The Fashion Folk S01 ep13 : David Rodriguez, Rodriguez Fashion, [New York]
Interview with David Rodriguez
I joined Richard [Tyler] before he stated consulting with Anne Klein - so it was in the early days. He really started in a tiny little store in Los Angeles doing custom clothes and before that he was doing clothes for rock stars, like Rod Stewart, Ossie Osborn - his background was very theatrical and there is nothing more theatrical than Rock.
KM: What is David Rodriguez
In reality really it is beautiful, wearable clothes. We don't make overtly sexy
clothes, but I like to think of them as very sensual because of the fabrics and
the way they are shaped to the body and I think that’s the main ingredient,
what we try to keep going. It has become our signature.
KM: Where were you from?
Indio California which is one of those little desert towns out in Southern
California, you know where it is a one gas station town and I grew up with
horses, cows, chickens and pigs. As a pre teen, I had the fortune to grow up
with a very stylish and beautiful mother and my mom and grandmother used to
make a lot of things for themselves too and it was great because they would
translate what was happening and I would sit there and watch my grandmother
sew and cut.
KM: What was your fascination about it?
You know there is no single moment in my life that I had this epiphany and
said "Oh my God that's it". I was the only guy in the sewing class at high
school and by eighth grade.
KM: That must have been a pisser, especially in those days.
Yeah I know but you know if this is what I have to do, if this is what I have to
go through to do what I want then that was it.
KM: Did your mother and grandmother encourage you?
Well initially they thought, isn't that a job for women? If I had said I wanted to
be a hair stylist...
KM: That is the problem with Latino too, you realise...
Yeah there is this whole gender role thing. And my dad being one of those
macho Mexican Catholic men in the world - it was like, hey I don't know. But
the first time I made a dress for my mum that was it.
I went to school in Los Angeles and studied at the Fashion Institute of design
and Merchandising and I applied there before I had graduated High School. I
wanted to start the ball rolling and I did research and looked in magazines for
schools and I decided to work for someone and then that is when I applied to
work for Richard Tyler -a fellow Australian
KM: Oh yes!!
I joined Richard before he stated consulting with Anne Klein - so it was in the
early days. He really started in a tiny little store in Los Angeles doing custom
clothes and before that he was doing clothes for rock stars, like Rod Stewart,
Ozzie Osbourne - his background was very theatrical and there is nothing
more theatrical than Rock.
KM: How long were you with Richard?
For three years
KM: What did you learn from Richard?
How to cut. Now that is a man who knows how to shape a cloth and it is really
incredible. He has such a great gift. You know some people have intuitive
feelings about whatever, but his is about fabric, and what it will do and how it
will behave. It is interesting to watch him work because he is like a mad
scientist, his hair is flying and he was going at it. It was so inspirational to see
that. He was the type of person that would start from the beginning, the
pattern, the fabric cutting it, they would do the muslin, they would shape it, he
would do the fittings, he knew exactly what needed to happen to make it look
the way he wanted it. It wasn't a question of this is my concept and this is the
end result I want, make it happen.
KM: What did you really pick up that was so important for you to pick up at that
The confidence to really cut - to take a fabric and not be timid about it. So what
if it is $150 a yard and only 30 inches wide its fabric, it is meant to be used, it
is meant to be manipulated.
At the end of the day you have to decide whether you are going to be an artist
or you are going to be somebody who makes a product and that is the big
definition of how are you going....
KM: Really you don't see yourself as a bit of both?
I think you have to balance it. We are in a business you know, we have
absolutely no illusion that we are creating art. This is a product that will go into
the market place and hopefully bring a smile to somebody's face and that is
why they are going to buy it. I mean the end result is actually an emotional
response, that art also provides, but to get to that point it is actually a very
commercial logistical trap.
KM: So you hit New York, what happened then?
I started working for Chanel in the ready to wear division. Working for Chanel
in that division was really learning the market. Meeting the buyers
KM: So you were actually being a strategist at this point?
KM: You realise that you're ... the puppy dog latches.
Fashion is WAR!
We started off in our living room in our apartment and if you know anything
about New York City Apartment, which must be like any urban city, you know
KM: As big as a show box.
Yeah, I mean a cutting table, a sewing machine and a dress form, you know
when we first sold a $1 million in a year I thought "Oh my God this is it!" We
made it....This is great and you know we have been very fortunate, we have
always broken even and gosh after our first year we were already profitable.
We have customers from you know, Russians, Chinese, Indian, English,
French, German, everywhere.
KM: Do you find them different.
They are different but not based on nationality.
KM: What about..Have you had some disappointments in the fitting room?
Oh sure, it is - there a people who are just very difficult fits, no one has a
perfect body, that is a fantasy.
If you decided that you want to alter your body that is up to you, I would never
take the responsibility of suggesting to somebody they should do something.
You know your body is your body and you only have one.
KM: That is your personality.
Yeah - it is a completely different thing. What you want to put on your body
that I can tell you because it is clothing.
KM: What is the art of making a woman beautiful? Are you trying to create a
certain vision that is consistent or are you trying to find that beauty spot?
You have to find that B spot because each one is different. If you want to
highlight a woman's bust, for one customer that is great she loves that…
KM: She wants them to check it out.
Right but then there is a woman who absolutely will never you know, but it is
more about her leg, you know the slit can be cut all the way up to Nebraska
and that is fine. So you know it is really about you trying to work with the
customer, talk to them and sort of figure out what it is about them that is going
to be your focus.
It is completely personal and it is a very emotional reaction you know, when
you see a customer and her face lights up, that’s the best,
how can you beat that, that is the whole point.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: David Rodriguez, Rodrigeuz Fashion, New York