While in Palm Springs shooting our recent summer style story, our Founder and Chief Creative Officer wandered into a vintage clothing store. The woman behind the counter — and owner — of that store was Colleen Heidemann, the stunning beauty who’s featured in the pages of Advanced Style. The two became fast friends, and Susan invited her to participate in our photoshoot! Talk about serendipity.
Colleen is a gorgeous woman, both inside and out. Her joy for life simply radiates and seems to touch everyone who meets her. We jumped at the chance to interview Colleen to find out a bit more about her style MO and indomitable spirit.
I read that your motto in life is “IF NOT NOW…WHEN?” Have you always believed that, or is it an outlook you developed with time and experience?
As long as I can remember, I have recognized how easily time could and would evade one’s grasp, ultimately allowing for the loss of precious experiences. (I was never a young person longing to be older. I did not dream about learning to drive, nor of a time when I would be permitted to drink or smoke for neither ever held any appeal to me.) But to say the rather stunning immediacy of time’s passage was then as it is now, would be utterly untrue. The enormity and complexity of life’s spectacular concert are most assuredly developed throughout the passing of time, observation, and occurrence. More specifically, I have found as I have entered my seventh decade that the cliche, “every moment is a gift”, especially those of good health and happiness, is but an understatement. It is quite natural, I think, that when younger, the distant future seems forever ahead, yet almost instantaneously we find ourselves living within the startling realization that the past, the present and, indeed, that distant future have all caught up to now, the now of this very moment….the now of, if not now, when?
How do you define “personal style”?
That which is unique to oneself! Personal style is the person we are, the appearance we exude, the culmination and interpretation of our individual life experience.
Who are your style icons? Have they changed over time or do you have one/a few that you’ve admired forever?
As a young girl I was utterly captivated by the style and loveliness of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She was my head-on collision into the splendidly beautiful world of couture fashion and the runways of Paris, the names of Chanel, Givenchy, Valentino and St. Laurent, but to name a few. Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn were equally divine, and never was I able to find sufficient photographs to quell my enthusiasm for the careful study of everything these exquisite women chose to wear. My awe and admiration never diminished.
Soon came the world of the supermodels, the names of Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy, and later, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista — and the glorious pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Today, I am immensely fond of Victoria Beckham and utterly enthralled by the beautiful world created by the genius of Ralph Lauren.
You have said that you never wear the same outfit twice. That’s an impressive feat! Any tips for how to perpetually view the pieces in your closet with new eyes?
What I should have said, perhaps, was that seldom do I ever choose to wear an outfit in the identical way as was previously worn. (I do keep a book in which I enter certain outfits, the exact way in which they were put together initially, where they were worn and with whom, the date, etc.) There are always pieces to split, jackets to change, patterns, colors, and textures to substitute, shoes, boots, scarves, belts, and jewelry to work with to further a different look. There are so many different ways to accessorize. Admittedly, after having owned a women’s clothing store for more than twenty years, my closets are filled to capacity, thus my choices are many.
What would you say to someone who says they can no longer wear a certain piece of clothing because they’re “too old for it”?
I think “creativity” has to be the answer here. It is true that as we get older certain items which we wore with such delight simply no longer “suit” us or our bodies in that very same way… But do not feel that you must settle for any one particular stereotypical or “ageist” look. Clothing connects us all to one another; it is a most wonderful open door to conversation! It can be an outlet for one’s artistic capability, allowing us to be our very own personal designer. Have fun with it! Feel free to push the envelope a bit; if you have tried something and believe you have erred…change it! So what? Let’s all be kinder and more generous within our opinions of each other and most certainly within this daily ritual of dressing and un-dressing. Criticism for the sake of criticizing is absolutely unthinkable and unacceptable!
You are a style icon/role model to many. What is the most important message or piece of advice you hope your admirers glean?
Ultimately, I believe that it is the people we meet throughout our lives who are truly those responsible for our most precious moments and memories. It takes but a second to be touched in such a way that would allow for a brief exchange even among strangers to remain with you your entire life long. The power of communication — warm, kind, understanding, interested, and compassionate communication — is, should, and must be, as human beings, one of our most important attributes and treasured possessions. Share it generously with one and all…for on any given day you just might manage to alter someone’s life in a way you would never imagine. And after all, when all is said and done, it is but the love, the joy, and the laughter which will have mattered.