“When I was graduating from college, I had no idea how to get a job at a magazine or a newspaper, which was what I wanted to do. It seemed really difficult, and the only thing that my college really knew how to help me with was to get a job in consulting or to work at a bank, which I wasn’t quite qualified to do, yet it was easier for me to get a job doing that than it was for me to get a job at a magazine. I started a fashion blog because I became obsessed with them at the end of college, and it seemed like a really cool way to engage with fashion.
This was when Tavi had Style Rookie and Susie Bubble had her website, and Leandra had just started Man Repeller. I thought that this was just a totally different way of talking about fashion than what I was seeing in most magazines and even the sort of nascent websites at that time. So I did that on the side, and then I had this job working at a banking and consulting company, which is ludicrous to me. It was really nice because it was a true 9 to 5 job, so I could come home and work on my blog and put together outfits.
Lucky had a style collective, a network of bloggers, that was created by John Jannuzzi. I was a part of that, and they had a workshop with LinkedIn, and I tricked out my whole LinkedIn page. I wasn’t posting notes or anything, but it was really well filled out and strangely quite witty. I got a LinkedIn message from someone at Condé Nast saying that Vanity Fair was looking for a publicist. As someone who grew up reading Vanity Fair, this was a dream job to me. Nothing sounded cooler than being a publicist at Vanity Fair. I went in for this interview and I was totally terrified. Not even kidding—I took a Xanax before. I remember they asked me what I did in my free time, and I was like, ‘I have a fashion blog.’ I remember this woman who’s still a great friend of mine, the Deputy PR Director, was like, ‘You could probably write for our website!’ And I thought that was pretty cool. I got the job. That’s how I started. By the time I’d been at Vanity Fair for three or four years, I had all of these really beautiful, great profiles. I decided I really wanted to write full time.
I was at Garage for a long time, then I went to GQ. Then Samira [Nasr] approached me and I thought that it would be cool to write about women’s fashion. Women’s fashion is still the center of the industry in a way, even though it seems like the more boundary-pushing or wilder things are happening in menswear. It’s easier to make changes and to make statements and to reflect what’s changing socially and politically in menswear, because it’s just a smaller conversation, and so I thought it would be a great challenge to write about and talk about women’s fashion.
There’s so much clothing, it’s almost overwhelming. Not almost overwhelming—it’s so overwhelming. Being able to navigate that intelligently, to me, is such an important part of being an adult. Also, being able to make choices that make you feel like an individual, and reflect that you are an individual. Being able to develop your sense of taste, and seeing the ways in which fashion is connected to all of these other things. I never want to feel like I’m making the case for fashion, because I think if you don’t take fashion seriously, you just aren’t paying attention to what is happening in culture and what young people are interested in, what women care about.
When I started the newsletter, Opulent Tips, I started it because I was so often getting questions from people on Instagram and Twitter about fashion. It was just to have a repository. If I can answer this question about the best dry cleaner, or whether or not it’s worth it to buy 60 dollar tights, then I never have to answer it again. That was the original idea. But I would sort of write a little essay at the top, maybe spinning out one of the questions or something, and it would become a mission statement for that edition of the newsletter, and people seemed to really respond to those. I suppose it’s that there was a real hunger for or an interest in a way of talking about fashion that just felt really celebratory and fun.
I generally have a pretty lowkey beauty routine because most of my getting ready routine is dedicated to getting dressed. Isn’t there an old fashioned phrase, like ‘le toilette’ or something like that, the routine itself? I definitely have that, and I find that process really meditative, but I think that for a lot of people, that happens with face-oriented or skincare-oriented things and for me, it’s more in the process of getting dressed. I use a double cleanser, and I moisturize, and I use sunscreen and all that stuff, but I try to do the bare minimum so that if I only have thirty minutes, I can spend fifteen or twenty of those minutes lingering in front of my closet and listening to music and figuring out what it is that I want to wear.
I have a working from home routine, and I have a going into the office routine. Going to the office, I wake up and I start to think about what I’m doing that day, what kind of appointments I have, what kinds of meetings I have, and things like that. I take a shower pretty quickly when I wake up. I do a double cleanse, so I do an oil face wash and then I do a more soapy face wash. I use French Girl Beauty Oil Cleanser. I’m a sucker for a pretty bottle, and I like things that look medicinal. I like things that look and smell like in the 1920s, a doctor smoking a cigar would be like, “This is quite good for you!” The French Girl Beauty, to me, looks sort of like that. Then, I use this cleanser by Grown Alchemist. My skin tends to get a little red, probably because I don’t drink enough water, so I’ve found that it’s actually quite good at calming my skin. I’ve recently switched to a spring moisturizer, which is a moisturizer by iS Clinical and their Pro Heal Serum, which is what my facialist at Rescue Spa recommended. Then, I have a Biologique Recherche Creamthat also reduces redness, which I’ve found to be super effective. In between doing all of this, I am mainlining enormous glasses of ice water. Then, I put on sunscreen. I use Supergoop—sometimes I use the tinted one, which is really great. It gives you a nice glow. Then, sometimes I use the invisible one, which is also pretty good. Then, I get dressed and I go into the office.
If I’m not going into the office, I don’t get dressed until sometime between 12 and 1pm, and I take a bath. I do basically the same thing, but it’s just in the bath.
I was sort of intrigued by the Biologique Recherche cult, and that’swhat brought me into Rescue Spa. I should add that I use P50 a couple times a week, maybe two or three times a week. I wanted to try the products, and also, getting a facial is so relaxing. The woman who I just happened to make an appointment with is this wonderful facialist, Susan Li, and I’ve gone back to her every time. She’s just so warm and lovely to be with, and it’s really relaxing. The lighting is so great in there, and also, it’s frankly going people watching too. When you’re in that waiting room, everyone is wearing The Row and staring at their phones and trying not to be seen, but we’re not at the plastic surgeon—it’s okay, we can all relax! We’re drinking our lemon water and all hanging out together wearing our trousers. It’s great people watching, and I do leave feeling super relaxed.
Probably my longest term product obsession is with Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Body Oil. I love that stuff. It smells so good, and I have this huge fashion crush on Tom Ford. I have a little clock in my kitchen that’s Tom Ford’s face. When I worked at Vanity Fair, for some reason I had printed out a sign that said “Tom Ford is my American cowboy.” I don’t know why! I became obsessed with the body oil, and when I worked at Vanity Fair and we would go to the Oscar party, I would always buy myself a pre-Oscar gift. I’m a Neroli Portofino person. I put that in the bath. And then I cover myself in that as well.
I always use a lotion. Right now, I’m using an Aesop lotion that’s geranium scented. I bought it, of course, going back to the attraction to these packages. It comes in that really old-fashioned metal tube, which is what toothpaste came in when toothpaste was invented. Sometimes, if my skin feels really dry, I’ll put body oil on top of that.
I try not to use perfumes to the last drop so I can just have once in a while a little bit of that memory of whenever the time was when I was most wearing that scent.
I’m a big perfume obsessive. The one that I mostly have been using recently was in the gift bag at the Chanel show, and it’s called Paris Edinburgh. It smells like juniper berries and cypress, and it’s inspired by Chanel’s time in Scotland. I’m also really obsessed with Anicka Yi’s perfumes. She’s an artist who also created this perfume line called Biography a few years ago. Then, my super special occasion perfume is by a perfumer called Roja Dove, and it’s called Lily. It just smells so incredible. When I wear it and I walk into a room, people will turn around and there’s Proustian weeping happening.
With all of these perfumes, I feel like I really have these specific memories tied to all of them. I discovered the Anicka Yi perfume during the first summer of the pandemic. My now-fiancé and I were living with my parents for two months, and so I have all of these great memories of barbecuing with my parents. We’d go to the beach in the afternoon, we’d finish work at 3 and go hang out at the beach. Or if it was really hot, we’d take an afternoon swim and then come back and finish Zoom calls and stuff.
My friend Kiko Kostadinov, who’s a fantastic fashion designer based in London, sent me his solid perfume. I was wearing that all of last fall, and so I have all of these great memories of starting to go to restaurants again, and going to Bakaro with groups of friends. I try not to use perfumes to the last drop so I can just have once in a while a little bit of that memory of whenever the time was when I was most wearing that scent. I actually bought Roja Dove’s Lily after a really terrible breakup, and I definitely didn’t have enough money to buy it, but this really suave, elegant man at the Bergdorf Goodman perfume section sold it to me by telling me that there were fewer true perfumers in the world than there are people who’ve been to space. I thought that that was incredible, and I really wanted something to just make myself feel better.
For a while, in the fall, I was really into wearing Chanel No. 5. Again, it has that incredible medicinal bottle, and part of what inspired me to start wearing it was that I read this book called The Scent of Empires by this German historian. It’s about the history of perfume in Soviet Russia, and the history of Chanel No. 5, and how the histories are sort of parallel, and how they diverged and came together in different ways. That was a beach read that I did at the end of the summer. I have another little mini perfume moment here: I’m reading this book about Chanel No. 5 and Russian perfume, but I had just bought a bottle of my friend Eli Russell Linnetz’s sunscreen perfume, which is so freaking amazing. I never want to think again about what Abercrombie cologne smells like, but I do understand the appeal of a cheesy, aggressively happy, hunky scent, and that is what Eli’s perfume is. So I bought that, and I was covering myself in it every day while reading this book about perfume. Then, the end of the summer came and it didn’t feel right. I had to put Eli’s perfume on ice for a second. So I started wearing Chanel No. 5. It is this sort of unnatural, medicinal, powdery scent. I think in a way, you can sense everything that was imperious and terrible about Coco Chanel in this perfume.
I always really wanted to bleach my hair since I was a teenager. There was this photo of Dree Hemingway from like 2008 or 2009 where her hair is giant, long, bleach blonde, and she has streaks of pink in it. That left this huge impression on me, and I was constantly taking it to colorists when I was in college, saying, “Can you please do this to me?” And they would always say “No, you can’t bleach your hair, it’ll destroy your hair,” and then I moved to the big city, and I went to Fringe Salon, which at that time was very close to where I lived on the Lower East Side. I told the owner of the salon, Amy, that I’d always wanted to bleach my hair, and she was like “Well why don’t we just do it?” This was ten years ago at this point, so I’ve been bleaching my hair ever since. I’ve done it a little grayer, a little more purple, and now I’m sort of in this very dewy, honey color, and I still go to Fringe Salon to get it done. I try to go every five weeks, because it can look kind of cool grown out and with a lot of root to it, and during the height of the pandemic, of course, that is what it looked like, and it looked really badass, I have to say. But now, I sort of like having a bit of polish to it.
I use Pureology, which makes really great purple shampoo and conditioner. I only wash my hair like twice a week, so I use it when I’m doing that, and I try to throw in an Olaplex or some sort of super conditioning treatment to keep it from getting super dry. In terms of the cut, I usually have it really short, like Tilda Swinton short. I’m getting married in the fall and I want to have this Marella Agnelli kind of helmet of hair that makes me look like a ridiculous socialite from the 70s with an indefinable accent who’s always having four hour lunches. That’s sort of the goal.
My makeup is super lowkey. I wear mascara, and I used to wear Marc Jacobs Mascara. I freaking loved that mascara. It was so good. Those lipsticks were so good, and they were named after all of his friends, but unfortunately, he discontinued his beauty line. I’ve gone back to something I used to wear in college, which is this Givenchy Mascara where the wand is a little mace, like it’s a ball. I found that with the shape of my eyes, it’s easier to use and I get the super long, Katharine Hepburn, celluloid star eye. I don’t really wear eyeliner, I don’t use foundation or blush or anything like that. I don’t really wear lipstick, although once in a while I might. »
—as told to BeautyCosmetics
All photos taken by Louisiana Mei Gelpi in New York City