Check out Elie Tahari’s luxurious looks and you might be surprised that this international designer grew up in an Israeli orphanage before arriving in New York City with less than $100 in his pocket.
Tahari first got interested in fashion while moonlighting at a Greenwich Village boutique in the ’70s. Inspired by that era’s disco scene, he began creating flirty dance dresses and, soon after, opened a Madison Avenue boutique. In the ’80s, his focus evolved to the tailored suit, firmly establishing Elie Tahari as a go-to brand for working women.
Today, the Elie Tahari label has expanded to include a global menswear line as well as edgy women’s accessories, shoes and handbags. We snagged an exclusive interview with the designer during his appearance at Bloomingdale’s in Paramus…
You’ve worked in the industry for decades. What still quickens your pulse?
I am as passionate about my line today as I was 40 years ago. Seeing new fabrics, trims and styles for the first time always excites me. With each collection, I usually have a favorite piece that I truly love—right now it’s the Sierra leather perforated dress from the Fall 2013 collection.
What inspired the new collection?
Imagine New York City after a snowfall—a metropolitan, modernist winter. Think neutral blacks and grays punctuated with red, pink and blue stories. My vision was to mix structured and fluid elements, so the collection includes tailored clothing with leather details. You’ll also see menswear-influenced, body-conscious silhouettes, fitted pants paired with voluminous tops, a sumptuous fur jacket and a cocoon coat in printed double-faced wool. I especially like raw-edged leather, exposed zippers and exaggerated collars. One of my favorites is an A-line skater skirt paired with a motorcycle jacket.
What’s new for men?
My Fall 2013 men’s collection reflects an urban, military aesthetic with tailored silhouettes like a peacoat, waterproof wool vest, duffel coat and a leather bomber jacket layered over deconstructed herringbone blazers, magic-wash sweaters and slim corduroys. We focused on contrasting trims, mixed-media prints and muted colors for a polished look.
In your personal life, do you flaunt color or keep it neutral?
Almost every day I layer neon T-shirts under my dress shirts for a pop of color. As for my home, I like my furniture colors to be neutral, serene and peaceful. However, I accent my Hamptons home with colorful paintings by James Nares and Hunt Sloan.
What’s your next big thing?
2013 marks an exciting year for the company as it’s my 40th anniversary. Currently I am working on the Spring 2014 collection that I will present at New York Fashion Week this fall. Recently, we also announced the launch of eyewear, women’s hosiery and men’s furnishings, all arriving in stores next year.
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