Christie Brinkley, Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Alexa Ray Joel Talk Generational Style & How Fashion Is Empowering

Christie Brinkley, Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Alexa Ray Joel have been named FN’s Style Influencers of the Year and will be honored Dec. 4 at the 2018 FN Achievement Awards (watch the livestream here). Below is an article from the magazine’s Dec. 3 print issue about this trio of strong, creative women. 

Christie Brinkley’s blond tousled hair reflects the afternoon sun like it is golden hour at a Turks & Caicos beach. The superstar model is on-set in New York being photographed by her youngest daughter, Sailor Brinkley-Cook. Wearing baggy paint-splattered jeans and barefoot, Brinkley-Cook is not afraid to give direction to her mother, who’s been modeling since the 1970s, as well as sister Alexa Ray Joel, who was also onboard for the shoot.

“Gorgeous, gorgeous,” the budding photographer says to Joel, who strikes a pose in silver metallic Giuseppe Zanotti heels, light-washed denim jeans and a corseted bodysuit. All the while, their mom watches proudly, encouraging their self-expression.

Christie Brinkley FN
(L-R): Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Brinkley-Cook on the cover of FN’s Dec. 3 print issue. Fashion editor: Shannon Adducci.
CREDIT: Photographed by Sailor Brinkley-Cook. Photo Assistance from Andrew Morales.

In a world where logos, trends and Instagram “outfits of the day” seemingly have taken over, it’s rare to find individuality in peoples’ fashion choices. However, the value of uniqueness is not lost on Brinkley, and she’s passed down that fashion approach to her daughters, whose styles are a direct extension of their personalities.

“With Alexa, she was always a girly girl. When she was little, she just wanted to wear dresses and big giant ribbons in her hair. And it carried through,” said Brinkley, 64, who also has a son, Jack Brinkley Cook. “Sailor is the opposite. She will find a couple of pieces she likes and wear them over and over. She’s much more practical and no muss, no fuss.”

As for the matriarch, Joel described her mother’s look as “classic, golden supermodel” style. But when it comes to everyday fashion, Brinkley said she dresses in sensible clothes that could easily go from day to night. Even now, her wardrobe reflects her interests, whether it’s horseback riding, sailing or traveling. And her closet is filled with handmade items from around the world, including bespoke garb from different cultures, which she said she’s peppered into her ensembles throughout her career.

Brinkley added, “I’m most comfortable in shoes flat and to the ground. I like to be able to move, but if I’m going to be photographed, I will suffer with the heels.”

Brinkley’s love of fashion sparked when she was 18 and modeling in Paris. She recalled French girls wearing very high platform lace-up espadrilles that she coveted. “They looked so effortlessly cool and chic, and I wanted a pair so badly,” she said. “I got a check for a job I did and bought them. I was excited until I got to the corner and it was a cobblestone street and I felt like a tightrope walker. But I got the hang of it after a while.”

In the early stages of her career, Brinkley couldn’t afford the price tag of luxury designs, so she would piece together one-of-a-kind looks from army surplus stores. “I used to take sweatpants, buy them extra big and get a utility belt from the army store and wear that,” said the fashion icon. “I liked workmen’s overalls. I wore a lot of that because it was affordable and unique.”

Joel, who like her famous father, Billy Joel, has a career as a singer-songwriter, most certainly took a page out of her mom’s book when it comes to mixing and matching.

Inspired by the glamour of old Hollywood, the 32-year-old is often spotted in vintage pieces while performing or in her day-to-day life — mixing bohemia and elegance with robes, kimonos, delicate stilettos, over-the-knee boots and a lot of black.

Alexa Ray Joel
Alexa Ray Joel in Fleur du Mal satin Bullet bodysuit. Fashion editor: Shannon Adducci.
CREDIT: Photographed by Sailor Brinkley-Cook. Photo assistance from Andrew Morales

“I’m also a little witchy,” Joel laughed, adding that her father has nicknamed her Vampira. “I don’t like the idea of fashion having to be something you have to follow. You have to dress to empower yourself. That’s what it’s all about.”

Though her sister’s style is much different — what Joel calls “tomboy street chic” — the two have something in common, and that’s stealing mom’s clothes. Joel is all about Brinkley’s jewelry, while Brinkley-Cook goes for the clothing.

“I swear I don’t know the last time I bought a pair of jeans,” the latter said. “We are the same size, which is a blessing. It gives authenticity to the clothing [when I wear it].”

At 20, Brinkley-Cook is part of the millennial generation, which can’t get enough of streetwear brands and dad shoes, but she walks her own fashion path.

“My personal style is very comfortable,” she said, noting that sneakers are a go-to. “I have 10 pairs of Nike Air Force 1s that are in different colors. I love keeping it athletic in the shoes because if I can’t literally run, then I won’t wear it.”

Brinkley-Cook added, “My perfect outfit is a mixture of masculine and feminine. I like to have fun. I never wake up and think, ‘I want to wear this because I think it will make me look cool.’ I want to wear clothes that I feel represent me and how I am and how I act. That’s more important to me than any trend.”

Similar to her mother’s modeling career, Brinkley-Cook’s has taken off since she appeared with her mom and sister in Sports Illustrated’s 2017 Swimsuit Issue, but she’s also very interested in channeling her creativity behind the camera.

Sailor Brinkley-Cook
Sailor Brinkley-Cook photographs her mother and sister for FN in her first professional cover shoot.

“I always loved playing with people and who they are through photography,” she explained on-set with FN during her first professional gig. “I’ve been taking photos my entire life.”

Click through the gallery to see exclusive photos from Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Brinkley-Cook’s FN cover shoot.

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