Fashion Anarchy

A new anti-style style book restores the magic in your closet. By Christene Barberich
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Taming your inner style demons—for those not lucky enough to have it in their genes—requires lots more than just a few trips to Barneys. Imagination and a certain degree of fearlessness (jumpsuits for all!) are required in order for the contents of those shopping bags to work and look effortless—which, let's face it, is really the trick.
Fortunately, two of our favorite British style senseis—Bay Garnett and Kira Jolliffe—have just penned a book inspired by their shared journey to dress-up nirvana as well as their legendary UK fashion magazine, Cheap Date. Out in April, The Cheap Date Guide to Style is a magical mish-mash of straight-from-the-soul style advice. Unlike most how-to books that preach the gospel of visible panty-lines (bad!) and the color black (good!), this one functions more like a 128-page inspiration manual than a checklist for re-programming your Don't'ness.
Page after page, the pair mix up pics of personal style royals like Diana Vreeland and David Bowie alongside Q&As with today's arbiters of fashion, including artist Tracey Emin, Joan Jett, Karl Lagerfeld, and Vivienne Westwood. "The one and only rule of the Cheap Date philosophy is that there are no rules," the authors attest. "The key to cultivating successful style should be a fun, exciting, and empowering." We asked our new fairy godmothers of fashion to weigh in on their new book as well as their own everyday style secrets—
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You've both known each other for 20 years. How long have you been talking about doing a book together?
Bay: We'd been working together on Cheap Date magazine, and it seemed like a good progression.
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From left: A portrait of Chloë Sevigny taken by Bay, a page from the book depicting the power of the dumb T-shirt
How did you want it to be unlike other style books?
Kira: We thought style guides, on the whole, were intrinsically naff. It was like attempting the impossible, except that we knew it could be done because of Cheap Chic, a book from the late '70s. Also the aesthetic of the '80s More Dash Than Cash Vogue books, and our own Cheap Date vibe of snapshots and frolics. So, we decided to make a cool, fun book about clothes and style, and were driven by countering the 'anti-stylishness' aspect of celebrity and consumer culture.
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From left: Authors Bay Garnett and Kira Jolliffe outside the Cheap Date Swap shop, a page from the book depicting thrifted gems
What are some key elements that comprise each of your looks?
Bay: Long black skirt, leopard print scarf, sweater, big fake fur coats, boots, the Chanel fragrance Rue Cambon, '70s eyeliner, and blonde brushed hair.
Kira: Fitted black crepe 1940s dress, simple but with a little interesting detail. There are always lots of fastenings on these. I like to wear mine with my leopard-fur granny booties. Tiny machine-cut gold drop earrings—sparks of sunshine. My standard. They can be found in Middle-Eastern jewellery shops or on the Internet. Dark eyeshadow above the outer edge of my eyes seems to lift downward drooping eyelids like mine. And an Yves Saint Laurent tweed riding jacket from the early '90s—I still wear it half the time.
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It's a bit cliche, but who are some of your ultimate style inspirations?
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Bay: Chloë Sevigny I have always found totally inspiring and brilliant with clothes. Anita Pallenberg—still completely amazing and stylish more than anybody I know. Charlotte Rampling and many other characters from film.
Kira: Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, Anita Pallenberg, Coco Chanel, my mother Niki Jolliffe, fashion shoots styled by Camilla Nickerson. I get constant nourishment from friends Iris Palmer, Bay, of course, and Ramona Rainey. I adore looking at Tilda Swinton.
What are some of your favorite pics is the book? Why?
Bay: I love the picture by Lynn Goldsmith of the Bionic Woman [Lindsey Wagner] in the big brown fur coat. Karen Elson, looking beautiful in her flowery dress, and my favourite is me and Kira outside the Cheap Date thrift store—it was a special time.
Kira: Aurora Papafave on page 10. It has a kind of very loose, happy stylishness. The Lynn Goldsmith photo of Debbie Harry on page 31 was an exciting find, because it's not well-known and it put something across that we wanted to say about basics really well. On page 112 there's a pic of Kate and Johnny—just how glamorous can you get?
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From left: Three pages from the book
What's the last thing each of you bought to wear that you're totally loving?
Bay: My patent-leather jacket from YSL—it reminds me of Catherine Denueve in Belle De Jour.
Kira: A pair of shiny gold earrings in the shape of leaves bought form a tourist shop in Granada, Spain.
Tell us the one dirty little style secret that most people wouldn't know?
Bay: To be clean and soigné. The older you get the more important it is to be polished in your own natural way.
Kira: It's not particularly about style, but it is dirt related: Your clothes last a lot longer if you only wash them if they're visibly just too dirty. Instead, give them a good airing or hang them with a lavender bag.
The Cheap Date Guide to Style By Kira Jolliffe and Bay Garnett will be published by Universe Publishing, an imprint of Rizzoli New York, in April 2008. For more information about the authors, go to a www.cheapdatestyle.com.
A new anti-style style book restores the magic in your closet.
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