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Tastemaker ALEX HOLLEMAN

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A magical sense of style

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/30/13/31/kjJUs.Em.138.jpeg|500
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Alex Holleman at her home in front of a painting by Steve Penley. She’s wearing a Libertine wrap over a Natori camisole with a Marc Jacobs skirt she prefers to wear backwards. Her earrings and necklace are vintage. She made the beaded necklace she’s wearing.
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    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Alex Holleman at her Charlotte home with her daughter Evie Holleman, 5. Alex’s mother made Evie’s dress, which is similar to dresses Alex loved to wear as a child. The American flag flying in the background is extra special to Alex because it flew over the Capitol in Washington in honor of her late father.
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    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Alex Holleman at her Charlotte home with her daughter Ruthie Holleman, 2. Alex is encouraging her daughters to be confident and original.
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    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Alex Holleman is surrounded by art in her Charlotte home. As a member of the Mint Museum Auxiliary, planning events that raise money for the museum is dear to her because visual art is one of her passions and her home is filled with works she’s collected.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/30/13/31/1kt7jy.Em.138.jpeg|474
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Alex Holleman at her home in Myers Park. She describes her style as instinctive. “I wear whatever feels right in the moment,” she says. “I’m not one of those people who can plan their outfit well in advance because the result is likely to be flat, boring and unoriginal. I trust my sense of style and it usually comes together, for me anyway. I usually steer clear of trends, but I’m not that traditional either. I know what I like, what works on me, and I go with it.”

Alex Holleman’s background as a tenacious lawyer coupled with her innate sense of style has made her a sought-after community volunteer, especially for the Mint Museum Auxiliary. Planning events that raise money for the museum is dear to her because visual art is one of her passions and her home is filled with works she’s collected. She and her friend Jenn Lamarre were recently chosen as the new editors of The Scout Guide Charlotte because of their business acumen and style. They were also picked by the auxiliary to co-chair its annual Symposium fundraiser in spring 2015. They immediately went to work and landed a major speaker: Aerin Lauder of the Lauder cosmetics empire, who has recently launched her own Aerin lifestyle brand. Along with expressing herself creatively through her magical sense of style that’s a mix of new and vintage, Holleman also makes unique necklaces that are popular with some of Charlotte’s most fashionable women.

Q: Any vacation plans?

A: I’m spending the rest of the summer splitting time between Charlotte and Grandfather Mountain, and my family and I are taking a trip to St. Barths this fall - can’t wait! This will be the first time my little girls will be traveling with their passports! The 10-minute prop plane ride over from St. Maarten should be interesting…

Q: Any favorite haunts?

A. Flea markets of all scopes and sizes, from Paris to Brooklyn to Palm Beach (via Atlanta several times a year). They are where I first began collecting vintage costume jewelry many years ago, and all the interesting/odd objects I’ve picked up over the years serve as inspiration for much of my own jewelry line. I love the hunt.

Q: What are your summer wardrobe staples?

A: Flat sandals! I need to be comfortable, and flats are a necessity for me. And I never leave the house without a hat these summer days.

Q: What are your must-have beauty products?

A: I love my Vapour lip gloss from Toccare – it’s mostly organic and I’m always in the mood for a little sheen that works beautifully from day to night. SuperGoop SPF 50 from Woo Cosmetics is my go-to sun protection for the face and hands (I keep telling myself that I’m prettiest when I’m pale).

Q: What's your favorite workout?

A: I’m doing this 7-minute workout app every day this summer (from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Medical Journal). I’m in training to join the fabulously fit at Hilliard Studio Method this fall.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Instinctive. I wear whatever feels right in the moment. I’m not one of those people who can plan their outfit well in advance because the result is likely to be flat, boring and unoriginal. I trust my sense of style and it usually comes together, for me anyway. I usually steer clear of trends, but I’m not that traditional either. I know what I like, what works on me, and I go with it.

Q: What are some of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?

A: I’m fortunate – my closet is filled with many great vintage frocks that I’ve collected over the years, some that I originally “borrowed” from my mother’s closet, including a fabulous purple and gold lame Oscar de la Renta gown that makes me feel like Cleopatra. I have a trailblazing radiant red Zandra Rhodes caftan that I’ve worn to various events around town and which I’ve also used for a prop at an event I helped co-chair: that’s versatility for you!

Q: What are your favorite brands/labels?

A: Every season I find something I adore from Dries van noten. Oscar, Wes Gordon, Stella McCartney, Antik Batik and Altuzzara (which can all be found right here in Charlotte at Capitol, Coplon’s or Coral). I was a big fan of Jane Mayle’s line when she was designing clothes. And I’m loving Baja East’s new collection - great pieces for traveling and stuffing in a suitcase!

Q: Who’s your biggest style influence?

A: My mother was a huge influence. She is confident in her style, and very put together and ladylike. I never saw her wear jeans or shorts. She always thought I could pull off great style too. She encouraged me to be original, something I impart on my own daughters.

Q: What's your favorite restaurant?

A: It’s definitely a three-way tie (The Moffett trifecta) – Barringtons, Good Food and Stagionis. Bruce Moffett is a culinary genius. We are fortunate to have his vision for food here in Charlotte.

Q: Have you bought any artwork lately?

A: This past spring my husband and I visited the home of our talented friends, Atlanta artists Carolyn Carr and Michael Gibson. I couldn’t resist coming home with a fabulous painting on linen and a pair of the prettiest petal pink drawings for my daughters’ play room. Carolyn and Michael are among our favorite people, and we’ve been collecting both of their works for nearly a decade.

Q: What's your favorite hotel?

A: Eden Rock.

Q: What are some of your favorite books?

A: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, which I read for the first time in high school. I also love presidential biographies, especially unauthorized ones. Presidential politics are fascinating.

Q: Any movies you're looking forward to seeing?

A: “Boyhood.” My husband and I will hopefully see it before this article goes to print.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of furniture in your home?

A: My bed (before 9:30 p.m. on most weeknights).

Q: Anything you'll never wear?

A: Glitter.

Q: Is there anything you loved as a child that still influences you today?

A: I used to wear a lot of “Holly Hobbie” style prairie dresses as a child (sans the bonnet) – a bit drabby yet somewhat charming all the same. “Boho chic” by today’s standard. It wasn’t as cool back then though.

Q: Are there any wardrobe additions you plan to invest in for fall?

A: One of Altuzzara’s fleece jackets, and another great Stella McCartney blazer. I don’t need any more handbags but I’ve got my eye on the Mansur Gavriel bucket.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make when planning a fundraising event?

A: Unbridled procrastination.

Q: Who's your favorite famous person you've met?

A: During grade school, my grandmother introduced me to the former King of Greece, Constantine II. It was thrilling to meet a real monarch, notwithstanding that he was then in exile. In adulthood, I had the occasion of meeting two former U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, on separate occasions, both at King & Spalding’s offices in Atlanta during the years I practiced law there.

Q: Any words of wisdom?

A: Find a way to do what you love, and do it with vigor and passion!!!

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