by Maura Bannon
(The following interview with renowned female opera star Patrice Munsel was conducted by Maura Bannon, fashionista and popular Saratoga fashion blogger. Bannon interviewed this amazing woman personally for FiftyIsTheNewForty.com , and reveals a fun-loving, savvy octogenarian with style and grace! )
Patrice Munsel is the youngest person in history to take the stage at the Metropolitan Opera at age 17 in 1943. Also known as “Princess Pat,” Munsel’s calling cards are her stunning voice, dazzling personality and charisma. Munsel graced the covers of Time and Life magazines, performed at the Metropolitan Opera 225 times and was married to her husband for 55 years!
When I had the opportunity to interview Munsel from her home in Lake George, it was apparent upon speaking to her that when she walks into the room, people pay attention—a true show stopper! If I could describe her in one word, I would say she has spunk. Munsel is in her late 80’s, but while talking with her, I could tell that to her, age is nothing but a number—she’s quick witted and livelier than ever!
Q. After looking at older photos of you, I noticed that clothing was just so much more formal then it is today. Can you tell me what you think about that?
A. The style was comfortable. Nice pants, chic boots from great designers. Actually, you could get away with mostly anything as long as you had a feeling of style and a feeling of who you are. I just liked to have fun with it.
Q. How would you describe your style today? How is it different from when you were younger?
A. My style is Klutzy, but very casual. At times I am very dressy, depending on what kind of party that is being given. But, basically I dress informal most of the time.
Q. What advice would you give for older women trying to stay current with today’s fashion? Can you give us some fashion tips?
A. That’s almost impossible for me to do because I do everything. I wear every kind of thing. I don’t have a planned look. Casual is mostly it—lots of yellow, hot pink and fun!
Q. Do you have a favorite accessory? Why is it your favorite?
A. Diamonds and Emeralds are my favorite. I love turquoise too—colorful jewelry with beautiful stones that are simply set. They make me feel gorgeous. Statement pieces are best.
Q. Who are you favorite clothing designers?
A. I love Arnold Scaasi. I worked with him a lot. He was a wonderful designer and did gorgeous chic, dressy clothes. He was famous for a long time. He was a fantastic designer— his clothes were dressy but simple.
Q. What is the oldest item in your closet that you still wear today?
A. I haven’t a clue! Perhaps bright yellow cotton pants. They are fabulous! Yellow is big in my closet, it’s such a happy color. People actually stop me on the street and say “you look so great in bright yellow!” God only knows when I bought them, but I still love them!
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about fashion when you were a girl?
A. I used to design my own wardrobe. My mother used to make my clothes when I was little. She designed wonderful stuff! It gave me a feeling for design myself. It was great fun putting together wardrobes. I developed a talent for it. I made outfits in bright yellows and shocking pinks. I used to design items that I could wear to any event.
Q. How do you choose what to wear?
A. I like to buy clothes that I can wear anywhere in the world! I like colors that make me happy when I put them on and that make other people happy when they see me. Life should be a ball!