Sibylle’s Style Diary: Bridgette Morphew, on Making Vintage-Inspired Pieces Forward-Thinking and New Again
This week’s style diary is about the interesting Bridgette Morphew, the founder of Morphew, a high-end vintage clothing archive that features unique pieces from design houses like Ralph Lauren, Halston, Schiaparelli, Moschino, and Chanel, just to name a few. Bridgette is also the founder of Morphew Lab, where antique fashion, contextual history, future trends, and technology meet, and consumers can purchase vintage-inspired, reconstructed pieces that are both forward-thinking and ripe with historical references. She is sharing with us her perspective on style in this week’s style diary.
Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style?
Bridgette Morphew: My style is like my last name–it morphs! I tend to swing between decades, styles, and designers frequently. I switch from an all-out obsession with the 1960s one moment, to ’90s minimalism the next. I constantly add pieces from different eras and designers, so that in a way my style becomes timeless.
When you work with high-end vintage clothes, you are constantly surrounded by the most beautiful pieces from the past 100 years, and it’s hard not to be inspired by them and try to incorporate new finds into your wardrobe!
Ms. Eschapasse: If a close friend were to describe your personality in three words, what would they be?
Ms. Morphew: Efficient and tough but relaxed.
Ms. Eschapasse: How did your style evolve since you were a teenager?
Ms. Morphew: I grew up in Florida where a lot of people base their outfits around beachwear. I instead went dark and gothic to express myself. However, wearing black did not work for me in the long term as I love color, print, and patterns, and this was how I came to discover my lifelong love of vintage.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is the wildest thing you ever wore?
Ms. Morphew: I once wore light-up lingerie, but it was part of a costume! In my real life, it’s hard to narrow it down, but I think it would be an antique gold jacquard priest robe!
Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?
Ms. Morphew: There isn’t a substantial difference. There is a week-by-week or day-by-day difference as I go through different trends and styles. The main thing that has changed is that, as I have gotten older, I don’t wear heels unless I have an important work event or social function. Comfort is taking a more important role!
Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without?
Ms. Morphew: My pink-lensed Cazal sunglasses are an everyday essential. I love seeing the world with a rose hue! Long, cascading Navajo earrings are a favorite of mine at the moment. Also cross-body bags have been a longtime staple of mine–I need my hands to be free!
Ms. Eschapasse: What’s one item that makes you feel instantly more confident?
Ms. Morphew: If I add a heel, I always feel more confident. I am currently obsessing over a pair of 1960s mod-style boots made from a white basket weave. The other item guaranteed to give me a boost is a suit from Alexander McQueen–you can’t help but feel like a boss when you put one on!
Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences?
Ms. Morphew: Jean Paul Gaultier all the way. His avant-garde take on fashion is inspiring. He has this way of thinking that make his pieces transcend fashion and become wearable art, which I admire endlessly.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who is your style icon?
Ms. Morphew: Growing up, it was Madonna. Madonna started my obsession with vintage, with looking unique, with using style to express your mood, with being a chameleon and not sticking to one signature style. Madonna was it. Now, I look to Nicole Richie. I love her bohemian style with a twist of class and sass.
Ms. Eschapasse: What does having style mean to you? In other words, please define style.
Ms. Morphew: Style to me is the way people communicate themselves through their clothing. I am interested in what people are saying about themselves more than whether they are polished. I like when you can tell that people have taken a little bit of a risk but are still comfortable in their choices.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is the one purchase that you are most proud of?
Ms. Morphew: This is a really hard question for a vintage buyer! I remember finding a Paco Rabanne metal mesh dress in the basement of a “junk” store in Paris. I purchased it for a minimal price compared to its worth, and I always think of that find!
Ms. Eschapasse: And what would you never pay much money for?
Ms. Morphew: A brand new designer handbag. Morphew’s philosophy is “style over status,” and to me, designer handbags represent the opposite end of that spectrum. They seem to be worn as a status symbol more often than as a method of expressing personal style.
Ms. Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel?
Ms. Morphew: Sexy, confident, and original.
Ms. Eschapasse: Which designers can help you achieve that?
Ms. Morphew: Alexander McQueen. I loved the brand when Lee was there, and I still love it now. Roberto Cavalli is going to explode soon–there has been a fundamental change in his brand recently. Then Camilla Franks, who I love for her use of color and the way she creates sexy styles that don’t actually show too much skin.
Ms. Eschapasse: What do you think of how others dress, and what’s your advice to people who would like to develop their personal style?
Ms. Morphew: I think personal style is just that, very personal. However, I would love to see people taking a little bit of a risk. Add a little something unexpected to an outfit. If you dress in all black every day, try adding a bright bag or shoe. Push yourself and take a little leap of faith so that you still feel like yourself but you are trying something new.
Favorite color: The rainbow (cop out, but I love color and I can’t choose)
Favorite perfume: Chanel’s Chance
Favorite restaurant in NY: Il Posto Accanto
Favorite drink: Champagne
Favorite movie: “The Big Lebowski”
Favorite book: “The Diamond Cutter” by Michael Roach
Favorite quote: “You can buy fashion but you can’t buy style.”
Sibylle’s “Style Diary” is a column that explores style from the perspective of choices, and what that means for different people, with personal advice from some of the most stylish people in New York.
Sibylle Eschapasse is from Paris and now lives in Manhattan. She is a journalist and a contributing writer to various publications. Sibylle is also the author of a children’s book, “Argy Boy a New York Dog Tale.” She may be reached at [email protected]