Love Stories - Mimi and Lily

Meet mother-daughter duo, Mimi Thompson, and Lily Rosenquist. 

Family members with a taste for the sartorial, these two share more than professions in New York's art world - starting with the contents of their killer closets. Read on to discover what they think about the relationship between art and fashion, how motherhood doesn't have to change your style and the many ways they inspire each other!

Mimi touts a stellar art world resume bedecked with big names like The Whitney Museum, Leo Castelli, and Vanity Fair. Currently an independent writer for museums and art galleries, she also works as a contributing editor at Bomb Magazine. 

Lily Rosenquist was born and raised in New York, attended RISD and most recently exhibited as a part of House of Orange with Wilma Projects. She maintains a studio practice in drawing, sculpture and other mediums and is mom to charming 6-month-old Oscar. 

The last thing you borrowed?

Lily: I borrow so many things from Mimi's closet that it's difficult to keep track. As we speak,  I'm wearing a black sweater of hers that I "borrowed" in high school. This past summer I borrowed a beautiful pair of vintage Jimmy Choo silver raw silk pointed pumps that I've loved forever, they were returned to her, so they were truly borrowed, but I wouldn't say no to having them in my closet for a while! 

Mimi: A lovely soft t-shirt from Lily's teenage years.

How do you inspire each other?

Lily: Mimi inspires me all the time in so many ways. She is completely dedicated to her work but also makes time for her friends and other pursuits; we can discuss something serious and be on the floor laughing in the same conversation. My goal is to accomplish as much as she has and have at least as much fun at the same time. 

Mimi: Lily's loving nature and openness inspire me.  I also admire her ability to take an idea and quickly make the abstract physical. She has such a free mind.

What are your thoughts on the intersection of art and fashion? 

Mimi: I think they have existed hand and hand since the beginning. From ancient cultures to John Singer Sargent, Abstract Expressionism to Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman or Laurie Simmons. There has always been a continual cross-fertilization between the two. Color, form, texture, fashion, art and nature all show us how these elements combine.

Lily: I think fashion is an expression of art especially now with brands like Eckhaus Latta pushing the envelope.  Artists don't always start with a grand, complicated thesis behind their work and often they are playing with form, color, and figure in a way that just happens to come out as a painting instead of a dress. Wearing anything is performative - even if it's just a shirt with jeans. I don't see much of a divide between 'traditional' art practices and fashion. 

Top three most stylish artists (any era)?

Lily: Nikki de Saint Phalle in the video documentation of her performances of Tirs (her, shooting paintings). Grace Jones in her maternity dress because it's such a crazy outfit and is kind of perfect for how you feel in that moment of physical transformation. David Bowie in any era, his style felt so intuitive and natural even when he was pushing boundaries. 

Mimi: I think I equate stylish with unafraid- Robert Rauschenberg, Frida Kahlo, and Agnes Martin come to mind - there are so many!

Do you draw on your art world experience when composing an outfit? 

Lily: Not necessarily, I tend to base my outfits on what will be the most useful wherever I'm going, but that also comes from observing people in art environments as I grew up. I have friends in the arts who wear a uniform of t-shirt and jeans and never change for anything. I also have friends who wear beautiful and carefully maintained clothes. And everything in between. The materials used to compose an outfit or clothing item are what's most important to me. I'll choose something with a great texture or way of catching the light beautifully over something uncomfortable. Whatever you feel best in is often the right outfit - for any situation, art related or not.


Mimi: I'm pretty practical most of the time, but once in a while, I'll be mesmerized by a particular combination of color and shape. Years ago I found a Romeo Gigli pantsuit on sale, the jacket has dramatic pleated sleeves, it's very comfortable but maybe it's more interesting to look at all by itself- it's a great object.


What is important to you about jewelry? 

Lily: I worked for a jeweler for several years, and I love working with metal. Jewelry is like a small personal sculpture. I love how intimate it is as a medium. I usually wear more, but with a six-month-old chomping on everything, I've had to pair it down. I always wear at least three rings, my engagement ring my husband brought back from his family in Ecuador, my wedding ring that my friend Pinkney (who is a jeweler) made and a braided silver band she also made. I'm looking forward to when my son is a little older so I can get back into wearing more jewelry. 

Mimi: I love to look at and hold jewelry, and I do wear it - I love wearing things made by people I know. There are two rings I always have on- one was a present from my husband, Jim, and the other is the first ring Lily made in high school.

How has motherhood influenced your way of dressing? 

Mimi: I think motherhood ignites all aspects of life. It can make you a bit more utilitarian, but the challenge is how to be practical with style!


Lily: It hasn't changed that much beyond dressing for the physical changes that come with motherhood, I am very happy to be able to wear pants again post pregnancy! I am also lucky to have a mom who didn't limit her style because she became a mother, so as a mother myself I don't think that I need to change how I dress just because I am a mom. If anything Andrés and I just think about what shirts and leather jackets we can pass down to Oscar if he wants them, between all of us we have a ton of unisex vintage that hopefully, he will like.

What are your mother's day plans? Do you have any yearly traditions?

Lily: Our mother's day plans are up in the air at the moment, we tend to keep it pretty casual, but maybe we will do something involving nice wine or a massage this year!

Mimi: I'll be happy to be anywhere with Lily, Andres, and Oscar. It will be the first Mothers Day that Lily and I are both mothers!

Interview by Olivia La Roche.

Photography by Andres Altamirano.

Styled by Sonya Dissin.

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