Venus Williams: From tennis court to Fashion Week runway13 sept. 2012
NEW YORK – Tennis superstar Venus Williamsjust wrapped her run at the U.S. Open… and played in the London Olympics… and competed at Wimbledon this summer. And now, the multi-tasking star is tackling New York Fashion Week. USA TODAY spent Tuesday afternoon in Midtown with the bubbly star to check out all the behind-the-scenes prep work for her EleVen clothing line, which makes its debut Wednesday night.
1:15 p.m.: An admittedly tired Williams sits on a couch at the studio of PR firm Harrison & Shriftman with her assistant designer Barbara Clarke-Ruiz as they pore over the EleVen spring 2013 designs, chatting about last-minute changes and preferences. "My vision for sportswear is that you should be able to express yourself. I don't feel like you should be told how to wear your clothes," Williams says. "If you want to be more daring and wear a print, or mix and match, or just go classic, you should be able to do that, and EleVen allows you to do that."
1:34: The sun-streaked studio is buzzing with pre-show chatter, as Williams' publicist, assistant, show producer and show stylist consult an army of laptops and vision boards to get things just-so. The statuesque star walks through the collection, which is hanging on a rack in her crowded but calm workspace. The EleVen spring line is full of on-trend elements such as color-blocking, graphic prints, chambray and a chic color palette.
1:50: Throughout the afternoon, a stream of movement artists — a yoga practitioner, a tennis player, a dancer and a shadowboxer — drop by to get fitted in their EleVen gear. (Williams' presentation will actually be more of a performance piece.) Williams, who is clearly quite hands-on, walks through each iteration of each look.
1:52: Acroyoga practitioner Chelsey Korus stuns the room by performing a fluid stream of yoga poses. When she's done, everyone applauds. Venus pretends to try a move but cracks that her back will give out if she goes much further.
2:09: Williams takes a seat at the head of the conference table to finalize the run of show. She listens, calmly eating a sandwich, as the show producer goes through the plan. She later says that she has abandoned her micromanaging ways. "I've seen people be stressed about shows, but it always comes together. I think our atmosphere is actually a little calmer than most," she says. "I have to trust people. I stopped micromanaging back in March. I had to learn to let go of some things. It was an improvement in my life because I realized things really got done, and they got done well!"
2:30-2:45: In between model fittings and production meetings, Williams' sisters Lyndrea and Isha Price pop by. Isha brings her Havanese dog Khan along, prompting Williams to talk about her "son" Harold, who is also a Havanese. A few moments later, he shows up, fresh from the groomers. The star scoops her 5-year-old pup into her arms, repeating "hello" to him. "He's been all over the world (with me). That's my boy. I'm proud of him. He's not very accomplished, but he's doing the best he can, you know."
3:02: As she watches the machinations for the EleVen show swirl around her, Williams divulges that a vacation is still a good two months away. "I'll probably take a week (in November), but I don't know if I deserve a week," she says. "I would take (a vacation), but I don't want to travel anymore. Every year, I look at, like, tickets to Thailand, and then I think about the 18-hour flight, and it never materializes!"
3:27: After a quick change into an aqua EleVen zip-up jacket, Williams transforms into a model herself, turning on the charm for a portrait session in front of a graffiti-splattered wall.
3:40: The hair team for the EleVen show arrives, and Williams can't resist trying on the blue clip-in hair extensions that the team has brought. She pops one in, goes to a mirror and declares the look a success. She also puts one in her assitant's hair and gives her new look a thumbs-up, too.
3:54: Williams sits in the hot seat for a video interview , and explains who the ideal EleVen customer is. "It's someone who wants to express themselves no matter what they're doing, if they're moving or standing still. That person is confident and happy and (marches) to the beat of their own drummer."
4:00: Williams turns her attention back to the hair and makeup trials to add her input on ponytails and accessories placement , and, as always, she looks anything but ruffled.
Source: USA Today