Front Row () -
Front Row () —
c.2012 New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — "You can sit down, you know," Veronica Webb told a model who was waiting to be photographed in a cardigan and T-shirt that Webb had designed. The outfit was part of her first fashion collection, which goes on sale today as an exclusive to the social shopping site OpenSky.
Models are trained not to sit down on the job. Between shots, the clothes could become wrinkled. Webb learned this the hard way as a young model, backstage at a Claude Montana show in Paris, when she was waiting and waiting for the show to begin and figured she would just sit down on the ground. Montana evidently did not appreciate this, as he berated her in front of everyone, Webb recalled, "and I was just this girl, crying."
Now she's the designer, and the model can sit down. Webb's approach to fashion is very down to earth. For her first collection, she wanted to make clothes that were stylish but easygoing, accessible to a broad range of women and, as she put it, "could make any woman feel beautiful."
''This was really inspired by growing up with a mother who made all of our clothes," Webb said. "We have such a size range in my family, from my mother who is super petite, to my sister who can be anything from a 12 to an 'X' size, to me, who is so tall."
For the last two years, Webb has been among a coterie of tastemakers who act as product advisers on OpenSky, recommending items in their personal "shops." Webb says things like, "Nothing should make it into your closet unless it's a star."
Still, she recognized a need for what she describes as "extravagant essential basics," and so, working with her professional and personal partner, Chris Del Gatto, Webb started the collection with Majestic Mills, a Canadian manufacturer that also owns the Royalton label.
The designs are named after the children in their blended family. There's the Molly top, a long-sleeve slouchy T-shirt with a draped back ($38); the Leila blouse, light and flowy with loose sleeves ($95); the Aly tunic, in a fun abstract floral print ($135), and the Len T-shirt, a simple V-neck style in white ($35). There is also a cardigan called the "P.A." because, like a personal assistant, Webb said, "it's got you covered" ($75). The first designs are called Royalton by Veronica Webb for OpenSky.
Two decades in the business will teach you a lot about fashion, and Webb knows her lines. She spent years working with Karl Lagerfeld, Isaac Mizrahi, Azzedine Alaia and Sophie Theallet, paying close attention during hours of fittings.
''You know how they say on Seventh Avenue that the money's in the shoulders?" she asked, holding up the Len. "This one has some ease designed into it so that it gives you a shape, without hugging you too tight."
Webb said her goal was to create "something that I could show to Isaac and Azzedine and Sophie and they would be proud of me." But when she told them her plans, Alaia said, "Call me when it's done."
Funny, Theallet said the exact same thing.
A less confident person might have wondered if they were dismissing her. Webb figured they must think she knew what she was doing.
''One of the things Azzedine always says is that no designer should ask another designer for an idea or how to solve a problem," she said. "That's just not done."