Narciso Rodriguez is an American fashion designer.
Rodriguez is the eldest child and only son of Cuban parents. His father, Narciso Rodríguez II, a longshoreman, and Rawedia María Rodríguez, are of Canarian descent. He grew up in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were against Narciso entering fashion: “They wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer or a dentist. So when I dared to tell them, the shit hit the fan. It was crazy. But no matter how many times I heard ‘No,’ I just kept going. I never thought about ‘no’. ‘No’ wasn’t an option.” He was educated at the New School in New York, studying at their art and design college, Parsons The New School for Design.
Following freelance work in New York’s garment industry, he joined Anne Klein as Women’s Design Director under Donna Karan. Later, he moved to Calvin Klein where he worked on the Women’s Collection. In 1997 he launched his own label. His first major attention came when he designed the wedding dress of fellow Calvin Klein employee Carolyn Bessette for her wedding to John F. Kennedy, Jr..
In 2005 he became the first American to win the Council of Fashion Designers of America Womenswear Designer of the Year Award two years in a row. However, by 2006, Rodriguez, who had ended his partnership with his label’s manufacturer, Aeffe, was over US$1 million in debt to his suppliers, and needed fabric donations for his spring collection. His clients include Salma Hayek, Anna Paquin, Claire Danes, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel Weisz, and Sonia Braga.
On May 5, 2007, Liz Claiborne acquired a 50% interest in the Narciso Rodriguez label. In 2008 Narciso Rodriguez bought the 50% interest back from Liz Claiborne for 12 million dollars.
In 2003 Rodriguez introduced a women’s perfume with Shiseido’s Beauté Prestige International division called, “For Her”. His men’s fragrance, “For Him”, launched in July 2007.
On November 4, 2008, Michelle Obama wore a dress from Narciso Rodriguez’s spring 2009 collection when she joined her husband, Barack Obama, appearing for the first time as president-elect of the United States, on the stage at Grant Park in Chicago; it was widely panned by both the fashion press and the public. The dress, originally unveiled at New York City’s Fashion Week in September 2008, came from Rodriguez’s “stress-relief” design collection. Rodriguez was a strong supporter in the fashion world of Barack Obama’s campaign; in August 2008, he blamed a slowdown in his business on “this Bush mess”.