Clothes can express or mask identity

Candid Closet

March 12, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Lori Kranz is the founder of Baltimore's 10-year-old Splitting Image Theater, a company that explores issues of identity. In her own life, Kranz also explores identity issues and understands that style is an important way of expressing -- and masking -- identity. As she travels through her life in Baltimore and around the world, Kranz has been drawn to vivid garments that express her soul. But she can also intuit when a more neutral, "chameleon-like" uniform is required to let others feel at ease. "I see many pieces to my identity," she says. Kranz has the wardrobe to match each piece.

Describe a piece found on your travels.

In Kenya, I came across a wonderful African outfit with a turban and a robe. The thing that caught my eye was the material, it was gold and purple and green, very healing colors, very majestic. I found it after I had danced with a Masai chief on safari. I felt really connected. It was the discovery of an aspect of myself I hadn't known before. I haven't found an occasion in Baltimore to wear it.

What is your uniform?

I can't have enough black slacks and green turtlenecks. I'm notorious for that. I have a very long neck and try to hide it.

Do you have a travel uniform?

We went through the Panama Canal and in Ecuador in a little market, I found an exquisitely made Panama hat. I'm very fair-skinned and I've been using that a lot. We've been traveling in very warm climates all winter long. Traveling, I find I wear khaki pants and classic, simple clothing.

What other basics serve you well?

My widow's weeds turned out to be the most useful element in my wardrobe. A black St. John Knits suit -- it folds and travels well. I got that at Nordstrom on a very quick shopping trip for my husband's memorial service.

Are you a bargain hunter?

I have trouble paying full price. The shopping centers my husband built were outlet centers. Coming back from Virgin Gorda, we stopped in Fort Lauderdale to look at my friend's boat. That's very near Sawgrass Mills, a cousin of Potomac Mills. They have Barney's and Saks and Neiman Marcus has a "last call" thing. I found a wonderful pair of Armani pants and a great Armani top, kind of like a sailor's top. It's so nicely cut.

Where will you wear that?

I will be wearing it on the boat. My friend has a 90-foot yacht that will be brought up from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore. I like to dress in costume!

What would you wear on a Splitting Image opening night?

Black. I feel as though I'm not the story. I want to recede into the woodwork. That's being a chameleon. Let the performers who deserve everyone's attention receive it.

Is it important to you to be au courant?

Actually, I don't consider myself a trendsetter. But every once in awhile there's something I want desperately. I was yearning for dark blue jeans and I read in the New York Times that that's a hot item. I'm a zeitgeister, not a trendsetter.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your clothing?

One year, my husband gave me a mink coat. I wear it when it's really, really cold. My daughter Pebble is terribly embarrassed by the coat. It's a weird thing. I'm not about to give up the coat because it's warm, yet I certainly care about animals. I struggle with those things. That's the substance of my life.

And one of my greatest conflicts came when my husband insisted I get a dress from a Paris house of couture called Leonard. Now I have several; they are wonderful classics. Even though the first one was really terribly expensive. I had reservations about it. But these dresses have served me in good stead.

What shoes do you wear?

I wear Ecco shoes. They're very comfortable and wide in the front. My evening shoes are Ferragamos, little low heels. My feet are older than the rest of me.

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

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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