BJ, Betsey Johnson that is!

September 9, 2009

I have not been able to make a blog post in a while. But I am here today to give you a short and sweet ( with lots of pics) post on my first love in purses: Betsey Johnson.

A little anecdote: I got my first Betseyville purse from London when I turned 17. I fell in love with the quirky, cool designs she made. I went to her shop 5 out of the 14 days that I spent in London, buying every purse I thought I could not live without , both sale and full priced. I came back to the states and my purses were a hit among my peers. Girls all over wanted to know where I got my purses from and I was more than happy to tell them ” Oh, they are only the hottest thing from London.” Little would I know, Betsey would become insanely popular to the point where she started to sell her purses in Loehmans and other discount designer places… kind of bumming me out because that made my London originals loose their shine. But I still love them and I continue to buy Betseyville and Betsey Johnson Purses annually, only from her store of course.

So that’s my little history with Betsey, let me tell you about her history.

Born in Wethersfield, Connecticut August 10th 1942, this new york based designer was making her original designs since the 1960’s. Her inspiration, however, came from her desire to be a dancer and her love of the costumes.

In 1964 she entered and won the Mademoiselle magazine ” Guest Editor Contest” and then landed a position as top designer at Paraphernalia a year later .

As apart of the youth quake, the 1960’s Warhol scene, Betsey established her style with sexy silhouettes, hippie inspired fabrics, whimsical detailing and a great fit. If you ask me, her style seems to resemble that of Patricia Field very much.

Anyways, in 1969 she opened her first boutique called Betsey Bunki Nini.

In the early 1970’s she became the creative director of Alley Cat which was a rock ‘n roll clothing label.

She won a Coty Award in 1972, making her the YOUNGEST designer to ever received the honor, she was 30 years old.

After designing for other labels, Betsey teamed up with Chantal Bacon and started her current label, Betsey Johnson, in 1978. That same year they opened a store in Soho and in the early 80’s opened up on Melrose Avenue in LA.

In 2003 was when the licensing endeavors began, giving her the opportunity to make shoes, underwear, belts, eye wear watches, jewelry, purses and much more.

Also in 2003 she visited Mexico and purchased a hotel and named it Betseyville. She visits there to get inspired and to work. She purchased a second house in Mexico and named it Villa Betsey. Both homes were featured in In Style Homes in 2005.

I bet you didn’t know this: Betsey Johnson is a breast cancer survivor. She works as a strong advocate to fight against the disease. She was even appointed Honorary Chairperson for the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative by the CFDA.

I learned some new information today. You all know that fashion week is approaching and everyone is doing all they can to get publicity. Well Betsey and Sharpie have joined forces and will make a sharpie shirt. Don’t worry, she isn’t the only one who will get to design with the permanent marker. There will be the first ever sharpie bar on select days during Mercedes Benz Fashion week where editors and attendees can get creative with plain white accessories, apparel and you can even draw on yourselves… but idk about that. Beginning September 15, fashionistas can visit to view some of the amazing Sharpie fashions and accessories, in addition to behind-the-scenes footage and an exclusive Betsey Johnson interview.

I don’t know about you but fashion has gotten a whole lot more hands on and customer oriented lately… maybe because they want us to buy more so brands like Alexander McQueen won’t sink like the Titanic.

Anyways Betsey has a daughter, Lulu, who was born in 1975 and inspired her freelance gig making Betsey Johnson’s Kids, a line for children in edition to a line for men and maternity.
Award Center
-1999 Timeless Talent Award from the CFDA
-2003 Coty Award
-2002 Fashion Walk of Fame
– 2004 honor by the National Breast Cancer Coalition
-2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from NAWBO-NYC committee
-2007 Designer of the Year Award from Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball

Some words from Betsey herself: “Making clothes involves what I like…color, pattern, shape and movement…I like the everyday process…the people, the pressure, the surprise of seeing the work come alive walking and dancing around on strangers. Like red lipstick on the mouth, my products wake up and brighten and bring the wearer to life…drawing attention to her beauty and specialness…her moods and movements…her dreams and fantasies.” – Betsey Johnson

citation: 1,2,3

omg, did you miss me? I know I know! 🙂 I’m back now, so I have to give you, your blog fix.

So I have been thinking about my ” Million Dollar Question” post on black designers after the huge/great response it received in addition to the release of the Italian Vogue ” Black” issue. I am going to address both topics today.

So I am not retracting my beliefs that there are no black people doing what I believe we are capable of in the fashion industry, making it to the Gucci, Fendi, Prada status, because there aren’t any. I just believe that black designers face a lot of challenges and disadvantages when it comes to the industry. As you have read many of the designers I have featured came from or married into money. Those who didn’t, like Oscar de le Renta, had to work extremely hard to get to where they are. They also had strategic business moves and connections that helped propel them into popularity. A lot of black designers didn’t have those luxuries, but some designers did try.

Aside from the few designers I named in my previous post, there are a few more that deserve mention. I don’t want to forget to at least acknowledge reality TV designers, Mychael Knight and Korto Momolu from project runway. They were good designers and still are. They are both making a name for themselves in niche markets, Mychael in ATL and Korto making accessories.

The problem there is that they didn’t win these shows so they really haven’t had the opportunity to make it big like, say….

Christian did.

There are also the designers that I am not always too proud to mention, those are the entertainers/entertainers family members turned “designers.” Now the reason I feel I need to talk about these people is that they made up the majority of ” BET’s list of Top Black Designers.” Which included people like the Simmon’s sister for Pastry, Beyonce and her mother for House of Dereon, Jay Z for Rocawear, Kimora Lee Simmons for Baby Phat, and the list started to taper off into the real “street fashion” like Apple bottoms, Vocal, and Billionaire Boys Club by Pharrell. While I am proud of all the designers for doing what they love and for what they have accomplished, I never believe in making clothing that I would never, ever wear. I know there is a market for everything, but morally I don’t want to be responsible for young woman exploiting their bodies and some of these lines I think contribute to and profit from that epidemic.

Ok, so the list did include 3 designers that I think are worth mentioning, Sean Combs, Benjamin Bixby, and Tracy Reese. Now Sean Combs, believe it or not, is a member of the CFDA and has won an award in 2004 for menswear designer of the year. In case you don’t understand what that means, no black people have won that yet, sooo. I mean we all love to hate him but the guy is doing his thing ! His fragrance ‘I AM KING’ won the Fragrance Foundation 2009 FiFi Award for Fragrance of the Year for men as well. He must have a great team helping him along. He also has the money to be the best and I’m glad he is taking advantage of that.

Benjamin Bixby, better known as Andre 3000. I just wanted to mention him because his style is so quirky and I love it. He also got into Barney’s and was featured (positively) on The Cut blog. His line never got a lot of hype and is practically dead now, but he had a nice shot. He stuck to what he liked and he designed clothing that I know he would wear which is respectable. Do him a favor and buy his last shirt from, please !! 🙂

Last but not least Tracy Reese. See now , our girl Tracy Reese is really doing her thing. She, too, is a member of the CFDA ( one of literally the handful of black people that are members) like Diddy. Well like many of the other successful designers, she studied in Paris as an apprentice. She attended Parsons School for Design and she also worked as the design director for the Women’s Portfolio at Perry Ellis. She has become known for her flowy, feminine dresses and vintage inspired separates that were and still are picked up by Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and other high end boutiques as well as in Europe and Asia.

One of her dresses was also worn by Michelle Obama on the cover of People Magazine. This is a huge deal because First Lady Obama has come under a lot of heat for not wearing African American designers. She chose to wear one of the best African American designers she could find. In fact her hubby, Mr. President himself, wore a suit by Oswald ( remember, from my previous post) in Ghana. Now all the critics can calm down because they have done their part. It’s not there fault there aren’t many options.

Anyways, Tracy Reese has a profile on and everything. Her Jazz Age inspired style has been a big hit across color lines and I can only hope she continues to grow. Check out some looks from her recent lines.

Another designer that was not mentioned on BET’s list, but should have been, is Edward Wilkerson. From the age of 10 he knew he wanted to design. He went to an Art and Design high school in Manhattan and then on to Parsons School of Design. He worked with top designers like Donna Karen and worked in successful fashion houses like Anne Klein and Calvin Klein. He received the honor from Donna Karan to become a designer for the Donna Karan collection. After working with Donna for 13 years he was fired, but later told he could join her again at anytime.

In 1998 he joined Lafayette 148 New York as Design Director. While at Lafayette he uses his inspiration from Africa and his passion for photography to guide him in the clothing creation process.

What I love about him is that he built up the Lafayette 148 and he also has plus sized clothing which don’t look like crap. However, I do think his price points are EXTREMELY high for a designer that is not that well known. I also am very confused about Lafayette 148’s ownership . No where does it say he started it, but merely he built up the brand. He didn’t join until 1998 and it was started in 1996. With that said, I am strong advocate of ownership, and I hope that he has some in that company because his designs are great and I would hate to see him taken advantage of like so many other designers ( black and other races).

Finally, let me not forget to tell you how I feel about the black Italian Vogue. I think it was a good thought however if they wanted to give black people the chance in the fashion industry that we are so often denied, they could have done it all the way. I think it should have featured black designers, black stylists, black make up artist, black editors, and black writers. I mean, I know the Vogue people are giving us an inch and I am taking a mile, but who says we don’t deserve a mile? Who knows, people might actually like what black people have to offer to the fashion world, wouldn’t that be a shocker? ( sarcasm)

ok loves, until next time. Sorry for the opinion overdose, but hey I’m sure you learned something lol.

Citations: within entry

This wrap dress queen was recently featured on MTV’s The City for one of her many reality tv show collaborations. But she is more than a boss or a fashion critique. Much, much more.

Born on December 31, 1946 in Brussels, Belgium, DVF‘s real name was Diane Simone Michelle Halfin. Her Jewish middle class family consisted of her father was Leon Halfin who was Russian and served in WWII and her mother was Liliane Nahmias, a Greek Holocaust survivor.

She attended finishing schools in Switzerland, Spain and England. In 1965 she went to the University of Madrid and transferred the next year to the University of Geneva in Switzerland and studied economics. It was there that she met Austro-Italian Prince Egon von Furstenberg, heir to the Fiat automobile fortune. They got married in Paris July 16, 1969. When she realized she was to be married to him she decided she wanted a career and make something of herself and not just the girl who married up. Of course, for her wedding she wore her own design that was made by the house of Dior.

In 1969 she worked as an apprentice with Italian textile manufacturer Angelo Ferretti and began making his signature simple jersey dress .

Late 1969 the von Furstenbergs changed location and moved to New York City so the Prince could work on Wall Street. It was in New York that she was making samples out of her dining room of her Park Avenue apartment.

Her top cheerleaders Bill Blass, Kenny Lane, and Diana Vreeland encouraged her to put together a collection of her dresses. In April of 970 she had her first show at the Gotham Hotel in NYC within a moderate price range of 25-100 dollars.

In April of 1972 she established her own manufacturing business to make more clothing on a large scale. Richard Conrad and her father’s $30,000 loan were the keys to Diane’s first showroom on Seventh Avenue. It was there that she created her sweater dress named Angela after the black activist Angela Davis. She then birthed her wrap dress that topped $1 million dollars within the first few months. She was selling 20,000 wrap dresses per week.

Just as her career was taking off her marriage was dying. In 1975 her and the Prince separated and in 1983 they divorced and Diane kept their two children, Alexandre and Tatiana.

Her business only continued to grow after the split. She added more to her line such as furs, jewelry, shoes, scarves, sunglasses and the works, even house wears.

In 1977 she published her book Diane von Furstenberg’s Book of Beauty.

Diane is much like our other business savvy designer, Liz Claiborne, in that she appealed to working women with her clothing. However her approach was to give them more luxurious clothing that would work for them during their work days. As if she wasn’t already doing enough, she even included nurse uniforms and eye glasses which contributed to her $1 billion in sales in the 80’s.

In 1985 she took an unexpected turn and moved to France to live with novelist Alain Elkann and founded a publishing house. 4 years later they broke up and she moved back to the US to her trusty farm in Connecticut that she lived in through her first marriage and break up.

In 1991 she made another book Beds and in 1993 The Bath for celebrity homes and bathrooms. Her commercial success only grew larger and larger with the years. In 1993 she also brought Lowel Nesbitts studio upon the death of the artist. The studio was famous for the figures and celebrities who once gathered there and even had a indoor swimming pool. She used this space until the early 2000’s until it was sold and demolished.

She tapped into the home shopping network by marketing her dresses, furniture and other items on cable TV in the mid 90’s. During her first segment, she sold $1.2 million in the first 2 hours.

In 1997 she published yet another book, this time a memoir ” Diane: A signature Life.” She also relaunched her clothing line this year and her wrap dress was once again warming the hearts of women everywhere.

In 2001 her love life caught up with her career and she married American media mogul Barry Diller, someone who had been off and on with since the 70’s.

Award Center

  • 2006 President of the CFDA
  • 2005 CFDA life time achievement award
  • 1986 May of the City of New York’s Statue of Liberty Medal
  • 1984- 1988 Savvy Magazine Award
  • 1984 Einstein College of Medicine Spirit of Achievement Award
  • 1983 City of Hope Spirit of Life Award
  • 1977 Fragrance foundation award

More recently, actually from today, was the CFDA meeting held to discuss the future of fashion week. What was once a trade show is now becoming a burden for designers and their financially failing lines. It is costing them more then they are getting back and all the designers expressed their concerns to Diane, the president, in a town hall meeting style. Though no consensus was reached, Diane did reassure everyone that she will have a solution before she leaves office.

Well I think Diane is the B O M B D O T C O M because I mean who else do you know modeled a dress after a black activist ? I am honestly love everything she has done and I think she is a woman to emulate. She married up and decided that she wanted to work and be independent, how many times have you heard that. Usually woman take the lazy route when they marry royalty, but not Diane. I’m so loving her Bestey Johnson-esque, Lavin-like clothing. It is fun and well constructed. She knows what women want and she has been knowing that since the beginning of her career.

I am also impressed that she takes her business very seriously. For example she did not hesitate to sue Target and Forever 21 for copying her designs. She also speaks out against the unmentionables: underweight models and lack of diversity on the runways. Did I mention that she opens her studio regularly to host cultural events? Honestly, who could be a better role model ?

She is a woman who makes her own money, obtains her own success, stands up for what she believes in , and continues to grow as the years pass by and personally, I NEED to be like that. I’m also definitely not surprised that she is still making money through this recession, only the best of the best are. Her economics background, people-person personality, and eye for what women want are all factors that play into her success through out the years.

I am so impressed with her. That’s the bottom line.

Citations : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

I know, I know…. it’s been a while but I am back now!
Let’s talk Calvin Klein. Surprisingly, he didn’t start off with underwear and sexy clothing like he is famous for today. Ironically, he started with the most non-revealing piece of clothing, coats, and it all began as an accident.

This Bronx born designer was born to Flo and Leo Stern as the second of three children onNovember 19, 1942. Calvin was destined to be in the fashion industry because his grandmother was a seamstress and his mother encouraged his love of art and fashion. Calvin knew what he loved early in life, so while his peers were playing outside he was sketching designs and sewing. He attended the High School of Art and Design. Upon graduation he went to FIT and graduated in 1962. He took up an apprenticeship on Seventh Avenue in NYC for 5 years, he spent that time perfecting his ideas and clothing as well.

It was in 1968 that he and a childhood friend, Barry Schwartz, created a Calvin Klein coat business. How he started is actually very unorthodox. A coat buyer for Bonwit Teller got off at the wrong floor of a hotel and went into Klein’s workroom and placed an order for $50,000.

After his getting rave reviews on his accidental success, he expanded his line to women’s sportswear. Soon after he moved into couture line, Calvin Klein Collection for men and women, CK sportswear for men and women, and CK jeans. He also licensed arrangements for his menswear, coats, accessories, intimate apparel, hosiery, swimwear, eyewear, furs, socks, and fragrances, all under his careful control and management. In the early 70’s he landed the cover of Vogue and in the pages of Harper’s Bizarre.

His jeans and fragrances got him a lot of fans who wanted an affordable ways to get the look of Calvin Klein, his major ones being Obsession, Eternity, and Escape. In 1997 his sales of Calvin Klein jeans was creeping upwards of $500 million.

His jeans were a huge,huge factor in his success. Advertisements with Brooke Shields ( which we may or may not have liked) allows him to sell over 40,000 pairs of jeans per week.

In his own life he married first wife Jayne Centre in 1964 and divorced 10 years later. He has a child from that marriage named Marci. He then goes on to marry one of his design assitant Kelly Rector in 1986 and divorces in 1997.

Calvin and Jayne

Calvin and Kelly

What I am really in love with here is his philospohy. He is into minimalism with neutral tones, designing clothing that works in day and night from season to season.

I was not too fond of his advertising which was really risque, but hey I am sure he knows what he was doing since : A. his sales are going well and B. he studied advertising and drafting in high school. Though his advertising, also referred to as “kiddie porn,” was under heat from Forbes magazine, the FBI and every college course on marketing and communications, he was still successful. However he did pull those ads, but not without the publicity. In a sense the shock value of his ads did work for him and against him at the same time. Who doesn’t like a little controversy huh ?

I do not think that Calvin was a huge fan. He underwent controversial rumors of a gay, drug related life style in addition to AIDs. He toned it down in the 80s and 90s and also started supporting causes such as Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network ( RAINN) and other AIDs related charities.

In addition to harsh rumors, his daughter as kidnapped in the 70’s but she as unharmed. Crazy right ?

In 2003 he sold his company to Phillips-Van Heusen but he still designs for it. Today the company that bares his name rakes in $5 billion in sales per year. Francisco Costa, his Brazilian protege was appointed creative director. Italo Zucchelli oversees menswear and Kevin Carrigan oversees sports wear.


Ok, I know you are getting confused. Let’s recap his brands:

  • Calvin Klein Collection (black label, top-end designer line)
  • ck Calvin Klein (grey label, recently repositioned as bridge collection line)
  • Calvin Klein (white label, better sportswear line)
  • Calvin Klein Sport (sports version of the white label line for Macy’s)
  • Calvin Klein Jeans (denimwear line)
  • Calvin Klein Home (high end bedding, towel, bath rug and accessory collections)
  • The Khaki Collection (youthful medium to high end bedding, towel, bath rug and accessories) discontinued in 2008
  • Calvin Klein Golf (launched in late 2007)
  • Calvin Klein Underwear (underwear collections)
  • Calvin Klein: David Perrone Clothing Line(launched in late 2008)


  • 1973 to 1975- won Coty three times in a row ( youngest designer to do so)
  • 1982,1983, and 1986- CFDA award
  • 1982- CFDA Award for women’s and menswear
  • 1993- America’s best designer Award
  • 1993- CFDA both women and menswear Award
  • 1996- Time magazine names him one of the 25 most influential Americans
  • 2001- CFDA lifetime Achievement Award
  • Today he is on the committee of CFDA.

I am definitely feeling his work and he also has some good diversity on his runways. He has worked hard at what he does and built his company up on his own vision of simplicity and sex appeal which, while hated by some, worked out in his favor. The fact that he is still making money in this recession is reason enough to follow in his footsteps. Mr. Klein, you have taught me a lot about success and how it is not about who has the most expensive or extravagant clothing, but who can offer their customers a lifestyle within their clothing. More than just wearing a brand, it’s actually being that brand, living that brand.

LfC1, LfC2, LfC3, LfC4, LfC5, LfC6, LfC7

As one of my favorite designers, Oscar de la Renta knows how to make a woman look and feel sexy in her clothing.

He was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic on July 22, 1932 to his parents Maria Fiallo and Oscar de la Renta. Oscar studied at some of the most intricate and well respected fashion houses on earth. Before he found his love for fashion he left home at the age of 18 to study painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. While in Spain he became interested in fashion and started sketching for different fashion houses. He then landed an opportunity to work as an apprentice to Spain’s most renowned couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga. Once Oscar left Spain he went to work as a couture assistant to Antonio Castillo at Lavin in Paris. He was the first Dominican to design for a French couture house.

The well-trained Oscar de la Renta at the age of 31 had major decisions to make. He had to choose between designing custom clothing for Elizabeth Arden and designing ready to wear for Christian Dior. Normal people have to decide between cooking and eating take out for dinner. Oscar was far from normal. His mentor, Diana Vreeland, gave him the advice to get into the ready to wear because that was where the money was. She then said follow up by working for Arden because she will promote him because while working at Dior, you will always be overshadowed by the brand name. And that was the path Oscar followed. After working for Arden for 2 years, he launched his own label.

By 1965 he had a Pink Label and a ready to wear label. It wasn’t until 2001 did he introduce his accessories.

Oscar de la Renta has a high-end sportswear collection OSCAR by Oscar de la Renta, cosmetic cases, eyewear, furs, lingerie, scarves, sleepwear, and swimwear. Additionally he has a men’s collection that includes sports coats, suits, and trousers. He included a home wear addition to his lines as well. As if he did not already have enough products baring his name, he came out with fragrances in 1977 for women and 1980 for men. Oscar reminisced with NY mag saying that at the age of 7 he experimented with making perfume in his back yard. He was fascinated how dewdrops came from flowers, who knew that would be the beginning of his path to success.

In 2004 he introduced an eyewear line, a lower priced clothing line call O Oscar, and a free standing store on Madison Avenue. During this year he handed over his chief executive title to son in law Alex Bolen but her remains chairman.

At the age of 35 Oscar de la Renta married Francoise de Langlade, the editor-in-chief of French Vogue. She worked as a consultant to Elizabeth Arden and was very prominent in fashion and society. She attracted many rich and famous people to his shows with helped his business incredibly.

After a struggle with cancer she died in 1983. It was that time that he adopted his child Moises, because her death left him without a family.

He remarried to Annette Reed in 1989 who was the former wife of the American Heritage magazine published Samuel Pryor Reed. Her 3 children from that marriage would receive over 50 million in shared and buildings around the world upon their 21st birthday. She was also a socialite who brought a lot of attention to her husband’s brand. However, strangely enough when he first asked her to be married she didn’t jump at the opportunity saying that she thought there was no need. But since he is Latino and he believes in the institution they were married.

Protégé of Baron de Gunzburg, Oscar de la Renta not only contributed significantly to fashion, but he has contributed to the world as well. He was honored by the Dominican Republic with the order al Merito de Juan Pablo Duarte and the Order of Cristobal Color. He also contributed heavily to the construction of a school in Punta Cana. He is a member of The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and Channel Thirteen/WNET. He is also on the boards of New Yorkers for children, The Americas Society, ad the Spanish Institute. Another huge extension of himself is that he adopted a child, Moises de la Renta, from the Dominican Republic. He did this well before it became a fad and for all the right reasons.

Today his son is in his twenties and has taken up an interest in fashion. He spends his time like many of his other socialite peers in clubs and hanging out. Moises attended Marymount Manhattan College before dropping out to become a designer. Today he is studying at FIT. HE mad a hipster looking T-shirt as his first try at designing and it sold for $150 with critical acclaim from the top fashion mags. In January he debuted a denim collection in Damon Dashes club called NA. It was successful and his father believes he has a lot of talent, but he has a ways to go and that is why he is in school. Oscar emphasizes to his son that it is nice to have your clothes in Vogue, but the way to make money is to sell to stores that people can buy from. His line today, MDLR is a polar opposite of his father’s clothing but the edge combined to delicate tailoring can only spell success for the young de la Renta.

Mr. de la Renta is a very accomplished designer that has attracted women both young and old to his collections. As a masterful tailor and a skillful designer he is sought after by some of the top people in the world such as Anna Wintour, Laura Bush, Beyonce Knowles and the late Jackie Onassis. Today his business is booming because professional women are buying clothes that she likes and not the boring clothes to fit into a man’s world, as was the case in the seventies.

Today Oscar also has a lot of suggestions from politicians and their spouses. Working with Nancy Reagan and Jackie O, Oscar is no stranger to the white house. For Hillary Clinton he advises that she doesn’t wear black because it makes her look tough. (He reveals to NYmag that he even voted for her husband in addition to Reagan and Bush.) Mr. de la Renta has also been tough on the First lady Mrs. Obama. He wasn’t to pleased that she wore a sweater to Buckingham Palace. This came after her decision against wearing an Isabel Toledo original dress to the meeting with the Queen. He also believes that she should give more support to the fashion industry that is tanking now. While some hard working and deserving designers are practically starving, J.Crew is selling out of the 300$ cardigans worn by the first lady. I understand where he is coming from, but whatever the first lady wears someone is going to be unhappy.

Award Center:
CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2000 and 2007
CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award 1973-1976
President of CFDA 1986-1988
Won American Fashion Critic’s Award twice
Winner of Fragrance Foundation Perennial Success Award in 1991
Living Legend Award from American Society of Perfumes in 1995
Coty Hall of Fame 1973
French legion d’Honneur
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic Heritage Society
Gold Medal of Bellas Artes form the King of Spain in 2000

I am very impressed with his accomplishments as a designer, but I am even more impressed with his contributions outside of just making quality clothing. This year he was noted for having more diversity on the runway, which is a huge think to me and I appreciate him for that. That is only one thing to add to his list of many selfless and generous acts. The adoption of Moises is something that has really turned me onto Oscar de la Renta. He treats his son as if he was his own blood. He care about him like a father should, he gets upset with unfair media coverage and criticisms of his child. He is supportive, loving, and he is not absent in his son’s life. A lot of fathers and parents in general today need to take note from Mr. de la Renta.

Designers around the world should take notes from his designing skills. None of his pieces look cheap or poorly crafted, that would be simply impossible. The skills he acquired while he was young have been continued to this day in his clothing. No one woman on earth can resist his feminine dresses, beautiful prints, and flattering fit. I definitely can’t.

Oscar, having a sample sale anytime soon?

P.s. don’t forget to follow his pr team on

I have to admit, I had never heard of Isaac before his run with Target, but I do not feel as bad because most of his success became before I was even born or able to talk properly. In Isaac’s lifetime, success can not simply be measured by mastering one craft but by doing everything you ever dreamed of doing. Isaac is one of the few people who I know that has been thoroughly involved in every aspect of pop culture from movies, to books, to fashion, and television. He has done it all! Let’s take a stroll down the path of his tireless journey.

Isaac was born October 14, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Ocean Parkway New Jersey. He must have been born with a fashion gene because at the age of 4 his mother began to notice his attraction to the details of her shoes. His mother often took him shopping with her at Saks and Bergdorf’s and ,honestly, who can resist falling in love when introduced to these fashion paradises at such a young age. His father was a merchandiser of children’s clothing, so design was nothing new to this semi-traditional Jewish family.

By the time Isaac was 10 years old he had moved back to Brooklyn and had been given his first sewing machine from his father. He made clothing for puppets to wear during birthday party appearances. By 13, he was making clothing for his mom, dad, and his mother’s friend Sarah Haddad.

While in Brooklyn his parents wanted him to attend a Jewish school, however his rebellious personality got him kicked out on numerous occasions. His mother had to come to the school and bail him out of trouble constantly. Finally, Isaac had enough. He enrolled in New York High School for the Performing Arts to persue his passions in drama, music, and dance. Isaac lost 75 pounds his first semester and gained it all back in confidence.

While in high school Isaac took some evening classes at Parson’s. Upon his high school graduation he studied full time at Parson’s developing his skills that would one day land him the title of one of the Best American Fashion Designers of his time.

After his third year at Parson’s, he got a part time internship working with Perry Ellis. Mr. Ellis became his mentor and after graduating from undergraduate, he went to work for him full time. Isaac worked very hard for Ellis and in return her received experience and training that would be priceless in this industry.

After he left Perry Ellis, he worked for Jeffrey Banks and Calvin Klein. Not long after , in 1987, Isaac started his own line with financial support from family friend Sarah Haddad. He began small designing in a small loft and selling from the back of a car. In the spring of 1988 he had his spring show. There were few guests , only there to see if anything interesting would come from this new designer. All the guests were floored with surprise at the fresh feeling he brought to fashion, Isaac became an over night success story. From that moment forward, his life began moving full speed ahead.

He began to win awards and designing costumes for ballets and theater in the early 1990’s. In 1994 he was going to introduce his fall line and his preparations for his line would be filmed for his hit documentary called Unzipped. The documentary was directed by Isaac’s ex lover Douglass Keeve and it was released in 1995. It contained footage from his childhood and footage of his life as a designer working with models and at shows. This documentary took him from beloved fashion designer to beloved celebrity fashion designer.

In 1997 he wrote a comic book series called Isaac Mizrahi Presents the Adventures of Sandee the Supermodel. The series featured the supermodel facing all the stereotypical problems that a supermodel would face in the industry. Critics and fans alike loved his rendition on the life of a model. This was a cherry on top of his sweet career.

Little did he know that in 1998, Chanel, his financial backer, would pull out and cause him to have to shut down his business. He had other options that would possible keep the company rolling, but he decided to move on. Which today has proved to be a good idea.

In 1999 he started in a one-man off Broadway cabaret act that critics called charming and engaging. From there he was given his own talk show on Oxygen where he had a plethora of celebrity guests and a wide array of activities.

Reverting back to designing, he signed a five year deal with Target to design a line of affordable fashions ranging from $10-$70. I have to say that he made some really cute things for target that were sold out in a heart beat. In 2007 he made wedding gowns for Target as well. He made target more than $300 million per year. He also had his own line which he referred to as Isaac Mizrahi to Order where he designs gowns starting at $4,000 a pop.

In 2008 he split with Target and went over to Liz Claiborne to resuscitate her dying line. He has made a fall 2009 line which has won rave reviews. He is now the host of a show called The Fashion Shows on Bravo, which is a different spin to the once hit Project Runway. Isaac has made many appearances on all the fashion forward shows and movies including Ugly Betty and Sex in the City. Today he is in the works of directing his first movies, The Extra Man.

Though we all know Isaac as an outspoken and almost flamboyant person, you can’t help but love him . However, in the 2006 Golden Globes I couldn’t help but shutter with horror at some of the things he was doing, such as squeezing Scarlett Johansson’s breasts, looking down Terri Hatchers dress, and asking people if they had undies on. I am willing to look past that if you are 😦

Recently, Isaac Mizrahi has been named to a newly created role of Senior Vice President, Managing Director at Alma DDB effective July 13, 2009.

Isaac’s Award Center
2002 won the Drama Desk Award for his costume designs for The Women.
1996 won the Eddie for Best Edited Documentary.
1995 won the audience award for best documentary.
1991 won CFDA Womenswear designer of the year award

If you wanna keep up with Issac, watch him at by clicking HERE.

I chose Isaac for my blog because he embodies what it means to follow your dreams and that anyone could do anything as long as they want it bad enough. He had a few hurdles, some avoidable and others not so much, but he came through them better than ever. It is not always about how someone does while they are already successful and loved, but how someone does when they are going through hard times. He has shown his dedication to the arts and his passion to do any and everything he set his mind to. We should all be so lucky to accomplish the things this man has. Here’s to you Isaac, ” Fat is the new black.”

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.

Love ❤

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!

Despite the radiance of their line, they do not wear it themselves. Not only because they are self funded but because they need to be comfortable when sewing for hours on end.

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!