Barbara Spiro-Ryan's closet is not really a closet. It's more like a room that's part pink-floral French country boudoir, part fashion museum.
There is no denying that Spiro-Ryan, a retired senior vice president of institutional advancement at Drexel University, has fabulous clothes. No woman could ignore her airy Jason Wu dresses, full-length fur-trimmed Oscar de la Renta coats, or soft leather Rachel Roy jackets.
The Louis Vuitton bags in sizes big, bigger and biggest are nothing to sneeze at, either.
The beauty of this space, however, is in the undeniably fashion-savvy details. A mannequin in an ivory lace Jessica McClintock gown evokes a frilly atmosphere. Sunlight streams through tall windows, bouncing off rows of jeweled and patent-leather clutches - we're talking real Judith Leibers here. Entering this room is akin to walking into fashion heaven.
And it's not just those beautiful little clutches with the floral and bow details that are museum-quality. Spiro-Ryan's shoe collection - there are three full walls - rivals that of Carrie Bradshaw. Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutins, Roger Viviers - the list goes on. They are so sparkly, so pointy, and all so neatly lined up, two by two, just waiting to be plucked up and slipped on.
But there's more beyond the closet, through the bedroom and into a second sitting area just off the bathroom.
Here, collector-type items include a windowsill full of empty perfume bottles in jewel-toned glass. Spiro-Ryan brought some of them from as far away as Egypt.
The real treat is the fashion sketches. There are at least half a dozen in color from heavy-hitting designers Manolo Blahnik, Betsey Johnson, Veronica Etro of the Italian label Etro, Bryan Bradley of Tuleh, and Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. Spiro-Ryan purchased them at fashion auctions.
As I said, nothing short of fashion nirvana.
What does your closet decor say about you as a fashionista?
It says that I'm very feminine. I like to take risks.
And how does that translate to your wardrobe?
I don't dress in just one designer. I mix and match. I like to mix fabrics and patterns together like tweeds and prints, florals and stripes.
What is your favorite thing in your closet?
This pink Eric Javits fedora. I love hats. I look good in them.
They are masculine, but on a woman they are feminine. A little risky.
What's the newest thing in your closet?
It's a Corto Moltedo [pointing to a square clutch adorned with a bow]. That's Bottega Veneta's son. Isn't it cute?
Speaking of clutches, why do you have so many?
I don't like really big bags. When I carry them, I throw all of my stuff in them and it becomes a big mess.
What is the oldest thing in your closet?
It's probably this [white quilted] Judith Leiber bag. I bought it about 25 years ago when Bonwit Teller was going out of business. I was so happy.
Who is your favorite designer?
Oscar de la Renta. I love his fabrics. I think you get the most for your money with the tailoring and fabrics.
So many women are afraid of color, yet this fear doesn't seem to plague your closet. Why?
I'm not lazy. People who stay with black are lazy. If you are into fashion, you have to really be into it. You have to like it. You have to try new things. That's the only way you'll find things that make you feel good. I
Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.