Lysa Cooper has had it with those Isabel Marant sneakers. When I ask her if there is anything she’d never wear she blurts out: “I would never wear those stupid ass sneakers with the platforms hidden in them. I don’t know what it is but they piss me off! And the funny thing is that Isabel is trying to sue the people who are copying them but I’m thinking: let those sneakers go lady! It’s your fault! Just let them go!” Besides that Lysa is pretty calm about fashion. She collects dish towels she finds at supermarkets when she travels, “especially in Third World and Caribbean countries”, is a vintage fanatic and collector (50s and 60s swimsuits mostly), wears sweats and hoodies during the day, bikinis on the beach and at night anything goes, “depends on where I’m going”. It takes her a good second to think about it, but when I ask her to describe her style, she laughs out loud and compares herself to “a homeless druid, who can get sexy with heels to go out”.
I’m visiting Lysa at her beach house in Montauk. My bedroom’s in a shaded wooden shed on the front lawn. Her dog Sugar Ray Robinson Cooper drops in every now and then to smell my feet but besides that it’s a pretty quiet and uneventful place. You don’t hear any cars, not even the water from the bay at the back of the house, just birds and bees. And Lysa’s laugh, because she’s funny and she loves to tell stories. Her friend, singer Shanee Pink and roommate Jonah, who we lovingly refer to as John Linen (because he loves linen shirts and John Lennon…) are staying in one of the guest rooms for a couple of weeks. So what does one do here all summer? “I read a lot, go to the beach, go out to eat,” she shrugs. “I kick it. It’s one of the only opportunities I have to spend time alone.”
Lysa is 47-years old and a true fashion veteran. Born and raised in New York City, she got her start at a young age. “I met this amazing photographer one day. We started hanging out and vibed well together and I immediately started styling for her. That was the beginning of my career. Her name was Ellen Von Unwerth.” Today Lysa is still a stylist and a Creative Director who works with different designers and creative people on projects. She just finished shooting a TV show with Rhianna about fashion for kids. But what’s next is still a mystery. She’s about to drive cross country with a girlfriend and thinks: “Maybe I can get a job on the way, who knows?” And then she jokes: “Actually, I am counting on you to get me a job, Natalie. Drop my name everywhere! I want a boyfriend and a job from this interview. That’s my plan for the future!”
The more time we spend together the more I admire Lysa. I only met her a couple of times before and didn’t know much about her, besides that she was Rhianna’s stylist at one point – I think she was responsible for the new hair cut – and that Zoe Kravitz is her god daughter. She tells me about her grandmother who “was the queen of funny sayings, always slightly sexual. She would say “We are all the same color when we turn off the lights” or “We are all the same size when we lay down”, the list goes on,” she chuckles. She’s a self-made woman who “was thrown into the industry without having to do anything” like assisting or schmoozing to get ahead. She’s never been married but has had a slew of wild relationships like the one time she stayed with this Serbian guy for another year waiting for him to sleep with her again. When she finally broke up with him, he took off to Africa only to return after six months to propose to her. “Well, my friend,” she boasts, “it was six months too late!” I also find out she’s a musical theater major and “can belt out a show tune and stretch a canvas like no other.” See! Funny!
Lysa Cooper has her shit together, as we would say, and there is a lot to learn from such hellbent wisdom. “If I can give one piece of advice to young people out there wanting their foot in the door it’s: Be the Boss! If you are truly creative, and have great ideas and can produce something out of your own imagination, start your own magazine, have your own company, make your own clothes. Don’t waste your time doing what I do for a living, shlepping shit around for no reason. Everyone is a stylist or thinks they are. But you are not born with style. You’re born with taste. And the style comes after. But it takes a good eye and a lot of patience. I even think pizzazz!”