I was broke and homeless once

Elie Tahari is now the master of the fashion empire, but his first job in New York was washing cars for 50 cents an hour.

He gladly accepted the performance. In the early 1970s, an Israeli flew to the Big Apple with less than $ 100 in his pocket. He first slept in the YMCA for $ 2 a night. When he ran out of money, he slept on a bench in Central Park.

“I didn’t feel it was dangerous – no one attacks a small child of a homeless person,” says Tahari in The United States of Elie Tahari, which premiered in Brklyn Film Festival this weekend.

The new doctor follows his path from a poor kid to a fashion mogul who did a job on his own who built a job on a modest blouse. The film features interviews with New York believers such as Fern Mallis and Melissa Rivers, as well as designers Nicole Miller and Dennis Basso.

“No one gave him anything. He did it on his own, ”Baso said of his friend.

Elie Tahari’s recent fashion show.
Elie Tahari’s recent fashion show.
Eilon Paz for NY Post
Elie Tahari
A new documentary, “Elie Tahari’s United States,” shows the rise of designers.
United States Elie Tahari

Tahari, who trained Hillary Clinton and Joan Rivers, had a difficult childhood in Israel, where his parents settled after fleeing Iran. He was born in a refugee camp and lived in a sheet metal house without electricity, running water or an enclosed bathroom.

“Other children made jokes about me because my clothes were dirty and crumpled,” says Tahari, 70, in the film.

But his clothes were in his blood. His father was a fabric seller and his mother sewed clothes. As a teenager, Tahari joined the Israeli Air Force, where he became a mechanic.

Elie Tahari with actress Katie Holmes on his catwalk for summer 2020.
Elie Tahari with actress Katie Holmes on his catwalk for summer 2020.
Getty Images for Elie Tahari

When he returned home in uniform, his father told him: “We don’t have room for you – there are too many of us,” Tahari recalls. He went to his one-bedroom apartment and “cried for two days.”

His brother worked for El Al Air and flew for free, so Tahari shuffled the first initial on the map – from his brother’s first initial from “A” to “E” – and headed for the Big Apple.

After scrubbing cars, he got a performance in the Garment District changing light bulbs in fashion houses. Tahari, looking down the ladder at the action spinning below, remarked, “I’m at the wrong job.”

Elie Tahari Owner of Tahari Fashions for Financial.  March 8, 1985
Elie Tahari 1985.
David Mitten / New York Post

He started working in a boutique owned by an Israeli who also produced clothes. One day, Tahari experienced a celebration in clothing: an elastic strapless top in one size that a woman could wear outside at the pool or beach.

“With the pipe tip, it was a natural thing,” Tahari says of his now ubiquitous invention. “Women in the 70’s, when the hippie movement started, let it all hang out. They didn’t want to wear a bra. ”

He brought his boss a dozen pipe tops. “I bet [them] at the counter and several customers came and started arguing about them. ” Soon the budding designer had his own business. “It just took off.”

Elie Tahari was interviewed at New York Fashion Week.
Elie Tahari was interviewed at New York Fashion Week.
Getty Images

The self-proclaimed “night owl” and passionate skater, he held his first fashion show in Studio 54. Of course, she wore beautiful clothes inspired by a disco. During the 1980s, when women entered the workforce en masse, Tahari turned to protective suits, pioneering tailored, feminine versions of men’s office equipment. In 1989, he opened a store at Bloomingdale’s on the designer floor; follow more.

In the film, Miller notes that Tahari is a “master seamstress.”

“His jackets were great,” she says, recalling one she bought in the 1980s. “It was plaid with puff shoulders. . . I always got a bunch of compliments for that. I wore it forever. ”

Later, Tahari helped launch Theory and created a line of suits at a lower price that made his clothes available to a wider audience. In 2014, he designed a collection of capsules for Kohl’s.

Elie Tahari and Christie Brinkley close his 2019 show.
Elie Tahari and Christie Brinkley close his 2019 show.
Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

The married father of two continues to appear at New York Fashion Week – in 2019 Christie Brinkley and her daughter Sailor Brinkley-Cook walked his runway – and attributes the credit to the United States for allowing him to fulfill his dreams.

“[The American flag] is a symbol of the free world. It is a symbol of freedom. It’s a symbol we can use to express ourselves, “he said. “I am very grateful to this country.”

Despite all his achievements in the field of fashion, Tahari remains most proud to have brought his family to America from Israel.

“I only thought about my family and how I can support and help them. In the end, I brought everything here, ”he says. “It was my biggest trophy. My greatest success. ”

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