Interviews

Off Duty With Stylist Summer Dawn

Written By James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by: The Bleu

I trekked my way up to East Village from where I was staying in Williamsburg a few weeks ago to meet up with Summer Dawn Miller, a 20-something freelance stylist, trained actor, sometimes model, and bookworm. I have been following Summer via the ‘Gram for the past year or more and have always been captivated by her free spirited selfies and transparent self-confidence — she appears to be dripping with it. When she welcomed me into her 7th floor NYC apartment, I was met with a kind smile, soft demeanor, and a thoughtful spread of veggies, pesto for dipping, fruit, and chocolate covered pretzels. Candles were lit, and Summer shined with her dewy, well taken care of skin, and a level of self assuredness that is often a rarity for such a young woman.

We chatted for a bit and jumped right into our shoot as she was expected up town for an appointment right after. I hope to grab a drink with her next time I’m in the city. I want to hear more, know more, and explore more of this intriguing and very cool girl. I 100% left her apartment with a smile.

Vintage Dior tank top. Isabel Marant corduroy pants.
Vintage Dior tank top. Isabel Marant corduroy pants.

What’s the story behind your home and how long have you lived there?  “I’ve always lived in the East Village since moving to NYC, but in four different apartments. This is my favorite one yet, and also perhaps the best value.”

What are some of the things you cherish most in your home?  “I’m very sentimental and I actually hide my most personal objects from view of guests. I have a little corner in my wardrobe where I keep photos of my relatives. My late grandmother, my uncle who recently passed, and a photo of my birth father. I once dated a boy who would buy me books and write messages and poems to me on their pages. Those books are very important to me and I reference them whenever I feel like I need a sign. I have a snake plant that I bought when I was 18; if she dies, I die.”

Tell us about the art in your home.  “I love art, but I want blank walls in my home especially in my bedroom. My boyfriend collects Kaws, Jonas Wood, and George Condo whose art I admire, but I like art in my home that makes me feel calm and at ease. My favorite things in my house right now are this Richard Prince skateboard and a Chanel surfboard.”

Where do you shop for home decor?  “We have a lot from CB2, and some tables and things from the MoMA store. Our mattress and bed frame are from Keetsa on Mercer. My first ever apartment was full of interesting vintage furniture and art. I had this huge needlepoint of two fair maidens on a hill top. When I moved to New York, I gave it to a friend. I can’t believe I let it go. Now I’m more drawn to clean, all white furniture and spaces. I find I’m more relaxed and creative in an empty space. It’s like a blank canvas.”

The living room.
The living room.

Coffee table books and magazines you love?  “My favorite magazine is CR Fashion Book. I’ve collected issues for years. I have a really cool book featuring packaging and printed goods from North Korea. There’s also a Damien Hirst book on my TV stand that weighs 40 pounds. Other favorites are Likes by Andy Spade and All About Saul Leiter.”

Favorite candles?  “Burning Rose and Peyote Poem from Byredo. Patchouli and Noiseter from Diptyque.”

Night in or night out? How do you spend it? How do you spend it?  “Night in. Every time. I’ll make dinner for myself. Usually, I’ll have a big bountiful salad full of raw veggies and green dressing or I’ll make gluten-free pasta full of avocado and herbs. Then perhaps a hot bath with epsom salt and candles. After that, a movie in bed. I’ve watched Cold War three times since it came out. It’s free on Amazon Prime right now.”

What are your hobbies?  “Reading and writing. There are so many things I would love to try or fit into my routine, but I’m so absorbed in every book that I read.”

Favorite Netflix series / movie?  “I’m really not into TV! I’d say that I watch HBO more than any other platform. I loved Sharp Objects last summer and I can’t wait until Big Little Lies returns. Highly recommend the documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts to everyone.”

Any good podcasts you recommend?  “I like the Goop podcast and NPR, and I regularly listen to a meditation podcast from UCLA.”

Song on repeat?  “Anything Kim Petras and still In My Head by Ariana Grande.”

Any good book suggestions?  A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara, The Invention of Nature, and While the Gods Were Sleeping. ”

How do you typically spend a day off when the work can wait?  “I love being home. I start my day by reading a bit and then I’ll make a celery and pear juice. I’ll catch up on emails and then walk to get coffee and stop in the park on the way home to read some more. Then maybe I’ll go see a movie at Angelika by myself and make lunch.”

Do you sleep-in on your days off?  “Sometimes I do! If I feel like my body really needs it. I try not to ever sleep past ten, as I’m usually always in bed by midnight.”

How many times do you hit snooze?  “Just once.”

What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up?  “Drink two glasses of water.”

What’s on your bedside table?  “Tons of product — lip balms, face oils, hand cream, CBD oils and tinctures, face mists, lube!”

Describe your personal style / style philosophy.  “Comfort is important to me. I wear a lot of sweats. Baggy clothes make me feel sexy. ”

What’s the one thing in your closet you would save in a fire?  “I’m a smart girl. I would save my Chanel bags. I’m attached to many of my vintage tee shirts, too. They’re impossibly soft and irreplaceable. I found them all by chance. Many are stolen from ex-boyfriends.”

Your first fashion splurge?  “First ever? When I was in high school, I worked at Juicy Couture and it was next to Burberry. I fell in love with this Burberry Sport yellow motorcycle jacket. I saved multiple paychecks and Hanukkah money to buy her. It was one of the proudest moments of my young life. ”

Your biggest fashion failure?  “Possibly that jacket [laughs]. I think I failed when I paid full price for Chanel clogs that I wore once.”

Who, what, where inspires your style the most?  “Pictures of my parents before I was born.”

What do you wear when you’re spending the day comfortable, at home, and off duty?  “Sweatpants and a white ribbed tank.”

What’s on your want list?  “I want this lizard bag from Hunting Season.”

Your five wardrobe staples, go…  “White tee shirts, ribbed tanks, and panties from Hanes. Grey sweatpants. Gorgeous lingerie in silk or lace to wear under the white tee and sweatpants.”

Your favorite designers / brands?  “Chanel and old Céline. Obviously I regret selling my Céline knits before Hedi came on. I love Amy Smilovic at Tibi and Isabel Marant.”

Favorite lingerie brands?  “Agent Provacateur, La Perla, and there’s this shop I found on Instagram @pretties. They make the sweetest little panties and bloomers.”

Very favorite online shop?  “Honestly I rarely order clothes online! But, I do shop a lot on Depop. There are so many great vintage pieces, especially tops and dresses. I just ordered these sweet little white ribbed bike shorts.”

Your favorite vintage clothing stores in NYC?  “My secrets. I’ll give you one: Quality Mending.”

Dresses or jeans?  “Jeans.”

Heels or flats?  “Heels.”

Vintage or new?  “Vintage.”

What’s your signature scent?  “I wear a nice little cocktail of Byredo Gypsy Water Hair Perfume and Dedcool ‘Milk’.”

Breakfast / brunch of choice?  “Celery juice then fresh fruit and oatmeal or gluten-free granola with coconut milk.”

Coffee or tea? How do you take it?  “Both! I drink iced lattes with oat milk and I love peppermint tea in the evening.”

Favorite local cup?  “La Colombe.”

Fave cookbooks? “I love every recipe on Goop.”

Favorite local restaurant and your go-to order?  “Sobaya on E 9th. I get this nice little donburi with fresh salmon, avocado, and rice. Just perfect.”

Regular Postmates / takeout order?  “I order a lot from An Choi on Orchard. I get the vegetarian pho or vermicelli and shrimp chips.”

Any supplements you take / magic elixirs you make or swear by?  “Klarskin Radiance Powder has changed my skin. Please consider trying it if you have stubborn pimples or hormonal acne. I have that every morning on an empty stomach. I take a CBD tincture from Mineral Health daily and a chew from Sundaily that protects skin from sun damage. I also take Zinc, B12, and Spirulina as needed.”

Most-loved kitchen gadgets?  “My Hurom Juicer is well loved. I have some pretty plates from Anthropologie that I bought when I was 18 and moved into my very first apartment.”

Fame and Partners custom top and skirt set.
Fame and Partners custom top and skirt set.

How do you stay active? Do you work out? Details?  “I work out as often as I can. I have a chronic illness and I have to listen to my body and take it easy when I’m in pain. I go to yoga as often as I can. I love Y7 and it’s very close to my apartment.”

What does self-care look like for you when you’re off duty?  “I try to write a lot. I’ll do a hot bath. It’s the sweating that we do in the bath that makes us feel so good.”

You decide to treat yourself, how do you indulge?  “A manicure, a massage, a facial, and a new bra.”

What’s your secret to self-confidence?  “I’m an only child. I was homeschooled when I was young, so I spent an unusual amount of time alone and because of that I know myself extremely well. I don’t always feel beautiful or sexy or deserving, but I know myself well enough to know that the feelings of insecurity will pass and I’ll feel better in the morning.”

Tell us a bit about what you do.  “I answer questions like this, which are actually hard for me. I’m naturally very secretive and protective about my personal life, relationships, and work. But, I create content for brands for my social and elsewhere. I still do personal shopping for a select few clients. I model sometimes. Sometimes I consult for beauty brands and platforms.”

Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?  “My mother.”

What does a typical work day look like?  “Every day is so different. I try to be home as much as possible.”

In such a competitive industry, how do you keep up with the Jonses?  “I don’t really care to. My life and my story are different. I have chronic pain and I’m not able to work as often or as regularly as some girls. I try not to compare myself to others. I’m just happy to be here and doing anything at all.”

Can you tell us how you remedy being in a creative funk? What puts you back on track?  “I just try to write something, anything at all. I’ve written poems about TV shows. Anything to get your mind going and to return back into yourself is how I get going. ”

Any advice to other women looking to start a career in your fields?  “Be nice.”

Any exciting news or projects on the horizon?  “I’m shooting my absolute dream shoot later in June. Can’t tell you though!”

Written by: James Kicinski-McCoy

James Kicinski-McCoy is the 40-something Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Bleu. She likes tequila, picks fights with her husband so she can have the bed to herself, and is trying to figure out that work / life balance.

3 Comments

  1. Mackenzie

    June 3, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Lame question… but who do I call to inquire about the Ulla Johnson dress?

    Reply
    • The Editors

      June 6, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Call the Ulla Johnson store in New York. xx

      Reply
  2. sophia fodor

    June 3, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Just to clarify the book she is referring to is “While the Gods Were Sleeping” by Erwin Mortier

    Reply

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