February 2018

WORDS Paul Polycarpou

PHOTOGRAPHY Hunter Armistead


So why fashion?

I like the idea of being able to change everything with what you wear. Putting on a suit does one thing, putting on jeans does another.

If you weren’t involved in fashion, what would you be doing?

I would probably be producing films or trying to take over a small country.

Who are the designers you most admire?

Karl Lagerfeld is a genius; Stella McCartney is great; Tom Ford is amazing and sexy. Oscar de la Renta is always classic. I admire what our local designers have done to elevate Nashville’s presence.

Whose shoes would you like to fill?

Grace Coddington. I’m not saying I could fill her shoes, but I would love to try.

So, I understand you grew up thinking you were related to Snow White, right?

Yes, my mother told me that Snow White was my cousin. Since we have the same last name I believed her.

What’s your greatest extravagance?

Clothes and Spanky, my little dog, and my sixteen nieces.

What brings you to Nashville?

I was born here. Grew up on the East Coast and came back fifteen years ago to take care of my grandparents. Things have changed a great deal.

What music do you listen to?

Depends on what I’m doing. In the office I listen to the soundtrack from The Seven Deadly Sins from Nashville Ballet. I like runway-inspired music.

Where do you like to eat out?

I like Epice, Le Sel, Moto, Saint Anejo; they have great margaritas. I love Etch and Chauhan. I don’t go out to eat as much as I should.

How does the Nashville fashion scene compare to other major cities?

I try not to compare it to other cities anymore. We have so many options now, more choices. It’s pointless to compare.

Are you optimistic that Nashville can become a vital international fashion center?

Yes, I am hopeful. There are some things that have to happen first, and I think they will.

Who’s a living person that you admire?

Joan Collins. She’s like a phoenix. Beautiful, glamorous, sexy. She proves that success can come at any time in life.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My dogs and my nieces. They have given me the most pleasure.

What would you tell the young Milton?

Start lying about your age earlier.

What annoying habits do you have?

I talk too much.

The last great film you saw?

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro, and I’m looking forward to Phantom Thread with Daniel Day-Lewis. Which artists do you like in Nashville.

I like Herb Williams and Ed Nash. I love those crayon dogs that Herb does; I’d love for him to do one of Spanky.

What are you most proud of?

That I have been able to work consistently in fashion. Fortunately, I can do several different things well, and that has helped keep me busy.

What’s a treasured possession?

My dog Beanie’s remains.

What one thing would you change about yourself?

Oh God, it’s so vain and shallow. I would be younger, taller, and thinner. I also do not take criticism very well.

Describe a perfect evening?

I love the ballet. Simple things, nothing too complicated.

Why should we care about fashion?

We don’t care enough. Whether we recognize it or not, we all assess people by what we see. You form impressions based on what people are wearing. Fashion changes our mood; that’s a fact. If I dress sloppy, I feel sloppy.

What talent would you most like to have?

I want to be able to sing. I’m so bad I don’t even sing to myself. It’s embarrassing. I would also like to be able to sew and be more hands-on regarding clothing design and creation.

Is black still the most important color in fashion?

Like Wednesday Adams said, “I’ll stop wearing black when they invent a darker color.”

Are you a night person?

Totally a night person. I’ve been called a vampire my whole life. When the sun starts to go down, I come to life.

What are you afraid of?

I hate flying. Absolutely hate it. I’m very motion sensitive, and I have a very vivid imagination—not a good combination.

What would most surprise us to know about you?

That I don’t work at Jamie or The Private Label, although I am at those stores a lot of the time.

Is Nashville a tolerant city?

Oh yes, things have changed. Our mayor has always been a supporter of Nashville PRIDE. There are far too many creative people here for it not to be a tolerant place. It’s definitely gay-friendly.

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