An example of Katrin Schnabl’s Euro sensibility

Michelle Tan: Impresario of urban chic

Spoiler alert: We’re about to tell you which local indie designers got the nod from Macy’s.

So, let me just get this out of the way. I could never do the whole fashion design thing. I can’t sew together a paper bag. I don’t have the patience to dry my hair in the morning, much less affix tiny little buttons or adjust hemlines. My favorite article of clothing is a T-shirt from high school that says Planned Parenthood of Alabama. It has a picture of a rabbit popping out of a hat. My mother always tries to throw it away when I visit.

But, like many people, I have opinions-strong opinions-about fashion. What I find most visually appealing, and what I think is most envelope-pushing, design-wise, these aren’t necessarily things that the mainstream public wants to buy. There’s a huge disconnect between what moves us in Vogue and what we’ll actually drop $100 on. 

So when Macy’s handed over the list of the local designers they’ll be carrying in fall, I wasn’t surprised. The folks who got the nod have the most experience working with real clients. Clients who, like me, have boobs and butts and hips. I had expected Michelle Tan to get picked up, since she runs a boutique and certainly has a following. And she did. Overall, out of about 70, they chose six ready-to-wear designers, and 12 accessory and/or jewelry designers. Those are pretty good odds, considering.

The other ready-to-wear people on the list: Orlando Espinoza (; Katrin Schnabl (; and two necktie designers, the man-about-town Lee Allison ( and Greg Shugar (, whose extra-long ties are made to accommodate, well, um, guys with guts. Apparently, there’s a big demand out there for extra-long ties and the buyers snapped these right up. Who knew?

A gown by newcomer Cyndi Chan

The one emerging designer on the retail list is Cyndi Chan, a relative newcomer who designs under the name Orien. I think she has talent, but her taste still seems kind of scattered. I don’t quite yet understand her “statement,” or what her clothes say about the woman who wears them. The cool thing is, now that someone is backing her, she can figure these things out.

Accessories-wise, they picked up Kristen Amato, the queen of the gold filigree; Diego Rocha, a super cool handbag designer who works with beautiful leathers and exotic skins; plus Anna Fong (Heroine Chic belts); Kirsten Goede (Objets d’Envy jewelry); Kathleen Miller jewelry; Jay Moore (Maddie Powers INC); Sandy Rueve (She Beads); Julie Schwanbeck (Jules Jewelry); and Joelle Mennasian  (of Joelle Nadine).