A Letter From Dee

I met Dee at the Easter Parade last weekend and she sent me the following email a few days later. I asked her if I could share it with everyone. Sometimes the quickest interactions can be more meaningful than we realize in the moment.unnamed

Dear Ari,

I wanted to thank you for Easter morning. It was a great pleasure for me to meet you.
I have seen your documentary. Your women are walking works of art and smarts. I am flattered you saw something in my simplicity. I will tell you, though, simplicity also takes a bit of thought.

I went to the Parade, I think, looking for my mom. She is gone six years this week. An enduringly long blink of an eye. As a child, she would take me to see the finery. At that time, the Easter Parade was not the grandeur it is today. Simply people in their best. Not always bespoke or couture but always magical. My mom in her houndstooth coat and I in my Mary Janes. I moved to the city six months ago, leaving the only home I’d known for almost sixty years. Twenty five of them care taking for my parents. It was a blessing and honor to do so. But in that, ones self image can be shadowed. I have spent the last six months wandering the city I love. Making Nike richer with every worn through sneaker sole. Looking, I suppose, for my own sole.unnamed-1

What I have found is my mothers’ voice. I believe these last six months have been guided by her. Crossing my path with a gaggle of ‘advanced’ women. Some have remained friends and others just whispered in my ear. She has mixed in one or two gay men too. But that’s a different letter. In her life, I experienced an existence of head in the clouds with my twinkly mom. But it wasn’t enough. She sends me now, women to help my well shoed feet find the ground. To strengthen my image. If you will indulge me a moment more, I would like to tell you a story of a mirror.

My mom once told me, “Honey, when you look into the mirror, if you don’t see a beautiful, kind, talented girl, then what you need is a new mirror.” So I have looked for that mirror literally and figuratively for the past six months, to no avail. I am, however, fortunate enough to live in a doorman building whose inhabitants toss the loveliest of things. My first miserable week there, there was a mirror I recognized. A coveted, chrome trimmed full length beauty from Ikea. And I asked Ruben, my doorman, if I could have it. The reply was that it was already spoken for. “But Dee,” he said “if I get another one I’ll let you know.” And six months passed. Ruben did come through, but an aside first needs mentioning.

Three weeks ago, I was to meet a woman in the all purpose room of my buildings gym. I had never been there. As fate would have it, my friend was detained. But curiosity drew me to the room alone. Turning a corner, I was engulfed in floor to ceiling mirrors. The ballet room of my childhood. And I said out loud, “Is this the mirror, mommy?” And in my imagined tutu I began to twirl. Like I did for her a thousand times, like I did for you outside Saint Patricks Cathedral. And I promised I would come down and look into this mirror every day. And I did not.

Two weeks later, my Ruben reemerged. “Do you still need a mirror Dee?” He asked one evening. “Sure,” I said, thinking he would come the next day. So, in a drawn bath, blue shampoo atop my grey hair, there is a knock at the door. “Dee? It’s Ruben. I have the mirror.” “Ruben,” I say “I am in the bath.” “It’s ok,” he replies “I have a key. Just stay in the tub, we’ll bring it in.” We? “Ruben, “ I say, “this is a lot of bonding, but ok, come in.”
Much clamoring outside my bathroom door. And Ruben says, “I don’t think it’ll fit Dee.” “Won’t fit?” I say, “It’s a mirror. I know my bathroom door opens onto three hundred and fifty luxurious square feet, but Ruben, it’s a mirror. Wait, wait, wait.” Blue shampoo swirling down the drain, I put on a coat and step out. And there is dear Ruben with the largest mirror I have ever seen. Framed on all sides with six inches of what looks like cherry. It now graces one half of a wall. And every day I twirl in it. I’ve begun to talk to it. To me. And if I don’t believe that behemoth is a gift from my mom or god or simply bashert , I am doomed.

Some force, far greater than I has asked, perhaps challenged, me to finally at sixty take a look at the girl in the mirror. And at sixty, the girl in the mirror is exactly what my mom saw. What others tell me they see. What perhaps you saw. What I have only begun to see for myself. She is smart and funny and an artist. Her looks do not scare small children. She is kind. She is Dee. And I think she might just have something to say. My art is at the far spectrum from yours. Little stories and drawings for children. To help them grow. It’s easy, I am learning the same things. I am sixty going on five.

To my mind, great style is kindness. You offered me both by taking my photograph. Perhaps our paths will cross again one day. I would like that. Until then I want you to know, you are a part of my new mirror. And I thank you for giving me a glimpse.

Whatever you wear, dear Ari, wear it in good health.




  • Kate Roar

    What a beautiful text. And what a beautiful lady! What you do with your camera and your attention to beauty of all ages is really touching. Everyone has their own special story, and you lure them out. Thank you.

    • Jackie

      I am with you on this Kate and all the above comments. What a fabulous lady

  • Mekalah Kantor

    I love this evocative tale. I’m thrilled Dee found herself! Gorgeous.

  • Elizabeth

    This is magical. Like the first chapter of a book. How wonderful that you saw Dee and that she found herself!

  • Rebecca Coseboom

    This made me tear up.

  • Stephen O’Donnell

    How wonderful…. This lovely woman is an artist with her storytelling, as well. Just beautiful.

  • Andrea Dehne

    What a beautiful read! As I care for my sweet 95 year old Mami, I also reflect on the things she taught me as a child. She doesn’t speak anymore, so I find her words and her love through her eyes. I loved reading your story, will share with my sisters and will re read it just for the tears that it brings! I am in NYC frequently and hope to see you on the streets one day!

  • Such an amazing story— I had to come over from the IG post!!!

  • Alfa

    This is such a beautifully written gem. There is so much depth and wisdom here. Such a gorgeous woman, inside and out.

  • Marubi

    So, there are those newsletters you sign up for that eventually, you wonder why you signed up for them in the first place — The Advanced Style newsletter is not one of those. And even on a hurried day I always scroll down just to see what the latest portrait is of — the latest reminder of the spirit, fearlessness and wisdom of those women with only slightly more years than me. But today? Reading this beautifully written, image evoking letter was a truly special treat. Things like this remind you that even with all the BS of a crazy world, there are still wonderful people in it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Linda

    What an amazing and provocative read. Dee, I want to read more, hear more, and see more of you. You are inspirational. I envision you bringing magic wherever you go!

  • Abby

    Thank you both – to Ari for your fantastic eye, to Dee for your soft and enigmatic smile. The story told is so vivid I think that I’ve known you for 30 years. Lovely.

  • la Contessa

    Well, that brought TEARS TO MY EYES……………..
    That was BEAUTIFUL!

  • pivia

    Weeping here….Dee, we can feel more connected to our essence as we age and recommit our lives to ourselves after years of prioritizing our purpose for those we love. I know that the older I get, the more I hold firm and let show my authentic self. A fellow New Yorker I hope I have the privilege to encounter you one day. We’ll swing on the swings in the park!

  • Angie

    For Dee: Beautifully inspiring and poetic! Love from another 60-going-on-5, Angie

  • Bernadette

    What a beautiful story, so evocative.
    Honour that little girl X

  • Kim Stebbins

    I love this post and find Dee to be a wonderful woman with so much more than style! It is wonderful to see how she reconnects with her younger self and with her Mother. I lost my Mother 12 years ago and still to this day I find myself talking to her and thinking about what she taught me …. the news I wish I could share with her … and asking for her help and opinions. Dee expressed all this too and it was so tender … I write this comment in tears… I am touched and very Thankful!

  • Alice Gatto

    For Dee,
    You have given me hope. Your letter has energized me to find my own mirror in this, my 71st, year.
    Sincere thanks,
    Alice g

  • Lesley Scaife

    Beautiful .. inside and out xxxxx

  • msmerlin


  • Diane Ward

    Ah, Dee: Even though I’ve got 16 years on you, could I be your friend? Please.

  • Sandra_Pugh

    So beautiful! Can I be your friend too?

  • Teale

    Brought tears to my 75 year old eyes. I understand and it’s wonderful to love your reflection because it is you. Aging has its perks.

  • Annette Jorgensen

    Thank you so much Dee for sharing your thoughts. Hope to meet next time I visit new York 😍

  • Emmay Nelson

    So wonderful. May I be as fortunate as you have been in finding what you seek and seeing yourself as your mother did. Good health to you, M…

  • Fifi Foxfoot

    Well thanks Dee – your dose of wonderful philosophy has just lifted my spirits about 100%! Yes, I have had the same experience of asking the universe for things, and lo! they have appeared. You look fab BTW. Thanks for letting Ari share your emails with us fans of AS.

  • Kristi Petrides

    She is my new hero.