June 30, 2009
After hearing so much about Jean Paul Gaultier on The Fashion Show on Bravo this pass week and seeing his inspirations everywhere I turned, I decided that he was a suitable candidate for my blog this beautiful Monday night.
I can only hope that you remember him from the infamous cone shaped bra he made for the 1990 Madonna tour, Blonde Ambition. Costumes in movies and films have been heavily influenced by this one design, including Whitney Houston’s outfit in Bodyguard ( I absolutely love that movie). However, Mr. Gaultier means way more to the fashion world than his pointy bra design. Much, much more. Let me tell you why!
Jean Gaultier was born on April 24, 1952 in Arcueil, Val-de-Mame. He is of French descent which evident from his website where I cannot get it to translate to English. His life took a different turn from a lot of other influential designers, as he was not formally trained. At the age of 18, Gaultier was sending out his couture sketches to Parisian stylists. He caught the eye of one designer, Pierre Cardin, who offered him a position as his assistant in 1970. Jean Paul happily obliged.
In 1971 he worked with Jacques Esterel and later that year Jean Patou, two famous Parisian Couture designers. He assisted Michael Gomex and then Angelo Tarlazzi. He returned to work for Pierre Cardin in Manila while working on his individual collection for the U.S.A.
He was only 24 years old in October 1976 when he created his first womenswear collection. The inspiration for his designs came from French Cultural Icons to the London streets. All his collections have said to have inspirations ( whether large or small) from Hasidic Jews and the Indian culture. This clothing line was able to launch with the backing of an unknown Japanese company.
By the middle 80’s his avant garde designs were gaining critics rave reviews. He became known as the bad boy( enfant terrible) of fashion. He was famous for implementing, what some would call, disrespectful influences in his clothing lines. However his clothing was legendary for its street style and punk references. His signature is and always will be his striped navy and white Breton fisherman’s sweater. In the 1980s he redefined a traditionally underwear garments and made them into outerwear, which is demonstrated by his corset dress of 1982.
In 1984 Jean Paul jumped right into menswear. He used his own personal experiences when shopping, claiming he couldn’t find anything he really wanted, especially in terms of sizing. Men had be reportedly buying women’s jackets because of the fabrics and cut and Jean Paul saw this as an opportunity . He made a huge spectacle of his new line during a show where men wore see through skirts and women smoked pipes down the run way, he was inspired by designers like Gianni Versace. Gaultier is also famous for using unconventional models in his shoes such as older men and full figured women(30th anniversery show), pierced and heavily tattooed models, and the obvious switching of gender roles.
Gaultier, also a master tailor, used details such as metal tipped collars and extended shoulder lines to popularize his clothing in European capitals. The tailoring of his jackets gave the wearer a whole new flattering figure, transforming their normally mundane bodies to shrines that should be envied by all.
After the success of his men’s and women’s lines he began to bring to play around with all of his ideas. In 1988 Gaultier decided to expand his brand by incorporating a lower priced line for the younger market that has a nautical influence. This line was replaced by JPG by Gaultier in 1994, a unisex line that played with the idea of blending gender lines in clothing. Gaultier also dipped his toes into the music world by releasing a house new-beat hit How to do that in 1989. He then started a line of perfumes in 1993 called Classique and two years later a men’s fragrance Le Male, which were both wildly successful all over the world. He also introduced fragrances such as Fragile, Fleur du Male, and Gaultier. Those perfumes were not as successful as his premiere fragrances, however they did gain some popularity. Jean Paul was also involved with the first series of Eurotrash , a comedy on British television. He tinkered with furniture, designing a two person chair on wheels and a dresser constructed from luggage. He designed his future collections with inspirations from random aspects of the world such as constructivism in his ’86 Russian collection, inspirations from rock stars for the ’87 collection.
Though his collection was growing in popularity and gaining in markets all over the world, at the end of the 1980’s his lover and partner Francis Menuge died due to Aids. His partner was responsible for making his designs more simple and sober, but upon his partners death, he went back to the sexy and daring clothing that made him controversial and popular.
In 1997 he did something on 2 designers in las 3 decades had done, he created a couture house under his own label. Though he was not formally trained, he worked under Parisian craftsmen who taught him the art and skills needed to highly tailored and detailed designs while still adding his own outrageous style, inspired by places such as imperial India. He is inspired by the landscapes and the faces of Indian women and their colorful clothing. He believes ” Color is life.”
In 1999 a “dream marriage” as described by Gaultier was born when Hermes invested $23 million in his business, taking ownership of 35% stake in the company. This gave Gaultier a world of opportunities to expand his brand. This unexpected union help Jean Paul take control of his licensing operations like jewelry and to expand into timepieces (which he is a collector of) and footwear, all of which would boost his international business. With the money he also renewed his fragrance license with Shiseido and Beaur Prestige Internation, in addition to the luxury hosiery firm, Wolford.
His achievements have not gone unnoticed among his peers. In 2000 he won the CRDA International Award in addition to winning the title of Chevalier, one of France’s highest honors. Because of the success of his revamped brand due to the large investment from Hermes, Jean Paul Gaultier, also named as the successor of YSL, was hired as the creative director of Hermes in 2003/2004.
More recently, in 2008 Jean Paul Gaultier partnered with with producing a premium spring water brand Evian. The team was so successful that they joined forces again and he has designed a elegant glass bottle made of Baccarat crystal that will be limited edition whose proceed will go to RAMSAR fun which protects the water resources of out planet.
With his Spring 2009 collection inspired by the style of Klaus Nomi, Jean Paul Gaultier has shown his dedication to clothing and design and not buying into the industries trends. I am impressed by his ability to be color, gender, and size blind. He is not afraid to send models down the runway with authentic afros, larger bodies, or men in skirts. He doesn’t fall for fads and trends which is why his clothing is highly controversial but also critically acclaimed. Taking risks is important in this industry, but i don’t think Jean Paul G. thinks he is taking risks with his clothing, I think he is merely portraying his vision for the world,without remorse or hesitation, to either hate it or love it; And I have to say, I’m fully on the LOVE side.
Jean Paul Gaultier, thank you for being you and staying true to your beliefs no matter what society thinks. That dedication and originally is much needed in today’s world where every celebrity and wanna-be are exact replicas of each other.
P.S. When I make a little cash, I would really love a custom made Birken, complete with feathers, leathers and the works.
June 26, 2009
Firstly, I want to say RIP Michael Jackson. You will be missed by many. 😦
” Anyone can get all dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their off days that [is] the most intriguing. It’s these in between, wayward days when a person’s true style emerges from their everyday life, forming the basis of Alexander Wang’s collection…” This quote from his website is what drew me to write about him. After thinking about it, this is so true. I see people all the time that look so nice when we go to dinner or have a party, but when we go to class or chill on the weekend, they look like a completely different person. Good thing Alexander Wang makes clothing that introduces an urban chic ideas to clothing. He believes that a t-shirt and jeans can be as sexy as an evening gown. He believes in mixing street with luxe which is a growing trend of today.
How did he get started you ask? In a very similar way to all of the fashion greats. He is a California boy, born and raised in San-Fran. to a Chinese American family. At the tender age of 18 he moved to the Big Apple to go to Parsons School of Design. There, you guessed it, he had many internships. He said his goal was to get an internship with Marc Jacobs, and BAM, he got it. And from then on he was sailing through the industry. He interned for Vogue and Derek Lam as well and said he was truly inspired by his small set up.
Two years into Parson’s in 2005 he was already designing his premier collection which was mostly knits. He focused his collection around eighties hip hop and seventies Parisian chic, mixing Run DMC and YSL, which was an uncommon mix. He created his label with business help from his sister in and law and mother who in the beginning, who knew nothing about fashion.
With dreams of having a lifestyle brand, he wanted to start with the manageable knitwear. He truly worked his way up from the bottom. He knew his collection was fabulous because when he took it an editor at Teen Vogue, she said it was great. However, he didn’t jump into trying to get his pieces in Saks or Nordys, he started by simply selling his line to stores in San Francisco. There, the pieces sold out within days. Next stop, a trade show, there, they were struck with success. An amazing 80 stores picked up his line, stores such as Barneys and Bendel. BeeTeeDubs (by the way) those stores are the holy lands for fashion designers everywhere and Alex has taken them by storm at the age of 20.
His look, called that of the lower east side, was described as gritty and edgy. Girls near and far flock for his clothing because of its accessibility and savvy. His elegant spin on hoodies and T Shirts make his line irresistible to on-the-go/ trendy women in their 20’s and 30’s who want to look fabulous while going for a coffee run. Those type of things are his inspiration, things that people do not usually pay attention to. His muse for example is his close friend Erin Wasson, model and stylist who embodies his signature style of ” model off duty.”
Wang’s story continues to get more and more interesting. Word is, he doesn’t even have any external investors other then his family, isn’t that fabulous. What is even more fabulous is all his accomplishments in the form of awards. In 2008 , Alex won the Vogue/CFDA Fund which he was given $20,000 to expand his line and he did just that by adding a whole accessories line in 2008. Most importantly, the Fund winner was given the prize of Dian Von Furstenberg as his mentor, which is priceless. (the runners up would be mentored by Kate spade, Patrick Robinson, and Andrew Rosen which as also fabulous prizes.) In 2009 he was the winner of the CFDA Swarovski womenswear Designer of the year.
Wang has gotten so popular that he has even been solicited to revive a lot of falling clothing companies. He has been chosen to collaborate with Gap( Hitting stores June 16, 2009), Keds(fall of 08), and Uniqlo (May 2008). Additionally he has supported Project Blue, a shop-for-charity initiative that benefits the clean-water advocacy group Oceana, by designing clothing from old donated denim. That clothing was then to be auctioned off on Ebay.
With all his success, he doesn’t let all the hype get to him. He remains humbled as his line’s popularity literally sky rockets overnight. People like Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker sit front row at his shows, those shows that have lines that stretch for blocks. Regardless, he still works hard and strives to prove people wrong who think he is too young to produce quality, renowned clothing; I think he is doing a great job.
From cutting patterns as a young teenager to being revered by huge names in fashion and entertainment such as Anna Wintour, Dree, and Rihanna— all before he is 25. While the awards and praise keep pouring in, Alex continues to impress the fashion world with his creativity and vision. He is a particularly awesome choice for my blog because I, one day, want to design clothes with the idea of luxe and street mixed together. I consider him as one of my main inspirations.
Donna Karen of New York has truly become a household name. In my house especially because I refuse to buy jeans or denim from anyone else but her. I get so many compliments that my jeans look tailor made for me, and that does nothing but fuel my addiction to those fabulous pants. However, we are not here to discuss my love of her denim, but to talk about DKNY.
Donna Karen, whose birth name is Donna Ivy Faske, was born on October 2, 1948 in Forest Hills, Queens. She grew up in Long Island with her stepfather ( a tailor who died when she was 3) and her mom ( a model), which is a perfect formula for success in the fashion industry. Her stepfather was also in the fashion business.
She began selling clothing at the age of 14( a true hustler) on Cedarhurst a Central Avenue in New York. In high school she interned for Liz Claiborne. Additionally while in high school she designed her first line and put on her first show. In 1966 she graduated from Hewlett High School and went to Parsons School for Design, like many other famous designers that we know and love. Similarly, she left after two years, which is also a trend among great designers, to work for Anne Klein. While at Anne Klein in 1973, she married her first husband Mark Karan and divorced him in 1978. She worked her way up to the head of the design team at A. K. and held that position until 1985.
When she left A.K. she started her own company and created/ invented “the body” ( one of the most practical items of clothing to come out of the 80’s). That was her claim to fame. Her Essentials line offered seven pieces that wrap and sculpt the body, which every woman should have and of course, has expanded to about 200 pieces.
In 1988/89 she introduced a less expensive DKNY line, in order to dress her daughter. She designs all her lines without thinking of the top model, but the actual end consumer of her products. She calls her DKNY line the fast food to her caviar of her signature collection.
During the early 90’s her and her husband, Stephan Weiss whom she married in 1983, ran her company. In 1995 Weiss stepped down to concentrate on his real passion, sculpting and in 1997 Donna resigned as the CEO of her company. Soon after in 2001 her husband died of lung cancer in 2001. That same year Donna Karan’s line was acquired by LVMH for around $643 million dollars ( 2/3rds of that went to Donna personally), however Donna still remains in creative control of the company’s lines.
Donna relinquished her powers within her company because her husband was fighting cancer, which can surely cause enough emotional and physical strain and stress. From that experience, she was able to launch Urban Zen project in 2007. Her interest in Yoga came from the times that she shared yoga with her cancer stricken husband as a way to help ease his treatments. She has given millions to teach patients and care givers these techniques as well.
Donna has experienced her share of hurdles in her life. In February of 2008 she fired her assistant after she allowed animal right activists in her home. Karen, at the time, had been targeted by PETA for her fur designs during fashion week. When she came home to the activists they tried to show her a graphic video. Karen and a female activist got in a verbal debacle. The protests didn’t stop there. The activists attended her show soon after wearing masks resembling Donna and carrying bloody, dead rabbits. Eww. Karan never lost her cool throughout that whole charade because of the kind hearted person that she is. Karan, for her 2010 collection will go Fur Free… I guess the trespassing and harassment by PETA really worked. Or maybe it was the website DonnaKarenBunnyButcher.com or a video received from Tim Gunn that urged her to cease her use of fur. Either way, PETA and Tim got what they wanted.
Karan is also a major believer in the support . She recently told 150 customers at Neiman Marcus not to feel bad about buying expensive things because it is actually helping the designers, in addition to all the people involved in the making, advertising, and selling of the garment. She also supports a lot of charities and philanthropic causes.
Karen, known for her innate ability to understand a woman’s body, has been humbled by her years in the industry. She is thankful for her family that helped her get through everything. Though times got tough for her she always had the underlying support of her 3 children and 7 grandchildren. A touching quote from her comes from NY MAG:
“My husband, my mother, and my boss all died on a day of a show,” Karan says. “Black and white. Birth and death. I have to believe it has something to do with karma. That’s how I cope.” I know that has to be hard. But she did pull herself to date again which has kept her happy.
As a great entrepreneur, wife, mother, and designer, many women look up to her. She had to balance the good and bad in life with no breaks in between. She knew, however, that in being successful you must take risks and that is exactly what she has done. Her risks have paid off and have been recognized by organizations near and far. In the 80’s she won 3 Coty awards. She won Womenswear designer of the year in 1990 and 1996, followed by winning Menswear designer of the year in 1992. In 2003, Karan was the first American designer to receive Fashion Group International’s “Superstar Award.” A year later, Karan’s Alma Mater Parson’s gave her an honorary doctorate to commemorate her contribution to the school and fashion industry. That same year she won the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award as well. Finally, in 2007, Glamour magazine named Karan one of their Women of the Year.
In addition to receiving awards, she has also been know for her generous giving of both her finances and her time. She raises money for AIDS awareness and education with Seventh on Sale, a apparel sale which the procedes go to Karan’s cause. She is a co chair the “Kids for Kids” events for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation as well. She also participates in “Super Saturday” which is a flea market that benefits the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. She also co founded the Karen Weiss Foundation in 1999 with her late husband, for which she also runs her Karan’s Urban Zen Initiative.
I chose Donna Karen as the focus of my blog today because she has pushed through a lot of hard times and has still turned out successful and grounded. She was able to withstand divorce, deaths, criticisms and much more and still remain a kind hearted , generous ( not to mention fabulous looking) 61 year old designer.
P.S. Donna has also been compared to Oprah because of her weight ups and downs and here is what I have to say to those people, get a life. If you were going through a quarter of the things Donna experienced I am sure you wouldn’t handle it any better.
Since 1981 Yeohlee has established her fashion house, YEOHLEE, and has been winning the hearts of fashion patrons everywhere. With exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a feature in ” Fashion Felt” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (limited time only: March 9,2009-September 7, 2009) Yeohlee has been recognized as an important figure in fashion history.
Teng attended Parsons School of Design after moving to New York from Malaysia. She coined the term “urban nomad” for her Fall 1997 collection, which means a lifestyle that requires clothing that works on a variety of practical and psychological levels.
Named as one of fashions most powerful people by Business Week, Yeohlee uses fabrics and materials to her advantage; for that she is called a master of design management. With the use of cotton blends that resist spills, she makes fabulously draped, elegant clothing. The materials inspire the shapes and styles making her clothes have a sense of purpose that is practical and functional in addition to looking amazing. Like me, she believes in seasonless clothes because of its efficiency to the wearer. Yeohlee shows that she not only tends to the design of the clothing but the concept, the details of the fabric and the use of each piece of clothing in her collections to relay a message.
In 2007, Yeohlee told Forbes.com that she designs her collection with the idea that in the future when the world is destroyed and there are no machines to make clothes, her designs are what clothes will look like. Her designs reach outside the fashion world and reflect problems in the Middle East, rising gas prices, poor stock markets, and the horrible environmental outlook of the world. Teng has a lot of opinions about the world and the people in it. She advices people to change the way they live by adding a bit of thinking and conservation which she believes will go a long way.
The accomplishments of Yeohlee Teng have soared. She has written books such as Yeohlee Teng Sees Parallels in Fashion and Architecture, in addition to winning awards such as the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in 2004. Additionally she has had exhibitions at the Galleria Museum in Paris and London’s Victoria & Albert in 2000 and at New York’s Museum at FIT in 2001 and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005.
Yeohlee is also a self proclaimed Fashion Week Neophyte, according to Elle Magazine. She arrives to shows on time ( also known as 40 minutes early), turns off her phone, and obeys all the rules of the fashion shows ( including the one that says no drinking in the runway, also known as “Ms. Teng, please throw away you freshly brought, $4 soy latte”).
After doing 7 shows and 2 presentations, Yeohlee has learned that one can actually look at a book and judge it by its cover. By looking at the clothing and behavior of those in attendance at a fashion show, you can get the gist of what you are going to see prancing down the runway. Yeohlee’s show was no exception to that rule, the people at her show dressed classic and elegant where not there to be seen but merely to appreciate the art that Ms. Teng is trying to convey. The crowd was quietly attentive to Yeohlee’s pieces and drew no unnecessary attention to themselves leaving the focus on the clothing, which is completely opposite to what is seen in Bryant Park. This perfect audience supported her perfectly executed designs at her show.
Teng shows how different she is from other designers by not buying into the idea of muses (The recent feature of the May Vogue issue), seasons, or habitual actions. She doesn’t want to take the same path everyday or the same path as everyone else, she claims this is why it would be very hard to stalk her. It is obvious she loves what she does and she works hard to make sure the women she designs for loves what she does as well.
Yeohlee has an amazing collection for Autumn/winter 2009-2010. One thing that makes it particularly special is that she had zero waste, meaning every inch of material was used and not one scrap was wasted. Talk about getting hip with the times. She uses a method called counting, cutting the material into triangles, rectangles and squares to make different garments. She is a technical wizard who has an unwavering commitment to the environment and its conservation. How many other designers can say they do the same? Yeohlee’s simply colored dimply designed pieces are secretly intricate and fascinating. She designs with the fabrics as if they are apart of the design team where her roll is to style the fabrics and the fabrics drape themselves beautifully and just “do their thing” to create harmonious designs .
Her pieces start at about $299 and are sold at major department stores such as Saks and Bergdorf’s. Her practical designs are loved by major celebs such as our beloved Merryl Streep. She makes clothing with the women and her daily needs in mind. She wants to eliminate the hustle, hassle and fuss that women go through daily with their clothing and accessories and so far, she has gotten the job done.
Let’s End with two of Yeohlee’s quotes that I believe completely sum up her line and her line’s concept.
“Clothes have magic. Their geometry forms shapes that can lend a wearer power”
" You gotta have ’em, you glad you got ’em, Like every color Giuseppe’s, your guilty pleasure is me"- Jay Z
June 23, 2009
I have come to a conclusion: there just isn’t enough information about designers on the Internet. As always, when searching Mr. Zanotti’s name, I come across only the fabulous celebrities who sport his luxurious heels. In this case, I don’t care about them, I care about the man behind it all, Giuseppe Zanotti. Let’s get down to this little known, “A list” designer.
The handsome Giuseppe is from a small village in Italy called San Mauro Pascoli. After first working as an apprentice for international shoe designers, he began his own shoe making career in 1985 as a freelancer for footwear and clothing companies. After 10 years, in 1995 he began his very own line, by purchasing Vinici ( a shoe factory) in 1996. Him and his wife worked to cultivate Vinici, which is centered around style, research, and creativity.
Maybe the reason why there is so little information on Giuseppe is because this self proclaimed shy guy designs for other “A list” labels that bask in the glory of his successful shoe designs. Fashion houses such as Roberto Cavalli, Vera Wang, DSquared and others, just to name a few.
However, another reason is because Zanotti insists on only producing his shoes in Italy and not cutting corners by going to China. He invests in the growth of the Italian shoe market because he believes there is talent to be noticed there. He even helped establish a footwear school called Cercal that teaches students all facets of the shoe trade. He then employs them, with the average age of his 340 employees in 2006 being 35.
Giuseppe’s dedication to the shoe world in Italy is reflected in his dedication to making high quality shoes. While designing shoes he keeps in mind a woman 18-60 years old who desires nice things and desires to look good for herself. Zanotti handles each detail of the shoe making process with delicacy and care. Each shoe is hand crafted with a file on hand explaining the details of the shoe making process and the materials used in order to assess a fair price ( one that might make you do a double take when checking the bottom of the shoe to verify that, that mark in the price is indeed a comma and not a decimal point ).
Contrary to what we might believe, Giuseppe is interested in things other than shoes. For instance watches, he owns just about 60 watches… 45 of which he claims are expensive and the other 15-20 that are horrible. He also showed an early passion for music, owning more than 6,000 albums! In an interview, he even compared making shoes to music, saying each piece of a shoe is like a note and when they come together they either make something beautiful or something horrible.
I’m am sure he was not referring to his shoes as that something horrible. Celebrities and models all over the world show silent appreciation about their Giuseppe shoes. These socialites wear his masterpieces in public, but he does not get the same publicity as his competitors like Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin ( maybe because Oprah hasn’t publicly shown her appreciation to him as she has done for the other two).
Regardless, Giuseppe’s shoes are a work of art. They are so detailed and intricate that simply wearing clothes takes away from their elegance. It’s no wonder his latest campaigns show women shirts and sequined skirts with lots of leg action, so that the focus is remains on the shoes. Hey, if I am wearing a $5,000 pair of Giuseppe’s with Swaroski crystals that where glued on one by one and hand stitched embroidery I will wear shorts and a tee shirt that says ” Look at my fabulous shoes that you will never be able to afford.”
Giuseppe’s success is no surprise to me because designers that take the time to tend to the details of their creations always reap the benefits of their relentless work ethic. How else would he distinguish himself? Well, another reason he can distinguish himself is because he has a live in muse, his wife Cinzia. After raving to the review journal that his wife has the most interesting closet , it comes as no surprise the appeal of Giuseppe’s seductive creations. She is gorgeous and stylish and with a member of Giuseppe’s target audience by his side at all times, he is able to get trustworthy and immediate feedback.
After reading about this star designer, I can’t understand why he doesn’t get a lot of attention. He has fabulous goals and has made a name for himself. He doesn’t just speak about charitable work, or lend his thousands or millions of dollars in the hopes of getting publicity, but he actually participates in events with charities like Meals on Wheels and his own “charitable cause” of helping students in Italy that are interested in footwear design.
Giuseppe Zanotti is not to be looked over. This owner and operator of 3 lines, Giuseppe Zanotti Designers, Vicini, and Tapeet, with receive the publicity he deserves one day. Honestly, who can resist his bejeweled sandal, he even said himself to vogue UK that the easiest, sexiest and most perfect shoes is a flat sandal with a bit of sparkle.
This under-the-radar fabulous designer of women’s footwear is a fabulous feature for my blog. He is exactly what I mean when the celebrities get all the attention and not the designers. So Giuseppe here is your opportunity to shine.
June 18, 2009
Since this week I will be focusing on CFDA ( Council of Fashion Designers of America) winners, both past and present, Vera Wang seems very appropriate. We all know this world renowned wedding dress designer, but do we know anything else about her ? Well let’s get down to business.
Vera was born as Wang Woiwei ( or Vera Ellen Wang) on June 27, 1949. Vera, of Chinese decent, was raised in the East side of Manhattan by an affluent family. Her mother, Florence Wu, is a United Nations translator. She exposed Vera to style and fashion early on in life. Cheng Ching, her father, started and owned a chemical company focused on oils and pharmaceuticals. He and her mother provided Vera and brother, Kenneth, a very comfortable childhood.
At the age of seven Wang’s parents gave her a pair of ice skates and it was love at first sight. What many of us don’t know about Vera is that she was a trained figure skater. She competed nationally in the U.S. National Championships. She placed fifth in 1968 and 1969 with partner James Stuart. She even appeared in Sport’s Illustrated ” Faces in the Crowd” issue.
Though she showed her talents in figure skating, she was unable to earn a space on the Olympic Team in 1968. She was given the opportunity to tour with an ice show, but she turned the opportunity down. She once told People magazine that the only thing she loved as much as skating were clothes and with that, design became her new focus in life.
The now womenswear designer went to the renowned Chapin School. She also studied at the University of Paris and studied at Sorbonne during her sophomore year in college. Her and her mother frequented fashion shows in Paris as well. Vera ultimately graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in art history in 1971.
Upon graduation, Vera went to work at Vogue Magazine, the launching pad for many legendary fashion careers. After completing her first year, she was named the youngest fashion editor in Vogue’s history at the age of 23. While at Vogue, Vera would work until the wee hours of the morning looking over photos from shoots and selecting clothing for the magazine. She said she would do anything in order to work her way up in the ranks of Vogue. While she was assisting Polly Mellen, she would sweep floors in the Scavullo’s studio and run out for yogurt per request of the models. After 16 faithful years at Vogue, Vera Wang was turned down for the editor-in-chief position, which was in turn given to Anna Wintour.
Her unemployment period did not last long, she was quickly acquired by Ralph Lauren where she worked as a design director for two years.
The inspiration for her current expertise, wedding gowns, came as she was shopping for her own wedding dress. Frustrated with the limited options she encountered, she hired a dressmaker and designed her own wedding gown for her marriage to Arther Becker which would cost her $10,000. Before Vera, there was no fashion in wedding gowns. After finding this market in need of contemporary elegant gowns, in 1990 Vera opened her own bridal boutique. With funding from her father, she set up shop at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. At her boutique she not only carried her own line, but lines from other great bridal designers.
Returning to her roots,in 1994 Vera designed a simple white skating dress worn by Nancy Kerrigan in the Winter Olympics. She also designed costumes for Michelle Kwan. These designs gave her international attention that she did not have before.
Vera took her career to the next step in the late 90’s making evening wear. From that moment on she became a hit in the celebrity arena. Celebs from Vanessa Williams, to J. Lo to Whoopi Goldberg were sporting Wang’s originals. Today Vera has dabbled in fragrances, shoes, jewelry, and home fashion. She even opening the first high fashion suite in a hotel in Hawaii, amazing right ?! However, she never strays too far from her roots in athletics. She was commissioned to design the uniform of the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders. Their two piece ensemble was designed uniquely and specifically for those gorgeous ladies by Ms. Wang herself.
Vera’s achievements have not gone unrecognized. She has won the CFDA‘ womenswear designer of the year award in 2005 ( beating Marc Jacobs, mind you) and the Andre Leon Tally Lifetime Achievement Award. V era wrote a book about weddings in 2001 published by HarperCollins called Vera Wang on Weddings. She has made movie and tv appearances as herself throughout her years as well. The ink has recently dried on her contract to do Season 9 of Dancing with the Stars this year.
Vera has also taken advantage of an opportunity to design clothing and handbags for Khols, an affordable department store. This makes Vera Wang merchandise accessible to everyone.
Vera Wang, who is lives in NYC with her husband and two kids, has worked her way up in the fashion world with passion and desire for elegance. With help from family and connections she has grown into one of the most sought after designers to the stars and to any woman getting married. Vera’s father always inspired her to keep doing what she wants and what she loves and never to do nothing and she has taken his advice to new heights. Her multi million dollar empire is a household name and is sold in major department stores like Bergdorf and Saks and loved by many all over the world.
So Vera, here is to you, you are a genius in fit and style of clothing and you can make anyone feel sexy in one of your designs. Good Luck on DWTS ’09! Oh and Happy Birthday soon, 60 and Fabulous!
Laura and Kate Mulleavy were the winners of this years Council of Fashion Designers of America Womenswear Designer(s) of the Year. Who are these award winning ladies, you ask? Well let me give you the run down.
In 2008 the sisters won the CFDA coveted award of Emerging Womenswear Designer Award and have won a following of people like Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Louboutin. However, they did not just appear in the fashion world, they worked their way up through the back door.
In 2005 Rodarte was founded by the Mulleavy sisters in Pasadena,California. The line, bearing their mother’s maiden name, was made after their graduation from U.C. Berkeley. Kate and Laura, 30 and 29 years old respectively, graduated college in 2001 with liberal arts degrees. They boarded the plane to New York with 10 garments on their laps and hope in their hearts that one day they would make their name in the fashion community. They arrived to the fashion capital and showed their collection to every editor and buyer they could track down. Their attention to detail would be their key to success. Their couture-like style shot them straight to the top and the awards began to pour in.
These two don’t look like your typical fashion-passion ladies but their work speaks volumes. They take the approach of minimal yet extravagant, rough yet refined, intellectual yet effortless, something I am a HUGE fan off. Their style is said to resemble the craftsmanship of influential designers like Coco Chanel. They have won even support from major Fashion Heads like Anna Wintour.
The sisters were destined for greatness at an early age. At the age of 5 they began drawing. Their mother, an artist, exposed them to the arts. Their father, a botanist, exposed them to math and science but also had an interest in photography. He took pictures of abstract patterns which have inspired their pattern choices of today.
They knew that if they would do fashion they needed to get out of Pasadena. Before they left to take their collection to New York they took a chance by sending a letter to Cameron Silver, a L.A. Stylist. They asked him to review the collection and from then on he has become their mentor.
When they first arrived to New York they had no appointments to show their collection. They were banking on their unique idea of look books made of paper dolls and sending those to top editors. They got their first call from Women’s Wear Daily and they were on the cover in a matter of 3 days.
In 2006 their line grew to 16 pieces but they were limited because of the complication of their fabrics and sewing process. They make each garment start to finish one at a time to make them beautiful and special. It has taken them 100 hours to make one knee length cocktail dress!
The self taught sisters gained their designing skills from trial and error. They are not afraid of trying new things and learning from their team which works closely with them. The process they have is pretty simple. They start with inspiration and work in a abstract way to unfold the collection. They like to capture a moment or feeling as opposed to a literal translation of their ideas and inspirations.
Since they began they have won recognition such as:
– 2006 Runner up in CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Competition
– 2007 Rodarte gown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute
– 2008 Rodarte is selected a finalist in the ANDAM competition
– 2008 Rodarte is awarded the CFDA Swarovski Emerging Womenswear Designer award
– 2008 Rodarte is awarded the Swiss Textiles Award
– 2009 Rodarte is awarded Womenswear Designers of the Year
Rodarte is a marvelous and captivating collection with prices ranging from $1300 to $2000. Made form only the most expensive fabrics and time consuming techniques, the ultra feminine line is sold everywhere from Barneys to Bergdorf. Their clientele includes Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Obama and the style sweetie Chloe Sevigny.
These two sisters are an inspiration for me because, as a college student looking to get into the fashion arena, I want to know that there is hope for the untrained. After researching the journey of the Mulleavy sisters, I see that anything is possible with faith, talent, and tenacity. They are bringing back the importance of detail and care that should be put into every garment that a women wears. They certainly are hot up-and-coming designers that deserve all the success that is soon to come after their win at the CFDA awards.
So ladies, here is to you! Thanks for paving the way, now watch out for me!
June 12, 2009
Jason Wu, a 26-year old designer born in Taiwan, is a rising star designer whose fame reached new heights when Michelle Obama wore his gown to the inauguration. To most of us, that was Jason Wu’s debut in the fashion world. For all I knew, that was the first dress he ever made. But apparently Jason has been very popular in the fashion community both before inauguration hit. So let’s get familiar with Jason Wu !
Jason’s parents recognized his love for art. His mom would drive him to bridal stores so that he could sketch the gowns in the window. His parents were said to move him from Taiwan , and relinquish their import and export business, because the culture did not appreciate art. They moved to Canada, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. While in the US Mr. Wu got started experimenting with fashion design by making clothes for dolls. At the age of 16, Wu started freelance doll clothing for a company called Integrity Toys by a line titled “Jason Wu dolls” which later turned to “Fashion Royalty.” He was given the title of creative director of Integrity Toys.
He went to Paris for his senior year in high school and then enrolled in Parsons for 3 and a half years before he left to intern for Mr. Rodriquez. From there his fashion career blossomed. He continued to build his fashion designs for dolls at Integrity Toys , which is still sold today. In 2006 , with money he saved from his doll making, he started his own ready to wear clothing line. Today, he wants to stay exclusive making luxury women’s wear and selling it in select stores and cities world wide. He has had his share of book and reality tv offers, but he declined them because he rather focus on developing a shoe and makeup line to add to his collection.
The title of this post reflects the appeal of his clothing and his fashion show diversity. His fall 09 show was crawling with models of all backgrounds, which tickles my heart a little. He is also known to design dolls for famous transsexuals such as RuPaul and Amanda Lepore.
Look at him showing his stuff in dress over his suit, maybe a representation of his double life.
However, his most famous design, for Michelle Obama ( the ultimate Barbie in my opinion), was an unexpected surprise. He said he was not expecting her to wear the gown. He was sitting in his apartment with his boyfriend in Midtown NY with a box of pizza when he saw the first lady appear on the screen with his white gown dripping in crystals. He was just as shocked as the world to see the first lady in a dress by an up and coming designer.
Though some people criticized the first Lady’s choice of a new designer’s dress and not a dress from an established fashion house, he still received a staggering 4 million hits on his web page. Remember, J-Crews website even crashed!
Jason Wu is riding on the glory of his Historic accomplishment, with the dress being displayed in the Smithsonian museum, he will be remembered for centuries to come.
His clothing line has been climbing to the top of the charts with recognition from the fashion goddess herself, Anna Wintour. Some sources even say that Jason Wu was introduced to Michelle Obama through Andre Leon, Anna’s right hand man. That seems like it could be a possibility. Another possibility is that Michelle Obama’s stylist from Chicago Ikram Goldman played as a third party in getting Michelle in Jason’s design. Jason has sold pieces through Ikram’s Chicago Boutique, some of which Mrs. Obama owns.
Jason Wu’s designs have also been seen on Ivana Trump, Kristina O’Neill, and Kerry Washington. Not to mention that Michelle Obama wore his clothing 3 days in a row while in England for the G20 summit. Jason is apparently a good hit with his target market, older women who want to look chic, stylish, and feel gorgeous.
Jason Wu has been receiving critical acclaims from established designers and worshiped magazine editors in addition to being a finalist for Vogue Fashion Fund Award and winning the Fashion Groups International’s Rising Star Award. He is now on his way to the top. His revenue has grown 280% since 2007 to $950,000 and is expects 2009 sales to exceed $2.5 Million. His recent line that debuted earlier this month has won rave reviews. Like me, he doesn’t follow trends, he designs classic trends that enhance femininity and highlights a woman’s beauty.
So now we can stop questioning why Michelle Obama chose his design and not one from a huge fashion giant or an African American designer like everyone complained about. She chose a hardworking, driven designer whose clothing fits her personality and accentuates her beauty.
Jason Wu, Here’s to you!
June 11, 2009
I know I wasn’t the only one wondering what Andre Leon’s role in the fashion industry was. Apparently, he is kind of a big deal. So here is his story. He was born down south in North Carolina and raised by his once sharecropping grandmother Benny Davis. He looked up to her because, even with little or no money, she managed to always dress to the nines for church. He credits her with giving him an understanding of luxury, but that is not where his fashion career got started. Andre went to North Carolina Central University ( an HBCU) and then got a Masters degree in French from Brown University (an ivy).
Andre started his social networking while at Brown U., making friends with the locals at Rhode Island School of Design and traveling with them to New York City on the weekends. Upon finishing his Masters degree, he went to work for Andy Warhol ( seriously). There he said he answered phones, ran the stamp machine to the post office, made $50 a week and had to live at the YMCA ( kinda like a homeless shelter, but for non-completely-broke people). But through this job he was introduced to the world. It was this opportunity that led him to meet Vogue editor Carrie Donovan who subsequently introduced him to Diana Vreeland who gave him a job at the Consume Institute at the Met. In 1983, he was able to join Vogue as a fashion news director. He always told his grandmother that he would one day be a Fashion Editor and he was finally attaining that goal. After Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief of Vogue in 1988 he was given the title of creative director.
For a short 3 years he went to Paris as bureau chief of W but he returned back to Vogue in 1998 to claim the title of Editor-at-Large ( which is kind of like an Editor-in-chief with authoritative power but a lot of influence over the magazine).
I feel compelled to point out that Andre, the 6ft8in fashion guru, is the only African American man that has made it to these heights in the fashion industry. I believe it has a lot to do with his open personality, over the top-ness, and his connections, not to mention he has loved fashion and elegance since way-back-when.
It is not uncommon to see him canoodling with Anna Wintour, Oprah, or even P. Diddy. His versatility has gotten him many friends and a whole lot of press, both good and bad.
Andre hasn’t always made national breaking news, but he has had his fair share of media coverage. One of the most disappointing has to be the ordeal with J.Hud and her Oscar attire. You remember what she wore ( I know you do because you hated it, just like the rest of the world), well Andre was behind that outfit. Here’s the deal: J.Hud was sponsored by Vogue (hence her cover, which was just as unflattering as her Oscar Dress) and Andre insisted that she wear that gold python bolero by Oscar de la Renta. She really didn’t want to so another stylist (Jessica Paster) get her a Cavalli dress, custom made. Well, just like you imagined, Andre went crazy and J.Hud had to put on that catastrophe, but she didn’t have to like it. Apparently, in an interview , Andre said it was collective decision, which I am pretty sure is a cover up.
Honestly, him and his team did her a dis-service. I know it’s a huge honor to be on the cover of Vogue but looking like that, I think I would pass. Technically, Andre doesn’t have control over the pictures in the magazines because of his job description, but come on , he could have protested. Then again, he does have some not-so-flattering pictures of himself almost everywhere.
Andre was also given coverage on his decision to forgo front row seats to fashion shows in 2005 for the more spacious 3rd row seats, saying he is tired of people watching him squeeze into the small spaced seats in the front row. I’m not sure how long he stuck with this little protest, but I have seen him front row and center with Anna at almost every show… well except this one …
a Yigal Azrouel show.
Andre has also had positive coverage, such as when he lost a great deal of weight per Anna Wintour’s request. She has absolutely no problem telling her staff to hit the gym, and apparently, they listen.
Andre also spoke at the Art Institute of Philadelphia ( my neck of the woods) in Nov. 2008. He gave the group of enthusiastic students 6 tips.
1. Remember where you came from and how important that is, and that will sustain you.
2. Always be curious and do your research.
3. Travel and find beauty and style where you go.
4. Practice good manners.
5. When you get lucky enough to land an internship or get your first job, do not be offended when someone asks you to make a Starbucks Run.
6. Find a mentor.
Andre Leon has a lot of good thoughts and advice. He is also involved in politics. He takes no shame when demonstrating his support for the First family, wearing the family’s pin every chance he gets. He even wrote the interview of Michelle Obama in Vogue, I am sure it was not hard to get her on the cover with him on her team.
Andre has contributed to the fashion world in more ways than one, some ways are more noticeable than others. He mingles among the elite of fashion, politics and entertainment. He was able to bring him self to his position through hard work and determination. He is a true inspiration because of his dedication and his originality. No matter how many people criticize his outfits they will never top his purse collection, Manolo collection ( size 13’s custom made), or suit collection.
P.S. I have to mention that he said he did not like the Devil Wears Prada because he was portrayed as the little, short, bald guy. He says he believes that Merryl Streep did a great job, but it was not the Vogue he knew, not the real Vogue. Sex and the City however, he liked better because of its positivity, or maybe because he was in it?? IDK…I liked both, didn’t you ?
June 10, 2009
Kelly Cutrone, wife of Andy Warhol’s protege Ronnie Cutrone is our favorite sharp tonged boss from The Hills and The City on MTV is the CEO of People’s Revolution. People’s Revolution is a public relations, branding and marketing firm which she founded as a fashion entrepreneur. In her line of work, she has had the opportunity to work with clients such as Vivienne Westwood ( think Sex and the City Movie, Carrie’s wedding dress designer) to Sass & Bride. She works with a lot of unknown, non-mainstream clients because she appreciated their work and can see their visions through their art of making clothing.
Kelly is most well known for her stints on MTV, however she doesn’t seem to stay too far away from the news headlines either. In September of 2002 her agency successfully broke the record for the amount of fashions shows (5) in one day, because she was the only one willing to do shows on the anniversary of September 11th. Her reasoning ? “We’re the People’s Revolution, and we refuse to grieve on a day like [September 11th]. We’re gonna celebrate life and beauty.At the end of the day, PR is really a service business, so you really have to want to serve!” I’m not sure if that is a good response, but hey someone has to be controversial, why not her ?
She also made headlines when she decided that she would bring Ashely Dupree ( you know, Elliot Splitzer’s call girl ) to one of her client’s ( Yigal Azriel) shows. He fired her saying he’s “not going to work with [Cutrone] anymore” because of this incident. Kelly’s rationale was the Ashley wasn’t wearing his clothes nor have Yigal and her met, so why can’t they be friends and hang out? But, Azriel was not buying it. Was that a publicity thing or what? Cutrone denies it, but it sure did get her in the papers and on the web.
Kelly has had her share of drama, but really all she wants to do is her job. And that she does. She works really hard to keep People’s Revolution rolling. People’s Rev. started off as Cutrone & Weinberg, turned into Untitled, which is now probably the largest management company in the country. She once believed that Fashion was the new Rock and Roll, so she dove right into the industry and prospered from there. She is idealist, the name of the company is living proof of such.
She calls herself the Mother Theresa of avante-guard because she is a representative of the under dog designer. She is a visionary that capitalizes on pop culture, I guess she gets that from the Warhol’s.
However Cutrone will never loose her edge of being the HBIC ( head b*tch in charge) at People’s Rev. that we all see on television. She wears all black, her hair is jet black and rarely combed, and she religiously wears no make up and yet she is a powerful influence in the fashion industry. She is the complete opposite of her work, but opposites attract, right ?
Contrary to popular beliefs, Kelly doesn’t see herself as a b*tch. She just sees herself as being honest, which is important in this industry. She likes and respects when women speak the truth, ask questions, and stand for what they believe in. And Kelly does just that. She is straight forward and possesses an iron fist. She once claimed that she can say “That is not your seat, please get up,” in 13 languages, which seems useful for the high profile fashion shows she produces. She has even gone as far as to hire people to sit in front row seats and not to move until told to do so by a Staff member. Intense right ? Nope , just doing her job and taking it seriously.
Despite the speculation around Cutrones “scary” attitude, she does seem to have a soft spot in her heart for her daughter. She was quoted in an interview as saying that one of the things she was looking forward to in fashion week was to see her child go to kindergarten, which is intensely sweet. Her daughter Ava, born in 2002, seems to be the most important to her. She takes her job as a mother seriously, eating breakfast with Ava, taking her to school every morning before work and making sure that Ava remembers that she is loved no matter what. Cutrone is really hands on with her daughter, opting out of the live-in nanny trend that has swept the homes of the elite from coast to coast.
At the end of the day, whether we love or hate Cutrone, she is dedicated to her craft and to her family life, and there is nothing bad about that. Yes, she makes mistakes, but she is moving forward and trying to make the best out of her company and herself. In fact, she has a few upcoming projects. She is making a new television series on Bravo called Kell On Earth from the producers of Project Runway and Top Chef to be aired in the fall of 2009. She is also writing a book called Girls’ Guide to Life and Power to be released January 2010 by HarperCollins publishing company.
Finally, Kelly is expanding her company which means she is hiring. Shoot her an email with your resume at email@example.com to see if you can have a chance to be in her upcoming show. I’m not sure if the pool is closed, but hey it’s worth a shot.