Rachel Fleit is the Director of Creative Development at Honor NYC, a writer, a filmmaker...and our newest obsession. It’s hard to tell what’s more radiant — her stunning beauty or her warm personality — but either way, after just one morning spent with Fleit, we’re hooked. We knew Fleit was stylish with great makeup, but we had no idea that her look comes with a rich emotional life of its own: Whether she's wearing her grandmother's jewelry or flaunting her baldness rather than covering it up, it's safe to say that if Fleit's aesthetic were a river, it would be a deep one.
This gorgeous Brooklynite let us into her sunny apartment to show us her favorite finds, spill how she gets her glowing skin, and tell us about what it’s like living with alopecia. From the best vintage store in Paris to how to give yourself a facial with an herbal laxative (yes, really), Fleit’s beauty secrets are as cool as her look. Read on to learn more about Fleit and to see her relaxing at home. Hint: There’s a lot of bright color.
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Photographed by Jen Dessinger
How would you describe your style?
"It’s like a glam hippie/glitzy Palm Beach grandma goes to Paris."
NARS Semi-Matte Lipstick in Heatwave, $26, available at NARS; NARS Eyeshadow in Lhasa, $24, available at Sephora; Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Big & Bright Eyeliner in Black Diamond, $32, available at Sears.
Who are some of your style icons?
"Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, Debbie Harry, Liza Minnelli, Diane Keaton in all of the Woody Allen movies, Claire Danes in My So-Called Life, Lisa Bonet in The Cosby Show and A Different World, Cher in the '60s, Diana Ross, Bianca Jagger, and Barbra Streisand."
La Jolie Garde vintage dress; Dirty Librarian Chains Firework Earrings.
What are your favorite beauty products? Skincare products?
"I use Eve Lom Cleanser everyday. It's a cleansing balm that smells like fresh pesto as you lather it all over your face, and it really works to deep clean and exfoliate. I also love Eve Lom TLC Radiance Cream as an everyday moisturizer, and Caudalíe Beauty Elixir which I use as a toner. As for body lotion, I should buy stock in Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter. I buy three or four bottles at a time at Whole Foods and squirrel them away out of an irrational fear that it will become discontinued."
Santa Maria Novella Aloe Gel, $40, available at Santa Maria Novella; Caudalíe Beauty Elixir, $18, available at Sephora; Dr. Hauschka Eye Contour Day Balm, $51.95, available at Dr. Hauschka; Eve Lom Cleanser, $80, available at Nordstrom; Eve Lom TLC Radiance Cream, $72, available at Birchbox; Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter Lotion, $9.99, available at Drugstore.com.
What do you love about being a part of Honor?
"There is a lot to love about my job. I love how far we have come in the four years since Giovanna [Randall] and I started the company, and I love how the collection gets better and better each season; but ultimately what I love the most is the team. Honor has the most incredible staff. We have a ton of fun and we work super hard. When it's show time or if we are doing a shoot, it's like the most well-oiled machine and it's seamless and calm backstage or on set. I am always astounded, amazed, and extremely grateful for the work that everyone contributes. Also, I feel so lucky that we get to make beautiful things happen all the time with extremely talented people. We have developed a trust with a core group of collaborators. We have an unspoken language."
How does your career impact your style?
"I haven't always worked in fashion, but I've always loved clothes and have enjoyed dressing myself in outrageous color combinations and prints since I was a small child. I think my look has remained the same on some level, but it has become a bit more refined since working at Honor. I wear pencil skirts now."
Swedish Hasbeens shoes.
What are your at-home beauty rituals?
"My at-home beauty ritual with actual products does not go beyond using cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and eye cream daily. I eat a plant-based diet. Food intolerances tend to show up on my face, so I stay away from dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, and refined sugar. I exercise and meditate daily, keep a balanced life, get enough sleep, and remain hydrated.
"However, my grandmother smoked one to two packs of cigarettes and drank ten cups of coffee a day while subsisting on a steady diet of yogurt in the morning and a candy bar in the afternoon for close to 50 years. She had 800 friends, tons of joy and sorrow, and applied a thick layer of Pond's cold cream to her face before bed each night. She died at 87 with three wrinkles on her face. So, who knows what works and what doesn’t?"
What summer beauty and style trends are you most excited about?
"Vintage hippie dresses seem to be back around and everywhere! My friend Molly Rosen Guy has a carefully curated selection of the best of the best at her showroom for Stone Fox Bride. Otherwise, printed pants, white jeans, head-to-toe denim, and all of the bright colors everywhere."
Stone Fox Bride dress; Sonja Boyjian earrings; B65 Turkish towel; Andrew Yes pillow balls.
Does having alopecia affect your style? Your beauty routines?
"Yes, definitely. Having alopecia affects everything because it's right out there for everyone to see. The absence of hair is equally a part of my look as hair would be if I had any. After 30 years of being bald, I know what works and what doesn't work. I won't wear a structured blazer or anything overly tech-y looking because it's too much — I can start to look like the Svedka vodka fembot. It's a fine line, and you need to be conscious of it and realistic. In general, I tend to create a softness around my bald head: big scarves and long earrings or a plunging neckline. Women define their femininity by their hair. It's been a very interesting and deeply layered process to settle into my own femininity and to accept being a bald woman. I tend towards more subtle femininity; I think androgyny is sexy, and I have never ever been a girly-girl. As for my beauty routine — I can take a shower in 60 seconds and be ready to go in under five minutes. Not to brag...."
How often do you wear headscarves? Have you always worn them?
"I wear turbans from time to time — in the summer to protect my head from the sun or when they work well with my outfit as an accessory. I have had alopecia since I was 18 months old. I wore wigs from the time I was four until I was 18 years old. In 1999, I was in college and I was sick of the whole facade, so I ditched the wig. It was the one of the greatest things I've ever done for myself. I finally felt free and was able to be open about my alopecia, but I still kept my head covered. I intuitively began to wrap multiple scarves into large turbans on my head and wore them everyday for years. About five years ago, I began to think that the turbans were just the same as the wigs and I was still hiding my bald head. I made a conscious effort to just be bald, to uncover myself and stop hiding. Now, with some distance and acceptance, the turbans make intermittent appearances as an accessory."
How do you define beauty? What, or who, is beautiful to you?
"I can get excited by the amazing bone structure in a girl's face that we cast for a photo shoot, but to be honest, I am generally bored by conventional beauty. I have always been more thrilled by someone's sense of humor, their talent, intellect, and ideas more than anything that is happening on the outside. I find the most beautiful people are the ones around me who have really gone through something challenging and have come out on the other side, where there once was so much darkness and now there is a ton of light. It’s an infinite beauty. You can see it in their eyes — clear, shiny, almost sparkling."
Do you have a go-to beauty look?
"Blush on the cheekbones, lipstick on the lips."
We love how you rock a bright lip. Do you have a favorite brand and/or colors?
"I recently discovered Bite, a lipstick brand from Canada that is all-natural and comes in the most astounding colors. In addition to my new Bite discovery, I wear NARS Heat Wave, YSL Rouge 19, and Dior Addict religiously."
What do you change about your makeup for day and evening looks?
"I wear dark eye makeup at night."
NARS Blush in Deep Throat, $29, available at NARS; Bite High Pigment Matte Pencil in Quince, $24, available at Sephora; Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture in 19 Fuchsia, $34, available at Yves Saint Laurent; Dior Addict Lipstick, $31, available at Nordstrom; NARS
Yachiyo Brush #27, $50, available at Neiman Marcus.
Do you have any beauty secrets you'd like to share?
"My friend Hayley Wood, an insanely beautiful person with flawless perfect skin recently recommended I try an at-home steam facial with Swiss Kriss, an herb that you can find at any legit health food store. Beyond its chic 1970s hippie packaging, Swiss Kriss is traditionally an herbal laxative meant for oral consumption that also does wonders for your face. The regimen involves boiling a pot of water, adding two tablespoons of Swiss Kriss flakes, and covering your head and the pot with a large towel, creating an air-tight tent. You should stay under their for at least three minutes, ideally five, or as long as you can take it. The herbal laxative and steam combination pulls all of the dirt and toxins out of your face. The result is really truly fabulous glowing skin. It's also super-relaxing to give your face a little schvitz at the end of a long day."
Do you wear fragrance? If so, how does it play into your style?
"When I have more time to get ready, or for a special occasion, I use Bois d'Ombrie, which is a unisex fragrance that I found at Santa Maria Novella; or Amor Amor by Cacharel, which was a gift from my friend Allison that I have never stopped wearing. Otherwise, the body lotion I use is really fragrant. I wear it daily and it's become my signature scent."
Eau d’Italie Bois d’Ombrie, $140, available at Lucky Scent; Cacharel Amor Amor, $36.69, available at Target.
Talbots vintage shirt; Honor skirt; vintage belt; Love Adorned bracelet.
What's the secret to finding such great vintage pieces?
"Endurance and luck. I have enormous stamina for vintage shopping, and by nature I am a collector. I will hunt for hours and hours for vintage clothes, but only when I am out of town or on vacation. I never look for vintage clothing in New York City. There is not enough time here to do it right. I've discovered the best vintage stores with an incredible selection and extremely low prices in LA, Paris, Palm Beach, and upstate New York. The more cramped and stuffed with clothes, the better! I love to sift through racks of clothing; I have been doing this since I was a kid, and it's one of my greatest joys."
Can you talk about your accessories and your jewelry? It all seems to have sentimental value.
"I grew up with amazing stylish women all around me, dripping in gold and gemstones, huge sunglasses, silk blouses, scarves, and larger-than-ife personalities. My late grandmothers and late aunt were beautiful, brilliant, and had a huge impact on my style and who I am. I like to cover myself with remnants of them. It makes me feel like they are with me always and it’s a reminder that they are gone, and it's my job to live well in their honor. Otherwise, I wear my dear friend Sonia Boyajian's gorgeous pieces, which are true works of art. She is my favorite."
Vintage necklaces; Sonia Boyajian necklace.
What's the best beauty advice you've ever received?
"Be comfortable in your own skin and the beauty will shine right out of you."