September 3 2014

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Cornejo, Costa, And Teng Sound Off At “Voices In American Fashion”


Attention, supermarket shoppers: That’s a Maria Cornejo in aisle 3. “If clothes aren’t worn, they’re not alive,” Cornejo said about the accessibility of American design. “I always tell my assistant, ‘I can’t wear this to Trader Joe’s!’ ” The Chilean designer was speaking at the Cooper-Hewitt museum alongside Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa and Yeohlee Teng for a panel discussion entitled “Voices in American Fashion.” The Washington Post‘s Robin Givhan moderated a conversation that covered everything from the American aesthetic to model casting, celebrity dressing to green initiatives.

The talk turned to the designer customer. “I love to think my customer is 45, because it’s the moment a woman is so comfortable with herself,” Costa explained. “But you have to be careful because you do have this image that people think of”—in the case of Calvin Klein, the Kate Moss waif look, circa 1990—”and I’ve really made it a point to show something different at Calvin.” Cornejo, who chatted post-talk that she found the panel “interesting because we all have such different businesses,” chimed in that certain celebs can provide that fresh point of view, like Eva Mendes. “She brought a whole new customer, the Latino and ethnic customer,” Costa agreed. Celebrity dressing, he continued, is “not frivolous; it’s business.” But with no celebs in the room, A-list or otherwise, talk eventually turned to greener matters (a propos for Earth Day, coming up on April 22). On that note, Teng, who prides herself on crafting zero-waste clothing, had the slightly macabre final word. “I want people to wear my clothes to death,” she said. “In fact, Susan Sontag is buried in my coat.”

Photo: Monika Sosnowski Photography

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