Fashion designer Marc Bouwer is bringing his easy demeanor back to the metro April 24 for a cable TV show’s “Fashion Designer Showcase.”
When last I interviewed Bouwer, his equanimity translated to the fashion he brought to the Eden Prairie cable channel that now calls itself EVINE Live. “My new collection, I’m very excited, is a contemporary collection of different kinds of pieces you can mix together, which work for just about every woman you can imagine,” Bouwer said. “If you’re skinny, if you’re full figured. If you’ve got it going on up here or not down here or you’ve got it going down here and nothing up — it’s going to work for you. We’re going to show you how you can take all these pieces and put them together and you can have your own red carpet in your living room.”
I think we can assume that Bouwer’s designs are highly fashionable and that he puts the kind of thought into them that he devotes to everything in his closet.
Q: What is the most unfashionable item you own?
A: Ohhhhh, I don’t think I own any unfashionable items. I think everything you buy should be great. If you are in a rush to put on clothes, you don’t want to put on something that is junky or crappy. You want to make sure every piece you have is great. Sometimes you’re going to muck it up by putting the wrong things together and that’s where you have to take the time to figure it out. But if your pieces are all good, you are probably not going to make too much of a mistake.
Q: What’s a fashion trend you wish was permanent?
A: I like shoulder pads. I think shoulder pads give great shape to people who have fuller figures. Your shoulders are the widest part of your body, everything else is going to look great underneath. The ideal shape for proportion from an artistic point of view is that triangle, wider at the top and it gets narrower toward the bottom. Whether it’s a tiny little shoulder pad or big kind of Lady Gaga. In between is probably great but I think shoulder pads do help a woman’s body tremendously.
Q: What’s something you don’t ever have to see again fashion-wise?
A: Fanny packs.
Q: Have you talked to Matthew McConaughey?
A: [Laughter] I don’t think Matthew McConaughey could do anything wrong in anyone’s book. He’s cool even if he wears a fanny pack.
Q: Can you sew?
A: Yes, of course! I can make anything. Seriously I can. When I started out, I was very — I won’t say poor, poor — but I had no means to have someone sew for me. So I learned to sew, to cut, to drape, to make all kind of things. I think it’s very important as a designer to know how clothes are made and what the limitations of fabrics are and how you can torture or coax fabric into doing things that you want it to do.
Q: So there is nothing that intimidates you when it comes to sewing?
A: Not anymore. Really tailored clothes are really hard to sew perfectly, so that is probably the most difficult thing is perfect, fine tailoring. But I can do that. I’ve learned to do just about everything.
Q: From where do you get your inspiration?
A: From all those beautiful women, those old Hollywood bombshells, goddesses. I grew up in South Africa. We didn’t have television when I was a kid so I went to the movies every Saturday and I just lived vicariously looking at these beautiful women, these incredible scenarios wearing these incredible gowns and I thought to myself, “When I grow up, that’s what I want to do. I want to create clothes for women like that.”
Q: Your designs are very sultry and a little Deco?
A: Well, Deco was a huge influence on me because I think that particular era there were so many beautiful shapes and proportions and design. The whole Deco thing to me is so gorgeous. But I love to look to the future as well. Deco was very futuristic in a way; it was the first time that fashion really looked toward the future and then again in the ’60s we got the idea of Space Age and all those crazy plastic fabrics and metals that were put together. So, yeah, I love Deco.
Q: Are there different considerations, I know they have different body types, when you are dressing Laverne Cox — I love her, she is so much fun — vs. Oprah?
A: I’ve dressed them both, many times. [Cox is] one of my faves. She’s so much fun. We have a total hoot every time we do a fitting. Understanding a woman’s figure. Understanding who she is and what she needs for her lifestyle, clothes that work for her, I think any really good designer will know to put their stamp on it.
Q: Is Laverne Cox the only person who’s ever been so moved by your work they started crying?
A: I hope not. We all kind of wept because the dress we were creating for the Emmys, when it all came together, we all were so pleased with the way it came out. It was her first Emmy nomination and it was a huge moment for her and her journey. All of us just really felt it. It was an emotional moment. But I’ve had many emotional moments. I remember when I dressed Angelina Jolie for the Oscars several years ago and [there] was an incredible rainstorm, thunder and the house was leaking and she had Maddox on her hip in my gown. We did the final fitting and she asked everyone around, Is this it? And we’re like, Yeah, this is it. She was like, OK, this is it. I like teared up and people all around [he turned on his crying voice] Oh, my God, that’s is so amazing! Even the security guard had tears in his eyes. Just a really great moment.
Q: Now I need you to give me some advice, please, for an 11-year-old who wants to be a fashion designer. I have a niece who is a terrific artist. She told me she wants to be a fashion designer, own a hotel and a plane.
A: She’s got some big ideas there. Learn how to make clothes. Learn how clothes are made. Learn about fabrics. Study pattern-making and figure out a look that you love and what’s going to separate you from the zillions of designers so you’re going to be able to make some money.
Interviews are edits. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her check out the FOX 9 “Buzz.”