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Like a first love, a first pair of jeans is hard to forget. After all, a fit that clings to every curve in the perfect tint of blue isn’t something one comes across every day. WWD asked some of fashion’s most influential people to share stories of their first denim loves. Cotton may very well be the fabric of our lives, but jeans are unforgettable.

KIMORA LEE SIMMONS
“I had a dark blue pair of Jordache jeans as a teen that I wore all the time modeling in Paris. I felt like every time I wore them the bookings came in, so they served as a good-luck charm for me.”

GARETH PUGH
“My favorite jeans were from the sale rack at the now-closed Jigsaw men’s wear shop in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear. I bought them years ago, they were 5 pounds reduced because they were faulty. They’d shrunk in the wash, making them very tight-legged, but that’s why I bought them. They were my first pair of skinny jeans. I’ve still got them, but they’ve got a massive hole in the right knee and they’re really messed up, but I can’t bear to throw them away. I wore them to my first fashion show with Fashion East.”

CYNTHIA ROWLEY
“I bought a pair of overdyed jeans — yellow over blue, which made them look green — that were supertight and had zippers at the ankles. They were about 80 bucks, which was a lot in the late Eighties. It was back when I first came to New York from the Midwest. Those jeans were the one important thing that made me feel like a supercool New Yorker and less like a country bumpkin. The first time I wore them I made out with Mick Jagger — not really. But many, many good times were had in my favorite jeans.”

ROKSANDA ILINCIC
“When I was little, my mum used to buy me all those pretty dresses, so of course all I wanted was a pair of jeans. My brother helped with donating one of his, which I wore customized with two heart-shaped patches over the knees. When I finally got my own, I still preferred wearing the old ones. Actually, I’ve never had a pair as good as those.”

This story first appeared in the May 25, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

DONATELLA VERSACE
“I remember buying my first jeans, a pair of Levi’s that I bought in New York and that were two sizes too small. I would have to lie down on the bed to wriggle them on. And, of course, being me, I personalized them immediately by embroidering flowers and things on the back pockets.”

OLIVIA MORRIS
“I clearly remember my first pair of jeans I bought in Kensington Market. They were a pair of second-hand Levi’s 501s, about 30 pounds, which I then frayed and ripped intentionally, and ‘repaired’ with safety pins.”

FRIDA GIANNINI, creative director, Gucci
“My first real splurge was on a pair of vintage Levi’s that I bought eight years ago in New York. They were very costly, though I can’t remember how much, exactly. I was so excited that I wore them straight out of the store feeling very cool.”

CAROLINE ATHIAS, co-founder, Blue Cult
“It was MacKeen jeans. It’s funny because they were made by my current husband, David Mechaly. They were superfitted. There was a fabulous denim store in Paris. You had to lie on the floor and squeeze yourself into the jeans. They didn’t have stretch back then. You had to lie on the floor and a couple of people had to zip up the pants for you. And you looked fabulous. They were probably around $60 in 1975. It was the first time jeans were made to be flattering, fitted and tight. They were sexy.”

GIORGIO ARMANI
“This photo was taken by Oliviero Toscani, who wanted to photograph me for Vogue. Convinced I was to be shot as a young and promising designer, dressed very elegantly, I found myself on the set in this pair of denim shorts. Not what I expected.”

ADRIANO GOLDSCHMIED, designer, GoldSign
“Polyester jeans in the Sixties. Personally, I love it. There was a period of time in the late Sixties when they did a lot of polyester. They did it for the Levi’s 501s. They were very, very cheap, like $15 or $20 a pair. It’s a great fabric. They are very comfortable. They have a little bit of stretch. It’s something unusual. It’s something different that you can’t find easily. They last a long time. I’m working on polyester jeans for my own label and developing the fabric right now.”

KYM LUBELL, designer, True Religion
“There was a denim line called Chemin de Fer in junior high. Back then, those were the jeans. They cost 60 to 80 bucks. I’m an identical triplet. My mom used to buy three of them. The price of three Chemin de Fer is what my jeans cost today at retail. The Chemin de Fer had a really great fit. If you were wearing them, you were popular. They did really cool hardware. The washes weren’t progressive back then. They were just rinsed. It was more about the style than the wash. They were high-waisted and you wore them over your roller skates.”

PAIGE ADAMS-GELLAR, designer and owner, Paige Premium Denim
“My first pair of expensive jeans was Gloria Vanderbilt. I remember driving my mom absolutely crazy because I had to have them. That was in the early Eighties. I must have been in love with premium denim back then. I was pining for them. The color was a pretty blue. The swan on the coin pocket was beautiful. I had to have them. I think they were $39. Back then, it was outrageous for a pair of jeans. I wore them like crazy. I had to wear them at least two to three times a week. That was a lot because I didn’t want to be seen in the same outfit. Oh, I was in love with them. I grew up in Wasilla, Alaska, 60 miles north of Anchorage. I thought I was the coolest kid in the wilderness.”

ANN DEMEULEMEESTER
“The only jeans I have — that don’t actually fit me — is an old pair of Levi’s 501 from my husband for working in the garden.”

MARC JACOBS
“Mine were probably a pair of Wrangler jeans. My mom or grandmother bought them for me. I think I ended up hand-painting the Rolling Stones logo on them with acrylic paint. I wished they had more flare in the leg at the time, but I was a little kid. I was probably nine and I desperately wanted bell-bottoms because that’s what my baby-sitter’s boyfriend wore. Even at the age of nine, they weren’t quite as extreme as I would have liked them.”

VERA WANG
I like to look lean and mean in my jeans. For me, looking great in jeans is all about being a bone. My favorites are straight-leg Levi’s. I used to be a 26. For me to wear jeans, it’s all about my weight. Unless I look like I’m emaciated, I don’t want to get in them.

GABRIELE STREHLE, creative director, Strenesse
“Vintage Levi’s 501s, which I bought in California back in the Seventies. They were classic blue and slightly washed out. I have tended to only like classic original Levi’s in really nice blue tones. For me, they really represent the true spirit of jeans. I have never really been much of a fan of fashion jeans.”

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER
“[Wearing jeans] was like a sexual attraction. The Levi’s store [was] the essence of jeans. For me, the other ones were fake. [Like wine], the older it is, the better.”

STACEY BENDET, owner and designer, Alice + Olivia
“At the age of two, I started dressing myself and insisted on wearing my little faded Oshkosh jeans with red patent leather shoes and a jean jacket. I think Oshkosh should totally make a comeback. The first expensive pair I bought was when I was 14 or 15 years old. I went downtown and bought the most amazingly perfect pair of vintage Levi’s. They were skintight and perfectly worn in. I was obsessed with the perfect vintage color and my father couldn’t believe I had spent $100 on a pair of jeans that looked like his [jeans] from college. I wore these all through college and actually retailored them even tighter and had Peter Beard paint them for my first ‘just pants’ show.”

STEFANO GABBANA
“A pair of dark blue Fiorucci jeans. They were kind of egg-shaped and my spring treat in the early Eighties.”

NANETTE LEPORE
“When I was in high school, I worked at Bullwinkle Boutique in Boardman, Ohio. Bullwinkle was a specialty jeans store that sold Chic jeans, Sassoon, Gloria Vanderbilt and Chemin de Fer. I spent one of my paychecks to buy a pair of supertight Sassoon jeans. In fact, the jeans were so tight, we were told to encourage customers to lay down on the floor of the dressing room to zip them up. My favorite look was to wear my Sassoons with my high-heel Candies.”

WOLFGANG JOOP, designer, Wunderkind
“Levi’s 501s. They were as stiff as a board and ‘shrink to fit.’ I rubbed them down with sandpaper to get the right used look. They cost 30 deutschmarks back in 1965. Wearing jeans was like a command from above.”