Beautiful Dreamer

The apartment looks vaguely familiar… I know those stairs… And I recognize that view… “I used to hang out in this building,” I think out loud. My friend Ritchie Hawtin would give massive after parties in Williamsburg. One time – I’m talking ten or so years ago – we threw one of his records out the 9th floor window and when we came downstairs a neighbor had posted the broken pieces up on the bulletin board with the message: “Stop throwing trash out the window. Someone will eventually get hurt!” Sigh… Those were good times… “Oh, my husband told me there was a DJ here before us,” remembers April suddenly with a hint of excitement. “DJ Plastic?” You’re joking. I am in the same apartment.

But there is no trace of Plastikman now. The decks are gone and the empty space has been filled with folkore, plants, nude paintings, love, quilts and two little girls who take up as much air time as they possibly can. “We are having a cookie baking party for Tallulah’s friends here at three o’clock,” smiles April. “You are more than welcome to stay!” (Regretfully I’m thinking of a whole other kind of cookie now… Snap out of it, Joos!) I thank her for the gesture and continue my tour of the house where once my own youth was spent.

Tallulah is wearing a fairy dress her teacher made for her. And she’s vying for my attention. “When are you going to take pictures? Is my mommy going to be in them?” I assure her she will have plenty of photo opps herself – I think that’s what she’s getting at anyways. “Why don’t you put on that pretty vintage dress your mom picked out for you?” I ask. April follows suit. They both dash upstairs and dive into her over-stuffed closet. April tells me she is still breast-feeding – Matilda, who I am secretly in love with, is almost one year old – so “easy access is key”. And though she feels it’s constantly evolving, her style could be stripped down to ‘ethnic’. “I think I am in my Amish-chic phase,” she laughs. “Lots of dresses, layering and most everything I am wearing right now is a color of the earth.” There’s plenty of color, embellishments, robes, but the one thing you won’t find is pencil skirts. “Is that weird?” she frowns.

April Hughes and I worked together a few times when I was casting and she was styling for Italian Glamour. Before she went freelance she was an assistant at Elle. “I was lucky to work at Elle during the Gilles Bensimon days,” she says with a sense of gratitude. “If he saw talent and passion he really gave you wings.” When I ask her about her most memorable job to date, she beams. “I just finished it actually! I worked with Tierney Gearon on the New York Times Hollywood issue. We did stills and short films on thirteen of this year’s Oscar nominees. We shot incredible actresses of every age – from Shirley Maclaine to Elle Fanning. Tierney is a force of nature and collaborating on one of her projects is exhilarating and inspiring. It was a wild ride.”

When she’s not busy on set, you can find April at her store. Beautiful Dreamers opened up just over a year ago as the love child with her business partner Marina Burini. “We are both stylist, live in the same building, and move in the same circles. We talked about the idea briefly and then an amazing space opened up next door to our houses. We jumped in head first and have been learning ever since. The idea behind the store is definitely rooted in nature and travels. We gravitate towards smaller designers doing things that are sustainable and thoughtful. It is definitely about the movement back to conscious design, working with the hands and the heart and not big corporation.”

And tomorrow she is off to Africa to meet her husband Ben who’s filming a movie called “Fishing Without Nets”, a feature about Somalie pirating. “It’s going to be amazing!!!” she jumps. I’m a bit jealous when she tells me she’ll be spending Christmas and New Year’s with the zebras and lions of Kenya. “It will be a big outdoor dinner with a fire and friends…” I mean, where do you go from there? “My biggest dream is to have a house in the country with my family – with a garden we can grow our food in and a studio that I can play in. And then of course to continue to see the world and experience all of its wonders.” I don’t stay for the cookies but she sends me off with a special resolution: “Enjoy every minute you have on this planet…. It is a gift.”

December 13, 2012

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