Thursday, February 2, 2012


...Part of it anyway. I'm jeans phobic you see, so quite the last person you'd be sending to planet denim. Or was. Believe it or not, I'm actually reformed since this trip. Heck I'm wearing jeans today!

Rosella Giuliani has 300 pairs of jeans. She has an excuse; it’s both a perk of her job – she’s the recently anointed VP of Gap 1969’s LA-based Denim Studio – and a career-long obsession. “I wear jeans every day; it’s my thing,” she shrugs, explaining that her first design job was at Versace in the 1990s, “when high fashion denim was first starting to be seen on the catwalks” and before Gap she worked at Seven 4 All Mankind. “I’m head of denim, and I’m a denim head. It’s fitting.”

Today she is wearing Gap 1969 medium-weight Long & Leans in light blue wash. They hug her butt nicely, and elongate her legs. She’s teamed them with chunky tan leather heels and a washed chambray, Western-style shirt (denim on denim; just a lapel away from a denim suit!). It strikes a delicate balance between pulled together and studiedly relaxed. She looks kind of LaurenHutton-y, even though she’s a brunette. Giuliani was born in Brussels of Italian stock. But aren’t jeans the American dream?

“Sure, but not only the American one. As a family we always did denim. The 70s was the denim era everywhere, even for smart dressing,” she says. “In Europe when I was a kid it was still exciting to fly. When we’d go on vacation there was a sense of occasion. My mom would dress us up in our best denim jackets and jeans.” So you could say Giuliani has jeans in her genes. 

“How about you?” she says. It takes everything I’ve got not to crumple and cry. Did she sniff me out last night at the welcome dinner at the Sunset Towers in West Hollywood?  Did I let slip my phobia over one too many martinis. Surely not! I’d been careful; I am always careful.

A quick reconnaissance shows that I am cornered. This place, a light-filled converted warehouse in the city’s downtown garment district, is threatening indeed.

Two o’clock: sometime rock musician Jason Ferro, sporting head-to-toe blues. His drop crotch Skinnys might be masquerading as corduroy – a new finish he’s excited about for next season – but there’s no mistaking the black denim of his shirt. Even his wool-knit hoodie has denim elbow pads. Cripes! The man’s hat is denim. This guy is Lord Denim; he’s denim incarnate. Ferro used to run Bread Denim and met Giuliani when they both worked at Seven 4 All Mankind. (All, that is, except me.)

Four o’clock: women’s denim designer Nicole Burroughs in berry coloured Boot Cuts. “Colour is the new frontier,” she grins, “A/W ‘11/’12 is all about emotional colours coming through in everything from jackets and minis to capes and winter shorts.” But what is the colour of fear?

My palms are clammy. At quarter to three there’s a mood board packed with enough denim inspiration to make a girl faint. And if that doesn’t do it, the arrival of two male models in the Gap’s new Skinnies surely will. 

“So…” probes Giuliani. “How many?”

I consider lying. I’m a terrible liar.

“One,” I say.

Jane Birkin. Denim-lightful
And in that moment of truth, that electrified pause in which the promise of friendship with these hipsters on planet denim fizzles and dies, that soundless velvet anti-chamber of the mind in which all our disparate histories roll out before us like a dream, I understand at long last what it means to say you could hear a pin drop.

A pin drops.

Burroughs’ pretty mouth forms a soundless “Oh!” Or is it a “NO?”

“One?” repeats Giuliani. It echoes. The room is on its feet, like an Andrew Lloyd Webber chorus. A skater girl in the corner dissolves into giggles.

“One…for…every day of the week,” I stammer. “I mean…what I mean is I’ve got a few. Of course. You know for…for different occasions. I love jeans. What do you take me for?”

I’m babbling into a vacuum. The air has been sucked out of the room; I can’t tell if they’re buying it or not.

“I guess I’m a dress girl,” I add gamely. Lamely.

Brooke Sheilds, if I only I looked like this in denim

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