Amidst all the hot new trendy designers making a splash at New York Fashion Week, long-time veteran Elie Tahari is getting rave reviews for this year's collection. Luxury-heavy drama with deep burgundy, fur, and flashes of leopard have the fashion world lauding his work. USA Today called it an: "antique jewelry box" inside of which you find glamorous treasures that "make you happy."
It's great to see this designer shining, as it seems often Tahari is relegated to the fabulous-but-standard category rather than innovative leader. I think most people are like me -- they have Tahari pieces they love, but they've never been in love with the entire brand in the way one is with say Marc Jacobs or Tory Burch. That may change with this new collection, and I hope so.
The designer himself has never become a personality as so many other designers have. That's right HIMself. For all my years pouring over W, Vogue, and any other fashion magazine I can get my hands on, I have to say I didn't know Elie was a man. Did you?
He recently told CBS News that many are surprised to learn that:
I was coming down the elevator with somebody that I noticed she bought of Elie Tahari clothes, and I said, 'I see you bought some Elie Tahari.' She said, 'Oh, I love her designs. Her design! 'I'm her,' I should have said, yes!
His story, which is also widely unknown, is inspiring and makes me want to spend as much money as I can on his clothes. He was born in Jerusalem where he spent many of his young years in an orphanage. After working as a mechanic in the Israeli air force, he moved to New York with little more than determination. He often found himself sleeping on the benches of Central Park.
But from a maintenance job in the Garment District, to selling women's clothes, Tahari eventually fought his way up the chain. His tube top design changed his life, and was the breakthrough he needed. He's changed the wardrobes of women ever since.
"Frankly, I had no choice," he told CBS. "I had to succeed. Failure means I would have to be homeless again."
His success, which is major -- to the tune of about $100 million in business a year major -- is well deserved.
Do you own any Elie Tahari clothing? Are you surprised to learn his story?
Image via Neilson Barnard/Flickr