Tuesday, June 4, 2013


"Most scientists are astonished by Deeda Blair’s style, and the style mavens are surprised by her scientific expertise. That is obvious to even the most casual observer of her life. If one penetrates those disparate worlds, however, one soon finds that neurobiologists credit her with helping them think through difficult questions, and that fashionistas must employ metaphors from 18th-century France to describe the impeccable way she dresses and entertains. The word “elegant” is in regular use in both fashion and science; it can describe a certain understated self-assurance manifest in a choice of shoes or an arrangement of furniture — and, equally, the underlying structures of the universe or the transcription of RNA. It perfectly describes Deeda. Her couture is severe and simple, the kind that only the knowing eye can identify as couture. Her trademark bouffant has not changed in 50 years, but it does not feel dated; it feels Deeda. Her apartment, all pale gray, is like being inside a pearl; it is a study in discipline. The work she does with scientists has a similar urgent deliberateness. Pretension lies in striving to be who you are not; Deeda, rather, tries to be even more of who she is. And who she is outstrips what she says or does; her gentle way of insisting on people’s best selves enables their accomplishments."

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