A few days after New Year’s Eve, at the start of 2009, I was on my way back from Tulum to New York on a Continental Airlines afternoon flight. I was sitting quietly in the front of the plane when a handsome forty-something gentleman and his six-year old daughter were seated next to me. His face was relaxed and tanned, his button down shirt loose and a light linen, his movements nonchalant and aloof. After the plane took off, we got to talking and he introduced himself as Robert Melet, the owner of Melet Mercantile, the by-appointment-only vintage mekka in Manhattan and Montauk. I had never visited and I had not launched the blog yet but promised I would be in touch soon. So when Annabelle Dexter-Jones, my special anniversary muse, suggested we stop by Melet Mercantile for her Tale, I was more than happy to oblige. Since my meeting with Bob and starting the blog I had contacted the store a couple of times to schedule a shoot but we never seemed to make the deadline. This was a symbiotic case of ‘third time’s a charm’.
Annabelle and I meet on the second floor at 84 Wooster Street. She’s a pretty girl with blonde tossled hair, soft brown eyes and a disarming smile. She wears a short mint knit cotton Courreges dress with navy socks and navy Weston loafers. Her friend Sarah Staudinger hangs around, sipping iced coffee, dispersing moral and styling support. Our shoot came about very last minute and though I have faith in my muse’s down-to-earthness, I can never be sure what attitude to expect. After all Annabelle just got off a long flight from Paris and had a little welcome-home party the night before. However, any insecurities I have about her genuine commitment to the shoot dissipate as soon as I see her giggle. She cocks her head slightly to the left, squints her eyes and then something cute happens: her nose crinkles!
“That’s my dad!” she chuckles when “Waiting for a Girl like You” starts playing over the speakers at the store. Annabelle’s father is Mick Jones of the band Foreigner. Her Mom Ann Dexter was a socialite and writer who later remarried real estate entrepreneur Laurence Ronson. Annabelle’s brother Alexander Dexter-Jones is also a musician and her three famous half-siblings, Samantha, Charlotte and Mark Ronson need no introduction. Growing up as the youngest in such a large, publicly creative family has kept Annabelle surprisingly unaffected. At twenty-four she’s well-read, composed and candidly engaging. She just graduated from Bard with a degree in English Literature and has been taking acting classes since she was twelve. “I’m not sure that acting was a conscious effort to establish a unique identity amongst my siblings; it’s just something I believe comes naturally and I can’t live without.” She plays Matti in a 2003 short called Wholey Moses and just recently starred in a movie directed by her boyfriend, graffiti-artist and French-man-about-town, Andre Saraiva.
Annabelle likes her dresses, shorts and skirts to be short, and her sweaters, cardigans and t-shirts small and tight. She reminds me of Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, minus the platforms. With minimal effort she creates a style that suggests a “less is more” sentiment. And she mixes in vintage where ever she can. Ultimately she’d like to own her mom’s closet. “Her closet is a goldmine! My sister Charlotte and I fight over her stuff because we have similar tastes. I scored some great Alaia mini-dresses, Armani suits, cool Agnes B. coats, and some crazy Versace numbers I might never wear but I couldn’t let them go.” She tells me about a project she’s working on with some friends, to collectively find and sell amazing vintage. But that’s all I am allowed to say about it, so watch this space.
I am honored to have Annabelle as the first girl on the newly designed site. She’s a real New Yorker, with style, poise and a true affinity for vintage. It was a long and arduous trail to find the right girl for this special post, but Annabelle was without a doubt a Girl Worth Waiting for.