I purposely declined my coffee at breakfast this morning because Bathsheba promised that her husband would “make the best coffee in all of Chicago”. It’s just a Starbucks house blend, “but it’s the burr grinder and Chemex pour-over coffee maker that make it so amazing!” she says admiringly. I takes a while to drip but when I take my first gulp, I have to thank the man. It’s delicious. John Biggers and Bathsheba Nemerovski have been married for two years. He’s 11 years younger than she is, but she doesn’t look – or act – a day older. She’s a kid at heart; maybe even a little bit goofy. She says things like “I want to be an interior decorator when I grow up”, collects egg holders, plays in a band called I Kong Kult, named her dog after the children’s book character Lolie the worm and placed two wooden lion statues at the entrance of her apartment “so it looks like you’re about to walk into a museum”. Her skin is the softest white, her face pretty much wrinkle-free and her eyes are constantly smiling. She’s one of the lucky ones.
The apartment is adorable. It has beautiful dark wooden floors throughout, with wide windows and low ceilings that give the place a warm, cozy feel. Bathsheba’s female touches are visible in the blink of an eye: her blankets and throw pillows cover pretty much every surface “AND in the cupboards! – it’s an obsession I’m trying to curb”. I see musical instruments tucked into the corners of every room – “I played classical violin as a child, and then fiddle in a bluegrass band for a few years. Now I’m teaching myself keyboards”. I recognize a Confetti System string of tassels and paper pinata, and another gold flaked one in the dining room, “made by my business partner Susan and her husband for their wedding. You can never have too many pinatas in your apartment, right?” she smiles. The book shelves are impressive, displaying a love of books that would one day have made her a librarian or teacher, had she not chosen to become a hair dresser. And that’s what’s missing in the house: her work. There’s not a scissor or clipper in sight. Probably because her salon, Sparrow is within walking distance from the house. It’s been there for over three years now and has become a trusted hub for many hip Chicagoans, some even calling it “the best in the city”. She cuts Tavi‘s hair, “as well as Jeff Tweedy’s from Wilco, and Chris Peters and Shane Gabier’s, who design the amazing clothing line Creatures of the Wind.”
Bathsheba’s sense of style is yet another remarkable vision. She loves to wear socks with every outfit and looks cute, but fashionable. “My personal style is very eclectic and feminine”, she testifies. “I like to mix vintage with designer. I’m all about the high-low, and I love to layer patterns.” Her favorite brands are Marni and Dries Van Noten but she swears by Comme des Garcons. “I buy every Comme piece I can get my hands on (and afford!),” she says “and although I purge my closet often I NEVER get rid of Comme.” Her love/hate relationship with vintage is long and arduous. “I’ve worn vintage since I was in high school in the 80’s, but I go through times where I’m more into it than others. For a while in the early 2000’s I was having no luck, the thrift stores just seemed so picked over, and vintage was getting so popular the vintage store were charging more than I wanted to spend, so I kind of gave up for a while. But lately, with all the vintage sellers popping up on Etsy and Ebay, and more resale stores opening up, I’ve been really getting into it again.” Her favorite piece is a small, fitted, black leather jacket from the 50s she bought in college. “I wore it every season for about 15 years, until it actually started to disintegrate, and I still have it hanging in my closet because I can’t bear to give it away.”
When we finish our shoot we stroll to the end of the block to Bathsheba’s favorite restaurant, Lula Cafe. It’s Shane’s birthday and we’re meeting for lunch. Chicago may not be a fashion capital but the community is a close knit group of small business owners and creative people. “Most of my friends are writers, musicians, artists, or designers of some kind,” explains Bathsheba firmly, “and we’re all dedicated to making creative things happen in Chicago. It’s a little tougher to do that here, as opposed to New York or Los Angeles, but I find the people who can rise to the challenge really inspiring.”