September 13, 2018
By Jody Hume
CONSIGNING IN SAN ANTONIO WITH A 90-YEAR-OLD CHANEL OBSESSIVE
Even more than most industries, fashion is obsessed with youth. From teen runway models to the millennials adopting and influencing trends, the focus is often on those who haven’t even reached 30. But honestly? That can be so boring. And there’s zero reason that fashion and style shouldn’t be lifelong pursuits. Case in point: sisters Mary Jo and Laura Fernandez. We were lucky enough to tag along to their San Antonio home on a consignment appointment with local Luxury Manager Brandi Deemer. Laura, 90, is a devout Chanel collector, and Mary Jo is an avid follower of fashion and home decor collector who had just returned from a shopping expedition in Mexico City. Read on as we talk with them about their style, the stories behind their collections and advice for young people from ladies who have lived.
TRR: When did your interest in fashion begin?
Laura: Our daddy had a shoe department at the Vogue Department Store in downtown San Antonio, and she and I always worked for him. I was the cashier.
Mary Jo: It was unpaid work. And we were the only little kids who read Harper’s Bazaar monthly [laughs].
TRR: Laura, you have quite the Chanel collection. How did it start?
L: A thousand years ago I went to the top floor of Bloomingdale’s in New York and I got seduced! I went to a dressing room and they just kept bringing clothes. The salesman is a charming young man and he’s never forgotten me. He sends me clothes every month. He says, “I never push a customer. I wait until they’re seduced.”
MJ: It doesn’t take a lot. She’s an easy mark.
TRR: Why do you love Chanel so much?
L: I like Chanel because she freed womanhood from the corsets, and I give her credit. She said “No! Why do women have to wear those horrible things?”
TRR: When do you decide to consign something?
L: If I’ve had it a long time.
TRR: What is a typical consignment appointment with Brandi like?
L: Well, we get together and we enjoy some refreshments and then we get down to business to start consigning. We have to introduce the occasion.
TRR: Do you have any other favorite designers?
L: Well, of course. I like Ralph Lauren. I still have my sport coats and they’re Ralph Lauren.
TRR: What about you, Mary Jo?
MJ: I’m a shoe person. I loved Hedi at Saint Laurent. Tod’s. Sometimes Ferragamo will really come out with a winner.
TRR: What’s your favorite place to shop?
MJ: Wherever there’s a sale sign. I do Saks, I do Neiman’s, I do Bloomies.
TRR: You recently returned from Mexico City. What are your favorite places there?
MJ: If you’ve never been to Mexico City, the Museum of Anthropology and the Palacio Nacional where they have the Diego Rivera murals. Go to the Dolores Olmedo museum in Xochimilco because they have a tremendous collection of Diego Rivera as well as Frida Kahlo. It’s a beautiful, beautiful hacienda, and they have the hairless dogs that go all the way to the Aztec times. Xoloitzcuintli is the name of the breed. Ugly little so-and-sos, but it’s an acquired taste.
TRR: Did you buy anything to bring back?
MJ: Is the pope Catholic? Of course I brought stuff back! Some of my favorite places to shop are Bazar Sábado, Casa del Obispo and the market Insurgentes. I got two trees of life, which is basically Adam and Eve and all of the things that are associated with creation, and it’s all done in fired natural clay. Some are painted, but I prefer the natural, and the work is very exquisite and delicate — it’s almost like lace.
They also have an Hermès shop, which is cheaper than going to Paris. We were walking down Masaryk and I said to my friend, we must go in here. I came home with the most gorgeous scarf.
TRR: Can you tell us about some of your amazing home decor?
MJ: Home decor is very special and should be about what you like. It’s unique to you and as long as you like it for some reason, it always seems to go together. There is no pre-planning! You make it work. It’s a narrative — the same way with clothing. This green pottery is from Michoacán. You look at it and it breaks!
TRR: It sounds like it’s often a party here at your house.
L: She just threw a birthday party for me. It was wild. They played music from my time, not y’alls time. Cole Porter. We used to dance our legs off.
TRR: What advice do you have for young people?
L: Decide what kind of a person you want to be, and that will be your goal. Think in terms of what kind of work do you want to do. I have been so fortunate all my life; I have worked in so many different places and I have had such a joyful time doing it!
MJ: Follow your heart and your passion. You have to like what it is you do. If you’re into something, whether it’s personal or professional, and you don’t like it, that’ll give you gray hairs that you can’t even keep up with. It’s not worth it. If you get a job and you don’t like it, find another job. Even with a guy – if he’s not the one, the kids will be better off if you leave. People all become aghast, but I say — you think that you’re hiding all this stuff? You ain’t hiding nothing.
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Photos by Mia Baxter
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