Pauline Trigere, the great American fashion designer, told me, “You’re a much better
writer than you are a designer!” I should probably have listened to her, but instead
took the path of trying to be the next Norman Norell. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
I almost became a bonafide journalist at the starting gate. While studying fashion
design at Parsons, I made extra money writing articles for a trend spotting industry
publication aimed at retailers. Somehow, someway, my writing was noticed by
someone at Women’s Wear Daily, and I was called in for an interview. It was an
agonizing process- meeting after meeting- first with editors, then Michael Coady,
publisher John Fairchild’s lieutenant. Finally, I was informed that they were
definitely interested in offering me a position as a staff writer, and that it was down
to one other candidate and me. There would be one final test: I had to do a celebrity
interview and file my story within one hour. The subject: actor James Woods.
On the designated day, I was instructed to meet Woods at his hotel on the Upper
East Side. Now you must remember, this was before email, and the WWD offices
were off lower Fifth Avenue, but I had a plan. A friend was temping as a receptionist
for a well-known ophthalmic surgeon whose office was across the street from the
hotel. After the interview, I would duck in, tap out the article on an available
typewriter, and FAX it down to WWD.
Of course, I read up on Wood’s career. At that point, he had just finished making
“The Onion Field” and was on the rise. I learned the word “odious.” We had a terrific
chat, shared thoughts on Chicago (I had attended Northwestern University in
Evanston for a heartbeat) and I dashed across the street to write and fax. The piece
flowed with ease and I was sure that the job would be mine.
Later that week, I received the call. “Your article was terrific, but we decided to go
with a gal that has already had a year of magazine experience,” I was told. Her name
was Lorna Koski, and she’s now the Associate Editor of Fairchild Publications,
WWD’s parent company. And that’s what made up my mind that regardless of
Pauline Trigere’s advice, I would become a fashion designer by hell or high water.
So for whatever success I have enjoyed, I suppose I have James Woods and Lorna
Koski to thank. But now, at this point in my life, I have finally decided to listen to