Archetypes: Robin VerHage-Abrams
A conversation with Robin VerHage-Abrams, risk-taker, sustainable fashion advocate and associate professor at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. A Michigan native, VerHage-Abrams first made her mark on the fashion world through costume design and working nationally and internationally for the likes of Henson Associates and Laterna Magika theater in Prague. She has since carved out her niche in academia as one of Washington University’s most respected authorities on sustainable fashion. The style maven is currently on sabbatical and researching a book she plans to pen on fashion icon Coco Chanel and her signature style principles.
What is your current frame of mind? In transit.
When and where are you happiest? Underwater; I love scuba diving.
What is your favorite smell? The bibimbap from Hiro Asian Kitchen.
What is one word that describes you? Irreverent.
What did you eat for breakfast today? A double espresso.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Janky.”
What is your most marked characteristic? Curiosity.
What is your greatest weakness? I always seem to be at least a little fraught.
What trait do you most admire in others? Generosity.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? Music and drawing.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My inward nature.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My daughter, Zara.
Which living person do you most admire? The Dalai Lama.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it would be? A fish.
What is your greatest extravagance? Travel.
What is your greatest fear? A rapidly diminished, disappearing Earth.
On what occasion do you lie? When I can do so creatively to make the situation better.
Who are your favorite writers? Shakespeare is my one true love. I’m currently reading Freya Stark and Thomas Piketty.
Which artists do you admire most? Micheline Thomas and Julie Mehretu.
What is something you still want to learn? I’d like to become more fluent in Spanish.
Where would you like to live? Atlantis, an underwater destination I have yet to visit.
What is your favorite hobby? Drawing.
Who are your heroes in real life? People who exercise uncalculated generosity.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? My two favorite fashion icons with the initials CC: Coco Chanel and Charlie Chaplin.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? Get to the bottom of that “meaning of life” thing.
What are you most looking forward to? Going back to costume design.
What is one thing you wish would happen? Greater awareness about sustainability.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? “Stay fresh.”
‘Archetypes’ are off-the-cuff interviews with St. Louis' most inspiring, well-known personalities based on the 19th century Parisian parlor game known as the Proust Questionnaire.
Photo credit: Wesley Law