Lisa Perry is running behind schedule. “We should finish that muslin first, girls!” she says impatiently and ushers three pretty, eager 20-somethings into her office. “And what should I wear for that hospital benefit tonight?” she asks the PR girl with a worried look on her face. “It should be appropriate and grown-up, you know that…”. She turns to me from across the hall. “You’ll be OK for fifteen minutes, yes?” she asks rhetorically, surrendering me to my new surroundings, seemingly unaware that I am about to burst out of my skin with anticipation. My fingers are itching and little beads of sweat have started to rise on my forehead. I am left standing in the middle of a white room, small and humble, with nothing but candy-doused techni-colors, bold monograms and mini-dresses, all within arm’s reach but not for sale. (I got a glimpse of this room a few weeks earlier at a party. While the other dinner guests were walking to and fro in the crisp penthouse apartment, I spotted the door ajar, revealing just a tiny impression of its splendor but enough for me to run – and I mean, RUN – to said PR girl and command a shoot!)
And so I find myself in the presence of a vintage collection that’s museum-worthy, drool-invoking and possibly life-threatening. When I get over my first pangs of anxiety and the palms of my hands have returned to their normal PH-level, I recognize a Rudi Gernreich dress I own, the famous Campbell’s Soup dress, and Lisa’s first ever design, a snow-white A-line dress with silk white flower appliqués, clearly and undeniably inspired by the very vintage pieces she’s been wearing. “People would always react enthusiastically to my outfits,” she recalls. “I love collecting pieces from the 60s and 70s because the clothing feels very modern and some even futuristic. Six years ago I decided to create a small collection of dresses inspired by my favorite vintage pieces. Today my business has grown into a lifestyle brand with women’s and girl’s clothing, accessories and home design.”
Without further ado, muslins wrapped up and assistants furnished with cooing compliments, we take on the great challenge of finding the hospital outfit, picking “the favorites” and incorporating a bit of Lisa’s and my own touches. “No flats please,” she warns me. “You will rarely, if eversee me in flat shoes. And no matter how casual I get I will never wear Uggs. The name says it all!” I could never imagine this pretty, wispy woman in anything that horrendous. It’s not hard to figure out Lisa’s style anyways. Just one look at her every-day wardrobe and the masterfully curated amount of Pop Art in the apartment, explains everything. “I like to have fun with dressing but that is mostly reflected in a bright color. I have a very minimal aesthetic so I keep things simple.” And short? “I do like short dresses,” she admits, “and I will continue to wear them until someone I trust tells me I look silly!”
I never saw the hospital outfit but I did run into Lisa at the CFDA awards a couple of weeks later, dressed in an all-white mini-skirt and matching boxy T-shirt, a new look she “grabbed off the sample rack in the studio”. When I ask her if she finally put something “appropriate” together, she shrugs: “Ugh, I can’t remember what I wore but I know it was all wrong….” Says who?