September 09, 2011
It's now Fashion Week in New York City, a time when designers roll out new looks for the world's fashion elite. It's a celebration, in part, but also a serious time for fashionistas to congregate and assess the latest developments in their industry. Also, they get drunk on expensive alcohol every night.
In recent years, NBA All-Stars like Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and LeBron James(notes) have popped up at Fashion Week events, inaugurating a new era of NBA style far divorced from Michael Jordan's Canadian tuxedos. For the most part, basketball players are becoming more fashionable.
Of course, they had considerable help getting there from their stylists. Rachel Johnson, one of the most popular, received the profile treatment from Kirsten Fleming for the New York Post's Page Six Magazine:
"Absolutely without question, I put them in their place," says Johnson of her clients, who include NBA superstars LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh(notes) and Chris Paul(notes). Last September, as New Yorkers were tripping over themselves to welcome Stoudemire when he signed a $100 million contract with the Knicks, Johnson was working on another acquisition: Stoudemire's ensemble for Fashion Week.
After all, he was to be the guest of Vogue editrix Anna Wintour at the Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For his designer debut, Johnson dressed him in a dashing baby blue slim-fit Tom Ford suit.
She recalls the moment while sipping a flute of rosé at the bar of the Four Seasons in Midtown. "He did not want to wear this suit. It was a departure from anything he had worn before, but he was invited by Anna Wintour to sit front row at Fashion Week after only being [in New York] six weeks. He needed to make a splash!" Johnson says, extending her arms enthusiastically.
The 6-foot-10-inch transplant from Phoenix finally relented and wore the suit with a plaid shirt and tie. That ensemble, along with others that week, prompted a ringing endorsement from Wintour herself: "Amar'e looked wonderfully dapper," she told Wall Street Journal Magazine.
The entire profile is worth your time -- it's not too lengthy and delves into how and why Johnson understands athletes' off-court fashion needs so well.
The improvement of basketball fashion sense is undoubtedly a good one. While guys like Amar'e aren't exactly role models, they are public figures who set trends. With that high level of visibility, it's important that they look like adults, complete with clothes that fit in forward-thinking styles. Clothes tell the world what kind of person you are, and for a celebrity that means outfits can be as large a part of a personal brand as endorsements.
Now, if only Johnson could help out Stan Van Gundy. That guy belongs in the Fashion Police lockup.