On November 15, Billy Reid will be honored with the Career Achievement in Fashion award at the Fashion Group International Night of Stars gala. Although this Louisiana native splits his time between his home state and New York, his 10 years in Dallas really shaped who has become as a designer.
Ahead of his big night, we managed to snag Reid for a quick reflection on the city that inspired his love for luxury clothing, his personal wardrobe picks and his plans for the future. And how lucky is the man who gets to casually refer to one of the most iconic women in fashion by her first name?
CultureMap: Talk a little bit about your Dallas ties and how they have shaped who you are as a designer.
Billy Reid: I've spent nearly 10 years of my life in Dallas. I went to college there, and my first real job was with Saks Fifth Avenue in Dallas. Dallas introduced me to designer clothing and luxury.
I grew up in a small town in south Louisiana (Amite), and there were not many luxury shop options. Those early experiences in Dallas really shaped the foundation for me in regards to designer fashion. I remember the introduction of the Ralph Lauren shop at Saks, the debut collection of Bill Robinson and also being in love with Perry Ellis collection during my years in designer sportswear with Saks. Those influences stuck with me.
CM: How would you describe your style?
BR: I love things that are real. I love the process of building the garment from the material development to the final constructed garment. I want the sense of style to be timeless, yet of today. You want the clothes to age like furniture and to be someone's favorite thing.
CM: What are some signature pieces that you think every person needs in his or her wardrobe?
BR: A great navy suit, a good pair of leather dress shoes, an oxford shirt and a great pair of Levi's jeans, and a coat that can be worn dressed up or dressed down. Buy quality over quantity and get the good stuff — things that fit you and that you want to hold on to.
CM: What award or recognition as a designer has meant the most to you over the years?
BR: CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. It put our company and my work under a microscope and in a high-profile competition. The people I met and the relationships with the other designers were the most gratifying parts, and I cherish that time and experience. Anna [Wintour] and everyone at Vogue has been very supportive of all of us who have been a part of the Fashion Fund. I'm tremendously grateful for what they do.
CM: What are some trends you are really digging this year?
BR: Leather and fur. It's great to see people seeking out the special pieces, the investment pieces, and actually wearing them. They have been really strong items for us this season.
CM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
BR: Hopefully still making clothes, living here in Florence, Alabama, and some in New York. I love my job, and I love our life as a family here.