Author: Robin Marshall

A Pragmatist’s Guide to Adventurous Living 

When people ask how a nice Mormon girl from a small, conservative college town ended up in New York City, I tell them it was by way of the Western Sahara, a desert wedding and a white camel. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trained for a life of adventure. Conceived in a well-traveled uterus (my parents had spent a grueling 12 months traveling the globe the year prior), I had been to 32 countries and visited every one of the United States except Alaska by the time I was 12. I celebrated my third birthday crying over a lost sweater on a Norwegian fjord. My fourth, waiting patiently in our VW camper for my father to be released from a Mexican jail. My fifth, eating couscous from the henna-ed hands of bejeweled women at a Berber wedding in Morocco and begging my parents to let me bring home a very sweet, very tiny white camel. And the year I turned 18, I furtively exchanged blue jeans for Soviet bezdelushki behind …

I Learned Everything I Needed to Know at a Vegas Cosmetic Counter

In the summer of 1989, I got myself gussied up and stepped onto a gleaming marble sales floor ready to beautify the world, or at least those fortunate enough to pass my counter. A 21-year old small-town girl with retail stars in my eyes, I had confidently parlayed my limited (and decidedly unsophisticated) local-mall sales experience and a few freelance makeovers into credentials for this glamorous new gig, but I was unprepared for the insane, international and immensely delightful cast of characters who would teach me everything they knew about selling and survival—whether they meant to or not. Why and how I came to be in the cosmetics department at Saks Fifth Avenue in Las Vegas is a story for another time, but suffice to say it had to do with a car breaking down in the desert and someone’s uncle’s girlfriend knowing a manicurist who knew someone in human resources. Long story short, Saks—and later Neiman Marcus—empires of elegance, service and style, served as my first salt mines. Livelier and more luxurious than any …

Mandates of a Middle-Aged Man Repeller

“…I didn’t want to wear a sack dress myself; I just wanted to be friends with a woman who did. She’d be smart, sophisticated, witty, and brave, and together we’d bond over this haute hoot.” John Waters, “The Dress that Changed My Life,” Harper’s Bazaar, September 2014 Shapeless sacks. These are the two words that best describe my wardrobe, according to my always-natty brother. His next three words would be saggy diaper pants (AKA, harem or MC Hammer pants). Super sexy, I know. Tunics, caftans, sack dresses, oversized shirts, drop-crotch pants – if it’s large or voluminous, boyish or boxy, it’s in my closet. But it wasn’t always this way. You see, I spent my formative sartorial years working in retail, where the number one mantra was: Look. The. Brand. So my “style” was essentially dictated by what was currently in store and what I could afford. I went from saving up my $4.75-per-hour Foxmoor Casuals paycheck to buy Sasson jeans (no Levi’s allowed) to sporting a lab coat, chunky gold earrings and beaucoup de …

Women Who Inspire: Cindi Leive

NAME: Cindi Leive AGE: 46 OCCUPATION: Editor-in-chief, Glamour magazine WHO SHE IS: Cindi Leive has been on many “40 under 40” and “most powerful women” lists. She oversees the editorial content of a mega-magazine, has driven circulation to record levels and has earned an unprecedented number of awards, including a White House Project EPIC Award, a Matrix Award from Women in Communications and a Champion of Choice Award from NARAL-NY for her coverage of women’s health. She tweets from the runways of Milan and lunches with Jason Wu and Brian Atwood. And though professionally she is indeed remarkable, that’s not why she’s on this list. WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: As a neighbor and friend, the Cindi I know is most often in jeans or running tights — without makeup and sans entourage. She cooks up Super Bowl chili for 40 guests and hosts raucous sleepovers for rascally eight-year old boys. She is funny, thoughtful and totally comfortable in her own skin. Even if I didn’t know about her other life as a powerhouse editor, I’d still …

Women Who Inspire: Isabella Rossellini

                  NAME: Isabella Rossellini AGE: 61 OCCUPATION: Filmmaker, actor, model, graduate student WHO SHE IS: Fact: Although she spent most of her life acting and modeling, this world-famous beauty and daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini has always loved biology. Now 61 (and still stunning), she has found a way to combine her love of science and theater in a series of spectacular short films: Green Porno, Seduce Me and Mammas — all while raising a family and pursing a graduate degree at Hunter College in Animal Behavior and Conservation. Why the fascination with biology? “The secret to success is not perfection,” she says, “it’s diversity. [If you are “perfect] and the environment changes–bang! You’re dead.“ WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: I’ve admired this elegant, strong and effortlessly beautiful woman since my days as a Lancôme counter manager in the early 90’s. But after seeing her live at BAM last month, I am even more smitten. She is wickedly funny, frighteningly smart and believes that beauty is about the weird and wonderful—in …