FASHION & BEAUTY People of Style  >  People of Fashion—with Christian

People of Fashion—with Christian

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Last week at the 92nd street Y, our man of fashion, Christian Freedom, went to see Fern Mallis, the creator of NYC fashion week, interview legendary stylist and sittings editor Polly Mellen. Mrs. Mellen, who is 88 years old and worked for Bazaar, Vogue and Allure magazines during her long career, is now retired and came down from her home in Connecticut for the talk. She is still vibrant and opinionated at 88. so Christian thought we would want to hear some of her thoughts and experiences.  Some highlights from the evening were:

Her affluent childhood sparked her love of fashion. She attended the elite Miss Porter’s school where Gloria Vanderbilt and Jackie Kennedy were also students.

She loved the style of the golden era of Hollywood films. Her first photo shoot with Harper’s Bazaar was with Richard Avedon and Audrey Hepburn She idolized William Holden, who later made a pass at her during her Italian honeymoon with her first husband. Her most difficult celebrity shoot ever was with Raquel Welch! Also, Faye Dunaway and Barbra Streisand were notably “not easy”.

One of her first jobs was creating a window display at Lord & Taylor.  She was terrified during her job interview with Diana Vreeland but became an editor under her at Harper’s Bazaar.  The best career advice she ever got was from Carmel Snow who told her to go out and see every designer and go to every show, because you never know where the next big talent was going to come from. She faithfully watches Project Runway.  She also was told to forget your ego and be humble. When interviewing a prospective assistant she would drop something. If the person wasn’t quick to pick it up before she did, then she would not consider hiring them.

She styled the most expensive fashion shoot ever: a 5-week, fur caravan story with Veruschka and Avedon in Japan. She cried and was overwhelmed by the beauty of a nude Natasha Kinski and a seductive snake, during the shooting of that famous image that she styled.

The happiest night of her life was receiving her CFDA icon award and her biggest regret was never being editor in chief of her own magazine.

Today she loves the work of Fabien Baron, Steven Meisel, Anna Wintour, Mert+Marcus and Franca Sozzani.  She also admires the designers Alexander Wang, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Jil Sander.

She stays young by doing Pilates, gardening, reading and skiing.  For aspiring fashionistas she suggests doing your homework, research, study art and look to the street for inspiration. You should love what you do so that you run to work everyday like she did. Go in early and stay late!


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