A Clothing Line Based on Her Great Grandmother’s Aprons

Paris Starn

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, New York Times

Paris Starn

Age: 24

Hometown: The Chelsea section of Manhattan.

Now Lives: In a two-bedroom walk-up apartment in the East Village.

Claim to Fame: Starn is a hard-to-pin-down creative spirit who has been a child actress, a baker and, more recently, a fashion designer. Her professional life started early, when she appeared in several episodes of “Sesame Street” between ages 2 and 6. She also appeared in a short film, “Anna,” directed by Liliana Greenfield-Sanders, her godmother’s sister, when she was around 12. Artistic expression runs in her family: She is the daughter of artist Mike Starn and Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum.

Big Break: When she was 15, Starn spotted the founders of the store Opening Ceremony at a fundraising event for Dia:Beacon and got up the courage to ask them for an internship, which she landed. Starn, who by then had become a passionate cook, came up with a unique way to stand out. “I’d bring in baked goods every day, because I wanted to be the most liked intern ever,” she said. She was quickly nicknamed Mini Martha and given a food column on the store’s blog, spotlighting her tarts, cakes and cream puffs.

Latest Project: In mid-January, Starn debuted her first line of clothing, Paris 99, at Opening Ceremony. The collection consists of breezy gingham mini-dresses that are suggestive of vintage kitchen aprons. Her great-grandmother’s aprons, she said, were an inspiration. “I wanted to show off backs, waists, legs — not the parts of the body that are overtly sexual, but ones that have a lot of beauty to them,” Starn said. She began making dresses a few years ago, as a student at Bard College, when she couldn’t find clothing she liked. Although she has no formal design training, she began sewing when she was about 5, creating Halloween costumes with her father.

Next Thing: She is planning to expand the collection beyond dresses, to include trousers, shirts and bustiers. When not designing, Starn is pursuing a graduate degree in art history at Hunter College.

The Art of Fashion: As a little girl, she would frequently spend afternoons at Chelsea art galleries with her parents. Toward the end of those jaunts, she was encouraged to choose a final gallery to visit. “I would take them to Comme des Garçons,” she recalled. “My parents always laughed at me and I didn’t understand why, because I genuinely thought those clothes were art, which they are.”

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