A Feel For Fashion : Jordan Roth


On Monday morning, Jordan Roth was taking in the Schiaparelli show from the front row. By the afternoon, he was among the models in Thom Browne’s first haute couture show, embodying a pigeon dressed in a fantastical ensemble of the designer’s grey suiting. Roth bridges the worlds of theatre and fashion with incomparable aplomb. Based in New York, he is a seven-time Tony-Award winning producer who is recognised as a theatrical innovator, style influencer, and talented creator who exudes mild-mannered panache. As President of Jujamcyn Theaters, he oversees five Broadway theatres, presenting some of the most influential and successful shows on Broadway including the recent revival of Into the Woods, as well as the Tony Award-winning Hadestown, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Springsteen on Broadway, Kinky Boots and The Book of Mormon. And he brings a theatricality to his love of fashion as a model, muse and connoisseur. His red carpet appearances – particularly when attending the Met Gala in Haute Couture – are among the most intrepid yet always well-considered. He is a regular on best-dressed lists from Vogue, V, WWD, GQ, and more. Roth is also committed to supporting and uplifting the LBTGQ community and was recognised, along with his husband, Richie Jackson, with a Trevor Project Hero Award in 2016.

What creates an emotional response for you in fashion today? 

Clothes speak very loudly to my body and to my heart. Both their physical form and sensation as well as the ideas and meaning they carry. They tell me how to move in them by accessing and activating different parts of me. So when a designer creates a piece that has these layers I can connect to, it provokes an immediate emotional and physical response in me.


What are you most curious to know about how a haute couture collection comes together, the creation process?

I’m always so fascinated by the layers and legacy of craftsmanship that go into these pieces of art. And I especially love when a material is impossibly made to look like another. When I first tried on the White Pigeon at the fitting for the Thom Browne show, I was so taken by the feathers that were so sensitively placed throughout, as though they had fallen there, not grown there. It tells such a powerful story so subtly. And their extraordinary detail that made them even more lifelike than feathers – almost hyper-realistic because they were not actually feathers – so the artists who made them had to investigate deeply what a feather is. Just sewing a feather on the sleeve would not have required that kind of intimate exploration. Multiply that by every element on a couture piece and it’s beyond fascinating to understand and learn about and celebrate.


In what ways are you seeing progress in fashion mirroring progress in the wider world? 

All the ways in which fashion has and can continue to being a mode of self-expression for all of us. Rather than telling us who we are and who we can be, [fashion is] giving us the tools to discover and express this for ourselves –especially around gender. Clothes are not inherently gendered, and the more fashion can reinforce that, the freer we will all be.


Haute Couture is rooted in craftsmanship; how do you see it also nudging fashion forward?

At its best, Haute Couture is the purest form of the art. The canvas on which these extraordinary artists can dream and create unencumbered, to show us everything that can be possible [through] materials, forms, ideas. And this can inspire so much more – both for their own work and the work of others.


If you could change one aspect of how we experience fashion today, what would it be?

I would love us all to get to savour fashion more; to have the time it takes to see the work; to understand it; to be in dialogue with it. That’s hard to do as we scroll by. As Georgia O’Keefe said, “To see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”


This interview has been lightly edited.