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Happy (Fashion) Victims: "I May Be Addicted to Nanette Lepore, But I Can Stop Anytime I Want."

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A few years ago, we came across Kyoichi Tsuzuki's photographic series, "Happy Victims," which visually details the lives, wardrobes, and homes of men and women obsessed with particular fashion designers. Something about the tiny Japanese apartments filled—crammed and decorated—with Anna Sui, Tsumori Chisato, Gucci, and Hermes spoke to the deepest, darkest, packrattiest fashion-hoarders in our souls. We especially loved the Margiela enthusiast who doesn't eat or drink in his home for fear of disturbing its minimalism.

Here at Racked National, we love fashion addicts. So we're looking for Happy Victims of our very own. Do you live and die for one designer? Are you on a first-name basis with the Dior/Raf/Alexander Wang/Rodarte/BCBG/Marc Jacobs sales associate in your home town? If you're an addict, we want to hear your story.

Our first victim: Racked contributor Bonnie Datt, Nanette Lepore junkie.


Racked contributor Bonnie Datt in front of a few of her favorite Nanette Lepore garments

Hi, my name is Bonnie, and I'm a Nanette Lepore-aholic. It's been twenty days since my last purchase...

For much of my life, I didn't understand those women who had signature designers, like Jackie Kennedy in her Oleg Cassini years, Liza and Halston, or Lady GaGa with Jim Henson. No one designer's sensibility defined my closet. I just wore a myriad of black pieces—usually mixing and matching them like a form of Manhattan Garanimals. Then one day, about six years ago, I saw the most fabulous blazer at Saks. With its bold green and blue 1970's pattern, it looked like something Marcia Brady might have worn—if she were a flight attendant for Pan Am. I loved it, but assumed it would look horrible on anyone who wasn't a size zero. But, I tried it on anyway, and surprisingly, it was flattering. I didn't buy the jacket, but I did go home and Google the designer, Nanette Lepore. I learned she was a Northeastern Ohio escapee like myself, which further intrigued me. So I started checking out her designs. Girly, but with an urban edge. Beading, velvets, lace, embroidery, knits leathers...it was all so enticing.

To get potential clients addicted, they say that dealers sometimes offer the first hit of a drug for free. Unfortunately, with designer fashions, nothing is free. Soon after my trip to Saks, I splurged and bought my first Nanette Lepore garment. It cost, well, more than I would normally spend, and more than I'd want my friends and family to know... Shiny and black, with a sweetheart neckline, it made me feel more stylish and attractive when I wore it. Whoever says fashion can't be empowering, isn't wearing the right clothing. And even though the raincoat wasn't particularly useful against inclement weather, that didn't seem all that important anymore. I was hooked on Nanette. That coat purchase begat an embroidered blazer, and the blazer begat a brocade cocktail dress, and then a silk dress and then a beaded dress, and then a silk corset top, and then a lace corset top, and then a velvet skirt, and then a tartan dress, and then a beaded sweater, and then two embroidered dresses.

Not all of Nanette Lepore's clothing worked on me. I'm high waisted, so certain hourglass-shaped silk dresses made me feel a bit like a flamboyant linebacker, but I found enough garments which were both beautifully made and magically slimming, that soon some of my pieces of Nanette's signature laces, beading and ruffles, began expanding into my husband Chris's suit filled side of the closet.

Thankfully, I quickly discovered her sample sales. Usually occurring twice a year, and held in the Nanette showroom, they've become my version of The High Holy Days—a must to attend, no food allowed and lots of guilt. Nothing will keep me away. I've braved those sales with a dislocated shoulder, a virus, a cold and a broken toe. I usually arrived before they opened on the first day, so that I could get my pick of the sample racks. Then I'd spend the next three hours trying on clothing, with the dressing room attendants periodically saying, "Oh, you're STILL here?"

Even with the sales, I was spending more than I ever had on clothing, but I was sure I could keep it under control. It wasn't easy. My Nanette Lepore cravings kept intensifying... As a comedy writer, I was used to attending a fair number of entertainment industry events. And as a comedy writer, I was used to fading into the background unnoticed at these events. But that didn't happen when I was wearing Nanette Lepore. I got attention. Positive attention. Confidence boosting attention. When my former teen crush, Matt Dillon complimented my cocktail dress at a movie premiere, it fanned the flames of my addiction—and gave me flashbacks to Little Darlings. So I bought more...

And to this day, I keep buying more. The usually patient Chris, now dreads walking within ten blocks of the designer's Broome Street store, because he knows he'll end up sitting awkwardly in the middle of that pink painted Mecca, while I swirl around him, examining every garment like a jeweler with a glass. He hates being asked to give his opinion on the more embellished items, only to be told he is "wrong" if he doesn't like something. But I know that once he sees the garment at home, away from all that pink, he'll love it! Well, maybe tolerate it.

My friends and family sometimes worry that I'm jonesing too much for Nanette Lepore clothing. So I tell them not to worry, it's not just an addiction, it's also a form of political activism. You see, Nanette Lepore is spearheading the Save the Garment Center campaign, an attempt to keep fashion production in New York. As someone who walked the Writers Guild picket lines frequently, myself, I'm a strong believer in supporting righteous causes. Thus, I believe it's my civic duty to buy Nanette Lepore's cocktail dresses.

Besides, I can stop buying Nanette Lepore clothing anytime I want. Just as long as it's not before the next sample sale. In June.
· Nanette Lepore Becomes an Empire [Racked]
· Meanwhile, Over at Nanette Lepore: A Formal Family Affair [Racked]
· Designer Rally to Save the Garment Center [Racked]