“I’m not one of those people who dress up because they’re going to a party or a show,” says longtime fashion journalist Lynn Yaeger (left). “I’m always dressed the way I dress. I don’t have an off day.” Having “turned against pants” when she was a child, Yaeger prefers voluminous, waistless frocks—the more layers, the better. “I’m the opposite of someone who goes to the gym and wants to show off her body. I’m always adding more tulle petticoats underneath.” A flea market connoisseur and a toy collector, Yaeger recalls an extended period when she would wear vintage twenties finds “because I wanted great, interesting clothes, and I couldn’t afford them. So that was a good solution.” Her punk phase, however, was over in a New York minute. “I was the worst punk ever. My face is just like this dopey little girl’s face. The twenties suits me better—that boop-boop-ee-doo kind of thing.” Yaeger, who buys two of everything, currently has her eye on some French butcher smocks. But having eccentric style, she acknowledges, can be “a man killer, because it’s not about being sexy. It’s very single-minded, and I think that audacity can be a little scary to some people.”
J. mendel fox-fur boa; Louis Vuitton bag. Yaeger wears her own clothing, jewelry, and remaining accessories.
Colombian-born Michelle Harper (left) spent her formative years in New York but credits her bold style to her grandparents. Her grandfather, an architect, was an early champion of modernism who built a church in her hometown, Barranquilla, and her grandmother taught the 7-year-old Harper how to walk in high heels. “She’d put a book on my head and send me up and down the stairs. As a kid, I’d go into her closet, which was a glamour house of divinity, with Balenciaga and Dior. I’d put on her pearls, one of her wigs, her Shalimar, a Balenciaga cape, and heels. I mean, those getups as a kid were crazy.” Her art dealer father, she notes, was also a wacky dresser: “He used to buy me the wildest clothes, which made me the weirdest kid at school.” These days Harper, a New York–based brand consultant, prefers to dress intuitively. “I get a feeling, and then a series of images pops into my mind, and then I just pull—boom, boom, boom—and that’s it. People actually sort of freak out when they see me get ready, because it’s so fast.”
Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses; Betony Vernon sterling silver neck brace and bracelet, and sterling silver bracelet with ostrich feather attachment. Harper wears her own bra and briefs. house of exposure helmut red lipstick.
As the consigliere to John Galliano for his first 13 years in fashion and to Karl Lagerfeld for the past 12, “I’ve had the most extraordinary voyage through dressing,” says Lady Amanda Harlech (above, right). She traces her interest in fashion to her childhood costume trunk, full of black chiffon dresses and velvet evening capes, and to the book The Cuckoo Clock, by Mrs. Molesworth, about an orphaned child invalid led on extraordinary journeys by the bird in a clock. “She’d go inside Chinese cabinets and to the Land of the Butterflies and dress in the world that the cuckoo took her to,” Harlech recalls. “For me, that was one of the really big starting-gun fire-ups to the transformative world of clothes. I could make my own magic and go to my secret places.” She’s since acquired a more sizable wardrobe, formerly housed at the Ritz in Paris and now at her home in Shropshire, England—and it still takes her where she wants to go. Recently, it was to Lagerfeld’s house in Ramatuelle, near Saint-Tropez. “I love staying there because it’s a moment to wear extraordinary 19th-century white cotton petticoats and lace. You can be really inventive and not practical.” Her daughter, Tallulah (above, left), a fledgling actress and model, made her fashion debut at age 12 holding Lagerfeld’s hand during the finale of his Chanel 2000 couture show. “I played and imagined,” Harlech says. “But Tallulah has taken it to the next level by being that person onstage.”
Left: Chanel jacquard dress, and hat. chanel rouge allure luminous intense lip colour in rouge noir. Right: Chanel Haute Couture silk velvet dress. Piers Atkinson veil; LaCrasia Gloves gloves.
As the progeny of art-collecting mogul Peter Brant and supermodel Stephanie Seymour, Peter II (far left) and Harry (near left) Brant know a thing or two about striking a pose. With faces Agnolo Bronzino might have painted and a predilection for couture, the 18th century, and costume balls, the Brants are New York’s latest society It boys—and perhaps the only teen sibs with a joint Twitter account to chronicle their fabulous life. (“I will win best mask!” Harry wrote this past April prior to the Save Venice Ball. “After all, I’m wearing a swan on my head; if that doesn’t say ‘look at me,’ then I don’t know what does!”) At 15, Peter recalls, he got it into his head that ties were boring, so “I refused to wear them, opting instead for a scarf or a cravat.” Harry’s teen rebellion, meanwhile, has taken the form of incorporating high fashion and vintage into his wardrobe, which, he points out, “is completely weird” in the context of a suburban high school (albeit in Greenwich, Connecticut). His taste, he says, has “completely” changed since the age of 12, when he preferred a pinstripe suit. “Whenever I go out, I encompass a new character, whether it’s Peter Pan or the Count of Monte Cristo—but I try to add a modern twist. I guess my style would have to be that of a lost age, one of fantasy and pageantry.”
From left: John Galliano wool and silk jacket, and wool pants. Giorgio Armani cotton T-shirt. Dior Homme wool suit, and tie. Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere cotton shirt. Lanvin brooch; both wear their own shoes.
With her signature black glasses, long coats, loose trousers, and assorted hats, former Danish model Lady Birgit Lee—Gitte to her friends—has known precisely what she wanted to wear since the age of 14, when she began to make her own clothes in her native Copenhagen. Married for more than 50 years to Sir Christopher Lee, known for playing Count Dracula on film, Lee retired from modeling in 1961 but returned at age 76 for Céline’s 2011 fall campaign. “It was great growing up in the fifties—it was all about being chic and elegant,” Lee says. “We wore hats and gloves. You were brought up to look like a lady.” Now that she’s officially become one, Lee follows a simple formula that few could pull off with such panache: “No patterns, no prints. Black, camel, off-white, autumnal hues, and green khaki—these will take you everywhere,” she says. Plus, of course, her signature hats and turbans and her truckloads of costume jewelry. “No one will see a five-carat ring,” she quips. “You need things to pop.”
Lee wears her own clothing, accessories, and jewelry.
Even by the standards of the fiercest fashionista, Anna Dello Russo does street-style spectacle like nobody else. A front-row fixture and Internet phenom, she’s obsessed with playing with runway looks in unexpected ways: During the collections, she changes two or three times a day in the backseat of her chauffeured car, making sure to never wear the same thing twice—ever. “Usually, you put on your best clothes to go out at night, and you feel fantastic. But why wait?” says the Italian stylist. “Why shouldn’t we wear our best clothes in the morning? I love evening clothes for the day because the sun emphasizes their beauty and silhouette. At night, you can’t see them so well.” Dello Russo keeps a separate apartment just for her “4,000 pairs of shoes” and her costume jewelry. She says she wears only “the brand-new thing,” the more outrageous the better—so it’s not surprising that she’s planning to dictate what she will one day be buried in. “I will write a big letter,” she says, shuddering at the thought of someone else’s vision supplanting her own. “Because maybe they’ll put me in not the right outfit. Oh, yi yi! Not possible!”
Dior Haute Couture organza dress, and head net. Marc Jacobs hat.
Now that Soviet uniforms have been relegated to fashion Siberia, Moscow-based designer Vika Gazinskaya (above) hopes to be the face of a new futuristic yet flirty style of homegrown dressing. A blogosphere darling who’s her own brand ambassador, she prefers colorful prints, exaggerated proportions, and extremely flared skirts. (“Maybe in my past life Balenciaga did all his fittings on me?” Gazinskaya muses of her love of volume.) Her first mannequins were the Barbie and Ken dolls she styled and photographed as a child; soon she was experimenting with her own outfits and makeup, despite the slim pickings in Boris Yeltsin–era Russia. Nowadays, what interests her are “combinations and proportions that no one has ever worn before,” she says. “Trend is kind of taboo for me. I only wear things that fit organically with my state of mind.”
Vika Gazinskaya cotton blend dress.
As a teen at boarding school in Kent, England, Annabelle Neilson hitched her uniform skirt to “unreasonably short” heights, cut off the sleeves of her shirts, wore only “mod, witchy” shoes, and, “in a final act of defiance,” chopped off her waist-length hair “so that I looked like a hedgehog.” Small wonder that she counts Joan of Arc as a style icon and that Alexander McQueen saw in Neilson a muse and a soulmate. “He liked my wackiness—and the fact that when I went out, I made his outfits live.” And then some: After hitting the catwalk for his fall 2007 Paris show, she grabbed a black sequined dress with a sheer back off the hanger to head out for the night. “I was buck naked in the back, and I went to these parties and ended up walking down the middle of the street. And he was like, ‘Oh, my God. Please don’t fuck the dress up!’” In 2001, when Neilson decided to race a car across the Himalayas, McQueen designed catsuits for her. “One was white, with mcqueen stitched on the back in pink leather and pink piping down the side and a pink belt. I was in a zebra car. Honestly, they’d never seen anything like it.”
Alexander McQueen dress. Neilson wears her own jewelry.
Stylist Catherine Baba (left) grew up creating her own clothes in Sydney, where her mother was a dressmaker. “She was very correct,” Baba says. “The sleeve was always where sleeves had to be, whereas I put the sleeves somewhere else. That’s why I left for design school in Paris as soon as I could.” Known for her excessive ensembles (“More is never enough,” she insists), Baba goes for turbans, cloche hats, oversize sunglasses, and an Ali Baba’s cave worth of accessories. “I love ornamentation, and you can always play more with accessories than you can with clothes.” Vintage Yves Saint Laurent is also a staple: “Sometimes it’s unconscious. I’ll see a piece, and I’ll be like, ‘J’adore!’ And it’s YSL.” In fact, she often shows off her head-spinning personal style around Paris on a bicycle, dressed in evening gowns and wearing the massive pieces of jewelry she recently designed for Gripoix. “It’s constant research with proportions when you ride a bike,” Baba says. “A lot of engineering goes into the look because you don’t want to have an Isadora Duncan moment where, you know, the wheel catches your hemline.”
Gripoix by Catherine Baba gold metal and glass earrings, necklace, cuff, bracelet, ring (on left hand), belt, and clutch. Baba wears her own clothing, accessories, and remaining jewelry.