“I am like the Freddie Mercury of my world,” said Kelly Gray, former creative director and chief executive officer of St. John (which her parents cofounded in 1962) and now the creative director of Grayse, working with her mother, Marie Gray.
Gray was showing Grayse, a modern collection of specialty separates, as part of The Novus Forum at The Andaz Hotel in New York, a three-day show featuring luxury women’s wear and accessory designers, that runs through Sunday.
Grayse, which has been in business five years, is headquartered in Irvine, Calif.
Gray said St. John used to be more prescribed designs, whereas “today your badge is your own unique style.” Her collection includes fancy leggings, sequined and embellished tops and dresses, Italian silk printed tunics and detailed leather jackets. Grayse’s eveningwear retails from $1,000 to $3,000, while the ath-leisure styles go from $455 to $995.
“We want to be a niche player. Our core words are sexy, glamorous and edgy,” said Gray. “I’ve never been a trend designer. We dress a lot of women for important occasions,” said Gray, who after St. John went into business together with Motley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, starting a rock ‘n’ roll fashion company, Royal Underground.
“I like to create a desire for an emotional purchase. That’s the secret and the sauce,” she said.
Gray, who was the face of St. John and modeled for the collection for years, said she hasn’t been in front of the camera in 10 years. By the time she left St. John in 2005 when the company came under new management, St. John was doing more than 200 pages of advertising in the U.S. She has stepped in front of the camera again, recently doing an editorial spread for Genlux magazine, photographed by Neil Kirk.
Meantime, Sergio Hudson was also showing at The Novus Forum, coming off an exciting week. Amal Clooney wore his red jumpsuit to Meghan Markle’s baby shower at the Mark Hotel in New York, and he dressed Beyoncé last week in a white skirt suit with large Swarovski crystals.
Others showing at The Novus Forum, which attracts buyers and private clients (and at the preview Thursday night, model/actress Debbie Dickinson was spotted), included Kevan Hall, vice president of Black Design Collective, who was showing his fall tweeds, crepes, cut laces and beaded embroidered eveningwear; Tony Ward, who was presenting his eveningwear for special occasions; Gemy Maalouf, showing her high-end formalwear, and Lucian Matis, the Toronto-based designer presenting embellished daywear and eveningwear, among other designers.