With so many talents, how would you describe yourself? Stylist, beauty entrepreneur, model, business woman, style icon… the list goes on!
Thank you for the compliment. I would say I'm a hardworking woman who is passionate about her work and her small life. I was a stylist for almost 35 years; it was a wonderful career - lots of travel and interesting people along the way. “Business woman” makes me laugh a bit because I don't see myself as that really, although now with RODIN olio lusso, I am running a business. But of course, I have a small team of wonderful people surrounding me. The modelling part and style icon part are really new to me. I did do a bit of modelling 50 years ago when I was living in Italy. So now it's interesting to be in front of the camera again after so many years of styling other people. And the "style icon" moniker…… Well, I'm so flattered. I've never thought of myself as that ;)
What was your vision when you were younger and how did you end up getting into fashion?
I wanted to be a photographer. And do fashion. I worked for the great Gösta Peterson as his assistant in the 1970s. I would do my own photos with borrowed clothing and up and coming models. One day my sister said to me: "You know, to be honest, your photos are NOT too good, but the clothes you DRESS THE MODELS IN in are always great. Maybe there's a job dressing models". We had never even heard of the word “stylist” at that time. Little by little, I evolved into a stylist.
Other than a few years in Italy, you’ve lived in New York all your life. Has has the city influenced you and what do you love about it?
Yes. I grew up 30 minutes from Manhattan. We would come to the city as teenagers and go around. After three years in Italy, I moved to Manhattan, and have been there since I was 20. I consider myself a true New Yorker. My pace is quick and I'm always curious.
Your fabulous New York apartment, which you share with your little poodle, Winky, is an inspiration to all of us. What inspired you to decorate it in the way that you have done?
Thank you. I love my home. I've been in the same place for 38 years. My mother was quite quirky and an interior designer and also had a wonderful and tiny antique shop. I've been collecting bit and bobs my entire life. I just gravitate to lots of things. I'm a magpie. I never leave the flea market empty handed. And for the last few years, I've discovered I have a bit of a green thumb, so I've become obsessed with plants. I must have about 50 or so now. It's my third full time job after RODIN and Winks. I spend a lot of time caring for all three.
What is your take on British style and fashion in London versus New York?
Hmmmmm. I would say British fashion has always been more quirky and funky.
How would you describe your style? Do you think your personal style has changed over the years with the evolving trends that you’ve experienced around you over the decades?
I would say I'm classic with a twist. I like simple silhouettes and then add a few things. I've never been too trendy. I know what I look well in and feel comfortable wearing. I won't wear something just because it's "in style" or the trend of the moment.
We know how much you love your vintage style pieces, whether for your face, form or home. What is it about vintage that you are drawn to and do you have a favourite era from which you try to track things down?
I love several eras. Definitely the thirties, sixties and seventies. I was never a fan of the 1980s (although I have a few great Comme des Garçons pieces still). I'm not only drawn to those decades because of the clothing. I love 1930s films and hair styles and all of that. And I lived the fashion of the 1960s and '70s so I have very clear memories of living in those clothes and being a part of those cultures as they were unfolding. They were exciting times on every level.
Where do you find your best vintage pieces for your wardrobe and your home?
Flea markets. I love them anywhere and everywhere.
You have said that your fashion ‘statement’ is your tinted glasses, especially your Cutler and Gross vintage styles. Do you have a favourite pair?
Yes. I adore Cutler and Gross. I always have. I wish I had some of my glasses from before. I had several. I now rotate between four pairs of cool frames that I've acquired over the last few years, all different and classic and hip.
Do you think wearing glasses can alter one’s entire look and the perception people have of you?
Yes, I do. When I started needing glasses about 10 years ago, I wasn't so keen on the idea of hiding my eyes all the time. And I felt a bit nerdy too. Now that I can't even walk to the kitchen without them, I've embraced the idea of wearing them and choosing a beautiful way to do that with charming frames. They're not only a necessity for me, but also part of my wardrobe. Like shoes or a bag or lipstick.
"I've embraced the idea of wearing glasses and choosing a beautiful way to do that with charming frames. They're not only a necessity for me, but also part of my wardrobe. Like shoes or a bag or lipstick."
You’re not just an expert in showing us how to wear our glasses but how to do the make-up behind them. Do you have any tips on this or how to, say, pair your lip stick colour with our glasses?
I pretend I'm painting a canvas. And all colors can work together. Most of my frames are black, navy and tortoise. And my lenses are all different colors - lavender, aqua tinted, pale green. I don't like to match everything. For me, disparate colors are more interesting.
You seem to sail through your stylish life so effortlessly. However, we’re longing to ask… have you ever had any fashion or beauty disasters?
Of course. I've looked at some photos of myself and wondered how that happened. We all make mistakes ;)
What is your secret to looking so wonderful and having such youthful energy?
I think I've always been a very energetic person. I like to move quickly. That's my New York DNA.
We’ve seen a celebration of women of all ages on the catwalks at major fashion weeks recently (including from yourself in the J.Crew and the Row lookbooks!). Where do you see the world’s perception of ageing going?
I think the world is realizing that older women are not invisible. That we can be vibrant and oh so smart and interesting. We've got a lot knowledge to share. It's a wonderful moment and I hope it lasts.
"I think the world is realizing that older women are not invisible. That we can be vibrant and oh so smart and interesting. We've got a lot knowledge to share. It's a wonderful moment and I hope its lasts."
Is the media helping to diffuse our obsession with youth or make it worse?
Yes and no. Older women have a spotlight now that they haven't had before. But I think the obsession with youth is going strong. In fact, the plastic surgery and botox etc seems to be starting younger and younger. It's quite sad.
You have an enormous and growing social media following yourself – do you think this helps to show that women of all ages are embracing the digital changes?
Yes. It seems that there are all ages now out there sharing their lives in a nice way.
Who are some of the most inspiring people you have worked with?
Bob Dylan is at the top of the list for sure.
And how about the most inspiring places for you?
All of Italy. Corsica. Parts of France. Small Caribbean islands… Anywhere there are seashells to be found. I'm an avid collector.
What or who makes you happy?
My Winky. My home. My family and dear friends. I'm always happiest at home.
What keeps you up at night?
What advice would you give your 18 year old self about beauty and style?
Stay true to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Let one step inform the next.
And finally… shades indoors? Yes or no!
Well. Not a yes or no for me. I wear the same shades indoors and out. My eyes have grown accustomed to different colored lenses. When I need to see a true color - for work or creative things - I do have a pair of glasses with a clear lens. But only for color work. I love seeing the world in different tints of blues and lavenders and pinks and greens.
"I love seeing the world in different tints of blues and lavenders and pinks and greens."