A potter shapes style with the offbeat

Candid Closet

November 20, 1997|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Ann Margaret Russ has a sixth sense for trends. "Any time I see anything that looks a little bit bad, I know it will be the next best hot thing," Russ, 32, says. Look, for example, to see those big, round, ugly plastic glasses, so in vogue in the '70s, to come around again soon, she says.

A potter who teaches at Clayworks and several local schools, Russ will be represented at the Artisans of the Chesapeake craft show this weekend at the Annapolis Armory. Russ' own sense of vintage style transcends the decades and doesn't aim for the easy silhouette or predictable pattern.

Her closet (actually a second bedroom in a rowhouse shared with her husband) brims with a wardrobe that's beyond eclectic, including a luscious magenta and black dress, fitted at the waist and flared in the skirt, by Stanley Platas and Martin Ross. There are, as well, the Pucci knock-off; the summer shift that vibrates with embroidered dots; the '60s Leslie Fay polyester dress with the wild orange-and-white pattern, once worn by Russ' mother; and the over-the-top black frock with rhinestone trim once worn by a Cuban nightclub singer.

What did you wear to your wedding?

My husband's a biker, and he gave me a leather pants suit, white from head to toe, that I wore on his Harley from the church to the reception with my veil flying. It was custom-made.

Where do your tastes take you?

I have some very racy stuff, like these short shorts with the long fringe. Women don't like it when I wear this to a party.

If you've got it, why not?

Even if you "don't got it." Women who don't wear bikinis because they think they're too fat -- they have a right to have water splash on their bellies, too.

You seem pretty organized.

In these drawers I keep my red, yellow and tan socks, the warm colors. Over here are the cool-color socks. It has to be out, or I won't wear it. I'd like to have my hats out so I can see them.

Is Baltimore a good place for your eclectic brand of shopping?

It's really good, because I tend to like more outrageous things that nobody buys and I can get on sale. That might not happen in more glamorous cities. I can go right for the clearance rack, and there's my wardrobe.

Do you get carried away with the possibilities?

I'm trying to calm down a little bit. I'm trying to resist fashion a little more and wear what I have. It's so tempting to have something that's really "it."

What do you wear when you're making pottery?

Jeans, a sweat shirt and no makeup, and I'm covered with clay from head to toe.

Have you worn that blond wig?

I scared my husband to death when I wore it once early in the morning. He honestly thought I was the devil or something. He thought that some strange woman had come into the room while he was sleeping.

Did you have a flair for the unusual when you were a kid?

Yes. I used to sneak out of the house so my mother wouldn't see what I was wearing and drive me back in. I remember thinking it was so cool to wear my dad's trench coat to school. I wore strange pieces and strange combinations. Extreme shoes and stuff like that.

How did you approach style during college?

I always like to be different. When everyone at Bennington was wearing black and had to have messy, punk hair, I wore softer things and makeup and very long hair. It was very bad to wear new clothes, to look like your clothes were clean or pressed or bright. When I wore pink or orange, I stood out like a lighthouse.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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