Aquarius Fashion Idol: Narciso Rodriguez

January 27, 1961 Newark, NJ noon* (time unknown)

Born to Cuban immigrant parents in Newark New Jersey and quickly rising through the ranks of the high fashion world in New York, Aquarian fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez’s story is truly an American dream saga. The most striking thing about his chart is the conjunction of Jupiter, the planet of abundance and good luck, with Saturn, the planets of obstacles and endurance. This conjunction, which happens every twenty years, is thought by many astrologers to be a generational marker, the ushering in of a new wave. It also has mixed blessings for those born under its influence. Often it means that they will have as many downs as ups in their lives and career, that they will have to work very hard to achieve what will ultimately be huge successes, and that some of their greatest accomplishments will also hold the keys to some of their most trying challenges.

This has indeed been the case for the immensely talented Rodriguez. He demonstrated his stubborn and fixed Aquarian personality when he decided at a young age to go into the fashion industry. His parents did not approve but he would not back down; “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.”

After moving to New York, he secured jobs working for Libra Donna Karan under the Anne Klein label in the 1980s, and then in the 1990s moving on to work for Scorpio Calvin Klein. His own label which he launched in 1998, carried on the great American sportswear tradition central to these two brands. His style is perhaps best described as a synthesis of the clean, simple Calvin Klein style with the more romantic yet equally modern designs of Donna Karan. There is volume and softness in his clothes, yet they remain discrete.

In 1996, Rodriguez would have a typical Saturn/Jupiter year, characterized by several highs and lows. After designing a well received collection for the struggling label Cerruti that winter, he was promptly fired for refusing to sign a two year contract. There goes that stubborn Aquarius again. By September, however, he was an overnight celebrity when Sagittarius John F. Kennedy Jr. married his beautiful bride, fashion publicist Carolyn Bessette, in a romantic secret ceremony on a Georgia island. The bride wore a simple pearl colored bias cut sheath designed by her friend Narciso Rodriguez. Suddenly, he was a household name and the slip he designed helped usher in a revolution in bridal wear. What Cancer Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding gown had done for a generation of girls who married with puffed sleeves in the 1980s, Capricorn Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s minimalist gown did for the next decade of brides choosing simple slips for a walk down the aisle. Cancer, after all, is the sign of emotional, comforting layers, while Capricorn style is streamlined and sophisticated.

The publicity from his friends wedding, whom he had met when they were both working for Calvin Klein, gave him the momentum, and financing, he needed to start his own label. His looks became a constant at parties and red carpets from New York to California, easily spotted on his friends like Arians Sarah-Jessica Parker and Claire Danes. 2003 proved to be another years of high and lows however. After becoming the first person ever to win the Council of Fashion Designers of America Womenswear Designer of the Year Award two years in a row, a huge accomplishment, he began an ill-fated partnership with Italian businessman Massimo Ferretti, a manufacturer who owned several other labels. Their business and creative visions for the company differed dramatically and in a few short years Rodriguez realized he was in serious trouble, even at the verge of bankruptcy.

In 2007, with the help of many of his high powered fashion friends, like his former boss Donna Karan and the Scorpio editor of “Vogue”, Anna Wintour, he had managed to pull himself out of that partnership without loosing everything and find a more suitable partner. Ever the embodiment of his Jupiter/Saturn complex, he says of this difficult time in his life, “The worst thing that has happened to me is all of the bad advice I have received. It’s also the best thing. It’s brought me to the place where I am today.” The Liz Claibourne company purchased the Narciso Rodriguez brand in 2007 for $14 million dollars, making it one of the first times a large American manufacturer has dabbled in acquiring in the upscale niche market area. With plans underway for an accessories line and stores, this looks to be a promising partnership.

But one thing is certain, however it turns out, as a Aquarian, Rodriguez will always stay true to himself and the style of work he is passionate about. With his Mars in Cancer (and possibly his moon as well, depending upon what time of day he was born), his artistic Venus in Pisces, and his inspired Neptune in Scorpio, there is a strong water element in his chart. For him fashion is about feeling and emotions and ideas. Not about trends and sudden fads or the shock of the unexpected. As he said way back in 1997, “What I’m trying to capture with the look is something more sensual, more feminine. For me designing is such a personal thing. It’s really emotional- that’s part of my Latin upbringing.” And part of his birth chart.