Julia Sherman: What is the origin story of Tucker?
Gaby Basora: I was always refashioning clothes for myself from vintage, starting at a super young age. People liked the clothes, and I sold some things to friends, then to friends of friends, and soon I was trying to come up for a name of the little collection I had started. A “tucker” is a piece of cloth draped over the bosom, which couldn’t have better described the Classic Tucker blouse.
JS: Every piece of Tucker clothing feels unique and special, but wearable at the same time. You are the only designer I know who wears her own clothing all the time. Is that a reason why it is all so comfortable?
GB: I am glad to know that your Tucker is adored and well worn. I am on the move; I like to dress in clothes that are special feeling, that feel wonderful because they are of luxurious silk or cotton or wool. I feel like dressing is like a dance — I dress for you, you dress for me – it is a play. It is an act of generosity you give to yourself and to the world.
JS: Where do you look for inspiration when coming up with new patterns and designs?
GB: I am so inspired I often feel buzzy. I see shapes in leaves and rocks in the ground. I am moved by the last piece of lettuce in the bowl. Or a rubber band twisted in a pretty shape. I could make you a list of thousands of artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, poets. Colors, textures, shapes, smells, sounds.
JS: Does Tucker have a muse?
GB: My muse is often a woman currently inspiring me, often through a photo book or a film, the women of Misoslav Tichy or Monica Vitti. But it is also the woman I pass in the street once of a girl and her mother who I see often en route to the train.
JS: Tell me about the women in your family, it sounds like they were a great influence on you.
GB: Yes, from my mother to my grandmother, to aunts, to friends of my mother’s, or mothers of my mother’s friends. I have three sisters, each different and wonderful: an attorney, a film producer, and a television producer. So much living has happened in our kitchens — stories told, secrets shared, lessons taught. I love the stories.
JS: You mentioned that you were considering running an Ultra Marathon? Isn’t being a mom and running a business enough of a challenge?
GB: I am in awe of acrobats and surgeons. I love athleticism, movement, a fit body. Hiking, trekking. Seeing things, thinking, dreaming. My great ideas come to me on a run, riding my bike. Wind in the hair, dog on the back of a pickup truck. Bliss.
JS: You treasure old things. The zebra step stool was your grandmother’s and your apron belonged to your father. Even the napkins we ate with today were vintage napkins gifted to you by an old friend. But you went and added the name, “Esther Lutz Linens” to them to mark this occasion. Who is Esther Lutz?
GB: The napkins were given to me by my neighbor and friend, Mindy Goldberg of Epoch Films. Making dinner for the kids and setting a beautiful table every evening is something I look forward to, so Mindy graciously gave me her mother’s napkins. Mindy told me her mother’s story so I could share it with the kids.
Mindy’s mothers maiden name was Esther Cohen. She was active in the labor movement, and Mindy’s father, Quincy Goldberg, was also a labor organizer. Esther and Quincy were idealistic activists and they fell in love in the 40’s. Esther was blacklisted in the mid forties. She was accused and investigated by HUAC for having Communist ties.
JS: What is your relationship to the food world? You and I met at a Bon Appétit party. How did you end up there?
GB: I have the good fortune of being friends with Christine Muhlke, the Executive editor of Bon Appétit. She is an exquisite woman whose intelligence and caring is in equal measure to her kindness and tastefulness. As for food in my daily life, making dinner for my kids every evening is an obligation I love. I want to inspire a sense of joy and remembrance. I am very pleased when they walk in the door and say the room smells amazing!
JS: How did you meet Peter Miller, the architectural historian whose cookbook, Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal, we used today?
GB: I have known Peter for as long as I can remember. He has an exquisite bookstore in downtown Seattle near the Pike Place Market, where my mother had a movie theater similar to the Anjelika Film Center. Peter is the most intelligent, noisily boisterous, sincere, charming, funny man that I have ever known. He cooks lunch for his staff at the bookstore every day, a tradition taken from visits to Italy on his book buying trips. He just pulls the shades and locks the door or an hour everyday.
JS: What was the special Parisian salad you had and contemplated making for me?
GB: I had the salad at the bar at a restaurant around the corner from where Mitterand had lived. The salad was a tuna tartare with avocado and quinoa on a bed of greens. And a perfect piece of bread. This salad was so marvelous, I was hungry with nostalgia for a week upon my return. I was missing Paris, the salad and the soirées
JS: Is splitting your time between Paris and New York really as good as it sounds?
GB: Yes, it is.
JS: If we opened a salad restaurant together, what would we name it?
GB: It is very tempting to call it Tucker. It is not mine so I can unabashedly suggest Tucker – an extension of uplifting experience via clothes, broadening the sensual delight via taste, eating, also décor in terms of uniforms and linens.