Elie Tahari Designs for His 40th Year
by laurie brookins
Bostonians love Elie Tahari’s classic-meets-modernist designs. Here, he talks about how he got his start, his anniversary collection, and the popularity of his Copley Place boutique.
Elie Tahari takes a break in his New York workshop. His new collection reinterprets looks from the 1970s.
Like scores of great success s tories, Elie Tahari’s career started out courtesy of a mistake. Newly arrived in New York, Tahari says he was quickly seduced by the adventurous spirit of ’70s fashion: “Women felt liberated and were not afraid to show a little skin,” he says. One day the 21-year-old Tahari stumbled upon a gross of stretch-fabric tube tops, a manufacturing error that had been unloaded on a boutique for a rock-bottom price. “I bought a pile of them for $2 apiece and resold them for $4,” Tahari recalls. His method? “I snuck into a trade show with my bag of tubes, 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.”
Elie Tahari’s 2,600-square foot space in Copley Place is one of his most successful boutiques.
Four decades later, Tahari’s oeuvre has moved into original designs that highlight his refined modernist aesthetic, which you’ll find everywhere from Saks Fifth Avenue to Nordstrom to his 10 US boutiques, including a high-profile spot at Copley Place. The 2,600-square-foot space, designed by architect Piero Lissoni, opened in 2006 and is among his most successful. “Like the New York woman, the Boston customer is looking not only for style but convenience,” Tahari notes.
For Spring 2014, Tahari was inspired by the architecture of the Brazilian capital city of Brasília. Tahari says the collection “brings together elements of sport with futuristic components.” Meanwhile, the designer is celebrating his 40th anniversary with Elie Tahari Edition 1974, a 20-piece capsule collection featuring updates of signature pieces from the label’s archives. “I named each piece from the collection after an iconic New York landmark,” he says. Also new for spring: an eyewear collection, sunglasses, and optical pieces. His spring men’s collection is crafted in a palette of cool blues and grays with a hint of teal, as Tahari embraces the trend of injecting more color into menswear.
Lexington dress, $398.
At press time Tahari was planning a tour of his boutiques for his 40th anniversary celebration; Boston is high on his list, and he cannot wait to interact with his clients. Tahari says it’s that communication and feedback that continues to drive and energize him. “I am so humbled and forever grateful to my customers, who have helped turn my dreams into a reality.” Copley Place, 617-536-5851
photography by Lisa Richov/Ele vin Studios (store); gregg delman
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