Alexandra Richards & Jill Stuart: Frock Stars

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When model Alexandra Richards wants good vintage clothes and cool shoes, she raids the closet of her parents, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and iconic ’70s and ’80s model Patti Hansen. Designer Jill Stuart, who has featured Alexandra on her runway and in an upcoming Japanese campaign, mixes her own ultra-feminine designs with rare vintage finds. The two fiends for classic chic speak with James Servin about fashion, family and the best Stones tunes.

JILL STUART: So where are you right now, Alex — New York? L.A.?

ALEXANDRA RICHARDS: I’m in Connecticut, driving through Westport, on my way to a shoot in Boston. I’m with a girlfriend who’s just moved out of her apartment. We’re headed toward Main Street, on our way to an art store where I’ll be getting my dad some colored pencils and charcoal paper.

JS: I hear that he’s a really good artist.

AR: He is. I’ve been trying to push him more, because he’s finished up with the Rolling Stones for now, and I’m helping him get into his art again. He went to college in Dartford for photography, and then somehow ended up with a guitar.

BLACKBOOK: What’s new with your art, Alex?

AR: I’ll be going back to school this fall — to the School of Visual Arts, for photography. I’m modeling, and pursuing my degree.

When you did runway for Jill, what was your favorite piece?

AR: A high-waisted pencil skirt. It was so timeless, and it’s so back in. Jill designs a lot of clothes that you can bring into any era or generation.

JS: Mix it up with what you have.

AR: Dress it up and dress it down.

JS: It’s very individual, you know? I like that about my clothes.

What would you mix Jill’s clothes with, Alex?

AR: I’ve got a lot of vintage pieces, hand-me-downs from my parents.

JS: Those must be awesome pieces!

AR: In high school, they weren’t appreciated. I went to a public school, where you kind of just wore jeans and sweaters. But in the city, I’d walk around wearing all this old designer jewelry and people would come up to me and ask where I got it. And I’d say, “Oh, from my parents.” I didn’t realize what I had until I moved to the city.

Jill, when Alex worked on your show, did you see a connection between her and the clothes?

JS: She looks great in them. She fits right in. She’s got the right energy.

AR: I remember loving a dress you made, with a beautiful pattern of cherry lips. It was very sexy pin-up, and to this day, that’s still my style. What are you both excited by in fashion right now?

AR: I didn’t make it to the shows this year because I was traveling, but Zac Posen was great. Vera Wang was pretty good, too.

JS: There are a lot of long dresses, with the bohemian ’70s vibe, which I can totally see you relating to.

AR:Yeah, I’ve been feeling that. I have a very eclectic kind of taste, from bohemian to sexy pin-up. I also like my grunge.

What in pop culture is inspiring you right now?

JS: Contempt, the Godard movie with Brigitte Bardot. She was just amazing in it.

AR: We were sitting around playing a celebrity game two nights ago, in which people have to ask a couple of yes or no questions and guess who you are. I was Brigitte Bardot. She always looks good. Sexy chic. She’s dorky too, you know? She was funny. You could laugh at her and with her. Jill, do you wear all of your own designs?

JS: I mix them with vintage.

What kind of pieces are you attracted to?

JS: A lot of bias-cut dresses from the 1930s, all the little 1940s dresses, and London designers from the ’70s like Ozzie Clarke and Zandra Rhodes.

BB: Alex, what sorts of vintage pieces have you inherited from your parents?

AR: My mom had some very simple, sexy chic dresses from Hugo Boss. Gucci is still around, but she had ’80s Gucci, which had a very bold, smart look. My mom went through a business-suit-lady era, and I got a couple of her jackets. As for my dad, I used to steal his boots, like green pull-up shaggy, slouchy boots that had a lot of holes in them by the time they got to me, but I thought they were so cool. He’s got smaller feet, and I’ve got big feet for a girl, so it kind of works.

What is fashion’s place in your world?

JS: Fashion is a big part of my life. I think about it every day. I have three daughters who totally inspire me. They’re all totally different and have their unique styles. My older daughter is more flirty and feminine and sexy. My middle daughter, who will be studying fashion design at Cornell, is more eclectic, more bohemian, kind of a hippie. And then my little one is so precocious, I don’t even know what to say about her. She likes sexy dresses, and she’s 12 years old. You know that age, 12 going on 13.

AR: Going on 30.

JS: She’s a girly girl, she watches Gossip Girl, she’s got that type of style. They’re all very individual. Alex, what sort of fashion advice does your sister [Theodora Richards, also a model] give you?

AR: She’s like, “Spend money, Alex. It’s okay. Just do it! You need more color.” I’m such a cheap person. She’s the happy, little one, and she’s the only person I can really shop with.

JS: I shop with my daughters all the time.

AR: It’s nice to find someone you can spend money with.

JS: I love what my daughters pick out.

AR: Yeah, and you’re thinking, “I’ll borrow that later.”

JS: They take all my clothes! AR: It’s your family! You have to. But I have my iconic piece, my “You can’t wear that” piece. It’s a black hat that first belonged to Theodora, but I can’t give it back to her. It’s just this black, simple, kind of floppy hat from the ’70s. She got it at a vintage store on Portobello Road in London, and I’m über-obsessed with it. JS: You’re modeling a lot.

AR: Yeah, well, I’ve been working a lot. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been making money, and I’m trying to do an art show by the end of the summer. Alex, how’s shopping for your dad’s art supplies going?

AR: My girlfriend is helping me pick them out right now. We’re getting charcoal and crayons. He’s working a lot with charcoal. We just got two French bulldog puppies — one is named Etta Belle, and my mom’s is called Sugar — and he wants to draw them tonight. Do either of you have a favorite Stones song?

JS: All of them.

AR: Mine would be “Under My Thumb” or “Ruby Tuesday.”

JS: “Ruby Tuesday,” for sure! “Under My Thumb” is pretty good, too.

AR: Especially if you hear it in a dark, candlelit room with the fireplace going.

The fact that it’s your dad’s song doesn’t change your experience of it? AR: Oh yeah, it’s like, get the whole family in there.