Annabel Tollman’s West Village apartment is just as I’d imagined: pretty and chic. She wanted it to feel quite Parisian, with beautiful moldings, Chinoiserie, mirrored surfaces and Empire chandeliers but in fact it looks more like a quintessential London townhouse. The wallpaper has a classic botanical pattern in cream and bronze, there’s pink and white flower bouquets where ever you turn, a decorative fireplace as the center piece and dark mahogany furniture in every room. It’s glamorous but in a sophisticated, subdued kind of way. Perhaps it’s her English upbringing or the fact that she references classic Hollywood icons like Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor for most of her style inspirations. Either way it suits her. The views are not so great but who cares when you live on the dreamiest block in Manhattan.
Born in Brussels to British parents, Annabel Tollman grew up between Upstate New York and England, and moved to the Big Apple in 2002. She’d always wanted to live here. “The combination of Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, Sylvia Plath‘s “The Bell Jar” and Harper’s Bazaar in the Liz Tilberis years was a heady cocktail that made me fall in love with New York before I’d actually set foot in Manhattan,” she muses. She’s a self-proclaimed “Jack of all trades” but a fashion stylist in heart and in soul. She’s worked with people like Karl Lagerfeld and Bruce Weber, dressed actresses like Scarlett Johansson and the Olson twins and was a spokeswoman for Ebay Fashion up until a couple of years ago, a position that quite enabled the “vintage-a-holic” in her. “I think I just ploughed my fee right back into the company”, she blushes. “Most people are frightened to buy clothing on-line, but if you have your measurements and stick to shapes that you know suit you, it’s not that hard. I also have the most amazing alterations lady – that’s really key when you shop vintage.”
The thing I love most about Annabel is her trademark wiggle; it’s a combination of Mae West‘s deliberate walk and Christina Hendricks‘ seductive shuffle. If you’re lucky enough you can see her shimmy down Hudson Street in one of her L’Wren Scott pencil skirts – she owns one in every color – or like this one time, through the airport. “I was in LA and and didn’t have time to change out of my short sleeve pink L’Wren dress and my manager said, “Don’t change! You never know who you might sit next to on the plane.” Of course my in-flight neighbor was about 75 and wearing a wedding ring, but you should have seen people staring in the airport as I wiggled my way through.”
She’s the first to admit it: she has “Barbie taste”. Which is funny when you know that Annabel grew up with parents who were vehemently feminist. “We played with Lego and Meccano (girls can be engineers too!) and in our fairy tales we never had handsome princes; we had intelligent and interesting princes and accomplished, brilliant princesses. I went to a very science-based academic girls school and was a total tomboy. I’m still kind of a tomboy – I’ll always be the first one to climb over a fence or do a dare – but now I just look like a girl. It took a long time for me to accept that femininity isn’t a weakness.” Her go-to look is a pencil skirt, exclusively L’Wren (“They’re so well-cut that I’ve had to get rid of a lot of my other pencil skirts. After all, what is the point of wearing a pencil skirt if it doesn’t make your body look slamming?”) or a full skirt with a slim sweater or top. “I always say that it’s a bit like cooking – once you have the basic recipe down, that’s when you can get creative with the ingredients.”
On June 7th, 2013 we learned that Annabel had passed away. Her sudden death was caused by surgery-related complications. She went too soon but she will be remembered forever. Rest in Peace, Annabel.