HANES’S BLOCH REFLECTS ON HOSIERY
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — When it comes to legwear, Phillip Bloch isn’t afraid to offer his opinion. After all, it’s his job.
For instance, he detests what he calls “the nurses look” — a woman dressed in white tights.
“For some reason, women think they should wear white when they get dressed up. Who taught them that?” he asked. “It scares me. Why not sheers with a little sparkle or a back seam?”
As a Hollywood stylist, Bloch steers clear of such scares with his star-studded clients, but as a spokesman for Hanes, he said he takes a hard look at what women “who don’t have the budget of a movie star” wear on their legs.
In October, Bloch signed a partnership with Hanes Hosiery to plug its Silk Reflections brand with in-store appearances, online advice at Haneshosiery.com and a multicity promotional tour. All these activities are targeted to reach 20 million consumers, according to a Hanes spokeswoman.
During an interview earlier this month at the Parker Meridien Hotel here, Bloch said he had already made more appearances for Hanes than required under their yearlong agreement, but was anxious to do more.
Bloch is considering renewing the contract. Earlier this month, he toured 24 cities and hosted a fashion show for editors at the Hanes showroom here to plug Silk Reflections. He offered holiday wardrobe pointers, such as wearing a pantsuit with sparkle trouser socks or an evening dress with shimmery sheers.
“The point is, for under $10, there is great added detail. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have personal style,” he said. “Everyone thinks they are very special. No one is going to say they want to look like everyone else.”
In addition to being a stylist and a Hanes spokesman, Bloch plans to launch a line of jewelry in April on QVC. He also penned “Elements of Style,” is a contributing editor for InStyle and is a guest commentator on the E! Channel and “Entertainment Tonight.”
Bloch said he enjoys being involved with Hanes product development, but he wishes production moved faster. He has also been getting some reality checks on his style ideas.
“I’m a fashion person in New York, saying, ‘I see animal prints,’ and the people at Hanes are saying, ‘Are women in Tennessee going to buy animal prints?”‘ he said.
As part of his deal with Hanes, Bloch is adding Hanes Silk Reflections to the wardrobes of Salma Hayek, Lauren Holly, Sandra Bullock, Jada Pinkett, Jenna Elfman and other celebrity clients. If he had his way, he’d like to outfit Elfman with fishnets over bright tights, Cameron Diaz in fishnets with a back seam and Sophie Loren in sheers with a back seam.
Sheers have not been a staple for many Hollywood women in the past four or five years, but that minimalist trend is ending, Bloch said. The popularity of accessories as seasonal items should extend into legwear in the next 18 months or so, he predicted.
Bloch noted a few actresses who take sheers seriously. During a shoot a few years ago at her Malibu house, Barbra Streisand insisted she wasn’t wearing sheers, he said, but the final print showed a bulge around her ankle bracelet.
Faye Dunaway, another actress with whom he has worked, wears sheers all the time and is “fussy” about them, Bloch said. She usually requires three pairs of sheers to go with each outfit and often “runs a pair” to make sure Bloch has another.
One of the ways Bloch shares his know-how is by offering fashion tips on TV talk shows. Having worked as a runway model and done commercials in Europe, Bloch said he was at ease in front of the camera. He said he’s been pushing sheers with back seams for holiday looks, pastel-colored sheers and fishnets for spring. Consumers outside the greater New York and Los Angeles areas generally are more receptive to advice, he noted.
“I spend so much time with some of the most glamorous women in the world. This is my way of bringing what I get from them to the mass market,” he said. “When I appear on shows in smaller cities like Atlanta, the hosts will say, ‘We have our favorite guest back.’ Now, I’m sure I’m not their favorite guest, but they welcome information about fashion.”
Bloch dismisses the hype surrounding stylists. He said celebrities had been getting help with their wardrobes for 100 years.
The fact that European design houses like Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana showed hosiery on the runway is encouraging for the American hosiery market, Bloch said.
“It’s funny how American designers moved the shows to September to be ahead of Europe, but the trends still follow what Europe did for spring,” he said. “I don’t feel we copy, but we do adapt for our market. We go from the boardroom to the ballroom.”
Many of the models in the European shows who weren’t wearing sheers should have been, Bloch noted. In the old days, agents at Wilhelmina would ask models to hike up their skirts to see their legs as soon as they walked in the door, according to Bloch, who modeled for the agency.
“At the shows in Paris, most of the girls don’t have nice legs. There used to be a day where you had to have a nice face, body and legs to be a model,” he said. “These girls are being paid $5,000 to $10,000 a show. If you have bruised legs, I don’t want to see them.”
Next year, Bloch takes on another role. He makes a cameo as a stylist in “The Intern,” a film that parodies the fashion industry.
“I’ve always said, ‘They act — I get the clothes,”‘ Bloch said. “Now I can’t say that any more.”