The Insider: Ray Siegel

Devouring Ray Siegel’s in-the-know posts on is like reading a syllabus of what’s destined to be cool down the road—trust us. Shocker of all shockers: the fashion-slash-music-slash-beauty expert is as cool (and crazy-charming) in real life as she is on the internets. Behold. —carlye wisel

Q: Were you really into music pre-Nylon, or did your job there encourage that?
A: Music what I was first interested in, I would say. When I was young, I remember spending all of my time watching MTV, listening to the radio, and trying to convince my parents to buy me new CDs. I’m actually surprised that I didn’t become a music journalist, because the fashion thing kinda came later. But at Nylon, luckily, I get to do both. And then there’s beauty in the mix, too, which I also love doing. It’s sort of just the perfect mix.

Q: Do you have any beauty tips you swear by?
A: I’m really into highlighters. Trish McEvoy actually taught me this tip where you take your highlighter and draw a triangle under your eye—she calls it the Triangle of Light—and it’s a way to cover any sort of darkness. You just paint it on and rub it in.

Q: What would be your perfect New York day?
A: Well, in the winter, my perfect day is not leaving the house, because I hate the cold. But if it’s really nice outside, one of the things I always look forward to is going to Coney Island. I like going on all the rides, and my favorite pizza place in New York, Totonno’s, is right nearby.

Q: What’s the most embarrassing thing on your bookshelf?
A: I do still have a lot of the books I read as a kid, some of which are probably very embarrassing. Actually, my mom just sent me this card from a book review contest that I entered when I was 10 years old. It’s an illustration and a review of Lois Lowry’s Number The Stars.

Q: The Holocaust book?
A: Yeah! I basically had an obsession when I was a child. After I read The Diary of Anne Frank, I almost didn’t sleep for three years because I had terrible nightmares.

Q: What’s your shopping strategy like?
A: I’m the kind of person who likes trying on every single knit sweater. I will go around the perimeter of Barneys and look at every single thing, even if its a designer I’ve never worn before. You never know what you can find, and it works pretty well if you don’t discriminate. I focus more on the shapes of things, and if I think it’s a shape that would look good on me, I’ll try it, no matter what.

Q: That’s gotta be pretty time consuming, right?
A: It’s pretty slow, yeah. I go to What Goes Around Comes Around a lot. They have stacks of a hundred white T-shirts, and I’ll lay them out and go through every single one. The lady that works there is like, “What are you doing!” and I’m like “Nope, this is just what I do!” I make piles and try on all the ones that I think will fit. I spend a lot on T-shirts and sweatshirts and things that I know I’m going to wear all the time.

Q: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever worn?
A: When I was in college and high school, it was just kind of a bad time for fashion in general. Body glitter was cool, halter tops were cool, off-the-shoulder things and tight pants…and I definitely fell victim to some of that. I also wore a lot of stuff that I’m not embarrassed about at all and still wear. I have a Marc by Marc Jacobs denim jacket with crazy patches and studs all over it that I’ve had since high school, and I still rock that.

Photograph by Melanie Galea of The Street Muse.

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Matt Singer’s Space-Inspired Vintage Finds

These four pieces are outta this world. (Heh.)

Nothing menswear designer Matt Singer does is off-the-cuff. So when Barneys asked him to pull together vintage items to sell alongside his impeccably cut shirts and smart, utilitarian bags in an installation at their Madison Avenue store, he thought long and hard, eventually landing on a NASA-fueled, space-age theme. These are four of the super-cool pieces he presented.

“I really fell for this vintage Taylor weather barometer. The brass base has a nice patina, and the clear Lucite on the front and back lets you see the inner gears and levers. The piece measures temperature on the left, humidity on the right, and the falling or rising barometer reading in the center indicates the likelihood of precipitation—listed as RAIN or FAIR in a gorgeous florid white script.”

“I’ve come across lots of rock and mineral samples, but I love how this small geode is held in place on the stand by the two brass screw heads. I really love the arc and the angles that get created with the stand, like a small planet tilted on its axis.”

“For me, watches are one of those things that I have a really emotional, visceral response to. That Omega is similar to a watch my dad gave me that he got when he was 13. Omega watches—those were the models that were given to all the astronauts, so they lend themselves well to this theme.”

“This brass astronaut sculpture is totally rad—simple and unadorned, with a good heft to it. It would be nice sitting on a desk in someone’s office. The brass has aged nicely and has a cool, almost pink hue.” [Ed: This one is up for grabs at Barneys.]

Get on our email list to make sure you don’t miss out on Matt’s edition release on Tuesday. It’s on fire.

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Kristina and Sarah on Four Things They Learned Starting a Business

Spoiler alert: It takes more than kick-ass design (and internships at Rodarte).

The inaugural Mctega design

“We met interning for Rodarte. I think Sarah was the first person I met there,” explains Kristina Ortega, one half of the Mctega team. “I actually answered the door when Kristina knocked for her first day of work,” adds Sarah McLellan, the other member of the jewelry-making duo. The two developed a connection so quickly that, upon wrapping up their gigs, they decided to launch a company that makes accessories that would look at home at Dylan’s Candy Bar or on Fraggle Rock. Here are just a few of the things they’ve picked up along the way. [Ed: We got kind of ‘motional reading these, because we  feel like we could have written them ourselves. Of a Kind fully endorses starting a business.]

1) You have to push and to know when to stop.
Sarah: As younger designers, there have been times where we have these huge, grand ideas, but we don’t have resources to execute them. We’re always happy with the end result, but we’re very critical of what we put out.

2) You can figure shit out. No, really.
Sarah: From the Rodarte girls, we took away the fact that you could do it for yourself—you don’t have to work for a giant company. It’s like they really woke up with this decision: “We’re doing this. We’re going to be what we really want to be.”
Kristina: We learned how to pour silicone molds and how to make this strange chamber that pulls oxygen out of plastic. It’s those kind of weird things that we taught ourselves that probably aren’t things you get to learn when you work for somebody else. It’s valuable, and it’s the way we design.

3) There’s no such thing as a work schedule.
Kristina: The weird thing is that there are some weeks when we can’t find things to do, and then other weeks when we have so much to do that we don’t get to breathe or sleep or do anything—you just have to get through it. It’s kind of rough, but we have a good sense of humor about it. We mess around a lot in the backyard.  

4) Your experience is going to be different from anyone else’s.
Sarah: Literally, six months after starting our line, we got an email from Barneys asking if we wanted to meet with them. That was so huge for us. It was like, “Are you kidding right now?” Six months ago, I was sitting in on a buying meeting with Rodarte, and now I’m here with my business partner about our stuff. But even if I did learn something by having those previous encounters, it’s always different for you personally.

See how their hard work has paid off. Check out the awesome bracelet they made just for Of a Kind.

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