Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bien Vestida: Bianca Jagger

Bianca, front row of the Donna Karan Spring Summer 2013 show. Photo from the blog Americana Manhasset

I love reading the Sunday New York Times, but it can be overwhelming and when I buy it, I read as much as I can on Sunday, and then unread sections collect dust waiting for me to get to them the following week. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy set in. The pressure is too much, so I often choose not to get the NYT at all. I always feel like I'm missing something.

Recently, my friend and colleague, Jessie, and I spontaneously started a weekly ritual. She subscribes to the Sunday NYT, reads it, highlights the articles she thinks I'll be interested in and passes those sections on to me the following week. It's like having a personal reading service. This practice assuages her guilt too; she's giving a second life to her paper.

She also jots little editorial comments next to some of the articles. Like this article on Nick Cave's apartment, Jessie scribbled: "His style is so alive! Love this = love boxes." It's fun to read her comments because I feel like I'm having a dialog when I'm reading the paper. And she's very good at knowing what I'm interested in. We all need personal readers to cut through the media clutter!

But back to dressing well with personal style and meaning. About a month ago she highlighted this paragraph in an article by Bee-Shyuan Chang titled "Not Just Footlights for the Runway" about scene-sters and celebs at NY fashion week. Jessie added the note "Where are we? : )" Good question!

Jessie highlighted the quote below from Bianca Jagger and it struck me as a perfect statement on individual style with flair.

The quote: "I'm into style," Ms. Jagger said. "I'm not a fashion person. Style is not fashion. I'm someone who has a very busy life, so what I wear has to be practical and functional and well cut, and that's timeless. If you look at what I have worn, my style hasn't changed all that much."

Bianca front row at the Caroline Herrera Spring Summer 2013 show. Photo from  Zimbio

Yves Saint-Laurent introduced his Le Smoking in 1966 and Bianca made the tuxedo style all her own. Forty-six years later she is still wearing versions of it; adapting the shoes, accessories, silhouettes and textures so she always looks up-to-the-minute. I've never seen Bianca in person, but I can imagine she would capture my attention first not because of her celebrity status or because she's wearing over-the-top designer clothes; but because she is a discriminating style force, wearing only the best of what feels right to her.

Below are photos of Bianca from the late 60's and 70's, wearing Le Smoking with stunning and elegant style. In her remembrance of Yves Saint Laurent she says "It was part of my liberation to be able to wear trouser suits because it makes life so easy. Trouser suits are practical, but they are only elegant when they are well cut, and Yves's were very well cut."

At Heathrow, 1972
Style is a mix of things; a dynamic package of you, your history, knowing what's important to you and what you like best and fearlessly showing that to the world. Now more than ever we are bombarded with magazines and websites (and blogs!) telling us to buy, buy, buy the latest shoe, skirt, shirt, dress, jacket, perfume, anything and everything and most of it is a lot of noise. The commercial onslaught can be overwhelming and ignoring style all together can seem like the easiest option. But if you do that, you're selling yourself short. You can cut through the clutter and distractions by knowing yourself and your style and making the most of what suits you best.

So, I'm curious, what is your style?


  1. My mom always told me that I should wear only "tailored" styles which meant that I was too big to wear ruffles and fussy clothing. She advised buying good quality simply styled clothing because it would last and if it did go out of style it would only be briefly. Turns out she was right. I read recently in one of the fashion mags at the hairdressers that menswear pantsuits with longer jackets are returning. Guess who owns several longer blazers and couldn't bear to part with them when the short tight jackets hit the market?

  2. Interesting how she is drawn to white, which I think of as a very impractical color. I need a personal reader!

  3. What great thoughts about having style (and fashion) serve us. Kudos to Bianca and to you, Lesa for reminding us! You and Jessie's idea is brilliant. Considering how I can borrow that.