The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Mimicking a style maven

Margot E. Kaminski

Come on, you know you want to be like Lila Gollogly ’04

In a plaintive plea for fashion help several weeks ago Michael J. Hines ’04 turned to the one punk-accessory warehouse he could think of: the Pfoho open e-mail list. “Dear Pfoho,” wrote Hines, “I need you to dress me up! Essentially I need to be an odd mix of Marilyn Manson and Kid Rock, with a bindi (I can get my own bindi). If you think you have any clothing/accessories in these categories that would fit a 5’10” 150 lb male, we need to talk.”

Hines’ slightly strange and desperate request concerned his outfit for the “Dress like Lila Gollogly” party, hosted Saturday, Oct. 4 by Leverett seniors Laura P. Perry ’04, Alison L. Cherry ’04, Sarah G. Dawson ’04, Jean Ann Salisbury ’04, who is also a Crimson editor, and Gollogly herself. “We considered a Clockwork Orange theme, or class warfare,” Perry says, “but realized the real inspiration was right under our collective nose.”

Described by Hines as “Harvard’s most famous/infamous bindi-wearing Korean girl,” Gollogly is a campus figure of sorts, known to do laundry wearing ball gowns and attend Biology finals in stilettos. Her closet is filled with approximately 60 pairs of shoes and various eccentricities. Her favorite of the moment is a “Goth blue plaid strappy dress—with buckles.” She wears the bindi—a small sequin “third eye”—for religious purposes, and has since age 13. She describes the rest of her style, however, as “what I want, when I want”—influenced by everything from her classical dancing to her experience making up drag queens in New York City in high school. “I worked a shift at a makeup store from 6 p.m. to midnight, and the queens would show up going to and from shows. I had a lot of awkward customer moments: ‘Sir, I mean ma’am, I mean sir…’,” she remembers.

Her roommates have nothing but admiration. “Lila’s better dressed than most VES concentrators,” says Cherry. “They can be very creative—but that’s not necessarily a good thing.” Gollogly, on the other hand, has a hidden traditional influence. Her godmother works as a personal shopper at New York’s Bergdorf Goodman. “I take her advice,” Gollogly admits.

She also passes such advice on to her roommates, though their styles appear completely incongruous at first glance—Dawson with her corduroy jacket, Salisbury with her jeans and t-shirt and Gollogly in long earrings, black cutout shirt, white pleated mini-skirt and knee-high black boots. But as they’re all around the same top size, weekend wardrobe sharing is normal. “We go to Lila when we don’t know what to do,” Cherry says.

“Lila has encouraged me to take risks,” says Perry, who describes her style as a mix between hippie and ex-punk rocker. She and Gollogly have been roommates since freshman year. “The first thing she wrote me before we moved in read, ‘So let’s get down to business: what do you look like?’” Perry admits thinking, “Oh my God, she’s either a lesbian, or really superficial.” But she says that she has “rolled with the punches,” and the two have roomed together since. “I used to wear, you know, jeans and a tube top to go clubbing. Then Lila gave me...this,” Perry says, holding up a black and gold piece of cloth. “It’s a dress,” Cherry clarifies. “Though our friend calls it a toeless sock.”

The “Dress like Lila” party was an eye opener for Gollogly. “I was a little alarmed at the slutty nature of everything,” she says. But she took it all in black-booted stride, dressed in a “bling necklace,” faux fur coat, skimpy skirt and black triangle bikini top. And despite her emphasis on stylistic independence, Gollogly’s roommates reveal that influence works both ways. “That top,” Perry says with a smirk, “was actually mine.”