Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SOMETIMES YOU MEET PEOPLE IN A CERTAIN CONTEXT. You develop a sense of them based (largely) on the company they (appear to) keep and the circles they travel within. And while this was, in part, true of Odessa, I also knew immediately that she was something different

I met her at various "fashion events", the kind where most are purse-lipped and wide-eyed, surveying the room with the ferocity and exactitude of a SWAT team sniper. These places are filled with people holding their cards close and their $2000 clutches closer, so when Odessa let me take her picture (with mouth agape in a full-face laugh) I knew we'd be friends. She didn't seem to care that she be on. She networked with the best of them, but in a way that felt authentic and approachable. As we got to talking, piecemeal over the course of many months, I started counting on seeing her amidst the hoards, hoping she'd be there to temper my anxiety and the social balance of the room.

After a couple years dancing around each other, promising to share cocktails outside the ring, we finally, recently, ended up in New York at the same time. What better place to have our first date than there.

After spending the day shooting backstage at Marc Jacobs, I found myself with a couple of all-access passes stuffed in my bag and a drink date with Odessa. After some boozy encouragement we dashed back to the Armory and watched the show together, a thrill for the longtime Jacobs fan. It was fun to watch her eyes go wide at the sight of Carine Roitfeld and her "personal style icon", Kim Gordon. She was mostly silent, but I could tell her brain was spinning.

After that we stumbled around the East Village for a few more hours (and a few more cocktails at Elsa, a favourite NYC go-to) and, as far as first dates go, it was one for the record books.

I'm happy to start a new series. In Your Corner will feature neat people in their favourite nook.

Meet Odessa Paloma Parker. She's the Editorial Director (and co-founder) of Plaid - a twice-annual print magazine based in Toronto - and a fashion stylist. She also volunteers with a visiting program for seniors; her pal Sophie is 93. Odessa lives in Toronto with her husband, James, and their two enormous cats. She was recently selected as one of Toronto's 25 Most Stylish people by Toronto Life Magazine.

She is currently preparing (emotionally and physically) to get a mushroom cut, á la 90s-era Linda Evangelista. She rocked it then (with oversized sweatshirts and slouch socks) and I'm quite sure she can pull it off today.

Below are some out of context moments from our two-hour conversation.

Anna Dello Russo has PIGEON-HOLED HERSELF into this quirky thing and she can't get out.

For me, my relationship with clothes was never about coveting something because it was expensive or the thing to have. I liked it because I WANTED TO TOUCH IT. Especially vintage.

I don't care if my bag was $10. I'm not going to pretend I can afford a $1400 bag. IT'S NOT IMPORTANT TO ME.

People mocked me in high school BECAUSE I HAD A MUSHROOM CUT.

If you think too much about the industry you have to ask yourself, 'Why don't I work in a bookstore in Cobourg or something.' Which is my SECRET FANTASY LIFE.

I mean, I DON'T WANT TO OUT MY MOM AS A GROUPIE, but she spent time on a few tour buses.

In our day, Tavi would've been SHUNNED. But now she can exist and kids can say, 'Oh, it's okay to be quirky and strange and wear clothes with cats on them. I have somebody to look up to who is cool because of it.' But you have to think: Tavi's wearing Prada. She exists in a very specific kind of QUIRKINESS.

I created Plaid because I have a lot of creative impulses, but I'm very shy about putting it out there. For a long time I wanted to be a fashion designer. BUT I DRAW TERRIBLY. In my head it looks really great, but it doesn't really translate.

I FEEL LIKE women get really offended by the notion of 'age appropriateness', like it's some thing that people have come up with to, like, hold women down. Like 'One more thing women can't do is dress how they want!' I mean, nobody's trying to take away your youth. But don't dress like a teenager.

I studied voice for a long time and wanted to be an opera singer. But in front of people I'd sweat and my throat would close and I'd freak out. I HATED PERFORMING. Which isn't conducive to being a performer.

A lot of people lack the understanding that YOU CAN HAVE A LOT OF FACETS. I've always known that and have understood it. I would be just as happy and fulfilled working in music or any number of things

I DON'T REALLY LIKE  MOVIES. I'd rather watch one of my favourite movies 100 times than something new.

Even though I dress kind of OUTLANDISHLY, I'm very shy.

I wasn't that confident growing up. I know people thought I looked STRANGE.

My Mom always used to say to me, 'One day you'll meet your true friends,' There was this sense that, in a lot of ways, IT WASN'T MY TIME THEN.

(Shot on-location in Odessa's home office in midtown Toronto on September 25, 2012.)

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