A New Documentary Reveals The Success Of Designer Elie Tahari
A new documentary celebrating Israeli-born, New York-based fashion designer Elie Tahari, premiering at the Brooklyn Film Festival on June 5.
You might have not heard of Tahari, as he isn’t a diva like Christian Louboutin, he isn’t quirky like Karl Lagerfeld, and he isn’t a party monster, like Halston was.
He’s just an intelligent, mild-mannered, bespectacled guy who raves on about how New York is the inspiration of his designs.
Something must be said for Tahari, he is practical. And he knows how to sell. A lot of his clothes actually fit American women, unlike European designers that set impossible standards for women.
Take Tahari’s partnership with designer Arthur S. Levine, creating affordable women’s suits (under $200 for the 9 to 5er), which were sold at retailers like TJ Maxx. It was such a success, they sold over $200 million.
The film, called The United States of Elie Tahari, features interviews with designer Nicole Miller and Melissa Rivers, Joan Rivers’ daughter and former co-host of Fashion Police, who is now a book author and podcast host.
The film’s director David Serero follows Tahari, who arrived in New York in 1971 with less than $100, and slept on park benches in Central Park, before following his dream of becoming a fashion designer. Now, his namesake brand is worth billions.
Tahari began his fashion label in 1973. His first fashion show was held at Studio 54, and in the years that followed, he opened his first boutique on Madison Avenue.
As Sereo explains: “There are thousands of fashion companies worldwide, but only three have lasted for being more than 45 years globally, and are still run by their original founders: Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Elie Tahari.”
As the first documentary film about Tahari, it shares his personal history growing up in Israel to Iranian parents, secrets of his success, and his approach to creating elegant garments for the everyday woman.
Today, you can buy Tahari’s designs at Bloomingdales, among other retailers (his designs are in over 600 stores in 40 countries). He also designs women’s shoes, sunglasses, menswear and accessories.
His tireless approach is what has made him successful. As Tahari says in the film: “You have to have so much passion and so much drive to be successful that you are willing to do everything,”
There’s a clip from the film Jennifer Lopez and Patti LuPone in Parker (2013), where Jennifer Lopez tells Patti LuPone: “It’s Tahari,” storming out the door in a Tahari dress.
What makes Tahari successful all comes back to what designer Bob Mackie once said: “The dress that works, is the dress that sells.” In other words, any dress that makes a woman feel thin, sexy and young will sell, and Tahari has done all three.
The brand was featured on 1990s shows like Ally McBeal, X Files and Will & Grace, and has boutiques everywhere from Las Vegas to Atlanta, the Hamptons, Dubai and Newport Beach. Tahari celebrated the 40th anniversary of the brand in 2014.
“His parents fled Iran and moved to Israel, where he lived in a refugee camp Ma’Abarot’, then moved to New York without speaking English,” said Sereo. “He has since made a major contribution to the New York fashion scene for over 40 years with his iconic and visionary signatures such as the Tube Top, the Woman Suit and more.”
See the trailer below, and get tickets for the June 5 screening at Brooklyn Film Festival here.