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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Remembering “Voyage”: the Fashion Label with Major Attitude.

I was delving through some old copies of Vanity Fair...(  dating back to the late 90’s) when I came across publicity shots of the Mazzilli family self indulgently highlighting their quirky appearance as well as their overpriced fashion label: “VOYAGE”...remember it?

I  look back on them now and wonder what could possibly have become of this excessively self possessed and arrogant family that not only launched an exclusive line that everybody wanted but alienated the public and the privileged .
I remember the look clearly being a cross between shabby chic with a twist of whimsy,boho insouciance and a large dollop of insanely expensive...Obviously everybody wanted a piece of Voyage...as did I.
On a trip to New York, back in the late 90s, I was stepping off the escalator in Bergdorf’s and came face to face with a VOYAGE display...I rummaged, I sweated, I desired...I HAD TO HAVE A PIECE OF THE DREAM...and came away with a boiled wool sweater with velvet trim that was crazy expensive for what it was.But as all devout fashionistas, one has to pay through the nose to thumb up your nose! 


The look as well as the label went stratospheric: VOYAGE was suddenly on every bodies lips and backs and the boutique was opened to the public...until that is that “Joe Public” became persona non grata...you needed to become a member and make an appointment to enter. . 
Fame does funny things to people, as does a sudden surge in popularity  and fashion status,the Mazzilli’s simply got too big for their boots and started laying down the laws of who could enter their shop.When they turned away and subsequently banned Naomi Campbell.. A collective gasp could be heard resonating like supersonic airwaves across the globe...Wow!!Gobsmacked.


But then potential money spenders were also turned away as well as BIG name celebrities such as Madonna and Julia Roberts.But the one that stuck in my craw was when they turned away the doyenne fashion journalist Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune (immediately recognisable by her coif)...She was dismissed and dissed and when a customer identified her to the proprietor, she was pursued apologetically..Not that it made a blind bit of difference to Ms Menkes at that point, who apparently replied:”I have changed my mind.Goodbye.”


I remember nervously walking up to the closed door, needing to ring a bell only to be told that I had to be a member to gain entrance  or some such nonsense and feeling so irate and humiliated. I also have a vague memory of actually  being in the boutique and feeling rather like the cat that got the cream...Now that I am “in”...I don’t want to buy anything and to be honest it had quickly passed its sell by date. 
Soon people simply stopped wanting to come in.Fashion’s arrogance can gain a public as well as well as lose one,this time it gave birth to a monster whose outright rudeness and arrogance spiralled out of control creating their demise....as well as going into liquidation after running up debts of about £3million.


 I read a brilliant article by Paul Daley written 2002 called: “London’s rude fashion voyagers hit the rocks” referring to Voyage as being...”possibly the world’s most pretentious boutique...”
In the article Paul Daley recounts his multiple attempts at entering the store and being rudely turned away:
“...I had been to restaurants where you pay the waiters to insult you.I’ve seen people pay to be humiliated by stand-up comics. But never had I heard of a clothes shop where you had to a) become a member and b) make an appointment to spend $2000 on a pair of crappy,threadbare tasselled jeans or a t-shirt bearing a monogram of a pink puppy...”

This is what happens when you bite the fashion hand that feeds you. As Heidi Klum repeats ad nauseum on Project Runway:
“One day you are i-nnn... and the other you are a-out”!