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October 4-10, 2006

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Secret Histories

In which we demand that perfect strangers tell us everything about their clothes

Fashion--pah!-- what do we know? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of entities dying to tell you what to wear. We're far more interested in what you actually end up in. And so it was that on Friday, Sept. 22, intrepid photographer Sara Sanger, all-around genius Kendra Ciardiello and this editorial fraidy-cat struck out into the wilds of Santa Rosa's Railroad Square to accost perfect strangers and ask them to tell us about their clothes. What we learned was so intriguing and just plain fun that this may become a regular feature. Here are some of this fall's secret histories.

--Gretchen Giles

Jordan Moore

Jordan Moore, 18
The story: The most fashion-forward of all of our victims, er, subjects, Jordan wants to move to New York and be a model. A recent graduate of Santa Rosa High School, he works at both the Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch. He was innocently trying to have a quiet coffee with a friend when we pulled him from his seat and marched him outside for the low-down.
The look: Jordan is wearing Gravis tennies, which can retail in the mid-$80s. He found his pair at Marshall's for a measly $20 and snapped them up. His Abercrombie discount took 30 percent off his jeans, making them merely $52. Jordan chose this pair for their dark color, because he can "use them for fall." He adds, "The boot cut is in." He bought his belt at work three weeks ago but got his super-soft T-shirt at Macy's for $32. "Most of my paycheck goes to clothes," he admits sheepishly. His chain is from Banana Republic, but he added a garage sale charm to it to personalize the look. "Gotta get a little bit of bling in there," he counsels.

Daniela Herman

Daniela Herman, 22
The story: Daniela was trying to grab an iced coffee at Flying Goat when our icy-hot team of procurers swarmed her. Why? She was wearing cute pants with full wide legs, and we're very big on full, wide-legged pants right now. A full-time SSU student, Daniela was getting a late-afternoon pick-her-up before heading out to Occidental to flyer the town with ads for her upcoming production of Judas Iscariot.
The look: Daniela's clothes have mostly been donated to her after she recently lost all of her belongings in a Santa Rosa house fire. Her top, however, is new, a half-off purchase from Fleet Feet, the owner giving her a discount due to her smoldering circumstances. We didn't ask her the cost because she was our first victim and we weren't yet seasoned fashion reporters.
The surprise: Daniela's mother is Mikki Herman, the once-beleaguered owner of the Guerneville vintage clothing store Kings and Queens, targeted by PETA for its unapologetic sale of used and vintage furs. We even took a picture of Daniela (and misspelled her name--sorry!) with her mom for this paper in January 2005.

Roland Hankerson

Roland Hankerson
The story: Roland looked slightly aghast as we cased the joint, otherwise known as the Wine Spectrum Shop & Bar, where he is a manager. Beautiful people are known to sip wine and eat yummy lovely nibbly things at the Spectrum--but on this afternoon, there was just Roland, alone and vulnerable to our terrible ministrations.
The look: Wearing a green Chaps shirt that he bought for himself, a pair of nondescript comfortable work shoes that he's had for about six months and a $15 pair of jeans, all that matters to Roland is the watch. (And the wedding ring, about which he laughs, "Every man has to have one.") This is one serious watch, a Citizen Eco-Drive that he purchased to wear when diving, but that looks good enough for dry-land activities, too. Battery-free, the Citizen is light-powered, has two dials, keeps a calendar through 2100 and retails at roughly the cost of a month's college tuition. We salute a good-looking man in a good-looking watch.

Kerri Valentine

Kerri Valentine, 29
The story: A hair stylist at the Elle Lui salon, Kerri was in one of those crazy-busy vortices of organized mayhem that only a beauty salon on a Friday afternoon can create. At least 40 women covered every available surface--draped in protective capes, pieces of foil in their hair, reading magazines. Kerri talked to us as she began the coloring process on a gracious tween girl.
The look: Spending as many as 10 hours a day on her feet, Kerri relies on her black Dansko clogs to absorb the punishment. "These," she says with a laugh, "are my Friday shoes." She has just lost "some weight," so is back in her $100 Meltin' Pot jeans, and glad of it. Her doubled-up look is achieved by layering an LA Made shirt over an Old Navy tank. Her cuff is made by a local artist, a copper and brass creation enlivened with acrylics. Obviously, the biggest statement that Kerri makes is on her skin, which is liberally covered with tattoos. Her favorite tat is a simple black outline of California inked on the inside of one wrist. "Whenever I leave the state," she says, "it helps me to remember how much I love it here."

Sadie Kaufman

Sadie Kaufman, 35
The story: We spotted Sadie's curls and colorful skirt and followed her directly into A'roma Roasters, where she and her equally adorable friend Tamaka Takefushi were meeting for coffee. Former SRJC students, the two hadn't seen each other in 12 years. Takefushi had flown up from L.A., where she is a production coordinator in the film business, for the visit. Sadie was in town from New York City, where she's lived for over a decade, regrouping before a planned move to Mexico. She is a writer who intends to start her own clothing line. Need we convince you further that bothering strangers for personal details is fun?
The look: Takefushi was simply dressed in Juicy-type comfort wear, but Sadie's look was more elaborate. Her snub-toed Western boots were purchased from an online saddlery store. "I spray-painted them gold," she said, lifting a foot up for inspection. "All of my shoes eventually have a gold phase." Her jacket is similarly stenciled, tagged by a "young friend from Chile." Her brightly colored skirt was ordered online from an African importer. "I am obsessed," Sadie confided, "with wrap skirts."

Lynn Bickert-Coyle and Richard Coyle

Lynn Bickert-Coyle and Richard Coyle
The story: When we see a man sockless in loafers, we pay attention. And so it was that we chased the Coyles around three intersections before catching them and assuring them that we weren't half as crazy as we looked. As for them, well, they looked foreign: conservative, classic, big on gold--we could tell that they were from far-off climes. And indeed, hailing from Franklin Lakes, N.J., Lynn and Richard were in town to attend the Petrino wedding at the Ledson Winery. We forgot to ask about their clothing and neglected to get their ages, but we did learn that Richard is a retired PR executive and that Lynn, after a career as a dental hygienist, is now a volunteer emergency medical technician, which is very cool. We directed them to several area restaurants, assured their breakfast plans were in order for the following morning and just generally behaved like decent good will ambassadors. Whatever.

Achilles Poloynis, Avery Poloynis-Graham and Madison Buchannon-Graham

Achilles Poloynis, 29
Avery Poloynis-Graham, 18 months
Madison Buchannon-Graham, 6
The story: We were still staking out the Flying Goat when Achilles and his daughters made the mistake of thinking that it was safe to go out for coffee. This web was surprisingly well-baited. Our photographer went to high school with Achilles, and the girls' mother, Lacey, used to work at the Bohemian. Taking his daughters out for the afternoon may never seem safe to Achilles again.
The look: Speaking of high school, Achilles has had his shirt since he was 15, but did just purchase those stylin' jeans at Ross Dress for Less for 17 big ones. Avery is attired in the grunge style favored by second-borns, clothes whose origin their parents have long forgotten. Preparing to be the flower girl in a wedding the next day, Madison is wearing new school clothes and sporting accessories from Claire's, loftily holding out a wish box on one dainty finger. Touching the ornament, one of us made a sad and foolish wish about a man, something we dared not tell a six-year-old girl.

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