You left Carolina Herrera last year after 15 years. How did you feel?
I was a little scared in the beginning because when you work in a big environment, you are protected in a way. I was on one side of the gate, the golden gate, and suddenly I was in the wild. But a big corporate environment can be difficult, specifically with the number of collections. I was a bit burned out. If you don’t travel, if you have 200 samples to make in the next three months, when do you get inspired? How does it work for your own sanity?
So now you are consulting for designers, the ballet and private clients, right?
Yes, I have more freedom. And I can actually pick my customers.
Let’s talk about your most famous client. Everyone learned your name when you made the inauguration gown. Did you know Mrs. Trump beforehand?
I never, never, never met her. I met her on Jan. 3. She gave me a couple of key words. She didn’t want a big ball gown, she wanted something sleek, ivory, vanilla. It had to be really, really right because it was going to be part of history — part of this country’s history but also part of what I will have achieved on earth. I’ve designed thousands of dresses, but people will remember this one most particularly.
You are both designing for her and helping style her wardrobe, right?
Yes, I do a bit of styling with that client but it’s not really my forte. What interests me in this relationship is not just finding pretty clothes — a lot of people can do that. It’s more about the legacy of this woman. Everybody has a different reaction to what she’s wearing.
Some of the reactions are pretty polarizing. Did you think about that?
The beauty of this country is it’s a democracy, so some people want to dress certain people and some people don’t want to. I choose to. If you forget about the political, or whatever, that’s behind it, the needs are so interesting to answer. Even if I’m not creating the clothes, it is very creative to consider how it’s going to be perceived. And when you decide, you divide. I’m not always right. I make mistakes, and same for her. There’s no “How to Be the Perfect First Lady” book. You learn on the spot.
You already had some experience dressing first ladies, right?
But not under my name. At Oscar, I worked on dresses for Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Clinton. When I was at Herrera, the Obama administration had a state dinner for the French president. At the time he didn’t have a wife but a mistress. So the…