Heidi Wynne, a friend and talented designer who makes classic cashmere scarves, Irish knit sweaters and straw bags (all affordable luxuries at that), recently relocated to the Hudson Valley in New York, so I thought she was a perfect candidate to answer this fall questionnaire. I cannot wait to go for a visit. In the meantime, we can all live vicariously.
What do you love and look forward to most about fall? Fall is by far my favorite season. I look forward to the humidity on the East Coast lifting, enjoying the foliage and being outdoors in the fresh, crisp fall air. My creativity soars during the autumn months and I find that I have a greater sense of clarity and vision for the future and my brand. For me, I feel like the new year starts in September when I am the most productive and able to develop the best new styles for my collection. I also look forward to cozy fall sweaters, cashmere, denim and boots.
What are your newest fave fall purchases ? My Charli boots from AERA New York are the smartest purchase I’ve made this fall. They are sustainably made in Veneto, Italy from vegan leather, are the most comfortable shoe that I own and are so modern yet classic. The perfect every-day boot. Westman Atelier clean makeup from Knockout Beauty is another favorite fall purchase. After discovering this brand, I will remain so dedicated because it’s the best clean beauty brand that I have found yet. I have the eye pods, the blush, the foundation stick and the highlighter and am about to go back to knockoutbeauty.com for more.
Something already in your closet you are pulling out for the cooler weather: It is so nice to wear the fisherman knit sweaters again from my own collection. They are made in a family run sweater mill in Ireland, are so cozy & warm and I just live in them once it starts to get cold. The crewneck is perfect with denim or wide leg wool pants and one of my cashmere wraps. Every year, I have a favorite cashmere wrap that I go to most often however this year it seems to be a three-way tie between the Black Bela, the Forest Green Isabelle and the Leopard Print Isabelle. I’ve also been wearing the fisherman knits over floral dresses from Danielle Fichera and Ulla Johnson with my Aera boots and Barbour jacket. A few years ago, I purchased a heather grey long, oversized wool blazer/light coat from the Heidi Merrick shop in downtown LA. It is one of my favorite cool weather staples because the quality is excellent, it is flattering yet fits over a bulky fisherman knit.
Your favorite new pieces from your Fall collection and how you will personally wear them: My new fall favorites are my New Canaan Cape, a cashmere cape that I wear in lieu of a jacket. I wear mine over a cashmere turtleneck sweater with straight leg Khaite denim from Moda Operandi and my AERA New York Charli Boots. I’m introducing two new colors for holiday, a navy blue and a forest green. I’m very excited about new sweaters that will be available soon, including two fisherman knit turtlenecks, two more fisherman knit cardigans and the classic crewneck will be also be available again in charcoal grey. I plan to bring back my cashmere Haverford cardigan because I feel like cardigans are so cozy right now especially over a silk slip dress. I love the 90’s minimalism of that look- just a simple cardigan over a midi slip dress. My Mini French Market Tote is back in stock and I will carry mine throughout the fall and winter months. My Montauk Raffia Cowboy hat, a favorite of our mutual friend Ann Caruso, will be in stock soon and I plan to wear it this fall and again in the spring.
Fave Fall food and/or recipe: I have been making pasta on an almost daily basis, from gnocchi with garlic and olive oil to a spicy rigatoni. I recently purchased Mimi Thorisson’s book Old World Italian: Recipes & Secrets from our Travels in Italy and have been using her recipes including the Tajarin with Tomato and Basil Sauce and the Cacio e Pepe. One of my own recipes that I bring back for the colder weather is a white bean pâté. It’s a simple dish with cannellini beans, olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh thyme, ground pepper, lemon and sea salt. I spread this over a warm baguette and serve before dinner. I also enjoy the Kingston Country Sourdough Bread, from Kingston Bread and Bar, dipped in garlic and olive oil with fresh basil. For dessert or a mid-day snack, warm cider donuts are a favorite fall treat.
Fave Fall drink: Hot chocolate with cinnamon or an earl grey tea with almond milk.
Fave Fall smell: A roaring fire and the smell of fallen leaves on a chilly morning. Also Diptyque’s Feu de Bois candle.
Fave Fall flower: Dahlias in shades of orange, deep yellow and dark pink
Favorite weekend activity: An ideal weekend involves a visit to the Kingston Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning for fresh vegetables, bread and honey, antiquing in Millerton and Millbrook, a drive through the country and then a quick stop at Davenport Farms in Stone Ridge. I have a Miniature Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua mix and a little terrier and love taking them for long walks along the Hudson River, reading the New York Times on a Sunday morning, brunch at Butterfield at Hasbrouk House in Stone Ridge or a late lunch with friends outdoors at Ollie’s Pizzeria in High Falls, and ending the weekend watching 60 Minutes while curled up on the couch with the dogs.
Key elements for being cozy inside your home: One of my cashmere wraps used as a light blanket while I read on the couch, my Le Labo Santal 26 candle, a fire, classical music, a good French film or a book and a cup of hot herbal tea with lemon.
New skill you’ve recently acquired: I’ve been taking French classes on Zoom with a wonderful teacher who lived in Paris for 25 years. She’s so patient and while I wouldn’t quite say a new skill has been acquired yet, I am working on it!
Current mood booster: Whenever I need to lift my mood, I listen to Sasha Distel, Wagner, Dolly Parton or Taylor Swift’s latest album which is excellent and so soothing. Yoga has been a lifesaver as well as heading out for a run when I’m feeling stressed and need to decompress.
Latest read: Faulkner House Books in New Orleans has a gift subscription service. Every month I receive three new books based on a brief interview where I listed my preferences. They always exceed expectations and send the most interesting selections and I’m so delighted when the package arrives. It’s been a bright spot during the pandemic, and I will definitely renew and also keep them in mind for holiday gifts. A few recent books received are RFK: His Words for our Times, a signed first edition of Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford, The Main in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes, Chanel’s Riviera by Anne DeCourcy. I’m also about to start Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. For home inspiration, I recently purchased Rattan: A World of Elegance and Charm by Lulu Lytle, The Interiors and Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino: A Painterly Vision by Martina Mondadori Sartogo, the editor of Cabana Magazine and British Designers at Home by Jenny Rose-Innes.
Current online rabbit hole: I’m in the process of buying a country house with a little guest cottage and fruit orchard here in the Hudson Valley. It used to belong to a landscape designer, so the gardens are already beautiful however I look forward to adding my own touch. I’m constantly online searching for home and garden inspiration and have been addicted to viewing images of Farrow and Ball Paint colors. A few of my favorite Instagram accounts for country house inspiration are @pino3bravo, @grayantiques, @robertkime, @hillhousevintage, @lacarliere, @james_coviello, @tat.london, @calosgarciainteriors, @thisoldhudson, @soanebritain, @danielpieckielonslowick, and @theirishaesthete. I could go on and on…..
New Insta Discovery: @willcrossleycreates Willow is a British florist who creates the most beautiful floral arrangements, seems so lovely and is such an inspiration. I am going to take her online guide to floristry on Create Academy.
Favorite hour of the day: My favorite time of day is early morning between 6 and 7 am. I love the stillness of the new day and I savor the moment of calm and serenity before things get busy. I’ve started doing light yoga and enjoying a cup of warm matcha before looking at my phone, heading out for a run or getting caught up in the workday.
Where you are donating your money and/or time: Glam for Good, a non-profit founded by Mary Alice Stephenson that uses fashion and beauty to empower, honor and inspire.
If you’ve had a chance to travel recently where did you go? If not, what will be your first trip? I haven’t travelled at all since the pandemic began. One of my closest friends was married in Philadelphia in September and I sadly decided to miss the wedding because I was too nervous about Covid. Fortunately, living in the Hudson Valley has felt like a vacation of sorts with all of the beautiful parks, beaches and trails. I desperately miss the city and will be there often once the pandemic settles down, however being in the country and around nature has been a welcome change. As soon as it’s safe to fly, I have a list of places which includes visiting family in San Francisco, Pennsylvania, London, Dublin and Belfast. Two of my closest friends live in LA and I can’t wait to see them again. Paris is also high on the list and I would love to visit friends in New Orleans.
What are your hopes for the post-pandemic future: I hope we all continue to enjoy a slower pace and more meaningful connections and experiences. Hopefully we will consume less and be more thoughtful about our purchases and their impact on the environment. My greatest wish is that the country begins to heal, that we display more compassion for other human beings. Finally, it sounds cliche, however I hope that we will have gratitude for all of the simple things in life that we took granted before the pandemic.