Gearing up for her Jan. 19 appearance on HSN, Marlo Thomas hosted a cocktail party at her Fifth Avenue apartment Wednesday night to toast her first “That Woman” apparel and accessories collection. Guests such as Joy Behar, Sheila Nevins, Ellen Levine and Cat Greenleaf (of “Talk Stoop”) got a glimpse of the styles that were being shown on models. Designed for women of all ages, the 15-piece collection ranges from a $39.90 heart choker to a $79.90 lace-up sweater to $169.90 for a perforated moto jacket.
Asked if she was nervous about selling on TV, Thomas, dressed in a $79.90 navy and white dress from the collection, replied, “No, I’ve been on TV before.” The 79-year-old actress, who became a fashion icon when she appeared as Ann Marie, in her TV series, “That Girl,” said she has been working on the collection for the past eight or nine months. She said the scary part was that she knew the designs would be great, but she was worried about the fabrics at those prices. She was extremely pleased with how the collection turned out.
“Everything is washable and packable and can be rolled up in your suitcase,” she said. As models paraded throughout the apartment, Thomas pointed to one and said, “I wore this sweater on ‘That Girl.’ It was in jersey but I like it better in a knit.” What she likes about the collection is that women can decide how to put it together.
Discussing whether there are minimums she needs to meet while she’s on air, she said, “I’m an artist,” but then quickly added, “You just have to sell out.”
Bill Brand, president of HSN, told the crowd that Thomas has always been “a powerhouse actor, author and philanthropist,” and now she’s a fashion designer. When Thomas called HSN with this idea, they told her to come to Florida. “That’s usually a deal breaker,” he said, but Thomas came and was so excited and passionate about the project. “It’s beautiful and wonderful and reflects what you are,” Brand said.
Thomas explained that when she goes shopping, she sees clothing with bare midriffs, or slits “up to there,” and she’s just not interested. She said she wanted to create clothes that were flirty but age appropriate. When she started “That Girl,” she said other actresses such as Donna Reed and Elizabeth Montgomery were wearing house dresses and Peter Pan collars and she started a fashion revolution on TV with her outfits.
For this collection, Thomas said she likes to show a little skin in the right places, such as a key hole neckline or a cold-shoulder. She said it’s important to be a woman and be feminine, “and not giving it up, no matter what age you are.” As she travels around the country for St. Jude, she speaks to a lot of women who feel stuck. Their kids have grown, they may not have a job, they may be back in the dating market. She said her goal is to make a woman feel confident again, to feel the magic inside herself and to turn the pilot light up.
Brand said women are looking for relevancy and permission to feel good about themselves and they need to know how to do that. “It’s permission to treat yourself,” he said. He said women need help going through transitions and he feels Thomas will help them make that transition and give them a little push. He expects the collection will do very well on HSN. “It’s a great product, an amazing story behind it, and has a storyteller. That’s the magic of this platform.”
Thomas asked if she could take the concept on the road, and HSN said yes. She planned to present the merchandise at a cocktail party and fashion presentation Thursday night at Ballard Designs store in King of Prussia Mall from 7 to 9 p.m., and a Tampa store next Wednesday before her TV debut next Thursday from 9 to 11 p.m. Several of Thomas’ girlfriends are hosting viewing parties next Thursday night as well, she said.