This week’s style diary is the fashion stylist/designer Rosemary Ponzo. Ms. Ponzo, an Emmy-nominee for the History Channel series “Rome,” is also a Costume Design Guild Voter to the Academy Awards for Costume Design /Styling. She loves to wear hats and headpieces and be noticed. She has a style of her own and is no stranger to the social scene in New York.
Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style?
Rosemary Ponzo: I would describe me as a fashion stylist/designer who wears many “hats.”
Ms. Eschapasse: If a close friend were to describe your personality in three words, what would they be?
Ms. Ponzo: If a close friend were to describe my personality in three words it would be whimsical, fun, and evolutionary!
Ms. Eschapasse: How did your style evolve since you were a teenager?
Ms. Ponzo: My style evolved during my formative years when I started to construct my own wardrobe, which included headpieces and bags to match. I loved the idea of experimenting even if it was overkill.
There are times when I wear designer wardrobe head to toe, but then just when you think this is okay, I will add my own twist to it. I mix runway pieces with vintage, then top it off with a piece found from a street vendor.
I have taken clothes and worn them upside down, or inside out. I have worn two dresses together with two headpieces together to create my look. I also love mixing evening wear with daytime street attire.
Sparkling jewelry is a great energy source on a rainy day or if you are feeling blue.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is the wildest thing you ever wore?
Ms. Ponzo: The wildest thing I have ever worn was a black lace gown with a canopy over the top of my head with 6,000 LED battery operated lights. So it glowed in the dark. In this gown, sitting was not possible.
Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?
Ms. Ponzo: Actually I dress almost the same on workdays and weekends, I use black as my base and then accessorize to the nines with jewelry and lots of red! A hair ornament is a must for me. That is my signature.
Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without?
Ms. Ponzo: The three accessories I cannot live without out are my Spanx black footless tights, my vintage Chanel cigarette case which fits my iPhone6, and my matte red lipstick.
Ms. Eschapasse: And what’s one item that makes you instantly more confident?
Ms. Ponzo: Wearing my matte red lipstick makes me feel most confident.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences?
Ms. Ponzo: First and foremost, my greatest fashion influence people-watching during Fashion Week and seeing how fashionistas put their wardrobes together; you can always find something new from the fashion attendees.
Also people-watching on the streets of New York. Going to all priced stores, not just the high end; stores like H&M, Zara, etc., have some unique pieces that can spark inspiration in dressing yourself.
Working in Japan as a fashion stylist/costume designer had a real impact on my fashion decisions. Color, color, color is the primary in fashion, and of course designer labels. I use black as my base, and then color or over-the-top costume jewelry.
My greatest fashion influences are Comme des Garçons, Charles James, Vivienne Westwood, and Diana Vreeland who started the Met Ball.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who is your style icon?
Ms. Ponzo: My style icon is Comme des Garçons and Morgane Le Fay.
Ms. Eschapasse: What does having style mean to you? In other words, please define style.
Ms. Ponzo: My definition of style is about utilizing the best aspects of you. Style is the relationship one has with oneself. It is an attitude and personality.
It is real elegance in the mind when you walk into a room or on the red carpet and you feel confident. If you have that, the rest comes naturally, whether you are wearing a $20,000 gown or a $200.00 gown.
Fashion takes our attention away from ourselves, whereas real style brings attention directly to ourselves.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is one purchase you’re most proud of?
Ms. Ponzo: The purchase I am most proud of is my vintage Art Deco pave diamond necklace, earrings, and ring from Bulgari. I wear the necklace with jeans and with evening wear.
Ms. Eschapasse: What would you pay a lot of money for, and what would you never pay much money for?
Ms. Ponzo: Items would pay the most money for are vintage deco estate jewelry. Items I would pay the least money for are summer cotton fashions because the summer is very short lived and an investment in a great coat, dress, or headpiece can be worn more often.
Ms. Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel?
Ms. Ponzo: When I go on the red carpet I am wearing the gown, not having the gown wear me. It has to fit perfectly and not drag. I see celebrities fussing and pulling up their gowns so they do not trip. It should be chic and outstanding.
Ms. Eschapasse: Which designers can achieve that?
Ms. Ponzo: The designers that make me feel amazing are Hervé Leger, Dolce & Gabbana, Azzedine Alaïa, Comme des Garçons, and my own designs. All are perfect fitting so one can walk with great confidence and good posture.
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. Ponzo: I think many people are influenced by fashion magazines. I call them magazine clothes. That said, my advice to people is to take something from that outfit in the magazine and make it your own style by using your imagination—like mixing vintage with new clothes. In addition, vintage clothes are well made and have a history to go with it.
Having confidence can inspire a new choice instead of the same safe clothing. Taking fashion risks will develop their own personal style. Wear a headpiece, wear an accessory, a hat, favorite bag, shoes, etc., as your signature. That will help you be a standout in any crowd.
Favorite color: Red
Favorite perfume: Arpege by Lanvin mixed with YSL Opium
Favorite Restaurant in New York City: Bistro Chat Noir
Favorite Drink: Cranberry and pineapple juice, shaken, no ice
Favorite Movie: “The Great Gatsby” by Baz Luhrmann
Favorite Book: “Chasing Harry Winston” by Lauren Weisberger
Favorite Quote: “He who seeks beauty will find it.” Bill Cunningham.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org