WOMEN OF NOTE:
Sissy Chacon | Stylist
Master of the neutral palette and artful layering, Sissy Chacon is a stylist whose effortless and uncomplicated approach to dressing has captured the wandering eyes of many. If it isn’t her impeccable style you notice first, no doubt it’ll be her flowing mane. Golden locks give way to a collection of headscarves and sculptural earrings, statement coats and oversized suits, long skirted dresses and statement boots. Contemporary and refined, yet always looking to times past, Sissy has cultivated a closet that we can only hope to replicate. Here, we talk to Sissy from her LA-based apartment dressed up in our Deiji linen wears and duvet covers to ask all about how she got her start and where she’s at now.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date: 31/03/21 sunset
Where are you from and where are you now?
I am from a small town in central California called Porterville. I moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and have lived here ever since.
Can you describe where it is that you live and the view from where you’re sitting right now?
I live in a new condo tower in downtown los angeles, the view out of my window looks a bit Blade Runner-ish, the buildings are twinkling with reflections of cars’s headlights on the freeway and an image of the sun setting behind us against an indigo sky blanked with with neon signs, lit up windows and led billboards.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Morning! When you have a cat, you will have a furry alarm clock on your chest well before 6 am. And I love getting up early and getting the day started. I also love going to bed at 8pm.
Do you have any rituals that you never fail to begin and end the day with?
I start the day with a cup of coffee in bed with my husband and end the day with a New York Times crossword puzzle. I just found out the NYT Crossword iPhone app’s archives go all the way back to 1993, so I’m working my way back through nearly 30 years of Saturday and Sunday puzzles. Those are the most challenging.
Was there a defining moment when you realised you wanted to become a stylist?
There was no defining moment, more of a simmering urge. When I was a child my mom would take me shopping with her on weekends, and she was a feverish shopper. I caught that fever. I used to say I wanted to shop for a living — as a joke — I didn’t know that could really be a job. I was interested in photography and studied art history and when I left my small town and moved to the big city I learned that styling was indeed a profession because I had made a friend who was a stylist. But I didn’t pursue it until over a decade later. I was less about mindless consumerism or high fashion and more about personal expression, the way clothing could be used to create a beautiful image, the way clothing could make people feel. I love to celebrate the creations of talented designers. And honestly I think the whole path has been a personal project to learn to dress myself, to refine my own style over the years, with the purpose of getting to know and like who I am, if that makes sense.
Your personal style is instantly recognisable, minimalist yet characterised by quality, statement pieces and accessories. How did you come to establish your own signature style?
Thank you. It has been a long journey. There was an era in the early 2010’s when minimalism was going strong and it looked smart and dignified in a way that made sense for me as I was maturing. I made a resolution to pretend I had good taste. But sometimes good taste felt like a form of tyranny for me and I would buck. I’m still honing. Jumping on every trend is exhausting and often in hindsight it's embarrassing. Moving from a house where my closet was my “office” and took up an entire bedroom, to a 1 bedroom place with 90% less closet space helped. It felt liberating to pare it town to essentials. It’s been a relief really to just know what works and what I’ll actually wear and what I’ll feel good in.
How does your personal style translate into your profession as a stylist?
I alway want to style the clothing how I would personally wear it — certain silhouettes, a certain palette, particular proportions. That isn’t always what the client wants, but when they do, it is sooo satisfying. I think that is why I’ve been open to collaborating with brands to share self-styled photos of myself in their clothing. I love having creative control.
What does your creative process look like in planning out your projects for work?
It’s pretty typical. Usually a moodboard of various images I like for their composition, palette, vibe, pose, lighting. And then I enter with an openness to seeing what happens spontaneously. That’s usually where the magic happens.
Do you have a go-to uniform for when you’re on the job?
Usually white cotton clothing and comfy shoes. Chances are I’ll end up on the ground tying shoes or fastening sandals, so I don’t know why I’m compelled to wear white to work. I guess I like the idea of trying to stay fresh as a daisy as long as possible and then throwing it all in the wash at the end of the day.
When seeking inspiration, who and what do you turn to?
Oh, from so many places. I guess lately from cinematography and old movies. We have been having mini film festivals while in lockdown, watching one director's films back-to-back. Now that I’ve been directing videos for my husband, I’m not only looking at costumes but at camera angles, locations, colors and intention.
If you had to name three things that have shaped your method of creative expression, what would they be?
1) My grandmother’s cedar chest. My favorite activity as a really young kid was to play dress up with the antique dresses in my Grandmother’s cedar chest when she would babysit me. My cousins and I would put on little performances in those family heirlooms.
2) Being a latchkey kid. Spending a lot of time alone as a kid gave me a rich inner world, an active imagination and made me a bit of an odd-one-out — in a way I liked.
3) The early days of street style blogs. When someone told me about The Sartorialist 15 years ago, it opened up my world tremendously. Seeing photos of real people and real street style from all over the world as opposed pictures of fashion on the runway and in over the top magazine editorials taught me so much about how to express my own inner world through clothing in the real world and to dress for my body type, which wasn’t like the supermodels and celebrities clothing was seen on at the time.
You’ve recently moved into a beautiful city apartment. How does it compare to your last home?
Complete 180! We downsized from a 1930’s spanish hillside two story , 3 bedroom house with terraced grounds on a tree-lined street which dead ends at an entrance to Griffith Park. Also there were 36 stairs up to the front door. We could not have gone in a more opposite direction. I honestly was uncertain about moving. I was sentimental about the house. I thought a condo would feel so soulless and claustrophobic, but I quickly got over that. It has been so nice having all new everything. Nothing is old and wonky. Don’t tell anyone but I love having a microwave. We get so much natural light that I’m sure by my next annual check-up my vitamin D deficiency will be cleared up. We have amenities like a gym, a theater, a pool and hot tub, concierge, yoga studio, BBQ, business center, and steam rooms, and an elevator. Hallelujah, no more stairs! As we are getting older, having an old house to take care of wasn’t such a joy anymore. Honestly it was Eddie who bore most of the home upkeep, so I am mostly happy my hubby is happy.
What have you found helpful in settling into your new space?
Patience. We have had to move so slowly with furnishing our new space. We decided to let go of a lot of our antiques to go with a more modern decor to fit the new digs. We ordered some things in December but everything has been on a delay because the pandemic has affected supply chains all over the world. I think things will finally arrive by summer, but living with so few things has shown us how to be very specific with how we meet our needs. We have our systems down and have completely trimmed the fat. I will actually miss the mattress-on-the-floor moment from those first few months. It has felt like a second honeymoon. And we've loved the calm and serene mood having an uncluttered space brings.
And what are your favourite things about your new home?
The ease. The peace of mind. The freedom from desiring to amass more pointless stuff that doesn’t have a role in making life more pleasurable. Also the views and the light are pretty spectacular.
What are you currently reading and listening to?
I am currently buying hardcopies of books I listened to on Audible this year: Care of the Soul, Mastery of the Self, Homo Deus. Even though I’m trying to not clutter up the place with stuff, sometimes you just want real books in order to underline parts, make notes in the margins and dogear pages you’d like to come back to. I also love listening to this funny Podcast called Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know which is a tongue-in-cheek but well researched show about theories and topics such as The Ark of the Covenant, the CIA and LSD, secret societies, and various forms of propaganda and espionage that have been used in the past.
Do you have a favourite recipe that remains a constant in your repertoire? If so, please share it with us here.
Okay, so I have been really scared to cook in my new kitchen because I’m so afraid of messing up my new countertops or cabinets so I’ve only been making easy dishes with very few uncomplicated ingredients - mostly pastas with simple sauces. My favorite sauce is puttanesca. Here is the recipe adapted for my dietary preference which is gluten free & low-fodmap. You at home can use all the gluten and cloves of garlic you want.
● Salt to taste
● 3 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
● 3 or more anchovy fillets or anchovy paste
● 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
● black pepper to taste
● 1⁄2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
● 2 tablespoons capers
● Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
● 1 pound gluten free fusilli
Bring a pot of water with a generous amount of salt to a boil. Warm 2 tablespoons of garlic infused oil and anchovies in a skillet over medium-low heat. Drain tomatoes and add to the skillet with some salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, capers and red pepper flakes, and continue to simmer. Cook pasta. Reserve a half cup of the pasta water just before draining. Drain quickly and toss with sauce, reserved pasta water and remaining tablespoon of oil over low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
What do you do to unwind?
I stretch, I cuddle with my cat Django, I have a martini.
What do you dream of while you sleep?
I recently read Care of the Soul and in that book Thomas Moore talks about the importance of paying attention to your dreams. I have been really working on trying to remember my dreams and listen to what my soul is trying to say. My dreams lately mostly center around fear of loss, fear of being lost, fear of not being able to take care of myself, being vigilant against falsehoods and skeptical of people’s true motives.
Interviewed by Chloe Borich for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes