The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Designer Michael Stars at fashion industry gallery

The Fashion Industry Gallery opened its spring market last Thursday with an interview and cocktail party with Michael Cohen, designer of the Michael Stars line.

Many other boutique-line designers, including Trina Turk, Charlotte, Sarah Briggs, Petro Zillia and My Flat in London, opened their mini storefronts to buyers and held a preview to fashion-forward Dallas-ites.

Michael Cohen arrived, clad in a black sport-coat and grey T-shirt, along with denim blue jeans and a sporty pair of low-top Converse All-Stars.

In reference to his laid-back style and design, Cohen said, “A T-shirt, shorts and no socks is really well-dressed at Michael Stars.”Michael Stars is based in Los Angeles, Calif. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Cohen emigrated to L.A. in 1977, where he worked for a British shirt company.

His Michael Stars line was born in 1986 when he met his future wife, Suzanne Lerner, who worked as an apparel rep.

“When we started in 1986, there were no tees for girls,” Cohen said.

At that time Cohen went to wholesale markets with $300 in his pocket and could buy only men’s tees. He placed tribal art on the shirts and continued in the men’s market for a few years.

“It wasn’t that exciting then – it’s pretty exciting now for us,” Cohen said.

In 1991, Cohen began to market tees which fit a woman’s shape, but in only one size. His one-size-fits-all concept was a far better fit than the wide, shapeless men’s tees he used to buy at the L.A. markets. His new designs also threw fashion-consciousness into the mix, resulting in a new genre of T-shirts.

“Anybody can do something in one-size-[fits-all]. It was easy,” Cohen said. “We were the guys who started it. It works for us.”

This spring, Michael Stars will feature jewel-tone and metallic tees, as well as Cupid shirts, which benefit the American Heart Association.

“It’s good to be giving back,” Cohen said.

After the cocktail party ended, people continued to mingle, but one girl stole away from the excitement and was browsing the new, second-floor layout of featured designer collections.

Anne Lowery, a junior and president of SMU’s Retail Club, said, “The cocktail party and interview are exciting, but I could [browse] the collections forever. I can’t get enough of it.”

No sales are allowed to the public, but the chance to observe the spring 2006 lines was far more important for many, including SMU’s Retail Club. The members waited excitedly for the invitation to tour the F.I.G. Women’s Clothing and Accessories market, precisely as it offered members of the club a chance to meet and mingle with the fashion and couture-culture of Dallas.

“Spring 2006 still has a lot of chiffon and empire waists. I even saw some camouflage,” Lowery said after touring the first-floor.The F.I.G. is located in the downtown Dallas arts district. Outside, traffic crowed the street, but once inside, the fashion rush began.

Buyers, sellers, representatives and models moved about store-fronts on the figure-eight pathway. They wore cutting-edge trends from the winter 2005 and spring 2006 collections. .

Sarah Briggs, of Sarah Briggs Jewelry, is collaborating with SMU’s Retail Club for an upcoming event. While chatting with Lowery, she pointed to some of her earring designs, describing the semi-precious stones and gold filigree.

“Those are rock star earrings!” Briggs said about a pair of her delicate gold-chandelier earrings.

The F.I.G. runs smoothly thanks to a group of style-savvy interns cleverly named, “FIGlets.” On opening day, the FIGlets wore a Michael Stars outfit in honor of the designer. FIGlets are not paid but do keep all designer pieces they model.

Susie Oszustowicz, an SMU sophomore and FIGlet of the past two years said, “The F.I.G. is amazing. The atmosphere is very laid-back as long as you don’t interrupt the buyer/seller meetings.”

She also recalled meeting Beverly Feldman, of Beverly Feldman shoes, and Nony Tochterman, of Petro Zillia, two fashion designers featured at the F.I.G in 2004.

“[Being a FIGlet] has allowed me to meet so many people in the industry. I am getting my foot in the door,” Oszustowicz said. “I will do whatever I can, as long as I’m in the [fashion] industry. I get a rush from it all.”

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