I work in the archive of a fashion designer-I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say who. Let’s just say he’s the arbiter of classic American style, starting 50 years ago when he got into the tie business and sold his designs from a drawer in the Empire State Building. He pioneered the concept of aspirational fashion and lifestyle branding and went on to build his own empire that would be arguably the most recognized name in the industry. He helped customers see the transformative power of clothes-that with a smart blue blazer or alligator bag, you could feel that whatever you station was in life, you could aim even higher.
He’s put his name on nearly every American closet staple. The bomber, the trucker, the camel coat, the Polo shirt, blue jeans-to name just a few. He co-opted the uniform of both the cowboy and British aristocrat and revitalized them to perennial status, making them wardrobe classics for almost every demographic. Hipsters, prepsters, and gangsters alike all beg to be branded by his name.
My favorite of his icons are his menswear-inspired looks. In the 70s he put his wife in tuxedos and Diane Keaton in shirts and ties and saw that women wanted to power-dress too. He assigned social status where it wasn’t yet there-and then watched his muses find their place in a man’s world through dress.
Know who I’m talking about yet? If you don’t, I encourage you to google “91st richest person in the world.”
Which brings me to what I love most about him: He is a true manifestor. Knowing nothing about fashion design, he became THE Great American Designer with simply the unwavering belief that he could be. This scrappy Bronx-born son of immigrant Jews would one day outfit high society by understanding how to dress for success. He always knew that eventually make-believe becomes make-your-reality. And I can’t help but buy his story because what he is selling us is what he has sold to himself-the process of creating the life we want from nothing but a seed of inspiration/creation.
His goal in his high school yearbook reads, “Millionaire.” I am tickled by this. Even at 18, he understood the power of intention and laws of attraction. At 78, he still does. He has never stopped believing in what he built, and continues to work on his dream with precision and passion.
A few weeks ago, I went to help dress models who would be presented to him in the latest collection. I dressed for intention that morning-to be noticed by my hero. I wore a flight suit (yet another one of his staples) and a headscarf-very 1940s workwear-and took a few quiet minutes to visualize in my minds eye him seeing me from across the room, beckoning me over, asking who I was.
On set, I manipulated an opportunity to be in the same room with him, about 20 feet away. I felt his eyes on me and heard him ask, “Hold on, hold on-who are you?” and wave me over. He asked me if we had met and where in his company I worked. He wanted to know what I thought of the collection. He then nodded, as if to signal that he’d gathered and catalogued sufficient information on me and it was my cue to walk away-which I did, enormously pleased with myself. Later, his head designer (who got hired when he noticed her outfit in an elevator years ago-she’s another master manifestor but that’s another post for another day), witnessed the interaction and declared, “He loves you!” I was over the moon.
The words we exchanged were just a few but I walked away understanding what he has been practicing all his life. That we can dress for the moment, the conversation, the life that we want. And maybe something as small as a drawer of ties can become an Empire. Just as a brief conversation might lead to…a new job, a new co-creator, a new friend, or maybe simply it’s an end in and of itself. I just got noticed by one of the biggest style influencers in the world and today that is enough for me. But I can’t wait to see what I create tomorrow.