Eric Javits… You may not think that you know this couture haberdasher’s work, but you do. Think Serena Williams on the cover of InStyle, gloriously shaded by an elegant wave of a straw brim framing the recently unseated tennis champ’s beautifully composed face. Think Madonna and her son sporting snappy Spanish bolero hats on the red carpet at the Grammy’s. Or Lady Gaga at her haute hippie finest sporting a suede apple-shaped hat. Or the lovely Lupita Nyong’o mugging in a delicate headpiece on the cover of a magazine.
Javits’ Stunning Portfolio
Long a favorite of fashion editors the world over, you’ve seen Eric Javits’ witty and well-crafted hats, many of them made right here in the USA, on the covers of Vogue, W, Bazaar, and Elle worn by models like Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Giselle, and Gigi Hadid. That’s just the short list of both his admirers and accomplishments, and now, I’ve officially added myself to his list of fans.
Monday night, I had the pleasure of being the first model ever in Eric Javits’ 41-year career to accompany the designer to the prestigious awards ceremony for the CFDA (short for Council Fashion Designers of America) held at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
First introductions tell you everything you need to know about a person. Eric had arranged through my modeling agency, Iconic Focus, to meet me in the beating heart of America’s fashion scene aka New York’s gritty midtown garment center, for a fitting of one of a kind couture gown he had designed for the evening’s event.
I was Sworn to Secrecy!
Wearing a biker boy hat of his own design, Eric greeted me warmly when I arrived at the atelier, then he laid out every well-planned detail for the big night to come. Before we began, he had swore me to secrecy, asking me not to reveal to anyone, including the dressmaker, where the dress was going to be worn or to tell anyone else what the gown or the show-stopping topper looked like.
Laughter and jokes threaded through each of our fittings for both the dress and the unique hand-painted floral headpiece adorned by hand-stitched sequins, which had been inspired by an afternoon Eric had spent taking in the Brooklyn Museum’s Frida Kahlo exhibit last spring. So, it seemed fitting, forgive the pun, that the designer, myself and the hand-picked glam squad would end up bringing this glorious riot of color to life on the red carpet at the very museum where the design had originally been inspired.
Four fittings and few beauty treatments later, the big day arrived. Videographers, makeup artists, a nail artisan, hairstylists, publicists and myself gathered to execute Javits’ vision. We were all cozily ensconced in a luxe suite at the new Four Seasons Hotel near New York City’s Freedom Tower, adjacent to the 911 Memorial site at Ground Zero.
O.G. Makeup artist Nick Barose, who has one of the funniest Instagram accounts about fashion, got to work adding copious amounts of Lashify lashes accentuated with a dramatic sweep of black eyeliner. Ursula Stephens, owner of Ursula Salon in Brooklyn and the mastermind behind many of Issa Rae’s red carpet hairstyles, added liberal amounts of Dove Style + Care Shine hairspray to smooth the layers of hair extensions needed in order to create the half-up/half-down ponytail 60’s inspired ponytail look.
The Event was a Dream
A mere 3 hours later, with my hair and makeup and headdress perfectly in place, Eric and I negotiated the 6 inch topper and 7 foot train of the fuchsia silk taffeta dress flowing behind me and the into the SUV. Not an easy feat for sure – between the heels and the headpiece I was a full 10 and a half inches taller!
Chatting about fashion as we sped down Eastern Parkway on our way to the Brooklyn Museum, Eric told me he’s a self-taught hatmaker. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, making hats grew out of his love of process, a curiosity that led him to create “The Squishee” a method for which he holds a U.S. patent, that allows you to roll and fold hats for travel without sacrificing the integrity of the shape of the hat. I kind of can’t imagine not having a packable hat in my wardrobe any more than I can’t imagine having a little black dress in my fashion arsenal. Even my headpiece didn’t suffer from being wedged against the roof of the car on the long rush hour ride to Brooklyn.
The North Star
Once we descended from the car to the red carpet, we made our entrance. Eric, leading the way looking super elegant in a white tux jacket, Tom Ford shirt and tie topping his black cumberbund pants and snappy black patent leather loafers, his elegant figure was the last thing I saw before being blinded by the block long row of paparazzi flashbulbs. No one else that evening had donned a fascinator as an accessory. Javits’ colorful headpiece was like a North Star drawing fashionistas like Vogue editor Hamish Bowels model and entrepreneur India Hicks and reporters from Women’s Wear and many other press outlets to cross the vast reception hall to get a closer look.
It was one of those spectacular fashion nights: the evening’s honorees like J-Lo, radiant as ever in custom Ralph Lauren, designer Bob Mackie, who made most of Cher’s iconic outfits. Incidentally, his work is also one of the big reasons I wanted to be fashion, models Heidi Klum and Ashley Graham, to name but a few, were all resplendent. After a heady evening of air-kisses and accolades this brief fashion moment, which had been months in the making for designer Eric Javits, who although he was not nominated for an award that night by the CFDA, turned out to be a foray that ended in success.
The People Have Spoken
By morning the internet had voted for the best looks on CFDA’s red carpet and Mr. Javits had won the popular vote.
“Wearing Javits’ towering floral headpiece and an off-shoulder gown, Webb was one of the best-dressed guests at Monday’s CFDA Awards”. – Refinery 29
Perhaps most satisfying of all was the praise from Javits’ peers via CFDA.com:
“Talk about the most exuberant moment of the CFDA Fashion Awards! On Monday night, longtime CFDA Member Eric Javits stepped onto the CFDA Awards red carpet with supermodel Veronica Webb in a pretty floral headpiece that added joy to the procession.” – CFDA.com
Not bad for a night on the town!
ERIC JAVITS – @EricJavits
Make Up – @NickBarose
Hair – @UrsulaStephen
Manicurist – @Amivnails
Photography – @Winnaing75