Narciso Rodriguez's clothes aren't show-offs, and neither is he. Modest and intelligent, he exudes quiet intensity and charm: Even his habit of calling women "girls" is endearing because he so clearly respects the female body. "He knows that women have curves," says longtime fan Erica Reid, wife of music-world powerhouse Antonio "L.A." Reid. "His cuts are realistic. He isn't designing for a pencil!"
Perhaps that's why celebrities have loved Rodriguez's clothes from the start: Julianna Margulies, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Connelly, Salma Hayek. Awards, too, build a designer's renown, and Rodriguez has won a ton, including three from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
But red-carpet triumphs and industry honors do not a business make. Although Rodriguez has been justly praised for his modernity and sophistication, he's had no store of his own—until now. You'd think he'd take up residence on Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive.… Instead, his new address is on eBay.
It might seem an odd alliance: elite designer and mass marketplace of 89 million shoppers. But this affordable ($65 to $350), accessible (sizes XS to L), limited edition collection—launching February 15th at 12 p.m. EST at eBay.com/narcisorodriguezforebay
—makes sense in an economy that's challenging us to buy and sell smarter. "If even an eighth of eBay shoppers stopped by my online store, my clothes would have more visibility than they would in a New York boutique," Rodriguez says.
This is also a departure for eBay: Although it's had fixed-price options for years, an exclusive original collection is a first. "It's a new frontier for high-end designers," says Karina Sokolovsky, director of consumer public relations for eBay. "This has the potential to revolutionize the fashion industry by offering direct sales with an extremely broad reach."
These days, of course, there's hardly a designer who doesn't
have a lower-priced offshoot. The question is how well it's executed. Rodriguez is determined to retain the fit, quality, and style of his regular collection: The clothes, mostly made of Italian fabric, feature precise details like seaming and topstitching. "I'm not a fan of disposability," Rodriguez says. More classic than faddish, he has kept the same essential vision—clean, easy, functional. "Timeless doesn't have to be boring," he says. Nor does it have to be just for the young, rich, and thin. "I want to dress uptown and downtown girls, girls in the Midwest and Europe, 25-year-olds and 65-year-olds, women of all sizes," Rodriguez says. Given a platform like eBay, this is entirely possible. See O 's exclusive preview of the collection