Fresh Talk: Julia Frakes

By Jenna Fain • Jun 22nd, 2009 • Category: Juicy Story, Trends   

Julia Frakes is Manhattan’s living and breathing Cinderella. Except that she never really dressed in rags! Growing up in the countryside of Pennsylvania, her passion for haute couture and all things fashion kept her eyes wide and dreams big. And it paid off…

Nowadays, Julia cavorts with fabulous fashion royalty like her mentor Mickey Boardman, Simon Doonan, Vogue’s Sally Singer, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and The Sartorialist, Mr. Scott Schuman. The fashion world is a divine playground - and Julia continues to have extraordinary experiences within it. Chances are you’re an avid reader of her work for Paper Magazine. Perhaps you’ve spotted her cameo in Lissy Trullie’s “Boy Boy” music video dancing with fashionable friends Jen Brill and Chloë Sevigny, or posing with Alia Shawkat and Sarah Sophie Flicker in Rachel Antonoff’s Fall 2009 lookbook. We love her for her irreverent charm and playful fashion aesthetic. What Julia possesses most admirably, though, is a totally zany and lovable zest for life and all of its small delights. Julia’s life is one whimsical tale, and the best part is - it’s only the beginning!

TSM: How did you begin working for Paper Magazine?
JF: A few years ago, David Hershkovits asked me to stop by the offices to “talk” – which swiftly more-or-less evolved into a several hour banter with Kim Hastreiter and Mickey Boardman – and before I knew it, I was off to Los Angeles covering a PAPER/Diesel party fêting Lindsay Lohan for

Each year in the industry, a new batch of precocious designers hope to become household names. Which rising stars should we keep tabs on in coming years?
Andrea Maack, Moises de la Renta, Laura Mackness, Rachel Antonoff, Carin Wester, Michael Van Der Ham, Timo Weiland, Katie Gallagher… plus be sure to keep an eye out for Marc Sebastian Faiella (18) in a few years’ time.

Cajole us with some tales of your jaunt to Paris Fashion Week for Paper. You attended and covered many of the most exclusive couture shows. Alexander McQueen, Isabel Marrant, Maison Martin Margiela, oh my! Which were your favorite?
I’ve been tremendously blessed to cover all recent Spring and Fall prêt-à-porter and haute couture shows for the magazine so it’s hardly an easy feat to choose favorites! Christian Lacroix Haute Couture S/S ‘09, Chanel Haute Couture F/W ‘09, Marc Jacobs S/S ‘09, Ann Demeulemeester F/W ‘09, Louis Vuitton F/W ‘09, Chloé F/W ‘09, Charles Anastase S/S ‘09, Peter Jensen F/W ‘09, Stella McCartney F/W ‘09 Nina Ricci F/W ‘09 all come to mind; however in terms of pure presentation spectacle, Zac Posen F/W ‘09 (the piano troupe!), John Galliano S/S ‘09 (the macquillage!) and Alexander McQueen F/W ‘09 were sensory chef-d’oevres! I will never forget leaning over to Mr. Mickey to garner his opinion of the unearthly McQ spectacle that we just witnessed: “I don’t even know what to say. I ejaculated: McQueen is the new Dior couture!”

It’s obvious that you adore Paris. What are your other favorite global destinations?
A lifelong penchant for author, illustrator, mycologist, and conservationist Beatrix Potter’s fanciful children’s books has no doubt instilled in me a deep veneration for the landscape, flora, and fauna of The Lake District (more specifically at her beloved Hill Top Farm near Sawrey –- between Hawkshead and Windermere –- in the Furness area of the English county of Cumbria). The grazing Herdwick sheep, hilly facades, and actually spotting the “descendants” of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Tom Kitten, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, and Mr. Tod is quite a childhood fairytale!

Do you have a “mantra” or life philosophy that you try to follow?
Never underestimate the simple, innate power of kindness.

Followers of your Twitter can attest to your love for tea. What’s your main drink?
A major creature of habit indeed… I always order a large organic orange spice tea from 71 Irving Place, the jasmine tea from Jack’s Stir Brew, the organic vanilla rooibos tea from Subtle Tea, the cold orange blossom green tea from Liquiteria, or either the chamomile or fresh loose mint tea from Le Pain Quotidien.

You’re making me thirsty. Aside from a tea-a-holic, you’re also a proud vegan. What are your favorite dining establishments in the city?
While there is no doubt a plethora of phenomenal raw vegan options in Gotham (Quintessence, Caravan of Dreams, Counter, Candle 79) my absolute favorite is Pure Food and Wine (and their “little sister” takeout and juice bar around the corner, One Lucky Duck Pure Juice and Takeaway). In my book, it’s truly the most extraordinary food in the city – especially in the warmer months with all the outstandingly fresh ingredients straight from the farmers’ market. I just had the pleasure of interviewing the incredibly kindhearted and witty proprietor, Sarma Melngailis. You can see it here.

What is the next piece that you hope to add the Frakes couture collection?
Perhaps one of Christopher Bailey’s masterful Gilligan’s Island hats from the Prorsum presentation, a bit of collaborative moonstone and quartz jewelry crafted by Mark Walsh Leslie Chin for Rodarte, one of the Christopher Decarnin’s (for Balmain) uncharacteristically innocent ballerina dresses with ample tutus to boot that somehow fluttered their way into his otherwise sultry Spring showing, a Les Néréides “bow” headband, or maybe a pair of Tsumori Chisato bloomers. Although in complete honesty, I tend to don a Boy by Band of Outsiders contrast-trim blazer, Stephen Jones hat, embellished Charles Anastase cropped denim jacket (festooned in Charles’ kooky crests and my own quirky antique pins) daily – so it’s not entirely unlikely that my next acquisition would be something along those lines. If the shoe fits…

Buy it, right? Your intelligence, spunk, and classic ballerina meets avant-garde nymphette style make for dynamic tastes. Which five individuals would you invite to a dinner party in your Gramercy Park apartment?
Miss Jenna, you’re far too kind! Kurt Vonnegut, John Currin (and Rachel Feinstein), Doris Kearns Goodwin, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Maddow.

You have such an eye for all things quirky and fabulous. I love your collection of tights in particular - neon and two-tone - you sport them all! What are some of your most treasured possessions?
In terms of especially sentimental items: a pair of dainty diamond earrings and a stuffed Gund bear that were given to me by late father, Daniel Frakes, or a Jeanette Farrier reclaimed antique fabric scarf that I scoped out with Lynn Yaeger at my favorite shopping destination and charity concept– Merci (111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris). Come summertime, I try to move about the city exclusively on my purple 1967 Schwinn Breeze! It’s surely one of my prized possessions – topped off with an antique wicker basket and purple bell ornamented with a bunny (a desideratum when navigating cross-town traffic) to boot!

Speaking of summertime, what are your plans?
Working at Paper, shooting or styling (and in some cases, tackling both by self-styling) for several international and domestic magazines, taking yoga classes, perusing the fresh bounty every few days at the Union Square Greenmarket, and learning to quilt at Purl Patchwork! Hopefully I’ll find a free moment to escape home to a shady hammock and a good read in the country!

Oh yes, you are quite the avid reader. What are some of your favorite books?
Most recently? “Paintings in Proust” by Eric Karpeles and “Personal History” by Katharine Graham; generally just about anything by Virginia Woolf, Doris Kearns Gooding, Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion, Jane Austen, Kurt Vonnegut, Gabriel Cousens, Sophie Dahl, Henry James, Hermann Hesse, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare… and of course Simon Doonan!

Oh, and how long have you been sporting those glorious bows in your hair?
Truthfully – since before I can even remember…

For more of Julia’s fun musings on haute couture and a glimpse into her whimsical life, check out Bunny Bisous.

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  1. WOW that pic of her with all the photogs snapping her pic gives a great idea of what it must be like to be that coveted. Great article, as per usual!!

    June 27th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

  2. Is this for real? This sounds like someone talking to themself about how great they are.

    November 2nd, 2009 at 2:26 pm

  3. Julia Frakes wears everything so well. I love all of the color she puts into outfits. She’s one of my favorite people to google for fashion inspiration!!!:)

    November 7th, 2009 at 8:04 am

  4. I wonder if they have any pictures of her eating a sandwich.

    November 18th, 2009 at 9:43 pm

  5. she looks like an eight year old boy.

    November 19th, 2009 at 5:43 am

  6. georgeous style but she definetely does not eat enough. and she is not naturally thin. You can see her backbones and spine, which is not healthy. I hope she can get better soon. if you are a vegan you have to be extremely careful that you are getting the right nutrients.

    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:34 pm

  7. This girl is a strange, er, cookie. She dresses a little like an elderly lady (the heels, cardigans, scarves and dressy dresses) and yet has the mindset of a child (her obsession with Potter, her colored tights and the bows in her hair). She writes and speaks eloquently. But she clearly has weight issues, which, unfortunately, take a back seat to her “style” and “blogging”. I find her interesting and her sense of color extraordinary. But I find the way the fashion world celebrates a conflicted child-adult with an obviously serious problem to be shameful. If young girls see her and are inspired, it sends the wrong message. I have seen pictures of this girl posted on “pro-anorexia” and “thinspiration” websites. Very worrisome indeed. Maybe it’s time to think about substance over style?

    February 14th, 2010 at 11:21 am

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