What did you take away from that relationship that serves you today? Yes, conceptually, it’s clearly been Cristóbal Balenciaga. In the early 1970s when I was in college I discovered a man working in New York who was also from the school of Balenciaga. And I came to New York to work for him. His name was Halston and he was a genius. The third person is a man whom I consider a dear friend; the way he has worked and lived I admire so much, and now he is a mentor in many ways, and that’s James Galanos.
The question of skill is so important, especially today, because what is being presented as fashion and the prices at which they’re established is just so horrifying. Certain critics of my career say I’m from the old school, which I find it terribly insulting because there is no such thing as “old school” when you do it correctly.
What’s being accepted today as passable is ludicrous. You have $4,000 (£2,500) garments made with merrow machines and plastic buttons and no interfacing or, say, interfacing that’s peeling off because it’s not been pressed properly. And here’s what certain members of the press have said to try to cover up for it: The clothes otherwise have a matronly look.
When they throw into play the age game, they immediately frighten all the young people, so rags are now expected. This makes me angry, as you can see it. I am not a stickler, but I believe that quality clothing, clothing with integrity, is made a certain way and there are no shortcuts. Research 6 0 FORM, FIT, AND FASHION Anybody that wants to be a good designer had better be able to conceive a garment, sketch it, fabricate it, drape it, make the paper pattern, cut it out, sew it, and fit it.
Too many designers want to skip to being photographed arriving at a party with a dress on a starlet attached to their arm. There’s been a big disintegration. You are often described as a designer’s designer, much like Balenciaga in his day.
How does that impact your brand and in what ways does it allow you to connect with your customer? Those who know who Balenciaga was and what he did—it’s a great compliment for me. I’m stunned by it and I’m humbled because I haven’t even come close to the body of work that he mastered. Does it impact my brand?
No, because most people don’t know what he did for the vocabulary of fashion. And when certain journalists draw the comparison I think they’re talking about the rigor and the constant seeking of new ways of making clothes and cutting clothes. I have a dear friend, Cathy Horyn, a brilliant journalist from the New York Times. .