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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Fashion Backstage Pass: New Fashions are Examined; Designer Marc Jacob Interviewed, Designer Tommy Hilfiger Interviewed; J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler Interviewed

Aired September 17, 2011 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALINA CHO, HOST: Hi, everybody. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to FASHION BACKSTAGE PASS. I'm Alina Cho, and here are your latest fashion headlines.

Celebrated designer Karl Lagerfeld launches a new collection at Macy's.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: You're busy. Why do this?

KARL LAGERFELD, DESIGNER: Has nothing to do with become busy. It's only because I'm a fashion person and today the inexpensive line are as important in fashion as the expensive one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: The 30 pieces include dresses, airy tops, and modern tweeds. For the third year in a row celebrities join shoppers for fashion's night out. Justin Bieber, Michael Course, And Jason Wu are some of the ones we bumped into.

And a new exhibit honors fashion icon Daphne Guinness. More than 100 pieces pulled from her closet reflects her extraordinary ability to bring designer couture to live. They are on display until January in New York.

But first, he's the hottest ticket in fashion, rarely grants interviews, but recently I sat down exclusively with Marc Jacobs. We talked about what inspires him. Why he has so many tattoos, and why he's now wearing pencil skirts. He also talked about one of the most coveted jobs in fashion, the job insiders say could soon be his.

You see his name everywhere, the creative again muse behalf a half billion empire. The creative director of Louis Vuitton. At 48, Marc Jacobs has won nearly every award in fashion, including the industry's highest for lifetime achievement just this year.

It's an incredible validation form the industry.

MARC JACOBS, DESIGNER: Yes, but a lifetime is also something that feels very final, and I certainly don't feel like my lifetime is over, and I certainly hope it's not over. In fact I hope it's only halfway started.

CHO: He may be right. The biggest rumor off the runway is word that Marc Jacobs is in line for one of the most coveted jobs in design.

You have said that you would love to be a designer that the French embrace.

JACOBS: Yes.

CHO: Creative director of famed French fashion house Christian Dior.

JACOBS: Yes, it would be an honor. There's no question that there are two great couture houses in Paris. Christian Dior and Chanel.

CHO: Dior has been without a designer since the company fired John Galliano earlier this year for making anti-Semitic comments. Jacobs says he doesn't think about the future. His focus is on the present.

CHO: One day at a time. One hour at a time.

JACOBS: One minute at a time.

CHO: An obsession that started at 15, a stock boy at a hot New York City boutique. Overnight he was selling his own designs, then designing for Perry Ellis. In the early '90s he started his own label and created a sensation when he re-interpreted grunge for the runway. Marc Jacobs had arrived.

JACOBS: I instinctively react to things that stimulate me.

CHO: Such as?

JACOBS: It could be anything. Things that have affected me in the past couple of months, the weather has affected me.

CHO: Amy Winehouse.

JACOBS: The death of Amy Winehouse and moving into my new place.

CHO: A perfectionist.

JACOBS: We should mark up the size. Yes.

CHO: Famous for working right up to show time.

JACOBS: I haven't slept. We were all in the office around the clock.

CHO: Keeping people waiting for hours until he's ready.

JACOBS: To me it doesn't really matter. If it's a day before the show, a week before the show -- if it's before the show, it's before the show.

CHO: Do you get bored with it?

JACOBS: It's not boredom it's just the desire to change something. You're only as good as your last show. Nobody is saying we're going buy this because we loved your collection five years ago. They are buying it each season because there's something they want to buy that season.

CHO: They are also buying a piece of Marc Jacobs, whose private life is the stuff of tabloids -- a former drug addict with 33 tattoos and a certain fondness for skirts.

CHO: Why the kilt?

JACOBS: I like wearing skirts. I like wearing kilts. I moved from kilts to pencil skirts. I like to do the things that make me feel good and that make me feel happy that don't hurt other people.

CHO: A man who on and off the runway has done it his way and yet is never satisfied.

JACOBS: I'm always nervous. I'm a total nervous wreck all the time or most of the time. I'm very, I'm always questioning my choice.

CHO: You are?

JACOBS: I'm always relooking at things. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't think that's a negative thing.

CHO: Coming up, it's not just a woman's world anymore.

HILFIGER: Years ago it was maybe 80 percent women and 20 percent men's for a lot of designers. Now we're about 50-50.

CHO: Up next we talked to Tommy Hilfiger about the growing popularity of men's wear. Men are suddenly saying "I like that, I want that" in a big way.

And a name you recognize but probably wouldn't associate with fashion -- Bono. He's a rock legend, but in the fashion world Bono plays back up to his wife.

BONO: The only deal we have is I don't give any fashion tips.

TOMMY HILFIGER, DESIGNER: Ellie Houston founded the clothing line Eden three years ago. The clothes are sold in 300 stores worldwide and are made in Africa, giving African factory workers jobs they otherwise might not have.

BONO: That's what our brand is about, what Eden is about is the dignity of trade rather than aid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like in the morning I might get up. Listen to music. Take those accuse and create my own look. Today I'm wearing a woman's top. This is tribal inspired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, like they say less is more. For me more is more. I like to stack on everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wearing Couture from Argentina.

CHO: You saw it there right on the streets, men have style. With all the attention on women's wear during fashion week easy to forget that men too are paying attention to fashion. That's right. Men's wear has turned into a juggernaut of a business, and designers are taking note.

The catwalks -- this may be what comes to mind. But this is what's suddenly hot, not just for the fashion set, but for the everyman. Men's wear, it's a $53 billion business in the U.S. alone and growing fast.

GLENN O'BRIEN, GQ, "THE STYLE GUY: They want to distinguish themselves. They want to look better than the other guy.

CHO: Tommy Hilfiger says his men's wear business is exploding.

HILFIGER: Years ago it was maybe 80 percent women's and 20 percent men's for a lot of designers. Now we're about 50-50.

CHO: So what's going on?

HILFIGER: I think the modern man is very aware of what's going on in a world around him. With the Internet, with media today men will look at a photo in a magazine or on television and say I want that, I want to look like that.

CHO: "Mad Men," "Gossip Girls," images of stylish men are everywhere.

HILFIGER: He sees it all. He wants to be a part of the game.

CHO: Has it taken the fear out of shopping?

HILFIGER: It does a little bit it has.

CHO: Designer Billy Reid is among the hottest men's designer.

BILLY REID, DESIGNER: You take this market that has gone from here to broaden itself because more men care about it.

CHO: Reid has a woman's line but sales of his men's wear make up 85 percent of his business. His approach, bring them along slowly. Don't shock them, because old habits still apply.

REID: A guy will come in and say I want, I need six new shirts and pick out six new shares. It's almost like a wardrobe, where women are I got to have that piece.

CHO: Why Tommy Hilfiger designs his men's shirts to go with all of his sweaters, making men's dressing dummy proof. You still have to make at it little easy for the guys.

HILFIGER: You make it very easy. We call it the no brainer way of shopping.

CHO: Then there's this.

REID: He has to be able to walk in, very quickly make a decision, get to the register and get out.

CHO: Women are different.

Women take their time. They go into the dressing room. Men hate fitting rooms. That's why we also standardize all of our sizes.

CHO: Because if they get home and it doesn't fit, they won't come back.

Men are still at the end of the day more practical?

HILFIGER: A lot more practical. Definitely more practical. Some men.

(LAUGHTER)

CHO: Coming up, the man credited with bringing back an iconic American brand.

JENNA LYONS, CEO, J. CREW: You want to talk about Italian cashmere and Italian shoes and quality. We hadn't been having those conversations.

CHO: We'll meet the CEO of j. Crew. He had some help from Michelle Obama. As we go to break here's the fashionable first lady holding an event honoring design at the White House. I was lucky enough to be there.

GILLES MENDEL, DESIGNER: I'm trying to take it all in. What else can you do? It's my moment of fame and I'm enjoying every second of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Ever wonder how the clothes you see on the runway make to it the racks? Just ask Beth Buccini and Sarah Easley, owners of New York's Kirna Zabete. These college roommates and best friends are known for their eye, carefully curating from thousands of looks from the runway, selecting the special pieces customers crave.

SARAH EASLEY, OWNER, KIRNA ZABETE: We want our customer to expect the unexpected, to inspire her.

BETH BUCCINI, OWNER, KIRNA ZABETE: Push her a little bit.

EASLEY: She can shop anywhere in the world. We want to stretch her. BUCCINI: So I want to offer something that's really unique and original and not something that you need to have but something that you can't live without.

CHO: Welcome back to FASHION BACKSTAGE PASS.

J. Crew is an iconic American brand with the first lady's seal of approval, but it wasn't always hot. We recently spent time with the man who turned around J. Crew. And when you see the unorthodox way he runs the company you'll understand why it's such a success.

MICKEY DREXLER, CEO, J. CREW: Can I have your attention please.

CHO: Meet America's merchant prince.

DREXLER: We'll bring in bestsellers.

CHO: He's Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew. When he speaks the racks come rolling in.

DREXLER: Show me, bring them in.

CHO: Why the intercom?

DREXLER: Why the intercom? Why you don't see any walls here. Because I think most organizations are fortress oriented.

CHO: Not a J. Crew, where Drexler's mantra is "no profit, no fun." Once a catalog company for college kids a decade ago, J. Crew was in a slump. That's until Drexler came aboard nine years ago, picked up after being abruptly fired from The Gap.

CHO: Who is your biggest competitor?

DREXLER: You know, I could say anyone with a sewing machine.

CHO: He's credited with inventing casual Fridays, elevating J. Crew to affordable luxury.

They are the iconic American brand.

CINDI LEIVE, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "GLAMOUR": J. Crew made himself into something magical. I know women who can afford anything and order those outfits right off the page.

LYONS: He wanted to talk about Italian cashmere and Italian shoes and quality.

CHO: It worked. Under Drexler, J. Crew's sales have tripled to $1.1 billion, with the first family's seal of approval.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I want to ask you about your wardrobe, I'm guessing about 60 grand?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Actually, this is a J. Crew ensemble. (APPLAUSE)

LENO: Really? Wow.

CHO: You call her an act of god?

DREXLER: Yes. You know, look you can't argue with that kind of publicity.

CHO: The secret -- a big splash of color, J. Crew's signature.

DREXLER: When you buy something like this you're competing with 50 other retailers and half of them have it on sale.

CHO: That's why you got this.

DREXLER: Color is a competitive advantage for us.

CHO: He created crew cuts for kids, bridal, jewelry, and everywhere there's sparkle, 233 stores nationwide. They are in Canada. And have their sights set on China too. This season for the first time J. Crew presented its latest collection under the fashion tents. Six foot tall Jenna Lyons is the resident cool girl, J. Crews' president.

LYONS: I joke I'm the road signs. Don't do this. Do that. Stop. Maybe just a little bit of that that keeps everything coming out the tunnel at the other end.

CHO: Kooky color combos.

LYONS: Then you have to wear this with a sequined skirt.

CHO: Drexler's philosophy is quite simple and all American, just like J. Crew.

DREXLER: Do it, do it right, pay close attention to the product and over time you'll win.

CHO: She's dressed some of the biggest stars for the biggest events in Hollywood. But now reality TV star Rachel Zoe is branching out, designing her own line.

ZOE: It really was one of the most surreal moments that I've ever experienced in my career because I was just standing there look at Jennifer Lopez in my clothes.

CHO: She's done something no new designer has ever done before. We'll tell you what next.

But first, another up and coming designer, a newcomer to watch who has the fashion elites seal of approval.

Joseph Altuzarra, remember the name. After studying this 28- year-old interned at Marc Jacobs and launched his own collection in 2008. Three years later he's one of the favorites. CHO: You have a vision and you stick to it?

JOSEPH ALTUZARRA, DESIGNER: I think you have to really belief in what do you. I'm not designing for everyone. I am designing for the woman I dress, someone who is very confident, who is not necessarily 20, and who wants to feel really sexy. It feels wonderful to have broken through in my career.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: It all started with a chance meeting with a chemist. Frustrated that she couldn't find lipstick that worked for her, Bobbi Brown said she wanted to find a lip stick that actually looks like lips.

She did. In 1991 Brown launched 10 lipsticks, selling 100 in the first day. Today Bobbi Brown Cosmetics sells 20 million products a year, $600 million in global sales, owned by Estee Lauder. Brown says she's fanatical on the runway and most recently at the royal wedding. The future queen of England is also a fan.

BOBBI BROWN, LIPSTICK DESIGNER: She buys our makeup at store. Part of the royal wedding was one of those moments this is so cool.

CHO: If makeup makes the face then clothes make the star. Ann Hathaway, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, they're all styled by Rachel Zoe. She dresses them for the red carpet. She's a celebrity too. And she's embarking on a new project. On TV she's watched by millions on "The Rachel Zoe Project."

RACHEL ZOE, CELEBRITY STYLIST/DESIGNER: I'm six months pregnant and I'm at the busiest point in my career right now.

CHO: On the red carpet it's her stylish touch that's front and center. Rachel Zoe makes a mint dressing a-list stars in designer clothing. Now those celebs are beginning to wear designs by Zoe herself.

You've been dressing celebrities for so long. When Jennifer Lopez --

ZOE: Oh, my god. I still get chills. I know where you're going right now and I can't even talk about it.

CHO: Jennifer Lopez in a white Rachel Zoe tuxedo dress. That's right, Zoe's first collection for stores on the racks this fall.

It's a big leap to go from stylist to designer.

ZOE: It is.

CHO: You call at any time scariest thing you've ever done.

ZOE: It 100 percent is. This isn't something where I'm dressing someone and it's the Oscars. This is a very constant, constant process. She's in Bloomingdales, Nordstrom's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and every Neiman Marcus in America, something that company has never done for a first time designer. And the clothes, priced between $200 and $600, are already selling out.

JIM GOLD, PRESIDENT OF SPECIALTY RETAIL, NEIMAN MARCUS: Because she works with all of the fabrics. She's in a fitting room all day long with her clients she gets it.

ZOE: Everything has a hint of glitz.

CHO: Vintage inspired, something Zoe is known for.

You were inspired in part by the Charlie girl?

ZOE: Yes.

CHO: They call her Charlie.

Yes, that's Charlie girl. That '70s is this 40-year-old's favorite decade. Her heroes, legendary designers Halston and Yves Saint Laurent.

You say if it don't fit don't buy it.

ZOE: God, no, don't. And I stand behind that.

CHO: It's this unguarded love, passion for fashion that gets fans so excited. Now the stylist to the stars is also a brand. And Rachel Zoe isn't stopping at clothes.

ZOE: Home beauty. More television. Just everything.

CHO: Talk show?

ZOE: We'll see. We'll see.

CHO: What is certain is that Zoe is a mother first. Her latest venture, a family business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look. Mommy made this.

CHO: Her husband is the president. Her new son Skylar is the heir apparent, that's if he's interested. Zoe says styling is still her first love.

ZOE: I always say I think I'll be dressing Jennifer Garner when I'm 75. I really do. I think she'll have a premier of some sort. OK I'm coming. I'm tired I'm going. I got to see my grandchildren first.

CHO: Finally, my top five picks of the week. It's no surprise that my first pick is this white leather and tropical floral print dress I spotted on the runway at Joseph Altuzarra's. Here are my other four favorites. This violet pink drip dress, from Wes Gordon this blew crop jacket and python shorts. This dress, and finally this canary yellow gown from Carolina Herrera.

Stay tuned, next month we're hitting the road to cover fashion week in Paris, and we couldn't be more excited.

Join us again on October 15th for the next installment of FASHION BACKSTAGE PASS.

For now, I'm Alina Cho. Thanks for watching.