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Racked visits the Manhattan home of author Francine Pascal, creator of the Sweet Valley High series and author of the latest ten-years-later where-are-they-now follow-up Sweet Valley Confidential, where we learn about her favorite labels, shoes, and lavalieres.
Francine Pascal at home (Photo by Anna Fischer for Racked.com)
If you're one of the millions of women who grew up reading Sweet Valley High books, you're probably well-familiar with the intricacies and details of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield's lives—and looks. In every single installation of the 152-book series, creator Francine Pascal made sure to include this paragraph (or one similar—this one's from book one, Double Love):
Both girls had the same shoulder-length, sun-streaked blonde hair, the same sparkling blue-green eyes, the same perfect skin. Even the tiny dimple in Elizabeth's left cheek was duplicated in her younger sister's—younger by four minutes. Both girls were five feet six on the button and generously blessed with spectacular, all-American good looks. Both wore exactly the same size clothes, but they refused to dress alike, except for the exquisite identical lavalieres they wore on gold chains around their necks. The lavalieres had been presents from their parents on their sixteenth birthday.On the occasion of the publication of her newest book in the series—Sweet Valley Confidential, a ten-years-later update on what the Wakefield girls (and co.) are up to in 2011—Racked visited creator Francine Pascal at her home in Manhattan, where we peered into the wardrobe of this celebrated author, and learned where Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield got their love of lavalieres.
The sitting room
"There are two things," Pascal says about her wardrobe. "There's the beige stuff and there's the black stuff and that's really what it is. Occasionally a blue guy like this will sneak in, but the poor thing never gets worn. I've been wearing beige and black for years.
Unlike Elizabeth and Jessica, Pascal opts for a low-key neutral palette.
"Those girls, they don't wear my outfits," Pascal says. "They're California Girls, so they're going to look very different. They wear anything and everything—though Elizabeth was probably closer to me.
"I never was good at strong, primary colors," she says. "Mostly, it was beige. Black came in about eight, ten years ago and now it's mostly black, which is terrible because when you go to look in your closet, you can't find anything—because it's all black. Look at these shirts, they're all the same!"
As for her favorite labels, "I like DKNY," Pascal says. "There's also a very nice English designer that I discovered." She shows us an AllSaints sweater. "I just found it in Bloomingdale's for the first time. And Ghost, I liked Ghost."
The lavaliere her daughter made for her
Just like Elizabeth and Jessica, the women in Pascal's family all wear precious lavalieres.
"These were designed by my other daughter," Pascal tells us. "They're lavalieres. It started when I was 13. My mother gave me a lavaliere that had belonged to her mother, and I wore it all the time. And my daughter began doing these. In fact, Laurie [my other daughter] is handling the lavalieres because we're going to sell them—they won't be precious like these, they'll be affordable costume jewelry. In the back of the lavalier you'll have your choice—you can have an E or a J." Just like the Wakefield twins!
Pascal's Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat
Her oldest piece of clothing is a Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat. We ask to see it.
"Yes, I have the oldest thing in my wardrobe. It's truly old, it's probably 25 or even more, closer to 30 years old," Pascal says. "It's called Big Black. It's a Norma Kamali original. First of all, it's as light as a feather. You could go to the North Pole in this—it's ugly, and yet I have people stopping me on the street and saying, 'I love that coat.' My daughter bought it on sale for $100 and it's a size large. This is an original. There's nothing like the original."
Pascal's favorite shoes
Pascal is fond of her high heels—when we met her the night before the shoot, she was wearing the brown spike-heel slingbacks in the photo above. At the shoot, she's got on a killer pair of suede high-heel boots.
"These are Coach," she says about her boots. "I got them on sale. I bought another pair for my daughter and a pair for France. In the sale, they ended up being $54. I have a place in France, so when I find something I like, I buy two. I spend four months in France every year—June, July, and August when my family comes, and the month of February."
Pascal's "magic shoes" are by Rene Caovilla
"These are my magic shoes, and I love them," Pascal says. "I bought them eight years ago in France. I misunderstood what the price was—I don't know what I thought it was—but they turned out to be 500 euros. When I got the bill, then I understood. But I love them. I've worn them on special occasions—it's probably down to 50 euro a wearing now!"
Pascal's earring collection
"I love earrings," Pascal says. "There's a place in France called Satellite—they used to have a place here, and they just closed it, so they don't have it anymore, but I love their stuff."
"Sometimes I think of myself as a prisoner of Eileen Fisher," Pascal says. "When you get to a certain age, you're a prisoner of Eileen Fisher. I have destroyed every belt in the kingdom."
"I got the earrings as a gift from a very nice man," she says. "I get my jewelry from very nice men."
Pascal wears this ring most often
"These were earrings and these were the drops on them," Pascal says, "and I made them into a ring. I wear this the most often, not all the time, though. I don't wear anything much except for the lavaliere."
· Sweet Valley Confidential [Amazon.com]