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  • Carol Alayne

The Red Dress

Last week I put the finishing touches to this glorious red dress and sent it on its way to New York for a client who will attend the Tony Awards on Broadway in a few days’ time. She will not feature on any of the artiste lists at the ceremony as her involvement in theatre is as an investor. An unsung but essential community of supporters whose generosity of pocket and of spirit has sustained theatre from its very beginnings. It’s not for nothing they are often called ‘angels’, as the chances of any earthly rewards are usually close to zero. So a Tony Award nomination is therefore a big thing not only for the production but for the investors also.

I often wonder whether women actually make better investors in the arts

and culture than men. Perhaps they are more ready to accept the more intangible benefits rather than simply look for a financial return. Forbes Magazine certainly seems to think so. A recent online article announces that ‘women are taking the lead in philanthropy’. And it goes on to assert that women now control over half the private wealth in the USA – and make 80% of all purchases.

I’m certain some male readers will already be muttering, ‘but we knew that already!’ However, even the male-dominated advertising industry now recognises that spending money – or giving it away – is a much more complex and rich transaction than simply exchanging currency for goods or services. Buying a bespoke suit or dress is not just about handing over money and getting a nicely cut garment in return. The entire process of choosing, fitting, adjusting, embodies a host of values and experiences which are tangible only to the people involved. And of course the pleasure that others might take in viewing the garment as worn is something we should always consider as a value and intangible benefit.

My client’s investment in her red dress is rather like an investment in her theatre production: there’s drama, pleasure, excitement and anticipation all waiting to be shared during its public appearances!

Although many of my clients are performing artists whose apparel needs to reflect the quality of their performance, I was fortunate to encounter my ‘angel’ client via a completely different route, the City Women’s Network, in London. The CWN speaks up for women in senior professional and managerial positions not only in the City of London but throughout the UK and abroad. Established 30 years ago, it both supports and publicises the roles of women in professional life. And I like to think that our sensitivity to the more hidden benefits of life will have a positive influence on the rather macho world of business and finance.

So here’s to angels in red dresses!

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