Burning Questions

Challenge winner Merle discusses denim, personal style, and why she thought she was heading home.

Jan 14, 2010

Bravotv.com: You've been part of the fashion world for a long time. Expand on why you want to start your own line.

When I was a little girl, I was always drawing and doodling little outfits. I was always re-making the Barbie doll's clothes, and then at around 12 or so, started sewing and discovered it came easily to me - and within a year, I was making all my own clothes. My two loves have always been writing and fashion. I've dressed in a very particular way since I could start making my own clothes. In college, when everybody else was in jeans, I was wearing dresses that looked like they were from the 1920's. If I'd had a little awareness, I would have gone to design school - but when I was growing up in the sixties, fashion designers weren't as well known, and fashion was not the big deal it is now. My role models were authors and magazine writers. It wasn't until I started writing about fashion - I wrote about music and movies before that (for Rolling Stone, People, W Magazine, Harper's Bazaar) that I felt the BIG drive towards design. Trust me, I put A LOT of time into my look everyday - dressing has always been a creative outlet for me. I feel like getting dressed is a way of being your own art project. "Launch My Line" gave me the chance to see if I could throw my hat in the ring.

Bravotv.com: What's the inspiration behind your line so far? What kind of woman do you design for?

The woman I design for has a real sense of herself. She's not just corporate and not just artsy - she's a very real life woman who appreciates all aspects of life, and wants clothes she can run to the store in, go to work in, and then change a little and go out at night in. She's very busy, but that doesn't mean she's not creative or imaginative. She wants designer looking clothes but doesn't want to spend all her income on being a fashion slave. She wants to look interesting and attractive - but doesn't have a lot to prove. And she wants her personality to come before her clothes, so her clothes have to serve her life - not the other way around. She needs her clothes to perform a lot of functions, and also, to be able to travel easily. And - this is very important - she's got a great sense of humour! She loves clothes, but doesn't take it ALL that seriously!

Bravotv.com: This week the contestants headed to the Citizens of Humanity wash house to get a feel for distressing. You mentioned you're not too keenon denim... Why is that?

Ha! I'm catching a lot of flack for that! People think if you live in L.A., you're a jeans person. I have never worn jeans. I do occassionally wear denim jackets or skirts - if I'm painting the house! No, just kidding. Look, denim WAS invented in the forties for field workers and farmers - it's a pretty indestructible fabric, and it doesn't move easily. I'd MUCH rather wear silk, jersey, cashmere, wool, satin, organza, tulle or chiffon - I live soft fluid fabrics - even feathers! To me, denim is really for guys - it's tough, useful, and it's constricting and tight. I do NOT think it flatters a soft curvy female figure - and I think showcasing your butt is a vulgar thing to do - but I may be the last person alive who feels that way! I don't move well in jeans, and I don't think they look good. And now they're so ubiquitous, wearing them is a real "follower" way to dress. I have no interesting in blending in. Not that I won't wear black leggings with a long top - but that reminds me of Audrey Hepburn and ballerinas, so it has a much more feminine feeling. And leggings are comfortable - and inexpensive. $300 jeans are crimimal! Denim was invented to be cheap.