Friday, July 5, 2013



If artists, dancers, designers and musicians aren't sponsored by people who have excessive amounts of money to dispose of then who is going to sponsor them.  I did not come from a family with money nor was in any way a member of high society.  I virtually had nothing other than a $700.00 annual GI college fund for four years after I was discharged from the US Navy of which I used only three years of that funding at an art academy and design school.  When I started designing silk for Sarmi in NYC my job as a window dresser at John Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia paid me $25.00 a week.  To make the samples for Sarmi that made a sensation and catapulted me into the limelight I had to borrow $60.00 for the base silk.  I made $300.00 from the samples on that loan and paid it back and was able to use the rest for more silk to fill Sarmi's production order.  From that I made $1,500.00 and using that I managed to make $40,000.00 on accounts receivable but found the demand for fabrics from me on Seventh Avenue was forcing me into costs that I didn't have.  I had to borrow more money from friends mostly from Lawrence Vanderbilt-Morris who considered it an investment [and a corporation was created in Philadelphia that too me to Vermont.]  whom I met due to my immediate success in New York and finally find a textile mill to produce the demand and control design secrecy and quality control.  This I did in Bennington, Vermont with John Griffith McCullough but insisting I put in all my $40,000.00 accounts receivable then taking over my operation with further financial support with the promise that when the company broke even with the mill a success I would receive some stock in the corporation.  So initially I was merely an employee of my own company without any stock holdings and then only promised non-par value.  In addition I was made President so it appeared to the outside world that I was in control of the company.  I was in control of all the design and production but not the financing or decision making so I often had to go over the board of director's heads in order to produce orders on schedule.  After three years I was forced out and left with nothing but my international fame both in textile and fashion design.

Having met Rebekah Harkness under very pleasant conditions I felt it reasonable to see if she would finance a couture operation since my upheaval by McCullough happened at the highest moment of my success and just as the mill broke even.  When Rebekah did it was a gift of great significance not only for me but for the textile and fashion industries in America.  The press had already placed me at the top of fashion design along with Norman Norell and James Galanos so the name Tzaims Luksus was one of the top three fashion designers in America.  I did not suppose or even consider that presenting my couture collection in Paris anywhere near the idea of becoming one of the great designers of Paris but at least competent, however, I was already one of the top ten fashion designers in the world and it made sence to present this Harkness collection in Paris.  I was not upset with anything in Paris nor did I make any statements of which city, New York or Paris, was the fashion capital of the world.  It was the fashion press that kept trying to make NYC the art and fashion capital of the world not me.  I didn't make these differentiations.  New York was New York and Paris was Paris and what was happening in one was likely influencing what was happening in the other.  If you look over the names of my staff at Harkness House you might wonder which country they came from, Romania, Israel, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Great Britain, France with me being both Russian and English even Scot and Welsh and could have been working in Paris just as easily as in NYC.  What is America and the United States if not a collection of people from other countries and besides Paris was also a good place for a fashion designer to show at the time since many showing there were exploratory and controversal and designers came from Spain, Italy, England, Greece...well just from everywhere to show in Paris.  Even Pierre Cardin was actually Italian changing his name from Cardini. 

So when I packed up to get back to NYC for the press showing at Harkness House I had no regrets or disappointments about Paris.  I felt it was a great success.  This first Paris press showing was not intended to set up selling clothes in Paris [doing dusiness in France takes a long time organizing and getting permits but showing is easy] although anyone could have called Madame Dariaux for an appointment to do so.  I don't know if anything was sold since that wasn't part of my job.  Pirouette Projects, Inc that Rebekah's lawyers set up listed me as LUKSUS COUTURE PROJECT.  How that was to be further developed depended upon further negotiations between my lawyers and Rebekah's lawyers.  I never initiated any discussions with them nor was I pressured to do so. 

I wasn't involved in the private or business life of Rebekah Harkness.  It would never have occurred to me to do so.  I was not part of her inner circle nor invited to any dinner parties at her Westbury Hotel penthouse, nor invitations to Watch Hill, R.I. and I didn't have access to any of the more splendid rooms at Harkness House.  She never lavished gifts, an apartment, car or anything on me.  Just the initial $40,000.00 capitalization in her new Pirouette Projects, Inc that she owned and acted to pay the expenses for a couture collection that I was designing.  My atelier on the fourth floor of Harkness House was simple and practical for a workshop and even the office that I shared with the conductor of the orchestra was modest and not any little Versailles.  There were two desks in that office that matched and may have been valuable antiques but if so then they were just utilitarian and impressed no one.

So why would the fashion press want to destroy this opportunity for me to revive my textile design mill, maybe now in New York or Rhode Island if not be able to regain my mill in Bennington, Vermont and halt my career designing clothes when in fact they had nothing but praise for them up until I partnered with Rebekah Harkness?  She was an American just as I was.  So why did they trash AMERICAN FASHION?  How was what Eugenia Sheppard more important than these two industries that she fed off of for her living?  Eugenia was crazy.  She lost her sense of reality.  She had a seisure, a fit, a tantrum.  Her mind must have been guided by her libido believing that Rebekah and I had something going behind the scenes that she was jealous of and wanted to break up.  Crazy woman that she was.  She self destructed and didn't know it.  Well I knew now that she was a dangerous killer and she finally proved that she couldn't be trusted and I felt it best now to get out of her way.  Rebekah on the other hand I felt could manage Eugenia Sheppard!

So when I signed up with Pierre Godart and TSM, Inc I changed the name to TSM INTERNATIONAL, Inc. and left New York.  I had arranged that I would work in my own studio in my Vermont house and not make any further personal appearances at any fashion designer's press openings in NYC.  My design studio was in my pocket and I could take it any where I chose any time I wanted and also my contract allowed me per dium and all travel and living expenses paid for three months in Europe in addition to my settled annual income.  It was enough to settle a final purchase of my house in Vermont and although it didn't last for many years it kept me from having to go out seeking financial backing again and away from the fashion press.  When I was working on the prints and fabrics in Europe for three months I was able to travel again to India, Nepal, the Himalayas, Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong.  I kept designing and making clothes but not for the market.

It is a pity that so much depends upon what a few news reporters think and print.  It is also a pity that a designer or artist must depend upon a retail company or financial supporter to get his goods to market so the public can see what is produced rather than have store buyers decide what they want to sell from a collection.  Their buying power is not to be desired and they also depend upon certain designers to advertise lavishly in magazines and newspapers in order to carry that designer's goods.  Having one's own boutique and retail system is also a problem in that locations cost a fortune and operating them is risky so what chance does anyone have especially if American fashion magazines have editros from London and Paris controlling them and newspapers are owned my Australian comglomerates with vindictive motivation against America?  It is no wonder all manufacturing is done in Communist China.

Rebekah Harkness was a God send for me and the American Fashion Critics became the Devil that not only destroyed my association with her but destroyed her and her Ballet Company and all the good she did as well.  Hatred is what the press expressed and not a fair criticism.  There ought to be a law against their expressing these kinds of actions and statements.


No comments: