It was from a considerable distance, at a gallery opening, that my eyes were arrested by a vision in a black and green number. I was irresistibly drawn to this picturesque figure. I went up, expressed my excitement, paid my compliments and stated my keen appreciations for her black and green dress.
“Oh, thank you!” she said, “it’s actually a two-piece Oscar de la Renta number.” As we stood chatting and as the crowd in the gallery began to swell in size, the temperature also rose so that Jean Shafiroff gently took off the jacket part of her black and green outfit revealing a petite, trim physique with perfect proportions and fit.
We walked around the gallery, took in the art on the wall; stopping there and now to greet and make small chats with friends/ acquaintances. While negotiating the teeming crowd of art collectors and enthusiasts, we delved in dept on things sartorial, fashion and style. And this in-dept conversation, as it were, clearly revealed to me Jean’s fluency and passion for choice attires. Then I proposed the possibility of featuring her on the CHIC INDEX. Later she’d agreed and here we are.
Beautiful in disposition, intellect, physique and spirit, Jean Shafiroff is actively involved as a leader in several New York and Southampton philanthropic endeavors. Her organizational skills, compassion, generosity, and enthusiastic dedication are among her strongest traits. Jean’s hands-on involvement in the not-for-profit sector reflects her dedication to aiding the less fortunate.
Jean’s allegiance to the multiple causes she supports is indisputable, and she truly devotes her time to the charities and foundations whose missions she believes in. She possesses the ability to connect different charitable groups with the appropriate people and resources. She has contributed by taking on many responsibilities, from board memberships to duties as chairwoman of numerous events each year, including the 2010 and 2011 Southampton Hospital Annual Summer Galas, which raised $1.725 million and $2.0 million respectively.
In tandem with her philanthropic responsibilities, Jean wears many hats as a board member, co-chair, underwriter, and hostess for numerous events including several large charity dinners and luncheons. In April, 2010 and 2011 Jean hosted and underwrote large luncheons for Southampton Hospital at Le Cirque in New York City. In the fall of 2009, 2010 and 2011 Jean hosted and underwrote large luncheons for the
New York Women’s Foundation. The 2010 luncheon featured a conversation between Diana L. Taylor and Diane Sawyer and the 2011 luncheon featured a conversation between Diana L. Taylor and Katherine G. Farley.
True to form, Jean was an underwriter for the Daphne Guinness exhibit at The Museum at FIT in September 2011. She is also a board member of the Couture Council. She served as a Vice Chair of the Couture Council Luncheon honoring Karl Lagerfeld in September 2010; in addition, she was a Vice Chair of the Couture Council Luncheon honoring Valentino in September 2011.
In defense, Charles Baudelaire had persuasively argued, eons ago, that the dandy’s mode of dressing is a physical manifestation of his intellect, refined temperament and inner core. Conversely, Jean’s mode of dressing is surely a sartorial manifestation of her intellect, generosity of spirit and a winning inner core.
The perfect portrait of a lady and philanthropist, Jean Shafiroff holds a MBA from Columbia University and a BS in Physical Therapy from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.
A collector of fine clothing and mostly costume jewelry, witness, in the next twelve days, Jean Shafiroff’s sartorial proficiency, wit and finely wrought style.
Iké Udé /May 6th
interviews/photographs: iké udé
Volunteer organizer and sponsor of philanthropic activity in New York and the HamptonS
New York and Southampton
I believe that color creates beauty. Favorite colors of mine are royal blue, orange, red, and emerald green.
Favorite Fashion Designer:
There are so many great designers and it is a shame to be limited to a few. I love the work of Oscar de la Renta, Caroline Herrera, Valentino, Givenchy, Karl Lagerfeld, Victor de Souza, Nanette Lepore, and Fabiola Arias
Favorite Shoe/Accessories Designer:
Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Manolo Blahnik, Sergio Rossi, Van Cleef and Arpels, Jean Schlumberger, Judith Leiber, Oscar de la Renta.
Sisley – Eau de Soir, Acqua di Colonia Melograno
Favorite Stylish Film:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Clockwork Orange
Home, the beach at sunset, anywhere in New York City
New York City, Shanghai, Venice, Paris, Southampton
Who is your style icon?
Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Amy Fine Collins, Cleopatra, Lady Gaga
What item of clothing would you rather starve for?
A fabulous fantasy ball gown
What is your overall impression of how people dress in general?
Society likes us in uniform but there is so much creativity expressed in street style. I love to see bold choices and see individuals expressing their character through the way they dress. I applaud all creativity in dress.
And what do you recommend that they do otherwise?
We should step outside of the box and show more individuality in dress. Self-expression through dress is art. I need to do more of this.
SPECIAL GUEST INTERVIEW:
JEAN SHAFIROFF TALKS ABOUT HER 1st OUTFIT
What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
This outfit was designed around a spectacular Oscar de la Renta lime green silk gazar rosette gown. The color is fresh and bright and the silhouette is a perfect example of a modern rendition of an 18th century ball gown. Underneath, the rosette gown is a voluminous petticoat. The draping of this fantasy dress is airy and seamless, and the overall weightlessness of the dress makes it very dreamlike.
A green and black sequin fan was added for a whimsical effect. The black pearl and diamond necklace and earrings were worn to create a dark contrast to the lighter and brighter elements of the ball gown.
How did you find the various items that you are wearing?
I first viewed the gown at an Oscar de la Renta trunk show and fell in love with it. When it came into the New York boutique, I purchased it because of its beauty, construction and fit. The fan was purchased from an beautiful young woman selling her fashion wares near the entrance of Angkor Watt in Cambodia. The necklace and earrings were first seen over 20 years ago at the Van Cleef and Arpels boutique in New York, but were purchased years later at a Christie’s auction.
How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
The ball gown is one of my very favorites. I had worn it once before and that was to the 2011 Spring New York City Ballet Gala. At the time, I wore it in a much more traditional manner, my hair was swept clean to the side and my ears were adorned with Van Cleef and Arpels earrings. This time around, I wanted to introduce a little drama and humor into the outfit. Ike and I we were both quite relaxed with one another. Our mood was playful. I began to dream about preparing to attend an 18th century masked ball. I forgot our century and shifted back in time. The outfit was created from items that I had gathered from my personal collection earlier in the day. Creating an outfit can be just like enacting a fantasy.
Where do you normally shop for clothes and accessories?
I shop primarily in New York because it is where I live. We have many choices here. However, I love to shop when I travel, too. The internet can also be a great source of unique finds.
How much role does money or the lack thereof play in one’s endeavor to dress very smart or beautifully?
I think some of the most stylish individuals dress on modest budgets. There is no question that sufficient resources make it much easier to dress well. If someone is willing to make the effort, he or she can dress well regardless of budget. You don’t need to own a hundred garments to dress well.
What special recommendation would you give to somebody who admires your style but doesn’t know where or how start? I recommend to start collecting slowly and always opt for quality. Trust your own judgment. I recommend that you purchase a few great pieces that you absolutely love. Fit and proportion are vitally important. Pay attention to color and always dress in colors that flatter you. Never pass up anything that you are passionate about provided that you can afford it. Stay away from too much black, white and grey. Look for color. Above all, don’t be afraid to create your own style.
Name six famous personages—past or present—who you would invite over for dinner/drinks because of their impeccable individualistic elegance?
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Martin Luther King.
(All of these individuals represent elegance).
As a result of your style, what is your impression of how you are generally perceived in public?
During the day, I could be viewed as too casual and relaxed in my dress. As an American, I enjoy being casual. At night, I love to dress up and go out. When dressed up, I suppose I am perceived as classic and maybe even sometimes chic. I love fantasy in fashion.
And how would you rather the public perceive you?
The public should perceive me as they wish to perceive me. Though it would nice to be thought of as classic and stylish from time to time.
Presently, what do you think accounts for the poor appearances in how people generally dress or don’t dress?
Probably the biggest factor in poor dress is the lack of time. We live in a world of beautiful faces and bodies. However, it takes time to work on style. Naturally, some people are just not interested. However, most people want to look their best. And style plays a large role in this.
In retrospect have you ever worn something that you now find particularly regrettable?
When I haven’t bothered to dress well, I sometimes regret it. However, I have a sense of humor about myself and realize that I can’t always look as good as I’d like to look. I thank style and fashion for making me feel so much more like a woman. Style creates so many moods; it allows us to role-play. I am grateful for all the beauty that style has brought into my life and into the life of others.
In the end, do you dress to: (a.) please others, (b.) please yourself or (c.) hopefully be in agreement with everybody?
I dress to please myself and others; however, I mostly dress to please myself. Rarely do I dress to conform to everyone else.
September 5th, 2012, the Couture Council will honor Oscar de la Renta at its Annual luncheon at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. Mrs. Shafiroff will serve as a vice chair of this event.