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Hi there Waldorf Astoria, meet Richie Rich. Have you two met before?
Worlds will collide this season when the downtown darling, formerly one-half of Heatherette, shows his debut solo collection at the venerable Midtown hotel, which for him represents “that old-school cool New York.” And in an artistic 180 from Heatherette’s show headliners — rapper Lil’ Mama comes to mind — eight ballet dancers will open this show, to Beethoven’s Fifth symphony. But don’t worry, Rich muses like Lydia Hearst and Amanda Lepore will still walk the runway (though the designer acknowledges that this may be their first trip to the Waldorf.)
Heatherette, which Rich started with Traver Rains in 1999, lost its main backer, the Weisfeld Group, last year. Rich enjoyed a brief hiatus, recording a pop album, Celebutante (on which he sings, “I’ve been around the world and back”) and thinking about launching his own line. “I’m still very close to Traver, but it’s kind of like being in a band,” he jokes. “Now I’m a solo artist, like Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani.”
And befitting his solo status, he is making some changes. While Heatherette was full of what he admits were “editorial pieces,” (crinolines for grown-ups, anyone?) he promises that the new line will be “head-to-toe wearable.” He explains: “All the kids that reach out to me, they’re young and they don’t have disposable cash a lot.” Prices for the line, much of which falls into the junior market, will start at $29.99.
Mind you, “wearable” in this case is still filtered through the Richie Rich kaleidoscope: ruffled silk chiffon and silk charmeuse dresses, gaudy lip prints, Keith Haring-inspired graphics and season-defying swimsuits in what Rich calls a “happy palette” of hot pink, neon yellow and robin’s egg blue. (For the more subdued scenester, there are some head-to-toe black looks.) The show will also be the debut of sneakers Rich designed in collaboration with Vans, to be sold for holiday 2009.
Ideally, Rich says he hopes to create a “lifestyle brand that caters toward fun.” He is hoping to break into more mass retailers, who will hopefully provide an infusion of cash: “I can’t be Richie Rich and be broke, right?”