BUSH’S FAIRCLOTH PLANNING LAUNCH INTO READY-TO-WEAR

Byline: Lorna Koski

NEW YORK — It’s a big moment for designer Michael Faircloth. His quiet world of made-to-order clothes created for wealthy clients has tilted on its axis as he completes the inauguration looks for his top customer, Laura Bush. He came to New York to do a blizzard of TV interviews; upcoming is an appearance from Washington on the big day on “Larry King Live.”
The new First Lady will, of course, wear his dramatic red beaded lace evening dress for the Inaugural Ball, and his fitted peacock blue suit and coat for the swearing-in ceremony. But this is hardly all that the Dallas-based Faircloth has up his sleeve. In fact, as he told WWD on Monday, he’s planning to launch a ready-to-wear collection for spring 2002.
He intends to do a full line of “day suits, dinner suits and evening dresses,” he says. It’ll be shown in New York because “It’s absolutely essential to have a presence here.” That means 30 pieces, which will wholesale from about $1,800 to $7,000. “I want a collection in which I can express myself more as an artist,” he says. “At the moment it’s 80 percent me and 20 percent the client.” This is an idea, he admits, that he’s had in mind for some time, since the idea of George W. Bush’s presidency first began to seem like a realistic possibility.
Where will he show? “I have no earthly idea,” he says. But one of the things he hopes to do both with his designs for Laura Bush and with this new collection is dispel some of the myths about Texans. “Everybody stereotypes them as rowdy, loud, with big hair and bright colors.” Many of the women he knows, however, “are very elegant, very quiet and very sophisticated, and I’d like to show that, and that I’m proud to be from Texas. My clients are as varied as the terrain of my state.”
One reason, however, that his customers are always impeccably coiffed, made up and wearing stilettos, he adds, is that “You go from the car to the climate-controlled valet parking to the shopping mall, so there’s no outside element to interfere.”
This isn’t Faircloth’s first ready-to-wear venture. He launched a small collection three years ago which he showed in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria. That enterprise, however, folded because it was “underfunded.” Just now, when his made-to-order business has doubled and he’s dressing five clients for the inaugural festivities alone, that seems unlikely to be a problem again in the immediate future.
And Faircloth promises another surprise. He says he’s planning to create his collection not to flatter fit models but for real women who have “very well-proportioned American figures.” He believes that many buy sportswear today because they’re a different size on top than on the bottom, and he hopes that this won’t be an issue for his customers. At least in the beginning, he’ll have his atelier do all the samples because, as he puts it, “I like to have control.”

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