By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Knowing that Gary and Liz cut their own patterns and worry themselves sick over every sample, I ask Gary what he would do if Kal Ruttenstein ordered 500 caterpillar-robot coats.
"Kal who?" The fashion director of Bloomingdale's. "Yeah, I'd make 'em. I don't think they'd sell, though." Liz says she did once make 500 sweatersnot all the same onefor Barneys. "We cranked them outsix knitters in the Providence studio I used to have. When it was over they all quit."
"But you know," Gary admits reluctantly, "factory doesn't have to mean bad. And it has to be in my future. I cannot sit down with an investor and say, 'I'm going to make everything by hand for the rest of my life.' " Though they're leery of growing too big too quickly, Gary surprises me by admitting that he harbors an affection for H&M, whose trendy disposable clothes are about as far from Gary's road warrior-angel confections as you can get. "It would be very interesting to do something for them. I wouldn't do it under my name or label, but 60-40 I would do it." For Liz, mass-market aspirations revolve around home goods: "Target, Pottery Barn, IKEA. I'd like to do window treatments."
So, when you're running a business on a shoestring, why dump a ton of dough on a fashion show, an event that Gary calls "an absurd Fellini extravaganza"? "My stuff on a rack can look like dirty laundry," he says. "When you put it on a model it makes more sense. Besides, it's important to have your fantasy. Fashion is fast! It's live! So many people are involved and you want them in the audience. It's a fun celebration!" Liz nods. "If you don't have a show you miss the adrenaline rush of seeing your work as a group; the whole story up there all at once."
"It's our artistic medium," Gary says, forgetting for the moment all about stuff like 8-percent-10. "It's a celebration and it's about rejoicing and it's so beautiful."