Big white hair, perfect makeup, incredible outfits, the total package—everything makes Colleen Heidemann look famous, or as if she had been a supermodel. Born in California and raised in Bangkok, Colleen traveled the world working as a flight attendant when she was young. She discovered her own style, and she lives it. Fashion blogger Ari Seth Cohen, founder of Advanced Style discovered Heidemann at her resale store in Palm Desert, California back in 2011 and began documenting her for his blog, and eventually, eponymous book and feature-length documentary.
As we shot Heidemann for this interview in the streets of midtown Manhattan, people stopped us several times, and gathered behind us to snap a picture of this fabulous looking woman. But it’s not only her beautiful appearance. She’s stunning inside and out, and has a soft, gracious charm that sort of permeates everything she does. We are very happy that Colleen Heidemann spent an afternoon with us to be featured in Beautiful Savage.
What is your motto in life?
IF NOT NOW.. WHEN? Stop of waiting for the perfect moment, the right timing, and get on with your adventures and your dreams.
Colleen, we are highly interested in some of your style secrets and inspirations. Your look is absolutely breathtaking, how would you describe yourself and your style?
Might you and the readers of “Beautiful Savage“ perhaps be willing to allow me the leeway and luxury of answering this question more from the aspect of describing the person I hope to be?
I would always seek to offer the gift of hope. Of course, I continually fall far short of this goal but strive each and every day to be a better human being. My style is as every woman’s… unique. The same garment can be worn, an outfit created in so many different ways. Envision and construct an end result suitable for the woman you are.
What inspires you to compose an outfit? And, which role models are you inspired or influenced by?
My inspiration results from the most pivotal piece I select. Also the occasion is critical as well as the desired effect to be achieved.
My first role model was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and since that time it has been all and every beautiful outfit, model, and magnificent fashion photograph I have seen. The first moment of being truly mesmerized by a scene in film costume design was as Audrey Hepburn descended the staircase in “My fair Lady“. UNFORGETTABLE!
How long does it take to put an outfit together? Where do you start when you arrange a new one?
I really do try not to wear not an outfit not the same way twice. However on occasion, I surely will. Putting together a new look for the first time can easily take 30 minutes or even more. What can seem right on the hanger does not always come together exactly as you might imagine on the body. There can be numerous components to an outfit. It is often a very time consuming puzzle and process.
What does dressing up mean to you and how does it affect your life?
It allows me my very first “hello“ of the day, one which I would hope might be accepting, welcoming, and comfortable. I really do try to make an effort on behalf of myself as well as others. This, for me is a sign of civility and respect toward those I will see or encounter.
How would you describe the word beauty?
Beauty is that which elevates my spirit to a place of sheer joy. Any of it’s myriad forms… art, design, music, theatre, dance, nature, man or animal, I can’t imagine trying to get through this life without some form of it’s uplifting presence experienced each and every day.
I’m sure people stop you on the street and you’ve probably heard a thousand times that you could be the twin sister of supermodel Carmen dell’Orefice. Do these feedbacks affect you? How do you see yourself when it comes to your own beauty or style?
I am always amazed and so appreciative of how thoughtful and generous people wish to be, so touched by their desire to offer a lovely thought. A resemblance to Carmen dell’Orefice? I can not imagine a more wonderful compliment! I do not believe anyone of us sees ourself as others. Frankly, I find it rather difficult to ever get beyond that first impression in the morning of the woman who must pass through the bathroom door! Yikes!!
Ari Seth Cohen started photographing you in 2011. How did your appearance on “Advanced Style“ changed your life and style?
The changes which have come from meeting Ari and his lovely family, as well as, the women within the pages of his books, would be those which we all encounter when we are privileged to meet persons of creativity, joy, generosity and spontaneity. Ari’s many followers have deeply humbled me by wonderfully positive verbal and written comments. People I have met, friends I have made, are those who make life so meaningful and infinitely precious.
Although women like Carmen, Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda and many more show that beauty is ageless, people still use the quote “not at your age!“ How do you think about it? Do you think there is a limit when it comes to older people and fashion?
Perhaps, it is time we all extend a bit more leniency and less criticism towards one another. Should a new haircut or hair color, shorter skirt or new lipstick shade, vibrant outfit or outlandish tattoo bring joy to one who now must measure time so very carefully, mustn’t we, at the very least, embrace their sense of fun and expression?
If you could chose three people to have dinner with, who would that be and why?
Ralph and Ricky Lauren have immediately come to my mind. But how I would love to express the addition of, yes, the advanced style segment of our population into his magnificent designs, gorgeous photographic achievements and stunning runway presentations. People over the age of 60 still do so love and need to see themselves sublimely accepted and beautifully represented… As a most viable part of the whole.
You’ve already seen many countries, which is your favorite place in the world and why?
I’d like to believe that I’ve yet to discover that place. Maybe, it’s more about the search, and experiences one encounters. BUT PARIS IS SO SPECIAL !!!