DFW Style Daily’s Jim Duran sat down with New York-based Jay Godfrey on his recent visit to Dallas. Read on to learn about Godfrey’s early struggles, what our city means to fashion, and what he believes is the “biggest challenge” facing any designer.
From the Jay Godfrey Fall 2011 Collection
DFW Style Daily: Before breaking into fashion, you worked in the financial industry. What inspired you to become a designer?
Jay Godfrey: I studied finance in undergrad, went to Wall Street, and was recruited by Citigroup. However, my heart was always in fashion, and I later was accepted to Parsons. At the time, I didn’t have a wife or child and could afford to risk leaving a high paying job to do something that I was passionate about. My first job was for Hugo Boss. The only thing they would hire me to do was serve coffee, but I took it because I wanted to be surrounded by fashion.
Tell us about your experience at Oscar de la Renta.
It was super-cool being able to work at Oscar – going in every day, and seeing the most beautiful fabrics and embroideries. It taught me about workmanship, and creating things that are right for your customer. The most important thing that it taught me was that consistency over time matters.
How do you maintain that consistency while keeping designs fresh from season to season?
The biggest challenge for any designer is to continually re-invent the things you are known for. Some may say that [you are] repetitive, but others will like it and know what to expect. If you look at any great designer, you’ll see that they are known for something very particular. Valentino for his red dress, and Halston for his simplicity, for example. I believe in evolution – not revolution – in fashion.
You are working on opening your first retail space in New York City. What is the concept for your store?
The concept of my retail store is to encapsulate my whole world, and all the influences that play into my design: architecture, art, music, sculpture, the balance of sensuality and elegance, without ever being vulgar. We are trying to create an environment that, regardless of age, will make our customer feel modern, elegant, and sexy.
What is your impression of Dallas, fashion-wise?
I think Dallas is an awesome city. You have the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center, and it’s such an impressive city when it comes to embracing culture. How many places other than New York City can you find Neiman Marcus and Barneys, as well as local stores like Forty Five Ten and Stanley Korshak? What that tells you about Dallas is that there are a lot of people here who care about fashion.