Photographs by Alanna Zaritz
About my "look" I have to say that I have no real direct sources of inspiration. I simply try to respond to the world on a conscious level taking as little as possible for granted. I have always loved the arts in all its forms because the world is so layered and complex that the arts have always seemed to me to be the only adequate process of response. So when I wake in the morning I ask myself what or how I feel, and gravitate toward and build on that look. Color, movement, and accessory (especially the last) all meet to make a statement. I may feel graceful or shleppy, extroverted or introverted, sophisticated or bohemian and create a look accordingly. It all depends on asking myself, before even rising, how I feel - who will I be today - Patty Duke, Joyce Carol Oates, or Audrey Hepburn. The second step is to make sure that every aspect (shoes, purse, hair, jewelry, clothes) are in sync. Once I get to school, my coffee cup always matches my outfit so I can feel copacetic. It is a little joke I have with my students.
Do you have a thought process around getting dressed? Do your accessories (rings, wingtip shoes, petal coat, leather hat) have a story?
I will say that I collect Art Nouveau silver jewelry. The French word "jouel" or the Latin "jocale" meaning "plaything" developed into the word "jewelry." My rings are playthings and must be reminiscent and fun. The Art Nouveau jewelry with its flowing nature motifs grew out of the Arts and Craft movement of the 1890s. There are similar gorgeous motifs in Tiffany and Faberge of the same period. Most of my clothes are old - I rarely give anything up, but I do have a rule that if I don't wear something all year, it goes into the back yard sale. Although most my clothes come from second-hand stores, my shoes come from Nora's Shoe Shop in Oak Park, and my coat came from Camille's on Oak Park Ave. in Oak Park. I think the uneven hem line, the flow of the coat and the flower motif matches the jewelry. The same evening that we went to the Smart Museum, we planned on the Chicago Symphony which is one of the reasons I was in the silk dress.
What is your occupation and what is your creative outlet?
Although I teach English and the Humanities at Oak Park River Forest High School, for most of my life I have been a violist. The two occupations have sumer-saulted - which one is the hobby and which one is the money-maker. The reading and the music alternate between profession and passion.
Did you see anything particularly wonderful at the museum today?
I loved the sculpture exhibit at the Smart Museum (and the name, "Carved, Cast, and Crumpled"). The Rodins, Henry Moores, Lipchitz, were all great, but what I loved most was the juxtaposition of the forms with the varied cultures. A contrary is an awesome story device. The exhibit told its story through contraries of time, form, and culture. The delicate Buddhist and Chinese art next to the massive forms of Henry Moore made the story more dynamic.
Interview by Alanna Zaritz
Chicago Looks is lucky to count on the sharp eye of Drawn and Coutured's Alanna Zaritz for a very special collab, in which she gets to share all the great style she comes across while hanging out at the coolest places - such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, where she currently works.
Naomi Hildner was shot at the Smart Museum in Hyde Park.