Inside the Head of Mickey Rosmarin

Laurann Claridge. Portrait Fulton Davenport.
November 29, 2010

Mickey Rosmarin — proprietor of Houston’s swank store, Tootsies — will celebrate his nearly three decades in the fashion trade by debuting his grandest store to date in mid-January 2011. More than double the size of its previous footprint, his sparkling new 35,000-square-foot Tootsies at West Ave will stock new names from European and American designers and expanded shoe, accessory and jewelry salons in a soaring, colonnaded, megalithic monument to style designed by Gensler architects. Tootsies will play host, as it has for years, to charity fund-raisers, fashion shows and trunk shows from visiting designers the world over with the addition of salons galore, a 300-foot runway, private alcoves, bar and catering kitchen. On the eve of Rosmarin’s glittering store opening, we delve — not too deeply — into the unconventional, nonconformist mind of the man who manages to make it all look effortless.

Image: Gloria Guinness, in Acapulco, 1966

Q:You are quite the collector. What are you amassing these days?   
Vintage ceramic pieces of Waylande Gregory. Deco and mid-century Italian furniture and accessories for the new store. I’m always looking at estate sales and garage sales, on 1st Dibs and at local dealers such as Era Vintage Modern.
I understand you have an affinity for vintage clothing and furniture. What era are you most consumed by?
For furniture I like 1930’s, ’40s and ’50s Vittorio Dassi and Gio Ponti. In vintage clothing, I love ’30s through ’60s from Pucci, Ossie Clark and Vera.


Image: Waylande Gregory

Describe your personal aesthetic in terms of wardrobe?
Simple, fairly basic and consistent, usually jeans (Levi’s or Banana Republic), John Lobb black loafers and shirts from Vintage, Fray Italy and Paul Smith.

… And in terms of interiors and the way you live at home?
Eclectic and spontaneous. I’ve been collecting Deco & mid-century furniture for 20-plus years.

Image credit: Allison V. Smith

What books are on your bedside table?
Relevance by Tim Manners and, recently, an endless amount of catalogs for fixtures, hardware, etc. for the new store.

Home away from home?
Hotel San Jose in Austin.

Image: Mickey & Joan Rivers in the ‘80s

The hotel or resort you long to escape to (or go back to)?
I’d like to time travel back to Villa Vera or Las Brisas in Acapulco, circa late ’70s/early ’80s. And  Miami, late ’80s and early ’90s.  

Favorite restaurant in town?
RDG, Da Marco, Armandos.

Image: Gio Ponti Diamond sofa for Cassina, 1953

Where and what would you enjoy for your last meal, if you actually had
the opportunity to choose?
Felix’s chili con queso, James Coney Island hot dogs.

Small luxuries you wouldn’t want to do without:
Freedom of time; I like to keep a fluid and spontaneous schedule.

Image: The view from Villa Nirvana, Acapulco, 1971; Credit: Slim Aarons

You are responsible for introducing Tootsies customers to a wide range of once up-and-coming designers such as Donna Karan and Diane Von Furstenberg. Whose collections these days have you doing a double take?
Giambattista Valli.

If you could author the words of any one quotation in history, whose and what words would you wish to have first uttered?
“The more things change, the more they remain the same.“ I find this to be so true in the worlds of fashion, design and  architecture.

Image: Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still, 1978, Edition of 3; Credit: Cindy Sherman

Mickey, you collect an array of art. Whose pieces do you wish to acquire (or acquire even more of)?
Cindy Sherman, an American photographer best known for her black-and-white conceptual portraits.

You are quite the entrepreneur — not only starting your own original concepts but reviving ones popular ages ago, such as Kork-Ease and Waylande Gregory. What makes something ripe, in your eyes, for reinvention?
It’s more a feeling than anything else. To revive a concept or design, there has to be a heritage to draw upon, such as the rich history of Waylande Gregory, the artist, and the discovery of a warehouse of his original pieces. Kork-Ease had a huge following and elicited an incredibly strong visceral feeling for the freedom of the ’70s. I think Halston is ready for a strong comeback. So are Vera fabrics.

Image: Giambattista Valli, Fall 2010

What product line or company would you love the chance to reinvent in 2011 and beyond?
I have one in the works — a very popular product line from the South of France from the mid-’70s.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
The precursor to Tootsies was called Honest Threads and opened in the early ’70s. It was my first real store, located at 506 Westheimer. We sold vintage clothes and evolved into what is now Tootsies.

Okay, now, just one sneak peek at the new store. A new department? 
The Body Shop, focusing on every single garment that pushes, pulls and expands, and does whatever needs to be done.

Image top: Mickey Rosmarin in his new store; Credit: Fulton Davenport