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Sergio Hudson Has Dressed J.Lo And Michelle Obama — But He’s Designing For You, Too

Emily walpole

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Sergio Hudson Has Dressed J.Lo And Michelle Obama — But He's Designing For You, Too

 

After a year of panic buying sweatpants and spending all day in pajamas, the fashion world is entering a reckoning: what will it take to start dressing up again? Sergio Hudson, the 36-year-old designer who hails from Ridgeway South Carolina, is already creating clothing in anticipation of the pendulum swing towards elegance. This year, Hudson dressed former first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris on inauguration day (all part of a normal work day he explains), but he’s spent years building the brand his own way. Hudson started doing custom design work, competed on Bravo’s Styled To Rock, a 2014 reality design show hosted by Rihanna, and had fans RSVP’ing to his NYFW show before he even decided to do one. Since launching his ready-to-wear label in 2014, Hudson has been a force bringing old-school glamour back to both the red carpet and to his loyal customers.

Reflecting on the current era, Hudson looks to similar periods of time throughout history where dressing up took a back seat to practicality and safety — including the 1918 flu and World War II — as eras followed by an artistic and stylistic renaissance. “When you take a break it comes back with more fury,” he explains via Zoom from his home in Los Angeles. For now, the release of his Spring/Summer 2021 collection along with an upcoming Fall collection are challenging the designer to champion his aesthetic in the midst of sweeping changes in both the way people want to dress and the way the industry gets things done.

Below, learn more about Hudson’s background and how he’s come to create the label to watch right now.

TZR: You come from a fashion family — your mom worked in tailoring and your sister was a model. What are your early memories around fashion and when was it first interesting to you?

Sergio Hudson: My mom was the catalyst, just being a very stylish woman. The high heels, the suits, it was always an event to get dressed. It was planning out outfits for weeks in advance. It was making clothes for my sister and her modeling. And it was Vogue magazine constantly around the house, watching GFN’s ‘Style With Elsa Klensch’ … that’s a really old reference and I’m not actually old enough to supposedly remember that.

TZR: Was your personal aesthetic aligned with your mom’s?

SH: If I break it down, my aesthetic is a little sexier than what she would normally wear. I always say I’m a melding of my mother and my “fashion father” in my head, Gianni Versace.

I was very influenced at a young age by Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferré, Thierry Mugler, Azzedine Alaïa … they were my patron saints. I worship those men and I wanted to be them. So you see that a lot in my clothing.

My mom is a minister and she preaches every Sunday … so she dresses up and wears high heels, that’s just her signature thing. Growing up, I thought every woman did that. And it was just when you come to realize … Oh, people don’t like their heels that high. It’s good to look at, but people don’t really want to wear them.

SH: I feel like women came out of that [way of dressing] because they felt maybe it was put upon them by men. But there is joy in dressing up. It gives you confidence. It gives you power. I can see when women dress up in my clothes and their posture changes, or they wear something that she thought they couldn’t wear. I want to bring the joy of getting dressed up back to the forefront. Everything has gotten so casual and that’s great, but let’s not forget. Let’s dress it up.

I think it’s definitely a renaissance and glam time coming after the pandemic. It’s almost like I can physically see it coming.

TZR: What prompted you to go to design school? How much training did you come in with from your mom?

SH: I didn’t learn anything from my mom. Technically, she didn’t want to teach me … she was like, ‘I’ll pay for you to go to college and learn. I’m not doing that.’ So I didn’t sew a stitch until I went to college.

I learned everything in school from pattern-making to draping, to sewing all of that in college. I watched my mom growing up, so I knew … OK, this is how you put this together, how you put that together, but I never got the opportunity to do it. Everybody says, ‘Oh, I’ve been making clothes since I was five.’ And I was like, No, I just had been close [to clothesmaking] since I was five.’ And then I got the actual technical part when I went to school, which is crazy because a lot of the kids that were in school had known how to sew already.

I was just so determined to be Azzedine Alaïa that I knew I had to be a master at making my own clothing. It was important to me that I knew how to physically do it. I’m not that old … I’m only 36 years old, I graduated from college in 2005, but the industry has changed.

You can probably count on your hand the number of designers that can actually make clothes now, it’s really weird to me. But when I was in college almost 20 years ago, you couldn’t get out of design school without knowing how to make clothes.

TZR: So you gain the technical knowledge, you graduate, go home and you start designing — how did the Styled To Rock opportunity first come to you?

SH: They scouted me and I didn’t want to do it, to be honest with you. I didn’t want to do reality TV. I even went through the first round of casting for Project Runway one season, and I didn’t show up to the call-back in Atlanta. I felt that when you end up on TV, you become more of a personality than you are a designer.

At that time when they approached me with Styled To Rock, I was in a moment where I felt stuck, I didn’t know which direction I should go in … they caught me at a vulnerable moment. So I went out to L.A. for casting, two weeks stuck in a hotel room … couldn’t talk to anybody. They sent me home and said they weren’t picking me for the show.

I got home [to South Carolina], I drove to Atlanta [to visit friends] because I was devastated. I’m like, now I’m stepping out on faith, going to do this thing, and they tell me, ‘No, we don’t want you.’ It was my first big rejection.

While I was sitting at dinner with my best friend and his sister, [the show] called me and said, ‘We want you to come back.’ And I was like, ‘This is an emotional roller coaster.’ So I drove back [home] to South Carolina, got on the plane, flew to L.A., and the next day we were on set and I was joining the cast. It was crazy.

TZR: Did the show serve as an intro to what the pace of red carpet dressing or the fashion calendar could be? Did you enjoy it?

SH: Doing the show conditioned me for working with celebrities because the premise was that you designed the outfit for Miley Cyrus … she was one of the people on the show … you presented it to Miley and she picked which one she liked, and that’s who won the challenge. And it’s actually really kind of how it works in the industry. The stylists pull from different designers, they bring it to the celebrity, the celebrity says, ‘OK, I like this and will wear this.’ You’re winning a competition when J.Lo walks out in your dress. It was conditioning me and getting me ready for what I experienced now on a daily basis.

I didn’t do a [runway] show early on because I just didn’t feel I was ready or had the clout. I definitely didn’t have the money. After [my team] dressed Mrs. Obama for the second time we started getting RSVPs to a show that we weren’t doing. They just assumed that I was having a show at New York Fashion Week. And I was like, ‘Sorry we’re not having a show,’ and the next season I called my PR and I was like, ‘I think we need to do a show.’ So that’s how the show came about last year, because I wasn’t intending on doing one at all. And it just kind of happened.

TZR: Did the exposure and the prize money put a certain amount of pressure on your shoulders in terms of growing the brand?

It wasn’t pressure winning the show, it was just, ‘OK, now I can do what I really want to do with this thing.’ Because, before that, I was just doing custom designs. I wanted to do a collection, but I had clients in South Carolina that I had to make clothing for. And it was just like, ‘This is not really what I want to be doing.’

After that, I went full [steam] ahead and started putting out collections. But the time between the show and when I really started getting some traction in the industry was a couple of years. The show gave me the experience that I needed and it gave me some funds to start doing collections, but it didn’t give me the entry into the industry that I thought it was going to give me. That came from grinding, getting out there, getting PR, and making relationships with these celebrities.

TZR: We’re in the midst of this funny era where — excluding red carpets — people see clothes as protection or comfort, or making life easy, but aren’t necessarily putting attention into dressing up. What has that experience been like for you?

Creating clothes for the red carpet and creating clothes for Bergdorf [Goodman] is kind of the same thing because the woman that I dress wants to look like J.Lo on the red carpet. I don’t make outlandish, crazy clothing — what you see on the red carpet is what I make in my collection most of the time. I’m very keen and conscious and I irritate my PR sometimes because I’ll turn down a request if I feel it’s not in the lane that we are in.

Let’s take for example what we did for First Lady Obama for the inauguration. That was directly out of my collection, it was not even a thought of doing or changing anything, because it’s something that I would do. Even what we put Vice President Harris in for the evening event following the inauguration, it was my seamstress’ sequin dress and a tuxedo coat, something that I would make on a Tuesday. I just feel like any woman can look like that, so it’s not a big deal to me.

But as for the time right now, especially with the Spring collection, we did pull the clothes away from the body a little bit and use more comfortable fabrics. I really thought about what would this woman want to wear when she’s stuck at home on Zoom. It was actually kind of fun, but I feel like with Fall and what’s coming up next, people are going to want to return to fashion, but in a more comfortable way.

[My Fall collection is] going to be packed heavy with a lot of knitwear and accessories because I feel like people want to express themselves with accessories … with an amazing belt, an amazing purse, an amazing shoe. [I’m] keeping the clothes simple, because it’s a simpler time.

Throughout history, there have always been times when fashion had to go on pause. Like if you think about World War II when all of the Couture houses in Paris had to shut down and start making clothes for the military. But right after that, you had the great renaissance of fashion, which was the Christian Dior new look, right? It’s always going to come back, and when you take a break it comes back with more fury.

TZR: Actually jumping off of that, your belt was one piece that I wanted to talk to you about. It’s been worn by Michelle Obama, Amy Poehler, Tracy Ellis Ross, whether it’s a belted suit or belted gown. Why are you drawn to the belt particularly?

I remember my mom had this particular red dress that had a huge gold buckle and the belt was made out of the same fabric as the dress. It was my favorite thing that she ever wore. I found this other Donna Karan cashmere dress that she wore that had a covered belt as well. It’s like putting jewelry on a dress to me, it’s the finishing touch. That particular belt [that’s been worn so many times] I did for a collection a couple of seasons ago. It was a ’70s-inspired collection, and I wanted a big gold buckle. So I went looking, found the buckle that I wanted, and got it developed.

The buckle was supposed to have a three-inch belt attached to it, but I didn’t really want a huge belt, I wanted the belt to be an afterthought of the buckle, so I made the belt two inches. I wanted to make it smaller, but my belt manufacturer was like, ‘That’s crazy. It won’t be able to hold the weight of this solid brass buckle.’ So we made the belt two inches and it kind of, when you put it on, it kind of looks like you just have a buckle on. And that’s what I wanted.

It wasn’t intentional for it to be a continuing thing, it was just for that collection. But after First Lady Obama wore it with the purple suit, and then Beyoncé wore it with the orange suit in 2019, it became a thing and we started getting requests for it. And then [stylist] Karla Welch was like, ‘I need all of those signature belts that you have.’ I’m like, ‘What is a signature belt?’ And she was like, ‘The belt that you do, it’s your signature belt.’ I said, ‘OK, it’s my signature belt.’ And that’s kind of how it became the signature belt.

TZR: Do you have any celeb moments that really stand out to you as a personal favorite?

One of my favorite moments was when Jennifer Lopez wore my leopard print dress. That collection was a last-minute one. I had a completely different [one] that I was designing, and then Azzedine Alaïa died right before [it] was coming out. I canceled and redesigned it, I kept very little from the one I designed before. And it was a tribute, so that’s where the leopard print came from. I’m not a print person, but I felt I needed to do something to show how much he meant to me. So I designed this [season] inspired by him and when he did the leopard print in his [Fall 1991] collection.

That was [when things] changed for me, it really put me out there. Jennifer saw the collection and she wore several looks from it on her press tour she was doing at the time. And that dress was the first moment that I really was like, ‘This is going to work.’ It was touching gold for a minute. But when she wore that, it was like, ‘It’s official, J.Lo wore your clothes. So now you need to get up and go and make sure this thing happens.’

Fashion

Celebrities in the Boardroom: Pros and Cons

Emily walpole

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Celebrities in the Boardroom: Pros and Cons

Last week, Italian luxury shoemaker Tod’s appointed the globe-trotting mega-influencer Chiara Ferragni to its board, making her the latest celebrity-entrepreneur to become a corporate director, like Oprah Winfrey and basketball star Shaquille O’Neal who sit on company boards in the US.

Ferragni, whose ascent began with her blog The Blonde Salad, now has more than 23 million followers on Instagram and oversees a budding fashion empire that includes her digital publishing business TBS Crew and a multi-category fashion label, Chiara Ferragni Collection.

“Chiara’s knowledge of the world of young people will certainly be extremely valuable,” said Tod’s chairman Diego Della Valle. Investors agreed, sending shares soaring by 12 percent.

Tod’s has struggled to keep pace with a fast-moving fashion market and build relevance with young consumers. In recent years, it has launched initiatives such as its Moncler Genius-like Tod’s Factory to rejuvenate its brand. And Della Valle appears to be betting that hiring Ferragni will not only boost awareness and send a positive signal to shareholders, but help fundamentally transform the company’s business model for a digital, direct-to-consumer world.

There is little precedent for a celebrity board member driving this kind of transformation at a company, though the right partnership between Della Valle, who controls the company, and Ferragni could deliver results for Tod’s, according to executive search specialist Anne Raphaël.

Once upon a time, brands hired celebrities as little more than faces for advertising campaigns. But in recent years, as more entertainers, athletes and other celebrities have become entrepreneurs and built their own sizable businesses, more companies have recruited them to their boards, hoping the combination of star power and marketing savvy will pay off.

Winfrey joined the board of Weight Watchers after buying a 10 percent stake in the company, while O’Neal is a director at pizza chain Papa John’s. In fashion, Emma Watson was appointed to Kering’s board of directors last June, while tennis champion Serena Williams has served on Poshmark’s board since 2019.

But celebrity directors can come with risks as well as rewards.

To be sure, celebrity board appointments bring immediate marketing value to a company, generating buzz with consumers. Celebrities can drive impact by appearing in advertising and representing the company at events, but also by offering valuable behind-the-scenes insights on popular culture and consumer behaviour, as well as fresh thinking on communications.

Celebrities are good at getting attention. Many have built formidable sales and marketing machines of their own and have far greater fluency with social media than typical directors.

Famous board members also come with high-level connections and can help to open doors. They can boost efforts to recruit top talent to a brand. And for companies increasingly under scrutiny on the racial and gender composition of their leadership, the right celebrity appointments can bring greater diversity to boards that are often stacked with white men.

But the disruptive energy that celebrities bring to a board can present challenges.

Managing celebrities can be tough. They typically have limited time to dedicate to their directorships and regular attendance at meetings can be a problem.

Celebrities can also bring challenging dynamics to the boardroom, attracting those angling for some of their stardust, while repelling those who doubt their credibility.

When push comes to shove, celebrities will always put their own personal brands ahead of the interests of the company. And, of course, their skill at generating public attention can backfire spectacularly if they become entangled in scandal.

It’s critical that companies think strategically about celebrity directorships and carefully carve out roles that play to specific profiles and relevant experience. For example, at Kering, actor and activist Emma Watson, known for being a champion of ethical and eco-conscious fashion as well as portraying Hermione in the Harry Potter films, chairs the company’s sustainability committee.

But board roles aren’t the only way to derive value from working with celebrities. Beyond simple marketing deals, companies can work with celebrities as “brand ambassadors” or hire them as consultants. Companies can also invite celebrities to advisory boards.

Celebrity directorships can offer real value. And there’s no doubt they are trendier than ever. But companies should consider the alternatives before plunging into a flashy board appointment.

THE NEWS IN BRIEF

FASHION, BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY

Bernard Arnault leaves the Louis Vuitton spring 2021 womenswear show in October 2020. Getty Images.

Bernard Arnault leaves the Louis Vuitton spring 2021 womenswear show in October 2020. Getty Images.

LVMH’s fashion sales surge, setting high bar for rivals. LVMH was the first luxury company to report first-quarter revenue Tuesday, and a sharp jump in its fashion division’s sales not only points to a return to pre-pandemic health for the conglomerate, but has raised the stakes for its competitors.

Gucci presents its centenary collection, “Aria.” Creative director Alessandro Michele incorporated nods to the Italian fashion house’s past, in particular, the Tom Ford era, as well as Balenciaga co-branded pieces, inspired by the brand’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia. The collection was presented online on Thursday.

Growth in China, US fuel more retail optimism. After a dismal year for retail, consumers seem ready to get back to the shops amid signs of strength in key markets. China’s economy grew 18 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with retail sales up 34 percent in March compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile, US retail sales accelerated in March by the most in 10 months, while UK shopper numbers surged as shopping districts reopened this week.

The Met Gala will return in September. The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced on Monday that its next major exhibition will open on September 18 with a theme focused on American fashion. As part of the exhibition’s opening, the Met Gala will also return as a smaller event on September 13, “timed to coincide with the close of what will hopefully be an in-person New York Fashion Week,” according to Vogue.

CFDA plans for in-person New York Fashion Week in September. The CFDA said it anticipates “a return to in-person shows” between September 8 to September 12, following health guidelines. Some designers, the council said, will still choose to present digitally.

American Eagle forecasts sales above estimates on full-price selling. The company has recorded stronger sales as more customers spent their stimulus checks on its jeans, trousers and tops. American Eagle also forecast operating income of about $120 million for the first quarter, compared with $48 million in 2019.

JD Sports reinstates dividend as online boom lifts forecast. Britain’s biggest sportswear retailer struck an optimistic tone as stores reopened across the UK this week. The company has performed well during the pandemic and has embarked on at least three big acquisitions in the US and Europe in the past few months. More deals are expected to follow after the company raised £464 million ($638 million) in equity in February.

German fashion e-tailer About You cracks €1 Billion in revenue. The company is widely reported to be preparing for an IPO. Revenue grew 57 percent to €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) in the year to February, while in the last quarter the company turned its first profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation since its launch in 2014.

The Hut Group upbeat after profit jumps on online demand. In its maiden set of annual results since market listing in September, the company operating retail brands such as Lookfantastic and skin care group ESPA posted a 36 percent jump in annual underlying profit to £46 million ($63 million).

Kohl’s to add two activist group nominees to its board. Kohl’s Corp said on Wednesday it has reached a deal with a group of activist investors to avoid a proxy fight, agreeing to add two of the group’s nominees to its board as independent directors.

US companies and executives unite for voting rights. In a full page advertisement that ran Wednesday in GFN, the signatories called for “all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right.”

THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY

The deal values Beautycounter at $1 billion. Courtesy Beautycounter

The deal values Beautycounter at $1 billion. Courtesy Beautycounter

Carlyle Group take a majority stake in Beautycounter. The investment values Beautycounter at $1 billion, and marks a major bet by Carlyle that the brand’s philosophy of avoiding many common synthetic ingredients, and its reliance on customers to sell its products, has staying power.

L’Oréal revenue recovers thanks to help from China. Lancôme maker L’Oréal on Thursday reported a stronger-than-expected 10 percent rise in comparable first-quarter sales from a year earlier.

Report: Indian beauty start-up Nykaa taps banks for $500 million IPO. The online cosmetics retailer is reportedly working with Kotak Mahindra Capital Co. and Morgan Stanley on the potential offering. A listing could value the TPG Capital-backed start-up at about $4 billion.

Courtin-Clarins family invests in clean skin care brand Pai. Pai Skincare, a London-based beauty label known for its clean and vegan products, will use the funding to expand its development and manufacturing.

Guangzhou builds ‘Beauty Park’ to boost Chinese cosmetics industry. The park is expected to generate 8.6 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) worth of cosmetics and skincare products annually and will set up more local brands to compete with international giants in a beauty market valued at $52 billion last year.

PEOPLE

Todd Kahn, CEO at Coach. Coach.

Todd Kahn, CEO at Coach. Coach.

Todd Kahn appointed Coach CEO. Thursday’s announcement made Kahn’s appointment to the position, which he has held on an interim basis since last July, permanent. He will report to Joanne Crevoiserat, chief executive officer of Coach parent Tapestry Inc.

Anthropologie names Tricia Smith global CEO. Smith joins the brand from clothing retailer Tilly’s, where she served as chief merchandising officer from 2019. Before that, Smith spent over 26 years in merchandising roles at Nordstrom. She succeeds Hillary Super, whose last day at the company was April 9.

Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company. Three of the e-commerce platform’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s chief executive and founder said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Stitch Fix’s founder Katrina Lake is leaving the CEO post. Lake, who launched the company a decade ago, will remain at Stitch Fix as executive chairperson. The fashion subscription platform’s current president, Elizabeth Spaulding, will assume the top role effective August 1.

MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY

Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. Shutterstock.

Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. Shutterstock.

Instagram launches test where users can choose to see likes. The photo-sharing site, which is owned by Facebook Inc, said this latest test came after seeing mixed responses to its experiments in which it removed likes.

Karla Otto doubles down on influencer marketing with new acquisition. On Thursday, the global fashion agency’s parent, The Independents, announced the acquisition of marketing firm Lefty, deepening its offerings in the influencer space, a bright spot during the pandemic.

Robin Meason, PR for Paris Indie Brands, sells agency to OBCM. Olivier Bourgis’ OBCM agency will acquire Ritual Projects, the Paris-based public relations firm which helped to establish Vetements and its then-creative director Demna Gvasalia, as well as brands including Y/Project, Ottolinger and GmbH. Financial terms of the deal, which is set to close May 1, were not disclosed.

Southeast Asian ‘super app’ Grab set for US IPO. Softbank-backed Grab is gearing up to merge with a blank-cheque vehicle in a deal that will value the technology group at about $35 billion, according to a report in The Financial Times.

Kakao reportedly eyeing fashion e-commerce app Zigzag. A deal, said to be in the works by local media outlets last week, could see the South Korean tech giant acquire a controlling stake worth around $1 billion in Zigzag, a six-year-old start-up.

Compiled by Darcey Sergison.

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44 of the chicest Amazon fashion finds under $100, according to stylists

Emily walpole

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44 of the chicest Amazon fashion finds under $100, according to stylists - CNN Underscored

 

From cleaning supplies to personal care products to even groceries, Amazon has it all. And after some extensive perusing through the site, want to know what our latest obsession is? Amazon fashion.

“Amazon has done a great job of breaking down the trends — from utilitarian options, retro prints and women’s suits,” says celebrity stylist Erin Noël, who styles clients for red carpet events, music videos and commercials.

But what should you buy this season? Celebrity stylist Alyssa Sutter, who is known for her work with Rachel Zoe and looks on the red carpet, commercial and editorial shoots, encourages everyone to start with a trench coat, a statement piece of jewelry and a chic sneaker — all of which can go with anything.

Creative manager and celebrity fashion stylist at Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment Kelvin “K.J.” Moody recommends people get their hands on a pair of fitted shorts, some basic T-shirts, lightweight dresses and pops of color — noting that basics and monochromatics are having a serious moment. “These are easy to make into a nice high-low look,” Moody says, a method of styling he calls ‘seesaw.’ “Fashion is most aesthetically pleasing when something is weighted more heavily than something else,” he explains. “It gives it a focal point, looks cohesive and balanced, but adds excitement and interest because something is different.”

Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of their favorite fashion finds at Amazon, all under $100, along with some top-rated options we couldn’t help but show you.

R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress (starting at $29.99; amazon.com)

R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress

Amazon

R.Vivimos Summer Long Dress

Yes, this is the “it” dress of the season, and we aren’t mad about it. The nap dress is equal parts comfortable and feminine, making it practically irresistible.

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The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress (starting at $62.96; amazon.com)

The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress

Amazon

The Fifth Label Collared Short Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress

Noël loves this utility dress because it’s an on-the-go option that’s easy and fashionable. What more could we ask for when we’re forced to leave the house, not wearing pajamas.

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Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal (starting at $28.02; amazon.com)

Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal

Amazon

Franco Sarto Maiva Sandal

What should you wear with a utility dress like the one above? Noël recommends these cute sandals by Franco Sarto. Although the tangerine shade would be her pick, we think the black or white pairs would be stunning too.

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R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress ($31.99; amazon.com)

R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

Amazon

R.Vivimos Summer Floral Print Puff Sleeve Midi Dress

If you want to incorporate florals into your spring wardrobe, this puff sleeve midi dress is for you. Pair it with your favorite sneakers for that casual, cool-girl vibe.

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The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket ($59.90; amazon.com)

The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket

Amazon

The Drop Faux Leather Long Shirt Jacket

Designed in partnership with influencer Lisa DiCicco Cahue, this faux leather shirt jacket is giving the ultimate New York vibes, and is one of our favorite trends of the moment.

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Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat ($99; amazon.com)

Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat

Amazon

Lack Of Color Wave Terrycloth Bucket Hat

Accessories are a necessary fashion statement too. Sutter loves the texture and color options of this bucket hat. She can image the hats paired with swimsuits on a beach day or paired with a dress and flats for an everyday look.

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Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer (starting at $32.71; amazon.com)

Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer

Amazon

Kendall + Kylie Double Breasted Cropped Blazer

Moody thinks this cropped blazer is a great piece for your everyday wardrobe, recommending to pair it with this ribbed tank top and these bike shorts from the collection as well.

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Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet ($45; amazon.com)

Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet

Amazon

Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Chain Bracelet

Sutter believes that “Amazon is a great place to find on-trend jewelry without the splurge.” She loves this chunky gold bracelet to elevate any spring look.

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Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress (starting at $18.76; amazon.com)

Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress

Amazon

Lionstill Long Sleeve Tie Waist Sweater Dress

We’re finding any way to transfer the comfort of our sweats to other aspects of our wardrobe, which is why we want this tie-waist sweater dress is every color.

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Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse ($18.99; amazon.com)

Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse

Amazon

Floerns Frill Neck Puff Sleeve Blouse

Noël recommends updating your typical white t-shirt this spring, and try puff sleeves instead. “Wear these with the wide leg jeans I already know you added to your cart.”

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The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater ($39.90; amazon.com)

The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater

Amazon

The Drop Fitted Cutaway Racer Tank Sweater

This sweater by The Drop, designed in partnership with influencer Suyapa Lucy, is easily one of our favorite Amazon finds. The racer tank fit sets it apart from other pieces we have our eyes on.

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Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag ($95.31; amazon.com)

Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag

Amazon

Fossil Wiley Leather Flap Crossbody Handbag

Your handbag is just as important as the outfit at hand. You can’t go wrong with this crossbody by Fossil that’s available in five colors and even features a large front buckle that gives it a sophisticated touch.

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London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat (starting at $93.87; amazon.com)

London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat

Amazon

London Fog Single Breasted Long Trench Coat

A trench coat is proven to stand the test of time. Invest is a well-fitted option like this by London Fog that can easily transition through all four seasons.

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Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress (starting at $13.98; amazon.com)

Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress

Amazon

Dokotoo Deep V-Neck Ruffle Long Sleeve Mini Dress

Some dresses are seriously love at first sight. “This bohemian dress will take you from the beach to dinner in style. Throw it on with sandals and some gold necklaces and you are ready to go,” says Noël.

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The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress ($59.90; amazon.com)

The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress

Amazon

The Drop Ilana Sleeveless Wide-Hem Poplin Maxi Dress

Available in sizes XXS to 3X, this poplin maxi dress will suit a wide variety of body types. Better yet: It’s so roomy that you won’t ever feel restricted while you’re out and about.

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Puma Carina Sneaker (starting at $49.99, originally $60; amazon.com)

Puma Carina Sneaker

Amazon

Puma Carina Sneaker

Now introducing your new everyday white sneakers. Don’t be surprised when you want to wear them with everything.

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Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean ($39.90; amazon.com)

Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean

Amazon

Daily Ritual Relaxed Fit Wide Leg Crop Jean

“Ditch your skinny jeans, and not just because Gen Z said so, but because a wide leg is in style for spring,” says Noël, noting that the fit is more comfortable and chic. “Wear these with an oversized blazer, or your favorite T-shirt, and you’ve quickly updated your look.”

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Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal (starting at $44.29; amazon.com)

Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal

Amazon

Franco Sarto Chania Heeled Sandal

“These lime green heels will look great with all of the neutrals you picked up in 2020,” says Noël. The pop of color this spring and summer is sure to turn heads.

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Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag ($36; amazon.com)

Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag

Amazon

Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag

We totally agree with Sutter when she remarks that reusable tote bags can go beyond the grocery store for a cool everyday bag. She loves ones from Baggu like this one because the brand “makes really fun prints and colors to match all your looks this spring.”

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The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater ($31.52; amazon.com)

The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater

Amazon

The Drop Alice Crewneck Back Slit Ribbed Pullover Sweater

“Knitwear is a big trend this coming season,” says Sutter. “Try a full knit set, which is a great way to stay comfortable but still look put together.” That’s why she recommends this pullover sweater by The Drop. If you want the full set, pair it with the matching ribbed shorts.

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Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans (starting at $47.70; amazon.com)

Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans

Amazon

Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans

“I personally always buy my jeans from Amazon, specifically Levi’s,” exclaims Sutter. “Their styles are always so flattering and never boring, plus they are under $100!”

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Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants (starting at $19.79; amazon.com)

Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants

Amazon

Tonjori High Waist Palazzo Pants

Headed back into the office? These roomy palazzo pants, available in 24 colors, are sure to even impress your most stylish coworker.

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Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt (starting at $45; amazon.com)

Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt

Amazon

Astr The Label Embroidered Nava Midi Slip Skirt

According to Sutter, “this celery-colored slip skirt is perfect for spring’s pastel trend, especially when paired with a matching kitten heel for a tonal look.” She recommends completing the look with a faux leather shirt in a camel color to mix in the utilitarian vibe that’s super on trend.

Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt ($49; amazon.com)

Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt

Amazon

Stacy Adams Short Sleeve Knit Polo Shirt

This shirt is a favorite by two of our fashion insiders. Sutter says that this “hits a couple different trends for spring — retro and knitwear all in one.” Noël recommends pairing it with some cropped black pants.

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Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch ($28.96; amazon.com)

Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch

Amazon

Fizili Waterproof Wrist Watch

Looking for a new watch without breaking the bank? How sleek is this matte black wrist watch that just screams luxury.

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Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater (starting at $10.93; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater

Amazon

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Crewneck Sweater

“Stripes are classic, and this option from Goodthreads would look great with a pair of pants or denim,” says Noël, which obviously makes it a good choice from your Zoom meeting to dinner.

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Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis (starting at $16.01; amazon.com)

Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis

Amazon

Amazon Essentials Relaxed Fit Stretch Khakis

If you have to ditch your sweats, the replacement pants should at least be comfortable right? One reviewer wrote that “the relaxed fit shape of these combined with the slight stretch in the fabric makes them super comfortable,” so you know these are a great choice.

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Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button-Down (starting at $29.17; amazon.com)

Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button Down

Amazon

Tommy Hilfiger Short Sleeve Button Down

We’re obsessed with the blue striped pattern of this Tommy Hilfiger button-down, vibrant but classic enough to be worn year after year.

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Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal (starting at $29.43; amazon.com)

Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal

Amazon

Birkenstock Essentials Arizona EVA Sandal

Not only are Birkenstocks comfy, but they can also be a powerful accessory — especially in a fun color. “I would style these with a straight leg trouser in beige, white tee and printed short sleeve camp shirt,” explains Sutter.

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Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt (starting at $19.59; amazon.com)

Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt

Amazon

Swag Point Hip Hop T-Shirt

A graphic T-shirt is a great way to let a more casual outfit make a statement. Check out this one that’s at the top of Moody’s list.

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Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket ($77.10, originally $89.99; amazon.com)

Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket

Amazon

Tommy Hifiger Hooded Rain Trench Jacket

A trench coat is a quintessential wardrobe staple for warmer temps, for both men and women. Sutter calls this one a “perfect, timeless” option.

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Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean (starting at $38.48; amazon.com)

Levi's 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean

Amazon

Levi’s 569 Loose Straight Fit Jean

“This style from Levi’s is giving me serious ‘90s skater nostalgia,” says Sutter. She’s loving the loose fit denim trend for men.

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Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket (starting at $24.60; amazon.com)

Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket

Amazon

Amazon Essentials Polar Fleece Shirt Jacket

Noël let us know that shirt jackets are in as a great lightweight jacket style, so we couldn’t help but find the perfect one on Amazon.

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Adidas Performance Samba Shoe (starting at $39.99; amazon.com)

Adidas Performance Samba Shoe

Amazon

Adidas Performance Samba Shoe

According to Sutter, the Adidas Samba shoe “is making a major comeback in neutrals and fun color combos.” She says you can’t go wrong with this classic pick.

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Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt ($17.80; amazon.com)

Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt

Amazon

Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Short Sleeve Print Shirt

This palm tree print just screams vacation, right? You’ll surely reach for this number to frolic around in this summer. ___________________________________________________________________________

WT02 Jogger Pants (starting at $20.99; amazon.com)

WT02 Jogger Pants

Amazon

WT02 Jogger Pants

Want to dress on trend, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort? Luckily Noël is loving a relaxed feel for menswear this season, so a pair of joggers like these definitely fits the bill.

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Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt (starting at $12.13; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt

Amazon

Goodthreads Standard Fit Oxford Shirt

An oxford shirt is essentially an elevated basic. These bad boys should be your go to for that work event or even date night.

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Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket (starting at $49.05; amazon.com)

Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket

Amazon

Billy Reid Quilted Knit Bomber Jacket

In case you haven’t heard, bomber jackets are back and better this season, according to Noël. She says that “this Billy Reid sweater bomber jacket is great with a white tee and jeans.” The thing that sets this apart from other bomber is the quilted knit material. She says this “is a nice change from leather or heavier outwear that you may have picked up this winter, in a softer color for spring.”

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Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater (starting at $13.43; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater

Amazon

Goodthreads Soft Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater

Noël loves a quarter zip sweater like this one because it can “polish up a T-shirt and provide a nice layer under a jacket for both style and warmth.” She remarks that because this option is available in a variety of colors, you can totally pick one that best fits your wardrobe.

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The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat (starting at $10.99; amazon.com)

The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat

Amazon

The Hat Depot 100% Cotton Packable Bucket Hat

Moody recommends adding this 100% cotton bucket hat to your casual everyday outfit. Grab one in an unexpected shade, if you want to add a pop of color like he advises.

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Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt (starting at $8.77; amazon.com)

Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt

Amazon

Champion Basic Short Sleeve T-Shirt

“Casualwear is big right now because of the pandemic,” explains Moody, and what’s more casual than a basic short sleeve T-shirt like this one by Champion.

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Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short (starting at $16.50; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short

Amazon

Goodthreads Standard 9-Inch Inseam Stretch Canvas Short

What would Moody pair with a basic T-shirt and the bucket hat above? A pair of shorts by Goodthreads. We love that these are made of a canvas material that’ll remind you of lounging around at home.

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Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo (starting at $8.35; amazon.com)

Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo

Amazon

Lee Uniforms Modern Fit Short Sleeve Polo

Can’t go wrong with adding another polo to your collection, especially when you can take your pick of 12 different color options.

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Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt (starting at $6.96; amazon.com)

Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt

Amazon

Goodthreads Slim Fit Long Sleeve Linen and Cotton Blend Shirt

Imagine all of the possibilities with this linen and cotton blend shirt. Available in 12 colors, this is sure to become a wardrobe staple for $30 or less.

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Fashion

Carolina Herrera’s creative director on fashion post-pandemic

Emily walpole

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Carolina Herrera's creative director on fashion post-pandemic

In this episode of Facing Forward, Margaret Brennan talks to Wes Gordon, Creative Director of Carolina Herrera, to discuss what the post-pandemic fashion industry will look like.

HighlightsOn what changes the fashion house made to reflect the pandemic economy: “The first decision we made was to reduce the size of the collection. And that greatly influenced the way I design. My goal is always to give a woman something that’s glamorous and exciting and takes your breath away and makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. But now I wanted to do that with an added layer of comfort and ease and wearability. And by having a tighter collection offering, I really need to make sure that each piece we’re creating serves all of those purposes.”On scrutiny of women in fashion: “I think clothes are incredibly powerful and what people wear can convey so much and there can be so many levels of meaning and communication about what a man or woman is wearing and how he or she is presenting themselves. And I don’t think it’s that we over-scrutinize women, perhaps it’s that we don’t discuss enough the symbolism of what men are wearing and that we should be a little more equal in that because we have a tendency not to talk about the men, but really only focus on the women–and there are extraordinary communication messages that happens in- that happen in a man’s wardrobe as well. And then so- so talk about fashion, I think. You know, I think it’s OK to- to discuss what was the symbolism of the White when Vice President Harris took that stage. I think these are important things. And I don’t think in any way, shape or form that’s a negative conversation. But don’t just do it for the women, you know, I think do it for everyone, be equal about it.”On markets seeing a surge in fashion post-pandemic: “We absolutely saw a correlation, you know, between geography and- and sales numbers, particularly in North America. The regions that, as you pointed out, were less locked down and were opening earlier, we saw those- the spending habits and the retail activity accelerate much more quickly.”

Download, rate and subscribe here: Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher

“Facing Forward”: Wes Gordon

Producers: Richard Escobedo, Anne Hsu, Kelsey Micklas

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Fashion designer Wes Gordon walks the runway at the Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 10, 2018 in New York City. / Credit: IMF Photo/Joshua Roberts
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Fashion designer Wes Gordon walks the runway at the Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 10, 2018 in New York City. / Credit: IMF Photo/Joshua Roberts

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wes Gordon, welcome to the pod.

WES GORDON: Thank you, MARGARET. I am delighted to be here. It’s an honor and privilege to be chatting with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I think it’s fun- you know, one of the things that people may or may not know is my first official beat as a cub reporter was covering consumer and the retail business. And one of the reasons why I liked it so much is, you know, consumer spending is 70% of economic activity in this country. So it’s a huge part of the economy. But fashion and parts of it are also kind of the more fun, artistic expression of these, like, moments in time. They kind of give windows, I think, into how people are experiencing things, how comfortable they are spending, what they want to look like. And we’ve just gone through this incredible period of time. I’m wondering, coming into this spring, this has been a really long, tough period. What are you looking for for inspiration these days?

GORDON: I love everything you just said. I think the way you just summarized the fashion industry, I think is so beautiful, because in addition to being a reflection of what people are feeling in a moment in time, fashion is also an insight into what people are dreaming and what their hopes are for the future and their level of optimism about what lies around the corner. And all of those things, I think, are- are what we’re witnessing and focusing on right now. The past year was extraordinary, horrible, you know, knock on wood, fingers crossed, something we will never live through again, but we certainly learned a lot from it. And how I design changed over the past year in many ways. But in answer to a question right now, sitting here in my office sketching, I’m focused on the magic that our women are looking forward to, again, coming out of- of the darkness.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I love that, coming out of the darkness. Well, so- so what is it we’re all going to be sort of aspiring for? How is it that you are visualizing what’s to come in?

GORDON: I think what we’re all aspiring for are the very essence of our humanity, you know, laughter, togetherness, family, joy, love, all the things that we’ve been de- deprived of in so many ways over the past year. You know, it’s- it’s- it’s those things that make us human, and it’s not in our nature to live 24/7 in fear and- and sadness and isolation. Right now, you know, everyone’s excited about getting back to life, getting back to being humans, it’s getting back to their friends, their families, celebrations that were postponed, a summer of joy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So does that mean, like, long hair and long beards, those are all going to get shaved and cut? I mean, are people going to drop their sneakers and put on their stilettos?

GORDON: Listen, it’s not that black and white, because I think what happened over the past year wasn’t just a surrender, right? It wasn’t that we all just stopped caring about how we looked. I think in many instances people did a lot of soul searching and better understood what makes them unique and who they really are. So I think, I hope, that there are some expressions of individuality and uniqueness that will remain. But I certainly think that in instances where people maybe stop making the effort, we will see- we will see that resume.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I read that you cannot keep evening gowns in stock. How is that possible? Who is wearing an evening gown in America right now and where are they wearing it to?

GORDON: So it’s- it’s been an incredible thing, and one of the great signs of optimism for me is when I see this data. You know, it’s not just the idea of an evening gown. It’s- it’s celebration clothes and the clothes that mark those milestone moments and occasions. And you have to remember that for 12 months, so many events and celebrations had to be put on hold, weddings in particular, birthdays, anniversaries. So, of course, the format of those occasions has changed. It’s no longer big groups of hundreds. It’s smaller. It’s more intimate. But in no ways has that minimized the importance of those occasions and those celebrations, and a woman still wants that dress that makes her feel her most beautiful and empowered to mark that day with.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the hottest markets I read were Florida and Texas for you. Is that- I mean, these are two states that opened early. They really kind of shirked some of the health restrictions that the rest of the country did. Does that mean, like, that’s just where events were being held, therefore, that’s where sales were taking place?

GORDON: We absolutely saw a- a correlation, you know, between geography and- and sales numbers, particularly in North America. The regions that, as you pointed out, were- were less locked down and were opening earlier, we saw those- the spending habits and the retail activity accelerate much more quickly. Right now, at this point in time, you know, I’m sitting here in New York and New York State is doing a very good job with vaccinations. There’s definitely an optimism on the sidewalks. It’s- the weather’s beautiful. So we’re seeing those numbers, that- that improvement certainly work its way north. But, yes, we saw our first signs of life, let’s say, in the southeast.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that from what you’re seeing now and what customers are buying, that that signals were like around the corner from this Roaring Twenties moment where it’s just going to go super glam to swing back from pandemic sweatpants wearing?

GORDON: I want to see all the people I haven’t seen for the past year. I want to have dinner with my friends. I want to have drinks with my friends. I want to dance. I want to celebrate. I want to have a great time. And I think there are so many people who are in that same boat. You know, it’s been- it’s been a terrible year, and we’re all so lucky to- to, you know, that what we’re complaining about is that we were isolated and sad and that we kept our health and- and survived it. But it’s- we all want fun right now and color and joy and dancing. We’re a brand about embracing life and treating every moment as a celebration and and being grateful for the here and the now and the people you’re with and your family, and I think that’s never been truer than- than right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’ve had a pretty remarkable career. You worked with Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, you took the reins at this house, Carolina Herrera, about two and a half years ago. You’re only 34 years old. That’s pretty incredible.

GORDON: Thank you. I mean, I went to design school and then as soon as I graduated, I started a small collection and did that for nearly eight years and then had the great fortune of coming to Herrera to consult. And it was right around the time that Mrs. Herrera was stepping down from her role. And I became creative director. So I feel incredibly fortunate to have identified at an early age what it is that that brings me joy and what I feel passionate about, and then to have had, you know, supportive parents and opportunities to- to kind of make that a reality.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s an incredible time to try to also keep a business going. Right? I mean, we had a really horrific contraction in the economy this time last year.

GORDON: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We saw big bankruptcies of big names and layoffs across major brands. What was that like for you? Did you feel, at a point that- that this was coming to an end?

GORDON: I never felt it was coming to an end in the sense that I am the most aggressively half glass- glass half-full person you’ll ever meet. I’m very optimistic. But there were very trying moments throughout the past year, and we- I, you know, the president of Herrera, Emilie Rubinfeld, is an incredible leader and did a brilliant job navigating us through it. We’re incredibly grateful to have a parent company, Puig, which is a remarkable group of people. And I think, you know, we did what- what many businesses at the time were doing, which is trying to simultaneously adjust for that immediate moment and also plan ahead, because if you focus too much on that immediate moment and kind of went too far into survival mode, you know, it’s going to make it more challenging, I think, to- to resume activity quickly, which is what we all need to be doing right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said you learned a lot over the past year and, like, changed some of what you were doing. Like what do you mean by that? What- what changes do you think are going to stay with you?

GORDON: The first decision we made was to reduce the size of the collection. And that greatly influenced the way I design. My goal is always to give a woman something that’s glamorous and exciting and takes your breath away and makes your heartbeat a little bit faster. But now I wanted to do that with an added layer of comfort and ease and wearability. And by having a tighter collection offering, I really need to make sure that each piece we’re creating serves all of those purposes. So rather than having a beautiful cotton shirt and a fabulous, over-the-top cocktail dress, can I fuse the two of them? Can I take the versatility and ease and, you know, kind of sportswear chic of the shirt with that magic and spice of the cocktail dress and kind of morph them into one product that- that a woman is able to wear many times and always feel great and maintain that comfort and lifestyle component that she’s become so accustomed to over the past year. So that’s something that has definitely been a learning from the past year, a fantastic improvement to our business, I think a more focused articulation to our clients of my design vision and something that we absolutely will be carrying forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Wes, stay with us. We’re going to take a quick break.

(BREAK/SOUNDBITE)

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that was Kamala Harris giving the victory speech, becoming the first woman Vice President of the United States, and you dressed her for that speech. What was that like?

GORDON: I mean, I just- just hearing that sound bite. How cool was that moment? I- I, for one, will never forget watching that. And- and it’s not just because she was wearing a suit that I designed. It was just because it was an extraordinary moment to be an American, to be a human, and I had the great opportunity to- to play a tiny, tiny part in that evening by making her a Carolina Herrera suit and blouse, and Vice President Harris has- frequently now wears Herrera suits, which is so exciting to me. And it’s just- you know, in a year of a lot of sadness and darkness, that evening was so extraordinary.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it was a historic moment. I mean, tell me, what was the image you thought you were helping to project?

GORDON: You know, I- I was incredibly lucky to have met Vice President Harris, and I will say that there are very few people you encounter, and you can probably agree who when you become accustomed with their media image and their social media image and the idea of that person, very often reality is a letdown, unfortunately. And in the case of Vice President Harris she’s even cooler and more brilliant and more amazing and more spectacular and more inspiring in person than you possibly could imagine her to be. So I was so excited at the prospect of creating that shell and that wardrobe and that outer expression of her inner super powers, and that’s really how I thought of it. You know, it wasn’t- it was just about what’s going to make her feel like the best version of herself on this extraordinary night for humanity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There’s a lot of scrutiny about- over what women wear, right? And unfairly women in the public eye. I mean, I- I get it. I- I get the incoming myself just being on television. But like, do you feel as someone who is helping to craft presentation for women at one of the top fashion houses in the country, do you feel responsibility in that, in like how you set trends, and how you source things that you have to somehow become either protective of the women you’re dressing, but also of the industry that you’re representing. You know, there’s so much scrutiny these days over environmentally conscious sourcing and things like that. How much of that do you actually digest when you sit down and design?

GORDON: I think, starting with the- the scrutiny level and what’s appropriate and what’s OK of women in the spotlight and powerful women in particular at this moment in time where we have the second-highest office in the nation occupied by a female. I think that’s a really valid question to ask is what’s OK and what’s not OK to talk about when it comes to fashion?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.

GORDON: And Dr. Jill Biden has taken a particular stance right now about not- not wanting the focus to be on what she’s wearing and something really important that I believe is, number one, it’s up to the woman herself how much she wants to talk about what she’s wearing or not. That’s every woman’s choice. That’s every first lady’s choice. And I think we should respect that. That said, I’m- I’m biased, I work in fashion. I think clothes are incredibly powerful and what people wear can convey so much and there can be so many levels of meaning and communication about what a man or woman is wearing and how he or she is presenting themself. And I don’t think it’s that- that we over-scrutinize women, perhaps it’s that we don’t discuss enough the symbolism of what men are wearing and that we should be a little more equal in that because we have a tendency not to talk about the men, but really only focus on the women–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.

GORDON: –and there are extraordinary communication messages that happens in- that happen in a man’s wardrobe as well. And then so- so talk about fashion, I think. You know, I think it’s OK to- to discuss what was the symbolism of the White when Vice President Harris took that stage. I think these are important things. And I don’t think in any way, shape or form that’s a negative conversation. But don’t just do it for the women, you know, I think do it for everyone, be equal about it. So that was kind of the first part of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GORDON: Then the next one about, do I feel a responsibility for- for operating with integrity, let’s call it, and- and- absolutely. I’m enormously concerned about the climate crisis and global warming and- all- and- and- unfair treatment of- of workers around the world and all of these things right now that are directly affected by the fashion industry and that are issues that we’re seeing already the consequences of. So it’s critically important to everyone at Herrera that we be the best global citizens possible and that we make a product that represents beauty and joy and celebration and life and color, inside and out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you feel that that- you said that was like your own internal pressure, but like, do you feel like there’s pressure in the market from people who are out and shopping? I mean, how much do people actually think about that? Like- like you said, there isn’t a lot of scrutiny of men. Like I haven’t heard many people worry about whether Joe Biden’s tie was made by a environmentally sustainable line or a responsible manufacturer. Like it’s- it’s really kind of pick and choose when people seem to put that weight behind it.

GORDON: Absolutely, I- I absolutely agree. You don’t see that same level of GFN and scrutiny. And you should, because, you know, there’s- there’s an equal impact from those decisions in terms of the consumer, what they care about and do they care? Had you asked me that, say, three years ago, I would have had a very different answer. Right now, the consumer cares definitely more than ever.I think the idea of sustainability in textiles and fashion has very quickly gone from being kind of a fringe concept to something that is on the top of everyone’s minds, whether they’re designers or consumers or fashion executives or retailers, and that’s great. And we’re seeing just- just from my end and internally the rate of acceleration that fabric mills are quickly now offering, you know, maybe they would have had two or three out of a thousand fabrics previously available sustainably with organic cotton or with a sustainable finish. Now, suddenly we’re seeing that’s gone up several thousand percent. I mean, now we have dozens and dozens of options from each mill of sustainable fabrics. And you’re only seeing that because there’s that consumer demand. So it’s definitely a real thing. And, you know, I- I think was heightened and expedited by the experiences of the past year. And is another great example of something I hope remains people looking for integrity and purpose in the products that they buy and the pieces they bring into their lives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is- what do you mean by sustainable? You said organics, is- is that–

GORDON: So–

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that mean?

GORDON: Yeah, sustainable is complicated because textiles are made up from so many different components. Right. So we have viscoses. We have silks. We have cottons, wools. And the criteria and classification for what makes each of those different fibers. Be deemed sustainable varies tremendously and how you measure whether something sustainable varies tremendously. Are you talking about it being sustainable because the cotton in the dress was organic or you talking about it being sustainable because it was, you know, included in a bulk shipment rather than shipped piecemeal with more carbon footprint? So there are- there’s so many different levers and- and mechanisms for labeling something sustainable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mhm.

GORDON: And it’s very gray at the moment, I would say. But what matters is that people are trying and I really do believe that they are. And it’s- it’s- it’s thanks to some designers who kind of really stuck their neck out there in the past and were saying that this was something that was possible and they believed in that now the entire industry, I think, is really understanding that this can work, that- that you can make a beautiful product and it doesn’t have to be, you know, bad for the world, let’s say. And you’re as a result, you’re seeing tremendous change happening very quickly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to end with kind of a fun prediction, if you can give it to us.

GORDON: OK. OK.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So everyone wants to know what normal is going to look like. What do you think Fall Fashion Week will be like? Will we be back in-person and gathering?

GORDON: OK, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m going to tell you what I hope is the case. I hope that come September for Fall Fashion Week, which will be Herrera’s fortieth year of New York Fashion Week. I hope that we are presenting a live fashion show. I imagine it will be to a smaller group than it was in the past. Last February, so a year ago from February, we did a fashion show with nearly 800 people in the audience.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.

GORDON: So do I think we’ll be doing that in September? Absolutely not. But am I hoping for, let’s say, 50 to 200 people, you know, very safely assembled? Yes, because there is a magic to a fashion show that I miss. The industry as a whole has come up with so many creative, exciting ways to tell fashion stories over the past year, digitally on social media, with video, with photography. But that in-person experience and seeing the clothes and sharing with people, the clothes in person and the models and the music and the hair and the entire ambience, there’s a magic to it. And New York Fashion Week is- is that goosebump moment that American designers love, and it’s something that I think is- is we should all, as Americans, be proud of and hoping to return to.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wes, thank you so much for your time. Fun talking to you.

GORDON: Thank you. So fun talking to you as well. I really appreciate it. And this has been a- this has been a blast.

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