starring Elle® magazine's Joe Zee

Episode Recap – Jedda-Kahn – Selling Out or Selling Smart

During the course of ALL ON THE LINE, many people constantly ask me what the most common problem among all the different designers were and while each one had very different issues, the most unifying thread – no pun intended – was arguably, finding that perfect marriage of art and commerce.

Of course, whenever I explain this, the one designer that comes to my mind is always Jedda-Kahn. This is, of course, not a problem unique to him but a struggle constantly battled by all designers. Jedda-Kahn was just the one designer that would, at times, drive me to the brink of frustration battling this point. I admired him for not wanting to give in but at times, as you saw on this week’s episode, we would wind up talking in circles, sometimes to a resolve and sometimes not.

The inevitable question remains: How do you retain your sensibility and design something new while simutaneously making it commercially viable. Of course if I had the scientific answer to that million dollar question, we’d all be, well, millionaires. Unfortunately, all I can say is that it’s really about tapping into what works for the individual as a designer and creating that winning signature.

But it’s not – as Jedda-Kahn very heatedly declared to me, “selling out”. Selling out is being lazy and I would never advocate that. Selling smart is being innovative and that’s the key. Or in Jedda-Kahn’s case, I wanted to just go for selling. Period.

Despite him and I exchanging words on this very issue (outside Georgina Chapman’s showroom no less), I still believe that Jedda-Kahn can do it. In his case, he was already creating special one-of-a-kind pieces for personal clients, so all he needed to do was take what he did so well and modify it for a bigger, broader clientele. Look at someone like Georgina; that’s exactly how she built her multi-million dollar business and that was the business model I wanted for Jedda-Kahn. I knew he had both the talent and the foresight to make it happen, but at times, he would be his own worse enemy. And sadly, him and I just didn’t always see it eye-to-eye during our process together which is too bad, because when we did, those dresses were stunning. I still love the two first finished dresses presented at the Scoop presentation. They were wearable, youthful and still said a lot about who Jedda-Kahn was as a designer. I never for one second felt he compromised his vision. I am more disappointed that the remaining looks of the collection weren’t finished; not because he didn’t get picked-up by Scoop (though it would have been a fantastic moment for his business) but because I was interested in seeing his take on it, from the mind of Jedda-Kahn. The mind of an artist who can finally say that he understood his customer. But sadly, that didn’t come to fruition. Instead, his customer will just have to settle for his wildcard. At least for now.

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