The Prodigious Life and Perfect Style of Tatiana Massey, Who Contemplates Her Next Big Adventure

She emits effortless style, is a nonconformist and a quick learner, has a perceptive eye and is a bit of a chameleon, as one would expect from a former runway and print model. We first really got to know her — and bonded — when she designed and improvised the photographic artists’ collages for our collaborative book project, Texas Artists Today. One minute rock ‘n’ roll, the next moment demure, this willowy mom, collector and hostess frequently alights with husband Craig Massey and three-year-old daughter Daria at country-club engagements. She’s also been the most glamorous one in the room amid a sea of beautiful people at Art Basel Miami Beach. Yes, that’s Tatiana Massey, whose world captivatingly weaves fashion and art, with a side of culinary magnificence. We caught up with this Russian-born muse at her historic Cape Cod-inspired home for a breezy day filled with style (and sage talent forecasts), gorgeous clothes, avant-garde (mostly Texas) art, a delicious lunch with a champagne-washed cheese-and-prosciutto course and, above all, an enticing peek at her next creation: Laboratoria, a Web site and blog devoted to contemporary global fashion, launching in August at laboratoria-shop.com. Now, the kingdom of Tatiana.

Laboratoria: The Reveal 

As defined by its creator, “It’s a mix of high and low, prices ranging from $300 to $2,000 ... by the most interesting and creative designers ... Nothing trendy. Mostly investment pieces of style and quality.” And laboratoria-shop.com will have the members-only ClubH. “A Laboratoria stylist will deliver to your house items that caught your eye on the Web site and help to style them with your own clothes,” Tatiana promises. Her Web site manifesto proclaims, “We hope to create a name synonymous with stylistic confidence.”

What Will Be Served on laboratoria-shop.com, Come August:

Holly Fulton (UK)

Au Jour Le Jour (Italy)

A.F. Vandevorst + shoes (Belgium)

By Malene Birger (Denmark)

Thakoon Addition (U.S.)

Chalayan Grey (UK)

Jean Paul Knott  (Belgium)

Roseanna (France)

Clu (U.S.)

Lover (Australia)

Bruce II (U.S.)

Karen Walker eyewear (New Zealand)

Ventidue bags (Italy/California)

Nili Lotan cashmere (U.S.)

Demylee cashmere (U.S.)

5preview (Sweden)

Chicca Lualdi Beequeen (Italy)

Luisa Brini scarves (Italy)

Sea (U.S.)

Thierry Lasry eyewear (France)


The Dossier: Tatiana’sTaste

Inspirations: “You never know where you are going to find them! Art, nature, traveling, street style, books, music ... My Laboratoria blog is all about that: everything that inspires. I’m lucky to have very creative friends that inspire me.” 

On Fashion and Parenting: “My daughter [Daria]: She is only three. She is the only one who never needs my style advice. I let her have her way when it comes to clothes. We definitely have a mutual respect when it comes to style. Sometimes she calls me Lady Gaga (in her mind, she is a superstar!) or just says, ‘Mommy, you are a cool Mommy!’”

Darling Daria: Daughter Daria, all of three and a half, models a pair of Karen Walker sunglasses from the new Laboratoria collection.

Restaurant: “I live at Pondicheri. A group of us used to go to Indika for lunch after yoga. Now, we’ve moved over to Pondicheri. I think I’ve tried everything on the menu.”

Can’t Live Without: “My cameo brooch, YSL vintage dress, Rochas shoes, my American Apparel sweater dress, American Apparel bag, golden goose bag, Pondicheri chai, my yoga mat, peonies, kale, big earrings (Susan Plum), Visionaire books, Vitamix mixer, Moneta cookware.”

Playlist: “Music: omnivorous. Depending on my mood. No country, though. Sorry, Texas. On iPod playlist, anything from Joseph Arthur, Angela McCluskey, Saul Williams, Florence and the Machine to Parov Stellar, Cut Copy, to Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. And Madeleine Peyroux is my cooking music. It must have some qualities associated with good digestion. No wonder so many restaurants love playing it!”

Scent: “Fracas by Robert Piguet. It was Isabella Blow’s favorite, so I ordered it. The moment I finished reading her biography and closed the page, the doorbell rang and it arrived. I don’t usually like florals, but this has become a favorite. I looked it up, and it’s a blend of white flowers from the south of France, with notes of tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, carnation and pink geranium.”

Defining Style Moment: “Four years ago, my girlfriend and I missed our flight back to Houston and were stranded in New York without our luggage. We wore the same outfit for three days, and still got photographed by Bill Cunningham for his New York Times Sunday Style column.”

“Clothes are good when they are an extension of one’s personality. Fashion to me is art. Wearing fashion is a mini performance.” — Tatiana Massey


Afternoon Idyll: Channeling a ’30s film siren, Tatiana lounges amid Fornasetti pillows from Barneys New York, in a Comme des Garçons blouse with dramatic sleeves topping sleek trousers by Antonio Berardi. Céline black suede and kid lipstick platforms from Tootsies. Lanvin brass eagle-wing ring with Swarovski crystals from net-a-porter.com. Above the sofa, Angelbert Metoyer’s Whaling Through God’s Universe, 2002 – 2003. Metoyer, a family friend, was included in the book Texas Artists Today and was the catalyst for the couple’s interest in collecting art, as well as their involvement in the creation of the volume. 

A Little Bit Rock ‘n Roll: Rockin’ Joan Jett are Roseanna pants and jacket. White tee from Tatiana’s personal collection. Giambattista Valli two-tone statement shoes from Tootsies. Kenneth Jay Lane triangle earrings from net-a-porter.com. Ventidue leather and metal-studded bag, also destined for Laboratoria.

Tea Party: Like a summer day in the South of France, Tatiana and daughter, Daria, play tea party in the garden. Suno’s Dandelion Wish lilac-hued silk scoop-neck dress from Leap with her own vibrant yellow Jimmy Choo shoes. Nini Jewels dragon-carved 467-carat jade necklace, set in 18K white gold and surrounded by diamonds, with 32-inch 18K white-gold chain $70,000, at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue. New Zealand designer Karen Walker sunglasses, will be stocked through Laboratoria.  

Kitchen Confidential: Dishing up homemade chicken salad with fresh fruit in a Vionnet silk-and-crepe frock with a pop of metallic beading (from her own closet), Miz Massey reprises Cafe Tatiana, which transforms her kitchen into an impromptu bistro for the crafting of weekly dinner parties. Her cuisine is held in such esteem by family and friends that no one, even when pressed, can name a favored restaurant in town for a dinner party. Giuseppe Zanotti golden platforms, from her own collection. The iron table with stone top — which serves as a work station and serving and dining spot — dates to the late 19th century and was originally used
in an Indian train station. “I found it in a Dallas antique shop and designed the kitchen around it when we remodeled four years ago,” Tatiana says.

Daria’s pink dollhouse resembles an art installation.

A Holly Fulton dress manifests a surrealist bent. At Laboratoria in August.

A.F. Vandevorst, through Laboratoria

5preview, through Laboratoria

Ventidue bags (Italian materials/made in California) are one of the avant-garde collections to be stocked at Laboratoria.

Bill Davenport’s Pop-infused Massey Family soup-can sculptures, 2011

Left: A Valentine’s gift, Forrest Prince’s Occupy Love, 2011, from PG Contemporary.

All American: Outside the Masseys’ Colonial-style classic saltbox house, Tatiana perches on the doorstep in an Yves Blue Maria Cornejo dress from Leap. Her gold Giuseppe Zanotti platforms stand guard. “The house is small, from the late ’30s,” she says. “We have friends or family staying all the time, so ideally we need more room. But it has so much personality that it’s hard to give it up.”