NEW YORK — London-based eveningwear designer Eric Way, who is credited with transforming Cherie Blair into the “Duchess of Downing Street,” is trying to sprinkle some of his glamour on the States.
The South African-born Way has hired Victoria Watson to rep his line here. He also has rounded up fashion editors for his first U.S. get-together set for Wednesday at Harry’s Loft at 29 East 19th Street here.
Eight years ago, Way closed his freestanding store in South Africa to relocate to London, where he officially opened his business in 2002. Blair’s unexpected visit to Way’s West End store gave his business a major kick. And when the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair turned up in a fitted, strapless gown with hand-beading and sequins and a tailored jacket designed by Way, the tabloids went to town about her new look.
Way said during a telephone interview Monday that he continues to design special-occasion clothes for Blair, though they never talk politics. “Maybe in a way, it’s a relief for her to be away from politics,’’ he said. “To have a bit of fun and glamour around her probably creates a different day for her.”
Largely inspired by movie stars of the Thirties and Fifties, Way’s eveningwear is sold in about 35 stores in England. Wholesale prices are from $400 to $800, with short cocktail dresses among the bestsellers. Way dressed fellow South African Charlize Theron in her modeling days.
Two years ago, Way caught the attention of Jenny Lucas, after his “million-dollar” denim jacket — encrusted with $1 million worth of diamonds and sapphires encased in platinum — was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. She became a financial backer and Way’s business partner. The designer’s first store in Asia, a 1,500-square-foot space, is to open in July in a luxury shopping center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Americans got a glimpse of Way’s handiwork after Kristin Davis’ character wore one of his strapless pink dresses with a sweetheart neckline on “Sex and the City.” The number of inquiries the designer received about that dress made him decide to pursue the U.S. market.
“My clothes are very glamorous and very appropriate for the U.S. market,’’ he said. “It has that element, maybe more so than the British market.”