit. Also considering the setting, and the July weather, a skirt rather than trousers. An American designer, in order to be suitably patriotic, but also a young designer for whom this legislation would really matter. And ideally something classic, but with a twist.
The final choice? A fashionably black Narciso Rodriguez skirt suit from a couple of years ago. The jacket looks like a bolero over a fitted top, but is actually one piece, and the skirt has a pencil silhouette. 100% cotton, thank heaven, and unlined but beautifully finished on the inside (like all of Narciso's work). For accessories, the much-copied Lanvin tulle-wrapped faux pearls, my grandmother's pearl stud earrings for luck, and pointy black Manolo pumps. (Like I said, the suit was American....)
Since Narciso Rodriguez is a designer whose work has been copied, I was able to turn myself into Exhibit A when Representative Issa asked -- an unexpectedly nice touch.
The issues: Stay tuned!