Lifestyle: Fashion

With A Twist”

Talking timeless essentials with magazine publisher and
Nordstrom Signature designer Caroline Issa.

 As the fashion director and chief executive at London’s Tank Magazine, and one of the creators and publishers of the digital-turned-print style platform Because, Caroline Issa has her finger on fashion’s pulse—and the street style clout to prove it. But unlike the performance-based peacocking that typically earns aspiring fashionistas star status, the half Chinese, quarter Lebanese, and quarter Iranian Issa rarely follows fleeting trends. Instead, she sticks to a successful recipe of time-honoured pieces, fine tailoring—and a reliable slick of red lipstick.

Raised in Montreal, Issa moonlighted as a model on the runways of Milan when she was 17 before doing a total 180 and enrolling at University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School. She pursued a career in management consulting—first in San Francisco, then in Singapore, and eventually in London before a chance encounter with Tank founder Masoud Golsorkhi lured her back to the fashion industry. She never lost her sharp sartorial instincts, though, or her eye for quality. “The first suit I got was for my interview at Penn,” she laughs. “I loved tailoring then, and it has remained an easy staple for me,” says the 37-year-old who has always retained a passion for suiting, cashmere, and simple, structured silhouettes.

The power of red is that it transforms you—you put it on and you stand a little bit taller.

“I do still like to have fun with fashion and mix it up a little,” Issa admits of working “fun, key bits”—like an unexpected print, or a pop of bright colour—into her wardrobe of essentials, which is likely what compelled Nordstrom to approach the effortlessly chic-poster girl to design the latest offering from its Signature line. The collaboration, which aims to hone in on Issa’s unique sensibility, debuted this Spring and will include four collections a year. Here, we asked the business-savvy stunner to narrow down her top five fashion and beauty picks for achieving the “classic, with a twist” style that has become her calling card.

Wielding the perfect cat-eye is every woman’s Mecca.

1. The Double-Breasted Pantsuit

“This is really important as a key piece. A suit is one of those day-to-night outfits where you can wear it for work and it’s equally appropriate if you’re meeting your bank manager, or the PR for a fashion house, but then if you add a pair of chandelier earrings it can take you just as easily into night. I really value those wardrobe pieces that work hard for you.”

2. The Red Lipstick

“I have more red lipsticks than could last a lifetime and I keep buying more! I think it’s fun to use lips as your experiment area, and I often play within that colour spectrum—so I wear subtler washes; matte finishes; high-shine glosses; and long-lasting finishes. The power of red is that it transforms you—you put it on and you stand a little bit taller. To keep my red more defined, I actually apply a lip pencil after I’ve already applied lipstick!”

3. The Leather Biker Jacket

“I’m addicted to biker jackets. They’re very versatile and you can wear them just as easily with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, as a dress. They instantly toughen up your look and make it more modern. I also love the masculine-feminine balance they create.”

4. The Liquid Liner

“Wielding the perfect cat-eye is every woman’s Mecca; if it worked for Audrey Hepburn it can work for us! I prefer to use a liquid liner typically because it gives you the right amount of point and the ability to experiment with different flicks.”

5. The A-Line Skirt


“This is a flattering look for pretty much everyone—in leather, suede, or cotton. The length should hit just above the knee and I love to wear my A-line skirts with a longer shirt that is belted, or tucked in to give the illusion of a waist.”

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