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Adair to be differentAdair to be different

Desperate Housewives’ costumer Cate Adair brings her fresh take on Hollywood style to the world, writes Elyse Glickman
Excerpted from issue 22 of Lucire


HAVE YOU ever fantasized about adding sophisticated looks from one of the most trend-setting shows to your wardrobe? If your favourite show happens to be Desperate Housewives, you are now in luck. Cate Adair, the Emmy-nominated costume designer for the hit TV2 show, recently launched her now-available line of artisan handbags, small leather goods, belts and accessories with a side of champagne at a private event in the Hollywood Hills, with support and encouragement from Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Brenda Strong, Andrea Bowen and Kiersten Warren.

Cate Adair’s luxurious offerings are distinguished by unusual geometric shapes, rich hues and semi-precious stone embellishments that will, frankly, make a girl feel like a woman truly in her element. ‘As much as I love my work in film and television, I wanted to make something beautiful for real women living real lives,’ says the British-born Adair. ‘My dream has been to create a collection that blends the luxurious European fabrics and textures I fell in love with during my early training with silhouettes inspired by the California lifestyle I have come to adore. With my signature shape that is both feminine and functional, this collection contours to a women’s lifestyle as much as her body.’

Her début pieces (including carry-all totes, satchels, shoulder bags and evening clutches, complete with jewelled belts, make-up cases, business card holders, and key chains) are being introduced by an exclusive group of fashion retailers. These exquisite US-made leather goods, fashioned from the best Italian skins Adair can find, are available in classic shades as well as fashion colours and whimsical two-tone combinations. A distinctive fish embellishment set against an iridescent lining is another Cate Adair signature element and wonderful surprise to find inside.

You may ask yourself how a woman as busy as Cate managed to find the time to create a signature handbag line every woman could embrace. As it turns out, she does it with great flair, not only staying a step ahead of the trends for the ladies of Wisteria Lane, but also spending quality time with her own family. She also found a stitch in time to answer some questions about her passion for fashion, her love of Hollywood and other things that make her tick.


What other shows or projects did you work on prior to Desperate Housewives?

I did the Dreamworks film, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, starring Kate Bosworth, Topher Grace, Josh Duhamel, Nathan Lane. I did a television series, The District, with Craig T. Nelson. My other films include Beverly Hills Cop 3, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and for Oprah Winfrey’s production company, the acclaimed made-for-television feature Before Women Had Wings with Ellen Barkin, in which I won an Emmy. Prior to that, I trained in England, where I worked with theatre, opera and ballet productions.


What made Desperate Housewives the breakthrough show for you professionally?

[In terms of the global success of Desperate Housewives,] you never know when lightning is going to strike. Who knew that this particular show would strike a nerve with people in such a huge way? It is an amazingly written show, and in terms of my work as a costume designer, the process is definitely a collaborative art. When the clothes fit with the world that was created by both the set designers and the writers, which in turn are brought to life by the actors, it resonates with the viewers. The characters of Desperate Housewives may have extraordinary, heightened situations going on, and yet they are extraordinarily accessible and easy to identify with.


How do you feel about the fact that you have had an impact on fashion “real women” wear around the world, thanks to this show?

[The response internationally] has been very cool, as well as a little bit overwhelming. It’s not something I think about constantly, however, because the work involved with bringing the show to life keeps me so busy that you’re constantly focused on the next, challenge, the next story line, the next set of clothes. You need to pay a lot of attention to detail, to bring out that sense of joy with the clothes, and by way of that, keeping the characters lively and distinctive for the audience. It’s wonderful to not only reach so many viewers, but also inspire them to create their own unique look and play with fashion.


Subscribe to LucireFor the remainder of this article, check out issue 22 of Lucire.



From top: Cate Adair at the Costumer Designers’ Guild Awards (photograph courtesy Getty Images and JLine Group). Cate Adair and one of her new bag designs. Above left: Each of the Desperate Housewives’ characters has her own distinct look, thanks to Adair.

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Lucire 2005 | The Global Fashion Magazine

Anything but desperate
Lucire goes behind the scenes of Desperate Housewives as the crew heads back for the second season
Photograph at left courtesy L’Oréal Paris
Expanded from the August 2005 print edition of