Today’s interview is with one of the coolest women out there – Audrey. Without giving too much away (you’ll read about it soon enough), I will say that Audrey is incredible. She’s had a career in the music business, lived all over, studied classic ballet and has Manolo Blahnik naming a shoe after her. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I am thrilled to have Audrey on for this week’s interview and I know you will all enjoy meeting her!
Who are you? What did you do, and where do you live?
Who am I? I’m Audrey. Really a study in contrasts. You may see me in a worn out t-shirt and cut-offs or a Chanel gown. I’ve lived the Palm Beach life and the girl next door, and survived both. I prefer a toned down life style but can bounce from one to the other in the blink of an eye.
I always go with the flow and life has taken me on some wonderful rides. I’ve lived up and down the east coast and back again. From Philly to Atlanta to NY to Florida, my feet still haven’t hit the ground.
I consider myself an old hippie and worked in the music business “back in the day”. I’m a beauty school drop out and have been in retail, outside sales, marketing, and politics, everything from A to Z and back again. I play classical piano, studied with the Ballet Russe and taught aerobic classes, gone to top designer runway shows and purchased Hanes three pack men’s undershirts to go with those designer duds. You will just as likely find me shopping at Hermes or Chanel as throwing on my rollerblades or attending a loud rock and roll show.
I’ve worn lots of hats, am a jack of all trades and a master of none if you will.
And I’m not done yet.
You’ve had such a wide array of experiences. Can you share a little bit about your time in the music business…and how you ended up in the beauty trade? Any highlights?
I started out working retail in the music business simply because I loved music and going to concerts so much. People would come into the store and know one lyric from a song without knowing the artist and I would be the one who would know the song and the artist – trivia that was useless info to most people. I ended up taking a job with a sheet music rack jobber and had accounts that spanned almost the entire east coast.
What about the beauty business? What did you do there and what was the most surprising thing that you learned from it?
There is no rhyme or reason for how I ended up in the beauty industry except that I liked to have jobs doing things I loved being involved in and music and beauty related products seemed like fun things to be involved with on a daily basis. And to have someone pay me to play with these things all day, what else could be better!
And just for reference, my first make-up was a light pink lipstick by Mary Quant. And my first concert was The Doors at Madison Square Garden, Section A, Row 19, Seat 13. Second concert was Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore East, the famous 1969 New Years Eve show.
I was in the beauty industry back in the 80’s when everything seemed to be larger than life; big permed hair, big shoulder pads, gobs of make-up. Today it’s more about straight flat hair and less is more in the make-up department. And it costs infinitely more today to look like less was done!
You’ve been married a few times! What’s some advice you’d give about the secrets to a successful and sustainable marriage?
Communication, communication, communication. Everything else falls into place when it’s there. It’s not easy – really a learned skill that we’re not inherently born with. It takes practice and you need to get into your own groove to learn how to do it correctly. Blaming, attitudes, sarcasm, that tone of voice: all of those things get us into trouble and we end up reacting to the tone rather than the actual issue. We need to learn how to communicate cleanly and from the “I” perspective and not a “you” angle. “You” statements will get us into trouble every time. We need to own our points of view and reactions without dumping.
Now, you’re in politics. Can you describe how you got involved in this space? What have been some great and not so great surprises about it?
Not something I ever thought I’d get into and really not something I was ever interested in. I live in a small village and was just interested in keeping the place beautiful. It’s small enough here that you can reach out and touch the environment and the residents. I just started attending meetings and saw it was a level where I could make a difference. And when I decided to run for office, I was told that newcomers had a hard time getting elected. I’m not a quitter and was not deterred by that info and now sit here in my 11th year and still love it! Must be doing something right, they keep voting me in!
Now onto fashion! You’ve been buying from major designers since the 80’s – what pieces do you have from back then that still work today?
I still have some Armani and Chanel blazers from the 80’s. They’re classic and have not gone out of style. I’ve had to change some of the shoulder pads but that’s it. I also kept some of the wild platform shoes from the early 70’s, you know those crazy styles like Elton John used to wear. They no longer fit me but are great conversation pieces!
What are some of your favorite brands – and favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
My style is pretty much unchanged through the decades, only the brands change here and there. Jeans and white sneakers are my staple running around gear but will usually be teamed with an Hermes bag. A big pair of sunglasses and red lipstick and I’m out the door.
My favorite brands are still Armani and Chanel but some of the newer fresher designers are favorites as well. The Row, Roland Mouret, Roger Vivier, Goyard, all have gotten my attention lately. Barneys Co-op and Bergdorf’s 5th floor always have the best new blood and great styles and I shop there more than anywhere. I’ve been buying Manolo Blahniks since the 80’s and pretty much have morphed my Chanel handbag collection into an Hermes addiction.
Can you share some of your favorite bags and shoes?
The Hermes Birkin is probably my favorite bag although I do use the Kelly on more of a regular basis, it’s just more user friendly and practical for running around day use. I have shoes in every color and heel height but always seem to go back to basic black or nude. They go with everything and make getting dressed in a hurry a snap.
How there been any fashion items/trends that you were really in love with at the time – but now you look back at them in regret?
Probably the giant shoulder pads era, those pictures are downright scary! Dallas and Dynasty made them look appealing, at least at the time. And big curly perms, I can still remember the smell of the chemical. And when your hair started to grow out and you had the straight roots with all the curls on top of those giant shoulder pads? They are two looks I hope never get revived!
You know Manolo Blahnik which I think is so cool (he seems like such a charming guy!) Can you share some more about him?
Manolo is very sweet and very caring. He’s definitely a very colorful personality and he works too hard. He has a special place in my heart, not because of what he does but because of who he is. He promised me they’re going to name a shoe after me and I’m told it will be out this fall.
Oh, and he really likes milk shakes.
What is a piece of advice on budgeting for fashion that you’ve learned the hard way over the years?
I’ve learned to back away from impulse purchases, which is pretty much what all shopping is. I try to walk away from and leave the store without the item. If I’m still thinking about it an hour later then I go back and get it. 90% of the time, I’ve forgotten about it and am off to something else.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I’ve been big into athletics all my life. Started out with 15 years of classical ballet training, studied with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I’ve been a gym rat ever since, weight resistance is so important not only for muscle strength but it also keeps our bones strong and healthy. Eating very well is also important, something I’ve been conscious of forever so it’s not hard for me to maintain. Cheating is OK from time to time because most of the time I’m filling up on whole grains and leafy greens. I’m also big into roller blading and organic gardening.
Finally, please share something surprising about yourself!
I have a passion for fast cars. Each new one I get seems to be faster than the last one. That car only comes out when the weather is nice and I’m in the right mood. Otherwise it’s a generic SUV that blends in with the rest of the crowd. I’m really quite shy and do not like to go out of my way to attract attention.
Audrey is one of the coolest people ever isn’t she? She’s totally that casual chic woman you see running around wearing white trainers and a Hermes shoulder bag during the day. Who is then able to effortlessly evolve into the elegant creature you see later at night at the ballet, with her Manolos and Vivier clutch…driving away at the end of it in her very fast car no less! Thank you Audrey for sharing some of your life and experiences with us (as well as your very fabulous closet), and thank you all for reading!