Grace On and Off the Runway

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Being that this week’s theme is “grace,” I conjured the three sister goddesses (Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia) to inspire my sleep-deprived brain. These lovely ladies of Greek mythology are known as the “givers” of beauty, charm, wisdom, and love. Sounds like a perfect wife for many of my single lesbian gal-pals.

To me, grace is a wonderful attribute, and having just re-launched my women’s collection (for Fall 2010), I have added “grace” as the perfect buzzword to describe my ideal female customer. In the fashion biz, designers tend to promote power, sex, youth, and wealth as the ideal facets of their “woman”. To me, it is important to speak to a woman’s dignity, compassion and graciousness alongside their desire to look amazing in what they wear.

This past February, I staged a fashion show that re-introduced my “JB” woman alongside the “JB” man. I was excited to work with women again and endeavored to follow my heart and intuition and design for my fantasy customer, namely the lesbian woman. I have had many fierce women come into my shop in the West Village and ask why I didn’t make the clothes I made for men in their sizes. So I listened to them and sent out a collection of menswear inspired fall clothing (sans ruffles, beading, lace and all that cliché girly stuff) and presented it on a variety of gorgeous women (young and not so young, straight and gay, slim and curvy). You see, having followed the women’s fashion world for so long, and having designed for women throughout the late 90’s, I wanted to present women of diverse ages and diverse body shapes. When you put a garment on a 5’11 Amazon, of course it is going to look amazing. But when you put it on a woman with real curves and maturity to boot, you get an entirely different sensation.

I bring this up because one of the women who “graced” my runway is a very talented photographer and all-around stunning woman named Gigi Stoll. Gigi has modeled for much of her adult life but has made her name with her incredible work as a photographer (please check out her work at GigiStoll.com). To me, she embodies the grace that I would like to have associated with my foray back into women’s design. Not only does she look absolutely stunning, she also glows from the inside out.

And not only is Gigi graceful and gracious, she has the grace that I admire in anyone, male, female, or transgender. When Gigi is not working on the set photographing celebrities or traveling to shoot exotic destinations, she is doing God’s work here on earth; she is a Sage volunteer who serves as a “friendly visitor” to an elderly GBLQT New Yorker. I had actually seen her at a Sage meeting for friendly visitor volunteers and remember that I could not stop looking at her. So this posting goes out to Gigi, whose grace and gorgeousness sets the standard for all of us.

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