Originally published in Vogue, TRACE BARNHILL
Deep in the heart of the Lower East Side, down a skater-lined street, up a few heart-pumping flights of narrow slate stairs, past a doormat that reads “Room Where It Happened,” and down the hall from a (the?) Troll Museum (!), Ruby Aldridge is getting ready. Well, perhaps it’s more accurate to say Ruby Aldridge is being made ready. Nine people, including the model, have crowded into her one-bedroom, intent on turning her out for the Vogue.com x Coach karaoke party in style (and in time). Aldridge has just landed back in New York after a monthlong family trip to London and Greece, but managed to leave any signs of jet lag or fatigue at customs. She did have a little help, she confesses, present company excluded.
“Water!” she yells out after a makeup artist remarked on Aldridge’s glowy, suspiciously un-post-plane skin. “I drank, like, five liters,” Aldridge says. “I had an aisle seat—it was fine.” Tonight’s beauty look—a pointy cat-eye and artfully arranged “messy hair”—is a departure from the model’s usual going-out routine. “Eyelash curler, concealer, eyebrows, lip balm” are the essentials she rattles off. “Maybe blush, if I’m feelin’ a little crazy.”
Her personal style (which she describes as “organized chaos”) has evolved too. These days she’s into vintage denim and, she says, “I’m big on a statement sock.” But she was true to the standard model-off-duty uniform—black skinnies, white tee, shrunken biker jacket—for years, “without even knowing it was a classic mandatory street-model look,” Aldridge says. She’s since grown out of it. “I feel different than that. I even got rid of every pair of every skinny jeans that I owned, then I regretted it because I needed them for castings. I was showing up in baggy JNCOs.” Did that work? Aldridge replies with a swift and definite, “No.”
No cargo denim in sight, Aldridge slips into Coach’s mustard and burgundy Red Forest Flower Varsity frock, nipped in at the waist and slightly “gypsy,” but just floral and bohemian enough for the Ukrainian venue and theme. “It’s not something I would’ve picked for myself, but it’s the kind of thing where I know when I put it on, it’s going to look cool,” says Aldridge, and it’s not a new experience. She and her Victoria’s Secret Angel sister, Lily, shot a Coach campaign together years ago. “I was a baby,” she recalls. “I remember we were wearing long beautiful dresses. We were just ourselves, and we took a photo together.” She sighs. “Back in the day.”
But karaoke waits for no man, not even jet-lagged model royalty, and Aldridge has to get going. She reaches for a pair of Coach’s studded, hexagon-heeled Chelsea boots (a poster of Warhol’s Chelsea Girls looking on, eerie but approving), and topped it off with a turn-lock saddle bag in prairie patchwork from the brand. In the nick of time, Vogue.com Market Editor Kelly Connor hands Aldridge some prophylactic footies—dainty sheer white things with floral lace. “Socks!” Aldridge exclaims, gleefully pulling them on. “And you can keep them,” says Connor. Then the getting-ready party (which has swelled to 10) makes a makeup kit–laden processional back down the hall, necking for a peek into the heavily googled Troll Museum, and out into the street, where Aldridge twirls off into the night, aiming straight for karaoke—a trail of flashing bulbs and wardrobe bags following in her wake.
On Aldridge: Marteau vintage jewelry, Coach 1941 Red Forest Flower Varsity dress with collar; Coach 1941 Chelsea boots; Coach 1941 turn-lock saddle bag 17 in B-Boy Prairie Patchwork, coach.com
Sittings Editor: Kelly Connor
Hair: David Colvin; Makeup: Mariko Hirano