Louis Licari: I Missed Fashion's Night Out, But I Had a Moment of Reflection

On Fashion's Night Out in New York City, the streets were exploding with fashion. A stroll through Manhattan is the best primer a fahionista can experience and it will make even the most enlightened more seasoned.
09/17/2010 09:52am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
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I am on yet another sojourn to Los Angeles, much to my heart's discontent. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a New York snob, I love Los Angeles. It's just that last Friday night I would've rather have been in New York. It was Fashion's Night Out, one of the events that makes New York a city like no other -- a global celebration of fashion.

The streets were filled with animated hordes of people infatuated with fashion and style. Everyone was wearing his or her unique take on fashion of the moment. If I were there, my head would be constantly swiveling not to miss anyone or anything. I would want to note every image. People milling around may have spent $10 or $10,000 on their clothes, yet they all look like a million bucks. Some edgy outfits were so creative you would never imagine the pieces worn together, others are the epitome of classic chic. This night was not only nirvana for all those who love and live for fashion; it was also a night of social awareness. There is an often used expression that fashion comes from the streets. On this night, the streets were exploding with fashion. A stroll through Manhattan is the best primer a fahionista can experience and it will make even the most enlightened more seasoned.

I have been very fortunate in my career to become acquainted with two of my fashion heroes. Both had a great influence in developing my color eye. I will always be grateful for my time spent with them. They are Vogue's creative director Grace Coddington and designer Marc Jacobs. Both were born with fashion in their soul. Both combine an intuitive and cerebral approach to fashion and style. During every moment of their lives they are consciously or subconsciously observing their environment and interpreting its influence on fashion. They have a complete awareness of the historical and contemporary mores of different fashion trends. This is part of the reason for their prodigious knowledge of fashion and style.

Let me tell you about Grace. She is a kind, unpretentious and unaffected woman. She wears rather simple clothes. You would need to have the keenest fashion eye to realize she is decked out in Prada, vintage Helmut Lang, and occasionally a Comme des Garcons frock. She is not at all the prima donna you might expect.

I have been lucky enough to work on a few photo sessions for Vogue with Grace. She thinks out every photograph. She doesn't just direct a photo session, she writes a story with photographs. She is constantly looking for her next inspiration or location for a future shoot. I remember she once told me of a long car ride in Europe immediately after her plane had landed. She and the photographer were exhausted but planted in the back seat to scout locations to produce the most awe-inspiring photographs possible. The photographer showed complete disinterest. She never complained but was full of energy and determined to create yet another masterpiece. It really didn't matter in the long run that the photographer was lacking energy and interest. Grace probably has the best eye in the business. She can see what mere mortals cannot.

One lucky day years ago I was fortunate enough to meet Marc Jacobs. Through a mutual friend, we met for lunch at the pool of the Chateau Marmont in Los Angles. We "clicked" and became good friends. Oddly enough we discovered we were then neighbors in New York. We ended up spending a great deal of time together. This ended up being one of the best learning experiences of my life. Marc taught me to open my eyes and see the world. He would turn to stare at a passerby on the street to notice their attire as closely as he would those whose chauffeured feet never seem to touch the streets. I can remember spending countless hours at used clothing stores and he'd go home with huge shopping bags full of vintage items. Then, when I'd pick him up later in the evening for dinner at a favorite neighborhood restaurant, I'd see that his pile of recently purchased clothes had been reduced to a cuff or a collar that he found interesting. They would be tacked up on his dining room walls next to art prints that came from the same period as the garments. He immersed himself in his thought process. It was all encompassing.

Having known these people was a tipping point for me in my career. I always knew I was interested in fashion and beauty but they made me aware that it was my passion. I will be forever grateful for the time I have been able to spend with both of these visionaries. By the way, because of the time change flying from New York to Los Angeles, I was able to experience the West Coast's Fashion's Night Out. The streets were teeming with people. I didn't miss out on this festive night after all!