Shaken but not Stirn’

I was trying to find the right description for Tiany Kiriloff, so you’d get the essence of her being in just a word or two. But all I could come up with was that she is the “Mademoiselle Agnes of Belgium”. And even this might not mean much to you, unless you’re French. It’s just that we don’t have women like this in New York. These unmistakably beautiful, overtly eccentric, totally unconventional and slightly deranged women who host TV shows, write columns, books and blogs, run production companies, design clothing, and look ridiculously cool all at the same time. Really. Tiany is all that and more. She’s the mother of two adorable girls, the wife of a window salesman and a bona-fide Belgian celebrity. “In Belgium I’m a so-called fashionista, blogger, journalist and tv host,” she confesses. “I don’t really enjoy the name fashionista but hell… guess everything needs a title or name.”

I did not find Tiany. Tiany found ME, one night, getting lost on the internet. “I sometimes don’t go to sleep until 3 o’clock in the morning because I’m too busy meandering sites and blogs,” she tells me, “and that’s how I bumped into Tales. I never even knew you were Belgian till the very first time I e-mailed you. I also believe I was one of the first to start writing about you. I’m pretty proud about that!” Now we’re twitter buddies, we bump into each other during Paris Fashion Week and I see her pop up on the same street style blogs as me and Hanne Gaby, our very own model-superstar-dresser.

Because Tiany has style. And it comes in buoyant, drop-your-pants doses. She’s eclectic and colorful, progressively retro and quirky and masters pattern and prints like Frida Kahlo. She wears glasses because she has to, but takes them off “to be able to wear oversized earrings”, doesn’t believe in fashion faux-pas because “in my opinion it is part of having fun with fashion” and blames it all on her “shaken but not stirn'” background: part Chilean, part Dutch, part Russian, but Flemish to the core. Her vintage collection is enviable. She pulls out one designer dress after the other: 60s Paco Rabanne, 70s Valentino, 80s Kenzo and mixes it all with the latest, hottest shoes – I think she may have a mild obsession. “I dream of someday visiting the Rose bowl flea market and finding the most amazing pieces,” she fantasizes. “I love shopping vintage and recall a profound love for it since the age of 14. I used to wear all these goofy pants and skirts belonging to my mom and her friends.” She shops intuitively, never looking for anything in specific, just falling for pieces that “make you happy and make your heart leap a beat.”

Tiany lives in a small farmers town between Ghent and Antwerp. The house is built like a chalet, with a pond, a playground and some chickens. She also owns a place in Knokke by the sea. “I love being in the outdoors, but Knokke is still an amazing spot to catch up with your shopping necessities and everything is open on Sundays so it’s best of both worlds.” Getting her family ready in the morning proves sometimes chaotic. She speaks Spanish to her kids and Flemish to everyone else. The living room is her office, the dining room her desk and the rest of the house is one big closet. “I have this crazy life with too many impulses, so I’m very glad to be able to return to my country side haven which is peaceful and surrounded by green. I’ve always liked contradictions and really enjoy the combination of stilettos and the mud that comes along when living in the fields…” Ew, mud! jk.

March 22, 2012

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