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Arnold Scaasi wants American women to know he’s back in the ready-to-wear business — so he turned to Martha Stewart to get the message out there.
Aside from showing viewers how to embroider T-shirts with a newfangled Singer sewing machine, the designer will reveal his return to rtw during Monday’s airing of “The Martha Stewart Show.” Longtime friends, Scaasi said he gladly obliged her request to appear on the nationally syndicated show and then decided to spread the word about his venture. The fact that an estimated two million viewers tune in on average to see what Stewart is up to only sweetened the opportunity for Scaasi.
“Everything just fell into place. I’ve been working on this for a few weeks,” said Scaasi.
Fashion designers have appeared regularly on Stewart’s show — this week alone had guest spots by Tom Ford and Donna Karan. After Wednesday’s taping with Scaasi, Stewart noted how Valentino, Ralph Rucci, Karl Lagerfeld, Cynthia Rowley and Michael Kors are among the designers who have made cameos. “The audience loves it,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t seem as though designers are that prevalent on TV.”
Those who catch the Memorial Day show will get a glimpse of Scaasi’s new creations, including a hot pink biased-cut gown and a red strapless sparkly cocktail dress. The latter caught Stewart’s eye. “They match my ruby Scaasi earrings,” she said, motioning toward her left earlobe.
“Not real,” Scaasi offered.
Not one to pull any punches, the designer looked at the model wearing the red dress and asked Stewart teasingly, “Are you a size 4?”
Though Stewart admitted that was the closest she had ever come to a Scaasi dress, her white shirt’s cuffs indicated otherwise. Stewart proudly displayed the “Me and My Scaasi” — the title of his autobiography — that she had embroidered on them. During the taping, Scassi also dished about some of the well-known women he has dressed over the years and later wrote about in that book.
After admiring a photo of a youthful Jackie Kennedy in a satin gown, he recalled how he sought to dress her as first lady but requested that she pay wholesale for the 20 dresses she requested. Scaasi said he was a kid just starting out then and couldn’t swing the expense pro bono. But years later, when Elizabeth Taylor tried to make a similar arrangement for one dress, she melted him with her violet eyes and he said he obliged. He also showed off the translucent polkadot pantsuit Barbra Streisand wore to the 1969 Academy Awards.
Less-known women prompted him to relaunch his rtw collection. “Women were stopping me in airports and asking me at dinner parties,” Scaasi said after the taping.
Though he declined to reveal which manufacturer will produce the line, Scaasi said he expects to unveil his collection in September. And the decision to get back into the rtw game did not involve much thought. “My archives have 600 pieces — it’s all there,” he said.
For her part, Stewart said she plans to have more fashion-related guests when the show returns for the fall season. “A lot of people never get invited to serious fashion shows. They might get invited to one at their local department store, but that’s it. They don’t know how much work goes into a gown and what they are paying for,” Stewart said. “People react very well.”
The same could be said for Scaasi. Before heading for the door, the designer called out to Stewart in her prep kitchen, “Remember: I’m coming back to do my fish stew.”