Hollywood fashion expert, VIP personal shopper and commentator Joseph "Joe" Katz brings you interviews with celebrities and influencers about their style and personal experiences. He also shares the best beauty & lifestyle tips and tricks to help you look and feel your best.
Jenny Packham: World-Renowned Fashion Designer Discusses Her New Book 'How To Make a Dress'
Jenny Packham is a world-renowned high fashion and wedding dress designer who sells throughout the world at some of the most prestigious stores such as Saks Fifth Ave, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods and Selfridges- just to name a few. She is the go-to celebrity designer for A-List talent, such as Oprah Winfrey, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Angelina Jolie, Regina King, Kate Hudson, Kate Winslet, Adele and so many more! She has also been a favorite for Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, dressing her for many of her events.
In this episode, Jenny talks about her new book How To Make A Dress, which is on sale now both online and in your favorite bookstores. She also shares stories about how she started her company, and gives us an amazing celebrity style tip describing how she made Kate Hudson look flawless in her dress, which is something that you can use too!
Joe Katz: Hi guys. I am so excited for you to meet my next guest, it is world renowned fashion designer, Jenny Packham. She has dressed some of the most famous faces; Oprah, Kate Hudson, Miley Cyrus, I mean, the names go on and on. She is going to give us a tip that will make any woman look fabulous in their dress. Also, she's going to tell a secret that her mom told her that will make you feel better in one minute. Stay tuned, she's coming up right now.
Joe Katz: I'm so excited to talk about your new book that has come out, How to Make a Dress by Jenny Packham. So everybody's got to check that out, you can find it actually on Jenny's website, or you can go to Amazon. So it's out, it's for sale, it's a great read, and I actually read it and got a lot of very cool... I love your stories and your inspirational stories, but we're going to talk about some of that because I want to just give a little bit of a background about if people are familiar with you and love your dresses.
Joe Katz: And maybe there's new people that want to explore what you're doing, and also just purchase your book so let's jump into it. I just wanted to find out a little bit more background, I know you talk in your book a little bit about this, but for my audience to understand. Your growing up, so you grew up in London right?
Jenny Packham: No, I grew up in Southampton which is in the south of the UK. And then I came to London when I was about 18 to study at St. Martin's, and I've been here ever since.
Joe Katz: Wow. So growing up for you Jenny, were you always inspired by fashion and was that always on your mind?
Jenny Packham: Well, I was very lucky, both of my grandmothers were... One was a needle woman, she was very creative and used to do a lot of embroidery, the other one was actually a dress maker for the community, and my mum would make her own dresses. So generally all the women in my life, every time I went to see them they'd all be making something. So I think it just followed that as soon as I could, I would.
Jenny Packham: So I think I started making my own clothes when I was about nine or 10, and I loved drawing and art and everything, it was a very creative household. So when I got to about 11, I discovered there was a job called a dress designer, couldn't believe it, and that's it for me I just more or less started drawing little sketches that night. And it's I'm very lucky, I feel very privileged to have found something that I love so much so early on.
Joe Katz: That's amazing. So did your mom actually sit down with you Jenny and she was like, "Let me show you how to make this, and let me show you how to put a pattern together, or how to put together different looks and that type of thing and sewing." Did she teach you?
Jenny Packham: No, no, I think really because like I said I was around people that were being creative, I just picked it up and watch them. It wasn't really till I got to college that I learned how to really do it beautifully, I learned about all the different seams and all the different fabrics. I think with my mom, it was just more of a passion and more about making something that we wanted to wear.
Joe Katz: So did she make your clothing for school, like your dresses or different clothes?
Jenny Packham: Yeah. And I wrote about this in my book because my mom, she just made things and sometimes they didn't fit me very well. And I think the last thing I wore that I was happy wearing that she'd made was a jumpsuit, and it was corduroy and I did a handstand at the bus stop and the crotch split. And that was it because the crotch too low and I said that's it, I'm not wearing your clothes anymore. And by then I had started making my own, and I think also at that time you could make much better things than you could actually buy.
Jenny Packham: Now I think it's very reasonable to buy things for young people, and they can buy the most amazing stuff, but then there wasn't so much actually so making something was really important. And I think as I got into teenage years it was all about that identity and making sure that nobody else had what you were wearing.
Joe Katz: Oh, right, right. What was your style when you were young Jenny just to give people an idea? Because when we're young we go through so many different phases of fashion, and I know you talked about this a little bit in the book, but just to give a little background.
Jenny Packham: Yeah, my brother he's four years older than me and he started to be a punk rocker and I thought that was fabulous. So I tried that, but I didn't particularly like that, it was too rough and ready for me. So then I became a mod, which was in the second revival of mods and that was brilliant, because I got to travel all over the area looking for vintage clothing to wear. So it was very important to me to try and find original things from the '60s, and that's when I really got into looking at old clothes and getting inspiration from them I suppose.
Joe Katz: Wow. And so that's what you would do, is go vintage shopping and finding cool things and putting them together.
Jenny Packham: Yeah.
Joe Katz: So you weren't as much going into the stores and shopping and that type of stuff as a kid, as a teenager?
Jenny Packham: Oh, yeah I loved shopping. I would do the high street, but I think when I went into that stage it was about making it yourself, or going out and seeing what you could find and put together. I don't know, I think it's a great part of your life when you're really discovering through fashion who you are really.
Joe Katz: Right. And then as you evolved, after the mod vibe then where did you go into after that?
Jenny Packham: When I got to London, so I was 18 when I came to St. Martin's, that's when I just went into black.
Joe Katz: Went into black?
Jenny Packham: I went into my black years, well it was the '80s and black's great for students because you can spill drinks all over it and you can go in to an evening and just change out your lipstick. I've always loved wearing black, I find it sort of such a versatile and stylish color to wear.
Joe Katz: So you still love it?
Jenny Packham: I've got a lot of black, yeah.
Joe Katz: Yeah.
Jenny Packham: I feel safe in black, I feel like it's very adaptable to whatever you're doing and I think it shows off accessories brilliantly. So I stayed that way, but I do mix in quite a lot of colors now as well, but there's always a bit of black there.
Joe Katz: It's interesting because when I just look at your recent collection, it's so colorful, it's so beautiful and the colors are just stunning. Sometimes I feel like when I wear just a black suit I've got and accessorize with a bow tie, which obviously I'm wearing, but I pop it with color. Sometimes I feel like it's just an easy palette to work with, but looking at your collection it's so fun to see all the color and the feather that you do or detail.
Jenny Packham: I absolutely love designing in color. I mean, we actually as a brand don't really sell much black at all, our customers are really looking for standout beautiful colors. So I don't know again, I find wearing black keeps me quite neutral when I'm working, and as a designer, I don't really design for myself, I designed very much for other women. So therefore I don't know, I find working in black quite a nice base color, because of all the textures and beadwork and everything else I do really.
Jenny Packham: But yeah, I absolutely love designing in color and I think it's one of the first things with an evening dress that whenever I meet women and they've got somewhere to go, the first thing that comes into their mind when I ask them what they want is they know the color they want. Because I think it reflects very much your mood and where you're going.
Joe Katz: Right, it can be such a dramatic statement. Just getting back to when you started to design, I was just thinking about when you got into school. So did you have that initiative that you were thinking I'm going to design evening, that's going to be my niche really or I'm going to do really couture evening pieces?
Jenny Packham: Yeah, I think always from the very beginning when I first started designing, I always wanted to do things for special occasions. And I think for me it was a way of getting noticed, getting my work noticed as well, I could put so much more into it. And I love the idea that it's I'm designing something that someone's going to wear on an important occasion in their life.
Jenny Packham: And if it's a wedding dress, you almost become part of their life, it's what they always remember and maybe they keep that dress and they pass it down. For me I'm not a big fan of designing fast fashion or ordinary clothes, I always want to create the whole garment and I want it to mean something and be very special to someone. And that allows me as a designer a lot more scope for embroidery or on color and silhouette.
Joe Katz: Yeah, I mean just for an example like for a beaded dress, how many hours does it take to do a very detailed, whether it'd be a wedding dress or whether it'd be just a ready to wear piece from beginning to end?
Jenny Packham: The actual making?
Joe Katz: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jenny Packham: Well, if it was a fully sequined slim dress that absolutely everything is hand embroidered, so if it was one person beading that dress it could take a month. But generally with the ateliers that we work with, they will have four or five people working on that one style at any one time otherwise we'd never get all the dresses made. But when I go to the factories which I do, well I used to before, we couldn't for the last year which has been the most frustrating thing, and we work with wonderful places in India.
Jenny Packham: And when I go in, it always makes me stop for a moment when I see someone put a sequin on with a needle. And I think sometimes people don't realize how much work goes into those pieces, and how covetable they are really, because it's a lot of work and they're so clever in their mixture of components. I don't know if you know, but obviously when we design one of the dresses, we design the surface pattern and then when it goes to the factory, they have to turn that into a pattern where they follow every single line with the bead. It's incredibly intensive.
Joe Katz: Wow. Yeah, I think so many people look at the price tags of these dresses and they don't always understand how much work goes into it.
Jenny Packham: Yeah.
Joe Katz: Because there are companies that make beaded dresses that are machine made and they're not handmade, which is very different time wise. So it can take up to a month, but with four people it's a shorter period of time working on a dress?
Jenny Packham: Yeah.
Joe Katz: And then also I noticed you're doing accessories, you got into accessories as well?
Jenny Packham: Well, we've done jewelry over the years in different ways, and at the moment we have a collaboration in America with a company called Helzberg and they've just launched the first designer lab grown diamond fine jewelry collection. Mostly engagement rings and wedding rings which it's flying at the moment. I think there's a lot of interest in lab grown because you get this much bigger sparkly a ring, and it's incredibly good value. We also do another range in the UK as well for the engagement rings.
Joe Katz: So it's out there, people can go shop it now?
Jenny Packham: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joe Katz: Yeah, that's exciting. What advice would you have for an aspiring designer? There's so many talented people and you're so talented obviously at what you do, but somebody that is going to fashion school or maybe finished fashion school, what would be the advice to really make a difference and make your statement? It sounds like you made that niche in doing something evening or something couture, something very detailed, what would you give advice to an up and coming designer?
Jenny Packham: Well, I think for us being a niche evening wear company has always been the thing that's helped us survive for 33 years. It's a business so therefore, I would have to say to a young designer look for a gap in the market, look for where you're going to be able to offer something that is better than what's there already, or add something to it. Obviously, we're seeing a lot of designers coming through at the moment, working more with recycled and sustainable fabrics, et cetera.
Jenny Packham: And of course that is a new market which we're all doing our most to be part of, but I think being niche and working very hard at that particular area and don't be worried about being niche. Because I think for us first of all when we started designing our first couple of collections, we were able because this wasn't so much evening wear at that time. We were able to sell internationally, I mean, we were selling to all the American stores within a couple of years really.
Jenny Packham: So it's all about how you present yourself and also, don't be afraid to try and ring people or to go and see them. I know it sounds terribly old fashioned nowadays, but I think to make proper connections with the people and actually somehow get those clothes in front of them so that they can see. And I suppose yeah, I mean, I used to go round to department stores, stand there, try the dresses on, twirl, shown them, it was obviously very different, but I made connections at that stage that I still have now.
Jenny Packham: I mean, for instance, going to Harrods, getting an appointment there, and we've been in there now for 30 years. So I think there's always a way for talent to come through, I really believe that so I think in fashion you've really got to believe in yourself and don't give up. It's a very sort of some people going to like what you do, and some people aren't, but I think the wonderful thing is now that a designer can get straight to the customer very quickly through the internet, and also get that feedback.
Jenny Packham: I mean, with Instagram we put up a new wedding dress, and in a way you're testing the market to see what people like and what they don't like which I think is something that when I started my business that took much longer. We'd have to deliver the dresses to the shops, see what they bought, but now you can get that instant feedback, which must help a lot of designers get their collections right quicker really.
Jenny Packham: But I think it's a very exciting time for young people because I think there's so much opportunity to market what you do, but at the same time I think there are challenges in that it feels quite overwhelming that there's so many people doing things. And I think I would have been intimidated by that when I was young.
Joe Katz: Yeah, because it's challenging when somebody gets into it and to see what would be the best way to do it. Is your business pretty much half direct to consumer, half department store or retail? Or is it mostly retail?
Jenny Packham: Well, I think it's changed a lot over the last year. I think like most fashion companies we've all speeded up with our online offer. I very much enjoy we sell at Net-a-Porter and quite a lot of the online platforms now, and it seems to be working alongside the retail as well I think. So for example with Neiman's or with Harrods, when we look at the sales they seem quite even with shop sales and online sales. So I think it's all about offering what you do to a much bigger audience really.
Jenny Packham: I think what we're seeing now is doing more exclusivity with certain online stores. I think the fact that you can get anything from anyone, and this is evening wear and people don't want to be wearing the same thing as someone else at the event, so I think we have to start doing exclusive capsule collections for different platforms. So that we're offering a bit more exclusivity, which is how we built our business with the retail shops anyway.
Joe Katz: Right. People want something different that they couldn't find somewhere else, or it was an exclusive only piece on Net-a-Porter or something like that. You've dressed so many celebrities, Sandra Bullock I read in your book was one of your first that you dressed, did that help sales for your brand dressing celebrities?
Jenny Packham: Yes, of course. I mean, when we came to show in New York in our first season here, we had been showing in London maybe for eight or nine years and we decided that we really wanted to get into the American market. And we felt that showing our collections in New York Fashion Week was really going to put a bit more on the map here. So I think once we started showing here, then we were able to work more with the stylist in L.A, and I think for us it's about just having a brand that isn't an aspiring brand.
Jenny Packham: And also when you dress celebrities and they look good hopefully, then somebody goes into the shop and they think about it whilst they're looking around. I don't think our clothes are the sort of clothes that someone sees someone wearing it and they think I must have that. I think our customers are very discerning and they don't really want what other people have, but if they see someone wearing your brand and it's worked, I think then they're more tempted to try it I suppose.
Joe Katz: Right. Who would have been some of your favorite celebrities to dress?
Jenny Packham: Oh I've been so lucky, actually I've dressed so many of the people I love. I suppose well like you said Sandra Bullock, I think Halle Berry, Kate Winslet as I write about in the book, we've dressed her quite a lot of times now and I'm a big, big, big fan of hers. And I like it when we dress someone before they come to be a much bigger actress, we've dressed Florence Pugh and now she's turning into a big star really.
Joe Katz: Oh, yeah.
Jenny Packham: And I think we dress it Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning when they were very young. And then of course, we dress people like Helen Mirren, Oprah Winfrey, Adele, so there's a lot of diversity with age and what people do. I mean, it's great and I always feel very, very lucky when we dress someone because you never know whether they're going to wear it until...
Jenny Packham: And sometimes a lot of these dresses you do a lot of work, and you have to understand that they're going to have two or three, four choices and you're very lucky if they wear one. And also I think to start with I used to be quite upset when they didn't wear it, but now you just think, "Well they're going to appreciate that I did make that." So it usually works out and in the end they wear something.
Joe Katz: Yeah. I know, you mentioned too before Miley Cyrus, you like dressing her.
Jenny Packham: Oh, yeah. Well, we dressed her for the Oscars. I can't remember what year it was, but it was before she evolved. I'm a big fan of Miley, I think it's very brave to have one identity in the public eye, and then really changed it. And I think she became very interesting and there's a possibility we're working with her again soon, but yeah, I'd love to dress her again.
Joe Katz: Yeah, that's great because she's got a very funky, edgy young vibe and I feel like your brand goes across all age groups really. It's flattering.
Jenny Packham: Yeah, and Miley she's all heart isn't she really?
Joe Katz: Yeah.
Jenny Packham: She's quite impressive, but I think within a collection whether it's the celebrities or our customer base, within those 30 pieces you have to offer so much. You have to offer dresses with sleeves and I don't know, we have so many different parts of the world, the Middle East, China is a big market for us, Japan. So you've got to think about all the different women that you're dressing and where they're going to really, that's the most important thing.
Joe Katz: Because you dress a lot of influential people and celebrities and all of that, what are some of your a style secret that has been so helpful because people obviously now with Spanx, that's become the number one thing when a woman buys a dress. She's like, I need my Spanx. I need this, I need certain things, what has been for my audience to know like, "God do you know what? I'm going to use that." Just that little tip or trick that always makes you look great in one of your dresses.
Jenny Packham: Well, I think more than anything, most of the women that I've worked with they really want the dress to be as tight as possible.
Joe Katz: Tight or tighter.
Jenny Packham: You do, but you have to be quite careful with that you can't go too tight or else the zip breaks.
Joe Katz: Right.
Jenny Packham: But I think to really think about the silhouette, one of the tricks that actually Kate Winslet showed us is for a lot of women the problem is when they can't wear a bra with a dress. And I think if you do want to wear the dress quite tight as well you don't want to see all the lines. So one of the tricks was to get a quite a wide ribbon, and attach it to the armhole and then you cross it like a bra would underneath your bust, and then fix it into the center in the seam that comes under the bust. And this will push you forward a bit and keep you all in place, and it's such a simple thing. So I love working directly with the celebrities, because these are the little things you find out because they're such professionals at what they do and they know how they look.
Joe Katz: They know how they're going to be, their image is going to be portrayed. Yes, yes. Is the ribbon on the outside or the inside that you build it in?
Jenny Packham: In the inside of the dress.
Joe Katz: Inside the dress. Oh.
Jenny Packham: So stitching on the inside of the seams and crossing it under.
Joe Katz: Oh, that's so interesting. So you build it in when you're sewing it. Oh, that's so cool.
Jenny Packham: Well, it's just an instant push up and then obviously, you can tighten it to where you need it.
Joe Katz: Oh, that's a good trick, I like that. People always love to know fun stories about when you were dressing somebody or was there any instance that was just a really like, wow, I can't believe that happened moment.
Jenny Packham: I've been very lucky to work with Dita Von Teese actually, who I absolutely adore, and we've done quite a few costumes with her. So for me, it's been so nice working... I mean, when you've been designing for 33 years, you're always looking for new challenges, and for me designing things that have to come off other than stay on.
Joe Katz: Oh right, things have to come off easily with her.
Jenny Packham: Yeah. So like you were saying talking about different techniques that you can use, it's quite interesting working with her because you have to work with how she's going to move and how she's going to take things off so everything looks effortless. Unfortunately, we've made something for her recently and the chole we use was a bit sticky and she had a big cake behind her made out of... Like a big birthday cake, and she was telling us the other day how she kept getting stuck to it which wasn't good.
Joe Katz: She got stuck to the cake?
Jenny Packham: Yeah we don't want to get stuck to the cake.
Joe Katz: No, no.
Jenny Packham: I don't know I'm trying to think. Like I say, I've had so many good experiences with people. I think for me it's very difficult trying to make dresses for people in LA when I can't get to see them. I mean often you have to style it, you get sent the measurements and you're making it in your studio and you send it over. But I think when you actually meet someone, any customer really and you get to see their body and try things on them, I think especially for the pattern cutters they understand so much more, it's very difficult doing it blind.
Joe Katz: Oh, yeah. You talk about your inspirations in the books and I read about how you go to vintage stores. It sounds like you did when you were younger same kind of thing, is that where you get your current inspirations for different things? Is that your biggest place that you go to is vintage?
Jenny Packham: Sometimes. I think actually there's something in the process of actually just going out and looking around vintage shops, it just triggers off different things. And I quite appreciate the fact that I'm looking at what other designers have made over the years, and there's something inspiring about that. I hope one day that people see my dresses in vintage shops and I can inspire people, but yeah maybe sometimes it's just a color, or sometimes you buy something because he's got an amazing sleeve, or there's a really wonderful print on it. I think you have to be really careful not to take anything from vintage particularly literally. First of all, I think it's your job to recreate these ideas rather than take them.
Joe Katz: Sure, of course.
Jenny Packham: But I think you have to be careful, somehow you have to bring it up to a contemporary level. So that you're not creating something that looks vintage, but I don't know, I think it's just being inspired by other people's work I suppose. I say in my book actually, I call it scavenging. When you're starting to put a collection together, you're starting to find the different bits that you want the colors, the embroideries, the look that you want. And I think when you go out looking in vintage shops, you're just pulling on those ideas and putting together something yourself that can ignite other people's imagination I suppose.
Joe Katz: Can you get an inspiration that's not from clothes, like from jewelry that you could take that idea and put it into clothing?
Jenny Packham: Well, jewelry is always wonderful for embroidery details. Vintage necklaces, or maybe it's just the layout or something, or quite often a piece of jewelry. There's a piece that I found in Paris, it's actually in a museum there and it's this beautiful brooch that was like a butterfly with a woman in the middle than a stem. And I just looked at it and it was just a dress to me, it was all there, and I created a bridal dress called ` which for us was such a big seller. But sometimes you actually find a piece of jewelry that you almost just feel it's a dress.
Joe Katz: It's a dress. Right. Right.
Jenny Packham: Yeah, it's there, it's just ready for you.
Joe Katz: Isn't that interesting?
Jenny Packham: Yeah. Again, in the book I talk about how sometimes I can be somewhere very boring, like a bus stop somewhere and I'm bored because I don't like standing and queuing for things, and I try and look around and find inspiration. And I think once you get into a habit of that, you can find inspiration anywhere really. So I quite enjoy that process as well, finding inspiration from what otherwise seems like a very boring place.
Joe Katz: Right. Right. I just think it's interesting because traditionally you think oh, I'm just going to get inspiration from clothing, but it can be from anything so it's great to hear that.
Jenny Packham: And also in looking at the way other people and just watching people as well and how they put things together.
Joe Katz: You talk in the book about how fashion gives you courage, how did it give you courage?
Jenny Packham: Well, I think at that point I was talking about being perhaps being at St. Martin's and feeling quite intimidated by it all really. I mean, that's probably when I went into the black, black is an amazing color for young people as well because it's a kind of look at me, don't look at me color really.
Joe Katz: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jenny Packham: But I think by choosing to wear certain things we can give ourselves confidence, and I think with my designs that's what I'm always trying to achieve. Is to design something that gives someone a lot of confidence so they feel really good about themselves. And also so they can completely forget about what they're wearing and enjoy the event that they're at, or getting married. I'd never want them to feel too conscious of it, so I think for me fashion is very much about confidence. I think we all know that if we've got a favorite jacket you put it on and you feel like you're ready for anything, and sometimes you want to be looked at so you put a bit of color. So I think we can play with fashion more to lift our moods really, I think we can achieve a lot through what we can wear.
Joe Katz: What is your favorite piece from this collection? Your current collection?
Jenny Packham: My current collection? I'm kind of on to the next one and we've got-
Joe Katz: Something we could see on your site or from the runway. Are there a few pieces that you're like-
Jenny Packham: Well like I say, there's one dress on there which we've been reinventing every season which is actually one of the pieces that we did for Dita Von Teese. It's a wrap over gown with amazing feather sleeves that she wears during one of her pieces called Lazy, where she's just lazing around in this Jean Harlow-esc wrap over dress. And for the last four or five years, every season we do it in a new way and it just sells.
Jenny Packham: So of course I love that piece because it sells, but somehow during the whole lockdown experience, I feel that our designs have changed a bit. I think they become more about escapism and I think that's what we're seeing. We're seeing people are buying more exciting pieces than they weren't before, and I think if they're going to buy into what we do, they want the really a bit at the out there pieces. But it's a beautiful collection.
Joe Katz: You mean they want something more extravagant, real-
Jenny Packham: Yes definitely, that's definitely happening. And we're also seeing things with fantastic backs and a lot more sleeveless things. So yeah, more brave actually, and more just towards being a bit more adventurous I suppose.
Joe Katz: Wow.
Jenny Packham: It's time to party.
Joe Katz: That's fun. Yeah, I think people are excited to get out and go-
Jenny Packham: Absolutely.
Joe Katz: And just be-
Jenny Packham: And joy.
Joe Katz: Yeah. You talk also about trusting your intuition and how do you help navigate? With your success it's taken off so much, and do you feel like it's because you've trusted your intuition so much in what you do?
Jenny Packham: Well, I'm very lucky, I've worked with my partner and husband for 33 years and I think we're very good at listening to each other and helping each other with that intuition thing as well. Because I think it's all very well to have a feeling about something, but it's good to be able to sound it out with someone who's also on the same side as you. Maybe from the business side of things you have to use a lot of intuition, but from the design side as a designer I think you have to be really aware of what's going on in the world. And not just what exhibitions are on, but also what's going on with politics and films and the whole cultural feeling of the time.
Jenny Packham: So that you're in tune with that, I think it's very important. So sometimes the difficult thing is you can't explain your intuition, and I think you've just got to be allowed to go with it. And that's why I feel very lucky to work with someone who is also a creative person and also the CEO of the company, so that he really appreciates that trust in creative intuition. I think for a lot of designers they sometimes work with business people that want to make a science of it, and there isn't a science to it. It's based on a lot of like you say intuition, feeling and not really knowing why you're going in a certain direction, it's just what you feel that you want to do.
Joe Katz: Yeah. And sometimes people get so worried about will it sell? Is it going to make money? I it going to-
Jenny Packham: Yeah, and that's when it all starts going wrong I think actually.
Joe Katz: Yeah, because you've got to go with the intuition and the feeling and the vibe, and yeah.
Jenny Packham: Because generally I think people that work in sales and our customers, you've got to give them something new. Just because they bought it before, doesn't mean they want it again so you have to get all that information about the last season's order book and what people liked, but then you have to think, "Okay, well that was then what can we do this season and move it on?" And I think that's the challenge actually, especially when you see a lot of designers that maybe things are selling so well, but during the course of that you have to think about what you're going to do next. Because the challenge of fashion is that it changes all the time and you have to be brave enough to move on.
Joe Katz: Right. And you're working on which collection now currently?
Jenny Packham: Well, we've just finished a bridal collection, so we're doing small drops of bridal dresses now throughout the year. And we're just about to start on our spring/summer '22.
Joe Katz: Oh, spring/summer '22, right.
Jenny Packham: Yeah.
Joe Katz: We're done with fall, yeah that's old. Okay, I have just two more questions and I will let you go. You've been so kind to answer all my questions, but one thing that I wanted to ask and I've always been curious from designers about when you get reviewed how do you take that? I was just watching a movie about Halston and how he would be like, "Oh, just read me the reviews. Okay, stop I don't want to hear, I don't want to hear it." And when they love you, or when they have some things, how do you take that? How does that sit with you? Do you let it soak in or just let it roll off?
Jenny Packham: Yeah it's hard, but I have to say that I think you have to welcome. Obviously when you say reviews, we're talking about bad ones yeah?
Joe Katz: Well bad and good. I mean, bad and good.
Jenny Packham: Well, good's lovely and bad can be great because I think as long as if you look at criticisms and you can think make up your own mind which one's are you know, because they're not always right that's fair enough. So look at what's good about them and I think it does always. We're creative, sensitive people so it takes a few days, but I have to say I could write a list of people that I would like to go back to and say, "Thank you so much for criticizing me because that really moved me on."
Joe Katz: Really?
Jenny Packham: And I think you've got to say thank you for saying that because nowadays people quite often are not brave enough to say what they think or to give you that help really. I remember there was one season where the one thing in the UK was that I think people viewed you if you did an evening wear collection that it wasn't enough, they wanted you to do the day wear et cetera. So when I came to show in New York, there was actually a British journalist who had come and she wrote saying, "Oh really lovely evening dresses, but where's the knitwear? Where's the trousers? Where's the wall?"
Jenny Packham: So I didn't really agree, I think it's okay for me to be niche, but the next season I did some amazing little knitwear pieces. One of them actually Kate Hudson wore in the end, it was a beautiful dress and it was all made with beaded cable knit. So we'd taken an idea of knitwear and done it with beadwork. I mean, that was obviously a little bit of obtuse with her criticism, but I think you should always listen and see if there's anything in that person that saying is right and could it help you move forward?
Joe Katz: Yeah.
Jenny Packham: I think it's important. I don't think you can ignore it. I mean, when you show a collection, you're asking people to tell you what they like. You're putting yourself out there, it's your job to listen to them.
Joe Katz: Right. And so you take that in and decide okay, I'm going to use that or maybe I'll lose it.
Jenny Packham: Yeah, after I've cried my eyes out because of those.
Joe Katz: I mean because we are creative people so we want everybody to love it, right?
Jenny Packham: We want everyone to love it, yeah.
Joe Katz: We do, yeah. And thank God people have loved your things for over 30 years, that's incredible so any critiques it comes with the business, right?
Jenny Packham: Yeah, absolutely.
Joe Katz: Well, my last, last question is I always like to give some people some things to think about, but what is one thing that you haven't told anybody that you think... You're not allowed to say everything, one thing you haven't told anybody that you think would help somebody else. You think maybe it would lift them up, maybe it would help them in some way.
Jenny Packham: Uh, that's quite a tricky question seriously.
Joe Katz: You don't have to tell me anything crazy, but if you want to share whatever you want to share it's always fun and inspirational to you know...
Jenny Packham: Well, my mum said to me that whenever you feel down and you don't feel great, go and buy yourself a lipstick. And it was a lovely thing and I thought at the time she just doesn't understand me and my moods, but actually it's a very good thing. Because first of all you're thinking about yourself, no one else, you're just thinking about buying yourself something. It's not a very expensive purchase, so you're not going to feel guilty about it, or you're going to think that you've been too extravagant. And you put a smile on your face with it, it's a lipstick. So I use that quite a lot, I've got a lot of lipsticks so that's my advice to someone.
Joe Katz: Oh I like that.
Jenny Packham: If you're not feeling good, and like I say, I'm a real believer that you can move your life along by experimenting with what you wear and how you do things with your appearance.
Joe Katz: I love that. That's awesome Jenny, that's great. What a great piece of advice. Well, Jenny, you have been fabulous. I want everybody check out How to Make a Dress, you can find it at jennypackham.com, you can also find it on Amazon. It's been so great, thank you so much Jenny for being on the show.
Jenny Packham: Thank you for having me.
Joe Katz: Thanks for listening to The Katz Walk. Make sure to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcast. A special thank you to Executive Producer Gerardo Orlando, Producer Leah Longbrake and Audio Engineer Dave Douglas.