Elie Tahari on How Discovering the Tube Top Launched His Career

Spencer Cain
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Elie Tahari at Elie Tahari Day with close friend Joan Rivers.

Elie Tahari at Elie Tahari Day with close friend Joan Rivers.

To commemorate the designer’s impressive 40 successful years in the fashion indsutry, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City declared September 4 Elie Tahari Day. The proclamation was read at Tahari’s Fifth Avenue store (where he will be showing his Spring 2014 collection today), and was followed by a speech by his close friend, comedienne Joan Rivers.

We chatted with Tahari, who revealed everything from his favorite celebrity red carpet moment to his involvement in the birth of tube top. Read on for more!

StyleCaster: Congrats on 40 years! Tell us the most memorable moment of your career so far. How did you know you made it?
Elie Tahari: Elie Tahari Day by far has been the most memorable moment if my career. I was so humbled and honored to be recognized by the City of New York, a city that has inspired my endlessly since I arrived over 40 years ago.

How do you deal with a stressful fashion week?
I am lucky to be surrounded by such a great team who help make my presentation a success. However, there are still plenty of late nights at the office so we make sure to order great food and listen to a little music, lately I have been listening to Bebel Gilberto keeping in mind with my inspiration of Brasilia.

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What’s your favorite celebrity style moment in Elie Tahari?
My favorite celebrity style moment is when Angelina Jolie wore one of my blouses to her movie premier. I think she is a beautiful women and looks great in my designs. I am also a big fan of Emmy Rossum.

Tell us about the creation of the tube top. How do you feel about its current place in the fashion world?
A fashion manufacturing error occurred and resulted in a pile of fabric tubes, some of these mistakes ended up in a New York boutique. I knew right away they were going to be a hit. I brought a pile of them for $2 apiece and resold them for $4. I snuck into a trade show with my bags of tubes and no credentials and pictures showing how to wear them, by the end of the day I had thousands of orders. That was the beginning of my wholesale career.

Who influences your designs?
I love traveling to various parts of the world; having the opportunity to meet and experience other people’s cultures always inspire me. Istanbul is one of my favorite places to visit, it’s a beautiful city filled with great people.

What’s your advice for young designers?
I just taped my second appearance on “Project Runway All Stars.” It was a wonderful experience, I always love working with emerging talent. I think it is important for young designers to believe in their vision and talent, if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will.

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Tell us about your personal style. What’s the biggest style risk you’ve taken?
My personal style is relaxed and comfortable, I usually always wear jeans in my design studio. I am a fan of color and layer a neon T-shirt underneath my all my button downs.

What’s your ideal outfit on a woman?
I design classic silhouettes but still with a modem edge. My clothes are made for real women not just the size 0 supermodels, I want women to feel beautiful every time they wear my clothes.

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