Today’s interview is with a woman who has appeared here a few times before – the very fabulous Larkie. Larkie was the subject of one of the very first interviews I ever did for the blog – and years later, I still get emails about her. These messages range from the very general: “Please bring Larkie back!” to the very,very specific: “Do you know what kinds of fabric Larkie likes most?“.
As a very big fan of Larkie myself, I was very excited about the opportunity to get to ask the Chanel master some more questions. Enjoy meeting (and re-meeting) the lovely Larkie!
I know it’s been covered in earlier posts but if you don’t mind me asking again – who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
I’m currently the Chief Operating Officer & Chief Legal Officer for a consulting/brokerage company I co-founded in the high tech sector. I was born in Saigon but grew up in Dallas. Went to law school in California and just couldn’t seem to get Los Angeles out of my system no matter how many tours I took around the globe, so LA has been my home base for some time now.
You’re a travel lover and go all over the world. What are some of your favorite destinations to visit – and any favorite places to stay?
This is a tough one to answer! As much as I love the five-star treatment when I travel, after a while all the resorts seem to blur into each other. For instance, we stayed at a world class resort in Asia some years back but all I can recall from that trip was riding a horse bareback on the hotel’s private beach. And the reason I remember this at all was because I almost got thrown off the horse at one point, much to the horror of all the other guests sitting nearby. It was also memorable because I was wearing one of my favorite YSL tunics and I remember telling myself: well, at least if this horse is taking you down, you are wearing a fab top – let’s hope it doesn’t rip! Ha! The true offense in all this, though, was riding a horse without a riding helmet. I know helmets ruin the whole wind-in-the-hair-while-astride-a-stallion fashionista look but now I always tell everyone safety first, vanity second!
In hindsight, I would have to say my favorite destinations are places where I could go off-grid during the day (or night) – like camel trekking through the desert or elephant chasing in the bushes or jumping off something – and come back to a great room, preferably with a high-pressure shower, at night to recharge. My dream trip is yet to come though…I fantasize about taking a year off to follow nomadic tribes around the world, starting in Mongolia. If there’s a horse culture to be found, I’m all over it. But you know, my head always plans for trips like I’m still in my 20-year-old body or something.
I have definitely slowed down on buying Chanel accessories, and I blame that on a certain orange label. But my love for Chanel ready to wear still burns brightly, and I’m definitely sacrificing other labels for this single-mindedness. Though with each passing season I find that I am becoming much more selective in order to not repeat certain looks or colors too much, no matter how much I may love a particular piece. I mean seriously, how many black Chanel jackets can one wear in a lifetime? Well…let’s say I’ve not been able to stick to a quota yet in this one category!
What percent of your Chanel ready to wear items do you buy full price vs. sale? And how do you decide when to splurge and pay full price?
Ahh, the $64M question, especially when you wear a size that’s often bought in limited quantity by all stores. There was a time when I would pay full price always just to ensure that I would have that one item in my size. But in the last few years I’ve been able to score even hard to find pieces in my size during first – sometimes but rarely second-cut. I think the real truth here is that when I first started building my collection, there was a tendency to grab everything because I had nothing. And now that my collection is pretty diverse, I can afford to sit back and chew on a decision… and hopefully by the time I’ve made up my mind if I really do need this jacket or that dress, sale season is here. It also helps that I now have more established relationships with some stores so there are eyes everywhere working for me to score some pieces during presales. The trick for me is really to stay out of stores to keep temptations at bay before sale season begins; that itch is always there when so much gorgeousness abounds at the boutiques.
But the short answer to your question is that my advice to everyone is to always wait for sale to buy Chanel ready to wear unless the Bureau of Engraving & Printing happens to fund your personal bank account. Unlike classic bags, almost all Chanel clothes go on sale. My only exception to this rule is when there is a very classic, forever piece (such as the black suit from 11C, whose jacket became the focal point of the Little Black Jacket book tour a few seasons after the suit was released) that (1) looks great on you and (2) that you will use, then that’s the time to splurge and pay full retail.
You have a lot of beautiful items in your closet. How do you make sure that they all get worn?
You know when I said I had to sacrifice everyone else for Chanel clothing? It’s the real truth. I’ve probably not bought Gucci or Prada or Dior in a very long time simply because Chanel is an expensive addiction. But because of this very conscious decision, it has actually been fairly uncomplicated to make sure that I wear every piece I buy. Yes, there are a few guilty pleasure pieces that I like to call my “museum buys”–the ones that just look too beautiful to even touch–hanging in the closet for my eyes only, but I would say 95% of my Chanel items all get used in rotation. Why buy the best crack out there and not get a high from wearing it every day?
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice to when you first started to buy expensive items in your closet – what’s some advice that you’d tell yourself?
I would have told myself to start earlier and to forsake quantity/variety for quality. And above all, know yourself: buy only what you will for sure use.
You mentioned earlier that you’ve recently been distracted by other brands…namely Hermes. Can you share?
Yes, I got lucky with a walk-in purchase at Hermes last December. So that was my first Birkin. Since then I’ve bought a Kelly and will have a mate for it soon. But it’s a slow albeit tender dance with Hermes. I don’t think I’ll be fully immersed in the brand as I’ve been with Chanel, though; to me Hermes has a very specific perspective so I find more creative freedom with Chanel.
What are your current favorite items that you’re using in your wardrobe?
Suddenly it’s all about dresses! My daily uniform, for a very long time, has been black cigarette pants of various lengths with starched black shirts and some killer accessories. But with all the beautiful dresses Chanel has been putting out lately, I’ve really enjoyed looking a bit more feminine when the occasion calls for it!
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
You mean there are other passions besides Chanel? Actually, these days I am lucky if I can squeeze in enough time for my daily workout, creative writing (as a stress outlet), and some shopping. Travel is a hobby for a lot of people but it is mostly a byproduct of my work, though it does help when I choose to look at it as a passion and not a chore. Every city, no matter how un-exotic it may appear at first blush, is an adventure waiting to happen.
What’s a piece of life advice that you could share?
I doubt I should give any life lesson in the personal area since I’m still a work in progress. But professionally speaking, I would tell everyone to stay open to all opportunities that present themselves. If a door opens, make sure you walk through it. The path(s) you ultimately take are only limited if you close yourself off out of self doubt, apathy, or too much listening to others instead of yourself.
My parents have always encouraged me to try my best at everything that I put my mind to. But I think the emphasis is really about the second half of that advice: identify what it is that you are good at, and then go after it like you have nothing to lose. If you fail, ask why, take accountability, and move on. If you succeed, ask why, take accountability, and move on.
Finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
My sixth grade choir teacher told me I had the most perfect pitch she had ever heard in her 20 years of teaching music. So if anyone knows how I can get a gig being a coach on The Voice or a judge on American Idol, I’m all in. But I might end up just giving the contestants a fashion makeover!
This is the second interview (but third part, my first interview was split into two) I’ve done with Larkie, and each time I know that there will be new insights, travels, and fantastic style to share. I really admire how Larkie seems to live her life with such satisfaction and happiness – whether it’s her work, travel, food or yes even closet – Larkie is confident and content. Thank you very much to the always very chic Larkie for being here today – for more of her, please visit Larkie at Large.