Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Julianne Moore

Kristen Stewart as a Personal Shopper Who Sees Ghosts


Kristen Stewart shot to fame as Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga series and has also appeared in big budget films like Snow White and the Huntsman. But her talents really shine in less high profile vehicles, like Still Alice where she played the daughter least likely to care for her Alzheimer-striken mother (Julianne Moore in her Oscar-winning performance). In Clouds of Sils Maria, directed by Olivier Assayas, Stewart stood out as the spirited assistant to an aging actress (Juliette Binoche). That performance won Stewart a César Award, making her the first American actress to do so. Stewart and Assayas are together once again in his new film, Personal Shopper. This may be Stewart’s best performance to date. It’s certainly a memorable one.


Stewart’s Maureen Cartwright lives in Paris and, as the title suggests, she’s a personal shopper, zipping around the city on her motor bike, frequenting designer showrooms to select outfits for a media celebrity, Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten). Kyra is married to a wealthy man (we never learn any more about him), while having an affair with a writer for French Vogue (Lars Eldinger). She attends as many events as possible so she can be photographed and post the images on social media. The designers lend Kyra the clothes, expecting them to be returned.

Maureen has a good eye and what she selects keeps Kyra in the spotlight. Her hard work is not rewarded. Kyra is the boss from hell, forbidding Maureen from trying on any of the borrowed clothes. When Kyra decides to keep two pairs of leather pants, Maureen is on the hook and must deal with the designer.

Maureen puts up with Kyra because she has unfinished business in Paris. She and her twin brother, Lewis, both mediums able to sense spirits, were born with the same heart defect. They promised each other that the twin who went first would send the other a message. After Lewis dies of a heart attack, Maureen is determined to stay until she receives a sign from her brother that he’s OK.

Shop4The opening scene finds Maureen in a spooky, deserted mansion owned by Lewis. She spends the night and feels a presence. Is it Lewis? A couple wants to buy the home but is looking for Maureen to assure them that any spirits still lingering are benign. (I would opt for no spirits, but perhaps the Parisian housing market is tight.) Another evening, one very angry ghost appears then vanishes. Maureen tells Lewis’ partner, Lara (Sigrid Bouaziz), that the spirit will not return and that the house is clean.

Lara has moved on, now in a relationship with one of Lewis’ friends. Maureen, however, is still grieving. She’s alive, but she’s barely surviving, walking through her daily routines like the ghosts she sometimes sees. She begins receiving on her phone disturbing texts from “unknown.” Whoever it is, knows everything about her, including what she fears. Is the sender someone she knows? A person? A spirit? Lewis? Exhausted and vulnerable, Maureen begins acting on some of the sender’s suggestions, spending a night at Kyra’s apartment trying on the borrowed clothes and using a card key left for her to visit a hotel room. No one is there, deepening the mystery.

While the supporting cast is solid, this is Stewart’s film to carry and she is in total control. She’s is in virtually every scene, but that’s not why we can’t keep our eyes off her. Eschewing the physical moves that characterized her action films, she pulls us into her character with the smallest gesture or facial expression. It’s a riveting performance, one that will stay in the viewer’s mind long after the final scene.

Assayas has produced an enigmatic, multi-layered film. It’s a character study, a supernatural thriller, a murder mystery, with a woman-in-danger at the center. It dips into horror with some scenes featuring ghostly apparitions, but the psychological suspense is what keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Photos by Carole Bethuel. Courtesy of IFC Films.

My Career Choice: Jackie Rogers – Fashion Legend


Jackie Rogers bought her first Chanel suit  for “around $600.” As she stood for the first fitting found herself thinking, “It would be nice to work here.” Upon hearing that Chanel needed models, she quickly lined up an interview, “Chanel liked me, hired me on the spot and paid me top dollar,” she said. “I’m the only designer today who ever worked with the great Coco Chanel. From her I learned that fashion doesn’t start with design. Everything comes from fabrication.”

Jackie Rogers, a timeless legend in the fashion world, is one of the last remaining designers to craft custom clothing for individual clients across the country from her atelier in New York City. Rogers likes to say, “I don’t believe in fashion, I believe in style.” That motto is reflected throughout her latest collection, which is made with the timeless elegance that is the signature of the Jackie Rogers brand.

Jackie’s clientele includes Patti LuPone, Christine Baranski, Julianne Moore, Condoleezza Rice, Roberta Flack, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Courtney Love, and more. Her favorite star studded moment? Jackie Onassis. The best moment was when Jackies she asked her to design seven outfits, one for each day of the week. “I will put a number on it so I don’t have to worry about what to wear,” she said.

Jackie Rogers is designed and manufactured entirely in New York City in its midtown showroom with her collection sold from there (by appointment only),  in Palm Beach, Florida boutiques, at select Lord & Taylor retailers across the country and from her website.

Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?  
Meeting Chanel. Before I was just carrying on as an actress and model. We loved her, all of the models. There were 12 of us. I went there strictly for a couple of months do to the show and wound up staying for 2 years until I quit. I think Chanel influenced me to become a designer because I would work with her late into the night. She never had one assistant. She was there alone. I came as close to it as anybody else.

What about the fashion industry did you find most appealing? 
I love what I do. I love designing clothes. This is what I live for, to design every day. I’m always thinking about it. That’s what makes me happy. What’s unfortunate now is that it is all about money and advertising, and that clothes are being chosen for celebrities without any aesthetic or unique taste.

What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
None. I never studied it or anything. The only thing I studied were men, darling. That’s how I became a menswear designer. Chanel told me not to design for women, I’d go crazy. Just do men’s clothing. So I became a menswear designer. And then finally Bill Blass said you gotta do womenswear, you’re not gonna make a name for yourself unless you do women’s clothing. So, I had to switch to women. When I was a menswear designer, I dressed all of the famous actors like Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Jones, and all the singers. I dressed the Beegies, everybody. They all came to me to get their clothing. It was a hot time.

Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
No, very encouraging. I was very fortunate. Francesco Scavullo was a great photographer and he gave me Time Magazine on the cover with Meryl Streep in my clothes. That was when she was coming up in the 70s.

Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?

When did your career reach a tipping point?
That will never be reached. I think you have to keep moving and going. I don’t want to stop. I will never stop. I love designing.

Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
Insecurity. Thinking I wasn’t good enough. I have often questioned myself and then when I see the results I know I did the right thing.

What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Draping. I don’t sketch I drape and I form shapes with my hand on a mannequin.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Staying in business through thick and thin, by myself with no outside financing. It’s a miracle.

Any advice for others entering your profession?
They have to not be influenced by anybody else and to go back into the 30s and 40s and see what the great designers did, like, Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga. It’s all about line.