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Fashion Flawless

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MLT editor Tara Behan up close and personal with fashion designer Carson Kressley at QVC Studios.Last Thursday night, I, like millions of other viewers across America, had a date with my television to watch the final episode of ER. Then, a much better offer came along that I couldn’t refuse: being a part of a live studio audience at QVC Studios in West Chester for the debut of the spring line of Perfect by Carson Kressley. Watching Noah Wyle (who I have a huge TV-star crush on) for the last time on ER or meeting Carson Kressley in person—well, thanks to TiVo, the choice was easy.

Off to QVC I went. And I wasn’t disappointed with my decision. Kressley, star of hit shows Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and How to Look Good Naked, was every bit as charismatic, charming and funny as he appears on television. The Allentown native debuted his line on QVC back in 2006, and it has been a huge seller ever since.

Kressley took the time for a quick interview, where I learned a lot about the accomplished equestrian who has long-standing ties to the Main Line area—and who invites people next month to come meet him at one of our area’s most anticipated charity events of the year, the Devon Horse Show.

MLT: Why did you want to create a fashion line exclusively for QVC?
CK:
I think what’s so cool about QVC is that it’s the only kind of retail medium where you can actually show people how to wear the clothes. And that’s really my specialty: bringing TV and clothing together. I like to call it “merchantainment.” Yes, we’re selling something—obviously, that’s why we’re doing it—but it also can be entertaining and fun. I can really react to the customers who are calling in and watching. And that’s physically impossible just having your clothes sold in stores. QVC is the perfect fit for me (pun intended).

MLT: Both of your shows, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and How to Look Good Naked, really emphasized what a difference the right clothing can make in a person’s life. What is it, do you think, that clothing does for a person?
CK:
I think there’s nothing more intimate in how you present yourself to the world than the clothes you wear. They make a statement without you even saying a word. They tell the world who you are, how you view yourself, and what you’re putting out there. It can be a bad thing—I hate that some people are judging people by what they’re wearing without getting to know the person. But that’s the reality; the moment a person sees you, the first thing they see is what you’re wearing. They don’t see where you live or what kind of car you drive. They’re just getting that picture of how you choose to present yourself. My makeover shows have been so successful because we really tell people how to make the most of their lives. It seems really superficial that we’re telling people to wear this color or wear their hair this way, but it’s all those things like taking care of yourself and being the best you can be that’s all about loving yourself and respecting yourself. I want people to be proud of who they are—and realize how important you are to you. These are the things that will change your life.

MLT: What did you want your Perfect line to represent?
CK:
When I was doing these makeover shows—whether it was the guys’ or the women’s—and I would go through their closets, I would find that they didn’t have these really basic wardrobe items that everyone should have. I came to QVC and said, “Hey, I have this idea.” And they were willing to listen to me. There’s a great team at QVC that has amazing taste, and they embraced the line and the idea of “Perfect Basics for Every Woman’s Wardrobe.” What I ultimately want the line to be is great clothes that make you look good and feel good—and that won’t break the bank. I think somewhere along the line we became trained to expect that good-quality clothing look good and fit well and have to cost a fortune, and that’s just not the case—especially now, when we’re all trying to be “recessionistas.” I think looking good and feeling good should never be a luxury, and unfortunately, for many designers, it became that.

MLT: What are some of your favorite pieces in the spring line for women?
CK:
Some of my favorite pieces … Well, first let me say that I’m very involved in the Devon Horse Show. I’ve been competing there for about 20 years. I’ve been a big supporter of their show, and I work with them on their fundraising. I have to plug the Black Tie and Boots Ball in Malvern on Saturday, May 9, which is a great event that’s put on by the Devon Horse Show and benefits the Bryn Mawr Hospital. I’ll be there wearing a black tie or boots, or both—or I might wear a simple hoop skirt.

Being involved with the Devon Horse Show, I’m very aware of the Main Line and my line for spring is very Main Line: 1960s, fun, fresh, citrus-colored, kind of preppy and festive. Not at all boring. We have some great custom paisley prints with horseshoes and unicorns. We have beautiful print jackets that are 1960s mod in great colors. We have an amazing pair of white denim with great stretch in them. They’re all clothes that are meant to make you look good and feel good in feel-good colors. There’s nothing edgy or scary, or daring, about the line. We took basics like a peacoat, a button-down shirt or a jacket, and we did them in bright colors and fun patterns. We did bold linings and great trims that give the pieces charisma and personality. When you wear something from the line, I want people to say, “Wow, where did you get that?”

And they’re all priced so affordably. You can’t compromise style just because there’s a recession. I think some people are trying to be conservative and trying to save money, and that’s great because I’m doing that, too. But you still, now more than ever, need some fun—affordable fun. That’s what this collection is all about.

MLT: We’ve been talking about the women’s line, but you also have pieces for men.
CK:
There is a small collection for men on QVC.com. It’s not just the ladies who want to look great; I really believe that guys want to look good, too. They’re just not educated on how to do it. The pieces for men are very basic, but they’re upgrades from what guys already have. So instead of the gray sweatshirt, it’s the gray cashmere-blend sweater. They’re the kind of pieces that can give your man an instant makeover just by putting them on.

MLT: What are some universal fashion tips you’d give to women, then to men?
CK:
One thing that’s universal is: don’t worry so much about trends. I get a lot of questions like, “What’s the hot trend?” I know what I love for spring is bright colors, ’60s prints and a great white jean. But if those trends don’t work for you, stick with what looks great for you. Pick silhouettes that really work for your body type and colors that really work for your complexion, and you can’t go wrong. For all the great style icons, from Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy to now even Michelle Obama, it’s not that these women are so on trend; it’s that they know what works for them, and they pull it off with confidence. I think that’s the best accessory: confidence.

The same advice goes for the men. It’s all about attitude and knowing what works. Once you find the silhouettes and colors that work for you, and you do them in classic fabrics (like cotton, wools, silks and cashmere), you’ll never be out of style.
 
On May 8, Kressley will appear again on QVC. His Perfect collection is available at QVC.com.
 

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