A few weeks ago, Christina, Bogdana, and I packed up a car and drove upstate to Hudson, New York for a few days. The town is adorable–picture: lush greenery, the peaceful river, the most charming main street you’ve ever seen, and antiques for days.
Colu has been a longtime friend of the site and is an all around gem of a human. As a Hudson resident, she graciously offered to show us around her favorite spots and introduce us to some of her friends–a truly special group of Hudson-based women who we’ll be introducing to you each Sunday over the course of the month.
Colu is an amazing writer, cook, and recipe developer. It’s no wonder she’s been able to cultivate such a strong community around her in town. During our Monday morning shoot with her, she was stopped several times to chat with various friends, acquaintances, and neighbors–it’s quite a magical feeling! And to finish off the morning, she took us by the beloved West Taghkanic Diner for a delicious cup of coffee.
Meet Colu and enjoy our first Sunday in Hudson!
Linne: What inspired you to move to Hudson and what are your favorite things about living in the town?
Colu: My husband and I were living in Brooklyn trying desperately to buy something. We made many offers, which didn’t go through (turns out a lot of folks have funds to make all cash offers and we certainly did not!). In our case, it was a blessing in disguise, because we really couldn’t have afforded said apartments without having to work to live – a mentality that had grown stale for me. A friend offhandedly suggested we check out Hudson and we came up on a whim. We immediately were drawn to its beautiful mix of Federalist, Greek Revival and Victorian architecture and surprisingly Brooklyn-ish vibes. We made an offer on a house four days later after visiting that one time and not knowing a single person in town.
Originally we had planned to keep our rental in Brooklyn, but the more time we spent working on the house and making friends, going back to a studio apartment in Williamsburg didn’t make sense for us any more. My husband Chad is an artist/fine woodworker and given that we both work for ourselves, we decided to give it a go. That was four years ago and we haven’t looked back. Since we’ve moved, we’ve had about a dozen friends from Brooklyn also move up full time – so clearly we were onto something. There’s a bit of an migratory vibe up here as freelancers. We’re down in the city all the time for meetings and events, traveling for work, so other than not having permanent places to crash (thank you dear friends for your spare rooms), not much has changed.
There are so many things I love about living in Hudson, but high on my list is the proximity I have to farmland, which as a writer and recipe developer is a true gift. I’m lucky enough to know who grows my vegetables, where my dairy and meat come from and having it essentially be my backyard. Living in town has also been great socially, we’ve made incredible friends. We can walk to restaurants and bars, which also was appealing when we moved here. It felt like a good medium having just moved from the city. Now of course we want a house with land…
You’ve introduced us to so many amazing women in Hudson! It feels like there is a really special community of connected, inspiring women up here – what do you think it is that fosters that?
It really is a very lovely community of women – I feel very, very lucky. I think many of us moved up here for similar reasons – creative space, actual space, a bit of a slower pace, but with a desire on some level to still feel connected to the city. We are also similar in age and spent our formative years hustling and finally found a place that can support our ambitions and drive, but also appreciate that our years of hard work allow us to live where we want and aren’t dependent on going to an office every day. No, thank you!
What’s amazing to me is that my circle continues to grow with equally extraordinary ladies. My next door neighbor is also a writer and has become a great friend – she moved up last year, and another friend just moved from Brooklyn and is opening a restaurant up here this winter… I think like-minded people are generally drawn to other like-minded people and Hudson welcomes us kooky creative spirits with open arms. We’re certainly not your typical bunch.
How has your style evolved over the years? And has it changed since moving upstate?
When I worked in an office, I had to DRESS every day, which was fun, but also grew tiresome. After four years up here, I finally got around to going through those boxes of clothes a few weeks ago and donated most of them. I frequently pop down to the city for dinners and meetings, so it’s fun to be able to pull together looks for those and creatively it gives me room to play because it’s not an everyday occurance. My life in Hudson is much more low-key.
These days I’m either in Pilates clothes, dressed in jeans and one my many Vein of Gold t-shirts (my friend Rebekah designs them and they are the best), or I’m going for a full-on event look. As I work out of my home, I’ve been able to simplify my day to day wardrobe and concentrate on the fun stuff. I love treating looks as an extension of wherever it is I’ll be wearing them.
So much of your wardrobe is vintage! What are some of your favorite finds? Any vintage hunting tips?
I’m an old soul at heart. Vintage clothes have secret stories and past lives – I enjoy being able to mix those pieces with contemporary ones to give them a new narrative. I was also a musical theater major and former cabaret singer (yes, it’s true), so I’m inherently thinking about clothes in a somewhat playful, performative and generally feminine way. Let’s just say, I love a look. Clothing should be a conversation piece.
One of my favorite items is a black, vintage Oscar de la Renta crepe cocktail dress that I stumbled on in the East Village when I moved to New York in 1999. It was something like $100 dollars, at the time a lot of money for me, but I’ve held on to it and actually wore it this past New Year’s Eve, it’s beloved. I also have a few of my mom’s Liberty of London silk scarves from the 70s and the green leather jacket was hers as well. Those are special pieces I’ll never part with. The sailor pants I’m wearing I’ve had since college and found in the Garment District in Boston where I went to school. They are Angels Flight disco pants from the 70s! I clearly hold onto things. A friend recently gifted me a beautiful, cotton floral Norma Kamali dress, which I also adore. That said, I don’t think vintage clothes need to be designer. I have handmade cotton dresses from the 50s that are brandless and just as beautiful. It’s all about what makes you feel good. For me, most of the time, it’s flirty dresses that mentally put me with a cocktail in hand at a hotel bar or throwing a dinner party in Provence – I love to editorialize my wardrobe. It’s supposed to be fun.
More often than not, I shop for my body type. Because I’m tall with hips (holla!), vintage shopping can be a challenge, but I know what works, such as high-waisted pants and nipped waisted dresses, so I tend to seek those out. I have a bit of an eagle eye and know pretty quickly what will or won’t work on the rack.
I also love contemporary, approachable designers such as dresses from Doen, cashmere turtlenecks from Uniqlo, Everlane pants, jumpsuits from Lincoln and my trusty Wrangler mom jeans. Bottom line, you don’t need to spend a fortune to look good, you just need confidence and a good sense of style.
Who / what are your biggest influences (style, design, food, etc.)?
For style, Frida Kahlo, Edie Beale, Jane Birkin, Katharine Hepburn, The J. Peterman catalogue (for their text, PLEASE READ, it is amazing!). For food and words: Laurie Colwin, Tamar Adler and Ruth Reichl. For design and art, Rachel Beach, Marian Bull, Colleen Herman.
You’re an amazing chef! Describe your ideal dinner party.
One where people are relaxed, have drinks in their hands and are enjoying each other’s company. I’ve gotten very low-key about entertaining over the last few years. I don’t want to host anything that feels overly formal, it’s no fun for anyone, plus who eats like that anymore?! Give me a braised pork shoulder and a beautiful, simple salad and some wine and call it a day. My next book is called Please Bring Dessert because I don’t bake, so I generally will ask friends to bring something sweet over if they want it – I usually don’t. If I can serve something in the dish it was cooked in – even better. Less cleanup! As much as possible, I like to get things done ahead of time so I can hang out with my guests when they arrive – that’s part of the joy of having a dinner party. Since moving to Hudson dinners at our home as well as our friends are more frequent that dining out. We’ll frequently text about who has what in their fridge and collaborate on menus. Given that everyone lives about a 15 minute drive away from each other, sleepovers tend to happen a lot around here too. Because – wine.