Mrs. Janet Y. Larose knows fashion, and she puts her knowledge to use for a variety of causes. A resident of both Portsmouth and New York, Janet co-curated Strawbery Banke Museum’s 2012 exhibition, “Thread: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke.” She helped organize the accompanying Passion for Fashion Gala, featuring a runway show hosted by famed designer and former “Project Runway” star Austin Scarlett. Janet loves sharing her spectacular outfits with the world.
On a recent weekend, I met up with Janet and her devoted husband Larry in Portsmouth to talk about her glamorous style, including the one-of-a-kind, vintage Chanel ensemble she wore for the occasion.
What’s your occupation?
I am a non-practicing attorney. I do private art dealing and fine art consulting, and I’ve curated art exhibitions, mostly for nonprofits. I love what I do. I also assist with a great nonprofit in New York City called “Friends of the Children — NY.” They give a 12-year commitment (from first grade through high-school graduation) to provide mentoring and other services to the most at-risk children in the Bronx and Harlem. I chair their annual fundraising gala. It is a very rewarding experience.
If you could have a different name, what would it be?
I don’t think I’d ever want my name to be anything other than Mrs. Janet Y. Larose.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say it’s a bit eclectic. I love glamour and elegance. I love vintage fashions, particularly for evening. For day, I love cutting-edge jeans and fun tops. We have a condo in Aspen, Colo., and I do most of my casual shopping out there. A tiny shop called P.E. 101 has the best casual style! For evening, I like dresses, skirts with blouses, and jackets. My three favorite designers are Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Dolce & Gabbana.
Tell me about your outfit.
This is a vintage Chanel outfit with quilting and beading. The jacket is a custom Karl Lagerfeld design, and he only made two of them. He designed one for the president of Chanel France, and one for the president of Chanel North America. I bought this at an antique show from a vintage dealer. My jacket is the one from the president of Chanel North America. The other jacket was in the Chanel exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Underneath I’m wearing a classic black Chanel skirt and blouse. I have a pair of Chanel clip-on earrings that I use as decorations on my outfits, almost as a pin, and I have one clipped to my blouse. My jewelry was mostly designed by my husband Larry, who has an incredible design sense. My shoes are classic Chanel and surprisingly comfortable. The handbag is also vintage Chanel. It’s easy to carry around and a classic design.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
A lot of people say that I resemble the dancer Martha Graham. She is no longer with us, but if I could choose anyone, I think I would go with her.
Describe an outfit you wore for a special occasion that you really loved.
Let me tell you about the outfit I wore for the Passion for Fashion Gala at Strawbery Banke. Larry and I conceived and co-chaired the event. We brought in cutting-edge, contemporary designers from all over the world who produced original designs inspired by the historical garments in the museum collection. It was truly a unique exhibition and runway show! One of the designers we brought in was Austin Scarlett from “Project Runway.” He designed a few blockbuster pieces for the exhibit and also served as emcee for the runway show. He also designed my gown for the event. My amazing husband designed an exquisite necklace for me, and Austin used the necklace as inspiration to design my gown.
Also, every June we go to the horse races at Royal Ascot in England. We have been going for over 20 consecutive years. It’s really the biggest fashion show in the world, with the focus mainly on extraordinary hats. We go for two days of racing, so I plan multiple outfits in advance. Sometimes, I start with a hat designer and work the outfit around that. Other times, I start with the outfit and get a hat custom-designed to match. Last year, I found an extraordinary Dolce & Gabbana outfit, and so I worked with a hat designer in New York City to custom-design the hat to complement my outfit. I was very fortunate because I was photographed in that outfit and featured in the Daily Mail and on ABC News online. It was pretty exciting. The second-day outfit and hat were inspired by my limited-edition Louis Vuitton bag designed by Frank Gehry.
What is something you love about your body?
I’ve been working out my whole life. I love being fit.
In what ways do you practice sustainable style?
I’m constantly snooping around thrift and consignment stores. You can find some of the most amazing things there. Also, when I’m done with a fabulous piece, I’ll donate it to the thrifts.
What are your favorite places to shop on the Seacoast?
I love Pickwick’s Mercantile. Lady Pickwick’s is an absolute gem. Puttin’ on the Glitz is great for hats and accessories. And I adore Second Time Around. I love getting and consigning things there. It’s the greatest!