Interview with H – Part 1
I discovered Pret A Porter P by H around the same time that I started blogging. Our styles are different. But that did not stop me from reading her blog voraciously and admiring her style. I felt an instant connection to what she wrote. In a world that celebrates over consumption and over exposure, her voice and style are authentic and very personal. For me, she nailed it when she wrote ‘Poor quality comes at all price ranges’.
H was really kind to indulge me with an interview! Here is the Part 1:
On Her Personal Style:
From reading your blog, I know that you could write a love letter to the color black! I am curious, when did dressing in black start?
Around 2004/2005ish, I was in fashion school and I had an embarrassing and nonsensical wardrobe. My goal was to look neat and put together so I had to get rid of a lot and start from scratch. The easiest and broke college student friendly way to do that was all black clothes. Plus around 2005, all black was the dress code for where I worked.
But when I’m off duty, especially in the summer, I do wear color and vibrant tropical prints.
Did a parent or a family member influence your style or have a role to play in your style evolution?
Naturally, parents influence many aspects of our lives. This is a more involved question to answer. It’s sort of yes and no. My mom could care less about clothes. Ironically, I have far less clothes than her. I remember that I couldn’t play dress up in her closet because everything was awful (this was the 90s). My father was the clotheshorse; he was into clothes, watches, colognes, cars, James Bond, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock etc… I used to sneak into his closet and admire his Ralph Lauren dress shirts still in the packaging. So personality wise I inherited a certain disposition for aesthetics from my father.
From reading style blogs, I think everyone has an area of interest or collection – the things that make our heart sing? I have a friend who has a very interesting collection of Oxfords and loafers. Of course, purse forum gives us a glimpse into various types of bag collectors – some collect the same bag in different colors or sizes. Others add only black bags in various shapes that appeal to them. Are there any such areas of interest for you?
There are certain recurring elements in my wardrobe. I like what I like and I gravitate to whoever makes it. I read some quote on a style profile somewhere about cartoon characters having the best style because they wear the same thing every day. But I go through my phases where I collect certain things: Dior Homme / Hedi Slimane, Tom Ford/YSL, Baccarat, now it’s Rick Owens. I can go on and on about Rick Owens. But also there are certain “Wholly” Grail pieces that I’ve somehow acquired over the years.
Can you please tell us about the time you discovered Rick Owens. How did that love story begin and evolve?
To put it simply, Rick Owens makes cool clothes that fit my body and my life.
I think I was exposed to the Rick Owens world through Res Pulchrae, Grey, and The Divinitus, and I’m sure other blogs/forums and thought what-the-sith-MorticiaAddams-is-this? Like Baccarat, I looked into that world, and I fell down the rabbit hole. My 1st piece was a DRKSHDW Druid Hoodie in 2011. I warn people that once you start wearing Rick Owens you can’t stop. The clothes are meant to be worn (washed) and lived in. It exists in its own continuum, not only do they produce the same pieces over and over with seasonal variations, the clothes build upon each other.
The Rick Owens influence has imbued a soft, femininity to my style, but still keeping that protective edge.
When did you start collecting Baccarat Jewelry? / When did your interest in Baccarat rings start? Is there a piece that got away or something you are looking for?
I bought my 1st piece in 2009 in Las Vegas—it was a ruby Rock ring, which was an odd choice. But I knew I wanted Baccarat before then. One of my first posts on Pret was on Baccarat rings, so…2007? is when it started. There was a website called Eluxury (the Net-A-Porter of its time), and somehow I came across this RING that stopped me in my tracks. It was black and seamlessly morphed into a red circle at the head. It was such a beautifully violent shade of red that I had to find out who made it. Of course, this lead me to Baccarat and then I became entranced in their world: their art deco aesthetic, their legacy…I think that’s what a luxury brand worth its salt should do, you want a piece of the dream that they’re selling you.
That ring that started it all was the Tango ring. I chickened out of buying it in Vegas, but ended up finally purchasing it in their New York flagship in 2011. Sadly, I ended up shattering this piece a year later. I tried to reorder, but I sent 2 rings back because the design was different. The red to black seam was distinctly visible (“But Madame these are the only 2 rings we have in the country”) among other changes. So I went on the hunt for a jeweler that would do something-anything. I had the surviving head reset onto a silver band because I couldn’t bear to part with my original. I since re-repurchased the “new” Tango—it’s a beautiful ring in its own right but it doesn’t compare to my original.
I haven’t been enthused with Baccarat for years now. Their jewelry designs have become generic ‘people pleasers’. When I do buy, it’s from their older collections. Some of them have been reissued and even back in full lead crystal–albeit with stupid names. I also broke my original onyx/gold Medicis ring but I haven’t gotten around to replacing it. (I recently acquired an insane black and gold sequins “Sphinx” Rick Owens jacket, which would match a pyramid shaped ring perfectly. Yes, I do subtle thematic outfits for my own amusement. )
What do you love and not love about where you live? Does your life there influence your sartorial purchases? If so, how?
I recognize that I have a better quality of life where I live, but sartorially I am more in line with Miami. Rick Owens, All Saints, Y3, even Zara (ie. edgy, “cool”) are available there.
Where I live has some influence on how I dress, slightly more as I’ve gotten older in terms of “toning it down.” One obvious factor is the heat and humidity. I want to be comfortable, and fabric and silhouette are huge factors in that. And I don’t fall into that “Basic” Tory Burch, Vineyard Vines, yoga pants mold. I avoid anything too equestrian as I live amongst them, but I’m not one of them. I am still keeping some of my more interesting Brooks Brothers stuff though. I like to have the option to dress like a “normal person” on occasion.
What advice would you give someone trying to hone their Personal Style?
It’s easier now with Pinterest, IG, and tumblr for people to collect inspirations. Notice what elements these looks have in common, is it a certain color, item, or aesthetic (tailored, rock and roll, “French chic” etc..) that they have in common. Pay attention to times that you received compliments on what you were wearing: was it a certain color that brought out your eyes or a flattering silhouette? It takes trial and error and conscious effort to hone in on your personal style. You can try to copy someone else but at the end of the day, you are not them: your body is different, your life is different, and your personality is different. But these little things can help guide you along the way.
What are you most used (MVPs) in your closet – bags, shoes and clothes?
Black tees, flat friendly black pants, black sweaters, black maxi dresses.
Shoes: my J. Crew leopard calf hair slippers are getting bald spots, the sole is detaching from my velvet slippers, and one of the knots fell off my Donald Pliner flats. My flats and sneakers are getting pretty chewed up.
Bags: I used to rotate through pretty frequently, especially large totes. But now it’s my F21 cross body.
Are there pieces that you absolutely adore, but don’t get much use out of?
I love a good jacket, but it’s just too darn hot to get to wear many of them. Unless I know I don’t desire to wear a specific piece again, I keep them because quality, tailored items that fit me are not easy to come by. Lifestyle can change and they would be too difficult and too costly to replace. I have things that weren’t in rotation a few years ago that are in heavy rotation now and vice versa.
Also, I have these cream combat boots I rarely get to wear because it’s either too hot or too rainy for them and anything that can only be worn with heels doesn’t get much play.
On Beauty and Skin..
What are the best beauty tips you picked up over the years?
The standard: wear SPF, floss, and I’ve heard to put off wearing makeup and dying your hair as long as possible. Because once you start, you’ll be doing it forever.
Do you have any Holy Grail make-up or skincare products?
Smashbox BB water, LA Girl Pro Conceal, Cerave PM, Frizz Ease Dream Curls Spray, Neutrogena Clear Face SPF 30. And I may have found a new Holy Grail natural deodorant.
Do you exercise – indoors or outdoors – or just believe in eating right and staying active?
I don’t follow an exercise regimen. Other than rock wall climbing a few times, group fitness or the gym is not my thing. Once in a blue moon, I do Yoga with Adrienne—she doesn’t get heavy into that hippie dippie yoga talk that I can’t stand. But I’m active: I’m continually running and hauling things up and down 3 floors. My upper body strength has increased significantly that I want to try rock climbing again since I stopped because I didn’t have the strength to climb the harder sides. Because of the way I look, people underestimate my physical capabilities, which I admit it can work in my favor to be thought of as the pathetic weakling.
Eating and staying hydrated is a struggle because it’s difficult for me to sit down and pause, because my mind keeps racing. Also, I have a lightning fast metabolism so I’m on edge throughout the day because of it. It’s when I sit down or get home, I realize how exhausted I am. My mind and body just spaces out.
I know that you recently traveled quite a bit? What was your beauty/skin care routine like during times of extensive travel?
I liked my travel skincare routine that I try to implement it when I’m at home, which is shower, fluffy robe, podcast/youtube, slippers, hair in a towel turban, serum, moisturizer, lotion, getting dressed, breakfast with tea, spf, makeup, etc….just going through a routine, trying to prolong that leisurely pace of it, that sort of thing.
Do you wear makeup every day? What do you focus on?
No. My attitude to makeup is I bought it, so I better use it. But if I’m going to do makeup, I like base makeup and mascara. My skin is at a point where I have to grudgingly admit that even the tiniest speck of foundation makes a big difference. I like to have glowy, dewy, plump delicious skin with long lashes.
Thank you so much H for answering all my questions!! I cannot wait to share Part 2 soon.
Request to readers: Can you please indulge me by picking any one of these questions to answer in the comments below? It would make my day!!