Irina and Anna

Mother and Daughter - Irina and Anna

Irina and Anna are mother and daughter. Their family moved to New Jersey from Russia just two years ago, turning their entire lives around, because since she was fifteen, Irina knew in her heart that “she didn’t want to grow old in Russia.” We sat down for a conversation and talked about their life in Russia, what life is like in today’s Russia, and both American and Russian style. I walked away smiling, knowing that I spent time with two extraordinary women, and learned a little about their world as well! Here are Irina and Anna:

Irina: When I stopped speed skating at 21, it was a very difficult time for me. I had always had my skating and only my skating; I was living in a bubble without having to step into the real world. Then the sports ended and I had to figure out what I would do next. I was also married at 21, so my life changed in that way, too. My husband and I first attempted to leave Russia when we were newly married, and we moved to Holland as aux pairs. That didn’t work out, but it led me to my next opportunity, because it’s the little details that are important ..

The woman with whom I had worked as an aux pair, had a friend who was just starting out in publishing; he would eventually become the owner of one of the largest publishing houses in Russia. Through that initial connection I ended up working for him and began a long career in publishing …

During that time, I collected beautiful, high-end clothing for my work wardrobe. At one time, I had 10-12 Louis Vuitton handbags! Today’s Russian style is sophisticated. Russian women spend time selecting clothes and are very aware of the details of dress. They appreciate beautiful things and will spend more money buying them. They love labels like Chanel (especially the older women) and Dolce & Gabbana.

(I asked Irina to compare today’s fashion with the old Soviet Union … )

Growing up, we didn’t have choices. Everyone was forced to wear the same things. I didn’t dress in color: my clothing was gray, brown or black. My girlfriend’s aunt had connections and she always wore bright, colorful clothing! I wanted to look like her!” ~ Irina

Anna:Some people here (in the United States) don’t want to make the effort with fashion. In Russia, everyone dresses carefully and with attention to the details. Even my friends who wear uniforms to school will take care in putting their outfits together: adding a  pencil skirt, a nice blouse, great shoes, special handbags, etc. Everyone in Russia has a good-sized handbag and men and women carry big wallets as well  … no one wears backpacks in Russia! They prefer to carry totes! When I first moved here, people couldn’t understand why I carried a tote and not a backpack. Friends still tell me that I dress with a European attitude but I don’t see it. ~ Anna

Much to say; I would love to have another conversation with Irina and Anna

Golden dreams

Golden Globe Trophy

Golden Globe Trophy

I dreamed a dream in times gone by – When hope was high – And life worth living – I dreamed that love would never die ...” ~ Fantine, from Les Miserables

By 6pm my family knew to leave me alone, so that I could turn on the television and watch The Golden Globes in peace. Not just The Globes, though; I watch the pre-game – I mean the pre-show – red carpet. And I watch with gusto. It is my Superbowl. I love to see what everyone is wearing; I guess it brings back memories of dressing up as a little girl and glamming it up in front of the mirror! In fact, I dressed as a bride in one of the first Halloween’s I can remember (was I four years old??). Even then, it was all about the dress!

But it is more than that. It’s about dreams. It’s about memories. It’s about movies and stories. It’s about reaching back to my childhood, to that place where fantasy met reality and there were no boundaries.

For the record, my favorite looks of the evening were worn by two friends – the Aussie women: Nicole Kidman (I love her shorter hair!), in Alexander McQueen and Naomi Watts in Zac Posen. Both looked so chic yet simple and with a hint of sensuality, in perfectly-fitted silhouettes. My other favorite was Jennifer Lawrence, in a tangerine-red Dior Haute Couture dress, with a simple black belt that accentuated her slim waist. She said she felt a little “flu-y,” but honestly, who could tell??

The Golden Globes. Golden dreams!