Cynthia took control over how she dressed at four years old when she decided that she would only wear a pink tutu and an oversized cardigan. This sweet image however, does not belie the fact that she is a rebel, the first to cross many lines and break the ice for her two younger brothers growing up. She started sewing at the age of seven and the rest is history, beginning with the moment Cynthia clicked her first pair of shiny heels, packed a U-Haul while chanting “I can always go home” and fled to New York City from the suburbs of Chicago.
As fearless as she was green, Cynthia’s first showroom was in a loft on Varick and 7th Avenue, where she “thought” she was in the garment center but was in Tribeca. The next was at 550 7th Avenue, which was actually on Fashion Avenue and where Cynthia vividly remembers a heightened level of awestruck when she found herself riding in an elevator for the first time with Oscar de la Renta. Cynthia’s zeal for “what’s next” is not only apparent in her success as a designer but in the way that she immediately got the forward-thinking concept of this site, despite being a veteran of the fashion business since the ’80s. One of the first to partner creatively with Target and Band-Aid, she welcomes change and doesn’t take no for an answer. Dressed in a lavender feathered ensemble, Cynthia says that she loves anything provocative. This is evident in the fact that she’s excited that the preconceived ideas of success are no longer relevant with the force of the internet, loves Rachel Feinstein’s experimental art, admires Lady Gaga’s taking what is lost in the art world and putting it out to the mainstream and listens to The Preacher and the Knife.
Wearing a pastel patterned dress from a capsule collection that she did for The Gagosian Gallery, Cynthia expressed her pride in making clothes that she feels are neither fashion or art. She wanted to make the catwalk more immediately accessible to the public and did so by printing photographs from the details of the runway collection – body parts, gloves, accessories – directly onto the garments themselves and sold them the next day. Cynthia has worked with artists Will Cotton, Nick Cave, Olaf Breuning and Ryan McNamara, but her cabochon-embellished top is inspired by a series of Richard Prince’s pornographic images printed on canvas with elliptical circles covering the racy parts, while a chiffon skirt made ratty represents the idea of the luxury’s fragility, much like her distressed blue velvet boots that she wears in the snow. Chic and glamorous, but not too precious in a Chinese jacket, jeans and red lipstick like her grandmother – who was an artist, never saw 5 0′clock without a martini and bought her granddaughter escargot dishes as a present when she was broke in college – Cynthia is comfortable with the “messiness” that comes with running your own business. Her husband, two daughters and surfing help keep her grounded, while her never full reservoir of shoes help to maintain her towering stature.