Remember November? It feels so long ago now, but I know that I was in London at the end of the month for The Fashion Awards, which used to be called The British Fashion Awards before someone decided to change the name. People in my world look forward to the evening all year. It’s one of the glitziest, most glamorous nights on the whole fashion calendar! They do it at Royal Albert Hall. You know how I said in the last newsletter that everyone calls the FNAAs the Shoe Oscars? Well, think of these as the British Met Gala. It’s a big deal!
So it’s a big deal to win something, too. It’s a fundraiser for the British Fashion Council’s Education Foundation, and the whole point is to celebrate major contributions to the fashion industry. But I wasn’t just hanging around the room, drinking champagne and clicking my heels together this year. I was there to honor my friend Tommy Hilfiger by presenting him with the Outstanding Achievement Award!
Just like the FNAAs, this was another full circle type of moment. Because I’ve loved Tommy Hilfiger clothing since I was a kid. That DENIM. I don’t think anyone was immune to it. I’m not kidding when I say that people used to get mugged in Chicago for their Tommy jeans! It was that essential. But I didn’t have any money back then. I couldn’t afford the clothes. I used to go to the malls where he had shops so I could shoplift his clothes!
Again: it was THAT ESSENTIAL.
And so being on that stage with Kris Jenner in front of all those people, giving an award to a man whose overalls I used to steal…
You see what I mean by full circle?
You have to understand the empire that Tommy has built. It’s a dynasty. And his story…Tommy spun gold out of nothing at all. He used to buy jeans and sell them out of the back of his car when he was a teenager, until he turned it all into a store in New York called People’s Place and started designing clothes with no formal fashion training. Maybe that’s part of why I identify with him. Because I used to have my own vintage store called Deliciously Vintage. That’s where I got my foot in the door.
But Tommy. He’s a genius. Back when his first collection came out they put this huge billboard in Times Square. Nobody really knew who he was at the time, but on that billboard he listed his name next to Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein as one of the four major American menswear designers at the time. And this was right after the brand had launched, right? But he was that confident in his brand and in his vision. The billboard didn’t even have a picture of what they were selling.
I admire him for all of that. And I watched the brand evolve in the streets. He went from selling those preppy sweaters and shirts to basically dressing the biggest names in hip hop. Everyone knows that iconic photo of Destiny’s Child wearing Tommy. I remember TLC was wearing Tommy, Aaliyah was wearing Tommy. He had to start making bigger size runs because everyone wanted to wear it oversized with that big logo on it, the way all the stars were wearing it.
Three decades later and everyone still loves Tommy. Presenting him with that award was so surreal. The fact that I can call him a friend now, and not just someone I loved in the magazines…I guess what I’m trying to get at is that anything is possible. Anything. Tommy went from selling jeans out of the back of his car in a tiny city in New York state to building a brand whose name is synonymous with American fashion. And I went from creeping around his stores and shoplifting his clothes to standing with him on a stage halfway across the world from where I grew up.
Never sell yourself short. And don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are unrealistic! Because they’re supposed to be big. They’re supposed to make more sense to you than they do to anyone else. They’re supposed to be unrealistic.
But only because they haven’t happened yet.