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Launch My Line: Exclusive Interview with Merle Ginsberg

Posted on 02/04/2010 by Chandra in Launch My Line and Cast Interviews

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Merle Ginsberg from Launch My Line


by Chandra Clewley


Launch My Line’s First Runner Up, Merle Ginsberg has been around the block. I just have to put that out there, because after speaking with her, one can’t help but be impressed. Merle is based in Los Angeles, but for the past ten years has been pretty much bicoastal, working for such heavy hitters as Rolling Stone Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, W, and many more. She began as a pop-culture writer and somehow her path directionally flowed into fashion and fashion critique. Now, after being put down by some of the other contestants on Launch My Line, for perhaps being a bit too honest, she spoke with Reality Wanted to set the record straight.


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: What is your career background?


A. Merle: I started as a print journalist in New York. I wrote for SoHo News, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and then I moved to Los Angeles and worked with MTV and VH1. I worked at E Entertainment. Eventually I was hired by W to be a west coast editor, and I ended up being sort of an expert on Oscar fashion. When I left W in 2002, I started freelancing for Instyle, New York Times Magazine, and Bazaar.  Also, I freelanced on a lot of international magazines. I also did some television at times. I started to realize that magazines were kind of dying, and so I reinvented and started online as an editor and blogger on thefind.com. I then moved into my own blog www.fashionrules.com. I have even helped work on the Fashion Rules board game that is sold at Neiman Marcus and Barnes& Noble, wrote Paris Hilton’s book which was a New York Times bestseller and was cast on Ru Paul’s Drag Race and then when Bravo called, I thought it would be a good fit.

Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: What was the difference between living in New York and Los Angeles with your background?


A. Merle: It is a big theme in my life. I have often thought of writing a book about it. They are so different and are both my home. My family lives here and it is my base, but if I could have a home in each, I would. I go to New York for great culture; I love the theater, the art, the intellect. I come back to LA and I chill out, I can withdraw a little bit and it is calmer. LA is more focused on the body, I cook a lot.


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: How did you find taping Launch My Line?


A. Merle: I had been a judge on Ru Paul’s Drag Race so I knew what you had to go through. I knew the hours; I knew the fierceness we would get into. I am definitely competitive, but I am essentially a writer, and whatever competition is happening isn’t in my face. This in your face competitive insanity was very intense for me. I would come home absolutely drained. Once we got in there and started working, I loved watching the clothes come to life, but the competitive, scary paranoia stuff was not fun.


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: How did you feel when you were partnered with Thai?


A. Merle:  It was one of the happiest moments in my life, because it could have been an absolute nightmare. I have a long profession where I am very serious about clothes, I just wanted to work with someone professional who wanted to do something reality based and really cool. Really, there are a lot of people on that show that I could hardly be in a room with let alone work with so I knew that if I was paired with someone difficult, and dramatic, I was going to have a very tough time. And luckily I wasn’t.


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: As a fashion critic did you feel you had an edge over the rest of the competitors.


A. Merle: Bravo aired that line “I know more about fashion than most people” at least 15 times, and I said it once. It is what I do for a living. I have been involved with it since the late 1980’s. If you hold up a garment from then until now, I am going to know who made it. I didn’t know I could execute it. The other thing is that the convertibility concept, I have been thinking about that for years. I came in there with a concept I could believe in.


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: Were you concerned with criticism you might get because of your past critiques?


A. Merle: Totally. Well, no, because first of all, the people I have critiqued whether it’s Lanvin, Dries Van Noten or Calvin Klein, were not the judges on the show. People put something out there in the world professionally know that you get a lot of feedback. If you see me on Ru Paul’s Drag race, you know that I am very supportive of anyone who is working hard, has a good idea and is really trying. My criticism is usually quite constructive.  I was afraid of being criticized on national TV. because of clothes I made because I am a critic, absolutely. But I thought, this is just a really brave thing to do. Life is not about sitting at home being nervous, life is about going for it, so come what may, here we go. I respond well to people that are brave. 


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: What was the most difficult challenge? What would you change if you were to do it over again? 


A. Merle: The fabric limitations, the time constraints were difficult but more than that, the contant aura of paranoia that surrounds you on a reality show. Are the producers conspiring to make me tired? What are my competitors doing? I would buy better fabrics, and you know what, I know some of my fellow competitors are pissed off because I was kind of honest about what I thought of their clothes. I know that Eric and Galina are no fans of mine. I would be a little quieter about what I think. But, fortuntately, or unfortunately, I am a very honest person, I am opinionated and clothes are my business. I didn’t criticize people personally. I asked Galina to be quiet many, many times and she happens to be a loud, enthusiastic person and I don’t work in an environment like that. I like it a bit more calm and quiet. 


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: Did you have a history with Galina before the show?


A. Merle: I knew her a little and I knew her clothes. Eric and Galina worked right next to me. Kathy and Emil were very quiet. Vanessa and Tressa were pretty quiet. Even Patrick and Roberto were kind of quiet. Louanna and Jim, really quiet. I heard Marilyn and Coco a bit, but they were further away from me.  All were pretty quiet. Galina was like dancing, singing, twirling and screaming for the whole show. It really made me nervous. 

Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: When you were being interviewed during the show you were critiquing some of the other team’s designs. Do you stand behind your criticism?


A. Merle: I have to say that I do. My opinions have not changed. It might not have been so smart to be so “balls to the wall” because it caused Eric to write some nasty things on my Facebook page, and I never said one nasty thing about Eric as a person. I don’t know Eric as a person.  I am just not a fan of shorter, tighter, and stupider. I stand by that totally. 


Q. Chandra, Reality Wanted: What are you working on now?


A. Merle: I am working on a bunch of book projects. I write my blog every day. I am trying to get my clothing line off the grown, plus another project that is more like lingerie.  I am a judge on Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Thai made all of my clothes for Ru Paul’s Drag Race. They are gorgeous and I am producing a runway show for Thai that will be in March in Los Angeles. 


Maybe with any luck Reality Wanted can be invited to the show!


Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ChandraClewley


For more Launch My Line, visit SirLinksALot.net


(Image courtesy of Bravo)



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