Upstairs at the Cactus Flower, we recently came across a lovely vintage Jack Mulqueen silk blouse.
After researching this designer out of sheer interest, we found him to be quite the character.
Here are a few tidbits, mostly from an archived People article dated November 9, 1981.
- Jack Mulqueen is known for unabashedly knocking off tons of high-end designers in the 80s.
- He would apparently straightforwardly offer designers royalties for copying their designs. If the designer refused to allow him to "bite their style", he would do it anyway. Without the royalties.
- By doing this, he got some big-name designers like Valentino, Mary McFadden & Zandra Rhodes to design under his label and sell for much lower prices (under $200!).
- He and his designers would search through Women's Wear Daily for runway photos that they could base their designs on. They would then have factories in South Korea make the garments and ship them back in a matter of days.
- Mulqueen: "I copy only shining stars like Kenzo, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana and Giorgio Armani."
- Ellen Saltzman, corporate fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue, who apparently carried a lot of Jack Mulqueen in the 80s, said, "He didn't get the name 'Fast Jack' for nothing. He seems to copy collections before they are created."
- Stores like Bloomingdales would carry both Mulqueen's knockoffs and the real thing.
- At the time this article was written, Mulqueen was living in a Sutton Place co-op across from his estranged wife, had an equestrian daughter, drove a $115,000 Ferrari Boxer and a $110,000 silver Rolls-Royce, and was negotiating to buy a Canadair Challenger aircraft for $7.5 million. He "gambled in Monte Carlo, shopped on Savile Row and dined at Maxim's".
- "I'm more extreme than most," Fast Jack concedes, "but like I tell Whitney about her horses: If you come in second, you might as well come in last."
Valentino for Jack Mulqueen, for sale here
1980s silk blouse
this article, Mulqueen's career is started anew in 2000 with an exclusive sports wear line at Neiman Marcus/Bergdorf Goodman. The author, Eric Wilson, refers to him as "Fast Jack, the knockoff king of Seventh Avenue".