What a wonderful Whirled.

 Kim and Mignon

I met Kim Cihlar, while attending the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference in New York City.  Surrounded by an endless sea of twenty-something’s or even younger, Kim’s friendly eyes caught mine as I was scanning the packed room at Milk Studios for a place to park my already fashion weary bones.  We introduced ourselves and traded cards, as well as polite pleasantries. We found that we had a lot in common, being a tad (ahem.) older than our seat mates, and that maturity gave us a similarity in our thought process and approach to style.  Both passionate about fashion and the way it inspires and illustrates daily life, we vowed to keep in touch.  We all know how that goes right?  But, something about this lovely lady, who seemed to radiate warmth, kindness, and sincere interest made me want to follow up with her and establish some kind of relationship.  Since that chilly morning a few years back, we’ve checked in with each other, and even gotten together for some face time last February while I was in NYC for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  Her brilliant blog, www.fashionwhirled.com is fascinating on many levels beyond just fashion, and only serves to point up just what it is about this gal that drew me to her.  I hope to have a long lunch or dinner with her when I return to the big apple for the S/S 2013 collections in a few weeks.  I adore interviewing fashion enthusiasts about their lives, personal style philosophy and more.  Here’s what transpired in a series of emails we shared.

 Kim's Inspirations

How long have you lived in NYC?

I moved to NYC in ’85 from Charleston, South Carolina, so I’ve lived here a long time – 27 years – but I love it still. I get so much inspiration out of its energy and people on the street, the changing scenery and even nature.

  

How did you first get into the fashion scene?

I think fashion may well be part of my genetic code!  I was born on Halloween, making costumes come as a second nature! You could say shopping was a blood sport for us. My mother started us young. We definitely went all out during shopping trips for back to school. When the discount stores opened in Indianapolis where I grew up as a young girl, we went almost every weekend to find something! I will never forget the purple plaid poncho pantsuit my mother bought me at Ayreway. I think that’s how it was spelled! It was the lower price arm of L.S. Ayres department stores.

 

Shopping was the key to your style obsession?

 Well, that led me to appreciating fashion and enjoying dressing up.  When we moved to Charleston, all the kids thought I was so strange.  I had double pierced ears, a huge red straw handbag. I made some of my own clothes and subscribed to L’Officiel.  This was in the late ‘70s. That next year they voted me “Most Fashionable” as part of our senior superlatives, so I guess I won them over finally! The fashion scene as we know it now? Well, I wanted to be in fashion since college. I knew I wanted to write, and to live in NYC. With that, I decided I needed to be a fashion editor. Interviewing at Condé Nast proved disastrous, besides too low paying. So I started small, working my way up from an editor at an intimate apparel trade newspaper to Fairchild where I landed as menswear Fashion Director for DNR, back when it was a daily newspaper. I was there about a decade. I had a stint at Ralph Lauren right after that, and left there on contract to be Ralph’s writer. From there I became freelance and never looked back! I’ve been writing and producing now for over 15 years.

 

What are your current fashion endeavors, besides the fabulous fashionwhirled .com?

 Thank you! I relish your compliments and support! I do a lot of video production work, backstage interviews during Fashion Week, some red carpet step-and-repeat sound bite work, as well as editorial and marketing, catalog and SEO writing. I’m very into the thrift world (but not a pro like you, though, Bjorn!) and I keep threatening to make jewelry and pottery, two of my passions, but it has to be when the mood strikes, which, unfortunately, is not very conducive to creating a business at this point!

 Kim's Inspirations

Why does fashion have meaning to you personally?

 Fashion to me is art. It is a way of personal expression. I love luxury goods, quality fabrics, in particular, and the manner in which well-made things are crafted. But, honestly, I am more about a look, a trend. Something that sets me apart or just makes me happy and different feeling when I wear it. Sometimes I wake up thinking of ways to put different pieces of clothing together to form a new outfit. I like to change up my basics with a lot of jewelry piled on. I’ve never been one to be shy with accessories.

 

What are your favorite fashion items, and why?

 Right now, I’m in love with a pair of cognac colored wooden wedge sandals that I had to have from Dolce Vita. One, I think, because they remind me of a pair I used to wear in high school and two, because they're kind of like a riff on Chinese wooden soled shoes. Similar to the ones Alexander McQueen re-created in one of his last collections and that were part of the Met exhibit. I just fell in love with those.

 Dolce Vita Shoes

I am rarely seen without my stack of vintage ID bracelets (I’ve made up back-stories to go with the names and dates engraved on each) and I’ve started adding onto the stack with new chunky nut/lanyard bracelets from Noise Girl. Mala beads as necklaces and bracelets…cut-off denim shorts with ethnic scarf or gypsy off-the-shoulder tops.

Vintage I.D. Bracelets 

I LOVE vintage canvas and leather tool bags, either as pocketbooks or as weekenders. I’ve become so obsessed that I am tracking them down on eBay and Etsy these past few days. There are three I am mad for, one I’ve ordered new from a tool company, and two, well… there need to be limits, right?

 I also find irresistible the airy cotton dresses of Loup Charmant, a collection designed by one of my best friends. And I love tank dresses that are like her designs, loose and flowy, like a long cami with pockets!

 

Your favorite fashion philosophy is…

 More is better!!! Although, I am all about editing, live in a very tiny apartment with my husband and dog, so sometimes the mantra has to be “one thing comes in, one thing goes out!”

 

Who are your favorite fashion designers, or better yet, who has inspired you?

 I think some of the more creative souls of our generation have been my favorites, like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Raf Simons. I’ve also been inspired by Romeo Gigli’s and Dries Van Noten’s pattern and texture play. Lagerfeld slays me with his willingness to shock in what he designs, but also what he says and how he does it! Marc Jacobs may very well wear the mantle of my favorite right now. But you can’t discount the designers who came before. And of course, Coco Chanel and Calvin Klein’s legacies opened the door to my even thinking about fashion and fashion designers.

Truly I’ve been inspired now and throughout my life by thrift and vintage – I’m a sucker for a “deal” and a one off. And it can be something as random as a fringed elk skin jacket, a hand-tooled leather Mexican weekend bag or a pair of Christian Lacroix kitten heels.

 

Where do you see the future of fashion going?

I loved the democratization of fashion, with designers collaborating with the mass stores like Target and H&M; I was a firm believer in the whole High/Low thing before it even took off. I wanted to start a magazine called High/Low, but a publisher I pitched to laughed at my concept, said designer ads would never run next to ads for inexpensive clothes. Look at the world today! Also, with the return to artistically made and artfully crafted design, I think we’ll see a merging of the two. The consumer wants something that is affordable, but lasts more than one wearing (or should want that!). I think the future of fashion will have to continue towards a more sustainable approach to design and manufacturing. We can’t continue to ruin our earth and our environment. More and more designers, thankfully, are finding a way to design things in a more eco-friendly manner. I see that as the future, as we care more about our earth, our wellbeing, our health, our eating habits, our purchasing and discarding habits.

Kim's Inspirations

Kim herself provided all photographs published here.  They serve to illustrate the people places and things that inspire her to live a fashionable life in the city that never sleeps.  I can’t wait to get together and glean some of her glorious energy and spirit when I see her next month!   

My friend Kim! 

 

 

 

 

 

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