I am delighted to present this interview with Dara Block, editor-at-large for I Want To Be A Roitfeld and I Want To Be A Coppola, as well as curator of the blog she maintains with her sister, Sisters in Black Frocks. Dara's constant creativity, vision, and enthusiasm are an inspiration to many and it is my pleasure to share with you more about her life now.
You meet randomly and regularly with royalty and creative geniuses wherever you travel. What can you share with us about your encounters? What are a few of your favorite places to travel? I know you discover fashion treasures on your journeys as well, what are a few of the standout pieces you've collected from around the world?
Such an interesting question to start with. To be honest, I think it is just timing and a little bit of luck. I have been an observer my whole life and wherever I go I am always conscious of the people around me. I have always been fascinated by creative individuals whether in fashion, film, or in any artistic field and it is not just in front of the camera but behind the scenes, as well. Recently, I have had some really amazing encounters. Just this July, I had the pleasure of chatting with Charlotte Casiraghi, who is the current Gucci model and granddaughter of legendary actress Grace Kelly. Also, last year I had an interesting conversation with photographer and current YSL designer Hedi Slimane. Oddly enough, I was wearing the same Missoni kaftan in both photos... perhaps, it is my good luck charm kaftan-dress! One of my very favorite moments was when I met artist and director Julian Schnabel. Not only do I admire his work as a painter-director, but also his personal style, too. I was so happy the day he signed this book-photograph for me at a screening for his 2007 film Le scaphandre et le papillon. The composition of this photo and his signature look so beautiful together.... a total work of art in penmanship!
I have been so lucky to travel and to see so many countries throughout the years, but I think one of my favorite cities has to be Vienna. I love Austrian art and I am always inspired by early 20th century painters like Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. For culture, fashion, and people watching I love New York City. It truly is a total melting pot of style and I love how I am continuously inspired by this city. I also love London for being so innovative with fashion and technology. Finally, for a more relaxing getaway I love St. Bart's. It is the perfect island for people who hate the sun, like myself. The shopping is pretty incredible and I love all the unique boutiques on the island.
By far, the best part about traveling is finding key pieces for your wardrobe. First, I must start with my orange Missoni kaftan (as seen in the photos with Slimane and Casiraghi). I found it in 2003 while vacationing in St. Barts. This is probably one of the best investment pieces ever. It is so comfy-chic and not a summer goes by without me wearing it. Also, in 2009 while in New York City I purchased an Issey Miyake Bilbao bag at the Pleats Please boutique in SoHo. I love this purse so much, it is not only a good day bag, but it is equally perfect for night, as well. Finally, back in 2001 while vintage shopping in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon a 1968 Lanvin dress. This probably has to be one of my favorite finds ever and interestingly Catherine Deneuve wore the same dress when she posed for Vogue back in the 60s and she even featured it as one of her personal favorites in her January 2004 guest editor issue of Vogue Paris.
Dance, fashion, illustration, writing — your vivid imagination and your creative ability know no bounds, from teeth to puzzles to video productions, and everything in between, you are such a fascinating person. How did your creative interests germinate? What media were you first attracted to as a child? Do you have any early images you would like to show? Name a few of your primary influences for us. The Dara Block top 10!
My creative interests started at the age of 9, when my mom bought me my first ever Harper's Bazaar magazine, which was the September 1992 issue. The cover featured supermodel Linda Evangelista and I still to this day have this issue in my archives. I remember being completely inspired by the then editor-in-chief Liz Tilberis and her vision for the magazine. I also was very much inspired by my sister growing up. She always encouraged me to keep a sketchbook and she taught me about the art of collage, illustration, as well as teaching me about the elements of finding your own personal style. My parents have also played an important creative role in my life. Both are such visionaries in architecture, home design, and jewelry making. They taught me from a young age how imagination is way more important than knowledge.
As a child I loved fashion magazines...W magazine, Interview, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue from every country, particularly Paris and Italy. I also grew up loving 90s MTV, Fashion File with Tim Blanks, Sundance Channel and IFC, as well as a love for foreign films. Here are my top 10 influences:
1. Carine Roitfeld's first ever issue of Vogue Paris from February of 2001... amazing styling and such a cutting edge issue.
2. Pedro Almodóvar's 1999 film Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About my Mother) — brilliant direction and use of color, particularly red tones.
3. Cindy Crawford and MTV's "House of Style" — this show taught me so much about the importance of individual style.
4. Dancer/choreography Pina Bausch... the way she blended fashion, dance, theatre was truly unique and inspiring
5. Madonna's Ray of Light album.... love that electronic sound produced by William Orbit as well as the photographs of Madonna exquisitely captured by Mario Testino!
6. Björk's Pagan Poetry video directed by Nick Knight... controversial, avant-garde, and full-out fashion by the late Alexander McQueen... no surprise it was banned in America!
7. Bernardo Bertolucci's 1996 film Stealing Beauty.... love the look and style of this film, Italian bohemian chic at its finest!
8. Jigsaw puzzles — here I am putting together my limited edition Steven Meisel Vogue Italia December 2007 puzzle.
9. Photographer Guy Bourdin — he was totally ahead of his time as far as subject matter and colors go...
10. Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele — he transformed the human figure and exaggerated the body in such a unique, profound, and original way!
Your marvelous fashion archives endlessly intrigue and astonish me. At what age did you begin collecting magazines? How do you store them? Any tips for organizing? When do you anticipate completing your Vogue Table? Highlights among your collection? We'd love to see photos from your glorious fashion library....
I began collecting fashion magazines at age 9. It is something that I cannot really describe, it is just something that I do. I love visual inspiration and the fantasy and magic that happens when you skim through a magazine. I must admit that my archives are endless and I am blessed to have lots of shelves to store them in. I anticipate that my Vogue table will be done any day now. It is really a great way to build your magazines into a table. The key is finding the perfect four covers for the four legs of your table.
Some of my highlights of my collection would have to be my November 2008 issue of Vogue Paris with Vanessa Paradis... such an amazing-vibrant red cover beautifully captured by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott!
I am currently loving the July 2005 issue of US Vogue with Kate Winslet photographed by Mario Testino. A beautiful example of how to look incognito chic.
I so admire this Mario Sorrenti image of Kate Moss from the Harper's Bazaar December 1997 issue.... love the colors and Kate Moss' body expression. Of course, there are so many more to mention, but as of now, these are my current photo inspirations!
You and your sister curate a blog titled Sisters in Black Frocks, which is a constant source of inspiration for me, I so love being able to see the world through your eyes. How did Sisters in Black Frocks begin?
Sisters in Black Frocks started in January of 2009. Originally, it was my sister's idea. She even came up with the quirky and interesting title. We basically started it as a fun blog for inspirational ideas. We are both continuously influenced by film, fashion, music, and other various forms of style and we try to incorporate how these concepts have inspired our everyday lives. The blog was a challenge at first, but together as sisters and as the years go on, we find that our ideas keep flourishing.
Favorite Flower: Hydrangea
Favorite Beverage: Moroccan Mint Tea
Favorite Guilty Pleasure: The Bravo network
Favorite Illustrator: David Downton
Favorite Lip Product: Rouge d'Armani #400
Favorite Magazine: It is a tie between Vogue Italia and Interview Magazine
Favorite Opening Scene from a film: The opening scene from Pedro Almodóvar's 2002 film Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her)
Favorite Quote: "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions" Albert Einstein
Favorite Name: Harper
Favorite you wished I asked: Favorite Designer... my answer would have to be Norma Kamali. Love her sporty-chic approach to style! :)
Dara Block photographs courtesy of Dara Block.