Rebecca makes a fashion statement
August 07, 2018
Colorful. Patterned. Layered. Eclectic.
That sounds like a perfect description of the look of MacKenzie-Childs, doesn’t it?
But it’s also the style of Rebecca Proctor, our creative director and chief brand officer.
Coincidence? Probably not. In fact, even Rebecca likens her fashion sense to that of our iconic piece, the over-the-top Ridiculous Bench, a potpourri of pattern, paint, and trim. “I’m a bit of this, a bit of that, and I like to pull things together on impulse,” she says.
Rebecca loves fashion, and it shows. She’s known for fun looks, including her chunky turquoise shoes, her oversized eyewear, and her playful vintage pinafores.
Fashion has been a part of Rebecca’s life for as long as she can remember. Her mother, whom Rebecca describes as having a “very keen sense” of design, sewed much of the clothing that she and her two older sisters wore growing up in Baltimore, Maryland. Another favorite childhood memory is playing dress-up with her sisters. Their costumes weren’t ordinary hand-me-downs, but couture creations donated by their well-traveled neighbors, including one who lived part of the year in Paris.
To this day, Rebecca remembers three outfits in particular:
- A green velvet gaucho-style jacket lined with green satin, trimmed with black soutache.
- A pair of turquoise satin Parisian slippers with clear acrylic tops, trimmed with rhinestones.
- A low-back, short-sleeved gold sequin top that she finally grew into when she was 17.
Soon, fashion became more than a hobby. One of Rebecca’s earliest jobs as a teenager was working in a Baltimore clothing store, The Bead Experience. It was there that she learned to run a cash register, dress the mannequins, arrange the store windows, and attend to customers. One in particular was, like Rebecca, destined for bigger things: media mogul Oprah Winfrey, then a co-anchor at Baltimore TV station WJZ. “At that time, she was a local Baltimore news anchor and quite recognizable, and you could see she had this truly dynamic presence.”
Eventually, Rebecca found her way to Upstate New York, where she studied art history at Ithaca College. That led to working in an Ithaca boutique, High Gear, which she eventually owned with her best friend from college. From the ground up, they created a retail space like no other, hiring one of her art professors to paint the floor in a colorful faux marble. Their shopping bags featured a black and white Dalmatian-spot motif designed by Rebecca’s future husband and in themselves became popular.
Clothing hung on racks they designed to be suspended from the ceiling to better show off the fabulous hand-painted floors. Their merchandise, which Rebecca characterized as “funky, funky stuff; Betsy Johnson, Doc Martin, Cynthia Rowley…lines that had never appeared in Ithaca before,” catered to the city’s young professionals and the college girls at Cornell University and Ithaca College.
Rebecca’s love affair with fashion continues to this day. She’s frequently asked where she find this piece or that piece, but there isn’t an easy answer to the origins of her wardrobe. Rebecca is a collector, and instead of purchasing whole outfits, she prefers to pick out individual pieces that have character or something unique about them. Her approach to fashion is to combine clothing in her own unique way.
But there are some common threads:
- She starts with a core piece—a coat, a jacket, a dress—and builds her look around that. Her basics, which she calls underpinnings, include striped shirts. She tends to add layers to those with other pieces. She also stores her wardrobe on garment racks, grouped by categories. At first this was done out of necessity while her husband remodeled the second floor of their home. But the system proved to be highly functional, so she still uses the same racks to this day.
- She likes color and is drawn to interesting textiles. Many of the pieces in her wardrobe have been found in her travels around the globe, including the two semiannual trips she takes to India.
- She believes in the power of accessories. “Changing accessories can completely transform a look from sleek and sophisticated to fun and funky, depending on how you put things together,” she says. “It’s funny, but I use a similar approach when I set a table.”
Rebecca’s final bit of advice? Wearing what makes you feel good and happy will give you an inner confidence.
“Your look and my look might be quite different, and that’s what makes the world go ’round,” she says. “Style is an interesting thing—having had a clothing store for several years, I learned a lot about people and observing their behavior around apparel.…Absolutely nothing makes me happier than helping someone find the look that makes them feel amazing. You can literally watch someone transform from feeling grey to feeling radiant, once they put something together that really suits them. I think that’s the fun of it all.”