For Tracy Feith, who seems to have all but vanished these days, not even Michelle Obama's Midas touch could spare the designer from sliding into a state of major financial distress. In January 2009 Feith received the ultimate endorsement from Mrs. Obama when she wore one of his dresses during her husband's inauguration festivities, a printed frock showcasing Feith's indentitiable penchant for colorful and abstract prints.
Though most designers who are lucky enough to claim the First Lady as a fan see subsequent sales skyrocket, just four months later Feith landed himself an eviction notice from his Upper East Side Boutique on Madison and 93rd Street, followed by a court order to pay $77,060.38 in back rent, reports the NY Daily News.
Things got worse for Feith this past August when another Manhattan court ruled he had to pay $152,745.27 in damages and court costs, since he had signed the boutique's lease as its guarantor, while a property owner out in Montauk also claimed that Feith and his business partner Susan Winget stiffed him out of half their rent payment for several cottages they leased last summer for themselves and employees.
Earlier this summer we did some investigative work on the designer's declining financial situation, first talking to the owner of the seasonal Montauk-based Surf Bazaar, who said he was waiting to receive pieces from Feith's spring/summer collection. Finally in July, Surf Bazaar told us the collection never arrived—no explanation why. A second inquiry to the neighbors of Feith's Brooklyn-based warehouse revealed that Feith's operation just seemed to up and vanish one day—no explanation on that front either. Feith himself, who hasn't released any statements—let alone showed his face—seems to have all but disappeared.
The struggle between art and commerce in fashion is a much-referenced one, though more often in examples of designers producing collections that are too "artistic," therefore running the risk of not selling. In the case of Tracy Feith, we have a fashion designer who is a far better artist (albeit a fiscally-irresponsible one) than he is a businessman.