A fashion thinker, influencer, philanthropist, Editorial Director for the super cool Paper Magazine, Mickey Boardman is a very important figure in the fashion world; he is an authority who has used his power not only to talk up fashion but also to talk against any kind of wrong doings in fashion.
He loves what he does and does it pretty darn well, but at the same time he uses his skills to give back in his own way. Whether it’s building schools and hospitals in India or his charity sales for various causes or helping empower women in Nepal, Mickey is more than a stylish maven who is one of the most photographed faces in New York. His artistic ingenuity goes beyond clothes, accessories and trends. He has always thought out of the box and while Parsons didn’t quite get him, Paper embraced him and loved the progressive thinker that he was even while interning more than 25 years ago. He found a place where he felt belonged and decided to stay, and as they say, the rest is history…
When did your romance with fashion begin?
You know, it’s one of those things that I don’t remember, because it always existed. I was born in 1966, so the early 70s for me was a time that I became aware of anything including fashion. My mother, at that time, wanted an afro even though she was white yet she wanted a white lady afro. So she had a wig that she wore, and at the time I did not even realise that it was a wig, I got to know that much later. She dressed very glamorously, so she was one of the hip mothers. From the very beginning, she also dressed us like freaks I have to say. I remember my first day of school in first grade —she put me in maroon pants that had a pink fish pattern and then a light red button up shirt that had monkey heads on it. My brother and I always had long hair, people always thought I was a girl. We were in bell-bottom pants with turtlenecks that had big zip accents on it, so I felt we always dressed differently than a lot of people. And that was all thanks to our mother as she was not conservative. In terms of discovering fashion, from a very early age I loved looking at magazines, loved watching old movies and seeing the clothes in them.
What era of fashion have you been most intrigued by?
The 60s have always spoken to me. On some level, the 70s was just a hangover of the 60s in terms of fashion. The bourbon housewives like my mother embraced the crazier looks of the 60s. If I had to pick one era that always give me a thrill, it will have to be the late 60s—the supremes in Las Vegas. I love glamour, I love sequence and there is something about Las Vegas particularly in that era. Having said that, I still love Las Vegas today it is wonderful, larger than life but at that time it was a sort of an insider thing then—it hadn’t gone through the phase where they had to make it family friendly. It was about gambling, about hookers, about the rap pack. It was a really glamorous thing and people really dressed up. I am really attracted to anything where people have to dress up, whether it is fashion week or Academy awards. I am really old school like that. When my parents used to travel, they dressed up. Like my mother would wear pantyhose and high heels shoes—now people wear dirty sweatpants and carry their own pillow. I really do think that a big turn and huge change happened in America when women stopped wearing pantyhose because back in the day, if you were dressed up, you were wearing pantyhose. Women now wear bare legs, so all the old school idea of getting dressed up went out of the window with the pantyhose. Same goes for men, back in the day they wore hats and jackets to places. As I was born in 1966 I really don’t remember being aware of the late 60s, but there is just something about that era that even till today, speaks to me and gives me a thrill.
You have been with Paper for over 25 years—can you tell us a little about working there?
While at Parsons, a friend of mine was friends with the managing editor of Paper, and asked me to intern. I loved the product so much, and they loved me. So I was in school seven days a week, where they did not get me and/or like me and then I would go be an intern at Paper, and they loved how I dressed crazy and they were so welcoming that it felt like home. I always say, if Paper was a plumbing supply store, I would be a plumber because I felt so welcome and so appreciated there that I loved it. My dream had always been to find a place where I felt belonged. And I was not a trained writer though I am a fun writer. I was not trained to be a photo editor or a fashion critic, but those were all the things that I learned from reading Paper, and working there and being under the wing of the founder, Kim Hastreiter. Once you have that, it’s hard to go to another place where you have a job and one that you don’t care about or doesn’t feel like family.
What are some of the biggest changes you have encountered in the fashion world?
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March - April 2017