One of the main reasons I started Tales of Endearment – besides going through a stint of stifling boredom in early 2010 – was to demonstrate retro-fearing people how vintage can be relevant and modern, that mixed with the right contemporary elements your outfit won’t look dated or costume-y. In my book, vintage is not about a head-to-toe look, it’s about the right dosage of old and new. But then, once in a while, a beautiful woman appears on my radar who is anything but afraid, who embraces vintage in all its historical glory and musters up enough penchant and savvy to become a bygone-era character. Remember Ashley Ruprecht in Rebel with a Hat? She described her style as “one part 50′s pin-up, one part space-age goth” and it landed her a Lanvin campaign. Or Michelle Harper who has shot to celebrity status with her extravagant hats and head-turning sunglasses? We need those girls, if only to light up the sea of black New York has come to idolize so much.
I saw Laetitia from a mile away that night at No.8. She was a radiant, soft pink vision of 50s perfection with peroxide blonde, double-processed locks, a teeny, cinched waist and Marilyn Monroe eyes. I didn’t expect the Sussex accent but I was even more surprised when I learned she’s been living right around the corner from me for the past ten years! Surely if I had seen her, I would have noticed the white Pomeranian, Oxford Egbert The Great, and the countless, polished, pink outfits. “People in the hood still call me Pinky,” she laughs, “even though I have gradually introduced more colors.” Despair no more: glamour is alive and well in Williamsburg, too.
Laetitia Harrison Roberts is a rapper/singer/songwriter who goes by the name of “Misfit Dior”. Back in London she was a protégée of Proof, a rapper in Eminem’s band but her career doesn’t begin or end there. When she was four, Laetitia entered a Barbie design competition. “I was the youngest to enter, by quite a few years, but I won and my design was made for Barbie!” she cheers. “I guess you could say fashion is in my blood. It’s kind of like my oxygen tank!” Both her mom, who was a dressmaker to the aristocrats and her aunt, a former Bunny who owned a high-end boutique in the South of France, instilled a love in her for glamour and all things fancy. “I remember a black dress with a gold sash my mom made me when I was six. My grandmother disapproved because she didn’t think a 6-year old should wear black, but my mom did it anyways!” Today, Laetitia designs her own clothes under the label “Alured De Valer” which is going into production soon. She makes swing coats, pencil skirts and full skirts which she wears with petty coats, vintage cashmere or angora sweaters, gloves and a hat, always.
So why fifties? “I love, borderline obsess over fashion from I’d say 1530 to 1964. I love medieval fashion and secretly wish I could dress like Marie-Antoinette every day but I know that isn’t too feasible what with trying (which she spells “tryna” – this is the rapper speaking) to catch the subway ‘n all! I do think though that the mid century glamour and fashion is the most timeless. Old Hollywood hair and make-up is still being recreated on the red carpet and is still as current and gorgeous as it is back then! Plus the fifties was a time when beauty was so important, poor housewives couldn’t even relax at home. God forbid their husbands caught a sneak at an unsightly pin curl poking out from their lace night cap…” Laetitia does her roots every seven to ten days and sleeps with rollers “in true vintage style. I look like a granny but I’m happy the next day my hair is curly!” Laetitia’s apartment is filled with books about these matters. “I study many books on that era and on my favorite 50s style icons. It’s like studying for an exam. I want to know everything! I didn’t learn much in school (she skipped her way through high school) but I’m making up for it plenty now!”
So what does Misfit think of Raf Simons and his Dior take-over? “I was definitely more into John Galliano’s designs. He really stuck to the essence of Dior. And I loved his theatrics. Raf is more classic. In general though, the house of Dior is so elegant and feminine it’s so amazing how the 1947 New Look changed the face of fashion forever. It was so fresh then and still so fresh now.”