Avril Graham’s gracious ways

Avril Graham at The Westchester. Photograph by Nicole Taylor.

We’re talking to Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor of Harper’s Bazaar, at Tiffany & Co. in The Westchester when a young waiter approaches — a very young waiter.

“Would you like a goat cheese and beet hors d’oeuvre?” asks the gentleman, of about 10 or 12 years old.

“Well,” Graham says, beaming at him and her interviewer, “we can hardly refuse such a
charming offer.”

She takes one and we follow suit. We’re sure the waiter floats through the rest of the event — a splendid afternoon of lunch and curated shopping presented by Harper’s, celebrating its 150th anniversary, and The Westchester, a Simon mall in White Plains. But then, that’s Graham for you, a lady of grace who believes in bestowing that graciousness on all, whether it’s a pint-sized waiter or Paula Kelliher, The Westchester’s director of marketing.

Avril Graham at The Westchester. Photograph by Nicole Taylor.

“No one has made me feel more welcome and no one had done more to reinvent retail here,” Graham says of Kelliher and of The Westchester, with its new eateries and play area for youngsters.

“Put it this way,” she tells us back at Tiffany, “everyone deserves to be treated with the same level of respect. Everyone goes around hoping for a great day. Let’s not make it a bad day.”

It’s hard to imagine Graham having a bad day — or even a bad hair day. She’s just gotten off the red-eye from Los Angeles, though you’d never know it from her crisp, impeccable, look — blond bob, floral print L.K. Bennett blouse, black Piazza Sempione culottes, black leather jacket and tan and black heeled sandals. It’s a blend of high end and populist that puts her in stylistic company of such fashionistas as Michelle Obama and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. It’s also a look that cleverly, seamlessly blends many of the trends that she talks about at the event. Noticing that most of the 75 attendees are wearing black — and fashionable black leather at that — she says that this go-to color is just a jumping off point this season.

“We’re going to get you into patterns, textures, prints,” she says.

Photograph by Nicole Taylor.

And plenty of florals. Along with velvet and nifty shades of red, florals are one of the hottest trends, spearheaded in part by Gucci.

“We always think of florals in spring and summer,” she tells us at Tiffany. “What Gucci has brought us is the idea that we can embrace flowers and femininity without making them
old-fashioned.”

Like the floral-print Ted Baker dress worn by the Titian-tressed Raven, whose business, Modern Divination, offers “Oracles As Entertainment.” As we chat with Graham, Raven does chocolate readings. (You select a piece from a box of Godiva and she tells you about yourself and your future. Life, as it turns out, really is like a box of chocolates.) It’s one of the “many surprises” that Graham says are in store for the 75 event participants, including personalized haikus at Stuart Weitzman, where she talks about her love for the company’s silver velvet bootie; Louis Vuitton, where fashion illustrator Bil Donovan turns us into glam Vuitton models; and Neiman Marcus, where KC Creations presents us with a bouquet of roses in sherbet colors, the kind that festoon a garden gate and a garland centerpiece the runs the length of the banquet table on The Westchester’s Level 1. (Other participating retailers include David Yurman, Hugo Boss, Marc Cain and Shinola.)

A look from above of the fashions featured at the Harper’s Bazaar event at The Westchester. Photograph by Nicole Taylor.

There’s Graham at each of the stores — noting their strengths, “no pressure to shop,” she says jokingly; greeting guests at the banquet; and giving WAG a shoutout.

It’s that combination of kindness and a keen eye that have made her stand out as an editor in a world not always known for generosity. But Graham says she had an epiphany while she was a student in London in the summer of 1981 when Prince Charles married the future Diana, Princess of Wales. Graham shared a flat near Blackfriars Bridge, which was part of the wedding route. Joining the throng of well-wishers, she noticed sanitation workers putting down sawdust so the horses drawing the royal carriages wouldn’t slip and waving at the crowds.

This taught her something valuable:  “Everyone has a job to do, and every job is important.”

Particularly when, like Graham, you perform that job exceedingly well.

Avril Graham also attended the opening of “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez — Louis Vuitton,” an exhibit at the American Stock Exchange Building in Manhattan through Jan. 7 that charts the history of the House of Louis Vuitton from 1854 to the present. (It’s the subject of a spread in Harper’s Bazaar’s 150th
anniversary issue.) 

For more, visit louisvuitton.com, visit harpersbazaar.com and simon.com/mall/the-westchester.

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