How did you enjoy being a part of the Lanvin advertising campaign?
Well, we did it in April and I wasn’t allowed to talk about it, I had to sign a confidentiality form. But it’s been great and all of my friends have been emailing and congratulating me. The whole experience was great, I felt like a queen.
Did you get to choose what you were wearing or did they have a stylist there?
It was their show, Alber [Ebaz] chose. He was the creator. I asked for pants but this is what I got.
How did they find you?
They saw my picture on Advanced Style and the production company contacted Ari [Seth Cohen] who then called me. The next day I had a see Steven Meisel at the studio. A woman came out and took pictures of the others and myself individually. They chose me and brought me back to a room where Pat McGrath and one of Steven’s assistants were, and they asked me to tell them about myself. I told them how my father made all of my clothes and that my mother was a dressmaker from Israel. He asked me where I like to shop and I said Bergdorf’s and vintage shops and he said I guess that covers it all…
How did you meet Ari from Advanced Style?
There was a man named Mordechai whom I had met when he was working at a men’s clothing store where I bought my first pair of Derek Rose men’s pajamas. That’s what I lived in in the winter. He was an adorable kid and then he started photographing me. Years later he saw me in the street when I was 59 and sent Ari a picture of me. Ari posted it on his blog calling me the “honorable member” because you have to be 60 and over and at the time I was 59.
Some of the other people who have photographed include Bill Cunningham. What was your reaction when you saw him with his camera?
I have that picture in my portfolio. He was doing a story on capris, so it just shows my legs. I was in Bergdorf’s at the time where I used to visit my dad often when he worked in women’s alterations before they were corporate. I was allowed to sit there with him but now you could never do that.
Do you sew as well? Did you pick up any of his tailoring expertise?
No. I don’t know how to sew at all. But in terms of craftsmanship and what to look for in a garment, I knew that at age two.
What do you do professionally?
Several things. I teach a course called the Art of Dressing where I basically teach women how to dress. Whatever level they’re at, I take them to the next.
Who are these women?
They vary. My last class came about when I had this woman from L.A. write to me after seeing a picture of me on Advanced Style. She said she would be in New York and asked if it was possible to take a class. Then I had a friend in my synagogue that wanted to join as well. Then I met these two bloggers who loved me, wanted to feature me and do a story about me and I told them that I had this class so I invited them to come as guests. But what’s great is that it is always very intimate. I start with black and explain how it works with textures and silhouettes and portions. I teach why things are wrong, why things work with this hat but not this hat.
What about accessories?
I always focus on accessorizing. I touch on flats versus high heels and this belt or that belt…
Where is your balance between over accessorizing and just looking fashionable?
It’s all about balance. I don’t know if you can over accessorize but you can choose the wrong accessories, yes. When I first started, I didn’t have much money so I kept it very simple—I wore a lot of black and grey and it was the accessories that I would shine through. I just invested heavily in accessories, which would make and change the outfit. I was wearing this killer scarf the other day that I found at a friend’s vintage shop. First of all, the color of it, crimson, was amazing. It’s just a beautiful red with some tie-dye green in it, though what makes it are the edges, six inch borders that are puckered so when you tie it on your head, the puckered part that is lavender looks like grapes. It is beyond killer.
Does it make you want to wear the outfit again or come up with another killer outfit?
I would wear that particular outfit exactly how I wore it. I didn’t have anything to wear under that robe but the other day I went into storage and found this one-piece 1920s silk pajamas and I had it shortened the length of the robe and oh my god it is so great together. It really was my best outfit.
I know you do a lot of commuting on your bike– do you get nervous your clothing will get caught?
Yes, so often. I didn’t ride my bike the day I wore that outfit. Matisse would be so happy with this outfit.
Do you think you being born in Israel sealed the deal for Alber?
I don’t know if it sealed the deal for him. At one point, I was dressed and we went into the studio and Steven’s assistant asked me what music I’d like to listen to. I asked if they had anything in Hebrew. So now there is Hebrew music playing and Alber Elbaz is putting pocket books on me and Pat McGrath is putting the final touches on my lipstick and Steven Meisel is telling me what to do with my knee and I realized the song was a Hebrew prayer. At that point the world stopped for me and I’m like, what are the odds that my first time modeling and listening to this prayer I’m with Alber Elbaz, Steven Meisel and Pat McGrath. It doesn’t get better than that. I would have cried but I didn’t want to ruin my makeup.
If you were to look forward another 10 years, is there someone who you would think would be the next woman to fill your role and be the next trendsetter?
Michelle Harper, she’s great.
In what ways are you similar?
She just has great taste and style. She is daring and takes a lot of risks, she wears everything and has a great eye but isn’t afraid to be daring.