"I really have expensive taste, to be honest with you," Queen Latifah confesses. That was "probably the biggest adjustment" she had to make when working on her first clothing collection for HSN. "I’ve always wanted to do a clothing line," she continues. "I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do one but I didn’t feel like they were the right situations, the right type of equity, the right type of deal. And some of them have been quite lucrative offers — really, really lucrative offers." HSN won't put out a line at Dolce & Gabbana prices — far from those, in fact — but was the only party whose vision aligned with Latifah's, she said. We chatted more with the Queen about the line launching August 27, diversity on the runways, the Middleton sisters, and more.
How would you describe the HSN line?
Every piece is something that I would wear myself or one of my friends would wear. I wanted the materials to be as luxe as they could possibly be, but at a reasonable price point. I’m a Pisces so I like soft materials on the skin. I like things that make women look really sexy but not unclassy-sexy. Edgy as well. You gotta actually get with the bags. I love purses — if there’s one thing I will spend money on, I will spend money on a handbag. The handbags are really fly.
The line goes up to a size 24. Would you say there's a lack of options for great clothes in the plus-size market?
There’s always been, and there’s been a lack of respect for the women who wear that clothing, in my opinion. I just don’t think people deal in a certain reality and I’m just not that person, and I don't think high fashion or great fashion should be relegated to just the skinny girls. I think we should all have an opportunity to look good and I just want everyone to feel good.
You have to design with respect to the women whose bodies you’re putting this on. You buy a shirt in a size 16 — it’s boxy, it’s not tailored, or it’s in a material that’s not forgiving in any way, so we try to use stretchy materials. I made sure that a lot of the collars dropped so you don’t completely show your cleavage but you show a little sexiness. I tried to make things that I would wear and girls my size would also wear.
With Fashion Week coming up, a topic of conversation is sure to be whether or not the runways are any more diverse than past seasons. Do you follow this issue?
It’s absolutely something I pay attention to. It’s something I've had to deal with in my other profession, film and television, even music to a certain degree. As long as I’ve owned my own business, I’ve been really intent on making sure that when I stand on the set of a movie and I look out on my crew that I’m looking at America — that they look like the entire country, not just one part of it. That’s something I think will grow as long as new blood keeps getting infused into the fashion world.
Some people question why that's so important.
Everybody wants to see someone who looks like them — it’s not all about putting white girls on the runway, it’s about reflecting what the world looks like. It’s a global issue because fashion is a global thing — it sets tones around the world. It sets trends around the world. You shouldn’t feel like only a sexy white girl can jump off a yacht in Europe — you should be able to achieve that, too. I think fashion has become more diverse, and as long as it continues to be an issue, I think it will continue to grow and change. People that want to make some money, they’re going to get wise and say we really have to diversify if we really want to sell this brand. This is your money that you're spending, so if there are designers that are completely against being diverse, then you have the right to not spend money on them. And that’s been done before. Sometimes you've got to hurt some people in the pocket and then you see some things change.
Since you ARE the Queen, I have to ask what you think of Princess Kate Middleton and her sister Pippa's style.
I wouldn’t change a thing. Pippa’s still kind of up and coming to me — she should get to wear whatever she wants. It’s the time to experiment with the kinds of things she wears. Her sister’s a princess so [she can't do that]. I think she has a great fashion sense. I think she has a great sense of taste, and she seems just like a girl’s girl, and she knows how to have fun with the boys. I don’t think she should change anything about what she’s done and just be herself and not worry too much about what everyone thinks because that’s when you start making the wrong choices.
If you could style Kate how would you dress her?
I’d probably give her a pair of my skinny moto jeans and a fresh moto jacket with a cool tank, and I’d probably get her a nice pair of Ralph Lauren boots, throw her on a cool-ass motorcycle and tell her to go. But that’s just me. I’m standing in New York, looking over the city, and I like to see a little ruggedness.