1. First things first: Where do you shop? Do you have a secret store?
I can’t say that I have a secret store per se, but I definitely gravitate towards Ikram, Opening Ceremony, and Colette: without a doubt, their respective proprietors Ikram Goldman, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, and Sarah Lerfel have the most inspiring, enterprising and far-out curatorial visions and foresight in the industry. Their championship of young designers, avant-garde and cutting-edge mixing and matching of the most exquisite pieces, and knowledgable and obliging staff is something to treasure and always guarantees not only an enjoyable shopping experience – but a learned one at that!
2. How would you describe your style in one sentence?
If Alice in Wonderland met a forest pixie on Beatrix Potter’s land trust… I am quite drawn to fairies of folklore, horses, twee, and a certain self-deprecating whimsy.
3. What is the ultimate item on your wish list this season?
Unreservedly Giambattista Valli’s fantastical confection of a frock donned by Ksenia Kahnovich at the tail-end of his Spring collection for an upcoming event. Speaking of which, the final dozen or so looks from his latest prêt-à-porter effort appeared as if they were magically conjured by command of a fairy godmother’s “bippity boppity boo”!
Into the bargain, Tao Kurihara’s (of Tao for Comme des Garçons) offbeat Scottish-bagpiper-cum-proper-equestrian hats, Christopher Decarnin’s (for Balmain) uncharacteristically innocent ballerina dresses with ample tutus to boot that somehow fluttered their way into his otherwise sultry Spring showing, and Karl Lagerfeld’s (for Fendi) enchanted garden frocks (donned by Sigrid and my lovely Aussie friend Myf). I’m also head-over-heels for the collaborative moonstone and quartz jewelry crafted by Mark Walsh Leslie Chin for Rodarte.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Nicolas Ghesquière’s (of Balenciaga) magnificent blue dresses atop tan-jumpsuits donned by Kamila and Diana during the final walkthrough! He is truly the most enterprising and visionary designer of our time. I am a major Balenciaga fan and an avid collector of his exquisite work… but without a doubt this S/S 2009 collection was my absolute favorite of Nicolas’ illustrious career – straight out of a “voyage into Star Trek territory” as Hilary Alexander so aptly put it; which as a Frakes (my uncle and godfather is Jonathan Frakes, the director of several Star Trek films who also portrays Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation) it was an especially personal, first-hand connection. The play of light, the couture quality, the keen fabrication, the presentation’s gentle progression, the otherworldly organic-toed stacked-heels tucked inside futuristic leggings… this presentation was literally out of this world!
And how could I not broach Karl Lagerfeld’s masterfully cut, entirely black-and-white Spring 2009 Chanel Haute Couture collaboration with Japanese hairstylist/milliner Katsuya Kamo (whose light-as-a-meringue “white paper origami” hat motif delicately swathed the entire collection and extended throughout the intimate former rue Cambon bank venue)? It was assuredly one of my favorite shows that I have ever had the honor of attending (Sonia Rykiel’s fortieth anniversary fête and both Marc Jacobs and Maison Martin Margiela Spring 2009 showings also come to mind) and I was in raptures at every single look.
Perhaps I should forward that fairy godmother my address? Sounds like I’ve summoned quite a little list here!
4. Who are your favorite designers?
Charles Anastase, Kate & Laura Mulleavy (of Rodarte), Stella McCartney, Peter Jensen, Nicholas Ghesquière (of Balenciaga), Alber Elbaz (of Lanvin), Limi Feu, Erdem Moralioglu (of Erdem), Sonia Rykiel, Peter Pilotto, Emma Cook, Consuelo Castiglioni (of Marni), Julian Louie, John Patrick (of Organic), Luella Bartley (of Luella), Susien Chong (of Lover the Label), Moises de la Renta, Phoebe Philo, Yasuko Furuta (of Toga).
I practically live in Stella’s vegan accessories and shoes! Her tailored Saville Row training (exhibited through her flawless blazer construction) serves as the prime foil to her easy, laid-back elegance and ebullient organic wares. Plus getting to know Stella as a person has made her steadfast dedication to the planet and superlative talent that much more personally prized for me. Women simply adore Alber Elbaz (and by extension, Lanvin) owing to his love and appreciation of real women: sans the plastic or pretension. Sonia’s buoyant vibrancy and happy-go-lucky aesthetic is a treasure in the “fierce” fashion market as of late.
5. If you could swap closets with anyone, who would it be?
Fashion editor Jacob K. or Kate Phelan’s ethereal – practically phantasmagorical – styling wardrobes on location of a sweeping fairy tale of a Tim Walker photoshoot.
6. What are your favorite online destinations?
I do occasionally shop online: in a pinch, I procure essential basics from LaGarçonne.com, refreshingly offbeat pieces from creaturesofcomfort.us, and the trailblazing designer selections from brownsfashion.com or farfetch.com. I have quite a penchant for boutique fragrances and candles, and accordingly adore Aedes de Venustas’ superlative selection and polished presentation (aedes.com). My best-loved scents veer towards Diptyque, Le Labo, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Annick Goutal, Cire Trudon, and Miller et Bertaux… a truly sensory experience indeed! I am perpetually burning candles in my apartment – I find Diptyque and Le Labo’s woody, spicy, and herbal glims to be the most snug and intimate – rendering a warm, homey vibe in the otherwise hectic and at times harsh city.
7. If you had a time machine, which style era would you visit first?
Although it’s a no doubt unfortunate phenomena, it appears to be visiting us! Ergo the definite “depression chic” that pervaded the Spring 2009 presentations by way of the fetching faded florals and delicate prairie chic concepts harkening back to the 1930’s Great Depression – and accordingly felt hauntingly relevant today. However this time around the theme took the form of a pretty pixie aesthetic: gentle striped sack dresses at Bottega Veneta, bonny WPA hats at Christopher Bailey’s Burberry Prorsum, darling faded Liberty-esque printed layers at Marc by Marc Jacobs, the ultimate in American Dust Bowl Chic at Marc Jacobs, a newfound organic simplicity conveyed via at Miu Miu and Prada, post-Prohibition drop waists at Vera Wang, and a sparklingly witty Ellis Island schoolboy aesthetic at Wunderkind. Perhaps the most wearable tribute to the sun-bleached (albeit arduous) thirties prairie life was at John Patrick’s Depression era Spring presentation for his ethical label, Organic by John Patrick: epitomizing Okie pluck by way of gingham dobby-pleated camisoles, faded cuff shorts, perfectly fitting comfortable blazers, ruffle-trimmed cotton voile tops, and folksy jewelry crafted in collaboration with Fallon designer Dana Lorenz. Fit for the most principled of pixies, the collection was organically and fairly manufactured to boot!
8. If you could get personal fashion advice from one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Leith Clark, Beatrix Potter, Berthe Morisot, Joanna Schlenzka, Natalia Vodianova, Sarah Lerfel, Camilla Nickerson, Kinga Rajzak, Grace Coddington, Lilla Cabot Perry: while they may stem from different fields of the arts, they all are incredibly talented individuals with a killer sense of humour; by not taking themselves too seriously, their curatorial (especially in Sarah Lerfel of Colette’s case) and artistically quirky sensibilities take center stage. Through my colleague Mickey Boardman, I have been tremendously blessed to strike an affable bond with one of my beloved fashion idols: the brilliantly witty and geniusly zany fashion journalist Lynn Yaeger. What an inspiration to spend fashion weeks with her!
9. If you could emulate the style of a fictional character, who would it be?
Surely one of Beatrix Potter’s fauna friends – I’ve always been smitten with Miss Moppet’s pink bows, Jemima Puddle-Duck’s bonnets, and Benjamin Bunny’s flopsy berets.
10. Tell us about the five pieces you find yourself buying, wearing, and replacing over and over again.
The abridged version: scarves, hats, girlish, ladylike dresses, outerwear fit for mountain adventures, and my go-to staples.
More precisely: I find that an Hermès scarf paired with a Stephen Jones or Maison Michel hat can transform even the most lackluster of ensembles. Scarves and chapeaux are astonishingly pivotal in my wardrobe : it is indeed a rare occasion when I’m not donning a hat, headband, ribbon, or other bit of whimsy crowning my head à la or Natasha Kahn or Anna Piaggi! In terms of frocks, I’m quite faithful to Proenza Schouler, Lover the Label, Cacharel (especially with archival Liberty prints) and Charles Anastase for daytime dresses and Peter Pilotto, Emma Cook, Lanvin, Erdem, Erin Fetherston, Miu Miu and vintage Chloé for evening. For an east coast winter snug outerwear is indispensable: Yigal Azrouël’s cozy sweaters, Luella’s quirky coats, Sonia Rykiel and Walter van Beirendonck’s chunky knits, Hansel from Basel and Henrik Vibskov’s leggings and Aigle’s vegan rubber puddle-Wellies compose my standbys for surviving this no-doubt chilly city. Otherwise I’m practically dependent on my trusty L’Agence super-soft long-sleeved t-shirts, VPL bralettes, Stella McCartney’s cruelty-free wedges and pumps, Chanel 2.55 satin bags in all sizes and colors, and the uncannily cozy Fogal performance and Wolford Velvet de Luxe tights.
11. How much is too much to spend on a pair of shoes?
It depends on how much they mean to you, I suppose. In these harsh economic times I find it more prudent to solely invest in nonpareil, super noteworthy pieces rather than lavishing on jejune garments or boring “basics”.
12. Who is your style soul mate?
Aesthetically? Tim Walker’s photographic dreamscapes.
Stylistically? Peter Jensen – I think he “gets me” more than… say, a shrink writing a Frakes thesis ever will! His most recent Greenland-inspired collection created in honor of his fictional Aunt Jytte (who “owned a chip shop and cab company in the capital of Nuuk, Greenland, and liked fashion in the seventies”) was so in keeping of my silly, albeit naïve fashion credo.
Personally? My kindred designer spirits (and dear friends) Rachel Antonoff, Lisa Salzer (of Lulu Frost), Susien Chong and Nic Briand (of Lover the Label), and Kate and Laura Mulleavy (of Rodarte). Love!
13. It’s your Final Supper—who’s there and what meal do you ask for?
A giant Winter Salad from Pure Food & Wine with extra Dr. Cow’s raw tea-soaked cashew nut ‘cheese’, crisp apples and jicama with my mum and her fiancé – and bunny amies galore (including the likes of Mickey and Lynnie, no doubt)! My pleasantly plump ragdoll kitty, Daisy, would surely have make a cameo too! She may partake of your repast though… if you’re not careful!
14. Did you go to Prom? What did you wear?
I did turn up for about an hour or so… more due to obligation than anything else. While always happy-go-lucky, I was never the most school-spirited of birds (or bunnies, rather?) and tended to spend most of my time amongst close friends on the Library Advisory Board with our lovable library dog: a golden retriever named Bugsy. Although I did serve on a gaggle of clubs, teams and organizations – I never was into the whole “high school” social scene that’s, well, so dreadfully “high school”! There have been some misquotes as per my prom – I did wear one of my favorite of Nicolas’ floral Balenciaga dresses, but it was not purchased for said event.
15. What theme song best describes your life?
Less than coincidentally, “Julia” by the Beatles (on the White Album). Although I suppose I’m predisposed…
16. What inspires you?
The Bloomsbury group, specifically how Virginia Woolf’s lyrical and poetic verse can transform the most colorless of commonplace conditions into enthralling affairs. Her lover Vita Sackville-West’s 1930’s gardens at Sissinghurst Castle are particularly inspiring landscapes that have surely shaped my love of faded florals. As a major history buff I’m completely enchanted by fashion from an anthropological – even art historical – perspective.
However from a more personal standpoint, the whimsical world that encompassed English author, illustrator, mycologist, and conservationist Beatrix Potter’s Scottish highlands – chockfull of flora and fauna, countless (real and imaginary) bunnies – serves as a definite inspiration. Growing up I have been head-over-heels for the works of the American poet and painter Lilla Cabot Perry – her feminine perspective on New England life as influenced through her studies in Japan and Paris as well as her mentorship with impressionists Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro are truly emotive, poignant, and otherworldly. The delicate fashions featured in her oeuvres (especially The Black Hat (1914), Lady with a Bowl of Violets (1910), and Woman with a Cat) are so inspiring… I just wish the female impressionists would get more credit! Hopefully someone will do a lovely retrospective in the near future, especially considering her diverse influences from the Boston school to Giverny to becoming an honorary member Nippon Bijutsu-In Art Association after moving to Japan and exhibiting in Tokyo.