Narciso Rodriguez has been at the forefront of American design since he came onto the scene nearly 30 years ago. Known for his American sportswear inflected aesthetic and the clarity of his lines. Rodriguez dressed Michelle Obama when she celebrated her husband’s historical win in 2008. Anna Wintour , editor-in-chief of American Vogue, once told press, "No one but Narciso has ever made a simple line look more stunning."
Rodriguez was raised in Newark, New Jersey. He trained at Parson’s School of Design in New York, after which he freelanced in New York’s garment industry, joining Anne Klein under Donna Karan . Later, he joined Calvin Klein where he worked on the women’s collection.
In 1995, Rodriguez became design director of TSE, where he presented the first ready-to-wear collections for men and women. In 1996, Carolyn Bessette asked Rodriguez to create the gown she wore to marry John F. Kennedy Jr, putting the designer firmly on the fashion radar. Rodriguez was soon appointed design director of Cerruti in Paris. In October 1997, the first women’s ready-to-wear collection under the Narciso Rodriguez label, in partnership with Italian manufacturer AEFFE, was presented in Milan for the S/S 1998 season.
That year Rodriguez was awarded Best New Designer at the Vogue/VH1 Fashion Awards as well as the Perry Ellis Award for best new designer by the CFDA. As a consequence, Loewe appointed Rodriguez as design director of the women’s ready to wear collection. Rodriguez held the position until 2001.
Rodriguez established his namesake label’s atelier in New York in 2001 and presented his first ready-to-wear collection that year for the A/W season. Subsequently, he became the first designer ever to receive consecutive Womenswear Designer of the Year awards by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2002 and 2003. In 2007, he received the Fashion Icon Award from Pratt Institute.
In 2008, Rizzoli published Narciso Rodriguez, a book focused on the designer and his process. In 2009, he was again nominated for the CFDA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year award. In 2010, the designer won the title of Mercedes-Benz Presents designer, winning the sponsorship of Mercedes-Benz.
The designer’s work has been featured in several museum exhibitions including MoCA’s Skin and Bones, and Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial Exhibition, both in 2006. In 2010, there was a comprehensive retrospective of Rodriguez’s work in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to benefit the nonprofit organisation Alas a la Mujer, a women’s education charity. That year, Sundance also presented The Day Before, a behind-the-scenes look at the designer and his atelier, directed by Loic Prigent. Rodriguez was also featured in American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology .