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Fashion Backstage Pass

Aired February 16, 2013 - 14:30   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Welcome to a very special edition of "Fashion Backstage Pass." I'm Alina Cho at Lincoln Center, the home and heart of New York Fashion Week. We're taking you inside the tents for an exclusive look at the fall, 2013, collections.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: We have more fashion houses than Paris. We are the fashion capital of the world.


CHO: During Fashion Week, the world has its eyes on the Big Apple, Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera. Most of the shows stayed on schedule, but after the blizzard Mark Jacobs postponed his show, citing delivery delays.

You may think Fashion Week is all glitz and glamour, but if you work in fashion, it can be grueling -- long hours, little to eat, no sleep. And remember, New York is just the beginning. After this, there are back-to-back Fashion Weeks in London, Milan, Paris, twice a year. Just how busy does it get? We followed three top people in the business to find out.


CHO: Top model Lu Wen, "Paper:" magazine editor Mickey Boardman, Linda Fargo, our cameras simultaneously followed them on New York Fashion Week's first big day.

At 9:00 a.m., Fargo is at the office.

LINDA FARGO, DESIGNER: Let's also go through our schedule. We're up to 70 appointments this week and shows. It's getting kind of crazy.


CHO: At 9:30, Mickey Boardman is at his office downtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you going to see today?

BOARDMAN: Kate Spade, Jason Wu.

CHO: He's off to the shows. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, hello. Hello.

BOARDMAN: Are you coming to the party tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think so theoretically.

CHO: Noon already. Model Lu Wen is backstage at Jason Wu's show.

LU WEN, MODEL: Sometime you know you get tired. Just eat a little bit of chocolate. Make you happy.

CHO: We're back with Boardman.

BOARDMAN: Even if you're invited and in the front row, it's a lot of pushing, shoving, standing, sitting, get up.

CHO: Fargo is still en route planning her schedule for Europe. When she arrives --

What are your tips for surviving the week and the month?

FARGO: I think there's a little bit of just say no. No thank you. People call this Fashion Week, and you have to remember it's really fashion month. We go to London and then Milan and then Paris.

CHO: In New York alone there are more than 300 shows over the course of eight days, one of the biggest media events in the city, bringing in some $200 million to the local economy, hotels, cabs, parties, a lot of running around.

At 1:00 p.m., Lu Wen is on the catwalk. Barred man and Fargo are there. At 3:00 p.m., another show with Fargo who is looking for inspiration for her store and for the windows. Off to another appointment.

FARGO: The other thing is always to find your car when they all look the same.

CHO: At 5:00 p.m., the rag and bones show, look who's here.

BOARDMAN: Trying to lose you all day.

CHO: At 6:00 p.m., in the car with Lu Wen.

WEN: So great. So tired.

CHO: At 7:00 p.m., fitting with Diane von Furstenberg.

FARGO: It's kind of nice. OK. Let me guess, 7:45.

CHO: We end the day with Fargo at an event celebrating new designers, 11 hours later.

FARGO: That's not so bad.


CHO: It's hard work, but a lot of fun.

The annual Met gala in New York is often called the party of the year, the Oscars of fashion. Last year, when actress Lena Dunham need a gown for that event, the 26-year-old force behind the hit show "Girls" turned to a rising star. Dunham chose this Malachi Green duchess satin gown by Wes Gordon. Hearing this, we had to know more. Who is Wes Gordon and why is he a designer to watch?


CHO: At 26, designer Wes Gordon may look like a kid, but he designs like a master.

WES GORDON, DESIGNER: We have crazy fabric combinations.

CHO: This former intern fell in love with design as a child, launching his label in 2009 straight out of college.

GORDON: Being a young designer you don't know all the wrong ways to do things. So you come into it with a lot of fresh ideas. I'm in love with this fabric.

CHO: Rich colors, fabrics, done in a modern way.

Who is the Wes Gordon girl?

GORDON: A Wes Gordon girl? I think she appreciates special. She's a little bit crazy and daring.

CHO: Like Lena Dunham. Gordon has also dressed Katy Perry, January Jones, and first lady Michelle Obama.

GORDON: That was incredibly exciting. That was amazing.

CHO: For his latest collection a huge crowd, and his name in lights.

GORDON: It's such a whirlwind this hour goes by faster than any hour in my life.

CHO: Turn around and take a look and tell me what you think.

GORDON: I want to go change that scarf.

CHO: For more on Wes Gordon, read my article in the spring issue of "Time, Style, and Design."


CHO: Coming up, here's someone who not too long ago was a newcomer himself. Now Alexander Wang has a fashion empire worth $80 million. He's just been named the new designer of Balenciaga, shuttling back and forth between Paris and New York to design two collections simultaneously. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: Are you practicing your French?

ALEXANDER WANG DESIGNER: I am practicing my French. I have my Rosetta Stone installed and ready to go.

CHO: We're backstage with Alexander Wang, the hottest ticket in New York and Paris. Then supermodel Naomi Campbell, the face, the body the diva reputation -- how she's changing her image through a new reality TV show.


NAOMI CAMPBELL, SUPERMODEL: Britney, she's a great girl and pulled at our heart strings. We all felt for her.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see you try to steal this purse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just looking at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really? That's funny because I was looking at you trying to steal the purse.


CHO: The character from Mad TV and Alexander Wang's latest ads is just one example of how this designer isn't afraid to take chances and be irreverent. Wang is very busy these days, designing his namesake collection in New York and for the first time ever Balenciaga in Paris.

So how does this 29-year-old fashion phenom get it all done? We went backstage with him to find out.


CHO: Baby-faced and adorable, Alexander Wang is something of a phenom. The creative force behind his own brand, and the new creative director of European fashion house Balenciaga, a coveted job when he landed it sent shock waves through the industry.

WANG: I was, you know, of course, very surprised and excited and --

CHO: You're 29.

WANG: You know, if I'm not digging now, I'm not going to do it at any other point.

CHO: Is he ready to take on the house of Balenciaga?

LAURENT CLAQUIN, PRESIDENT, PPR AMERICAS: Of course, of course. Most importantly he has a very strong vision, a global vision.

WANG: Wang started his label at age 20 with the deaf creating a modern dressed down uniform. He even coined the phrase to describe it "Model off duty."

CHO: Who is the Alex Wang girl?

WANG: You know, it's always this idea of elevating the everyday.

CHO: Wang's business is now worth an estimated $80 million with 15 stores worldwide and a new collaboration with Samsung. Diane von Furstenberg was an early mentor.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, DESIGNER: I think he's definitely talented but many people are talented. He has a clarity.

CHO: You basically came out of the womb wanting to be a fashion designer, didn't you?

WANG: I mean, not right out of the womb.

CHO: Well, close.

WANG: Since I was four. Yes. I held "Vogue" magazine at the time. I said that's not for the little boy to read. He said mom, that's going to be my future business.

CHO: Part of his appeal is that will Wang doesn't take it all so seriously. Just look at his new ad featuring Bon Kweekwee, one of his favorite characters from mad TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get me the right size, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to go in the basement. I'm going to get lost. No, girl, this is going to work.

WANG: When I choose to do something it's because that the moment something inspires me.

CHO: From a grand stained point, is that part of connecting with your girl too?

WANG: It is because I think to a certain extent, why can't it? .

CHO: On the runway in New York, Wang put on a show rivaling the collections in Paris, clothes that is fashion insiders say could hint at what's to come at Balenciaga.

You've been doing a lot of shutting between New York and Paris.

WANG: Yes.

CHO: Are you practicing your French?

WANG: I am practicing my French. I have my Rosetta Stone installed and you know, ready to go.

CHO: To all the critics who say he's too young and too commercial for an old fashioned house like Balenciaga.

WANG: Opposition pushes me and it challenges me and, you know, hopefully they enjoy the collection.


CHO: Fashion shows aren't just about the clothes. Hair and makeup are also critical. Part of the designer's overall vision. It's about a head to toe look where the lipstick or the nails are just as important as the outfit.


GUCCI WESTMAN, REVLON GLOBAL ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: For the makeup I wanted to make them feel very pretty. So their skin just has a primer. Lashes are really big, 60s, but then the socket line which is traditionally '60s, I started a little bit further, closer to the middle of the eye and extended further. It's cool. I think it looks like a rag and bone girl.

GUIDO PALAU, REDKEN CREATIVE CONSULTANT: So is it very low side part and swept over the forehead so it gives you a kind of boyish feeling. And then it's caught in a ponytail and then spraying some product into it, and then just putting it into a messy knot. So the overall feeling is very easy, very do-it-yourself.

CHO: What can hair and makeup do to enhance the look of the clothes?

DAVID NEVILLE, MANAGING PARTNER, "RAG AND BONE": Well, I mean, it's a sort of playing off the clothes really. I mean we concentrate a lot on who our rag and bone girl is and she's cool and she's got the downtown edge to her. So sometimes when the clothes can get a little more dressed up, sometimes it's a good way to make it a little more punky. You can't not do hair and makeup. It slows an element of fantasy and it's about an element of dreaming and Bushing your idea of what your girl could be and you can't just do it with the clothes.


CHO: He helped make Coach a must have brand. He also has his own line. Reed Krakoff went from fashion famous to world famous when he dressed Michelle Obama at the inauguration. Find out how he's inspired when I give you an exclusive peek inside his laboratory, an 18,000 square foot square home.

Plus, discovered at 14, she's the original super model, Naomi Campbell as you've never seen her before, one-on-one, showing a softer side.


CHO: What does style mean to you?

TORY BURCH, DESIGNER: I think it's being comfortable in who you are and really learning what looks well on you and then taking it a step further and try trying new things.

DREW BARRYMORE, ACTRESS: Having like the courage to know that life is a beautiful short ride and you have to experiment and play. And it doesn't matter what everybody things if it makes you happy, you'll look your best.

HILLARY SWANK, ACTRESS: It's an extension of your personality. And that's why I admire and appreciate people's style.



JASON WU, DESIGNER: Style means you can take something and make it your own.

SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS: I think when I look at somebody and I am sort of arrested by them, it's because I think that what I'm seeing is that they seem to feel really good about the way that they look. What stops me most and makes me really look at something and kind of admire that in somebody is the way they feel about themselves.


CHO: Welcome back to "Fashion Backstage Pass." I'm Alina Cho.

Coming up, he's the man who made Coach cool again, building it from a $500 million brand to a $14 billion behemoth, Reed Krakoff. Three years ago he started his own label. It was one of fashion's best kept secrets. Now Krakoff is blowing up after he dressed first lady Michelle Obama at the inauguration. How is he inspired? Krakoff says for him, design begins at home.


CHO: He's the man with the golden touch and two full-time jobs. Reed Krakoff, president of iconic American brand Coach, creative director of his own label, a man who likes to say he, would not in fashion but design.

REED KRAKOFF DESIGNER: I think of myself more as a brand architect.

CHO: Do you spend a lot of time in here?


CHO: Take a look around his stunning Manhattan townhouse and it's easy to see why. There is an endless staircase.

Like the Gugenheim, isn't it?

KRAKOFF: A little bit.

CHO: Museum quality art like this kald erl mobile.

KRAKOFF: I love the idea that he had his own world.

CHO: Furniture.

How many people can you fit on that couch?


CHO: And fixtures.

It's very special.

Including this turn of the century Tiffany lamp that serves as the centerpiece of Krakoff's favorite room, a glossy, gray-walled library that doubles as a ding room. For Krakoff and his interior designer wife Delphine, designing is intensely personal.

KRAKOFF: It's a pleasure, and it's kind of a gift to be able to do it.

CHO: Undeniably spectacular, the home is also a laboratory of sorts. The designer takes inspiration from here and uses it here, and maybe even here.

KRAKOFF: It's less about a color or about a shape. It's more about how to bring things together and tell a story, whether it's art or design, photography, it create he's dialogue. I think more that dialogue than relationship is what I bring to fashion.

CHO: Colors in a painting can end up in a shoe or a bag. Stainless steel chairs in his home also seen here in his jewelry. But what about Krakoff's blue cardigan sweater and dress first lady Michelle Obama wore to the inauguration?

A lot was made about how the blue matched the drapes in the room.


CHO: Was that something you were thinking about?

KRAKOFF: No, I can honestly say it wasn't. It was sort of a happy accident.

CHO: One that has catapulted Reed Krakoff's name and his 3-year- old label from fashion famous to world famous at a time when his other company, 72-year-old Coach, a $14 billion brand, is undergoing a global renovation.

That means shoes?


CHO: More clothes.

KRAKOFF: More clothes, jewelry, eye wear, watches.

CHO: Going beyond the duffel sack into a lifestyle brand. Krakoff jokes he's best suited to do one job but has shown he can succeed at two.


CHO: Michelle Obama shined a spotlight on another designer at the inauguration, Tom Brown. Best known for designing shrunken suits for men, he's now on the map with women's wear, staging his first ever runway show, which is less a show and more performance art.


TOM BROWN, DESIGNER: I do love the performance behind my shows, and I like people to leave with an experience. And my shows specifically I do want people to really have an emotional reaction to it.

CHO: Is that -- why? Is it about the dream?

BROWN: It's so about the dream. The shows are about the dream.


CHO: Coming up, designers Michael kors and Diane von Furstenberg. Plus, super model Naomi Campbell. She's at the top of her game after battling a series of scandals. How Naomi is rediscovering herself.



KENNETH COLE, DESIGNER: Style is an individual's interpretation of fashion.

CAROLINA HERRERA, DESIGNER: It's not only what the person is wearing. It's the way she wears it, and it's the way she projects herself in a different way than other people. Individuality and originality and your own style is the most important.

MICHAEL KORS, DESIGNER: Really understanding yourself and what looks well on you. So know your body, know your lifestyle. And at the end of the day, express yourself. That's what it's all about.

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, DESIGNER: My definition of style is to be comfortable with yourself.


CHO: One woman who certainly is comfortable with herself is Naomi Campbell. Instantly recognizable, notorious for being a diva, now she's the star of a new reality TV show called "The Face." We go one-on-one with the one, the only Naomi Campbell.


CHO: Naomi Campbell puts the "super" in supermodel, her legendary career, her face, that body, the diva reputation. Through it all, Campbell manages to make virtually every appearance look like a catwalk.

CAMPBELL: I've had a very colorful life, I could say.

CHO: A professional life that started at age five as an extra in this Bob Marley video. Discovered as a face at age 14, she soon started modeling and in short order, landed a series of firsts. First black model on the cover of "Time," French "Vogue," British "Vogue," and most recently seen here on the cover of Italian "Vogue."

We've also, of course, built a reputation for sometimes being a little difficult to work with.

CAMPBELL: My lateness was terrible. And I'll admit to that, but I get there and I get the job done. So I never believed in giving an excuse.

CHO: No excuses, no regrets.

Does it upset you that people still bring up --

CAMPBELL: Not at all.

CHO: The cell phone?

CAMPBELL: Not at all. I do feel I've grown from it, but it doesn't upset me.

CHO: So much so, after 26 years in the modeling business, fabulous at 42, Campbell is now taking on another role. Star and executive producer of a new reality TV show.

CAMPBELL: I don't want any fights amongst you.

CHO: Part America's "Top Model," part "The Voice," "The Face" debuting on the Oxygen Network pits Campbell's team of aspiring models against two other teams coached by super models Carolina Kerkovo and Coco Rosha. The winner wins a national beauty contract. Like any good reality show, there is drama.

CAMPBELL: I wanted this to be authentic. So that meant picking up the phone and asking for these favors.

CHO: From people like?

CAMPBELL: Patrick Demarchelier.

CHO: Editor-in-chief of "W" magazine. How is it that we get older and she stays the same?

STEFANO TONCHI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "W" MAGAZINE: Well, she has the right genes, I would say.

ZAC POSEN, DESIGNER: Naomi moves better than any woman I have ever seen in clothing. When I am in a really big rut, I will call her and she'll come to my studio on a weekend and put on the clothing and make them come to life. She feels the clothing. She becomes it.

CHO: Some say "The Face" shows the Naomi her friends know.

How does the new Naomi differ from the older one?

STEPHANIE SEYMOUR, SUPERMODEL: I loved the young wild Naomi. I love name Naomi because I know her heart and soul.

CHO: In an industry that's fickle, Campbell is both a supermodel and a survivor.


CHO: For more on my interview with Naomi Campbell, head to the living section on where you can also get more on faction backstage pass.

We close the show as always with my top picks from New York Fashion Week.

This ostrich feather dress from Jason Wu, this printed pony coat from Proenza Schouler, and check out this techno-stretch sweater and skirt from Victoria Beckham. Then this black leather turtleneck belted pants with black and white fox mittens. And I'll end my five looks from New York Fashion Week with this hand cut red silk lace blouse from Tom Brown, because what is fashion if not a dream?

We're so glad you were with us for this special edition of "Fashion Backstage Pass." For more on my fashion specials, follow me on Twitter @AlincaChoCNN or go to my Facebook page.