A sense of style runs in the family Collector: When Barbara Katz makes a fashion statement, she ties it all together with a scarf.

Candid Closet

November 05, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Barbara Katz is one of those born collectors who also happened to have a very fashionable mother and aunt. The result: A lifelong passion for collecting marbles, children's books, antique dolls, stitcheries and stoles -- and an excellent eye for style.

Katz's closet brims with large, brilliantly patterned silk squares designed by Yves St. Laurent, Hermes and Pucci.

"I think I know that I'm creative, and I know what I love," Katz says. "I love creating a look. I was fortunate that while growing up I was exposed to fashion in all of its best aspects by women who knew what to do with it."

An appreciation for vintage style extends to the Baltimore County resident's commitment to the Maryland Historical Society, where Katz, 65, is a board member and a key organizer of the society's 21st antiques show this weekend.

Show guests will have a chance to view the new Claire McCardell Costume and Textile Gallery; and, fittingly, Richard Martin, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will lecture on the "History of Fashion," at a luncheon tomorrow.

For more information about the show, which takes place tomorrow through Sunday, call 410-685-3750.

How did you come to collect scarves?

I love color. I love patterns. There's something about scarves that just got me going. It's just one of those things that snowballed.

What does a scarf lend to an outfit?

It is my major accessory. Basically, I wear simple clothes, with simple backgrounds in blacks, grays, and browns, and I accessorize with scarves.

How do you store all those scarves?

I had a room made into a closet. I hang the scarves over those big wire hangers that draperies come on. I hang them over the roll, just like you would hang textiles. They're grouped by silk, wool, velvet, cashmere, narrow and wide, and they're inventoried. I try to describe each one; it's a good thing to do. Then I have drawers for the others that are folded.

You seem to have a particular affinity for 1960s fashion. Where you a hippie?

I never was a hippie, no, no, no! Actually, in the '60s, clothes were made so much more beautifully, and there were more designers like Halston, Seymour Fox, Herbert Levine and Oleg Cassini, designers that today are hardly affordable.

Ralph Lauren, for example, designed and made wonderful sports clothes. The clothes were made better. Labor was not as expensive, and fabrics were more available.

What else do you collect and wear?

I have a rather extensive collection of costume jewelry as well. Early Chanel pieces are wonderful to wear. But my trademark is probably my scarves. I keep the clothing rather simple, and there are things I can't necessarily wear a scarf with. I do wear knock-around corduroys and a lot of colorful sweaters that I knit.

How did your sense of style emerge?

I remember as a child dressing up always. One of my uncles gave me a costume every year for my birthday. And I have an aunt who is still living who was a fashion plate. I dressed up in her closet and put on her hats. I learned early about clothes. I think you sometimes have to have an affinity for it. Some people have a sense of style, and some people have more trouble than others.

Why do some people have more trouble?

Some people rely on being told about what's in. Maybe there used to be a time when you could do that, but I don't believe there is "fashion" in the true sense the way there used to be. You almost have to create your own statement.

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

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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