It is most fitting to kick off the European leg of Spring fashion weeks with one of the legends of the London collections and who still devotes himself to the art and craft of fashion. He has surrendered himself to his passion and continues to evolve within this world. He has survived the fashion wars, countless fads, trends and seen more and done much more than most. He has been the right hand of some of the greats of French fashion and he has surely earned his PhD in the fine art of fashion ... so to speak of course! (Including haute couture) He outshines many of those who came after him with unrivaled expertise and abilities.
How lucky we are to be afforded some time with one of the legendary designers of the latter 20th century. While his name many not be on the tip of your tongue you have no doubt met him via his body of work or possibly read his name in annals of fashion history. The man in question is Alistair Blair. Psst!! If you don’t know who he is then you surely can’t call yourself a fashion maven!
Anyone who is not familiar with Mr. Blair needs to educate themselves concerning what and who made fashion the business that it was in the second quarter of the 20th century. He was one of the young British set who included Bruce Oldfield, The Emanuels, Zandra Rhodes, Tomasz Starzewski and Victor Edelstein and a host of many others who put London on the map at that time. His resume reads like who’s who of fashion and includes Valentino, Lagerfeld, Balmain, Givenchy, Dior, he has dressed British royalty, he has dressed Hollywood royalty and he has dressed the catwalk queens of fashion. To say that he was the “it” boy of his time is an understatement.
Spend a few moments and experience the wit and joy of Alistair Blair!!
1-What is the most treasured possession in your wardrobe?
An Armani black silk velvet evening coat.
2-What is your most sterling trait and what trait do you treasure most in your friendships?
Loyalty to both
3-What is your bliss?
An unending pile of snow white paper, pens and pencils
4-What is your guilty secret?
It’s a secret….. If it’s something that no-one but I can share: I can box!
5-Where is your ideal home?
Johnny Depp’s Caribbean island.
6-If you could not be a designer/retailer/etc.: what would you be
A Shakespearean actor
7-What is on your bedside table right now?
Books/theatre tickets/little sketchbook, glass filled with pens & Reading glasses
8-What do you wear to bed?
9-What, if any, book are you reading now or last read?
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom/In Bed with Gore Vidal/Valley of the Dolls… I always have 4/5 on the go at the same time.
10-What’s your advice to the “newcomer?”
1. You must have self-belief and great passion.
2. Look, Listen and Learn. Inspiration is all around you.
3. There will never be another…/the next…/the new… Be original. It may not bring you great wealth, but you’ll be happy.
11-Who or what is your inspiration/style icon?
Both the Hepburns/Tina Chow. But I can be inspired just as easily by someone or something on the street
12-What is the best advice you ever received?
Upward & Onward.
13-In 3 words or less, describe the current state of fashion.
Misogynistic. Drowning. Elitist.
14-If you were a retailer, would you wear your own designs or shop in your own store ? or where would you shop?
Depends. If I was a menswear designer I certainly would at least in public. If not Dries Van Noten mixed with Armani
15-If you won a $200,000,000 power ball (lottery), what is the first thing you would buy or do?
1. Pay off friend’s debts/mortgages. J
(Then open up a small Couture house where as the designer I would hand pick my clientele.)
16-If you could invite up to 4 people for dinner, who would they be…dead or alive?
Fashion dinner: Beau Brummel/Coco Chanel/John Galliano/Diana Cooper
Serious Dinner: Elizabeth I/Modigliani/Ava Gardner/Charlie Chaplin
‘Evil’ Dinner: Chanel & Lagerfeld. Marie Antoinette & Joseph Guillotine. Elizabeth I & Casanova
One always feels one has to explain the choices as so many will criticize. Of course there are the Shakespeares, Byrons , Tom Stoppard, Callas & Ghandis of the world but they are, for me anyway, people I’d want to listen to not to have a conversation with.
I’m fascinated by my choices and would love to sit up all night chatting & dishing the dirt.
17-What is your favorite movie /or movie star?
The Lion in Winter
Katherine Hepburn. Cary Grant
18-What is the one thing you would change about yourself?
My lack of patience
19-Whose opinion do you value most and why?
Mine. I do listen to the advice of good friends then usually go off and do precisely the opposite.
That way I only have myself to blame when it all goes belly up!
20-What store or which designer do you most like to shop in or wear ?
See No.14 though I am now discovering vintage …
21-What’s your take on magazines, books versus the internet?
Books,newspapers every time. Internet is too generic -
22-Do you have a dream collaborator?
Past: I would love to have been with Chanel at the beginning.
Present: Cameron MacKintosh
23-What is your crowning achievement thus far in your career?
24-What’s your music library like?
Eclectic is the only polite way to describe it.
25-What and where is your favorite meal?
30yrs ago. My first Italian holiday. Rome with 3 friends. A sultry August night in Rome.
Spaghetti with smoked salmon & caviar seated outside in a moon lit Piazza Francesco d’ Assisi