IN A DIALOGUE WITH LAWYER AND VINTAGE ENTHUSIAST, NAURA KEISER, BASED IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.
photography by Mary Kang
Tell us about a notable memory from your upbringing, relating to anything, maybe something that continues to shape the way you think today?
My mom regularly slamming on the breaks of our car because she saw something in a dumpster, on the side of the street, scattered near an abandoned house, etc. that she thought worth examining. I was embarrassed by her ways in my adolescence but I think it takes exactly one great “find” for a genetically programmed scavenger to see the light. Finding value in the discards of others is a big part of my lifestyle, as it is for my mother, and her mother before her, and her mother before her, etc.
Where did you grow up and what brought you here? Tell us your “New York/Brooklyn” story.
I grew up in rural Indiana (a small town of about 650 people called “Wheatfield”). I don’t know that I ever dreamed of living in New York, but spending my early years in a remote area was enough foster an “I NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE” attitude!
Where did your interest in law come from, is there something about trust law that you are drawn to the most?
I don’t think anyone will be terribly inspired by this answer, but here goes. As a kid I had wanted to be an artist when I grew up - that is, until the nanosecond I learned that artists do not tend to have great financial prospects. (Most of the time, my family had little to very little cash on hand, and I was not immune to the stress of that circumstance (my dad broke his back (literally) doing physical labor to support us; my mom cried in the late hours of the night; I had insomnia for about a year when I was 10-11, and all I can remember from that time is a sequin encrusted parrot sweatshirt my mom and I made). Anyway, plain and simple, my goal was to have a career that would allow me to be independent and free from the particular stresses that come with money troubles. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but to some extent it affords freedom. I ended up having some exposure to legal studies in college at an early stage and made the decision (without personally knowing any practicing lawyers or people in law school) to go in that direction. I love what I do and have never looked back on my decision.
Has there been a case [project] that stuck with you or changed you, can you tell us about it?
Practicing law and working closely with individuals has had (at least I hope) a huge impact on my communication skills, for the better. I enjoy the process of working out how to best communicate with an audience, in person, on the phone, via email, visual presentation, etc. (Acknowledgments to my special man friend who know that my struggle against wordiness is very real..)
Describe your personal style and office style, do these converge often?
My personal style is all over the place… I swing between complete tomboy (think Larry David - tee shirt, blazer, jeans, sneakers and baseball cap) and mega barbie (minus the long flowing locks). I love androgynous and dark Japanese designer pieces as much as I love extreme flashiness (consider the fuschia lamé Preen dress that I just remembered I have, have never worn and might have to wear this weekend) see link here. The thing is, I love ALL clothes and accessories and there is almost no style, color, texture or pattern that I would not want to experiment with. I usually look more like the women from the Advanced Style blog than a person my age with some sort of “cool Parisian chic” thing going on.
I am aware that my office style is on the adventurous end of the spectrum and a subsidiary of my personal style (like, I don’t have an Ann Taylor work wardrobe that is firewalled from my non-work wardrobe), but even so, I can’t help but feel that I am exercising major restraint Monday through Friday! I tend to wear well tailored dresses from the 80s from designers such as Carolina Herrera, Ungaro, Escada, or a nice suit, and throw on some flashy shoes and call it a day.
I sometimes lament the fact that I cannot shave my head or dye my hair cotton candy pink or get a neck tattoo, but more or less I get to enjoy a lot of sartorial freedom :)
Tell us about your Instagam account @Walk_of_Dame How did it get started, what is the intention for it?
If I recall correctly, my best friend, Mahynoor, created the account for me on (or around) New Year’s Eve several years ago when we were at a Phish concert at MSG. I’ve been through several name changes and old posts have been subject to mass deletion from time to time. I joke a lot on my account about self-promotion, etc., but I’m not particularly savvy or motivated about it in a real “get more followers!” kind of way. The purpose of my account is really to entertain myself and others through moderately creative selfies that also establish an outfit diary. Often I enjoy the “clever” captioning more than the picture-taking, and hope others do too. The best thing about IG for me, though, has been connecting with photographers and people in the fashion industry and making things happen in real life!
You have an incredibly vast library of vintage designer and one off pieces. Which piece(s) from the crowd was your proudest conquest? How do you see these pieces living in the future?
Ohhh, HOW to answer this. I have become less price-sensitive in my thrifting as time has gone on, so I believe that some of my earlier finds will always stand out as my best conquests (you never forget your “firsts” in a sense, though the later finds are just as delicious). In particular: two Saint Laurent Rive Gauche 70’s pieces I got in Durham, NC around 10 years ago for $2 a pop. More and more, I try to bring home wardrobe pieces that I can envision wearing for the long-haul - so I go for high quality fabrics and shapes that are not entirely dependent on youth/my waist circumference (with exceptions, of course). This means for the most part, I want to live with my wardrobe as it stands today for a very long time.
I also want to get more mileage out of my collection by creating a virtual archive that potentially could be accessed by stylists, museums, etc. That’s a longer term goal for the future life of my clothes. Maybe eventually a “Walk of Dame” exhibition at an obscure midwestern art museum….
What is something you are currently re-discovering?
Mayonnaise. It’s good on almost everything savory.
What decade or period of time do you most feel connected to, why?
80s - and the reason is because I simply look at the images, color palettes and hear the sounds of that era, and they just feel and sound RIGHT to me. I do have a penchant for excess so it is not particularly surprising.
What is something you are yearning to experience or learn?
I want to learn more about making things generally! Painting, cooking, rewiring a lamp, making jewelry. I work primarily in front of a computer so perhaps it is natural that I would feel drawn to the act of manipulating tangible materials with my own two hands!
Maimoun comes from the Persian language word meaning to welcome guests/invite company. If you could invite anyone to a dinner party dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I couldn't think of an answer to this for days, but then it came to me: I want to be present at a gathering of the five year old versions of people who mean the most to me. My closest friends, my mother. I will always be more sentimental than I am a student of culture or history.