After a Fashion

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

Pauline.

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