Fort Worth, TX. Recently, I returned to FIG: A Taste of European Design, to chat with founding partner and handbag designer Dora Schabel and wardrobe consultant Simi Radcliffe. Let me tell you, it was my distinct pleasure to interview these two lovely- and fascinating- women.
As I entered the small, pristine foyer, I was promptly greeted by a striking brunette who ushered me into the front room of the studio, a plush dreamy space enveloped in modern décor and European couture. Poised and brimming with knowledge, I quickly learned that she was Simi Radcliffe, a regal Persian model and wardrobe consultant with years of experience in the fashion industry. Within mere moments of Radcliffe perching on a chair, a figure appeared in the doorway. “Hello, you must be Nik. I’m Dora.”
Impressive yet approachable, confident yet humble, this Cyprus native possesses more than personality- she has presence– both immediate and undeniable. You understand right away that you are meeting someone very special. I explained to Schabel and Radcliffe that I hoped to talk a little about both the business and consumption of fashion- an ambitious goal on my part. Schabel understood all too well what a daunting task that would be. As a business owner, handbag designer and the re-elected President of the Cyprus Fashion Designers Association, she has layers of experience spanning more than a decade.
“Well only 5% of fashion is glamour. The other 95% is work,” she offered with a knowing sparkle in her eye. No stranger to hard work, Schabel and FIG co-founder Robin Birdsong are moving the operation to a larger space close to the award-winning Tillman’s Roadhouse very soon. The new studio will inherit FIG’s current modern aesthetic, since the “clothes are the main protagonist,” says Schabel. FIG’s goal is to familiarize fashionable Fort Worth women with made to measure clothing. According to Radcliffe, “Made to measure is common in Europe. I grew up with it.” Now she wants to help bring Texas women the same impeccable customer service and attention to detail, which is inherent to the made to measure concept. “Fort Worth needs it and lacks it. More time should be spent on women,” laments Radcliffe. I agree. We’re all individuals with unique features- why not have clothes that reflect that individuality while fitting perfectly? No longer would we have to settle for a premade mold. At this moment I’m reminded of my favorite quote from the movie Bride Wars during the dress fitting scene: “You don’t alter Vera to fit you, you alter yourself to fit Vera.” Not if you’re a FIG customer! Did I also mention they sell couture wedding gowns?
As further proof of her unwavering work ethic, Schabel is constantly searching for new talent to add to FIG’s roster of impressive European designers. “We’re adding four new designers in early 2011!” She explained that FIG’s independent designers are really artists who work very hard at their crafts. “Perhaps a designer will decide to make only ten of a certain dress style or purse, only ten in the whole world. Then you know you are getting something truly unique.” Obviously, Schabel understands that fashionistas have an appreciation for the very beautiful and the very rare. It should be noted that FIG follows a Fair Trade model that ensures their independent designers maintain autonomy over the designs and pricing of their respective clothing lines.
As for Schabel, the designer, she finds inspiration for her one-of-a-kind handbags everywhere, from architecture and interior design, to trips to Japan, to simple pleats on a dress. As for Schabel, the fashionista, she favors structured yet soft pieces and lives by this rule, “Accentuate what’s best, camouflage what’s worst!” Ah, the mantra of made to measure!
FIG: A Taste of European Design
FIG Designers LLC
910 Currie Street
Fort Worth, TX 76107