My Style: Collette Ishiyama

Portrait of jewelry designer Collette Ishiyama

Photo: Serichai Traipoom — Courtesy of Collette Ishiyama

What are the rules in the way you dress?

I don’t really have ‘rules’, but I tend to stick with classic pieces, like Breton tops and trench coats, and then wear more interesting heels and jewellery. In my early 20s, I would wear incredibly complicated, costume-y outfits, and take forever to get ready. Like kimonos over leotards as daywear and that sort of thing. It was fun, but it’s hard to get anything done when you’re spending that much energy on getting dressed. I still think that physicality is important, but I’ve happily streamlined things.

Please describe your style in three words.

Great big hair.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Wearing Tory Burch flats.

Do you believe in role models?

Yes, to some extent. It’s good to have people that you admire, but I think it’s more important that you develop your own ideas and way of doing things, especially if you’re creative.

What are your favourite fabrics?

Gauzy and/or pilly knits that look good when they’re beat up. I like a lot of T by Alexander Wang for this reason.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

Not really — with confidence, anything can work.

Which city has the best-dressed women?

I’m obliged to say NYC, as I’m a New Yorker, but Parisians have an inimitable ease that I really love.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

Sort of both — I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Iris Apfel is a good example of this. The things she wears aren’t that wild, but the sum of the parts is definitely bold. I’m not as good as her at getting dressed, but I aspire to be.

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

Long, angular stud earrings. They flatter your jawline and cheekbones.

A woman should always look like...

Herself! There’s nothing worse than seeing someone fidget because they aren’t comfortable in what they’re wearing.

Who taught you what you know about style?

My mom. She was always feminine and put together without being frilly. She has this quintessential American style, red lipstick and high heels with everything.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

I wear neutrals almost exclusively, so I can pretty much grab whatever and it will go together. Then I have sort of a blank canvas for lots of jewellery.

What is your biggest regret?

Style-wise, cutting my waist length hair into a bob a few years back. It’s a cute style, but it was so high maintenance and generally not “me.” It was a long and arduous grow out, so I’ve learned my lesson and won’t be doing that again anytime soon.

The three essential things a woman should know about style are...

Don’t blindly follow trends, trust your instincts, and if something doesn’t fit, have it tailored.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

There are a few vintage stores in my neighbourhood that I frequent — I love a good treasure hunt.

We will never see you wearing...

Purple. I hate it.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

Kotoba makes awesome knitwear.

Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?

Probably Lou Doillon. I used to see her around the city a lot, and she always looks amazing.

What is the first thing you notice on a woman?

Her jewellery.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

A vintage Burberry trench.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.

Which fashion house never fails to impress you?

Chanel. They could just rest on their laurels, but instead they’re out making hula hoop bags.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

Sort of. I’m a big advocate of heels, and anyone who says they’re comfortable is a liar.

Who would you like to see next in €œMy Style€?

Serichai Traipoom.

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