I first met Andrea Linett -- author of the cool new illustrated fashion memoir "I Want to Be Her!" -- when I arrived to interview for my job at Sassy. She was sitting at the reception desk, fresh out of college and adorable in over-the-knee socks and a bubble skirt, with shiny dark hair. I was wearing the lamest outfit in the world: a green sweater dress borrowed from a roommate in an attempt to look "professional." I remember Andrea asking, "Would you like some reading material?" before handing me a copy of Dolly, the Australian magazine that Sassy was based on. Maybe she was hoping I’d pick up some style cues from the cute fashion pages.
Andrea went on to become an excellent fashion editor at Sassy. She is also one of my most trusted friends. In the year that we roomed together, she would entertain me with hilarious impressions of characters she dreamed up. Here’s one: she would borrow my glasses, push them down her nose and become a pompous intellectual interviewing me about my “work.”
"In discussing your work," she would say. "I was fascinated by your account of appearing on '21 Jump Street' with Johnny Depp." She would also put on a heavy New York accent and pretend to be a garmento, pulling out hideous shopping mistakes from my closet and say they were "blowing out of the stores." I would die laughing (and donate the items in question to charity). I still believe Andrea could just as easily have been a stand-up-comedian as the fashion mover and shaker that she is today.
After Sassy folded, she went on to become a writer at Harper’s Bazaar, and later the co-founder of Lucky with our Sassy colleague Kim France, who once described Andrea as "loyal as a pit bull." In 2010, she started her popular blog I Want to Be Her!, which she manages to produce while also working as the global creative director for Michael Kors.
The book features 50 women who have influenced your style, including several girls that we worked with at Sassy. Who are the five women who influenced your style the most?
I would have to say my mom, Denise Huxtable, Janis Savitt, the German exchange student Leslie and Elissa.
I love what you wrote about your mom, an advertising creative executive. Do you think you would have become interested in fashion if your mom were not so chic?
Who knows? She really was the first person who I knew was cool, and she surrounded herself with cool people, so I'm guessing not!
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
I've always wanted to write a book that gave props to all the women who have influenced me with their awesome style, but the blog came first. I had a page in the back of Lucky every month called Fashion Babble that was an illustration of me drawn by my best friend Anne Johnston Albert. When I left, I thought it would make a fun shopping blog, except she would draw women I'd seen around town. Then I got the book deal and Anne got too busy with that, so I started shooting real women with my husband (photographer Michael Waring).
How is the book different from the blog?
The book is really an illustrated memoir of people who have influenced me. The blog features real women, and it's more immediate -- you can shop their looks.
Why did you choose to work with illustration as opposed to photography?
I love Anne's illustrations, and I also wouldn't have photos of most of the people in the book, since so many were strangers. I also wanted them commemorated perfectly the way they lived in my memory. Photos would probably ruin it for me!
Anne is also one of the style influences featured in the book. Anne has been a model, makeup artist, fashion editor and the designer of the cool line Martin. My best memory of Anne is when she visited us at our apartment in 1989 and tried on my vintage leopard coat. She looked classy like Jackie O, while I resembled some dirt bag from the East Village. Was it weird for Anne to draw herself?
I think it was probably the easiest one for her to do.
How did you and Anne work together?
I would send her descriptions and photos I'd found on the Internet of the kind of hair I wanted or a particular shoe. She would read the copy that went with each girl and go from there. Then I would send them back and have her tweak. Sometimes I thought she’d kill me.
Your book features our co-workers Jane, Mary, Jacinta and Janet. How has your style evolved since our days at Sassy?
I had so many style evolutions at Sassy. At first I embraced the whole bubble skirt, over-the-knee socks, Doc Martens trend and Jane was sort of on that tip too. Then I got more into Jacinta's style, which was overalls and concert shirts. Janet always wore simple black leotards so I got into those, too. Then I was more influenced by hippie stuff (Indian blouses and velvet patches on my jeans!), and then for some reason I was obsessed with wearing diaphanous dresses over jeans. I think my style has gotten a little bit more simple, but I will always love untucked glamour with a little rock star influence.