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Everyone knows that elegant homes and beautiful clothes belong together. That's why luxury retailer Gus Mayer recently staged a fabulous fashion show to benefit the restoration efforts at the Historic Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN.

Belmont Mansion is an 1850 Italian-villa style home built by one of the wealthiest women in America in the 19th century, Adelicia Acklen, and is a must-see for anyone visiting the city.

The fashion show knocked us out, featuring incredible designs by fashion luminaries Alberta Ferretti, Melinda Eng, Badgley Mischka, Louis Feraud and Zang Toi, among others. However, it starred the former Hubert de Givenchy apprentice ERIC GASKINS.

Gaskins started his own company in 1988, with his first couture collection. In 1995, he created his first fur collection, and began his "white label" ready-to-wear collection last year.

He describes his work as ," very clean, elegantly lined, with an unusual mixture of fabrics. It's an uncluttered look with an emphasis on color, cut and fabric."

Gaskins shared some wise fashion advise for us ladies with Dish's Franne Lee:

Franne: What was it like to apprentice with Hubert de Givenchy in Paris?

Eric: It was great! It was the nicest experience of my career, next to starting my own business and having some success with that. Unlike New York, where commerce is the bottom line, and the most important driving force, Paris was special because of its very pure creative environment.

Franne: You design body conscious clothes. Are they appropriate for the Heartland woman?

Eric: I don't think women anywhere with the exception of a few, are comfortable or confident enough to wear clothes that are super body conscious. I like it when clothes suggest the figure, but not in any vulgar way. There are ways of dressing without being tasteless. Women of all ages respond to that.

Franne: Are you having fun?

Eric: Yes, it's fun, but it's stressful. It's just a dress! But dresses are loaded with a lot of feelings; women take it very seriously, and when it's expensive it becomes an investment. I'm amazed at the power of a dress, what it can do for you. I love the fact that it can give a woman confidence. It gives them some sort of strength. We are constantly hearing from women that their husbands SAW them for the first time in years. Another lady wrote saying, "It's been a long time since he told me I was beautiful."

Franne: How about some fashion advise for us?

Eric: Women should choose to wear what makes them happy, comfortable or confident. But saying that, I don't think women should be sheep and just follow a herd. They should experiment a little and try to find clothes that speak to them personally. The only way to do that is to go into stores, look at things that you like, and TRY THEM ON!

A lot of women are afraid to try clothes on reasoning "it won't look good on me" or "it's too expensive!" That's a good reason not to buy but not good when it stops you from trying new styles. Women shy away from new things, and make very safe and obvious choices, because the are timid from a fashion point of view.

Like my mother; she never tried on clothes in the store. So one day I took her shopping and I said, "Mommy, we have to look at everything, and then you have to go in the dressing room and try it all on. Then you can decide what you like and don't like; what looks good, we'll buy it."

She has always gone shopping with a girlfriend who was very overweight, and my mom is a little chubby, too. Her friend Barbara was never giving her any positive reinforcement, because Barbara herself couldn't wear what she wanted to wear.

My mother had developed a way of shopping where she would buy junk that was cheap and didn't care what it looked like. The point I'd like to make- you need to go shopping on your own, or with someone who is supportive and will give you an honest opinion.

The rules are: Make sure your friend is having a good day, No low self esteem allowed, and most importantly, Make sure you like the way they dress! / Issue 2 - September 2018
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