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.

Francisco

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)

AWARD ME, BABY:

  • 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

Advertisements

Let’s Talk Vera Wang!

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 CFDAwomenswear 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!


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!

Eric Daman is a stylist that is not new to the scene, but his presence is now being felt. He is the star stylist of the hit show Gossip Girls. He has also collaborated with Patricia Fields in styling for Sex and the City series. Eric has styled for other movies such as 40 shades of Blue, The Door in the Floor, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, Quip Pro Quo, and others.

Eric’s career began when he was studying in Paris at Sorbonne and working as a buyer at Magic Circle. He was spotted by Steven Meisel in 1993 who was a model scout. Steven saw Daman in a store and next thing you know, he was casted with Kate Moss.

After moving to New York as a full time model he was able to secure the editorial shoots for Rolling Stone, Spin, The Face, and Visionnaire Magazines. While he was in New York living the fab life of a model, he ran into an acquaintance, Patricia Fields. She immediately hired him as her assistant in styling for SATC. It’s no doubt he took a few pointers from our favorite, Ms. Fields, and used them when concocting styles for the Gossip Girls crew.

Eric has proven to be a very interesting stylist because that he likes to mix the expensive fashion with the thrifty. He believes ( like we all do in times of economic turmoil) that it’s the way of all stylish women and men to mix YSL tops with H&M bottoms. Those outfits not only look great but allow those of us with a limited budget to get a cute look for less.

Something else I absolutely love is that he aspires to have a mass line that will go in Kohl’s or Target. He has shown his commitment to affordable fashion which is admirable. Now a days, this is the route a lot of designers , such as Vera Wang and Isaac Mizrahiare, are taking. He has recently landed a deal with Charlotte Russe to make some fashion forward/affordable designs. (Thank God, they need some help!) His contract will last through December 2010, we should all be looking out for some changes in their clothing lines.

Regardless of where Eric ends up, he will always be known for his A class work with Gossip Girls cast. He was even given the opportunity to designe a window at Henri Bendel (and afterward he was giving a huge bash).
He had fun, huh? Anyways the window was fabu.
He played up to the teeny-boppers with his use of text phrases. I must be old because I have no idea what these letters mean! Moving on :-)….

His styling on Gossip Girl has landed him a lot of press, which is well deserved. He does such a great job capturing the characters and making statements through their wardrobes that the scripts don’t include. His favorite character to dress is the nonchalant, yet sweetheart in his own mean way, Chuck Bass. He shows that a straight guy can and should use color to his advantage. Chuck’s character never strays from color and outstanding outfit choices. They suit him well… get it “suit.” ehh I tried.
Doesn’t he just look like a modern day Fonzi ? Ugh, you have GOT to love him. Additionally, He believes that Serena is hardest to dress, but he does such an amazing job with her too.( I have been sinspired by some of her outfits.) He says that the cast gives their opinion about what they want to wear, but ultimately they trust him, as they should–I mean he has only been doing this FOREVER.

My blog is focused on the people behind the fashion, and that is Eric Daman, however he does have a team of 25 helping him along the way. Let’s not forget the effort they put in to make this show the most talked about fashion television series since Sex and the City.

Who would have ever believed that a rural Michigan native like Eric would be so influential in the fashion world today? That just proves that anyone can make it. In his case connections and being in the right place, at the right time in addition to true talent has made him into the renowned stylist and costume designer he is today.

It is important that we don’t forget his face or his name because I guarantee he will become even more successful than he is today.

Eric, here is to you! Your quirky, individual style and outgoing personality will keep you in the spotlight and we like having you there. Please keep styling our favorite prep school kiddies ( now going to college) the way we love it!

Work the pants, doll!

Do you ever get that excited feeling when you know that you are on the right path in the direction toward achieving amazing goals? Well I know that feeling. This moment, making this blog, makes this feeling more concrete.

Style: I am in the business of style, not fashion trends. I believe that some trends, inevitably, evolve into classics pieces that every man or woman should own and incorporate into their lifestyles and personalities. When an article of clothing becomes so unique to a person that it can tell you everything about them, that is their style. Some trends fit into the styles of certain people, and some do not. Me, I want to be able to help people find the style that fits them. When you find the perfect style for you, you will look your best, hands down. The celebs, and everyday people, who play up their wardrobe to their personality come out looking best because they are mentally and physically connected to their wardrobe. As cliche as it sounds, they are one with their clothes.

To become one with your clothes it takes skill and dedication, things that not everyone has, or has time to develop. For this reason, there are people behind the scenes working hard to help you find what is right foryou individually to wear and help you find that “right” aspect in every article of clothing. There are designers, planners, magazine editors, fashion show producers, photographers, fashion forecasters, stylists, image consultant, basically a whole team of people that are here to help the world find their niche. However, some people don’t think that deeply about clothing. By neglecting to take that extra time needed to present yourself in a way that is consistent with your lifestyle, personality, and shape you could risk looking completely opposite of what you intended.

Whether you like it or not, humans base most of their impressions of people on an external image. That image could either be good or bad to the on looker, and that will set the tone for the way you are treated. You could have the best personality with the highest IQ, but if you are not presentable you may never be taken seriously, which is bad news !

The good news is that there are support teams of people ( one of which I will be one day) that are here to help you look your best. We want to help, we really do, but you have to give a little time and effort.

Because of the important role of the people who aim to make, style, fit, and present clothing in a way to help you find what’s right for you, I am dedicating this entire blog to them. Not the celebs who lightly mention the names of the designers of their outfits on the red carpet (often mispronouncing them) but to the people whose blood,sweat and tears went in to making that outfit, getting that celeb to wear it, getting it fitted to the celeb, and those that made sure the accessories complimented the outfit. Those are the people who inspire me.

The final project is only a ending point to the thought, time, and dedication put into making a look that complies with someones style. Wearing the outfit is the easy part, it’s the behind the scenes action that is only perfected by a select few hardworking men and women in the fashion industry.

I hope you enjoy. -VJ