• Stylelikeu founders Lily Mandelbaum and Elisa Goodkind
  • Mandelbaum and Goodkind with their book, Stylelikeu
  • A spread from the book Stylelikeu showing various people Goodkind and Mandelbaum have profiled
  • Stylelikeu highlights freedom of expression through personal style
  • A look into the lives and closets of the world's most style-driven individuals
Feb 29, 2012

Style Seekers

When fashion editor and stylist Elisa Goodkind went to re-enter the fashion industry after a long hiatus to raise her children, she found that a major shift had occurred: the creativity and passion of the ‘80s and ‘90s had been largely replaced by consumer-focused styles that lacked originality. Aiming to showcase the people who were still taking risks and using fashion to express their individuality, Elisa teamed up with her daughter, Lily Mandelbaum, to create Stylelikeu, a video-based website that takes readers into the homes and closets of people whose style they find interesting and inspiring. The subjects include designers, musicians, performance artists, teachers and people from all walks of life around the world.

Oribe Hair Care is partnering with Stylelikeu to bring you these profiles—and go a little more in-depth with each subject’s beauty routine. Check back each week for a new video and interview.

To kick off this series, we talked to Elisa and Lily to find out a little bit more about the site and their own personal styles.

Who are some of the most memorable people you’ve profiled?

Lily & Elisa: Fatima Robinson. She is a hugely successful hip-hop choreographer who lives in LA. Her house was one of those where we entered and wondered how on earth we were going to photograph everything within the next three hours! From the art to the clothes to the books, it was just amazing. For someone who is so renowned and accomplished, she was so humble and so open. There was no pretense; she just let it all out there. She even danced for us. It was very clear that her ability to be open about her experiences and be open to new experiences is what has made her so successful. She was also having so much fun with her clothes and was so excited to share her obsession with adorning herself in beautiful things—it seemed almost equal to her love for dance. She was oozing passion everywhere.

Elisa: Ilona Royce Smithkin: Ilona is 95 years old, and I was so struck by her vivaciousness. When we showed up at her one bedroom apartment—the same one she’s lived in for 50-some years—it was packed floor-to-ceiling with her life…paintings, books, clothes, everything. In the midst of shooting her, she began to draw one of my eyes, all the while telling me exactly who I was as a person and describing all my characteristics perfectly. The drawing was a 100 percent accurate as well. She's an amazing spirit, and I can only hope to be so strong and open at her age.

Lily: Oliver & Kira: On our first Stylelikeu shooting trip to London, we had no free time scheduled at all. At the last minute, somebody cancelled their shoot and we decided to take advantage of the couple hours we had free and go to this flea market someone had recommended. We were walking through and, all of the sudden, I saw this girl and said, "Holy shit, we need to scout her!" She was totally in her own world—she didn’t even know her own phone number and had to call her boyfriend, Oliver, over to give it to us. We were so obsessed with them that we made room to shoot them the next day. When we got there and Kira wasn't there (apparently she didn't know her schedule either), so we went back the night at 10pm to shoot them together. It was completely dreamy.

How do you find new subjects?

Lily: We are constantly finding new subjects everywhere. We are always scouting at events like concerts, fashion shows and art openings to find people. We also ask each person that we shoot to recommend friends that they think would be a good fit for the site. At this point, we are totally overwhelmed with possible subjects, as we have more than 5,000 people in our database. The network is growing organically at this point.

What have you learned about style and personal expression in general through your interviews?

Lily: That style is 100 percent personal and cannot—and should not—be dictated by what the media and marketing campaigns tell us to wear. Style can be accessible to anyone and everyone; looking stylish is more about your confidence and sense of self within than it is about the pieces of clothing that you are wearing.

What are your personal styles?

Lily: Because I am curvy, I wear a lot of dresses and skirts. One might call my style bohemian. I usually feel like my clothing is much more fitted for a California lifestyle than it is in the streets of New York. I can't stand structured clothing; it doesn't suit my personality to feel boxed in. My mom also has a bit of a hippy sensibility, but integrates more avant-garde/rock influences. She loves designers like Rick Owens and Martin Margiela. Because she has a more boy-ish body than I do, she incorporates a lot of menswear into her wardrobe.

What fashion items can’t you live without?

Lily: I can't live without long, printed dresses and moccasins.
Elisa: I can't live without my Rick Owens leather jacket and piles of rings.

How has your personal style been influenced by the interviews you’ve done and the people you’ve met through Stylelikeu?

Lily: My mom and I both experienced certain seminal moments at the beginning of our journey interviewing people for Stylelikeu in which we were embraced our own individuality and becaome more comfortable in our style and skin. During our first interview ever, my mom was inspired by our muse, Erica Yarbrough, to accept her flat chestedness and throw away all of her padded bras. I was similarly inspired by some of the curvier girls on the site to stop trying to squeeze into the skinny jeans that the magazines had dictated were “in,” and rather, to begin wearing more skirts and dresses that were more suited to my body type. Being comfortable and not judging one’s self in comparison to some singular “ideal” is what is most exciting about style for me..

How do you hope to influence/affect others with Stylelikeu?

Lily: I hope people can access their own freedom of expression through clothing and not feel intimidated by or excluded from fashion. Fashion should not be a source of judgment, but should be a creative and joyful part of one's everyday life.
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