I met Doris in Garrison, the same day I went to visit Nic and J.B. She came to the door (she’s their neighbor) dressed exactly as she is in the photo with a big smile across her face. She asked us if we wanted some coffee and offered us a tour of her impeccably decorated house.
She’s just so fascinating… Doris has worked in New York in fashion, magazines, and design. She had such a passionate professional life. And then one day, when it was time to turn over a new leaf, she moved to Garrison.
Since she’s so irresistible, I had to ask her a few questions…
Can you tell me a little about your career background?
I had studied to be a fashion illustrator and then realized that I really preferred putting the images together in a layout, designing the space that they went in more than I enjoyed doing the actual drawings. I started my career out of art school in New Jersey and began working in 1942.
For the most part, I worked as a creative marketing executive in what a lot of people call department stores, but essentially they are fashion stores. My first job was an assistant art director then I became an art director and creative director [Doris worked at Frederick Loeser, Franklin Simon, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and A&S]. It was a marvelous experience. I stayed in the business, retailing and department stores, just about the entire time. I felt as though I really understood and had empathy for the customers of these stores.
How have you seen the fashion industry change?
In the 1980s and 90s, there was a new spirit in fashion. Women were working, real career women were beginning to take their place very strongly in the world. I myself was quietly moving through this era of women being liberated. I wasn’t what you call a feminist, but I was able to understand the roll of women in business and how they would like to dress.
It’s evolved, the changes are not abrupt. The main difference that I see really is that there isn’t really a strong direction now. It’s hard to know what you call fashion now. There is no major trend, people are much more individual. They have their own style and they are much more eclectic. I would imagine that the major change is that people don’t want to be told what to wear.
When you look back at your career, what are some of your proudest moments?
I think probably the purest moment, the moment that was really surprising and made me feel so uplifted was being asked to join Saks Fifth Avenue. The experience there was really beautiful. The high point of my time at Saks was the presentation that we did for the 50th anniversary [in 1974]. In terms of advertising that was produced within my time, that was probably one of the most important things we did.
When you moved to Garrison did you miss the atmosphere of New York?
I wanted to get away because I didn’t like being on the fringe of the world that I had been working with. I just wanted to stay in touch with it. I love the country and had been up in Garrison for quite a few years, spending weekends and even rented houses in the summer and shared them with two friends from New York, so I was very familiar with the place. I have loads of friends up here, really terrific friends.
You live in such a cool, modern feeling space. Where do you find your inspirations for your personal style and for your home?
I’m really a classicist in that sense. I look to the originators of modern design, mid-century design. It’s that purity of design that is the most appealing to me. My natural bend is toward major graphic simplicity. It’s minimalist. I like clean space, white space, black space.
Which designers inspire you?
Minimalist architect John Pawson, jewelry and decorative object designer Ted Muehling, Tord Boontje, Jil Sander and Phoebe Philo at Celine.
What are some of your favorite websites?
NY Times T Magazine, J.Crew–mostly because it’s graphically well-designed and fresh, and TED. I don’t spend a lot of time on the internet because I still prefer print to stay current. The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine and books.
Any tips for aging gracefully?
I’m proud of my age! I will be 91 this September!
I just bought a book by Eliel Saarinen and he dedicated the book to the young of all ages and his theory, and it’s mine as well, is that if you stay young in spirit and stay in touch with everything that is around you, then you will have a young spirit. That has been very important to me. If you keep yourself open to new ideas and whatever is going on in the world, then that keeps you young.
My advice for aging individuals: keep moving and involved; eat sensibly and continue to enjoy wine and/or other spirited drinks. Most importantly, stay in the loop of currents, trends.
Okay, we have to know, where did you get your glasses?! They are SOOO cool!
So many people stop me in the street and ask me that question! They are Liz Claiborne. They were really frames for sunglasses and I just liked them and had my lenses put in. I’ve had these glasses for maybe 20 years.