My earliest fashion memory was buying my first subscription to American Vogue when I was about 12. The actress Isabella Rossellini was on the cover, and there was a huge spread on the Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. I pored over every page – I learned all the models’ names off by heart and it was the first time I discovered brands that weren’t in my local shopping mall: Norma Kamali, Issey Miyake, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Claude Montana… Safe to say I was hooked and I knew I never wanted to do anything else other than work in fashion.
I didn’t buy anything designer until I was 28. I’d had my first bonus and decided to treat myself to a Marc Jacobs bag and matching wallet. It was so heavy, but I didn’t care – it felt amazing to have bought something so special.
My personal style is best described as a bit tomboy meets granny. At my core, I’m a real magpie – I love sequins, diamonds and glitter. However, I also really appreciate good menswear-inspired pieces – be it a grey flannel shirt, a sharp blazer or a crisp white shirt. Just remember to mix them up with a couple of fun pieces to keep things interesting.
I’d say my wardrobe is pretty eclectic. Some of my favourite pieces include a J. Crew collection sequin jacket, a feather skirt, a Suzie Kondi cashmere sweater, some Comme des Garçons camo pants – and you can’t beat a good pair of vintage Levi’s. My most worn items include a denim jacket, Okura jeans, Tom Ford suits and custom white shirts. You can’t beat a pair of Converse either – I live in sneakers and they’re such a bargain. I love discovering under-the-radar brands too: Marfa Stance, Husbands Paris, Maria McManus, Todd Snyder and Kule are just a few of my favourites.
Collaborating with Mejuri for International Women’s Day has been fantastic. My goal was to create something beautiful that sits in that place between aspirational and approachable – and Mejuri’s jewellery really encapsulates that idea. We’ve created two new takes on the signet pinky ring, which is historically a symbol of autonomy, self-expression and strength. All my friends have said they love the designs, which is such a validating feeling.
The shoot features three inspiring women – Tommy Dorfman, Allyson Felix and Noor Tagouri – and the result couldn’t have been better. Everyone on the team was so supportive and had a common vision. It was a great experience.
My biggest style influence was the book Antonio’s Girls. In it, fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez photographs and paints his famous friends. I first discovered it in drawing class in school and became obsessed by his world. Lopez surrounded himself with women whose style was completely different to the norm – women like Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Tina Chow, Marissa Berenson, and Bianca Jagger. The idea that you could be so bold was new to me, and this book opened my eyes to an alternative notion of beauty. These days, there’s no one place in which I find fashion inspiration – I’m always looking because it really can come from anywhere.
There are a few fashion rules I try to stick to. The first is trust your gut – it rarely lies, so follow what feels right for you. Next is be nice – the world is so small and it pays off in the long run not to talk sh*t about people. The secret to great style is simple: there is nothing a good white shirt and a red lip can’t elevate. Trust me, if you’re feeling stuck for what to wear, remember that and you’ll be good to go.
It’s hard to pick just one career highlight. A few include the US president’s family wearing our clothes while I was creative director at J. Crew – that was amazing. Going on The Oprah Winfrey Show was also pretty memorable, and on a day-to-day level, I never tired of watching people on the street wearing our designs. It never gets old.
I look back at my time at J. Crew very fondly. Our fashion shows were some of the best I’ve been involved in. I loved every second, from the styling, casting, hair and make-up trials, to the sets and music. Oh, and there was that year that Beyoncé and her sister Solange came to our show. I can say without hesitation that that did not suck.