Introducing the Barneys New York women’s designer campaign for Spring 2012: Tree Time, featuring the one and only Penelope Tree, along with seven other supremely chic women.
At the famous Black and White Ball hosted by Truman Capote in 1966 at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Richard Avedon discovered Penelope Tree. The first photographs of Penelope taken by Avedon and published in Vogue in 1967 created a sea change in the way we perceive beauty. She was a free spirit who didn’t look like anybody else. She was a moon-child, a warrior sylph sent down from another planet to bewitch us all.
Penelope represented the Swinging Sixties, and all that went with it. She was the It Girl, pure cat-nip for the press, the lover of David Bailey, and a favorite of legendary fashion Empress Diana Vreeland. She was a fashion icon. Think of Avedon’s portraits of her with the pear-shaped diamond in front of her eye, the Ungaro mask transforming her into an exotic alien, and the enchanted portrait of her dancing, in her own world, hair flying to music only she could hear.
Some might think that Penelope had a golden childhood. She was the only daughter of famed socialite Marietta Tree and the wealthy British MP Ronald Tree. She lived in refined splendor, variously in London, New York and Barbados, but her life was not golden. Penelope felt her way out of a lonely childhood, and then later saw the dark side of beauty and how the fashion world can so quickly consume its young. The images that we know so well that made her so famous have been but one chapter in her rich and inquiring life. A student of Buddhism since the 1980s, Penelope is the mother of two grown children, lives in London and travels often for the work she does with Lotus Outreach, a non-profit organization that supports education for vulnerable women and children in Cambodia and India, and the Khyentse Foundation, which promotes Buddhist scholarship. And if you have ever met her, she is indeed an enchanted sylph who inspires the best in others, as true to herself as her photographs would have you believe.
- Wendy Goodman
Fashion editor of British indie magazine Wonderland, the half-Sengalese, half-French London native has become a magnet for street-style photographers because of her daring sense of dress. “I love the fantasy element of fashion, how it constantly changes.” What would she do if she wasn’t in fashion? “Probably something with really funny animals, like teacup pets. I spend hours looking at puppies and kittens on YouTube.”
Sybil Buck’s career trajectory has been varied and unusual. In the 90s, her renegade looks, the “Coke-can red hair” and multiple piercings made her a runway darling of Gaultier and Saint Laurent, and in later years she went on to become a bassist and singer for alternative rock bands. Now living in Topanga Canyon outside of Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, Purple Rose, Buck spends much of her time as a yoga teacher, which she says has been “inspired by the peace of our new lifestyle.”
Aldridge, a self-confessed shoe fanatic, began her blog, Sea of Shoes, five years ago at the age of 15, and now counts Kanye West among almost a million other fashion lovers as fans. With the help of mom and fellow blogger Judy, Aldridge not only covers her favorite shoes, but creates photo vignettes of her in highly stylized looks that mix vintage and modern designers. Would she ever want to design her own line of shoes? “Sometimes I envision this shoe in my mind, but designing full-time might take away some of the things I enjoy most about them.”
SOPHIA SANCHEZ BARRENECHEA
This Argentinian came to New York three years ago and worked for Sorrenti before going into art direction for fashion and beauty. Sanchez admits she misses her hometown, Buenos Aires, and especially her sisters. There is one perk about being so far away: “It’s the opposite season there, so I constantly swap clothes with my mother and sisters,”…in particular anything from her mother’s Azzedine Alaïa collection.
“I’m a performer at heart,” says model and musician Sarah Ruba. “I like modeling for the performance aspect.” A native of a small town in Ontario, Canada, Ruba moved to New York City and started modeling professionally. Shortly after, she and her husband Adam Pavao started an electric pop band called “New Look.” Ruba enjoys dressing up on stage. “I’m really into a sort of 50s-rockabilly-old-Hollywood-meets-grunge vibe, which sounds totally weird, but it’s awesome.”
This Parisian model and actress fell into her career by chance. At age 14, she was discovered by a modeling agent while standing in a store front to escape the rain. The same could be said for acting: “Acting wasn’t a dream, but I discovered something deeper that I really enjoy.” She has appeared in the French film “My Piece of the Pie” and recently finished shooting a second. Her dream director: “Lars Von Triers. I like directors who are cerebral and a bit crazy.”
A member of the corps de ballet at the American Ballet Theatre and a previous member of the English National Ballet, Saund has been passionate about dance and music since she can remember. “I have a great love for classical music, especially Chopin.” Her favorite ballets are romantic to the core: “I love Lady of the Camellias, the pas de deux are exquisite, and the costumes; it is a very chic ballet.”
Céline. Call 212 826 8900 to order.
Dolce & Gabbana. Call 212 826 8900 to order.
Mary Katrantzou. Call 212 826 8900 to order.
Photographs by Mario Sorrenti. Styled by Melanie Ward.