Date Archives November 2011

Life Dressing

This weekend I attended a signing for a wonderful book starring,” The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas” Illustrator, Joana Avillez pays tribute to the style and humor of this wonderful fashion duo, in her book entitled, Life Dressing. I hope to feature some of Joana’s incredible work on Advanced Style in the near future, but in the mean time, check out Joana’s other illustrations HERE. Jean and Valerie will also have a special feature in my book coming out April 17, 2012 .

Dita Von Teese Interviews Ilona Royce Smithkin for The Advanced Style Book

Artist, Ilona Royce Smithkin drawing Dita’s eye
The finished product
Ilona and Dita’s first meeting

This week, Ilona Royce Smithkin and I attended a Cointreau party for Dita Von Teese in New York. Dita and I both share a love for fabulous older women with great spirit.She was very inspired by ladies like her Great Aunt Opal,who,”wore green eye shadow, red lipstick, heavy eyeliner, and had bright red hair and smoked with a cigarette holder.”

When Dita told me that she loved the videos of Ilona on Advanced Style, I knew these two had to meet. They are both amazing performers who have a lot to say about life and style. A few months ago Dita interviewed Ilona for my upcoming book. I can’t wait for you to read all that transpired between these two style icons, during their wonderful conversation. Once again, if you would like to preorder the Advanced Style book you can find it HERE.

Richard and Carol: A Lifetime of Style Together

Carol and Richard are one of my favorite couples. They are both fantastic artists who bring style into every part of their lives. Check out the short interview below for more insight into how style and art impacts their life together.

1. You say you are extravagantly exuberant in your lifestyle, but minimal in your living space. Can you expand and explain?
We like our environment to be neat and organized. We are selective in what we put in our live/work space which is a one-bedroom apartment. In Philadelphia we had over 4,000 square feet. When we moved to New York, we had our architect create a loft-like esthetic on a small scale. Our walls are white and bare, but we have favorite objects and our books on shelves. Art materials are put away at the end of each day and stored in boxes. This lack of clutter lets us focus on our art.
In our lifestyle we are exuberant because we have fun and laugh together. We go out to lunch and dinner, go to museums and keep in touch with indy happenings like theater and puppet shows. We always dress for these occasions. We love to travel. I have been studying French, so we go to France each year. Many of our dear friends were Richard’s students at Tyler School of Art, and we see them as often as we can. We take advantage of the unique offerings of New York City.
2. Did you and Richard always dress up?
We have always dressed up, but perhaps not as consciously as we do now. In the 60s and 70s we lived in Philadelphia, and the great department store, Wanamaker’s, had a wonderful men’s shop. When we shopped there, the charming salesman would greet us with “How are you folks today?” Richard bought a fantastic pair of Bill Blass cotton pants in multi-colored stripes — very magical mystery tour. I have always loved fashion touches. Influenced by Diana Vreeland’s shoots for Vogue, I once made a maxi dress from strips of ribbon and wore it to a gallery opening at Tyler. A guard asked me if I was dressed up for Halloween!

Richard in his Blass pants, Orient, NY. Carol in pink shorts from Nan Duskin. the fanciest store in Philly.
3. Have you influenced one another’s style?
We must be soul mates to have been together for 45 years, so it follows that we must have influenced each other’s style along the way.
4. How have your styles changed throughout the years?
You get more confident with who you are as you get older. That goes for clothes too.
5. Do you think a couple that styles together stays together?
It seems to have worked for us.
6. You are both artists, is this one reason that you dress up?
Dressing up is definitely a creative activity. You get to exercise all of the same impulses you use in your art such as love of color, drama, emotion, humor and beautiful materials. Styling is a form of making a collage on your body.
7. Do you shop together?
I always shop with Richard. We go to Paris and buy his shirts at Coton Doux. Lately, we’ve been going to Paul Stuart for trousers. Richard knows what he likes, and I act as a sounding board. Richard shops with me most of the time. He finds a chair and waits for me to try on things. If he doesn’t like something, he makes a funny face. Sometimes I dart into Zara, H & M or J. Crew (my secret vices) on my own.

“The Real Secret is Being in Love With life and Realizing What you Have.”

I often get asked how the Advanced Style ladies stay so beautiful and active as they age. I have learned over the past three years that it is important to stay interested in the world, to never stop learning, and constantly be inspired by new things. I asked 80 year old Joyce what her secret was and she responded, “The real secret is being in love with life and realizing what you have.” Joyce worked in the magazine industry for many years and has never given up her passion for beauty and elegance. She says,”The older you get the more elegance you want.”

As you know I have been working on a book of my photos which will be out April 17, 2012. Some of the ladies that I have spent more time with, like Joyce, will have special featured sections. I will share extra photos and some of their most inspiring quotes.If you would like to Pre-order the Advanced Style book and see more of these wonder women, you can find it on Amazon HERE. I don’t say this enough, but I appreciate and share your comments with all of the ladies that I feature, so thank you for all of the wonderful feedback!

Style as Art

Carol Markel

Sue Kreitzman
The ladies above are two of my favorite Advanced Style artists. Sue Kreitzman splits her time between London and New York, where she works on her amazing sculptural collages and paintings. Carol Markel,in the amazing Prada sunglasses, lives and works out of New York.She makes everything from hats and jewelry, to wonderful collages and videos.

People always ask me what I look for when I am shooting on the street. For me, its all about personal expression and spirit. Most of the ladies I photograph look at style and fashion as a form of art. They incorporate their creative spirits into how they dress everyday. Style is a wonderful way to add some creativity into your life. Rose, one of Advanced Style’s most elegant women, could only explain her style as, “It’s like how an artist picks out his paints everyday. That’s how I choose a certain scarf or belt.”

If you aren’t used to dressing up, try this experiment. Choose a favorite painting and look at the color combinations. Try and use these colors as a template for your outfit. You can use accessories like hats,necklaces and bracelets to work against a black or more neutral base. You can also follow 90 year old artist,Ilona Royce Smithkin’s advice, when she says, ” You can wear any colors in combination as long as you have a repeat.” The most important thing is to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. I’d love to hear about your dressing up adventures!