On a brisk January evening in 1983, a highly pregnant Amanda Brown is sitting at her vanity table putting the finishing touches on her make-up. She’s wearing a billowy gold lamé Yves Saint Laurent gown, waiting for the white stretch limousine that will chauffeur her and husband George to a gala in Atlanta. She looks radiant, despite the 4-pound little baby girl that’s hijacked her belly. Then suddenly she flinches and drops everything. Her water broke. There is no time to change, no time to haul the car out of the garage. She hikes up her dress, grabs her purse, the overnight bag she packed and her now-panicking husband and jumps in the limousine that just pulled up. No doubt the nurses never saw this fabulous pair coming but it would turn out to be the chicest delivery the hospital saw for years to come. And so begins the story of Blake Olmstead, a mousy blonde, Southern girl with a flair for unpolished glamour.
“This is my favorite spot in the house,” she smiles, closing her eyes slowly and reclining with near-Pavlovian precision onto the striped patio bench just outside the kitchen. It’s a warm but crisp, sunny day in Savannah, the kind they say only happens five times a year. Blake is wearing a vintage mod dress, a striped leather top her designer friend Brooke Atwood dropped off a few minutes ago and a pair of sci-fi looking Calvin Klein shoes she got when she worked as the Women’s Collection PR Coordinator in New York a few years ago. She’s 31 now, and platinum. She lives in a beautiful old house in Savannah, has five half and/or step siblings whose family tree is way too complicated, is married to Peter Mavrogeorgis, a Greek-Italian musician – “one of the best guitar players I have ever heard” – and is the proud mama of a giant black poodle named Darthy. We just said goodbye to mom Amanda who stopped by this morning before taking off to Atlanta again. No limos or galas this time, just dear old George and his car.
When she was a little girl, Blake wanted to be Courtney Love. “Before that, an MTV video jockey,” she laughs. “CC Deville from Poison was my imaginary friend when I was five. Music has always been my first love, my first real passion.” But as it goes, Blake’s story would take a few detours before a music career became reality. She spent her teenage years in an all girls boarding school in Maryland, studied Studio Art in Atlanta and finally settled in New York where she worked for a boutique photo agency, sharing an office with a little-known, two-man operation called Refinery29. Eventually she would become a PR Assistant at Marc Jacobs, before being whisked away by Calvin Klein. “When my husband and I were first dating,” she recalls, “we would come down to Savannah to see my parents, who have a second home here. The romanticism of Savannah drew us in and after we got married there, we decided to “just look” at houses. When we found one on foreclosure in the perfect location and the owners accepted our counter offer, we just went for it.” Blake and Peter now run Dollhouse Productions, a music venue, special events and production space, and Dollhouse Studios, a full-service recording studio. “It’s my life,” she smiles.
Blake sits down in front of a giant reproduction of Louis Quatorze in the dining room. Her gown is enormous and heavy but she looks beautiful. If this were any other day though, she’d be wearing “something black, leather, leopard, striped, or polka dotted… If not, I’m just not comfortable,” she states. “I don’t like to be too polished either. If I’m too “put together” I have to mess something up.” Maybe that’s what’s bothering her… I run out to the backyard and return with a terribly un-chic plastic rake in my hands and a mischievous grin on my face. Here, I tell her, hold that, and pretend you are a female gardening Louis! She laughs hysterically. “Can you take a picture for my mom please?” she asks and hands me her iPhone. “She really wanted to see me in this dress.” Many of mom’s amazing vintage clothes have mysteriously landed in Blake’s closet as of late. Blake doesn’t shop anymore because every cent goes back in the business. “Yes, at age 31 I am borrowing my moms clothes…” she admits, dropping her head. But who can blame her? Apparently Amanda is quite the collector. And if not today, that fateful YSL dress will surely end up in Savannah too. I’m just thankful Blake’s not pregnant. Because I don’t have a car.
PS. Is anyone getting Kate Hudson?