Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another Day, Another Adventure

My first WWD adventure was dealing with the French. Today, I got the Italians. And the Chinese, of course.

I was asked to interview the head of Hogan, the Italian shoe and handbag designer. Of course my context was that Hogan was the name of a law firm. Anyway. I go off to this interview wearing my trusty Nine West boots, an Ann Taylor Loft skirt (oddly tighter than the last time I wore it), and a Target top. You know, urban chic.

All was set, except for the part where Joanna and I tried to figure out just how long it would take me to walk from the subway station to the Park Hyatt, where I had the interview. She figured five minutes. She was off by a good 40 minutes, and as I charged down Jianguomen Wai, the PR person for Hogan, a lovely young woman with the name Irene Pun (no pun intended) kept calling my cell to ask where I was.

“Just five minutes!” I answered her, although judging from the pulsing blue dot on my handy iPad map, it was a good deal farther than that.

I started to run. This is not something that women in a too-tight pencil skirt do in Beijing’s central business district. I got stares, although I don’t know if the surprised looks were more related to my running or to the fact that I had an iPad tucked under my arm, an iPad I would open and consult every three minutes as I speed-walked and then sprinted past Beijingers out for a lunchtime stroll.

I was 15 minutes late for the interview. Ms. Pun had actually promised them (why, I have no idea) that I’d be early, so I felt doubly late. I rushed into the giant office building that housed the Park Hyatt, knowing I needed to get to the hotel’s lobby on the 63rd floor. Odd, the elevators only went up to 52. I figured I could go higher at 52, so I zoomed to the top.

“Where are you?” Irene Pun was calling again.
“In the elevator!” I said.

Turns out that I was in the wrong elevator, so I had to make a mad dash out of one office tower to another. By this point I was drenched in sweat, completely ruining any semblance of my so-called urban chic.

Anyway, I got to the Hyatt lobby and met Ms. Pun, who promptly informed me that she had lied to the Hogan people that I had had too much coffee and was in the bathroom. Whatever. I was a mess anyway.

Andrea Della Valle, the head of Hogan, was of course a smooth, polished, trim, handsome, lightly tanned man who looked as though he had never had a hair out of place in his life, and worth several billion dollars more than the messy journalist sitting before him feeling the sweat trickle down her back and trying not to focus on just how scuffed her Nine West boots have become.

But the bottom line was that I did the interview, wrote the story, and am sitting here in sweats, drinking tea and sneezing, since I have a cold. And feeling a newfound appreciation for Steve Jobs, iPads, and pulsing blue dots that can guide me in a faraway land.

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