Katherine Kjerland, affectionately known as GrannyKK, began her career in the fashion industry as a model when she was just 19. Sixty-five years later, her granddaughter, Max Bonbrest, co-founder of chic wardrobe basics brand AYR, has lured her back into modeling.
Kjerland’s first runway show was for Emilio Pucci, whom she told Man Repeller “came from Italy and touched everyone’s asses.” He also wouldn’t let the models wear girdles or bras—not exactly considered optional in the ’50s. But “his silks were some of the softest I ever felt,” she said, and a lifelong love of style was born.
Kjerland walked away from the runway and into floral design later in her career, but she has always been a woman who knows how to dress. A consummate New Yorker, she gave us some her her best tips and insight into style at any age. Read on to learn where she gets inspiration, trends she’s loved and hated, and how to never look like a jerk.
Where are you from? When do you remember first becoming interested in fashion?
How would you describe your style?
Classic, with a hint of chic.
How do you feel about natural gray hair versus colored hair? Do you personally color your hair (or have it colored)?
It depends on your complexion—mine is fair and my grey is mousy, so therefore I go blonde. I have it professionally colored and it grows quickly—maintaining a blonde bob is actually quite a bit of work.
What are your favorite pieces from AYR?
How does living in New York influence the way you dress?
I’m a real New Yorker by influence—basically I wear black, navy and grey—a touch of white or a stripe if I’m feeling fancy.
Are you or have you ever been a fan of high heels?
Back in the day, I favored the 3” Manolos. I have a pair of Gianvitto Rossi mules I take out for special occasions otherwise I’m a loafer or sneakers gal.
What are some trends that you’ve loved? What are some you disliked either at the time they were popular or in retrospect?
I liked the ’50s look a la Jackie Kennedy. I liked the 70s miniskirts (really short!) you could wear a blouse for a dress, which I did. Pucci. I wasn’t a big fan of the ballerina skirt or the maxi dress and I wasn’t crazy about the tiny waist big volume skirt. We wore them with crinoline. It was like wearing a lampshade on your body.
Do you have any fashion/styling tips for young women who are trying to find their personal style? How about older women who are still trying?
Walk the streets and get inspired. Hang out on a bench. And figure out what you like and what suits you. Don’t over-complicate it.
Do you have a beauty routine? If so, what are some of your go-to products?
Creams creams creams! I was a La Prairie girl for as long as I can remember. Now my routine includes Chanel Tinted Moisturizer with SPF and Josie Maran Serum underneath, with a spritz Rose & Glycerin water spray by Drunk Elephant.
What advice would you give your younger self when it comes to fashion and/or life in general?
Relax. Feel comfortable in your own skin—and comfortable in your clothes—if you’re not comfortable in your clothes you look like an asshole. Be happy and enjoy the moment, smile a lot.
Where do you get inspiration for your personal style?