Bravotv.com: Expand on why you wanted to start your own fashion line.
I create environments that both are beautiful and attempt to make one feel comfortable and confident. I have always wanted to know if I could translate that into something as intimate as designs that one can wear, not just walk through. Years ago I designed the flagship store and showrooms for a major clothing company. I spent a lot of time with the designers and we would feed off of each other in ways that enhanced each of our designs. They offered me a job, but I was on a different path. As I have gotten busier with my architecture and worked on different projects, I have always wondered… what if…
Bravotv.com: How do you think your area of expertise contributes to creating a fashion line?
It is all about starting with a blank canvas and using the basic tenants of design to create something beautiful. I like detail, movement, flow and proportion and translating that into clothing seems natural. I felt very comfortable designing, however as this was a totally different medium I could have used more time, more material choices and more sewing help… but that would go for my fellow contestants as well. The fun was trying to create something from nothing in a very short amount of time… like pulling the rabbit out of the hat. My architecture background was helpful, but in many ways this experience was more like a poker game. The outcome is determined not just by talent, but by the cards that you are dealt and how you play them.
Bravotv.com: This week you headed to Venice Beach. What were your initial thoughts/concerns about the challenge?
My initial thought was who is driving this van and why does he want to kill all of us? Seriously, my first thought was that I would rather spend the time sewing, than on a field trip. My palette was more winter than summer and our fabrics were heavier than the challenge called for… so I felt that I needed more time to play with the fabrics and discover some way to create lightness with what we had on hand. Luckily, the first thing I saw was a deco street sign that read VENICE and I thought of 1940’s Hollywood and Betty Page. The rest of the field trip was spent trying to come up with alternates just in case “Plan A” didn’t work out… something always spun out of control on Launch My Line. That’s why it is so fun to watch.
Bravotv.com: Describe the inspiration/concept for your look.
If you have ever been to Venice recently, well it’s pretty seedy. But years ago, it was the center of the classic bohemian Hollywood style that had Kirk Douglas sucking in his stomach in those pleated swim shorts and Betty Page in her woolen swim suits. Given that we had some eco-fabric that was organic wool in vegetable dye… an updated Betty Page swim suit seemed the best choice to make. I could just picture the silhouette against one of the old brick buildings under the deco VENICE sign. I started with the classic profile, but made some sexy cut-outs to show off my girl’s body in a way society did not allow a half century ago.
Bravotv.com: How did you get along your design expert, Julie? It seemed as though you two were having trouble communicating.
Julie and I got along great, we still do. What you saw was a mutual frustration and not very much time to get our garment made. Julie is a very talented designer, but her specialty and her line is knitwear. But this was beach wear, and all we had were heavy fabrics. While everyone else was making a swim suit, we just didn’t have the proper raw materials. And even if we had, to add upon the frustration, neither Julie nor I knew how to sew a typical bathing suit. Julie has been running her company for 10 years and she hasn’t sewn fabric on a sewing machine in 12 years. We had to figure out something that WE could sew, with the fabric that we had on hand, for the beach… in a day. Did I mention that I would have preferred another day in the studio to a day at the beach?
Bravotv.com: Do you think your expertise in architecture ultimately helped or hindered you in designing?
I am certain that my expertise in Architecture helped. On the other hand, I am pretty sure my big mouth hindered. I think my years of Architecture helped me with the ability to think on my feet. I think the years of handing my garments off to my tailor without helping her do the sewing probably hindered my ability get the most out of the design to fruition process with Julie.
Bravotv.com: You had difficulty with your fabrics and you struggled to find lighter colors/more summery fabrics.
Don’t get me started about fabrics… the time we spent at the fabric store was one of the worst moments of my life… and my fellow contestants concur. To be asked to select every fabric before knowing what you will be designing? We had to make guesses and hope we made good decisions (or guesses). I wanted to create real clothes for real people, and I was thrilled to see the judges were Dan and Dean because I was looking forward to creating their kind of edgy classics, so we looked for denim, leather, cottons and wools. When one travels, the best way to assure flexibility is to bring a single palette – blacks, whites and perhaps one complementary color so that no matter what ensemble you choose, no matter what changes you make… everything matches. And so we took that path… who knew they would ask for summer, and not just summer, but beach wear?
Bravotv.com: The judges thought your look wasn't beachy enough. Do you agree with that and their decision?
Is a swim suit and a wrap the only option for the beach? No, ask any woman over 20 and she will start to consider other options. My outfit was for the woman hosting a party at her beach estate. I happen to think that a bikini and high heels is not classy, unless you are working a car show at the convention center, and even then I am not so sure. This was an updated Betty Page swim suit. Very beachy, very glamorous and very classy. I could see any of the powerful women that I have designed beachfront homes for wearing my garment before wearing any of the others… any.
Bravotv.com: Where do you think you went wrong in this challenge?
First I will take full responsibility for designing real clothes for real women and not a runway show piece. As the competition was called Launch My Line, I wanted to create something that a lot of women would look for and that limited me for the entire competition. To take it a step further, I assumed that the judges would appreciate something that didn’t like look like all of the others. I did go against the trend hoping that I would be considered a fresh idea and the judges would look for the weakest details in the mass of swim suits, but I was wrong. Live by the sword, die by the sword, but I will say this… after both runway shows every model came up to me and said that my outfit was the one they would pay money for. Okay, that’s not as good as winning, but that and a glass of wine helps ease the pain.
Bravotv.com: Will you continue to follow your dream of starting a fashion line?
When the competition was over, Julie pulled me aside and said – “please buy a sewing machine, your ideas are really quite good and very marketable.” Well, I did buy a sewing machine, and I have been having a blast. But (you knew that was coming didn’t you) I am so busy with my Architecture.