Lauren Levison: Chief Style Officer of Mayfair Rocks and fashion extraordinaire
Interview by Brooke Frischer
IN YOUR PHOTOS, YOU SELECTED VARIOUS JONATHAN COHEN MOMENTS; WHAT MAKES A SPECIAL PIECE TO YOU?
I won’t buy anything that doesn’t mark me deeply. Something needs to bring emotion, a memory, or a dream to it in order for me to add it into my life. I have always looked at how I dress as “getting into character” so it is truly important that everything I select has an honest connection to who I am at my core so that I can create a fantasy character using myself and other historical people.
WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS WHEN PUTTING TOGETHER A LOOK? WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Film, music, historical characters, literature, reality, and fantasy. I mix it all up and get my gal (character). I usually take some really prissy, prim time period for women, throw in some fantastic Sofia Coppola film-inspired costume concept, or a historical Queen, or some fantastic Eva Green project like Penny Dreadful. Sometimes even, a rock musician (it’s been Shirley Manson for a while now).
YOUR STATEMENT-MAKING STYLE NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE. HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD A PENCHANT FOR DRAMATIC CLOTHING?
Yes, even when I wore black Prada dresses as a base to highlight my jewelry, there was always some special coat over it to take it up several notches.
Lauren Levison wearing an upcycled scarf from Jonathan Cohen.
YOU HAVE SUCH A TALENT FOR TAKING WHAT IS TYPICALLY CONSIDERED "EVENING-WEAR" OUT OF ITS TRADITIONAL SETTING. YOU OFTEN USE THE HASHTAG "#BALLGOWNSFORBREAKFAST!" WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BOUNDARIES THAT SOCIETY OFTEN SETS REGARDING DRESSING FOR OCCASIONS VERSUS DRESSING FOR EVERY DAY?
I guess from growing up in a business (where I would hear) “where do I go? Where will I wear that?” maybe hearing that inadvertently made a dent in my psyche. To show people you don’t need to go anywhere, (you can) do it for yourself. I have always matched my bra and undies every day and no one sees those but me. I would have the worst day if I was mismatched...like something was off. I just have to be dressed every day. People will say can’t you be casual, and to me, it’s so insulting because my casual is my casual just like your (version of) dressed up may not be what I call dressed up. I went to a gala right before Covid and it said “Gala” on the invite. Then it said business attire- so misrepresented! How can you call something a gala and ask for business? My business attire is a gown. Or a party frock.
My brother’s business attire (since he’s a rock musician) is what he wears when he performs. Business attire is a loaded request these days. Just like casual.
I think #ballgownsforbreakfast really started when I was wearing an Emilia Wickstead gown at 9 am in Paris one year and a street photographer snapped a shot, and everyone else was in jeans (except for me). I hash-tagged it- that’s how it started.
The Kulchinsky siblings: (L to R) Justin, Kristen, Lauren, and Ryan.
WHAT DOES DRESSING UP PROVOKE FOR YOU EMOTIONALLY?
Everything from my posture to my attitude. Coming from a theatre background, you need your wardrobe to help create your full character.
IT IS CLEAR THAT FAMILY IS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR LIFE, AS MAYFAIR ROCKS IS A FAMILY-RUN AND OPERATED BUSINESS. ADDITIONALLY, YOU ARE A HUGE SUPPORTER OF YOUR SISTER'S JEWELRY LINE, KRISTEN FARRELL JEWELRY, AND YOUR BROTHER, RYAN STAR'S, MUSIC CAREER. WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING SO CLOSELY WITH FAMILY AND SUPPORTING EACH OTHER'S ENDEAVORS?
My family are my arms and legs- I couldn’t function without them. My sister, Kristen (@kristenfarrelljewelry), is one of the most special and talented goldsmith artists and jewelry designer. She is at her 22-year mark in the business.
My brother, Ryan, has been a musician most of his life and started an app called “Stationhead” (which is) social radio. If you remember a film called Pump Up the Volume, he basically built it. It’s a great platform for DJs and artists. My brother, Justin, is the most incredible business partner to have and I am so lucky. He was so understanding when I kinda just retired on him. He doesn’t love traveling for the business, so I still do that. Although with Covid, now it’s all zoom.
Levison poses in new Jonathan Cohen "What Dreams May Come" FW21 Collection.
THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS CHANGING AT SUCH A RAPID PACE. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE OF FASHION; WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MOST EXCITING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE OF FASHION?
All successful industries are always changing. I feel that fashion topically has always been one of the fastest-changing industries, which is why it attracts so many different types of people. At its core, it is truly the same (as it always has been). It has a deep history and it is tied to what is going on in the world. It is show and business. We need fashion because we need to clothe ourselves but do we need fashion? Do we need art? Do we need music? We need food but do we need more than sustenance? Of course, we do. There is living and then there is (making) life worth living. (Fashion has been like this) since the beginning of time. Even Eve wanted the only fruit that she couldn’t have. So if the apple was a dress, then that was (her) first taste of “I want it, (but do) I have to have it?”
YOUR LIFE SEEMS SO GLAMOROUS! WHAT DOES YOUR DAY-TO-DAY ROUTINE TYPICALLY LOOK LIKE, AND HOW HAS IT CHANGED SINCE COVID?
Before Covid, it really depended on what time of year it was. Before Covid, it was up at 5 am, emails for work, and family time with (my husband) Andy for breakfast. If it was show season for jewelry or fashion, it was preparing, packing, and going to wherever. If it wasn’t (either), I would work on my curation for Mayfair. I mentored a few younger people so I would try to speak with them every day. If I had any special projects going on I tried to always be asleep by 10 pm when we weren’t doing anything social. Post-Covid, I’m still up at 5 am. Zoom meetings all the time. I can’t sleep anymore, so I fall asleep so early and then I wake up and can’t sleep again - it’s a menopause thing. Plus, I’m addicted to all of this incredible television.
Lauren Levison in Jonathan Cohen "What Dreams May Come" FW21 Collection.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING WAY YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO MAINTAIN A SENSE OF GLAMOUR WHILE STAYING AT HOME?
We make sure we set the table differently to feel like we are out, we get dressed every day at least for a few hours. I tried the comfortable clothes thing and I gained weight, I got depressed, I wasn’t myself I wasn’t accountable for myself. As soon as I put the “me” back into myself I was better.
WHAT IS ONE LEARNING LESSON YOU TOOK AWAY FROM THIS LAST YEAR THAT SHOCKED YOU?
I was surprised how much I enjoy being alone (with the exception that I missed my family and closest friends so much). I definitely do not need to socialize as much as I thought, and I definitely do not miss restaurants at all, so I guess food was never that big a deal, it was more the idea of going. I learned how to cut hair, iron, pretty much do all of the things that I never liked doing. Well, I had to and I still am because honestly, I feel like a better person doing them. I always thought that I enjoyed getting ready for something more than actually going to something, so I don’t know if I agree with that anymore. Maybe my clothes want to be social...
You can follow Lauren Levison and keep up with the #BallgownsForBreakfast series and more on her instagram @lklevison.