Robert Rodriguez visited Chicago last Thursday for an event at the beautiful new CUSP by Neiman Marcus in the store on Michigan Avenue. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the designer. I already own quite a few of his pieces, and appreciate his sleek modern styling. I learned after meeting him, if I were ever reincarnated as a designer, I just might come back as Robert Rodriguez! I totally identified with his taste and design aesthetic. When I asked him a question it was as if I was hearing my own voice answering back!
SCS: I am a huge fan of your designs because they are very modern, sleek and architectural.
RR: I studied to be an architect, but then I realized it wasn’t right for me.
SCS: I heard that you were influenced by a book on Dior … who I die over, too.
RR: Yes, my mother gave me the book. She owned a women’s clothing business, so I was brought up around fashion.
SCS: How is it that you know what a woman really wants to wear, and how to put it together?
RR: Well there was my mother in the business and then I have 2 older sisters, so I also saw how they put things together.
SCS: I have many of your pieces and they really are pretty timeless.
RR: I like to update but I will always have a black top and a black pant in every collection.
SCS: Today you are here for the CUSP cocktail launch party… have you been with CUSP for some time?
RR: Yes, I have been in CUSP for 10 year and this is my 10th year as well!
SCS: I know you live in LA now. How does that influence your design?
RR: I really love the street style, not necessarily the celebrity style. A stylist can put pieces together for a celebrity but I really like to see what is on the street. I am still always in New York with the showroom and for fashion shows, but I was there for 25 years and now I like living in LA.
SCS: What age of women can wear your clothes?
RR: My customer has grown up, and my designs have grown up with her.
SCS: I know I will wear them…even when I’m 70!
RR: That will be fine! There is no age, she can be 21 or 60!
SCS: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
RR: “Stay focused.” My father was a builder and he said to do one thing – and do it right.
SCS: I personally like how you are focused on women’s fashion, but what can we expect to see next? Will you expand into other areas?
RR: I’d like to add some categories: leather goods, handbags and shoes. Right now I have been building a foundation and the rest will all connect.
SCS: Is that a building pun … from your father?
RR: (Laughs) Yes! And I never look back and always look forward. Fashion changes, silhouettes change, women change and I want to always stay current and true to my customer.
SCS: Do you have a team of designers?
RR: Yes, but I am I’m still very hands-on and still do sketches.
SCS: Do you drive them crazy?
RR: Yes, I am very meticulous. I love a good fit and good construction.
SCS: I notice you use color in a bold way….
RR: (laughs) I really love BLACK! Black and white … and a pop of color.
SCS: I always wonder if it is the fabrics that are available that dictate color trends from designers. How does it all work out that they all use the same colors each season?
RR: Well there is the trend forecasting, but I don’t follow that. I pick my own colors and follow my gut telling me what to do. I like do the opposite of what I did for the last season. This spring for my 10th year I am revamping everything, even the logo is new. My show was like a futuristic space ship. The look is African tribal, she is a strong futuristic warrior! It’s all neutrals, black and white and powder blue, there’s marble print, baby cheetah and baby zebra, a matte beading … it’s all very clean and muted.
SCS: I can’t wait until I can buy it!
– Carol Calacci
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