Your Style: Shannon Fitzgerald

I aim to feel inspired, imaginative, confident, smart and friendly in my outward appearance … to reflect an interior self or sometimes deflect, like a mask rather than a mirror.

Style - Shannon Fitzgerald

Shannon Fitzgerald: Boston strong and "well heeled"

Motto: Let your style convey authority and comfort, leadership and risk-taking, welcome and calm and, hopefully, flair.

Fitzgerald, 45, was appointed executive director of the Rochester Art Center in July. She came to Rochester from Oklahoma City via St. Louis, Milwaukee and Boston. Here, she works with a team to ensure all people in the community have the opportunity to understand and value the arts through innovative experiences with contemporary art.

How would you portray your style?

I hope my style reflects aspects of my personality that convey who I am and want to be. I aim to feel inspired, imaginative, confident, smart and friendly in my outward appearance … to reflect an interior self or sometimes deflect, like a mask rather than a mirror.


It is an attitude and part of the whole. I relish feeling good and looking good, enhancing and not overshadowing. Lastly, color, line, texture, pattern and accessorizing are choices; mixing and matching and getting it right is fantastic. Serious and quirky, so it is assuring to keep in mind that bad fashion days are like bad hair days — it will be over tomorrow.

Has this self-portrait changed?

Absolutely and thank goodness. That is why fashion evolution is so much fun. I had an early appreciation for fine fabrics and tailoring instilled by my grandmother and great grandmother who were domestics and cared for linens and clothing, were great sewers and amazing entertainers.

Later, I enjoyed select stages typical of my generation: punk wanna-be, Goth, vintage and avoided others; grunge was not so good for me, nor was hippy revival. I made some dubious 'trendy' choices, and hopefully left the big faux pas behind. It took me years to accept curls, but when I did, it was totally liberating. Fashion allows for risk-taking and experimentation. I am happy to be in the present with favorable nods to the past.

Did your personal style influence your career choice?

My interests influenced my career choice, which evolved and changed. I went to college for fashion design and shortly after I had my first (and last) collection picked up by an East Village boutique in New York. It was exciting, but I was very young and didn't take the failure of not being picked up for a second season very well. I knew I wanted to go back to school to study the history of costume. I did that, but an amazing art history professor brought me over to the academic side: I never looked back.

Fashion and style push cultural and social boundaries and do so with such incredible speed, it's akin to the pace of contemporary art, always at the fore, taking risks and not all making the cut/art history; gone tomorrow. I think this continuous pace, always new and fluid energy attracted me to both professions. Now, I see my early interests evident in some aspects of my style but more so in my curatorial work.

How does your style mirror you as a person and as a professional?


I work in a creative and innovative field that requires a professionalism that conveys authority and comfort; leadership and risk taking; welcome and calm; and, hopefully, flair. As a curator and writer, I think a lot about visual meaning and visual constructs, what is evident and what is not. Fashion designers and fashion aficionados alike do that. It is powerful to think about image and perception, especially in a visual profession. Style, design and posture affect both.

Does your style reflect any of the places you have lived and loved?

I have a lot of terrific finds from Boston. … I grew up there when the phenomena Filene's Basement (the original bargain 1909 store/tourist destination/reverse auction shopping) still existed. To rummage designer deals was a fashion frenzy must-do tradition. The best thing about Boston is you can window shop Newbury Street, then thrift amazing vintage in almost any part of the city, mix it all up and feel inspired. Remember, Downtown always informs Uptown.

Do you have a wardrobe piece de resistance?

I do not have a large wardrobe of big designer names; however, I do have some choice fave pieces: vintage Diane von Furstenberg — amazing silk wrap dress; over-the-top Betsy Johnson floral pumps with outrageous bow, hyper-feminine; and a 1940s wool suit that perfectly reflects the silhouette, dark colors and pragmatism of the iconic working women of the Rosie-the-Riveter generation.

What one thing should every well-dressed woman wear?

Classic pearls.

What is your most-loved color?


Red, it is warm, powerful and loaded with cultural symbolism (dream indulgence: Louboutin red!).

And, a color that does nothing for you?


Is there something that identifies or says you?

Being well-heeled.

Is your style part of your home decor picture?

I think style and expression are connected to all we do, not to just how we look. There is a certain aesthetic to my living spaces that makes me want to spend time there. Surrounding oneself with art, the things we like and individual expression is important to me.

Anne Murphy is a Rochester freelance writer who has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years.

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