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"Fashion is Spinach" and
"It's Still Spinach" are
out of print.  Check your
library or online used

FF: I know you admire Geoffrey Beene and Steven Sprouse--who else do you admire?

TODD THOMAS: I really love designers from the Thirties; Elizabeth Hawes, more in her theory than in her practice. Really, really interesting woman who was a writer and wrote for PM New York and went off to form unions and was radical, totally radical. The one book that she wrote was Fashion is Spinach.  The next one was It’s Still Spinach.  And she’s really, really an interesting person. And I like her a lot. And I love Claire McCardell, Stephen Burrows. I have to say one person that really influenced me, I think primarily it was a timing issue too, was Norma Kamali, with her snap front sweatshirt shoulder pad things.

FF: I remember that very well.

TODD THOMAS: I mean that was like the first kind of real designer thing to hit a place where I was at that time. And you know--and I still kind of like the fact that she is doing it her own way. Even though I don’t like her styles so much any more, but you know ...

FF: And how would you say your spring collection--how is that a counter-reaction to what’s happening in the industry now?

TODD THOMAS: Well, I mean, you know, look at every show. Everything is a cargo pant and ...

FF: Right.

TODD THOMAS: ... you know I mean I work as a stylist so I encounter a lot of people’s clothes, too. And I don’t know, I think it’s horrifying; the couture is like--Donna Karan couture is an elastic waistband skirt with a pullover sweater. I think it’s hideous. I don’t know. So I think that I did go my own way and it worked out for me. I mean I was able to make a point and it was fresh, and people reacted well because they didn’t see it all over the place.

Red, black and brown French print day dress
with bust dart detail

And I really tried to focus on things that I knew--that if you saw a picture, you would be able to say that you know it would be a signature thing for me, instead of trying to do like pants and tops and this and that. I just stuck with dresses that each had a personality.

FF: I loved what I saw.


FF: You just mentioned an elastic waist and sweater pulled over it. Your work--I mean despite the theme behind it, has much more detailing in it: in the sewing, in the construction and in the dress. I mean that also is part of what you’re trying to do.

Taffeta skirt with embroidered ribbon detail

TODD THOMAS: Yeah, yeah. The craftsmanship is a big part of it for me. But I think I’m going to incorporate a bit more of a sporty notion to couture for the fall things that I’m doing. The fall collection isn’t going to be quite so strong as the spring’s. It’s not going to be so over the top. Because I think it scared some people off in a way.

FF: So you felt some of the dressy things people weren’t sure how to wear? Like what I call the party skirts?

TODD THOMAS: Yeah kind of. You know people don’t really know where to wear them, but I don’t really get that. I don’t really look at clothes that way. You know on a personal basis I just feel like I wear whatever I want wherever, and I’m interested as a designer in how people interpret what’s to be worn where. So I don’t know. I mean I don’t think people have seen a lot of structure lately. But I don’t know, I love it. And as a person who’s growing older it’s great to have something that fits perfectly and makes your body look really good.

FF: The gray asymmetrical shoulder-draped bodice dress with the jacket. That was stunning.

Asymmetrical shoulder, draped bodice dress
and accompanying jacket, both of French knit viscose.

TODD THOMAS: Thanks. Thank you.

FF: Any particular inspiration on that? Would you say that’s more of a Forties look, or is it a Fifties look?

TODD THOMAS: The drape brings forward kind of Forties, yeah.

FF: How was that responded to?

TODD THOMAS: Really well. It was in the first vignette that opened the spring show so it was good and strong.

FF: Consumers being pragmatic to some degree, or else their job dictates them to be so, do you think that that is an outfit that certainly could be a day-to-evening, you know if you were going from a certain type of job...?

TODD THOMAS: See, I don’t know, because my sense of reality is so removed from what the real world is. I live downtown on Mulberry Street. There are, you know, gorgeous people in my neighborhood--they’re really young and skinny and they wear absolutely anything at any time. So I don’t know what you would wear--I mean you’d wear it over like you know some couscous and a cup of coffee at 11 o’clock in the morning... In the Midwest, you’d wear it to a Christmas party, or something really special. But I think there’s like an urbane-ness to my client. That’s part of it.