With a little nip here and a strategically placed seam there, designer Jay Godfrey is perfecting the art of dressing women in a feminine, flattering manner. Other reasons to love Godfrey: his tailoring obsession and fascination with Savile Row.
BY DENA SILVER
What’s your brand signature?
A love for tailoring and an infatuation with Savile Row! My mother was born in England and her parents were tailors. Now when I go to London, my first visit is always to Savile Row to window-shop for hours.
You whipped up some sharp suiting for your Spring collection. What details should women take note of when they’re shopping for one?
I love the idea of creating a sexy suit for women that is truly glamorous and alluring. When women are looking for a suit, they often feel like they’re wearing a men’s suit. Alexander McQueen showed that suits can be one of the sexiest things a woman can invest in.
What’s the one Savile Row–inspired tip women should borrow from the hommes?
Whether you’re wearing a $5 T-shirt, a $5,000 Chanel jacket, or a $50,000 couture dress from Schiaparelli, your clothes need to fit. It’s important that every woman has an excellent tailor. I’d rather you wear something not very attractive that fits well, than something that is beautiful that doesn’t.
What sartorial question do women always ask you?
I always get asked, “What are the key items that women need in their wardrobe?” I always tell them, and my wife, that the idea of a nude pump is so important. If you want to wear a jacket or a dress or a pair of pants in color, it’s so difficult to find the appropriate footwear. But if you have that perfect pointy-toe pump in your wardrobe, you’ll never go wrong. At this point, no one does it better than Manolo Blahnik.
Tell us more about your wife!
She loves fashion. She probably looks at every single Fashion Week show online! She finds it very inspiring.
Does she inspire your designs?
Absolutely! When we go to brunch, she always points out what people are wearing. She has a very keen, sophisticated eye and an incredible appreciation for newness. She shares a lot of her observations with me; she’s become like a human Pinterest board for me.
You worked in finance before entering the fashion fray. How did you make that transition?
I was always encouraged as a young boy to get a background in business, and I heeded that advice. I thought I was going to be one of those hedge fund guys. When I worked on Wall Street, it just wasn’t inspiring. While everyone else was getting excited about the biggest headline in The Wall Street Journal, I was off thinking about the latest Dior Couture collection or what my fall wardrobe was going to look like. After a year and a half, I decided to take a giant leap of faith: I applied to Parsons. While I was at Parsons, I learned how to draw, sew, and drape. It was all so foreign to me!
What are your former Parsons classmates up to these days?
Many of my friends have done extremely well in fashion. A lot of them are working for other brands, like Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and Ralph Rucci. Also, a number of my friends came from Asia to go to Parsons; since graduating, they have set up their own businesses in Hong Kong or Tokyo. Parsons is the greatest school, ever! I’m still pinching myself that they allowed me in.
What’s your favorite part of the Coterie scene?
I could literally sit in a chair with a drink in my hand and just enjoy people-watching at Coterie. I’m surprised Tommy Ton and the street style photographers don’t come to Coterie. You see everything from the super understated chic to the peacocks; it’s really, really quite amazing.
Is Coterie a reunion of sorts for you?
Totally! This industry is very, very small and everybody knows everybody. We all travel to the same trade shows in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Miami. The contemporary industry is quite tightly knit. It’s just one big extended family.