Fashion Week from Where I Sit

Fashion today may be fast, but for many of us the design process is a year in the making. It starts with an idea. Not one of us takes our success for granted as we keep pushing ourselves to evolve.
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It's a day before our fall 2010 presentation at Bryant Park and someone on my design team just showed me a swatch for spring 2011. Fashion today may be fast, but for many of us the design process is a year in the making. It starts with an idea. Last March we saw "Picasso: Mosqueteros" at the Gagosian and we knew immediately that it would inspire the collection.

Next came the inspiration boards, where we pin up anything and everything that catches our eye -- swatches, prints, old photos, new photos, magazine tears etc. After months of exhaustive sketching, editing everything from fabrics to buttons and finessing silhouettes we receive final samples from our sample maker. It's only three weeks before the presentation.

This is where the real fun (madness!) begins. There are model fittings, last minute changes from hem lengths and trims to adding entirely new looks. Next it's music, models, makeup, hair and a million little details that need to get ironed out before show time. All the while we are keeping our customers in the loop via Twitter, Facebook and the blog.

As impossibly beautiful models walk around our showroom, I constantly ask my design team, "Would you wear this?" Like our customers, our designers are all different ages and body types and have their own unique personal style. I always want to know -- would you wear this? Would I wear this? For us what ends up on the runway is all about that gut feeling.

I have spent the last few weeks analyzing every inch of every look so tonight, the evening before the presentation, I plan to stay home with my three boys and order dinner in. I will sleep very little—my mind will race. I always wonder how the collection will be received by the buyers, the editors and our customers. It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of work and it’s so personal.

It's a lot of pressure especially now that we have 415 employees and are global. It is so different from my first season when it was just a few of us, a rack of clothing and no expectations. It's a welcome responsibility though. And not one of us takes our success for granted. We keep pushing ourselves to evolve.

Tomorrow morning I will head to Bryant Park for my 5 AM call time. I know it will be over before I really have the chance to take it all in. Backstage is a blur of models, hair and makeup stylists, film crews, editors, buyers and bloggers. There are so many people I want to thank for coming—our show is at the end of the week and I know people are exhausted. I’m nervous. I’m superstitious and I always have my lucky red ribbon in my bag and my mother and brothers by my side.

The crowd, the music, the models... It all goes by so quickly and before I know it I’ll be making a toast to my incredible design and PR teams at our post-show celebratory lunch. It is exhilarating and exhausting. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in this business.

Here's hoping you like the show-check it out Wednesday at, Facebook and Twitter. --Tory

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