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Portrait Rebecca Smeyne
Sara Moonves may use words like “epic” and “amazing” to describe the fantastical Tim Walker shoots that she styles for the pages of W Magazine, but, in her own day-to-day, the Editor-in-Chief, who took over the publication’s reins in 2019, is decidedly pared-back. “I’m from California,” Moonves offers with a laugh before adding, “I wear jeans and T-shirts a lot.” Here, she reveals the foundations of her uniform, from her sneakers, sweaters, and sunglasses of choice to the vintage pieces she swears by for evening.
How did you get into fashion?
I was always drawn to fashion, specifically fashion magazines. I was very lucky to have an internship at Vogue in LA when I was in high school, working for the then West Coast Editor, Lisa Love. From there, I was Sally Singer's intern at Vogue in New York when she was the Fashion News Features Director. When I graduated college I became an assistant at Vogue and since then I’ve always worked in fashion magazines.
Kate Moss, W Magazine Art Issue 2019. Daria Werbowy ,T Magazine 2011
How would you describe your style?
My style is pretty classic with a bit of a twist. I’m from California — I wear jeans and T-shirts a lot — but I also love suiting. I’d say most of my wardrobe is The Row, whether that’s button-up shirts or denim or suits. I also have lots of Phoebe Philo Céline and Nicolas Ghesquière Balenciaga. It’s really about the classic items that I wear everyday mixed with special pieces from designers I love.
What are your wardrobe essentials?
Classic black Ray Ban Wayfarers and The Row’s Margaux bag are my everyday staples. I like vintage 501 Levi’s, men’s style button-up shirts from Charvet and The Row, and Adidas Gazelles or Loewe sneakers. I love a great blazer too, whether it’s Celine by Hedi Slimane or The Row or Prada. And I wear a lot of personal jewelry: a Cartier love bracelet, my vintage engagement ring, and an Alison Lou necklace that says my daughter’s name Georgia for good luck.
Why are you drawn to vintage and secondhand?
I love pieces that can last and feel really timeless. I think I gravitate towards vintage pieces that feel really, really classic. I’m a big collector of Nicolas Ghesquière Balenciaga. I have really old pieces of his that I wear all the time, like a gray coat dress, green and black cargo pants, incredible shearling boots, motorcycle boots from the Spring 2011 punk collection, and some really beautiful lace pieces from his lace collection.
I also love vintage — especially vintage Issey Miyake — for evening. In this day and age when so many people have the same kind of evening clothes, it’s nice to have an old special piece that feels really close to your heart. It’s fun to have pieces that have a history and a backstory rather than just something you can buy at a store. And you never really have to worry about someone wearing the same thing as you.
Are there any vintage pieces that you’re still trying to track down?
I’m getting married this summer and there are a few pieces that I’ve dreamed about wearing to my wedding — I’m trying to track them down with the help of Re-SEE. There’s lots of Phoebe Céline stuff that I always think, Oh, I wish I’d bought that, like a white wedge heeled boot and a silk T-shirt dress — I think it was produced in black, but I always wanted it in white. I have a classic red Phoebe sweater that I wear almost everyday — I wish I’d bought it in ten more colors, or at least more red, because I wear it out so much. There’s also a few Nicolas pieces from the pre-collections: a Spring 2009 white dress with a heart cut out that I always dreamed about buying, and a green coat with a faux fur interior and hood that I remember trying on and not buying at the time — I always think about it.
What’s your most recent fashion purchase?
I always wore that big S necklace from Phoebe’s Fall 2017 Céline. When I had my daughter I bought a G to wear instead.
What are you looking forward to wearing this summer?
I have all these old Prada shorts that are great for European vacations. I love classic cotton dresses and slip dresses from The Row, which I wear all summer, whether at the beach or to dinner. I also bought a few new pieces from Pieter Muller’s take on old Alaïa. There’s a white pleated shirt dress that I actually have an original of and then I bought the updated version, which I think will be fun to wear.
Do you have any style rules or mantras?
I never want to wear too much stuff. I like keeping it simple with special pieces of jewelry but never anything too over the top. Whenever I’ve worn anything that I think is too much I’ve felt uncomfortable. I always feel my best when I’m simple and more chic and understated.
What is your beauty staple?
A matte red lipstick is my favorite thing to wear to feel dressed up. I like Shiseido Perfect Rouge.
What are your current obsessions?
My husband and I started cooking during the pandemic, so Top Chef has been our amazing guilty pleasure. We’ve also been renovating our home in New York, so I’m obsessed with finding great mid-century modern pieces for our house.
What’s your New York secret address?
My savior for all things fashion is Cowboy Shoe Repair on Broome Street. He’s the best.