Badass or sweet, thoughtful nerd? Actually both. She seems like a fearless gladiator on the streets, but she is actually a self-declared introvert nerd whose curiosity-driven age-defying motto is to just say yes — to everything. Mimi works and thrives in a business that is thought to be exclusively for the young, but it turns out that experience counts in her world, too. Is there ageism? Probably, but she won’t let that get into her head. She is at the top of her game and has no intention of stopping.
An unapologetic lifelong New Yorker, she travels widely for her work as a stylist, and is always grateful to come home to the city she loves and the nurturing family that surrounds her. Of her dramatic style, she says: “This is just who I am; I’ve always dressed like this.”
“My entire industry shut down for two months, which was a huge shock”
How has it been for you during COVID?
My awesome college-student kids Jack and Brendan have been around more, which I love. I would have them here all the time if I could. Brendan, my youngest, is doing his studies from his room because there are no in-person classes this semester. My husband, fortunately for us, opened a wine and liquor store before COVID, which has been a lifesaver. My entire industry shut down for two months, which was a huge shock. I had been working steadily for 30 years and then boom, suddenly it is Ground Hog day every day.
I don’t deal well with not having challenges and stimulation in my life, so I signed up for online classes and started learning to play the guitar. Then work came back full-on in June, and I’ve been pretty busy since then.
We have been really lucky. We have our healthy family all together, my mom is good, my husband and I both have work, and we have a home. It’s still stressful but, in comparison, we are ok.
“With something like skydiving, I’ll say yes because why not? How long do we have to live anyway? Let’s try it.”
You are one of the most positive people I know; you always seem to say yes to things. What is that about?
There are always a million reasons for no. It’s too easy to give in to that. If I say yes, even if I have no idea how to do it, I’ll just believe I’ll figure it out. With work, this happens all the time. People ask me to do — well, you know, sometimes it’s just mental what they want, but I just say yes and make it up as I go along. With something like skydiving, I’ll say yes because why not? How long do we have to live anyway? Let’s try it. It will be a new experience and who knows where that will lead?
If you are saying yes all the time, don’t you get scared?
I am totally freaked out all the time on the inside. People look at me and think one thing, but the opposite is going on inside. Roger Waters asked me to do all the costumes for The Wall tour and the movie; it was 50 people. I said yes even though I had no idea how I was going to do it. You just have to believe and start to get to work — I always come through with the work, no matter what. But along the way it’s: “Holy shit, how am I going to do this?”
There is a thrill to not know what the solution is. It is terribly exciting. The key is not to be paralyzed, but to immediately start moving forward. I credit my can-do spirit to my mom. She always made me figure stuff out for myself, and I always came through.
“The musicians I work with love that I am older; it gives them confidence”
Your business is often thought of as a younger person’s world. What do you say to that?
I have been doing this for 30 years and I am very good at it. I love doing this work and the experience I have is invaluable. For me, age doesn’t really matter. You could be 20, you could be 50, you could be 80; it is really the spirit that you approach life with that matters.
The musicians I work with love that I am older; it gives them confidence. People like Lucinda Williams, Roger Waters, Janet Jackson — I know how to put them at ease. Before I go into a session with them I do a lot of research; I want to know their history and also where they see themselves being today. With anyone I style, it is a conversation, and then together on set we have these inspirations that will bring it to life.
One of the main parts of your job is to have people feeling great about themselves before they come to the set. How do you do that?
I start with a conversation around what do they least like about themselves, and then we avoid emphasizing whatever that is. There are certainly a lot of parts of myself that I am not so happy about, and I share that with them so we are on equal footing. All of us have issues, we are all scared of being embarrassed, and understanding that really helps. That is when the trusting happens. That is when we work together to make the moment when they feel like themselves, and we make them shine. It is really magical to see that transformation happen and how it affects people.
“I have always dressed like this, really my whole life, it is just me”
People think you are so cool, that your look is amazing. How do you do it?
Oh gosh, if they only knew! I am a total nerd. I used to play the cello, I read — don’t be fooled by the outside! I have always dressed like this, really my whole life, it is just me. I don’t take off the jewelry when I go to sleep, it all stays on, and it always has. This is not a costume, it is just how I feel best in the world. I have actually toned down the number of bracelets and necklaces over time. Airport security just became too much of an ordeal.
“I believe that most of life’s challenges are mental ones”
Your life seems so effortless. How do you do it?
Believe me, I have had some very serious life-threatening challenges in my life. But I came through it. I believe that most of life’s challenges are mental ones. We can do incredible things if we put our minds to it. I was told in school that I would never be a fast swimmer because of my body type but, maybe just to prove them wrong, I became a very fast swimmer, when everyone said that was impossible. I’ve done that my whole life and learned that you can make yourself do just about anything when your head is in the right place. I just go for it, and mostly it works out.
Fashion vs Style
What are your thoughts on fashion at the moment?
It’s a total reset moment. There is so much going on in the world, and fashion is a reflection of the world. On the one hand, we need comfort, we need effortlessness, and on the other hand we need to escape. Fashion, now with Zoom, is all about the waist up, and finding the little tweaks to make you the individual you are. But as an industry, it is sort of a blank slate. If I had to look for direction, I would say elevated streetwear at the moment.
But that is fashion, which is not the same as style. Style is about expressing yourself, about being who you are, that unique, amazing person that is you. It is not about being perfect — trying that road will make you crazy. It is about nourishing your inner beauty as well as your outer beauty.
I take care of myself. I eat plant-based foods, have been meditating for years, and do community service work. Fashion can be very artificial and, for me, it is important to stay connected with a deep appreciation for my family, my community, and for helping others. Pay attention to these things and everything will fall into place. It is not just about us.
“Curiosity is what has driven my life”
What are you looking to in the future?
Curiosity is what has driven my life; I just have to investigate things and understand them. My life is not one of big plans, it is more about saying yes and seeing where that door leads. For me, maybe it will be more movies — it certainly is not about settling down. I need to be creating, always meeting new people and making new things. Which is why I love my job so much — every week is something new that we have never done before. Saying yes to even more things!
Instagram @themimifisher, www.judycasey.com
The photographs of Mimi are from I Am Beauty, the first makeup guide to celebrate and support women 40 and over. I Am Beauty is Riku Campo’s labor of love. Riku has worked with some of the most beautiful and recognized faces in the world, like Cindy Crawford, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Anne Hathaway. He has always wanted to create a book honoring those women we don’t always see on the runways and in magazines — women like his mother, whose beauty is everlasting. Riku chose the talented Samantha Rapp to create and photograph the beautiful portraits and stunning still life images in the I am Beauty book.