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Feb 10, 2022

Meet Fashion Designer Elie Tahari at the Garden State Film Festival

By Lori Draz

For more than 40 years, Elie Tahari has been a leading name in the world of luxury fashion. His international headquarters, located in Millburn, extend to a global presence on five continents, and his brand is sold in more than 600 stores in more than 40 countries. This fashion icon, who is the definition of modern sophistication and understated grace, will be present at the Garden State Film Festival this Saturday, March 26 when the documentary “The United States of Elie Tahari” screens. 

Tahari’s inspirational story began in the 1970s when he emigrated from Israel to New York. He began moonlighting at a Greenwich Village boutique where he popularized the Tube Top. He opened his first boutique on Madison Avenue and held his first fashion show at Studio 54. In the 1980s, he opened shops in Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and was named one of Crain New York Business’ most successful 40 Under 40. The brand kept expanding, and soon his fashions made their way onto TV shows like “Ally McBeal,” “The X Files” and “Will & Grace.” He helped raise more than $2 million for AIDS research and was invited to the White House to meet with then-President Bill Clinton.

Tahari continued to expand the brand by including menswear and more fashion accessories. In 2013, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed Sept. 4 “Elie Tahari Day” in honor of the mogul’s 40 years in business.

It’s an incredible American Dream story of a creative genius who came to New York in 1971 with less than $100 in his pocket, slept on benches in Central Park, and went on to build a billion-dollar fashion empire.

Filmed in 2020 and directed and produced by David Serero, “The United States of Elie Tahari” is the first documentary ever produced about Tahari’s spectacular life and career. Film viewers will also meet several fashion personalities such as Fern Mallis (aka the Godmother of Fashion), fashion designers Nicole Miller and Dennis Basso, Melissa Rivers (daughter of comedian Joan Rivers), Arthur S. Levine, Wall Street Journal Fashion Journalist Teri Agins, Instagram influencer Julia Kananovich, artist Lynna Davis, disco musicians, models, representatives of Studio 54 and more. 

“This documentary covers the whole inspiring story of Elie Tahari’s fashion world and process, as rarely shown before.” Serero said. “I want this film to be loved by fashion lovers and connoisseurs, as well as the ones who are not familiar with that important artistic environment. This documentary is educative, inspiring and a celebration. You’ll feel joining a large party! Elie Tahari is the definition of courage, determination, kindness and chutzpah! His parents fled Iran and moved to Israel, where he lived in a refugee camp, Ma’abarot. [He] then moved to New York without speaking English and has contributed to the New York fashion life for more than 40 years with his iconic and visionary signatures such as the Woman Suit and more.”

The official trailer of “The United States of Elie Tahari” can be viewed at vimeo.com/556977381. Tahari will join the film’s director, attending the screening and conducting a Q&A panel after the film. The screening will be held on Saturday, March 26 at Asbury Hall/Asbury Hotel, Block TA12 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. For tickets and more information, visit GSFF.org.