Fashion is a funny thing. On one hand, it covers a basic need—to cover up! Along with food and shelter, clothing is one of the basic needs in life. When does mere clothing turn into fashion with a capitol “F”? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this-in fact I have no doubt every designer has thought about this as we sit in our studios. Most designers have uniforms—think Carolina in her iconic white shirt, Donna in her cashmere scarves, Michael in his black blazer and shades, Vera in her sleek black leggings. For me, fashion really begins where dreaming begins. That element of fantasy that allows a woman to dream and to be whoever she feels like being. Romantic one day, seductive the next, tomboy the next. Don’t get me wrong I’m not talking about little girl ‘dress up’ time—I’m talking about busy women with jobs, families, who love being put together and chic but don’t have a lot of time to do it. I have always said my woman is a dreamer-she has her head in the clouds but her feet firmly planted on the ground. And each new season that I design I always try to evolve and refine this idea.
I’m writing this during Labor Day Weekend—which for fashion folk who show in NYC, actually means what it says. For more than ten seasons our August becomes one of the busiest times of the season—where we are putting samples into work, meeting with our DJ, checking UPS for embroidery deliveries. I get to live vicariously through all my friends on social media and see their pictures from Montauk, Mykonos, Provincetown, Fire Island. The dinners! The beaches! The sun kissed smiles! But you know what?
For me, fashion really begins where dreaming begins.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Getting ready for my fashion show is one of the most important and exciting moments of my job. It’s a culmination of months of prep and it all comes into fruition pretty much a few weeks before the show. Now a fashion show is sort of a mystery to those outside the biz—and maybe that’s a good thing!-but I want to tell you what goes into a show. Okay, sure I want to maintain the fantasy (there’s that word again!) of otherworldly models gliding down a runway with perfect makeup and hair and the perfect outfit hanging off of her coat hanger shoulders-but here’s what goes into it and here’s my top 10 list on how I cope with it.
- Get a haircut. Feeling cute will help you focus on other things. Strange but true.
- Maintain a sense of humor at all times but know exactly what needs to get done. C’mon the Seven Dwarves had it right—you CAN whistle while you work.
- Don’t be crazy. Or actually more accurately, be nice. That doesn’t mean be spineless –you can be direct and honest—but believe me delivery is everything.
- Wear comfortable shoes. I mean unless you have people to peel you grapes and feed them to you.
- Good breath is next to godliness. Enough said. I like having my toothbrush around for long days.
- Balance big picture with details. Yes a balancing act to be sure.
- Believe in your convictions but trust your team. Again another balancing act. Without them you are floating downstream without a boat. Without you they don’t have a captain steering.
- Keep some semblance of normalcy during the long days—try and go to the gym in the morning, meet friends for a nightcap, take a bath, watch ‘Chopped’.
- Bust a move and play good tunes during fittings. Allegedly I often bust out in song when I’m under duress.
- Above all-make sure to laugh.
- Ok I am adding one more. Don’t throw your manners out the door people! ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are nice to say. Use them. Your mother would be proud.
Actually, most of these things on the list are good for life.