For 30 years, he has been at the heart of the fashion world, working his way up to the Fashion Director for Neiman Marcus. Ken Downing hobnobs with the Hollywood A-listers and the most sought after names in design. This week, he was in Honolulu gearing up for the 20th anniversary of Neiman at Ala Moana. The last time he was on the islands was when the store opened in 1998. He talked to Sunrise's Grace Lee about what it was like then and now in this two part segment for Beauty and Grace.
Downing said that the store and the island are as glorious as ever. He has been trying to get back, but when you're on the road more than 300 days a year, it's tough to schedule. This time, he is the genius behind the Runway Report, a high energy event that showcases the designs of the stores. Models will be parading across a pink runway inside the Neiman Marcus store. This time, Downing said it's all about the 1980's. It's going to be over-the-top decadence with a nod to punk rock.
As for creating a personal look, Downing said that he likes to give permission to women just to be themselves. If you want to wear velvet year around, then do it. Want to wear sequins during the day, he says go for it. It's even better in Hawaii because the sun is almost always shining so they can really capture the flash of the sequins.
In part 2, Downing talks about the real Anna Wintour. The longtime editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine and current Artistic Director of Conde Nast was supposedly the inspiration behind the movie "The Devil Wears Prada". Downing said there is little resemblance between the two. He said that Wintour is hilariously witty often making dry remarks that he just adores. He believes she is an important figure in fashion because she mentors so many young designers not to just to create fame, but to form a successful business.
As for his ultimate glamor girl, aside from his own mother, Downing said he would have to choose Jackie Kennedy Onassis. It wasn't an easy decision, but her classic style and elegance are tough to compare.