‘What are you wearing?’

Emily Rasinski

Fashion critic speaks to fashion students

Leon Hall explains the luxury industry to the Fashionomics class Friday afternoon in Rockwell Hall.

Credit: Beth Rankin

“What the hell were you thinking?”

These are the words celebrities dread hearing from fashion critic Leon Hall as they stroll down the red carpet. But fashion students listened intently to Hall’s words as he spoke to the filled auditorium in Rockwell Hall Friday afternoon.

Hall’s speech was a part of the lecture series for Fashionomics, a class designed for fashion merchandising majors. This semester’s speakers focus on the luxury side of the fashion industry.

Hall, who became famous from his show “Fashion Emergency” and awards show coverage on E!, explained that the luxury industry can include everything from J.C. Penney to Neiman Marcus.

“It’s the look,” he said. “How can you take a look from Paris and make it work for you?”

Elizabeth Rhodes, director of the fashion school, said Hall, who first started working in fashion in Paris at 18, is very qualified to speak about the luxury industry. Rhodes arranged for Hall, who is also a member of the school’s advisory board, to speak to the class.

“He’s been around luxury his whole life,” she said. “He’s dressed and styled and put down the runway a lot of fashion.”

One aspect of the luxury industry Hall focused on was the influence of celebrities and red carpet fashion on the public.

“It’s all about Britney or Lindsay Lohan,” he said. “J Lo has her own line of clothes and fragrance. That’s the look of today.”

He explained that he helped launch the red carpet look with his coverage of entertainment awards shows.

“I was the first one to say ‘Merle Streep, what are you wearing?’”

Hall said that with his coverage, the interest in knowing what celebrities were wearing caught on.

“All of a sudden we had Diane Sawyer saying, ‘Your dress is great, who did it?’” he said.

Hall is among a number of speakers in the class. Other speakers for the class include presidents, CEOs, chairmen, marketing directors and representatives of boutiques and companies such as Louis Vuitton, Bath and Body Works, Moschino and Sterling Jewelers.

Tracie Marty, senior fashion merchandising major, said because of Hall’s fame she was very excited to see him in person.

“When I saw the syllabus he was the only name I recognized because I’ve seen him on TV,” she said.

She said the thing she was most surprised to learn about him was that he does so much.

In addition to TV appearances, Hall produces fashion shows, designs jewelry, started his own line of furs for larger women called the Diva Collection and works as a spokesman.

Marty said she enjoyed his honest portrayal of the fashion industry.

“He talked about the interworkings of fashion shows,” she said. “We got the dirt instead of just the glamour.”

Although Hall works around the glamour and luxury of Hollywood and movie stars everyday, he told the students not to forget about whom they are designing for.

“Every woman in the world has a red carpet moment,” he said. “Don’t worry about what’s on the runway, worry about what’s on the woman.”

Contact fine and professional arts reporter Emily Rasinski at [email protected].