Ken Downing, fashion director of Neiman Marcus, is the connoisseur of all things cool. Standing tall at a lanky six feet three inches, he greets me warmly with a kiss on both cheeks. He’s here in town for a trend report and runway presentation that will benefit The Doseum, and I’ve been given ten minutes to chat with the trendsetter. But first, a picture:
As we both admit our obsession with Instagram and the addictive need to document every life moment with a post, we settle in to side by side chairs for an interview.
Haute in Texas: A lot of what I blog about is kind of relating to the woman who lives the crazy life, kind of doing everything, as most of us are, so tell me one thing that a woman should absolutely have to have this season.
Ken Downing: Something with fringe is going to be an important accessory. This whole idea of bohemian that we’re seeing everywhere becomes this whole folkloric spirit as we move into the fall season. Fringe, fringe, fringe. It’s going to go right into the fall season. It’s an absolute must have, and you can’t go wrong.
HIT: Tell me how Texas influences you?
KD: I love women in Texas because they love to get dressed. It is sport for women in Texas. They love looking great 24 hours a day. I find that women in Texas have that mentality that you never know who you’re going to run in to so you should always look your best. I love that commitment to always looking great. They love the commitment.
HIT: A lot of women have insecurities when they’re getting dressed about this part and that, what do you say to that woman?
KD: I was raised in a family full of women who didn’t like the size of their breasts and thought their hips were too big, and they were constantly looking at themselves in the mirror. So I learned at a very early age how you can enhance certain parts of your body, and I don’t believe women should just buy clothes because it’s a “moment” if the clothes don’t look great on them. Everyone has those ideas in their head that their body’s not quite right. Fittings on a model are actually more challenging than fitting clothes on women who don’t model for a living. You have to make sure the proportions are right, even on those little girls that you see on the runway. So sometimes a voluptuous woman can wear clothes a little better, she’s got a little bit more to fill them out and bring a little more attitude.
HIT: Why should a woman make style a priority in her life?
KD: If a woman wants to look stylish, she needs to make it a priority. I think if you love fashion you should follow that dream. I think the dream of the runway inspires so many. My mother to this day is in her late ’70s and still looks great and still has a love for fashion. She still has a love for a new piece of jewelry or gets a charge from something that walks down the runway. It’s the old adage, you can lead a horse to water. So if you love clothes, if you love style, then it kind of does become a priority because you want to look your best. And if it’s not important to you, then it’s just not. There’s not enough trend reports, magazines, Ken Downing’s in the world to tell you you have to do this to make you want to do it. It has to be something inside of you.
HIT: I read that you talked about blogging and how it’s kind of creating this moment right now where fashion is really at our fingertips. What are some of your favorite bloggers and what’s your take on this industry?
KD: Well certainly I love and adore BryanBoy because I sit side by side with him at a lot of the fashion shows. But you know what I love about blogging? I love how it’s opened the conversation of fashion to such a broad spectrum. Today we have Project Runway and bloggers that have made fashion not accessible, but attainable. And I think that all those voices out there have made this little conversation about style become this enormous conversation about style. It’s really just kind of opened everybody’s eyes and ears in such a positive way.
Ken is forecasting bohemian, whites on whites, 1970’s flare jeans, and a whole lot of disco for this season’s fashion must haves. If the style is half as fun as the man himself, I’d say it’s going to be a fabulous time. Thanks so much to Neiman Marcus and Ken for inspiring this mom to keep pursuing the haute life.