Monday, June 28, 2010

B is for Bill Blass

Bill Blass was born in my neck 'o the woods, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He's the most interesting thing to come out of Indiana in a while, though amazingly, Ft. Wayne is home to the second largest genealogy collection in the United States, next to only Salt Lake City. Who'd have thought?

Well, all that history must've done Mr. Blass well, because he was an innovator. After his start with Maurice Rentner, he bought the company and started his eponymous label. He started licensing his name in 1978, eventually having his name on everything from sportswear and dresses, to chocolates and luggage. This, coming from a man who was fired by Calvin Klein for his so-called lack of talent.

Bill Blass was known for eveningwear that was favored by Nancy Reagan and Brooke Astor, but his biggest forte was sportswear. His designs were known for comfortable style. He had a special place in his heart for red, as well, which is yet another reason I love him. Watch this interview with him -- he made me laugh with his point of view, especially when she asks about what seasons there are. "Hot. Cold...everything in between, we make do." Gotta love that. But it is interesting to hear his point of view. Especially in his accent, definitely not from Indiana, but affected after his move to New York in his younger days. Sadly, the cigarette he smokes through the interview is what brought his demise -- he started smoking as a young man, and died from oral cancer at the age of (almost) 80, six days after finishing his memoir, "Bare Blass," now added to my reading list.

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