After eight years of booking models for agencies such as Elite — and thinking she should be a stylist instead — Barbra Horowitz decided to take a break: “I was trying to figure out my next direction.” She lived off her savings while developing a show on fashion that she says she sold to MTV (although it never aired) as well as trying to get a clothing store opened. But when her roommate moved out of their Hollywood apartment, Horowitz — who was not on the lease — suddenly found herself homeless. For eight months she did the couch tour of various friends’ homes while living out of her Mercedes with her two pugs.
It was T-shirts that got a roof back over her head. For years, the San Mateo native had been altering clothes to fit her “forever junior body.” One day, she needed something to wear quick, and used scissors to transform a friend’s T-shirt into a sleek single-sleeve blouse — a costume-designer friend showed her how to lace up the sides. “I wore it to an opening, and boom,” says Horowitz. “I started cutting up everything for myself.” She began selling her shirts, which she called Rigged Tee Couture (www.barbrahorowitz.com) at the occasional yard sale. When she found herself homeless, she realized “with $10 and a pair of scissors, I had a business.” Horowitz, whose mother designed jewelry and whose father owned a men’s clothing store, capitalized on her contacts with publicists and stylists: Britney Spears was her first client. Horowitz soon built up a word-of-mouth following. “My clothing is disposable fashion,” she says.
In January, Horowitz, who works out of a studio in her Miracle Mile home, helped a friend organize a closet; four months later, she now finds herself with an unexpected new business, Closet Therapy, in which she helps clients re-imagine their wardrobes. “I start with what they’re not wearing and go from there,” says Horowitz. “The less we have, the more we have.”