Longform

Formal Complaint

Page 3 of 5

"The correct answer should be that you have no objection to his being there.
"At least that seems to be the opinion of an agency of the federal government."

Royko had not talked to Kovacic, either. But he had talked to Lillie Rubin's attorney in Washington, D.C., one Rodney Glover.

Glover told Royko, "Lillie Rubin must put this guy in the store, and they must put him in the dressing room.

"If not, they told us they will file a class-action lawsuit. And any male in the United States who was unemployed at the time and could have applied for the job could be party to the suit.

"They said they would sue us for millions of dollars."
Glover refused to answer phone calls from New Times, perhaps because much of what he told Royko was not true. EEOC had decided not to sue, and instead gave that prerogative to Kovacic.

But that may be a moot point. Lillie Rubin filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in February.

Dick Kovacic only learned of his national notoriety a few weeks ago when New Times called him up. He was shocked that he had been depicted as a politically correct peeper.

And it was never about dressing rooms anyway.
Men have worked in high fashion for generations--and the higher the fashion, the more men there are to be found.

"If you go to any large department store that carries high-end or top-end clothes, there will always be a man, always," says Dick. "Go to New York. I'm amazed when a woman calls from New York looking for a piece of Armani because most of the salespeople there are men."

Most fashion designers are men; they spend their lives in women's fitting rooms without being considered improper. As one of Dick Kovacic's contemporaries says, "Is Karl Lagerfeld in it to leer and peep at women?"

However, there is some difference of opinion as to how women perceive men in the boutiques.

Ollie McNamara owns the elegant Capriccio boutique at the Borgata in Scottsdale. Dick once worked for her.

"Inevitably you get into a fitting room," she says. "You have to undress women and you have to dress women; it's the name of the game here. You never know what they're wearing underneath. We have people who have complained bitterly because of that, so we have managed to see that those people are not taken care of by the men."

On the other hand, Gustavo Tabares, who once also worked for Capriccio (and whose charming accent suggests the caterer played by Martin Short in the remake of Father of the Bride) says, "I think it's the opposite. I think that women prefer to have a man help them, and I think the reason for that is that basically women dress for men."

Lillie Rubin's contention was that it offers a very special kind of service, and to bring a man into that scenario would be an invasion of privacy.

"There's a privacy issue with every customer and every salesperson," says Dick. "It doesn't matter if the salesperson is a man or a woman.

"I will not do anything a customer is not comfortable with, and I'm only in the fitting room if the customer is dressed to the point where she feels comfortable.

"The dressing-room door is closed and the customer is the one who opens it up. I don't see the problem with that. I mean, the whole idea of selling is not seeing someone in their underwear. I'm not a bra fitter. It's my expertise as a salesperson, my knowledge of the way things look on people and my honesty. I have many people who have been coming back to me for years because of my honesty."

The salesperson who breaches trust does not keep his or her clientele. A peeper would not last long in the business. And so the person more likely to be embarrassed in the fitting room is the salesperson.

"I've never been put in a position where I feel uncomfortable," Dick continues. "It's happened with other people's clients. I've seen people walk out on the floor wearing practically nothing in the middle of a very busy department store, to the point where half the salespeople turned around. And they were all women, because it isn't something women want to see, either."

One of Dick's close friends, on hearing from Dick that he had been depicted coast to coast as the sort of lecher just waiting for such scenes to unfold, quipped, "They certainly haven't met you."

That is, she managed to choke those words out after she had finally finished laughing.

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Michael Kiefer