Buy Better

It would be a race against time and technicalities. A splendid challenge for two frantic fashion chickens with stereotypically busy agendas and hopscotch-style, hyperbolic energy levels. You see, my problem is two-fold: I have a train to catch. The last Eurostar is leaving in exactly 2,5 hours and it will take at least half an hour to get to St Pancras International, what with those Olympic lanes reducing half of London’s already cramped driving space. And, I am shooting with my new camera for the first time. I bought that crazy Canon 5D everyone is talking about, but boy, does it make me sweat. That tutorial went in one ear and out the other. I’m not a photographer; I’m just winging it.

Caroline Issa and I run the same circuits during fashion week but we don’t know each other. It’s only now that I realize she has a Canadian accent and she’s everything that famous smile assumes: a happy, lovely, sometimes goofy, worldly woman with a sunny attitude that’s still glowing from a recent trip to Corsica. She didn’t have time to clean up the house, or unpack, but she did display a nice piece of Corsican meat on the counter. “Feel free to take some!” she laughs when she sees me scrutinize it. I gracefully decline. While Caroline applies some make-up and lipstick in the bathroom, I run around the place like a mad woman, picking up travel bags and clearing the counter top and I thank god for the white walls and even exposure. Her loft is amazing – I may be able to work that Canon…

Oh, and there’s one other “little issue” I forget to mention. Caroline doesn’t wear any vintage! “I only own about two vintage pieces,” she regretfully admits during our follow-up interview. “I used to shop in thrift stores obsessively as a teenager – I think that’s where I got so interested in fashion – that and my American Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar collections. But I guess as I grew older, I became less vintage-oriented and bought off the rack more. There are too many great young designers to support, so many beautiful, established brands who put out amazing collections. I had dinner with Charlotte Dellal the same night you shot her and I, and we were both lamenting our vintage lameness!” Rather than photograph Caroline at the store, I picked up about five garment bags from Atelier-Mayer in between shoots and when I drop them on the couch, her eyes widen, as if she’s surprised at so much great vintage. I think I did a good job. “You did a good job!! I love these pieces!” she screams.

For those of you who missed all of her street style blog appearances – that’s kind of impossible – I must tell you: she’s even more beautiful in person. Born to a Chinese mom and Lebanese-Iranian dad, the 35-year old Canadian editor moved to London after attending Wharton School in Philadelphia. She’s held her position of Publisher and Fashion Director at Tank magazine for the past 10 years and adheres to a philosophy of “Elitism for All”, which easily translates into her personal wardrobe choices: “a nicely tailored suit and blouse, or a pair of trousers with a simply-cut but colorful blouse. Easy separates I can just pull on and leave the house with. Plus a pair of high heels. I love high heels.” She invests in key pieces that could last forever. “I am still wearing dresses and suits I bought 10 years ago! Of course, I supplement these investments with fun, trendy pieces – like new blouses, a skirt shape, or shoes. But I strongly believe that to buy less, is to buy better.” Wait a minute. Aren’t you just collecting your own vintage, Caroline?

July 26, 2012

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