Easy as Pie
The pizza-company owner Audrey Fosse is drawn to minimalist designs, but she insists on flexibility
Audrey Fosse's pristinely organized Glencoe closet is packed with the sort of avant-garde pieces that don't look like much on the hanger. They are pieces that ruche or wrap, that can be worn forward or backward, that have a layer of netting you can wear, or not, depending on your mood. "You really have to see this on," Fosse says of a wheat-colored sleeveless Dries Van Noten jacket that drops to the ankles and seems almost monklike on the hanger. Most of the labels read Rick Owens, Marni, or Dries Van Noten—a trifecta of artistic credibility. And Fosse is right; the clothes do look amazing on.
Can't live without: "A great pair of boots, a black turtleneck, and a leather jacket."
Most valuable player: "I love my Martin Margiela black turtleneck with superlong arms that you can scrunch up. This really interesting detail finishes the outfit, yet keeps it simple."
Favorite place to visit: "The Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
Favorite Chicago stores: "Blake: I discovered the Belgian designers like Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, and Martin Margiela there. Hejfina: I love the way Heiji Choy Black is bringing together different aspects of design by mixing architecture, furniture, and art books with clothing. The store just appeals to my whole aesthetic sensibility. Robin Richman: She has a wonderful eye, especially for accessories."
Favorite artists: "Martin Puryear and Lincoln Schatz."
Special jewels: "Jill Alberts is a childhood friend who has become a wonderful jewelry designer.My husband surprised me with earrings by her for my birthday, and I have to say they're so me. Classic but modern and elegant. On a family vacation, my daughter Sabrina and I had a precious couple of hours alone in Paris one morning. My husband had taken the younger two girls.We bought friendship bracelets at Metal Pointu. I got a cuff, and she got little ones."
Stiletto or platform?: "I prefer a chunkier, more architectural heel in general."
A woman who can pull off this kind of style is usually the envy of others, but admittedly, pizza-company maven is not the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine the career of a woman who owns 41 pieces of Dries Van Noten (Fosse has been collecting for 15 years). But when you take into account that she is an owner of the anything but traditional HomeMade Pizza Company (founded with her husband, Eric, and brother Matthew Weinstein in 1997), a bake-it-at-home pizzeria known as much for its boutiquelike design as for its fresh upscale ingredients, it begins to make sense. Fosse also has a master's degree in art history and spent several years on the curatorial staff of the 20th-century department at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The idea for the HomeMade Pizza Company came to Fosse and her husband when they were traveling abroad. They had recently quit their jobs and were looking for a change, and since they had just had their first baby, the idea of instilling a tradition of family meals was on their mind. "In Europe, we were in love with the idea of fresh things that came from the earth," Fosse says. "We wanted to make it easy to eat like that in Chicago." When the couple returned home and launched their company, they had a strong vision of how they wanted their stores to look. "It felt so right that the food would stand out against this clean, minimal background," Fosse says, "because it is all about the freshness of the ingredients."
She has always been drawn to a minimalist style when decorating her home, but when it comes to her closet, Fosse allows herself more leeway. "My day-to-day life is working with the business and running around with the children," she explains. (The Fosses now have three daughters.) "I need things that are easy to wear—basics with an added something special." That's a credo that sounds
somewhat vague, but in practice takes serious panache to achieve..
On the day I visit, Fosse is wearing a dress from Hejfina by cult-label Acne Jeans with a cool belt and flats. The most impressive quality of the outfit is that it's the kind of thing you could wear to a meeting and look polished, but you could also take the kids to dance lessons and not look too fashion fussy.
When Fosse describes her formative style moments, it's easy to see her fashion-forward streak. She recalls discovering the Japanese designers in the nineties as a sort of revelation. "I remember going to June Blaker when I came back to Chicago from college and being blown away," she says. One of her first fashion splurges was a pair of Comme des Garçons pants with exaggerated legs. "I still have them," she says, "They're huge!" But even earlier, she was known for thinking outside the box. "Family folklore says that when I was six, I wore all my clothes backward."
Photography: Keith Claunch