“There was a creative movement happening in Latin America. We’re not just about ponchos and sombreros,” Araceli Graham says, laughing. Graham, a Mexico City native, is talking about why she launched her fashion website, Cooperativa, an online luxury marketplace of carefully curated designers from Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela—to name a few. “This fall,” she says, “we are adding designers from Peru, Chile and Argentina.” Graham, whose former career was as an executive for big-name companies such as Coca-Cola and GlaxoSmithKline, has always been passionate about fashion. Each time she came back to Houston after a trip to Mexico or Colombia, friends asked her about her clothing and accessories. The growing interest gave her an a-ha moment, and challenging people’s preconceived ideas of Latin American style became her métier. She’s a living, breathing example of her ideal client. She regularly mixes Olga Prieto jewelry from Mexico and Atelier Crump from Colombia with Chloé, Céline and Marni, which she buys from Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi. “I wanted people to know that our designers are sophisticated and refined,” says Graham. Just one look at her and you know you can take those words to the bank.
Petite Elizabeth Young may be only 5-foot-2, but her Texas-meets-NYC personality is larger than life, and she can talk a mile a minute in her sweet San Antonio twang. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, she moved to the Big Apple and got a job in the buying offices of Charivari—a former high-fashion retailer she compares to Barneys. While there, she quickly developed an eye for trends and discovered dozens of up-and-coming designers. This was the time when Issey Miyake was coming on the scene. “Back then, I couldn’t afford [it], even with the staff discount,” she says wistfully. Today, that’s changed. She’s a regular face at The Webster and Sloan Hall, and a major fan of designers like Sonia Rykiel and Spanish brand Loewe. Even so, she hasn’t forgotten how to mix and match high and low. “Last week in New York, I borrowed a pair of cut-off shorts from my 13-year-old daughter, Sofia [her other daughter Isabel is 16],” the interior designer says. “I then threw on some Saint Laurent sandals. I was completely cracking up at the outfit, but it worked!” If the ensemble sounds like Kate Moss, that’s not a coincidence. “She’s one of my top style icons. I love how she’s always reinventing herself.” When Young isn’t scouting top fashion, she’s probably cooking up a storm—she loves culinary blog Food52—or browsing for contemporary art at places like Kerry Inman Gallery. About 10 years ago, she and her husband, Barry, started buying art in lieu of more typical Christmas gifts. “Every piece has a story, and it’s all about the two of us.”