In the fashion world, parties, heels and glasses of bubbly de rigueur. But every once in a while, there is the single celebration that is the exception. This year, the exceptional celebration belongs to Elie Tahari, who is marking 40 years of designing clothes for women across the globe. The Israeli-born fashion designer is celebrating the milestone with a special 40th anniversary collection. Check it out here:
We stopped by the designer’s New York City atelier to congratulate him on his landmark anniversary and—what else?—reminisce. Check out these archival images that Elie shared with Glamour.com throughout and read on:
Glamour: What does it feel like to look back on 40 years of your designs?
Elie Tahari: I look back and I feel like I just started. Every day has its own challenges and every day those challenges make us stronger.
Elie Tahari in his workroom in 1985
Glamour: When did you first take an interest in fashion?
E.T.: I grew up in different orphanages in Israel, and if they gave me a pair of shoes, a shirt and pair of pants every year, I was lucky. The rest was handouts, leftover clothes. So I appreciated clothes because I only had one new shirt each year.
Glamour: What was your first big fashion purchase?
E.T.: When I was 13, I had some money and went to a tailor. I asked the tailor to make me very low cut [plaid] pants with bell bottoms—and that’s the first time that bell bottoms came out! The first day I wore it, I fell and got a hole in it with my knee.
An early Tahari ad.
Glamour: Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
E.T.: I got involved in fashion by accident. When I got to New York, my intention was to have enough money to eat and to stay and I don’t have to leave. I just loved ny the energy, the culture, the freedom.
Glamour: What inspires you after all of these years?
E.T.: New York. Truly, this is the only city that I feel this energy. Everyone is accepted. This is the first place that I felt open and that I can do everything. In the orphanage [where I grew up] it was all boys. Military school, the Air Force, all boys. When I came to New York City, you see women everywhere! They inspire me.
Glamour: Do you have a motto?
E.T.: Picasso said: good artists copy, great artists steal.
Glamour: You’ve been dressing women for 40 years, so perhaps you have some insight! What will modern women be wearing in the future?
E.T.: Right now, it’s been an era of leggings and tight skinny jeans with big, big tops— volume on top and skinny on bottom. I feel it’s about to change and the volume will go on the bottom, like baseball jackets over fuller skirts.
A Tahari ad from 1980