On the Red Couch with Art Director/Style Writer Olga Montserrat

Inside Flipboard / February 11, 2015

What makes a great style blog? Charisma, personality and perspective—those things help to separate “style” from “fashion” and blogs from catalogs. Olga Montserrat knows this well. She balances panache and irreverence on her blog, 12:04, which gained notice from the likes of Barney’s, Refinery29 and the San Francisco Chronicle. (12:04 is Montserrat’s birthdate.)

A senior art director at Edelman, Montserrat sees 12:04 as an extension of who she is: professional aesthete by day, “junk food TV” devotee by night. With little patience for pretense, her site shines for its unserious take on “high-fashion.”

Montserrat’s editorial vision and eye for detail is a perfect fit for Flipboard, where she curates four magazines, each with a complementary perspective on contemporary style. We spoke with her about putting your best foot forward, the need for healthy narcissism and her own personal moodboard.

What is it about clothing that fascinates you?
Clothing and accessories are a luxury to me. I grew up with hand-me-downs and borrowing from my mom’s closet, so even now spending money on clothes and shoes makes me feel guilty.

I grew up a bit of a tomboy with a growing fascination for the categorically feminine—clothes, shoes, baby-hued colors, you know, “girl stuff.” I think that’s why my personal style is such a mix of these two themes: masculine and feminine. The masculine part of my wardrobe is a kind of armor, too. I’m tenacious and feel more powerful and like “myself” in masculine clothing.

But I love the intrigue of adding classically feminine touches to that: dark lipstick with a tailored suit, sexy heels with really oversized proportions, or balancing body-conscious clothing with hardly any skin exposed. When balanced, my personal style is an oxymoron of sorts.

You have an elegant and well-edited blog. How do you decide what to post?
Discipline and editing! Sometimes I have so much to say and so much to share! But over the years, and especially as I’ve gained more experience as an art director, I’ve learned the necessary skill known as “Toning it the hell down.” Taking two steps back and asking myself, “Does this all make sense?”

My blog is a personal diary and I’m frenetic, but I work hard to keep my point of view consistent. I get up some mornings hating my closet. I take solace in knowing that most women I know go through this, too. Those days where I can’t string together a sentence or pull together a decent outfit are the reasons I have my blog. It’s a cheat sheet.

My blog also has a lot to do with not being overly precious with content either. It’s all words and images, after all. And there are no right answers.

As an art director, you’re probably used to presenting “moodboards” to clients. Which images (art, fashion, literature, music, food, etc.) would we see on your personal moodboard?
This question is absolutely brilliant because it puts into words the process that goes in my head when deciding what I’m posting about from week to week. Nothing is ever planned—I post what I want, whenever I want—and I like for posts to be cohesive.

You can see what I’m really into lately just by scrolling a couple pages into my blog. A good example of that practice is my Tumblr

So to answer your question, my moodboard for today-ish would be this:
1. This trifecta of images from La Garçonne, Decade Diary (one of my favorites!) and a good deal from Zara.
2. My current muse, Eleonora Carisi, and her amazing Fendi coat.
3. The conservative details at Valentino get me every time.
4. This amazing manicure photo by Into The Gloss, run by one of my favorite bloggers Emily Weiss.
5. Mina Cvetkovic outside of Etro is what I would wear every day this week if I could be Doug Funnie and never change my clothes.
6. Andreea Diaconu’s makeup look when she walked the runway for Vera Wang fall 2013.
7. This look from Louis Vuitton RTW Spring 2015—it reminds me of the layering Dries Van Noten and No. 21 do in their runway shows. Also, I’m just happy to have Nicolas Ghesquière back!
8. This video from T Magazine on Tavi Gevinson—she’s brilliant, intelligent and has always done her own thing. I’m such a fan.
9. Is it tacky to reblog a moodboard I did last year? I think it’s a testament to consistency working (yay!) when I find something I did last year still very much relevant to my style today. This image in particular gets me always. Paul Smith is a genius, and Diane Kruger is a unique style star that chooses to go rogue and without a stylist.
10. Kelly Mittendorf, because she is just amazing.
11. (Because I’m on a roll and I can’t stop myself) Mike Mills’ illustrations in Beginners.
12. Last one I promise! One of my favorite women ever to grace a magazine, Natalia Vodianova.

Do you believe in the concept of “guilty pleasures,” and, if so, what are yours?
The entire blog is a guilty pleasure! I used to feel so sheepish when I’d tell people I have a fashion blog. As if that would alter how they saw me. You? A fashion blogger? I don’t have that chip on my shoulder anymore.

As for guilty pleasures, I’d say fashion, champagne and “junk food television,” as my husband Nick likes to call it. Any given night, especially after a stressful day, I like to park myself on the couch, laptop in hand, reading gossip blogs, glass of sparkling anything in the other, and with the TV set to something ridiculous in the background like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” or anything on Bravo. Does that make me less intelligent? Nope.com.

~ShonaS is curating “Engineered Garments