portraits of style: gabrielle, 42
One of the things that I find myself becoming more and more consumed with as I get older, is style: specifically, what happens when you throw out the fashion magazines, and instead choose what you wear based on what you want to express, and what makes you feel great, and what makes you feel most you. A friend once said "style is personal and political" -- I love that concept, dressing for your expression of self, and not for the pleasure of others. And so Portraits of Style is a new feature, sharing the portraits and interviews of people who are over 40, and who define what it means to be stylish -- on their terms.
First up, Gabrielle Blair, of Design Mom -- a site that is "all about the intersection of design and motherhood." I've known Gabby for several years now -- we even traveled to Ethiopia together! -- and if I was forced to come up with just one way to describe her style, the phrase that would immediately come to mind would be "effortlessly elegant." She graciously sat down with me at the Mom 2.0 Summit last week, as I peppered her with questions about her style philosophy.
I want to be the person they would approach, no matter what their background is. I want the punk kid, or the investment banker, or the elderly lady -- whoever -- to feel safe and comfortable enough to approach me.
~ Gabrielle Blair
KW: So, Gabby, I've always loved your style -- what would you say is your style philosophy? Or ... fashion philosophy, maybe? Is there a difference?
GB: Oh, I think there's definitely a difference. I mean, fashion and style are both visual arts; but fashion is more about ... the industry. It's about fashion shows, and being able to look at, say, a Gucci suit, and know exactly what year and season the suit is from, and what inspired its lines and its cut -- ultimately, it's about couture, and money. Being stylish, on the other hand, is about knowing how to put a look together, and being creative. It's about accessible design. I'm more interested in style -- design for everyone.
KW: That makes sense. Given this -- do you have a fashion icon that you admire? Someone who helps inspire your own creativity?
GB: You know, I love the women of Advanced Style -- Iris Apfel is amazing. And I love Norma Kamali. You know, I look to women who are older than me, who experiment and play with colour and style. They inspire me.
KW: Play with colour and style -- so, do you have a signature colour?
GB: I don't, really! It changes a lot with my hair: if l let my grey come in, then I prefer greys and navys, and icy pinks. But if I dye my hair brown, I like warmer, summery colours.
KW: Okay, so let me ask you this: what do you hope your style expresses for you? What message do you hope your style conveys about you?
GB: I think about that a lot, actually. And I don't know how much you want to get into this, but my faith actually is a part of what guides my decision. I think that if I'm called to live the tenets of my faith, I want how I look to be as approachable as I can be. I imagine, for example that if I were to step out of Grand Central Station in New York City, in amongst the crowd on the street, and there was someone who was lost, and was scanning the crowd looking for someone to ask for directions -- I want to be the person they would approach, no matter what their background is. I want the punk kid, or the investment banker, or the elderly lady -- whoever -- to feel safe and comfortable enough to approach me. That's what I want to express.
Thanks so much for sharing your style and your thoughts, Gabby! To learn even more about her thoughts on design, be sure to check her out at Design Mom. And stay tuned for more Portraits of Style in the coming months!