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Fifi Sabatini

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

Mostly when the idea I have in my head of how I want to look matches what I see in the mirror.

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

Definitely. Ones who dress with colour and individuality especially, but really I'll check out any female who crosses my path [in a totally non-sexual way!]

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I really, truly, admire women who can wear high heels all day and on all terrains.

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

I realised that fashion and dressing were fundamental to my life when I was still in infancy. I have never given much of a shit about hair or make-up.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

Shop alone, for concentration. People are rarely honest in their opinions anyway.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

Always wear a long vest under everything so it keeps my kidneys warm! (which makes me sound like I'm about 100 years old).

7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?

Probably the conversation, at my interview, that took me from studying history to footwear design.

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

I try to approach everything with lightness; mainly intended in a weight kind of way. Everything can be heavy and serious, or it can be fun and light, depends on your approach.
I also believe - fervently - that what happends in life is a very unspecific and unscientific kind of destiny. No need to overthink things, what works out will be the thing that was *supposed* to happen. Helps take the sting out of decisions and stressful moments!

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

White long sleeve t-shirts (degrade fast) and vests (see above, my kidneys need them!)

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

Anything with so much as a tinge of 90s. Forget the 80s, that was the decade that produced more aesthetic ugliness than the whole of history added together.

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

My body is almost the same as my mother's was, and it is both reassuring and deeply alarming to see how the vessel will age. Overall, though, I'm very grateful for my genetic present - I love my body and wouldn't swap it for anyone's.
My mother has little interest in fashion though, and apart from a couple of hooks of mama-nostalgia (silk blouses and pearls) my wardrobe has little in common with hers.

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

When I moved to Italy from London I had to give up all the eccentric things I had been wearing. In Italy I looked like a freak, and marked myself out too clearly as a foreigner, bringing too much male attention. In my (non slutty) London girl clothes, the local men seemed to think I was a hooker.

16. Please describe your body.

Pretty great, actually! Tall and skinny, the same size (at 34) that I was at 17. Flat bum and wonky teeth are all I can complain about. I most like my legs, waist and shoulders.

17. Please describe your mind.

A bit scattered, generally optimistic

18. Please describe your emotions.

I'm stable and try to focus on the positive, excluding the negative emotions as much as possible.

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

I'm still in the neoprene-y white sweatshirt I wore to work today, but with soft knit leggings I only wear around the house on the bottom. My hair is in a pony tail and I have no make up on anymore since I'm about to go to bed!

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

Of course it's important! What you are on the outside is a reflection of what's on the inside, even if that reflection is no more than a refusal of interest or care. Getting dressed is the principal creative decision most of us make each day. Clothes and accessories have the power to make us feel differently about ourselves and make others see us differently. They can also make us happy, and if that's not important, what is?

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Mainly just at and for work!

23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?

As I designer, I hope that I have both! Taste I think is more generic; I have good taste even for things I wouldn't buy or wear.
Style is how I put things together, I think. The finesse of one's personal presentation.

24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?

It's not too bad; a pair of Joseph trousers in the sale that literally didn't do up the next day. No idea how they fit the day I got them. My cousin ebay'd them for me. Happy ending.

26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?

I think if you have style in fashion, you'll pretty much inevitably have it in other areas of your life.

28. Would you say you “know what you like” in the area of fashion and clothing? If so, do you also know what you like in other areas of life, that is, are you generally good at discernment? Can you say where your discernment comes from, if you have it? Or if you don’t have it, why or why not?

Oh, I have discernment in spades. My husband would say excessively. I know what I like in every sphere.

29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?

The only thing I learnt at home was to polish my shoes with my father on Sunday evening.

30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?

I have some great La Perla lingerie that does the trick. It makes me look like I had a boob job, pretty incredible for that small an amount of fabric. I switch to a slutty sicilian Dolce e Gabbana bra sometimes, and wish I still had the crotchless panties I got in a tacky NYC store many years ago..
Bearing in mind that I wear cotton jersey bra-lets and thongs every day of my life, I reach to the back, the far back, of my underwear drawer when I want to feel sexy.

31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?

Wanting to feel comfortable or confident seems like an outside-looking-in kind of deal to me; those qualities are admired because "people" (shall we just call them women?) most likely have seriously low self esteem (the modern epidemic) and imagine that seemingly confident and comfortable people do not.
This sounds like I believe confident and comfortable people aren't really free from the curse of low self esteem, which is not at all the case, as I know for a fact.

33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?

I think the apex of beauty occurs when that beauty is stained by a small imperfection. Like a beautiful face with a slightly-too-large to be perfect nose. Or a shoe with some detail that's almost too much. It's about hovering on the line between beauty and ugliness.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Meanness in people and things.

37. What is your process getting dressed in the morning? What are you considering?

Always start with the shoes. First consideration weather (hate being inappropriately dressed for weather conditions), second consideration how 'dressy' or fashion-y (for work situations), third consideration the small touch that brings it together (earrings, lipstick, bag etc). If I don't feel right when it's done, I start again even if it means being late. NB I only take 5 minutes anyway!

38. What are you trying to achieve when you dress?

Looking like a true reflection of how I feel myself to be.

39. What, for you, is the difference between dressing and dressing up?

Dressing up is reminiscent of playing in the dressing up box as a child; fun, only for show.

40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?

At the moment: Tight black knit jumper, skinny jeans, nike sneakers, camel smart coat, cross body black bag.

42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

I'm English and I still love the tweedy countryside style, though in small doses. I have a healthy appreciation for eccentrics in clothing and life, though my own eccentric dressing was tempered by moving to Italy and becoming much more classic.

45. How do you conform to or rebel against the dress expectations at your workplace?

Working in the fashion industry, it does feel like you should at least make a slight effort, but this is not something I've ever had a problem with. Conversely, it's amazing to be able to wear whatever I like. There is no garment in my wardrobe that I couldn't conceivably wear to work.

46. Do you have a dress code, a school uniform, or a uniform that you wear for an extracurricular activity?

Never worn a uniform in my life, aside from a waistcoat when waitressing as a teenager.

48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?

Seems like a horrible idea to have to wear one.

50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?

No way! Anyway, I dress my husband, which is as close as I would ever want to get.

51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

1930s, probably Italy or maybe Paris.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

Not at all!

53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?

Wow, I'm much thinner than I imagine (in my head I'm more robust and stronger looking)

55. Have you ever had a dream that involved clothes?

Many, mostly work related. One reoccuring nightmare that I was trying to walk down the street in heels to high to move in and a skirt to tight to take steps in & being mortified. My mother made a hollow laugh and commented on my "vanity" when I told her.

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

I realise that I will never have a hair-do. Don't care too much though. It's all I can do to brush it.

57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?

I am totally comfortable with it!

58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?

No, I dress - almost always - for myself.

60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?

Very rarely doesn't make me feel nauseous within 20 minutes. Seldom wear it.

61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?

I do believe in looking after clothes properly, ironing, de-bobbling and keeping oneself generally tidy. This became much more pronounced in me after living in Italy for a while.

62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?

Keep it simple: powder base, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow pencil and blush. Korres tinted lipbalms. Done.

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

I suppose my engagement ring. And a pair of red heeled 1970s sandals that I paid £1.50 for and never wore (too high to walk), so beautiful.

66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?

I have a bunch of vintage shoes that don't fit me but that I keep as a work archive.

68. Is there an item of clothing that you once owned, but no longer own, and still think about or wish you had back? What was it, what happened to it, and why do you want it back?

I lost a pink ra-ra skirt when I was 7 and the pain of it has never quite left me.

71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?

A pair of pointed boots - amazing quality but such an old fashioned shape now. Probably won't wear them again, but can't quite get rid of them either.

73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?

Non slutty thigh-high flat boots, with legs in stretch black nappa that actually fit me in the calf.

75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?

The engagement ring that my husband designed. Also a bag that he bought me that showed how much attention he paid to my tastes. I cried when he gave it to me.

83. Do you remember the first time you were conscious of what you were wearing? Can you describe this moment and what it was about?

I can remember the first time I was *pleased* with what I was wearing: a green party dress aged 3. I thought all my other clothes were ugly (they were).

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

Born 1980, UK
Live in Milan and London

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

middle class no money background with rather hippy-ish parents.

What kind of work do you do?

I design shoes.

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?

Married no kids

Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.

I like the idea that we can take fashion seriously, without it being perceived a vapid pursuit for shallow people.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Ready for bed!

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