Next Monday at the annual CFDA Awards, Lynn Yaeger will receive the Media Award in Honor of Eugenia Sheppard, an accolade reserved for writers, editors, and photographers who have made a lasting impact on the fashion world. With 25 years of experience—from her current work at Vogue to her early days at the Village Voice—Yaeger occupies a particular place in the industry: She’s revered not just for her incisive, witty, and intuitive writing, but also for her unwavering, throughly unique style. Her eclectic look often involves a few layers of tulle petticoats, mismatched florals, ballet flats, and a pile of antique jewelry, plus her signature bob and “Kewpie doll” makeup. She’s been the fascination of street-style photographers around the world, helped foster the careers of up-and-coming designers, and even served as inspiration to some of fashion’s most established talents, including Marc Jacobs, whose Fall 2012 collection was in part an ode to Yaeger.
Chances are, you already knew most of this. But what you likely don’t know is the depth of Yaeger’s kindness, humor, and humility, not to mention what it’s like to actually be one of her (many, many!) fashion friends. So we asked a few of them to pen “love letters” to her: Several wrote about their countless shopping excursions with Yaeger, from Barneys and Bergdorfs to the Paris flea markets (she’s an expert haggler); one joked that she “stalked” Yaeger before they became close friends; and nearly all of them praised her unflagging passion and (sometimes brutal) honesty. Ruth Chapman closed her letter simply: “Please never change.” Lynn, we agree! Read all of their notes below.
Mickey Boardman, editorial director, Paper magazine
When I think of our 30-year friendship, I don’t consider it so much a friendship as a shopping tour of the world. We’ve covered the flea markets tour of New York, Chicago, Rome, Barcelona, Naples, Vienna, Copenhagen, London and, of course, Paris. You’ve been my trusted advisor on every major fashion purchase of the past 30 years. You’ve seen me through Missoni, Dries, Marc Jacobs, Rick Owens, and Stella McCartney. I’ve seen you through Margiela, Comme des Gar?ons, Simone Rocha, Fendi bags, Prada bags, Goyard bags, and Chanel bags.
I’m pretty sure that we’re the only half Communist/half monarchist duo to be given a private tour of Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon, and it warms my royalty-loving heart every Christmas and birthday when you give me royalty commemorative dishware. Nothing says I love you like shopping against your political beliefs!
You’ve been a legend your whole life and it’s been amazing to see the rest of the world realize it, culminating with you winning this well-deserved CFDA Eugenia Sheppard Award. Your wide and eclectic knowledge of so many topics brings a depth to your fashion writing that is rare and delightful. I can’t think of anyone else who can as easily quote Walter Benjamin as Destiny’s Child, Marxist theory as Beverly Hills, 90210. The fashion world is so lucky to have your unique fabulousness, and I consider myself blessed to call you one of my dearest friends.
Anna Sui, designer
I love your red haircut like Louise Brooks!
I love your Betty Boop cupid’s bow lips!
I love your doll-like rouged cheeks!
I love your ’20s-style coats and dresses!
I love how Guido Palau paid tribute to your unique hairstyle with a bob on Katie Moore for Marc Jacobs’s Fall 2016 show!
I love how you spent your entire student loan on French dresses, which forced you to immediately find a job, fortuitously with the Village Voice!
I loved following your work at the Village Voice, New York magazine, and now Vogue!
I love running into you at vintage shows, always anxious to see what unique jewels or treasures you’ve bought!
I love how you’ve always stayed true to your own unique style!
xxx Anna Sui
Ruth Chapman, founder of MatchesFashion.com
Well, of course my first introduction to you was your writing, which always caught the fashion mood and moment and wittily arrived at the nub of things, sometimes with hilarity, other times with generosity, and occasionally with despair.?So you intrigued me. And then there’s your iconic status on the fashion circuit, your voluminous ruffles, vintage jewelry, baby doll makeup, and baby doll voice. The joy of watching you mill amongst the crowd.
You didn’t disappoint; from our first date, everything was on the menu. We truly bonded over our mutual deep love for Simone Rocha, and then Molly Goddard too. Our gossip sessions are forever locked in secrecy, they’re so wicked.?And the political discussions like no other. Please run for office.
I love having you as a friend mostly because I can seek your guidance on everything from the obvious—clothing, jewelry, flea market finds—to my children’s education and?well-being, and receive searingly honest advice like no other. My feelings are never spared. I also love that you mock me and roll your eyes, but most of all for your brilliantly acidic humor that has me choking on my lunch and weeping into my napkin.
I do wish we could agree on where to eat, though. You, with your full-bodied steaks and me in search of vegetables in whichever city we happen to find ourselves.
Lynn, you really are one in a million. A legend in your time. Please never change.
Molly Goddard, designer
We first met maybe four years ago when I came to New York for a 24-hour trip to do a press day at Dover Street Market; I was jet-lagged and nervous, I hadn’t been to NYC before, nor done anything like a press day. You were wearing layer upon layer of tulle and frills topped off with a Victorian nightgown and an old Fair Isle jumper. (I now know Fair Isle jumpers are one of the many things you collect, and I always keep my eye out for you!) You shrieked with glee at the rails of pastel smocked tulle and tried multiple dresses on over your already voluminous outfit. Everything was hunched and piled around your neck and looked incredible. I had never met anyone like you before and we instantly became friends.
Whenever we are both in Paris, my highlight is your 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning flea market party in Portes de Vanves. In London, Alfies Antique Market. Recently in New York, you took me to the Chelsea flea market and introduced me to your many friends in the arcade across the road. On all of these trips, you berate me for being too tight and never splashing the cash! I promise the next time we go shopping together I will spend some money—I have always wanted to buy something to remind me of these wonderful and inspiring trips with you. Ideally a hairy Victorian mourning ring.
Michael Musto, journalist
I’ll never forget our first interaction at the Village Voice. You assigned me to stay overnight in a flea-bitten, rat-infested Kips Bay motel just to test my courage and provide a culture clash that would hopefully result in something funny and readable. I did it, prying my eyes open all night and not only not sleeping a wink, but not even winking. Racing back to safety in the morning, I wrote the piece, which I thought was perfectly fine. You killed it. But somehow we bonded because you grounded me, entertained me, educated me, and was the only one at the Voice brave enough to say that a piece of mine wasn’t fit for print! Since then, we’ve spent every single day gossiping, bantering, and enlightening—except for the 48 weeks of the year when you’re away. And it’s been something I have treasured, while also marveling at your knowledge of the chic and (separately) the political. I am so proud of you for getting this prestigious award. And since your parents can’t be here to chime in with their kudos, let me relay what they would have said: They couldn’t think of anyone else to nominate?
Simone Rocha, designer
You are honestly the most wonderful, inspiring friend. I know we met in a mystical way—well, you did used to call me your stalker. Well, I was stalking you. It started in our favorite stall in the flea market at Porte de Clignancourt and it ended walking the streets in an anti-Trump protest in New York, but I did always feel you were pleased to see me.
I have to admit, I have always admired you from afar and now I am so privileged to call you a friend and confidant. Your creativity, honesty, and humor make you the most wonderful company. I love how you question me and my work, like my fear of the color blue, and then I must challenge myself to face blue. And the blue rose in my collection was for you. Truly embodying my designs, with many layers your love and support is so generous.
A true original, never indulgent, beautiful inside and out. You are a real inspiration.
All my love,
Laura Wills, founder of Screaming Mimis
In our many years of friendship, Lynn and I have shared a myriad of exotic shopping adventures, from the Vanves flea market in Paris to the outlet stores of Orlando. My favorite Lynn anecdote involves a very specific shopping experience. I had hurt my back and was finally able to get off the floor of my apartment and onto my feet when Lynn came to my rescue. She loves helping friends with any ailment (real or imagined). I mentioned that I should probably buy some sensible sneakers to wear until my back healed completely. Lynn immediately declared that she would take me sneaker shopping, and told me in no uncertain terms that we were going to Saks. No Adidas or Nikes would suffice. Designer footwear was not exactly what I had in mind until I spied the most perfect dream sneakers, but they were Chanel with a hefty price tag. Lynn deemed them perfect as well. When I protested about the price she looked at me sternly and said, “You have to buy them. This is a medical emergency!” Who was I to argue with this authority? I bought them immediately. I have always loved her for that.
Erdem Moralioglu, designer
I first met you in a dingy flea market in Paris years ago…the faint rustling of several tulle petticoats were a warning you were getting closer…. Our love of old things, hamburgers, and various mediocre diners have made us kindred spirits…I also think a Paris flea market is just a lot of old junk without you there…I was trying to figure out what it is that makes you so wonderful…. How can I just name one facet to this diamond...? If I can only choose one, it’s your fearless passion…it’s something I wish we saw more of…or maybe it’s your pursed little black lips that sometimes give way to a smile...
You are a very dear friend to me.
All my love,
Marc Alary, jewelry designer
Before Mark Holgate introduced me to Lynn, he told me, “She likes monkeys, dolls, jewelry, and flea markets.” I remember telling myself, “Okay, I don’t know this person but I already love her!” As it’s not everyday you meet a person who shares those exact passions. A few days later when we met for a coffee so I could show her some of my jewelry, before we even began to look at pieces, we started a discussion on the merits of using old, inconspicuous-looking bags to carry jewelry in a safe way. Once again I thought to myself, These are my kind of subjects! Which is one thing I love about Lynn—she can talk about everything, you’ll never get bored, she is direct, quick, witty, says what is on her mind, and tells you like it is, which is so refreshing. Spending time with her at an antique fair or flea market is an incredible treat, and she is a hell of a good bargainer! She has impeccable taste in jewelry, and I’m so proud to know that somewhere among her absolutely beautiful jewelry collection, there is one of my articulated little monkeys roaming around.
Nicolas Bos, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels
I first met Lynn while I was based in New York as the president & CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Americas. She was already a respected and renowned journalist and was writing for the legendary Village Voice. On September 4, 2007, we had the Une Journée à Paris collection reveal and, of course, Lynn was invited. I was quite impressed by her. I tried to lighten the atmosphere by telling a joke about my outfit as I was wearing a brooch on my jacket, which is pretty uncommon for me. So I said to her with a touch of humor that I was trying to set a trend for men to wear brooches. It didn’t make her laugh, and on top of that, she relayed this anecdote in her column in the Village Voice! Anyway, now when we see each other, we always like to remember this first meeting and laugh about it together.
Lynn is a great voice who knows how to write about style and fashion with a very personal and original touch. She deserves this homage and I wish her to continue enchanting us with her words for a long time.
Kym Canter, founder of House of Fluff
I can still vividly remember why it happened, it was almost 20 years ago now, when we both decided this is it, we are meant to be friends. It was not because we lived a couple blocks from each other or were roughly the same age or because we work in the same industry, it was the realization that we both are obsessed with shopping!
It did not take long for our relationship to bloom and fall into a regular pattern, Saturdays were meant for lunch at the BG restaurant followed by poodling around Bergdorf’s and Barneys, gossiping with our favorite sales people and ending up in a fitting room together trying on drastically different looks.
You always in pursuit of the perfect fairy princess look (a poof skirt layered under a smock dress) and me searching for something that made me feel sexy. On a few occasions we did actually end up buying the same items, like several Marni coats and a gold sequined jacket that we both still wear.
We were always trying to find that magic, life-changing item that would make our hearts sing and our looks perfect. Of course everything we bought had to be on second markdown for me and third markdown for you, and we never bought anything that was not returnable in case we got home and felt we had made a terrible mistake!
There were many nights we obsessed over designers like some women obsess over boyfriends. We had our Lanvin period, our Marni phase, I fell hard for Rick Owens and you always stayed true to Comme des Gar?ons. I remember when we first tried fast fashion, and decided to opt out of sample sales because it was way too easy to make a mistake.
Of course who can forget the stink bombs—the things we had to have and never wore. I remember you trying to get that Christian Dior coat to work and all the times, you came back from Europe and confessed your many shopping accidents; a certain Fendi or Marni fur coat still comes to mind.
Now the pattern has changed; we shop alone at home daily, only confessing our finds sometimes and then running to each others’ houses for a try-on followed by dinner where most of the conversation is about what we should keep or return.
We will always look back at our lives and remember most clearly everything we wore! We will always find new websites and quirky new shops, track down sale items and hopefully share discount cards.
We both made careers out of our childhood shopping habit and I am so pleased and not surprised at all that for you are receiving the CFDA Eugenia Sheppard award for journalism! Congratulations! I am sure you will accept this award wearing the perfect dress.
Irene Neuwirth, jewelry designer
I love Lynn!?Who doesn’t? I had the best day ever with her in London. I was there in a total funk while my boyfriend was making a movie, spending endless days trying to get creative but feeling homesick, separated from my friends and home and work. Then, Lynn arrived. We chatted all morning at Rose Bakery, then she took me to the antique markets where I got a lesson in antique jewelry—how to buy it, what to look for, and where to go for it.?How had it taken me so long to learn these important life skills?! It is such a wonderful treat to have a friend who shares a deep love for jewelry. I will forever cherish that day.
Meredith Melling, former Vogue editor and founder of La Ligne
Snippets from nearly a decade of friendship.
To Lynnie. With love, Meredith
“I’m attracted to people who make this effort in knowing what suits them. They are individual and stylish.” —Vivienne Westwood
It was February 2010 and I was attending London Fashion Week for the first time. The Vogue team was to travel together from show to show in an A-Team inspired van. This included Lynn, who up until then I had only known and admired from afar—her cropped vibrant hair, doll makeup, and layers of Comme des Gar?ons crinoline. She was one of the industry’s cool kids. I was afraid she would find me ordinary. I won her over with candies.
“It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” —Dolly Parton
Candies consumed, we first bonded over a shared obsession for vintage jewelry. Season after season at the London and Paris shows we would steal away to scour Lynn’s favorite spots. She navigated the vitrines expertly, wasting little time. Her eye is unparalleled. It was a master class in gems vs. junk and I purchased nothing without Lynn’s seal of approval or shrewd haggling.
“You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have past there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything.” —Henry David Thoreau
As a single mother, I often had my daughter Eloise in tow with me at fashion events. Lynn got to know Eloise this way and generously invited us to her home so we could see her extensive Victorian doll collection. She thought it would be nice for Eloise. Her collection was hauntingly beautiful. I loved it. Eloise was utterly terrified.
“Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” —Dr. Seuss
Lynn always had a soft spot for Eloise, forgiving the fact that she favored American Girl dolls over mourning dolls. When I met my second husband, Zach, and was blissfully pregnant within eight months of dating him, most people congratulated me enthusiastically. But Lynn’s first response was, “What about Eloise? How is she taking this? How are you helping her through this confusing time?” And for that reason, I’ll always have a soft spot for Lynn.
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” —Coco Chanel
Five months after the birth of my son, Wolf, Zach and I were preparing to attend Burning Man. I ran into Lynn at Screaming Mimis where I was shopping for my festival “costumes.” When I showed her my loot, Lynn said to me, “Meredith, this just looks like what you would wear at Fashion Week.” I remember taking pause in that moment and wondering to myself: What would Lynnie do? Would she do anything differently? Would she heed her peers’ recommended “psychedelic Mad Max” dress code, even though it was a far cry from her comfort zone? I think not. Taking inspiration from my truly original friend, I packed a suitcase full of clothes that were radically, of all things, me. On a side note: I’m pretty sure Lynn would rather die than go to Burning Man.
“Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to scarcity.” —Samuel Johnson
Vogue announced La Ligne’s launch in the April 2016 issue. Lynn was assigned to write the piece. We sat down for dinner at the Waverly Inn and laughed at the Trump quote (“Waverly Inn—worst food in city”) on the menu and told her our big plans to stripe the world. She captured what we were trying to do perfectly when she wrote: “When you are tired of stripes, you are tired of life!” declares Valerie Boster, cofounder of the new fashion brand La Ligne, paraphrasing Samuel Johnson. That august gentleman was talking about London, and Boster about fabric, but the sentiment is the same: Wonderful things are eternal.”
Wonderful things are eternal. Well, my unique, beautiful, wise, soulful friend, they are indeed. Lynn, you, you are wonderful and I am so happy that your journalistic prowess is being recognized, honored, and awarded—your place in this industry’s history, so rightly solidified, for eternity.
“Kites rise high against the wind. Not with it.” —Winston Churchill