The Story of a Jacket
Oh the joy of Emmy Awards Season! Usually, I would have just planned to watch the show at home or go to some exclusive "Viewing Party". Nothing too exciting you might argue. All of that changed several weeks ago when I got the call from MSN, wanting me and fellow Glam Squad Diva, Laura Bennett, to actually cover it for MSN Style Studio. Not only were we going to attend some of those VIP Gifting Suites, but also THE Emmy Awards and do fashion coverage from the Red Carpet. One small thing: The clients thought it would be a "cute" idea if we both designed--and wore--something that said "Dress Like You Mean It", our tag line on our MSN Style Studio segments. Laura and I debated and went back and forth on what we were going to do. Numerous emails, phone calls and scenarios were passed around, all in an effort to figure out how we were going to "carry this off" without, how shall I say this delicately, ending up on "The Worst Dressed List".
Laura was inspired by a photo of a dress with caviar-beaded lettering and decided she would do that. We know that if anyone knows beading , Miss Laura Bennett does! I could just see her employing 100 15 year old Bangladeshi boys and girls, sitting there hand-beading every D, R, E, S and another S into a fabulous gown! She actually ended up finishing the beading herself by hand on the plane ride from New York. Could you just see her sewing on the plane! I am sure the flight attendants were doing many double-takes while passing the champagne and warm nuts!
Now, on my end, I struggled for weeks trying to come up with something that would not make me look like Milli Vanilli's secret gay cousin, or Elton John Does Cirque Du Soleil. My first idea, involved me designing a tuxedo jacket with Swarovski crystal lettering saying Dress Like You Mean It. Thankfully, that was scrapped when everyone I mentioned that to would gasp in horror. I thought about making a vest with crystal-encrusted lettering. Next. Then that vest turned into a screen printed one. No vests, since that would take effort on my part to show it and would not be so visible from immediate viewing. I was going to make a tie with the words "Dress Like You Mean It" , like a logo, on it. Too small, no one would see it. How about wearing a crystal buckle with those letters, someone suggested. Can you say "Blazing Saddles?" Next. Laura even suggested that I just wear a regular tuxedo (good!) but walk around with a crystal- encrusted FAN , a la Karl Lagerfeld, with those words on it ! OK, on the "Gay-o-Meter Scale", that one was even too off the charts for me to consider! She felt that since she was wearing a gown with the crystal lettering throughout that I should go subtle. But I could not go TOO subtle since the main request was that the tag line Dress Like You Mean It must be instantly visible. Sorry guys, no fan.
I decided on wearing a velvet evening jacket that I would somehow find a way to embroider the words on it--without looking tacky. Talk about a Project Runway design challenge! I contacted a screen-printing and embroidering company called Los Angeles-based Total Access, that does all the embroidery and lettering for various companies, such as Nike, Hustler Clothing, and Kohls and worked with its owner, the wonderful Damian Kim, on how to create lettering that would achieve a cool-yet-stylish piece for me to wear to The Emmy's. He even enlisted the help of his lovely daughter, Jin, who is what I called the cutest 16 year old "computer geek" I have ever met! She was so fast and so good in locating, and re-configuring all the lettering and helping us with the designs. We spent DAYS on the right font, the right size, the placement. At first, Total Access was going to embroider faux-leather lettering on the jacket, Damian spent hours cutting each and every letter and placing it on the jacket only to make an "executive decision" that it just did not look right. My partner David even got into it, designing all these different graphics to possibly incorporate into the jacket. After much deliberation, we decided on hand-embroidering a customized "Gothic-like" silver lettering into the black velvet jacket and that's it. No other graphics, it would be clean, simple and to the point. No beading , no studs. I didn't want to be Laura's "matchy-matchy". I think they did a great job and I was happy with the results (and so was my client). One would never know the thought process--and labor--that goes into such a seemingly simple and basic piece of clothing. Total Access "Made It Work"!