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January 2002

Interview with Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia Solar Michalski by Jasmine Ford, a freelance writer who contributes frequently to artsMEDIA Magazine.

Jasmine Ford: Would you mind recounting how you met artist Kathleen Bitetti and how you became the “muse” for

HRH: I met artists Kathleen Bitetti and Melody King actually at the same time, while I was in London in Spring of 1999. I met the two of them at Harrods. They were looking at the garments in the couture section. As I recall, they were having a lively discussion about the garments. They were discussing in detail the craftsmanship, fabrics, and what periods the designers were borrowing from. I too share a keen interests in these subjects and I politely asked them where they were from. I could tell from their accents that they were not British or Australian, but I wasn’t sure if they were American or Canadian. Since I was planning to go to the Boston area to study, I was thrilled to find out they were American and from the Boston area. So we exchanged email addresses and that is how I met them. I wasn’t asked until much later to be the “muse” for

JF: So from that chance meeting things just took root?

HRH: It is funny how chance encounters can impact one’s life. Melody King, who owns, is now one of my advisors on vintage clothing. She has a wonderful web site and fabulous vintage store in Gardner (Massachusetts). Kathleen and I both share a similar sensibility on contemporary art and clothing, and since she lives in Boston we have developed a close friendship. She has also introduced me to many of the artists, gallery owners, and curators in the Boston area.

JF: Don’t you have relatives in the area as well?

HRH: Yes I do. Cynthia von Buhler and I are distant relations on the Italian side. I love her artwork. She gave me a portrait she painted of me as a gift. I will always treasure it. I love that she incorporated real dragonflies into the portrait- I collect dragonflies and dragonfly imagery. Cynthia is also good friends with Kathleen- they have known each other for ten years. Interestingly, Julian de Cordova, whose former estate is now the DeCordova Museum, was also a very distant relation on the Italian side.

JF: What was your first response when Kathleen asked you to be the “muse” for

HRH: Both she and I share a similar sense of humor, so I said yes. I thought it would be a lot of fun and it has been. People, both men and women, are socialized to view a “princess” and Royalty for that matter in a certain way. It has been fun to explore the myths and expectations of this socialization. Not all princesses are waiting to be saved.

JF: What is the strangest thing you have been asked to do for the project?

HRH: Well, Kathleen wants me to save all my hairpins that are used in my hair each time I go out on a scheduled formal visit. It has been hard to keep track of them all- but I am trying my best.

JF: I have to say your accent doesn’t sound Polish per say.

HRH: No it doesn’t- does it. I was born in Poland but educated in Europe and the States- so I lost my Polish accent when speaking English. I tend to take on the regional accent of where I am living at the time-much like Madonna who now has an English accent when she speaks!

JF: By the way, what are you studying?

HRH: Art History with a emphasis on contemporary art. I hope to own a gallery or start a nonprofit art space either in this country or in Poland. Or possibly set something up in both countries- but that is a long way off in the future.

JF: Well something to look forward to. Good luck with it.

HRH: Thank you.