A commonplace observation about the street style interview format, whatever medium it comes in (long-form YouTube video, quick Instagram Reel, or the more traditional online magazine article), is that it underscores that, especially in “fashion capitals” like New York City, we have a sartorially very diverse cast of characters, and that no two characters are ever alike. Until you sit in the audience and stare at the stage long enough—I cannot count how many “What Are People Wearing in New York City” videos I devour on YouTube on weekly basis—and then you realize the figures traipsing about the scene start to blend into each other, and you are suddenly confronted with the profoundly anticlimactic arc showing you that almost no one is as stylistically original as we would have ourselves believe, and that there’s actually pockets of homogeneity at play here. You will see the it girls standing center stage, who are, at the moment, all about the Y2K revival with their low-rise jeans and crop tops and baguette bags and all; the die-hard Rick Owens fans at stage left, who pledge their allegiance to the Lord of Darkness by wearing him head-to-toe; the “hypebeasts” and the “hypebaes” at stage right, sporting their Billionaire Boys Club threads, their Supremes, etc… The list gets longer as more of the curtain is lifted, but I’m going to stop myself here, lest I take up too much of your time—but my point is that it’s hard to pin down that one character with style so inimitable that you can’t box them in with anyone else.
That is, until a stroke of luck hits, and then someone very special steps into the scene amid all the action, not from backstage where the costume department is hard at work on everyone else, but seemingly from out of nowhere, like they landed from another dimension… And you can’t help but be electrified by their jarring presence! You scramble to find a box for them—do they belong to this group? to that group?—but you fail, because their style is just so one-of-a-kind it overloads comprehension and defies relegation. And then a sense of relief washes over you, because you have just been disabused of the notion that unicorns don’t really exist… And then suddenly you’re obsessed with them, you hone your focus on them, and everyone around them becomes a blur…until what started as a multi-character play essentially becomes a one-man show.
Molly D’Amato wears a puff-sleeve dress in lemon chiffon that she snagged from her friend influencer friend Indiana Boes (when the latter had a virtual closet sale via Instagram Stories), paired with a faux fur-trimmed denim maxi skirt from Cackle Closet. She styles her outfit with RIVA New York's Luna Recycled Glass Bead Necklace, paired with a Flat Paper Clip Invisible Clasp in Sterling Silver, a Carabiner-Shaped Invisible Clasp in Sterling Silver, and a Script Letter Charm with Black Enamel in Sterling Silver. She is also wearing our Daisy Stud Earring in Sterling Silver, and our Classic Hoop Earring in Sterling Silver (to which she attached our Daisy Charm in Gold Vermeil). On her left hand she is wearing our Two-Tone Astor Paper Clip Chain Bracelet, our Citrus Wedge Ring in Sterling Silver/Yellow Enamel, and our Gold Grain Stackable Ring in 14K Yellow Fairmined Gold. On her right hand she is wearing our Citrus Wedge Ring in Gold Vermeil/Green Enamel, and our Moody Ring in Gold Vermeil.
Such was the effect that Molly D’Amato, an up-and-coming fashion/lifestyle digital creator and curve model, had on us. One fine day this past summer, a small team from the venerable Paper magazine decided to dip out of their offices and roam the streets of Chelsea to scope out some street style, and they ended up snapping a dozen of people in the FIT area… But little prepared them for what they were about to encounter just around the corner—there, on W 27th and 8th Ave., right outside the unassuming deli that serves up some of the meanest BECs this part of the world, a heavenly body crashed loudly onto their viewfinder. A young lady in an astonishing ensemble that was a veritable jimble-jamble of patterns and textures and silhouettes—Warholeque forals in melon, French mauve and baby blue clash with oblique stripes in her poofy balloon-sleeve day dress; a lace bustier in lilac layered on top; an ‘80s-style leather belt in bubblegum pink worn cross-body, as if it were a sling bag; candy-colored beads around her neck; tassel-accent handbag of fairly recent vintage in Day-Glo yellow; early-2000s wraparound gradient sunglasses… She was like a living, breathing funfetti cupcake—with a touch of jawbreaker, for good measure! Just like that, she was front and center, under the spotlight, while everyone else just faded to black (most of them were wearing black leather jackets, anyway, so maybe that fate was inevitable)! The outsized grandeur of her style was only matched by her ebullient personality—the way she gave the photographer a double high five, it looked like she was about to levitate! Needless to say, after seeing the TikTok, we honed in on a mission: Insta-stalk Molly D’Amato and become friends with her!
Become her friends, we did, and soon we found ourselves inviting her to the RIVA New York studios so we could learn more about her personal style and, well, bask in her general awesomeness! We were justified in our inability to box her into category—even she is unable (or unwilling) to typecast herself, and instead just pushes to keep testing the limits of her own style (and, by extension, the limits of those who would dare define it). Hodge-podge is the term that she is quick to pull out of her pocket to describe her way of dressing, which really just translates to: “You can’t box this in, baby!” Not only does she eschew stylistic congruity, she also resists narrative coherence. When asked to outline the process of how she puts an outfit together, all she can tell you, with an infectious giggle, is, “I basically just ask myself: what would the 8-year-old girl inside me like to dress up as today?” We love to hear it! It seems this childlike approach to dressing she also applies to, well, everything else she does—posing for our cameras, she was just so buoyant and jovial, it might as well been an 8-year-old girl we were working with! She was such a joy to photograph, we did not want the photo shoot to end!
Molly D’Amato wears an empire-waist tube top in tickle me pink (which is actually a skirt that she’s had since 4th grade, and now she just wears it as a tube top) and a floral-print skirt in blush, raspberry and old rose that she found at a Savers in Buffalo, NY. She styles her outfit with RIVA New York's Two-Tone Wall Street Paper Clip Chain Necklace, paired with a Heart-Shaped Invisible Clasp in 14K Yellow Gold/White Enamel. She is also wearing our Astor Paper Clip Chain Necklace in Gold Vermeil, and a stack of our Wall Street Paper Clip Chain Bracelet and Cobble Recycled Glass Bead Bracelet paired with a Cushion-Shaped Invisible Clasp in 14K Yellow Gold/White Enamel.
We were even more floored when we found out that she is all about the eco-friendly flow… Almost 95% of the stuff that she brought to our photo shoot—and almost 90% of the clothes she owns—are secondhand/thrifted! And you guys know that we here at RIVA New York absolutely love our sustainable baddies! After taking photos, where we had her style her outfits with RIVA New York pieces of her choosing, we sat down with her to pick her brains about her personal guiding principles as an eco-sensitive fashionista, her go-to sources for the best secondhand items, and what advice she can give to budding fashion noncomformists who want to build their own bracingly out-of-this-world wardrobes while keeping sustainability top of mind.
RIVA New York: How would you describe your personal style?
Molly D’Amato: “I would describe my style as just a hodge-podge of textures and patterns I gravitate towards! I really am inspired by the aesthetic of the ‘60s as well as the early 2000s, because they share a lot of groovy and colorful prints that I absolutely die for. When styling, I love to pull from what I think my 8-year-old self would wear, and that truly has helped me have pure, unadulterated fun! The best way for me to achieve my looks is to thrift, so I’d say about 85-90% of my closet is composed of thrifted or vintage pieces, and then the rest of the 10-15% are a mix of newer pieces.”
Tell us about your ethos.
“I think the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping sustainably is just to do the best you can. I think the pressure to build a fully sustainable wardrobe can be overwhelming for some people, so I like to encourage everyone to start small and grow as you go! My cardinal rule for thrifting is: let yourself be led by color and texture, but never overlook the basics. You can find such better-quality basics at the thrift stores than anywhere else.”
Molly D’Amato wears a psychedelic-print ensemble in turquoise, honeydew and pistachio from the Brooklyn-based Tired Thrift, and her favorite ‘70s-style sequin-, paillette- and faux pearl-encrusted purse from Disco Designs Vintage. She styles her outfit with RIVA New York's Madison Paper Clip Chain Necklace with Round Disc Charms in Sterling Silver, a matching Madison Paper Clip Chain Bracelet with Round Disc Charms in Sterling Silver, and the Two-Tone Astor Paper Clip Chain Bracelet. She is also wearing a custom necklace that she built by piecing together our Wall Street Paper Clip Chain Necklace in Sterling Silver, our Bowery Curb Chain Necklace in Sterling Silver, our Cushion-Shaped Invisible Clasp in Sterling Silver, and our Jadeite Charm in Sterling Silver. On her left ear she is wearing our Classic Hoop Earring in Sterling Silver, with a Citrus Wedge Charm in Sterling Silver/Green Enamel attached to it.
What are your go-to sources for secondhand clothes?
“I love thrifting online. Thrifting in the city is, like, not fun for me personally, so over the past couple years I’ve became close with several secondhand or vintage sellers on Instagram whose curations I absolutely adore! On top of my list right now: Happy Hippie Vintage, Disco Designs Vintage, and Cackle Closet.”
What are your three favorite ethical fashion brands/labels right now?
Name three people whose style you admire the most.
“Some of my favorite people to pull fashion inspo from are my friends, and that’s the truth! Whether it’s online friends like Jessica Torres and Moe Black, or my college besties Fiona and Grace, my friends are just the most fashionably fun people I know, and I am grateful for the constant flow of inspiration that I get from them!”
Molly D’Amato wears a boho-inspired butterfly-sleeve gradient dress in tangerine and moss green that she found at her favorite Savers in Buffalo, NY. She styles her outfit with a #neckmess composed of RIVA New York's Cobble Recycled Glass Bead Necklace (paired with a Marquise-Shaped Invisible Clasp in 14K Yellow Gold/Green Enamel, our Gold Grain Necklace in 14K Yellow Fairmined Gold, and our Madison Paper Clip Chain Necklace with Celestial Charms in Gold Vermeil. She is also wearing our Gold Grain Stackable Ring in 14K Yellow Fairmined Gold. On her right ear she is wearing our Classic Hoop Earring in 14K Yellow Gold, with a Marquise-Shaped Invisible Clasp in Gold Vermeil and a Jadeite Charm in 14K Yellow Gold attached to it. On her right ear she is wearing our Classic Hoop Earring in 14K Yellow Gold, with a Cushion-Shaped Invisible Clasp in 14K Yellow Gold and a Carnelian Charm in 14K Yellow Gold attached to it. You can also see she is sporting our Gold Grain Stud Earrings in 14K Yellow Fairmined Gold.
"I think the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping sustainably is just to do the best you can. I think the pressure to build a fully sustainable wardrobe can be overwhelming for some people, so I like to encourage everyone to start small and grow as you go."
- MOLLY D'AMATO, FASHION/LIFESTYLE DIGITAL CREATOR & CURVE MODEL
Name three of your favorite thrifted items.
“Only three? But I have so many! But if I really were to narrow it down to just three: one would be this pair of lavender cowboy boots; the lime green purse covered in sequins and paillettes and faux pearls that I used for this photo shoot; and all of my colorful vintage earrings! If there were three items that truly encapsulate my personal style, these would be them!”
What piece of advice can you give to anyone (a family member, a friend, a follower) looking to edit their wardrobe into a more responsible, sustainable one?
“Literally, just go into a thrift store and have fun! It’s the best way to grow your personal style with unique pieces, shop without the guilt of hurting the planet, and will also help you save money!”
Article, interview and photographs by Angelo dela Cruz