As if you needed any more evidence that the digital world is taking over the fashion industry one click at a time, it seems even Hollywood's A-list is on board. On the eve of NYFW's close, I joined the perpetually chic Zoe Saldana and her fiancé Keith Britton in an airy penthouse atop midtown's London Hotel to fête MyFDB.com. The power couple founded their style-centric web venture less than two years ago; short for "My Fashion Database," the site was developed to offer an IMDB-like experience for the style crowd, offering fashion professionals a place to upload and share their resumés. MyFDB also functions as an image gallery, complete with both magazine covers and print campaigns, as well as a style news feed (MyFDBlog--ha!). Just this month, the site relaunched on a brand-new platform and added e-commerce to the mix--meaning that now, while you're checking out that Lanvin ad on your computer screen, you can instantly click to buy the sparkling cuff Karen Elson's sporting. Enticing!
Online entrepreneur (and former model) Britton kicked things off with a video presentation taking guests through the site's redesign, capabilities, and added functions. He showed us how, in mere seconds, a visitor could tag favorite items from the pages of a recent glossy, search similar (or exact) options online, and Tweet their findings to friends. On the business side, PR execs and editors could use MyFDB to track credits, keeping tabs on the designers and even models who had been the most heavily featured in recent issues. He also hinted that the site has some major tie-ins and collaborations planned for Fall 2012 Fashion Week.
Once the presentation wrapped, I grabbed some champagne and settled down to chat with Saldana. I was blown away by how passionate she seemed about the whole enterprise--and how much she truly does know about the fashion game.
Tell me a bit about your personal fashion background. Have you always been into style from the business side? I grew up in a house where my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were all seamstresses. So I've always had this respect for the behind-the-scenes notion of fashion--every button, every fabric, every seam takes work, creativity, time, and dedication.
How did MyFDB.com come about in the first place? It's still a pretty new site... Well, Keith and I have been together for a long time--and when I met him he was still modeling, in addition to being a finance guy. And he inadvertently found this way to marry two things he knows so much about. He comes from a family of home-builders, so there was this concrete approach to it all from the start. He was modeling and living in Italy while this whole digital media thing was being born--but he always knew there was something lacking. There was no website that catered to fashion, that celebrated credits and gave people within the industry the ability to showcase their work in a tasteful, professional manner.
Got it. So it was really about building a site by fashion insiders, for fashion insiders? Exactly! When we conceived the site in the beginning, we wanted to get professionals to realize that this would be a very useful tool--kind of like a little black book or a fashion LinkedIn. We knew once we got the professionals to approve it, then we would be able to extend it to shoppers later on.
And it sounds like a good networking tool, too. It really was meant to be like IMDB. So if you're an actress, for example, if you're about to do a campaign or an editorial and don't know the creative team, you'd be able to go and learn more about the editor behind it, where the photographer is from, or the models you'll be working with. And also, it's about creating new liaisons within the industry. Before there was technology like this to help facilitate communication, there were cliques--people who would only work with certain other people. Now, this one website lets everyone exhibit their work and get to know what others are doing--photographers, models, and designers.
How about people who are less directly involved in the industry? Even just for people who are fans of certain designers, the site's a great place for them to track down pieces they love, that maybe they've seen in a magazine, and then purchase them--or even to just explore and get inspired! As an actress, I'm a storyteller at heart. So I love the idea of celebrating how fashion is evolving, of allowing it to be accessible but without losing that exquisite exclusivity. We wanted it to be something that's firstly useful, and secondly enjoyable.
It sounds like this project is really personal and important to you and Keith. Yes--and while putting it together, we always just brought it back to ourselves. Keith and I are people who work in the industry, but we're also shoppers and fashion admirers. I mean...we're all kind of fashion people, deep deep down! Even my own niece is a little fashion connoisseur already. [laughs] So yes, we kept it very true to us.
P.S. Just when we thought our girl crush on the stylish Saldana couldn't get any bigger, we learned she's way into nail art. "Wow!" she exclaimed at my denim Sally Hansen Salon Effects-clad digits. "Did you do that yourself?" I explained to her that the polish strips were only a Duane Reade run away. "Oh my god," she said. "I'm so going to do that."