For longer than memory will let me recall I’ve been somewhat of a fashion connoisseur. And I have always loved to see a well dressed woman — especially if she had that particular shape certain women have coupled with a outfit chosen specifically to accent it – I can’t say exactly where this aesthetic sense of beauty originated, but growing up as an only child and late addition to the family (l have one sister who is much older and was therefore already out of the house). My mother was still young and good looking with a flattering shape and in those days she loved to step out on the town. As she would be getting ready for one of her numerous jaunts, I often found my seven-eight year old self acting as her personal stylist offering subtle and not so subtle suggestions like, “I don’t like that one, you should wear the red one instead.”
Upon entering my teenage years growing up in an urban environment (the hood), a portion of this fashion-forwardness was suppressed. And I adopted the personal dress styles and taste of my environment. Which resulted in me never paying much attention to the fashion scene, especially not the upscale side of it.
That changed when I winded up incarcerated. Now that I had time I began to read the multitude of magazines that were constantly floating around. In prison guys will do or read just about anything to drown out the mindless soul stealing day to day humdrum of prison life. Name it and somebody has a subscription to it from Robb’s Report and Dupont Registry to other magazines featuring products and services a gazillion times beyond most inmates current or future financial stations— to weeklies like Jet, The Week, Newsweek etc. And there is always a ton of women’s magazines within easy access Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Essence, Lucky, Seventeen, Vanity Fair, and Allure.
Initially I was perturbed as to why so many guys were subscribing to these women publications. Eventually I concluded that apart from looking (and lusting) on the models that the second reason came from what’s called the scarcity syndrome. Which means that whatever unmet needs a person has, that need becomes paramount. Since heterosexual men like myself are prevented from having the loving intimate and sexual relationships with women as we desire to as a result of being incarcerated. All things WOMAN become of immense importance and interest. It’s like oxygen few of us give much thought to its’ importance, but that would change in a heartbeat if we suddenly found ourselves without it.
At first I began to look at these fashion magazines just for something to do. Soon I found myself appreciating the designs of designer like Michael Kors, Valentino, Tracy Resse, Marc Jacobs, and many others. In that instant the old fashion bug that I had long forgotten began to stir. It was then that I began to believe that I had the eye and creativity to be a fashion designer. Motivated I subscribed to several fashion magazines, (funny huh? At first I was a critic of other guys getting all those women magazines and ended up subscribing to a half dozen myself. What’s that old saying about the pot calling the kettle black?) and began to sketch my own designs. Designs that I shared with family and friends and for which I received mostly positive feedback. By then I was hooked and began to have Project Runway dreams.
Along the way, I dabbled in urban design, tennis shoe design, women’s ready to wear, as well as couture. But decided I liked designing women’s ready to wear the most at least in the higher price points. But being that the state of Texas wasn’t about to let me travel to New York, or Parson’s School of design any time soon. I slapped images of Heidi Klum out of my head and scaled down my ambition. Because of my unique circumstances, lack of capital, or fashion experience, decided that trying to launch my own line was probably out the question. And set my sights on finding a small established designer with a in-house seamstress who I could contribute seasonal designs to be integrated with their existing line. Kinda like a nameless, faceless ghost designer.