I first had the privilege of meeting Jennifer Behr while she was still the brilliant designer behind the original Frederic Fekkai hair accessories sold exclusively at Henri Bendels, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman.
(Image of Jennifer Behr Gold and Black Stitched Weave Stretch Headband - All Rights Reserved).
At the time I met Jennifer, I was in New York with my beloved husband Michael.
We both were taken with Jennifer immediately. She welcomed us to the Frederic Fekkai corporate offices not far from our quaint boutique inn - The Inn At Irving Place. In fact, we walked from The Inn to the Fekkai offices.
Jennifer invited us into the conference room and proceeded to show us all of her current designs. She also showed us future designs for the upcoming seasons.
At that time HairBoutique.com was negotiating the addition of the Frederic Fekkai line of hair accessories to our already spectacular collection of high fashion lines including Linda Levinson, Renee Rivera, Cara and Jane Tran, to name just a few of the many spectacular designers in our Marketplace.
Unfortunately, shortly after our meeting, Frederic decided to discontinue his hair accessory line in order to focus on his other business units. Jennifer told me she was developing her own eponymous accessory line which was of course fabulous news.
Actually I loved Jennifer's designs so much from her work for Fekkai that I bought her first collection sight unseen. Although Jennifer did send me some prototypes I was completely sold even before that point.
(Image of Jennifer Behr Gold and Black Sequin Stretch Headband - All Rights Reserved - HairBoutique.com)
In early 2005 my husband (who was HairBoutique.com's CFO) died suddenly. For the next two years HairBoutique.com went into a temporary holding pattern as I worked with our new CFO and financial advisers to reorganize the business (and recover my own head from the loss). As a result our Jennifer Behr inventories dwindled and eventually sold out, but I remained a huge fan of her designs.
The last time I chatted with Jennifer she was in the process of moving to a new location in Brooklyn with more space for her workroom and was sharing stories about hand dying an assortment of flowers in her sink. As always she was so warm and incredibly funny.
During that chat I explained I was on my way to Baltimore to hook up with a friend before hopping a train to New York. Jennifer reminded me she was a Baltimore girl and she still visited her family there. She reminded me that she honed her stitching skills at a small custom millinery shop in the suburbs of Baltimore.
Jennifer actually attended college in my own home town, St. Louis. In fact I actually attended the same college she did except for the fact she studied sculpture and art history while I was studied business and social sciences. Obviously our paths never crossed in St. Louis, but ironically I met Jennifer in New York.
After college Jennifer went back home to Baltimore which is how she found her way to designing custom headpieces. While doing her time with head pieces Jennifer did some free lance designing before being recruited to design the hair accessory collection for Frederic Fekkai who was in partnership with Chanel.
In a series of other interesting twists even though I didn't speak personally with Jennifer after our last phone chat, I kept bumping into people who would talk to me about Jennifer.
A business associate in New York who manufactured some of the Karen Marie hand stitched leather headbands told me of the times he worked with Jennifer when she was doing the designs for Frederic. He would always ask me when I would stop by his work room if I had been by Bendel's to see her latest collection and then we would discuss her latest amazing directions with her line.
At one point I was wandering through an old New York building in the fashion district where stunning hand made custom flowers were crafted from spectacular molds created many years before. I was picking out colors and fabric combinations when one of the managers of the business asked me if I knew Jennifer Behr? When I told her I did she said my "eye" for colors vaguely reminded her of Jennifer's. Of course I took that as a huge compliment and made the decision to buy from the supplier as a result.
In 2008 we had the opportunity to add some of Jennifer's headbands back to the HairBoutique Marketplace and I was thrilled. They are, of course, stunning. I immediately purchased one of each which I wear.
What I admire about Jennifer is her inspiration for her line which is driven by her love of richness. She seems eternally inspired by silks, feathers, stones and leathers. Jennifer told me once she wanted to create elegant designs that were rich and lush which is why she loves working with luscious fabrics.
I totally get her point. Last year when I was in New York I went to a supplier of leathers. The entire shop was filled only with bolts of leathers. I started at one end of the shop and literally ran my fingers over every single bolt. The ideas were bursting out of brain. It was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.
In my mind I can see Jennifer visiting all the amazing little supplier shops in New York and hand picking every single piece of fabric.
Although my true passion in this lifetime is writing, I totally understand Jennifer's for designing. She is a genius and it shows. I feel very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to meet her personally and peek a little behind the curtain into her brilliance as a designer. I have no doubt that Jennifer will only get better with time, if that's even possible.
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