Serenity Now

Last fall, Narciso Rodriguez was faced with a daunting reality. Despite having earned his status within New York's fashion establishment over the past decade, Rodriguez was struggling to make ends meet. There wasn't much money to buy the fabrics...

In recent months, the partnership has allowed Rodriguez to focus on his collection while taking on other projects, such as designing costumes for Morphoses/The Wheeldon Co., the new ballet company by Christopher Wheeldon, and Diane English's remake of the classic The Women. Another benefit is that, after this season's runway show, Rodriguez was able to travel to Europe for several weeks to explore new ideas and to do research. "I was sort of unshackled from the business so that I could start creating again."

He also is turning his current space into a showroom and moving his company into three-and-a-half floors on Union Square to house the design studio and the sample room, as well as categories such as men's wear and accessories.

"We have been working to identify the right designers, merchandisers, product people, factories," he says of the accessories push. "We are very focused, we all went to Europe after we got the show done and haven't had a break yet. We are very serious about taking this business to the next level.

" very generous and recognizes the potential of everything we should and could be doing and haven't been able to," he adds.

And if there are ever any issues with the corporate divisions at LCI, Rodriguez will just pick up the phone and call McComb directly.

"Narciso and I have a very special rapport," McComb says. "We take care of each other. He shows a lot of concern about me and, all through the summer, when I was announcing tough decisions, he was always very mindful. He would see me in the press and would send me very quiet, caring notes and I would do the same for him. I call it whispering on our BlackBerrys. At one point, I sent him a note that said, 'Go, go, go on accessories.' He sent a three-liner back and we got a whole program going based on that. He and I are very closely connected, but in a very technological way."

Rodriguez is elated with the support he has been getting from LCI, and is busy paving the way for his future. "I put together a great design team, mostly from people who have been here in the past who had to leave because we weren't funded," he says. "The design room is humming, and in the sample room, we have hired three additional patternmakers and assistants and cutters and sewers, so that we can actually fill all the orders. The family is happy to be back together again."
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