Tracee Ellis Ross: ‘Everything in my home has a story’
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My personal style signifiers are hoop earrings – I wear a pair of bamboo door knockers that have my name engraved on them – and a red lip. MAC’s Ruby Woo lipstick was the first colour I discovered, back in high school. I don’t know if they’ve ever changed it or it just keeps getting better with time, but I’ve been wearing that shade since I was 16 or 17 years old. I even work out in a red lip.
The last things I bought and loved were Douglas and Bec lampshades for my bedroom, for either side of my bed. And I’ve been getting a lot of organic flowers from Lily Lodge. In the past year or so they have been my saving grace. They come in a bucket – I arrange them and separate them out in my collection of vases and they bring me a lot of joy.
The places I can’t wait to go back to are my best friends’ apartments. I cannot wait to be in my friends’ homes again, and to have them in my home. My friend Monica Paganucci’s dinner table is where I long to go, and also [Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief] Samira Nasr’s dinner table, or the floor in front of the TV, just lying around and playing with her kid. For somewhere gorgeous, there’s the Ritz in Paris for couture in July – nothing better. And I’d love to get back to the Amangiri hotel, set right in the Utah desert’s canyons and gorges.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a cake stand I found in an antique store in Italy one summer and carried across Europe. It’s honestly not that pretty – I’m not sure what drew me to it – but I held it by hand on the plane until I got home. I don’t make cakes. I’ve never made a cake. And yet I have this cake stand. But it’s a really good souvenir of that trip to Italy.
The best books I’ve read in the past year are The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which immerses you into a culture and a family dynamic – it’s such a good page-turner. And Untamed by Glennon Doyle, a beautiful, vulnerable book that allows the reader to find the courage to be free and wild. I’m in the process of reading Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson. It shares insights about living in the US, what that means as a black person, and what it is to be an artist.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a bag filled with some of my favourite things to the team at my haircare brand Pattern Beauty for Christmas last year. There was a little tomato-red Prada zip pouch; my favourite incense, which is Astier de Villatte’s Palais de Tokyo; Polar black garlic – I don’t know what they do to this garlic but it’s the most delicious thing; and sundried-tomato-stuffed olives.
The podcast I’m listening to is The Tight Rope with Dr Cornel West and Professor Tricia Rose, which covers issues around race and social justice. I love the nature of the conversations they have.
A recent “find” is air purifiers by Molekule. They’re sleek, chic, functional and they make me feel as if good, clean things are happening in the air around me. I bring one into my trailer when I’m working; also my Saje essential-oil Aroma diffusers. I’ve been a Covid-fearful person, so I’ve had oregano oil because it’s antiviral, but also sandalwood and frankincense, which really alter your mood. Molekule air purifiers, from $349, molekule.com. Saje diffusers, from $45, saje.com
I’m feeling hopeful about the Covid-19 vaccines. And Oatly’s strawberry non-ice-cream ice cream makes me feel joyful, which leads to hope.
The best gift I’ve received recently is a woven hanging basket of ferns, which my mom gave me for my birthday. It’s hanging right outside my front door. I love plants and I love green, so it was a thoughtful, beautiful gift. Also my dear friend Adriane gave me a set of four mint-coloured wine glasses by Estelle Colored Glass.
The last music I downloaded was Silk Sonic’s “Leave The Door Open”, Jazmine Sullivan’s “Pick Up Your Feelings” and “Best Friend” by Saweetie featuring Doja Cat. Those are my three go-to songs right now. And then there’s the one I discovered watching Lovers Rock, the second in the Small Axe series of movies by Steve McQueen. It’s an old song called “Silly Games” by Janet Kay. I will forever be changed by that movie.
My style icon is my mother – she is the one individual who has had the greatest impact on my style. But also Nina Simone, the artist Lorraine O’Grady, Elsa Peretti and Tyler, The Creator. To me, a style icon is about more than just clothing: it’s how they move through the world.
In my fridge you’ll always find Santa Cruz organic lemonade, Président unsalted butter, Frank’s RedHot sauce, olives and a gorgeous selection of lettuces and fresh veggies. For parsley or anything like that, I cut the bottoms off and keep them in water so basically my fridge has plants in it; there are flowering things everywhere. And I’m also obsessed with vanilla hemp milk.
An object I would never part with is… hard to choose. Everything in my home has a story. This couch I’m sitting on, it’s from college and it’s been reupholstered about 63 times. There’s an origami bird mobile hanging from a chandelier that was made for me by a friend. Everything is a treasure.
The gadgets I couldn’t do without are my Philips Sonicare toothbrush, my Hypervolt vibrating massage gun and a machine called Chi Palm, which uses sound vibrations for relaxation. Sometimes that’s better than a glass of wine.
An indulgence I would never forgo is potato chips. Even more than that, French fries. Very rare that I’ll let myself go towards the fries. And luxuriating on the phone talking to a friend. All my friends are so busy and our lives are so full that when we get those moments to have a good chit-chat it feels pretty indulgent and amazing.
The grooming staples I’m never without are my Pattern leave-in conditioner ($42) and shower brush ($17). A shower brush is the answer to poppin’ curls, and the leave-in conditioner is the holy grail for me.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of Maison Margiela Tabi split-toe loafers in brown and they’re the cutest, ugliest things I’ve ever seen in my life. I love them so much. I’m sure others will think they’re incredibly unappealing.
The artists whose work I would collect if I could are Barkley L Hendricks, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems and Kerry James Marshall. And Amy Sherald, whose portrait work offers me a sense of belonging and ease, which – particularly since this pandemic and in the racial reckoning that has erupted in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor – feels incredibly hopeful.
My wellbeing guru is Terri Lawton. She is my facialist and I swear by what she does to my face. I’ve been seeing her for 20-odd years on a very regular basis. For exercise I alternate between the Tracy Anderson method and LA gym Heart & Hustle, where I have a trainer and we do weights to keep up the muscle content in my body.
My favourite room in my house is my bedroom. I love the light in my bedroom. To be more specific, my bed. It’s my favourite place – I’ll lie there and listen to audiobooks before going to sleep.
My favourite apps are The New York Times app – I love their op ed pieces – and The New Yorker; I just saved a New Yorker piece on the history of loneliness to read at the weekend. I also love the Apple Books app for audiobooks.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a therapist or a meditation teacher. I was a stylist in my former life and I was also a professional organiser – I would go into companies and rearrange their systems. So I think I would probably lean back into that, or I would be a therapist.