Many years ago I fell in love with a wonderful book called The Orchid Thief, which famously inspired the film Adaptation. Later, I got to meet its author, New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean, through a mutual friend (and former Closet Case) Laurie Sandell. We bonded instantly over our shared love of fashion and I was impressed by how knowledgeable she was; it was quickly apparent that this was a woman who knew her stuff! On a Sunday afternoon, we met at her mid-century modern home, built in 1946 and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Rudolph Schindler. The home is in itself a work of art, but its small closets were not designed for a woman with a full-fledged wardrobe, which meant that editing/organizing her clothes would be our major task.
Out with the old: Susan has an extensive collection of Issey Miyake, Sacai and Comme des Garçons, and it’s hard to let go of clothing when they are works of art—and still in great shape! With much discernment we let go of a few pieces she had not worn in years nor felt she would. Even after editing, she still had an extensive wardrobe, so we had to get creative, dividing her clothes into three categories stored in three separate areas: skirts, dresses and pants; tops and jackets; and folded tees and tops.
In with the new: Looking through Susan’s collection of CDG, Issey, Sacai and the newer Marni pieces, it is evident that she has a collector’s eye. I can’t wait to see the pieces she selects when she adds a few more designers to the mix. Susan will be focusing on accessories—mainly handbags and shoes—though it is not about designer names or “It bags” for her. Pieces that she adds to her collection must be creatively unique as well as beautiful. Much like Susan herself!
Read on, to hear about Susan’s favorite designers, which items she’s coveting, and her ongoing search for the perfect black pants.
Who are your style icons? Audrey Hepburn, for her ability to be tomboyish as well as feminine; ?classic as well as impish and original. The girls of the East Village, NYC, circa 1999. I loved the punk/playful/girlish style that seemed to effortlessly mix what should have looked totally wrong and ended up having it look cool and right. Carrie Mulligan. She always looks natural but elegant, even when she’s in jeans and a sweater.
What are three items on your fashion wish list? ?Perfect black pants. I dream I will someday find The Pair and all my endless searching will be over. Van Cleef and Arpels Alhambra anything, but in particular a necklace. There’s one version called Magic Alhambra, a necklace with six of the motifs on it, that I think would make me very happy. Black Alaia top with a scoop neck and three-quarter sleeves. I found one, I hesitated to buy it, and when I finally realized how much I would enjoy it, it was gone.
Who are a few of your favorite designers??I have been a longtime Comme des Garcons/Junya Watanabe fan, and now with the addition of their Noir line, I’m even more devoted. In its own way, it’s all timeless because it’s never about what’s trendy at the moment; it’s coming out of a real sense of design that’s not just trying to capture the moment. I have pieces from CDG that I’ve worn and loved for ten or even fifteen years! Proenza Scholer — love the fabrics and the spirit of the clothes; the shapes are pretty classic but there’s always something special and distinctive, too. Marni — I only started paying attention to the line this year and I’m hooked. The cut is gorgeous, and it’s quietly eccentric. Sacai — I fell madly in love a few years ago, and bought every Sacai piece I could find. So original, without being gimmicky! And it’s all very wearable. Great stuff.
Speaking Engagement Look:
Susan’s Pinterest Board.
Edun Compact Knit Sweater // Stella McCartney Emma Asymmetric Wool-Blend Crepe Skirt // Jerome Dreyfuss Nestor Mustard Leather Large Shoulder Bag // rag & bone Marina Coat // Lanvin Cuff Bracelet // Marni Loafers
Exclusive for Intermix Marsielles Top // Proenza Schouler Cropped Frayed Tweed Flared Pants // Kismet by Milka Lumiere Black Diamond Ear Crawler // Zara Long Waistcoat // Aquazurra Wild Thing Suede Fringe Sandal // M2malletier Black Cabiria Python Wallet