The Life & Style of: Mark D. Sikes

 In celebration of his new collection, exclusive to Moda, Tatiana Hambro meets the aficionado of American style to talk stripes, that timeless quality and why he prefers Jackie O to Grace Kelly. 

The Life & Style of: Mark D. Sikes

 In celebration of his new collection, exclusive to Moda, Tatiana Hambro meets the aficionado of American style to talk stripes, that timeless quality and why he prefers Jackie O to Grace Kelly. 

The Life & Style of: Mark D. Sikes

In celebration of his new collection, exclusive to Moda, Tatiana Hambro meets the afficiano of American style to talk stripes, that timeless quality and why he prefers Jackie O to Grace Kelly.

The Life & Style of: Mark D. Sikes

In celebration of his new collection, exclusive to Moda, Tatiana Hambro meets the afficiano of American style to talk stripes, that timeless quality and why he prefers Jackie O to Grace Kelly.

“They have always been my first love” says Mark D. Sikes of the classic blue-and-white stripes he wore with regularity as a kid. Fast forward several decades and the author, interior decorator and fashion designer's name is completely synonymous with them: they populate his personal wardrobe, they adorn the homes he decorates (most often in the form of dhurrie rugs) and they—literally—define his fashion label, MDS Stripes.

“My idea was to create great blue-and-white striped fashion for women out of the same fabrics as my personal shirts,” says Sikes, who shops at Thomas Mason, the centuries-old English shirting brand which is now crafted in Italy. Since its launch three years ago, women have come to rely on “MDS” (as it is affectionately known) for easy pieces that won’t date with the seasons yet retain a sense of stylish allure. Pieces such as summer dresses to wear on a bike ride in the Hamptons or scarf tops that can be re-tied to reveal just enough skin for a dinner party. “I love things which are timeless” Sikes explains, “things that looked good 30 years ago and that will look good 30 years from now.” His Instagram feed—a meticulously curated assemblage of good, clean, jeans-and-a-white-tee American style—provides the perfect visual soundtrack to his brand. 

Headlining muses include Jackie Kennedy Onassis, John Kennedy, Jr. and Lauren Hutton—each a glowing emblem of tasteful Americana. Just don’t call it preppy.

“They have always been my first love” says Mark D. Sikes of the classic blue-and-white stripes he wore with regularity as a kid. Fast forward several decades and the author, interior decorator and fashion designer's name is completely synonymous with them: they populate his personal wardrobe, they adorn the homes he decorates (most often in the form of dhurrie rugs) and they—literally—define his fashion label, MDS Stripes.

“My idea was to create great blue-and-white striped fashion for women out of the same fabrics as my personal shirts,” says Sikes, who shops at Thomas Mason, the centuries-old English shirting brand which is now crafted in Italy. Since its launch three years ago, women have come to rely on “MDS” (as it is affectionately known) for easy pieces that won’t date with the seasons yet retain a sense of stylish allure. Pieces such as summer dresses to wear on a bike ride in the Hamptons or scarf tops that can be re-tied to reveal just enough skin for a dinner party. “I love things which are timeless” Sikes explains, “things that looked good 30 years ago and that will look good 30 years from now.” His Instagram feed—a meticulously curated assemblage of good, clean, jeans-and-a-white-tee American style—provides the perfect visual soundtrack to his brand. 

Headlining muses include Jackie Kennedy Onassis, John Kennedy, Jr. and Lauren Hutton—each a glowing emblem of tasteful Americana. Just don’t call it preppy.

“I don’t love that word,” confesses Sikes, “though I do love all-American.” Saving his pieces from popped-collar WASP territory is a subtle sexiness—a quality the designer really honed in on while working on his latest collection, found only on Moda. Introducing black and polka dots, Sikes points to “an edgier, slightly Caribbean flavor. My friend Rebecca de Ravenel [the Les BonBons designer who grew up in the Bahamas] was my muse," he shares. "I was envisaging a dark-haired girl with slicked-back hair and big gold hoop earrings.”

De Ravenel is one of many people—from the editor Diana Vreeland to the music producer Pharrell Williams—who have the ability to make great style seem like an innate talent, rather than a skill laboriously acquired over time. And maybe it is something one has to be born with. “At a very young age” Sikes recalls, “I distinctly knew the difference between Grace Kelly, who was super beautiful, and Jackie Kennedy, who had really great style.”

“I don’t love that word,” confesses Sikes, “though I do love all-American.” Saving his pieces from popped-collar WASP territory is a subtle sexiness—a quality the designer really honed in on while working on his latest collection, found only on Moda. Introducing black and polka dots, Sikes points to “an edgier, slightly Caribbean flavor. My friend Rebecca de Ravenel [the Les BonBons designer who grew up in the Bahamas] was my muse," he shares. "I was envisaging a dark-haired girl with slicked-back hair and big gold hoop earrings.”

De Ravenel is one of many people—from the editor Diana Vreeland to the music producer Pharrell Williams—who have the ability to make great style seem like an innate talent, rather than a skill laboriously acquired over time. And maybe it is something one has to be born with. “At a very young age” Sikes recalls, “I distinctly knew the difference between Grace Kelly, who was super beautiful, and Jackie Kennedy, who had really great style.”

Here, he shares memories, rules of style, favorite things and more.

Here, he shares memories, rules of style, favorite things and more.

That classic American quality is about a mix. A little French, a little Asian, just a mix of things…I think when you put all that stuff together it somehow feels American.

Social media has caused a lot of grand "styling-for-attention". Sometimes, the very simple things get lost because of everything that goes on now.

The Everything Top started as a belt. We were trying to create a sash that you could double wrap as a big bow when you’re styling, then all of a sudden it was crisscrossed around someone’s neck and we have this amazing thing! I love the versatility of it.

My book with Rizzoli features a mix of fashion, people and interiors—each chapter has its own color story, which I thought was a fun and unusual way of putting a book together.

My two favorite colors are blue and green. It’s about nature—the blue sky and the green of the trees and the grass.

I am obsessed with magazines, I’ve collected them as long as I can remember. I have every single issue of Vogue since 1993 and all the Shelter magazines, which are probably my most prized possessions.

That classic American quality is about a mix. A little French, a little Asian, just a mix of things…I think when you put all that stuff together it somehow feels American.

Social media has caused a lot of grand "styling-for-attention". Sometimes, the very simple things get lost because of everything that goes on now.

The Everything Top started as a belt. We were trying to create a sash that you could double wrap as a big bow when you’re styling, then all of a sudden it was crisscrossed around someone’s neck and we have this amazing thing! I love the versatility of it.

My book with Rizzoli features a mix of fashion, people and interiors—each chapter has its own color story, which I thought was a fun and unusual way of putting a book together.

My two favorite colors are blue and green. It’s about nature—the blue sky and the green of the trees and the grass.

I am obsessed with magazines, I’ve collected them as long as I can remember. I have every single issue of Vogue since 1993 and all the Shelter magazines, which are probably my most prized possessions.

I got a degree in finance, but then quickly realized it wasn’t the world I was meant to be in. I’ve always been a naturally creative person, reading and absorbing as much information as possible.

I started out as a greeter in the Banana Republic store in Nashville and worked my way up to corporate to be head of styling, marketing and visual merchandizing. 

I’ve always loved the same things—always. As a child I remember driving with my grandparents in their town and we would stop the car just to look at the white houses and the big green lawns.

Street fashion is kind of crazy. There are some trends that are beautiful and timeless and some that are absolutely hideous.

A well-designed home should reflect the person that lives there.

I have a philosophy about antiques: everyone should have at least three pieces. They add a patina and a story.

I got a degree in finance, but then quickly realized it wasn’t the world I was meant to be in. I’ve always been a naturally creative person, reading and absorbing as much information as possible.

I started out as a greeter in the Banana Republic store in Nashville and worked my way up to corporate to be head of styling, marketing and visual merchandizing. 

I’ve always loved the same things—always. As a child I remember driving with my grandparents in their town and we would stop the car just to look at the white houses and the big green lawns.

Street fashion is kind of crazy. There are some trends that are beautiful and timeless and some that are absolutely hideous.

A well-designed home should reflect the person that lives there.

I have a philosophy about antiques: everyone should have at least three pieces. They add a patina and a story.

If you love it, buy it. You’ll find a place for it. When you’re creating not a house but a home, you have to be in love with the things that are in there.

I don’t believe in dont’s. Style and taste is super subjective. Who is to say what is right or wrong? I’m always happily surprised to see something I wouldn’t think would work end up working.

The most important room in the house is where you spend most of your time.

I’m self-taught, so I’m always educating myself by looking, observing, reading and traveling—it’s a huge part of who I am.

I have a partner in life and in businesses, Michael Griffin.  We’ve been together 15 years, I’ve known him 20.

I have a French bulldog named Lily. She was sick as a young dog, with breathing issues and vertebrae issues, but we loved her and took care of her. She is super special.

We used to make a pilgrimage to St. Barts every year. This September we are going on safari which I’m super excited. We have been planning it for a long time.

If you love it, buy it. You’ll find a place for it. When you’re creating not a house but a home, you have to be in love with the things that are in there.

I don’t believe in dont’s. Style and taste is super subjective. Who is to say what is right or wrong? I’m always happily surprised to see something I wouldn’t think would work end up working.

The most important room in the house is where you spend most of your time.

I’m self-taught, so I’m always educating myself by looking, observing, reading and traveling—it’s a huge part of who I am.

I have a partner in life and in businesses, Michael Griffin.  We’ve been together 15 years, I’ve known him 20.

I have a French bulldog named Lily. She was sick as a young dog, with breathing issues and vertebrae issues, but we loved her and took care of her. She is super special.

We used to make a pilgrimage to St. Barts every year. This September we are going on safari which I’m super excited. We have been planning it for a long time.

The D stands for my middle name, Donald. The url for Mark Sikes was already taken by a used tire salesmen.

I crave chocolate chip cookies. They’re the perfect treat. I don’t make them, I buy them from Sunset Tower in L.A. They are the best.

I find it sad that people don’t use their formal living room as much these days.

If I were to buy a home in New York it would be in the Upper East Side, you just get more for your money and little slower pace.

I think women want to look pretty. There’s something special in a woman feeling pretty.

The D stands for my middle name, Donald. The url for Mark Sikes was already taken by a used tire salesmen.

I crave chocolate chip cookies. They’re the perfect treat. I don’t make them, I buy them from Sunset Tower in L.A. They are the best.

I find it sad that people don’t use their formal living room as much these days.

If I were to buy a home in New York it would be in the Upper East Side, you just get more for your money and little slower pace.

I think women want to look pretty. There’s something special in a woman feeling pretty.

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