Community columnist: Sally Cowan talks about designer Todd Oldham


Keeping You in Stitches By Sally Cowan

Sally Cowan and her cat Thunder

Sally Cowan and her cat Thunder

Note: St. Augustine’s Sally Cowan is a syndicated columnist, author, motivational speaker and public broadcasting show host.

This week I will write about Todd Oldham. Todd is full of surprises in his offbeat sensibility of finding charm and interest in the mundane. The inventive wit and originality that he presents to women’s fashion design continually earns him praise from the critics.

Oldham’s sense of style translates perfectly into the language of the home sewer who likes to combine many personal elements into a fashion statement. Todd’s grandmother taught him to sew (such as mine did) at a young age, and he was soon designing dresses from Op Art pillow cases for his sister.

After a brief stay in the Alterations Department at The Ralph Lauren Polo Shop in Dallas, in 1981 Oldham borrowed $100 from his parents and purchased 40 yards of cotton knit fabric, hand-dyed it in his bathtub and made some split skirts and T-shirts to launch his first collection, purchased by Neiman Marcus. By 1988, he was established in New York, and founded Time 7, which began as a women’s shirt collection.

Let me stop here for a moment to allow you time to reread the last few sentences. Think about this, $100 was what he gambled and I’m sure he was scared to death. Forty years ago I felt the same way.

The fashion silhouettes he designs are simple, classic and uncomplicated, but he has fun with fabric and details. One of his signature pieces is a great white shirt, but an inventive touch is added with novelty buttons. Everyone loves a great white shirt.

Oldham’s inspirations for his buttons, and clothes come from thrift stores, vintage home furnishings, people on the street and his penchant for arts and crafts. He loves to mix things up and allow everyone to look like they came from the other side e may cut up an old style to create something new, like taking the chiffon sleeves of an old dress and adding them to the body of a tailored jacket, or cutting up an old shirt and adding it to a favorite skirt to make a new dress.

He has been known to make clothes out of cork, pot holders, and Persian rugs. (not Persian cats, Persian RUGS). Each season’s collection is created around a theme, such as “Interiors” or “Garage Sale.”

It sounds to me like Todd likes to have fun.

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