Creative Director - Perry Ellis
What did you want to become when you were a child?
I didn’t really know what I’d become, but I always loved to draw and I drew and drew and drew….then I painted and took photos and wrote. My realistic side wouldn’t let me major in Art in college and I was good at Math so I became a Math major. I probably should have pursued architecture, as it seems like it could have been a likely choice. I can see now how clearly everything you gravitate towards shapes you into who you become as an adult.
How did your friends/family react when you told them you wanted to enter the world of Fashion?
Not kindly at first-I think my family thought I was nuts to quit the workforce and go back to school at F.I.T. Don’t think they knew where it was coming from, but they really should have. As a kid I’d accompany my grandfather to get his suits made and I have such vivid memories of this. Additionally, I’d spend hours in fabric stores with my Mom and Aunt, mostly playing in the rolls and rolls of fabric with my cousins, but I clearly absorbed quite a lot from these experiences. Let’s say I also had opinions about what I liked at a very young age and needed an outlet to express these opinions.
What is the role of a Creative Director?
To set the creative tone of the company. It’s a multi-faceted role that involves working with every department in the organization. With Marketing and advertising, it’s about the external presentation of a vision and becoming the face of the brand. Internally, and most importantly it is to set design direction and create product-both compelling and commercial. I work on every aspect of design from concept, working with my team on fabric, silhouette, styling, fittings, sales and merchandising and presentation of the collection seasonally.
What is your vision as the Creative Director of Perry Ellis?
My goal is to get inside the head of Perry Ellis, the man, and to execute his vision in modern times. I absorb everything I can about the history of the brand.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
Reinvigorating and cultivating new design talent- getting associates on the same track toward a common goal, and of course the Spring 15 runway show!
What aspects of your job do you like best/least?
The collaboration with every department and working with great talented industry individuals……working with my team at the beginning of each season, where it is all still a dream. This part of the process is purely creative and the energy is great. I also love fittings and fabric selection-they remind me of being in school. The research trips are incredibly inspiring…..It’s all good-I am very lucky to enjoy what I do!
What makes you happy?
Seeing people wear the clothes makes me very happy. It’s the ultimate critical approval. Outside of that, seeing art, cooking with friends, Shelter Island…..oh! and shopping!
What inspires you?
Everything and anything inspires me. Art, architecture, photography, people on the street, the shoulder on a jacket, the fit of a trouser, a tee shirt, books, travel, my team, friends, and vintage Perry!
Which living person do you admire most?
There are many in all walks of life: designers, actors, writers, artists…..and for many reasons. Giorgio Armani as a hero, Mark Ruffalo as a survivor, Pharell for his style, Gwenyth Paltrow because she’s polarizing, Madonna because she’s Madonna! People who are selfless and exist for the greater good are the most admirable. Those who battle disease and put others before themselves are gods.
What is your favorite song at the moment, and of all time?
UGH too many! I have extremely varied musical taste from disco to classical, to pop, to R&B, to rock. Lately I’ve been listening to Sam Smith, latest Coldplay, old Cerrone……My go-to’s are Madonna, Amy Winehouse, Antony and the Johnsons, Brandon Flowers, Snow Patrol, Morrissey, Kanye. I’m going to see Culture Club soon-how strange is that! Favorite album of all time would have to be Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water”.
What are some of your favourite movies?
Eyes of Laura Mars, Bridesmaids, The Godfather, The Talented Mr Ripley, Midnight Cowboy, Midnight Express
What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Food (and drink) and SHOPPING!
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Calm, complicated, committed and passionate…. Yes I know that’s four words.
What is your motto?
Nothing is ever perfect, and this is what motivates us forward as we appreciate the imperfections.
What traits make a great Director?
A great director is open to newness from wherever it comes, listening and processing information and experimenting- exploring options. However, this is always done with a clear opinion and with true conviction.
Any advice for those wanting to enter the world of fashion?
You need to have a feeling for it-an intuitive nature and a need to be part of this world. This cannot be learned. The feeling never turns off -anything and everything can be inspiring wherever and whenever……
It is a major commitment and it’s a very subjective industry (not for he thin-skinned) that is based on creativity yet judged on objectivity. Numbers ultimately make or break success.
There are many issues in our complicated world and therefore many other career choices. The environment, disease and medicine, urban development, just to name a few…..
Explore what makes you happy and what gives you passion. Go after something that is slightly out of reach but is something you cannot live without. Be happy in your choices and do them for the right reasons.
Any last words?
I am very grateful to have found the career that makes me happy and feel satisfied. Work and life are one and in this industry, it is nearly impossible to separate. Design is all around us and we are constantly evaluating our environment.