Chatting With Our 2019 Women Of Style About Astrology, Lingerie, Clare V. Bags And Afropolitan Style
Our annual Women of Style accolades are bestowed on these four L.A. fashionistas.
The Modern Mystic
Natalia Benson’s personal style stems from creativity, confidence and a powerful connection to her intuition.
“I’m drawn to anything esoteric or extremely thoughtful in design and pattern,” says Natalia Benson, seen here at the new Firehouse Hotel downtown. “But most notably, I love to be comfortable.” Benson wears an embroidered jacket by Helen Anthony, pants and boots by Anine Bing and a vintage crop top.
After she suffered heartache at age 21, Natalia Benson’s life took a turn. “I got broken up with, and someone asked if I knew about astrology,” she says. “That kicked off my spiritual journey.” The women’s empowerment coach and astrologer has carved out an interesting niche for herself, helping women tap into their spirituality and feminity through live and digital courses, readings and more, all with the purpose of leading “a phenomenal, powerful and self-directed life.” As she’s grown older, that message has informed not only Benson’s career, but her personal style as well. “I had become much more confident and loving with myself, and wearing pieces of quality and comfort became really important,” she explains. “I credit this largely to becoming more comfortable in my skin and my own body, so celebrating my feminine shape became a hallmark in anything I’d bring into my closet.” Benson’s designer go-tos include Gucci, Reformation, Anine Bing, Zimmermann and Mother Denim, and a typical outfit always includes a mix of the casual and the formal. “I love pairing pieces that perhaps complement but wouldn’t necessarily go together,” she says. “I pay attention to trends, but in true Aries form, I always express them in my own unique way.”
Styled by Paloma Bustos Wardrobe Stylist & Custom Design
The Nonchalant Tastemaker
Clare Vivier’s effortlessly cool attitude has influenced a legion of fans in L.A. and beyond.
Posing in her closet, Clare Vivier wears a vintage cropped jacket, Ann Demeulemeester trousers and a striped shirt by SMOCK. Shoes by Celine and the Clare V. Gustav bag in cherry red finish off the look. “I love color,” she says. “Sometimes the more the better.”
“I’ve always felt empowered to create and craft my own style identity,” says beloved L.A. designer Clare Vivier. “I think over the years and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve only become more secure in those tastes and sense of style.” The Echo Park resident—whose Clare V. handbags have adorned the arms of everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Kate Hudson—started her line 11 years ago with a laptop bag. The brand has grown to encompass multiple collections and collaborations, as well as stores across L.A., New York and, most recently, Denver. Although Parisian vibes inflect her look, Vivier’s personal style is very much influenced by Los Angeles. “In L.A., we’re surrounded by a lot of light and… that makes me embrace color,” she says. “I also love that we have a relaxed culture here. We’re not stuck to any social codes for the way we dress, which is very liberating.” Besides a general love of vintage (she frequents Luxe de Ville near her home), Vivier gravitates toward Old Celine, Scout, Dôen, Isabel Marant, Levi’s and more for favorites. “My personal style is always evolving, but I have an affinity for cropped trousers, a great blouse, a statement shoe and, currently, stacked bracelets, rings and layered necklaces. Blazers are always in rotation, as are dresses with a ruffle or puff sleeve,” she says. “And I always have a new Clare V. bag by my side.”
The Global-Minded Eclectic
Rising influential beauty czar Sharon Chuter’s unique look meshes Afro-Aussie-Euro style with L.A. attitude.
Sharon Chuter relaxes in the Presidential Suite of the SLS Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Beverly Hills, wearing a colorful gown by Manish Arora. The celebrated New Delhi-based designer is known for combining Indian embroidery, beading and applique with Western silhouettes—a fashion mission and philosophy that speaks to Chuter’s own worldy unification of styles.
It’s rare that someone who isn’t involved directly in fashion has thought as deeply about her personal style as Sharon Chuter. The CEO and founder of the buzzy, new-to-market cosmetics line Uoma Beauty, Chuter—a former LVMH executive who is Nigerian by birth and has lived in Lagos, London and all over Australia before relocating to Los Angeles—equates her look as her business card. “I always make sure what I wear is communicating my truth,” says Chuter. “I’m a global citizen of what I call ‘Afropolitan’ heritage, and I never want that to get lost in context. For example, recently I went to an event wearing a beautiful Maison Margiela dress and I put an African scarf on top of it. I wanted to say, very loudly: ‘Here is my heritage, this is what makes me unique.’” That POV is the same reason Chuter believes Uoma’s ultrainclusive beauty products are resonating—authenticity, heritage and all skin shades alongside their unique concerns are celebrated in the line.
Chuter describes her personal style as eclectic, with an appreciation for clean lines and a fearlessness of bright colors. She’s also a “gown kind of girl,” due to her deep admiration of couture-level workmanship and tailoring. European haute couture company Ralph & Russo and LaQuan Smith are two of her go-tos, though Chuter admits that L.A.’s laid-back lifestyle has her embracing flowy dresses and even shorts. “What people don’t see enough is the bohemian vibe of California—it’s not advertised as much as the glitz and the glamour,” she says. “My brand and who I stand for, we’re nonconformists. I found a home in California because of that free-spiritedness. It’s a creative economy and a dreamer’s paradise. Anything can happen here.”
Styling by Adam Drawas; Hair by Rikke Gajda for The Wall Group; Makeup by Talya Boz
The Classics Collector
A producer and philanthropist-turned-lingerie entrepreneur, Noelle Wolf adores traditional pieces and vintage jewelry.
“I love brands that have a heritage but are totally current—and where you can tell the product is really considered,” declares Noelle Wolf, captured wearing a white blouse by Zimmermann, a khaki skirt from Red Card and Carrie Forbes sandals. Her jewelry is from Asprey.
Noelle Wolf thinks about personal style right from her foundational garments. The brains and name behind the newly launched designer lingerie brand (available at noellewolf.com this month and in retail stores by November), Wolf has long collected beautiful lingerie from around the world—and now, she wants to shake up the industry. “There are a lot of conversations around equality, inclusivity and diversity at the moment, so the timing seemed right to launch a lingerie brand that is not about dressing for a male gaze,” she says. “Dressing just for yourself—not for anyone else—is very liberating.” Her line features high-end fabrics and detailing like Japanese Leavers lace, Swiss embroidery and French silk, a level of quality that speaks directly to Wolf’s own fashion ideology. “My personal philosophy is to buy well and buy once,” she says, naming Balenciaga, Dior and British fine jewelry line Asprey as go-tos and calling luxury jewelry house HOORSENBUHS “my current love.” Wolf, who describes herself as “enamored with stones,” also has an extensive collection of vintage jewelry, and collects Cartier and Bulgari pieces from the ’60s and ’70s, in particular. For her clothing, she eschews trends in favor of classics, often styled to highlight a key piece of jewelry. And she considers L.A. a constant source of inspiration. “It’s dynamic and relaxed at the same time, and that shapes my style,” says Wolf. “I see amazing people everywhere all the time. The positivity and can-do attitude here is infectious.”
HAIR BY MARILEE ALBIN; MAKEUP BY KERRY MALOUF; NAILS BY DANI PIOLA; STYLIING BY SESCIE ANTIN
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF: JSQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY