I have a confession: I am a slob. I love to design and sew beautiful things, but when it comes to dressing myself on a day to day basis, I look like I just stepped out of bed, or a stable, or a yoga class. Come to think of it, now that I have typed that statement, that would probably be a perfect day for me: napping, riding horses and yoga. Oh well.
I would like to think that, like other designers, I look chic and wear all black, like Donna Karan or Vera Wang, but the truth is I wear well-worn t-shirts and jeans or yoga pants. If I do manage to coordinate a cute outfit, my friends ask me what the occasion is or if someone has died. Does this embarrass me? Somewhat. I think what bothers me the most is the hypocrisy of calling myself a designer, but representing myself like a truck driver. Is the problem that I don’t have any cute clothes? Absolutely not, I have a closet FULL of them. I just never wear them.
I hail from a very stylish family. My mother owns a vintage original Hermes Kelly bag for crying out loud and has curated museum exhibits of custom Dior. Her grandmother never left the house without a hat, a handbag and gloves. My father’s mother was one of the original flappers and knew the likes of Bonnie and Clyde. And my grandfather? God bless him. He wore a hat with a feather in it and on rainy days, he would wear red, to cheer people up. Kills me.
So where did I go wrong? I came out of fashion school in New York, well dressed and determined to go to law school, to travel to factories overseas and draw up contracts and specs for a large fashion house. I worked at a law firm for a year before applying to law school to see what it was like. My favorite part of the job? Dressing for it. Being an attorney: not so much. Onward.
And here’s where I think the disconnect happened: textile restoration. For over a decade I restored antique or historically important textiles for museums and auction houses. Empress Josephine’s coronation gown, vestments from the Vatican, tapestries from Biltmore, Hillary Clinton’s collection of evening wear, the first masonic aprons, Masai warrior beading, you name it. It was not glamorous. There was mold, dust, dye, fibers that would come off in clouds if you breathed on it wrong. And there was me, in old sweats and t-shirts covered in dust and dye.
I am still in old sweats; sketching, drafting, cutting, sewing. It is a new year and part of my resolution is to dress like a designer, so that I am representing myself and my line appropriately. I expect this to take some time as breaking any habit does and I plan to start with wearing red when it is raining. I love this fact about my grandfather. As a way of honoring him, Crickett and I have decided that in our next collection coming down the runway, every model will be wearing something red. And thus, our new collection is born: The Newspaper Collection: Black, White and Red All Over. Stay Tuned.