Marla Ginsburg was a fashionable, high-profile Hollywood television producer for 20 years, her name behind shows including Highlander and La Femme Nikita. Things were great until they weren't. She made several failed television pilots, then found herself stuck in the throes of the 2007 Hollywood writer's strike. She couldn't find good work. And, she couldn't find fashionable clothes that didn't look like horse blankets.
She started sketching a line of clothing for women her age. Years later, her MarlaWynne line has joined the ranks of products from Twiggy, Wolfgang Puck and Tony Little sold on HSN. She called from her home in New York to chat about bouncing back from bleakness and dressing her changing body without sucking it all in.
How old are you?
You're mean! 56.
I usually save it for the end, but it seems to matter to you.
When I was in Hollywood, I used to be petrified of telling people my age because it's an industry that eats its young. Yet oddly, getting older is what inspired a new career. The fact of the matter is that everything I do is in response to my own frustration and getting older. One of the things I love about my line is that it's very authentic. It's fashionable, and it's inspired by some of the best things on the market, but it's all cut to deal with my ever popping-up icky bits. The wonderful thing about clothes is that when they're cut correctly, those changes in your body are evolutions.
Can you achieve a flattering look without sausage casing?
Look, shapewear is a modern way of saying girdle. This time of life, my experience of it is I want to be comfortable. There is a season for everything in life. This season of life is fabulous. I think I look better and I feel better than ever. I was certainly hotter and sexier before, but I was insecure. Now I feel sexy and I feel beautiful and I feel glamorous. It's important to take care of yourself, to stay in shape, but the reality is this age thing is part of the deal. If you want to live long, you're going to get older. I loved my youth. I loved walking down the street and having them looking at me and whistling at me. Now it's my daughter's turn. I can still walk into a room and can still turn heads, and it's not because I'm the prettiest thing in the room, it's because I walk into that room and I know who I am.
Before you became a designer, things were falling a part a little?
Things weren't falling apart a little. When I do something, I do it big. I was scared. I knew the big deals that I had enjoyed over the years with the studios were going by the wayside. I saw the writing on the wall. I said, "Okay, kiddo, what's next in your life?" I had two fantasies. One was to become a television host. The other was fashion. I always loved clothes, and I was finding it increasingly difficult to find clothes I loved. I said, "If you're going to have a second act, let's make it as fabulous as the first one."
Now you really get both dreams.
By landing on HSN, I have my own talk show and I get to be a clothing designer. It look me a long time to find my home. Thanks to management at HSN, I was put together with an amazing manufacturer who understands my brand and understands HSN.
What should people expect from your line?
When they order something from me, they're going to get easy care, easy wear, easy elegance. I think they're getting fabric that feels soft to the hand, that does not cling to you, that you can throw in the washing machine, into the dryer, into your suitcase and arrive at a destination and not look like a dish rag. You feel like you're wearing your pajamas but you look elegant. They're getting Paris-inspired fashion. I go there frequently. I watch everything I see coming down the runways and everything I see in the top couture and prêt-a-porter shops, and I translate it into what makes sense for every woman.
What do you tell women who come to you for style advice?
I love fashion, but fashion depends on the trends and is designed by an industry to separate you from your money. Style is forever. You can change fashions, but honestly a 55-year-old woman in a 5-inch heel with a big wedge and pants that show her butt crack. … I do think there's something called age appropriate. The most elegant women you see have timeless style. I encourage women to not be fashion chasers or trend chasers, but to discover what makes them feel beautiful. It's different for every woman. My mother likes a woven blouse and a woven pair of pants with large jewelry. I like knits with large jewelry. My daughter wants skinny pants with a flowing top and small jewelry. We've each found what we like. If someone has horrendous style and they're happy in it, then that's what they should wear. If they don't feel good in it, then I can go to town. There are solutions in my clothes.