For Sergio Hudson, it’s been a whirlwind since the presidential inauguration ceremony last month.
It was a monumental day for the South Carolina native, who dressed former First Lady Michelle Obama in the made-to-order oxblood pantsuit and Vice President Kamala Harris in a sequined cocktail dress and tuxedo coat. in silk for evening celebrations.
When I landed in Philadelphia, we were watching the grand opening at the airport, and when I saw her walk out I heard people audibly gasp, the Los Angeles-based designer said during a call. Everyone started buzzing at me, Googling him. Things changed overnight, I knew by then things had changed when I heard the gasps.
The grand opening wasn’t the first time Hudson had dressed former First Lady Obama in the designer’s custom purple pantsuit on her Becoming book tour in 2019. Nor is it the first time that celebrities dressed by Hudson, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonc and Rihanna, have all worn her designs.
Yet the political event had the biggest impact, with his business more than doubling the growth of e-commerce.
About 33.8 million people watched Bidens sworn in on Jan. 20, according to Nielsen, making it the third-highest number of viewers of any presidential inauguration in the past four decades.
And Hudson was ready for the spotlight. Obama and Harris looks, according to the designer, were the epitome of Sergio.
Everything Michelle wore was pretty much things from my collection, the same for the vice president, says Hudson. It was an honor that they chose what I had already done.
As the former First Lady looked beyond chic and refined in the wide-leg, single-breasted wool-crepe pants in wool and cashmere, the look was unexpected for the historic event.
It’s not common for women to wear slacks for a grand opening, especially not wide, high-waisted pants, says Hudson. Michelle Obama had worn this before, I just did that in this [oxblood] Color. I didn’t even have to create a new pattern.
The pants and coat were custom made, looks taken from the designers ‘fall 2000 collection, inspired by the R&B divas of the late 1980s and early’ 90s.
I wanted to do something really stylish, really sharp, says Hudson, about the collection. I love monochromaticit gives you instant chic. The look I did for the collection was a dress and a shorter coat with the same belt. We made the pants for Michelle.
How Instagram played a role
Hudson has been introduced to Obamas stylist Meredith Koop on social media, including Instagram.
I saw she followed me one day on IG and I hit her and said I would like to dress Michelle [Obama] one day and she was like OK, recalls Hudson. Instagram makes and changes lives every day.
The Harris team contacted Hudson directly.
We had worked with her team on the election campaign and when she won it was time to dress her up for the inauguration and they gave us the option, he said.
What’s next for the designer
The historic political day set things in motion for the Hudsons brand.
We were a young brand and we were definitely in a difficult position, says Hudson. Things are improving. Our e-commerce has doubled or tripled. It kind of skyrocketed. And we are in talks with many department stores.
Hudson is in the process of polishing its Fall 21 collection, which will be available in mid-March. He describes it as an evolution from last fall.
Its inspired by Africa, says Hudson. So many times when people take inspiration from Africa, they think tribal, but it’s a modern country. It is not a monolithic place. It’s so diverse, it’s a continent with many different countries.
The designer runs a lean company and manufactures most of his models himself. At its headquarters in Los Angeles, it works with a team of four, including two sewers and a business partner. There they cut, drape and sew.
I am very practical, he said. If I had to downsize, I could always do it. I would never go bankrupt.
Fashion is the only job Hudson, 36, ever wanted to do, a dream he had since he was a young boy.
All the people I grew up with obsessed with Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferre, Thierry Mugler, Azzedine Alaa, all except Mugler who no longer designs, are gone, it’s a bygone era, says- he. Fashion suffered as a result.
His fashion models also include iconic American designers Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Halston.
Like these internationally renowned designers, Hudson wants to leave his mark on the world.
I want to go as high as possible, higher than anyone has done before, says Hudson. What a legacy mark could be if we didn’t see the color anymore. Once that’s done, it will be more common for a black designer to have created a legacy brand.
There have been great American designers like Stephen Burrows, Willi Smith, but if I call my grandmother tomorrow, she won’t know who they are. I know who they are because I love fashion. They have failed to bring their brands to that level, so we don’t have to tell black designer Sergio Hudson.
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