Arden Wohl has a few things going for her, especially sartorial. Personally I’d describe her as a Bosphorian Warrior Princess, a mirage of neo-medieval curtsy. Her silhouette is long, lean and austere, sometimes with a billowy bell sleeve or a floating caplet to add drama. She could double as Mona Lisa’s sister or a far cousin of Merlin the Wizard’s. Even her name sounds otherworldly, like one of those mysterious Game of Thrones characters I always confuse. “Never, ever, ever” in pants, seldom in shorts, rarely in skirts, she’s a self-proclaimed “Dress Girl”. She doesn’t even own one pair of jeans! And when it gets cold she wears tights, stockings and leggings underneath her dresses. “Dresses – simple, one piece. I love it,” she states.
She owes most of this description to her trademark headbands though. She wears them low, just on top of her hairline, bejeweled, velvet, wide or thin. If anyone in New York ever dared to wear one of those headbands they’d only be scorned as desperate copycats. Arden is the only girl who pulls them off and she’s been doing it well since she was fifteen. Now thirty, she collects them, makes them, customizes them and treats them like ornate accessories. “I don’t wear any other jewelry so it’s like my head’s ring!” she triumphs.
But that’s not all. Arden dresses vegan. She doesn’t wear leather, or any kind of animal derivative, except “cashmere, if I know it comes from a really great company.” Her philosophy is simple: “I don’t think in this modern day and age we have to torture mammals, when technology has made it possible to have alternative fabrics in fashion. Especially the way animals are treated today because the demand for food is so high. Animals used to be cared for on small farms. Now they are factory-farmed in horrible conditions. Times have changed.”
The toughest challenge she faces is finding “quality shoes and bags”. She buys most of her shoes at Stella McCartney, even though she knows they come with a hefty price tag. Finding a cool, affordable alternative has been a personal quest but has thus far only procured less-than-satisfactory back-ups at Melissa or the plastic Givenchy gladiators. But “how far does one want to take it?” It’s a debate she struggles with every day. A couple of years ago she sold everything leather and non-vegan she owned, determined to leave her life as an animal-eater behind her. But today I watch her devour an entire wheel of sheep’s milk camembert . “I love cheese!” she admits. “I hope this doesn’t gross you out!!” she laughs as she continues to scoops lumps of goo with her fingers. “Most vegans won’t have honey or even wear wool or silk because it is such a hard thing to regulate and be sure of. I know a vegan who keeps her own angora bunnies and makes a sweater a year because she cares for them and trims them.”
Arden’s dream is to open a vegan bakery. She’s been talking about it for some time and working her way through arduous cooking schools to create the perfect formula. She’s had to learn “patience, patience, patience when it comes to baking!!! The French Culinary Institute was an amazing place. I learned all the best desserts in the world. There is very little margin for error when it comes to baking. With cooking you just throw everything in and play around. It is quite the opposite with baking. It truly taught me restraint as I am a ‘more is more’ kind of cooking person. You can see that with my fashion style as well. So with baking I had to learn restraint and I think that was an important lesson for me. Now I have a broader sense of limits.”
And then there’s the vintage. She’s a fervent collector. She shops at South Paw and Resurrection and has steadily built up a collection of fantastical Marimekko, Zandra Rhodes, Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe, Chanel, etc. For someone who describes her style as “colors, patterns, head-to-toe”, vintage is the perfect escapist and environmentally acceptable route. With every sweeping dress, a matching head band and a pair of vegan shoes. It’s a perfectly pure and green way to live, for any Princess.
Arden Wohl lives on Bond Street in Manhattan but stays at her mom’s pool house in the Hamptons on weekends.