Although I've never met her, I'm pretty sure that if I could bottle Ruby up into a candy pink vintage perfume atomizer, I could close up shop and retire a happy (albeit bored) gazillionaire, glad to know I'd made the world a little sweeter. But I digress. Ruby Redstone is an art historian and fashion writer, whose style is perhaps best describe as prairiecore meets Victorian toddler. As a person who believes that her previous life was spent in the moors, taking long emo walks in collared dresses and tending to the upkeep of my lace and daily reading in the evenings, I was immediately drawn to her style when I came across her Instagram account (thank you, explore page!). Her sartorial perspective is imbued with her affinity (and of course, education) for art history. When it comes to muses, she prefers to turn to figures like Marie Antoinette, to not feel like she's copying a living person's style. She wears this conversation of art forms like it's its own: a performance piece that consists of sharing what she loves - the beauty of lace, pearls, mixed prints, and vintage - with those around her.
While at home, she was kind enough to share in my joy re: the revival of blogging and answer a few questions to get us started. You can also discover Ruby's Neophyte picks at the bottom, so happy scrolling 😋
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: First of all - how are you?
RUBY REDSTONE: I'm doing okay! I'm currently quarantined with my husband, my parents, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend. We've been having a good time all together, cooking and baking and playing board games -- I really can't complain too much. Both my husband and I are freelancers, so it's a scary time for us work-wise, but obviously the brevity of everything else happening around us puts things in perspective. I am feeling grateful to be healthy and hanging out with the people I love.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: In a sense it feels strange to want to talk about fashion or art in a time of crisis but at the same time - isn’t that what we’re all turning to right now as a source of comfort? I’m getting dressed in clothes that make me happy and remind me of better times and am finding solace in books, movies, music... I’d love to chat about how, as a fashion writer and art historian, you’re finding your relationship to both of those is evolving?
RUBY REDSTONE: I'm asking myself this question in my own mind all day every day, and I'm not sure I'll really have an answer until we're on the other side of this. At first, I was just feeling crappy and living in sweats (as I'm sure many other people were too), but two weeks ago it hit me that this is my life for the foreseeable future and I have to start getting dressed in order to feel like myself! I've been making a more concerted effort to put on a real outfit for at least a little portion of each day -- I mean, I literally wore a dress and heels to read a book on the porch yesterday. What's interesting is that I've always considered myself to be someone who dresses purely for myself, but I've found that my drive to put together interesting looks is totally dampened when I know that I can't go outside. I've realized that so much of my relationship with clothing is about communicating who I am with others, which has been surprising because before this all started I would have described myself as quite a solitary person. Also, fashion isn't really my form of escapism from the world; it's the way in which I move through the world, processing and contributing to what's around me. When there's no world to move through, clothes start to feel so flimsy. Art-wise I'm feeling very lost without the ability to go to museums, as wandering around a museum is usually how I comfort myself in a trying time. I'm sad that some exciting museum-related projects I had in the works are being put on indefinite hold, but I'm even more sad thinking about how hard museums will be hit financially by this. Many of the museums in the city were struggling to stay afloat even with full attendance pre-pandemic. On a more hopeful note, I'm so excited to see the art that comes out of this time. I've already glimpsed so many people working hard on beautiful things via Instagram.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: Are there any pieces (of clothing or art) that you find yourself gravitating towards these days?
RUBY REDSTONE: Yes! I've been wearing lots of tulle skirts because they always make me happy. It's hard to feel too upset when you're wearing a glorified tutu. They were one of the first fashion-y items I ever fell in love with, and wearing them feels like a great way to remind myself of why I get dressed and why I do what I do. Also, it's worth noting that a flowy, fluffy skirt is just as comfortable to lounge around in as a pair of leggings. I've been trying to find a work of art that can bring me solace in the same way right now, but I'm struggling, mostly because it bums me out to look at art on the computer too much. When I really need a break from everything, I dive into tons of Rococo painting, which is my eternal favorite.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: A lot of the humans we feature here and who follow along are multi-hyphenates. While you may be young, you’ve already worn many professional hats - could you walk us through your career path so far?
RUBY REDSTONE: I love wearing many hats! My first job ever was interning at Marc Jacobs in the shoe design department. I loved it so much that I ended up staying for four years. It was intense, but it was the best introduction to working in fashion I could dream of -- I was surrounded by so many talented people who took such pride in what they were creating. After that, I worked with The Sartorialist for awhile and assisted a few fashion photographers. Once I graduated high school, I took a year off of school and spent part of it working at Opening Ceremony (long may it reign), selling clothes and styling and generally causing sartorial mischief with likeminded coworkers. I went to college in the UK and spent some of my time there working for Net-A-Porter in London. I got more serious about pursuing art history and pivoted a bit. I worked in a small-but-mighty gallery called The Hole, then interned at the Brooklyn Museum. Once I graduated, I did research for the mega-gallery David Zwirner, but I realized while I was there that I was really missing having fashion as a part of my professional life. Even though I was still assisting some stylists as a side hustle, I knew that I wanted to re-approach fashion from a more thoughtful place and that meant writing about it! I got very lucky and found a niche at Man Repeller that allows me to write about fashion and fashion history in a thoughtful, humorous way. I also try to hold on to some form of art history in my career at any given time. Until recently, I was teaching art history to middle schoolers, and I do private research for museum shows with a wonderful mentor of mine. I know I'll probably have to shed some of these hats soon, but I enjoy having them all on for the time being.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: Although as we’re learning right now, we can’t plan anything, are there things you’re working towards career-wise right now? Things you’d like to achieve or do in say 5 or 10 years?
RUBY REDSTONE: Ugh, I had been preparing to take some big steps before this all started, and it's hard to know how they'll play out now. But what this time has reinforced more than anything is that being surrounded by my loving family is always my number one priority and goal! Everything else comes second to that.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: People often turn to you for creative and sartorial inspiration - who or what do you turn to get inspired or refuel?
RUBY REDSTONE: I love seeking inspiration from other people as well! I hate not being able to see what others are wearing on the streets, and I miss being able to travel -- I always become completely obsessed with how people dress in environments that are so different from my own. I get lots of my inspiration from researching fashion history, and now is such a great time to do that -- even if 'research' just means digging through the archives of your favorite designer on Vogue Runway! I'm a big, big color person and so lots of my ideas just come from thinking about what colors or patterns in my wardrobe I'd like to see together. (Now's also a great time for that...I've recently tested out some truly hideous combinations that I'm glad didn't need to leave the house). From season to season I also like to be inspired by a book or movie, since fictional characters lend themselves endless interpretation. I've yet to figure out which one I'm going to channel this summer, so I have some work to do!
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: Let me round this off with some rapid fire questions, beginning with: if you could save five items out of your apartment what would they be?
RUBY REDSTONE: My beloved stuffed animals, my Takashi Murakami flower pillow (technically she might also be a stuffed animal, but she's my favorite work of art), a tin of Polaroids that I've taken over the course of a decade, the pearl earrings I wore to my wedding, and I suppose I have to grab that folder labeled 'IMPORTANT PAPERS' from my cabinet...
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
RUBY REDSTONE: It's not advice per se, but I am forever grateful that my parents instilled the idea in me that I could do whatever I set my mind to from such a young age. It holds true for everyone. Other than that, I'm annoying and I refuse to listen to advice unless it comes from my mom, my husband, and, occasionally, my best friend Julia.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: What are you a neophyte at?
RUBY REDSTONE: Baking French patisserie! I am working on it now. Lots of butter will be sacrificed.
SHOP RUBY'S NEOPHYTE PICKS: