starring Elle® magazine's Joe Zee

Episode Recap – Gemma Kahng – "I was misty-eyed!"

I think the interesting case here with Gemma wasn’t necessarily so much what she was going to learn from ME, but what she had hopefully also learned from her own past experiences. Gemma is by far the most mature and most successful of all the designers featured on ALL ON THE LINE, which can be an advantage and a disadvantage. Yes, she had the experience and know-how of making it happen again but the disadvantage laid in trying to make that happen in a very fickle and unforgiving industry. An industry she was trying so hard to impress once again.

There’s no denying that the fashion industry is always chasing what’s new and what’s next and not necessarily looking for what’s yesterday or once upon a time. She would need to jump that very hurdle and start being seen as relevant, welcomed and most of all, important again in the eyes of the fashion world. This would be my biggest challenge yet.

Watching this episode on playback and listening to Gemma say she felt as though the fashion industry had abandoned her broke my heart. I understood what she was talking about. Here was the industry I work so hard in and love so much and while I’m under no delusions about the insurmountable pressures within it, it was still difficult to hear.

That’s why I felt I owed it to help Gemma. Not because I had any contribution to her first success — or failure — but because I was no longer that wide-eyed assistant but now someone who can actually write an email or make a call and make that effort to help her start her business again. And I could see — no, correction — feel how badly this meant to her. When she first described to me how she had learned to make ruffles from chiffon BY HAND, I was blown away and I would be a schmuck to not give it my all. And that was the genesis and lesson behind this week’s episode.

Regarding all the drama with her staff, again I never expected that to happen. I don’t want to spend the time nor the space here discussing Gemma’s staff because like I had explained to her on the show, her collection needed to be all about her. It was about moving on. Which is what we — and mostly Gemma — did. Once she reclaimed herself, her work was a creative liberation of ideas. I love that final collection so much and so did Sarah and Beth from Kirna Zabete, as evidenced by their genuine applause. When that last and final ruffled laced coatdress came out, I was misty-eyed. And for those who know me well, tears don’t always come so easily.

Read the article on Page Six.

Tune in for more designer transformations on Sundance Channel’s all new original series ALL ON THE LINE. Tuesdays at 10p EST.