|Todd Thomas fashion vision is a
metaphor for the post-war American esthetic landscape. His clothes evoke a time that
exists somewhere in the Eisenhower era, when the country was prosperous, growing, and
thrown in is a dash of John Waters irony (particularly
as seen in Serial Mom, Hairspray, and Cry Baby)--a sense that
his retro designs arent meant to be taken entirely seriously. Todd remains true to
form with his spring collection, which reminds me of Midwestern country club chic, but switched-on.
His clothes hint at an undercurrent of sex under the crinoline dresses and elaborately
constructed bras and undergarments.
American designers are Todds major influences. The classic simple line, beautiful construction, attention to detail and fine workmanship all add up to a collection that has something for everyone. If youre long and lean, there are slinky, formfitting day and evening dresses, lovely wrap skirts with a sort of sarong feeling, and for the less lean and long, the delightful and also sexy cocktail skirts, sundresses with just a little shirring at the waist, and skirts for day with pleat fronts.
Todds studio is in Chelsea.
And what came next, was, to say the least, a breath of fresh air.
|FF: You first caught my eye in an
article in New York Magazine in 1993. And I just thought that your stuff was really
different, and I never forgot it. I held on to the clipping--and I called you, in fact, at
one point because I was interested in buying one of your dresses. And you told me to come
down. This was when you were on 42nd Street. And I loved that particular collection. Was
that your first collection?
TODD THOMAS: Uh huh. Id say so, yeah.
FF: Can you describe to me what the concept behind the first collection was?
TODD THOMAS: It was, I think, at that time, a reaction to what had been happening, which was like status and power and glamour. So it was kind of, you know, on the other side of that; a little more utilitarian and basic, with still an edge to it. And now what Im doing is the complete opposite in a way. Its a reaction to that being the trend, and kind of returning to a more individual type of look.
FF: But there is a commonality, in a sense, because they all are evocative in some way of a past time.
TODD THOMAS: Well, theres a subtext to everything that I do. Its just a personal thing. I dont think that its meant necessarily to be part of the consumed product. But there are a lot of stories that go into the design.
FF: Would you care to relate one?
TODD THOMAS: You know, theyre all very vague references against perceived notions of gender and class and I dont know what--appropriateness and stuff like that.
FF: So you try to include in a dress that one may wear during the day, even to an office, some little edge that makes it ...
TODD THOMAS: Uh huh. I mean its all kind of a hateful expensive inside joke. Really what it is. And I dont know that anybody gets it. And thats okay. Because then, on the other hand, its like a product to buy, so ...
FF: Right. But I think as a customer you do get it. I mean I think you definitely do.
TODD THOMAS: Its funny, though--the people that get it are not as many as the people that dont.
FF: And why do you think some people dont get it? Because if they see it on a hangar they cant necessarily visualize themselves wearing it?
TODD THOMAS: I dont know, because I think from a magazine editor or buyers standpoint its kind of--you know everythings reduced to numbers when those people are looking at it. And I think, for me, its more about a personal client kind of business.
FF: Have you felt at any time that because you sort of introduced the utilitarian look as a counter-reaction to all the glamour and the power in the late Eighties, did you find yourself being copied?
TODD THOMAS: Oh, I can only fantasize that Donna Karan did, but I dont think that anybody directly copied me, to my knowledge. I was a participant, I think, but I dont think I have the exposure or influence to instigate anything like that.
FF: But people watch you, watch what youre doing.
TODD THOMAS: Some, uh huh, yeah.