The Wow Factor

All fashion influences come from art.

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No matter what kind of designer you are, whether you're avant-garde, classic, sporty or whatever, there are going to be influences on your clothes that are pulled from the art world. Whether it's silhouette, pattern, mood, it's something. For them to be able to do this, first of all, it allows them to find something that really resonates with them. You're in the greatest museum in the world and this tells me something about who you are as a designer. I think it's an amazing opportunity, one that is very realistic for a designer, and I think the interesting thing is that you're not necessarily recreating the piece into an outfit because it's the mood, it's the attitude. It doesn't have to be so literal.

I think the big thing we all have to remember is that there are a lot of designers with substantial businesses who do very well who probably shouldn't have fashion shows. Their clothes are terrific if you're dropping your kids off at soccer or running an errand, but those clothes don't necessarily need to be seen on the runway. We have to remember it's a fashion show -- so there has to be some showmanship. That's what was interesting about the avant-garde challenge. That is very indicative of, here's the heightened way of showing it, and then here's what you'll actually ship. But when you say, "Be inspired by a piece of art," well, the sky's the limit, and we need to be wowed. There needs to be a wow factor in some way. It might be different if you're putting on a fashion show and you've got 50 looks. If you have 50 looks, if all 50 are over the top wows, in a strange way that gets monotonous. You wanna take people on a journey, up and down, and if you've only got one? Trust me, it better be amazing. With Sweet P on this one, it was, as usual, commercial, wearable, but where was the wow? raterunway_03_411_220x415.jpg

In terms of Rami, once again, you might have a very nice career and a nice business being very specialized. But, is that going to make you a designer of real breadth if you're so specific with your look, no matter how well you do it? Any designer who's around for more than a minute will have the tendency of people knowing their point of view anyway. You're going to have to deal with that regardless, so if you're only going to be like, "Oh, I only make drape dresses," it's not going to allow you to withstand, it's not going to allow you to have different kinds of clients of different ages, different bodies, different cities. I'm not curious about like, oh, if he made shoes, what kind of shoes would they be? Would they be draped? Would he only make draped handbags? Would his perfume be draped? Would everything be draped? No matter how great you are at a certain thing, I think you need to find an aesthetic rather than a category. If you find a category you might be a very successful niche designer, but if you find a look you have the possibility of building a world. I'm a little disappointed that although it's consistently chic, the wow factor is lacking in his work. raterunway_01_411_220x415.jpg

Chris could honestly make a dress out of some smashed Christmas ornaments, paper mache, and some wire. He can make a dress out of anything, he knows how to make clothes, and he understands how to put on a show. He knows how to fill the stage. What I'm concerned about with him is whether or not we can take these clothes and make them into clothes that women want to wear. Also, when you have this very over-the-top point of view, is the taste level going to be there? But, I'm curious every time about what it's going to look like and what's he going to do, and that's a great quality for a designer to have. He'd have an audience and a customer that's always curious to see what's next. I guess it's just tempering it with taste. This is not about Brunhilda drag, this is about clothes that people are really going to fall in love with. raterunway_02_411_220x415.jpg

I'm excited about Jillian and Christian. I think they're both young people with sophisticated eyes. The crazy thing about fashion is that when you're young you have to be wise beyond your years, and when you're an adult you have to be curious and youthful. Fashion has to have the kind of yin and yang pull, and I think they both have that. I think they're both very serious about what they do, and I think there's a consistent taste level from both of them. I also think they know how to craft clothes, which is important. I don't want to see anything walk down the runway at Bryant Park that looks less than perfect. We sometimes have situations where it's down to the wire and maybe something was a great idea, but somehow the fabric didn't sew right, or it just didn't come together, and I have learned to not fall in love with it and just move on. It has to be perfect. I think with both of them I have no idea what I'll see, but I'm confident that the quality will be there.

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