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Porter
Art of Style

Get dressed with Caroline Issa

Fashion director, consultant, editor and all-round Renaissance woman Caroline Issa never fails to delight and inspire with her impeccable and mood-enhancing style. Her latest venture? Applying her idiosyncratic approach to creating jewelry in collaboration with her good friend Monica Vinader. Here, she shares her coveted dressing-up tips

Fashion

Find your balance

“I’d describe my style as classic but with a twist. I really love traditional tailoring and elegant dressing, but I always try to include an element of surprise, whether it’s a bright color or a pattern clash. Day to day, my outfits are usually informed by my schedule. If I know I’ll be running around all day I’ll wear a beautiful pair of flats, but if I’m in the office with back-to-back meetings – but still want to feel fabulous – I might pull out a pair of amazing Gianvito Rossi heels. I don’t feel any pressure to dial up my look during fashion week. I see it as a time when I really get to indulge in my latest purchases or styling tricks. It’s a pleasure! This season I’m really excited to buy into Daniel Lee’s Bottega Veneta. However, my all-time favorite designers are probably Roksanda, Racil, Barbara Casasola, Alessandro Michele at Gucci and, of course, Prada, a perennial love of mine.”

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Come together

“I’ve known Monica Vinader for a long time and our collaboration is actually her first, which is such a privilege. It felt so natural as we both share the same values – she’s all about empowering women through self-purchase. When she launched her label in 2008, she really pioneered the idea that women didn’t have to wait around for someone else to buy them jewelry, that they could treat themselves. What I love about our collection is that we’re still using her signature gems, but we’ve kept them a bit more raw, and chosen some more colorful stones, which I think give the bracelets, earrings and necklaces a real sense of joy. We actually went to Jaipur together to visit the factories where the pieces are produced, and it was so mind-blowing to see that each and every link is made by hand – it really adds to their vibrancy. Jewelry is so talismanic and meaningful, it literally touches us, so it’s really important to know where it comes from.”

Find a quick fix

“Cocktail earrings are a staple of my closet. With work, I do a lot of desk-to-dinner dressing. I might be in a suit during the day, but if I put on an amazing pair of statement earrings, I still feel dressed up enough for an evening on the town. That’s why I have so many in my jewelry box and why I was so excited to create these incredible cocktail earrings with Monica, embellished with amazing colored gemstones. The stones were actually the starting point for all our designs. They look so magical in their rawest form that the minute I saw them I just knew I wanted to keep the designs simple and let the stones be the focal point. You could wear the earrings with a simple white blouse and black jeans and be ready for dinner in the most luxurious location.”

Invest in quality pieces

“I have always believed in buying less but buying better. I have Helmut Lang pieces from the mid ’90s, when Helmut himself was still designing, old Gucci pieces from Alessandra Facchinetti’s time at the brand, and a Jil Sander suit I bought when I started my first job in 1999. I love shopping my closet and updating these enduring pieces by pairing them with a great new blouse or the latest Wandler heel. Fast fashion has never really appealed to me, and nowadays we’re all starting to ask more questions about who is making our clothes, under what conditions and from which fabrics. It’s going to take time for these issues to be fully ironed out by the fashion industry, but in the meantime, investing in quality pieces that will stand the test of time is an easy way to clean up your closet.”

Discover your signatures

“Audrey Hepburn is my ultimate style icon. When I was in college, I tried cutting my hair very short, thinking I could work a little pixie crop like her or Jean Seberg… all I can say about that is my hair is long now for a reason. People often comment on my hair but, honestly, I can’t take much credit for it: I have my stylist, George Northwood, and his magic hands to thank. However, I am a beauty fanatic, like a total skincare freak. At the moment I have a La Mer routine, a Tata Harper routine and a Chanel routine; I’m trying them all out. When it comes to makeup, of course great skin is the best foundation, but I also love a strong lip. I recently did a collaboration with organic beauty brand Kjaer Weis on a line of lipsticks – green beauty is something I’m really interested in and slowly but surely I’m learning much more about it.”

Be fearless

“What’s amazing about London style is that it’s so incredibly eclectic. The way Londoners feel so free to experiment with clashing prints, play with cultural references and mix super-traditional pieces with directional ones is so exciting. You’ll spot boys in girls’ makeup and girls in boys’ clothes – it’s just totally fluid. It’s that fearlessness Londoners have when it comes to styling that I really appreciate. People here take such pleasure from fashion. Moving to the city 17 years ago had a profound impact on the way I dress. It instilled me with a freedom to express myself and, honestly, even the weather here challenges you to think creatively about layering and how you put a look together.”

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown