That Girl becomes That Woman! Marlo Thomas has added another notch to her belt: fashion designer.
The actress, author and activist has developed a ready-to-wear and accessories collection for HSN Inc. called “That Woman” by Marlo Thomas. The label is a play on “That Girl,” the classic TV series that ran from 1966 to 1971 in which Thomas starred and served as executive producer. In the show, she played Ann Marie, an aspiring but sporadically employed actress who moves from Brewster, N.Y., to New York to pursue her dream.
The 78-year-old actress explained what prompted her to get into the apparel business, “sometimes when I’m out shopping, I look at things that have bare midriffs, and I think, ‘Is anybody thinking about me?’” she said. She likes things that are very simple, sophisticated, “a little bit flirty, but do I dare use the word, ladylike? That’s what my wardrobe looks like, kind of always has. I’ve never been a girl for big flowers, but I do love graphics.”
She explained that “That Girl” was almost like a fashion show. “I had been in London the year before doing ‘Barefoot in the Park,’” she explained. “It was the mid-Sixties. There was Mary Quant, and Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy and white boots and fishnet stockings and all kind of graphics, miniskirts and maxi skirts and a whole look that had never been on television.”
On television at that time women were mostly wearing house dresses and Peter Pan collars, she said. “So when we came on, I said I want to wear these kind of [fashionable] clothes. My co-producers were kind of scared of it, and they said it’s going to date it. I said, ‘Everything’s dated.’ If you’re living in your own time, it’s going to be dated.” But, Thomas said, it really wasn’t dated because it was so classic.
Thomas has been asked to do fashion lines before and people wanted a “That Girl” line or had other ideas, but she always turned them down. “I never wanted to do it. You have to have a reason to do something. For me, it needs to be an organic reason. The organic reason now is I need these kinds of clothes. I bet there are millions of women who also need them.”
The “That Woman” line is composed of dresses, tops, pants, skirts, dusters, jewelry and bags. Prices for the 15-piece collection range from $39.90 for a heart choker to $79.90 for a lace-up sweater to $169.90 for a perforated moto jacket. The size range is XS to 3X.
Thomas has a “very engaged fan base” that HSN feels will cross over to the shopping channel via her ready-to-wear collection. “Marlo’s enthusiasm for her brand is authentic and is sure to resonate with women everywhere,” she said.
“Those of us who were ‘That Girl’ are ‘That Woman’ now,” she said. “We bring with us all the joy of being girls. It’s hard for me to think of myself in any stage of my life…that I’m kind of pretty much the one I was 10 years ago. I have the same moral code, I have the same sort of excitement over the same kind of things,” she said. She said she’s learned more through the years and has had things happen to her, such as her parents dying and getting married. “I pretty much think that I bring with me the same optimistic view of life, a Scarlett O’Hara view that I’ll cry tomorrow.”
Her philosophy for her apparel collection is equally upbeat. “I think women will see that these clothes were designed and brought by a woman who wants other women to have a good time,” said Thomas. “And life isn’t over at 40, or 45 or 50, or any age. You can still feel desirable and confident. I feel good when I look good. If I get in the elevator, and I think I look terrible, it’s hard for me to go all the way to lobby. I want to go back up and try one other thing. My husband says my dressing room looks like a chorus line of girls got dressed there.”
Thomas loves clothes and wears designers such as Michael Kors. She’ll shop downtown at stores such as Jeffrey or in SoHo and will pick a piece here and a piece there. “I really don’t want to outfit myself the way somebody else thought of it. I like putting little pieces together. Which is what I did in this line. Mostly what I like to do is show a little skin everywhere. A little keyhole, or a little lace-up or something without being low décolletage. Something that makes you feel like a female,” she said.
“Not everybody wants to show off every body part, but a shoulder, a v-neck. We have a cold-shoulder sweater that’s adorable. We had it made so the straps are wide enough that you can keep your bra on. I hate when you have to wear a strapless bra with a sweater and you see a big dent. I’m thinking of all the things that bug me about clothes,” said Thomas.
WWD, By Lisa Lockwood on November 17, 2016