Get to Know: Lori Lindsay of The News

“I’m all about aesthetics – whether its food, design, or architecture,” Lori Lindsay says. At The News, Lori’s keen aesthetic sensibility and tenacious work ethic has made her integral in launching some of our favorite brands, like Cheap Monday and R13. But before that she worked with Daryl K, just down the block from OAK Bond Street, during the label’s rapid growth in the mid-90s. We sat down with Lori at the bar of Morini (one of her favorite spots for a post-work glass of wine) to talk about the evolution of downtown fashion, high-low aesthetics, aspirational hamburgers, and of course – blue jeans. Today, Lori reflects on her days at Daryl K and the art of putting together an outfit fit for a “high school paint huffer.”

After briefly studying political science at NYU [Lori had aspirations of becoming a politician], you found yourself in New York at 18, working in the East Village and playing in a band [The PRISSTEENS]. How did you come to meet Daryl K?

I was working at a lingerie store and a girl shopping there came in wearing these great pants. I asked her about them and she said Daryl K. I went into the store and Daryl happened to be in the store. She looked up and said, “Will you work here?” – I think I just had the right look. At first I said no I have a job, but then – I would save all my money from the lingerie store to buy Daryl K pants, which at the time were only like $80. Can you imagine finding a designer selling pants for that now? That was kind of the beginning of downtown fashion becoming more mainstream.

What was it about your style that you think caught her attention?

I had a look that people loved – not a model-ly look, but somehow it worked. It was so interesting at the time because I would walk down the street and people would stop me and ask to take my picture, and this was pre-blogging. I don’t even know what they were taking the picture for. At one point Daryl pointed it out – she could see it too. She would look at magazines and come into the store and say, “You should watch out all these people are copping your style.”

So what were you wearing?

I was pretty much wearing only Daryl K stuff at the time. When I think about it, fashion now is very similar to what it was at the time, it’s kind of come full circle in a way. The low-rise pants, no one was doing that then. Now that is the mainstay of popular fashion. If you look to a lot of what designers are doing now you can see the influence. Daryl wasn’t using expensive fabrics – she was going to local East Village fabric stores – what she was doing was more of an innovative idea [in terms of concepts and silhouette].

Daryl also was one of the first to show her clothes at non-traditional venues like the Pitt Street Pool, what are your memories of that time?

It was exciting to be a part of it and fun – [at the time] I didn’t really understand what it all was. Of course having all this time in between now and then can kind of look back and think about what a special time it was, but it was very fun while it was happening as well. [For example] I used to kind of be friendly with Joey Ramone because he liked my band The PRISSTEENS, so we invited Joey to a show and he came…Daryl’s shows were different – at the time it seemed special [to host them outside the tents] but now it’s something everyone does.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I don’t think I’m extravagant, but perhaps it’s more like this quote by Oscar Wilde: ‘I’m a man of simple tastes. I’m always satisfied with the best.’

Simple tastes – like blue jeans and black Vans – that’s become your look…You’ve casually described it as looking like a “high school paint huffer,” but there’s more to it than that.

A girl who used to work at News remarked one time when she was wearing jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers at the office that she was ‘dressed like Lori’ today, that she had ‘picked up whatever was laying on the floor and put it on.’ She was in fact not ‘dressed like Lori’ today, nor do I just pick up whatever is laying on the floor. I won’t just wear any t-shirt or any jeans, or wear just any t-shirt with any jeans, and so on and so forth. The combinations are all very specific in terms of proportion, fabrics, season, tones, whatever. They are all carefully considered and thought out.

Which kind of brings us back around to Mr. Wilde’s words. There’s something special about simplicity.

I feel there is a growing movement for appreciating good design, beautiful fabrics, quality ingredients, appreciation for all things aesthetic, whether they be hamburgers, jeans, sneakers, computers, cat litter boxes, you name it, someone out there is trying to make the best, coolest, purest possible product without just considering the bottom line.

You’re a self-described over-achiever. Growing up you excelled at just about every sport yourplayed (softball, tennis, track,) and were a straight A student, but you were also very into punk rock – how have these two sides of your personality played out in your professional life?

[I have to] balance my natural rebellion with natural ambition. My rebellious part –it’s easy for me to get up, it’s easy for me to go to work and get to the gym. [And] I believe in setting goals. To get from point A to point B is never going to be a straight line – this shit might go backwards and all around and in a loop and then back – as long as you’re keeping your eye on the prize at the end.

I’m a taskmaster. I have the opposite problem where I have to chill out a little bit.

So then, how do you unwind after a long day?

A glass of wine and my Volcano.

Zebra Katz – Ima Read (ft Njena Reddd Foxxx)

OAK Recommends – Acid Bath