Any follower of the fashion bloggerazzi will recognize the understated, pulled-together chic of this months’ Muse, Sarah Rutson. The couturier of fashion directors, it is Sarah’s attention to the subtleties of a product, those little nuances that make all the difference.
No slavish follower of runway fads, British-born Sarah makes her wardrobe of Alaia classics and timeless biker jackets work hard for her, whether at home in Hong Kong or jet-setting the international front rows.
Her friends call her a magician, but I like to think of her as more of a technician, piecing together components to create a masterpiece.
As you would expect from the fashion director for the Lane Crawford group of department stores in Asia, her product knowledge is encyclopedic, with the contents of her make-up bag reeled off without hesitation and with full specification – brand, shade and size.
A curator of fashion, Sarah is master. She also offers unexpected revelations about her addiction to cheap chocolate, her knitting habit, and her weakness for all creatures great and small…
KOTUR: What’s in your make-up bag?
Sarah: Oh that’s simple. I’m very minimal on makeup. I wear very little – I never wear mascara, ever. Clue de peu foundation, Mac blusher, I wear a Chanel nude lipstick and I wear Giorgio Armani eyeshadow
KOTUR: Do you have a favorite purse or bag?
Sarah: Yes – I have to say the bag I use the most is an Hermes clutch. I use it for evening and for day. When I’m on a business trip, I have a car 24/7, so the car becomes my office where I keep files and everything. I don’t want them ruining my handbag or ruining my back.
KOTUR: Do you have a beauty secret?
Sarah: Yesterday I bought my first bottle of La Prairie Caviar Luxe cream. I’m literally on day 1, and by day 30 I expect to look… oooh… 35?
KOTUR: How would your female friends describe your style?
Sarah: Very eclectic, but mostly they’re shocked because I’ve got fewer clothes than any of my friends have – they call me a magician. I have a very strict wardrobe – I’m the expert at mixing and matching… it never looks like I wear anything twice.
KOTUR: What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
Sarah: It’s a family signet ring, a very large signet ring which was unusual for a woman, it comes from about 1720, so it was a great great great great grandmother, and she was a very bold dresser.
KOTUR: Is there anything in your wardrobe you should get rid of but can’t?
Sarah: Never – everything I have in my wardrobe I wear. My wardrobe works very, very hard for me. I tend to buy the same thing in a couple of colors. The biker jacket, for example, has been in my wardrobe for 30 odd years, but I can always find an excuse to buy another one – the weight of it, the color, the cut, the proportion…
KOTUR: What do you never leave home without?
Sarah: Wearing scent. Perfume is very important to me, which is why I’ve got a very large nose – for a reason. I never leave home without wearing my perfume which is one of 3 brands: Jo Malone Lime Basil and Mandarin, the other is Bulgari and Clarins in the red bottle. I never walk out of the house with out scent on – I feel naked.
KOTUR: Have you ever worn anything you are now embarrassed by?
Sarah: I think my hair embarrassed me, looking back, at the 80s with that curly perm, the whole Flashdance thing. I certainly look at that 80’s perm Bananarama thing going on with the mousse, and it’s pretty terrifying…
KOTUR: How high is too high a heel?
Sarah: Oh no such thing, but I will never be uncomfortable. Anna Dello Russo said fashion should be uncomfortable, but I am in the school that absolutely anything I wear that if I have to fiddle with it, or if I’m mincing around in pain, it’s just not going to happen.
KOTUR: How old is too old for jeans?
Sarah: Never, never. My mother is 80 and unbelievably chic, she is my style icon. The chicest woman you will ever know, beautiful, beautiful woman – she’s very much like the Duchess of Devonshire, she’s a very tall and regal woman, she wears jeans. We went out and bought a pair of J Brand dark, dark blue jeans and she looks incredible in them.
KOTUR: What is your most recent purchase?
Sarah: Very easy… yet another Alaia dress. My first independent purchase, with my first salary at 17 was an Alaia dress. I saved up and went to Paris. Absolutely I still have it and wear it. It’s the one brand and time when I never ever look at a price tag, because it is irrelevant to me in that respect – it defies trend, it defies season, it defies anything you would normally question “should I pay this much for this or that?” because I’ve never, never not worn my Alaias to death…
KOTUR: Can you judge a book by its cover?
Sarah: Never, but I am an extremely good judge of character. I guess it’s because my grandmother was a psychic, and it’s something I’m never wrong on…
KOTUR: What’s your greatest extravagance?
Sarah: My greatest extravagance, I suppose, is my inability to say no to an animal in distress. Every year, there are more animals in my house – literally we now have 2 dogs, 5 cats, and I lavish my mutts…
KOTUR: Do you have a cheap thrill?
Sarah: When I say I like chocolate, I only like cheap chocolate…Cadbury’s.
KOTUR: Who or what would you like to be reincarnated as in your next life?
Sarah: A really loved dog! A dog in a family that is really crazy about me, because that would be a fabulous life…
KOTUR: Yes or no to a nip and a tuck?
Sarah: I’m a no to Botox, but will I have surgery… hell yes!
KOTUR: What part of your body would you like to change?
Sarah: I would like straight hair that I don’t have to blow-dry.
KOTUR: Do you have a favorite Kotur bag?
Sarah: Yes, it’s my feathers… it’s really so chic. Again, because I’m so understated in a lot of the things I wear, I love a clutch bag and people say ‘ooh where did you get that?’ and it’s always in my bag in every trip.
KOTUR: On a scale of one-to-ten, how good looking are you?
Um… I’m not good looking, I stand out in a crowd – people remember me. I’m not a classic beauty, I’m different… and how do you rate that?