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NEW YORK — The stereotypical museum director’s wife is not the kind of woman who picks up a black patent leather catsuit at the mall on the offhand chance that she’ll need it someday.
But then, actress Jacqueline Anderson — the 27-year-old wife of Whitney Museum director Maxwell Anderson and proud owner of one such catsuit — believes that rules were made to be broken.
Pink-streaked hair and plunging décolletage at an Upper East Side event? Why not?
A skintight leather dress for the Whitney Gala that simply screams dominatrix? Sure.
Anderson is the type who pairs a see-through Gaultier couture dress with one elbow-length, fingerless glove purchased at Religious Sex, a fetishistic clothing store on St. Marks Place.
“It started out even more daring,” she says in her girlish breathy voice over lunch between an audition (out of superstition, she begs off saying what role) and an acting lesson. “We had to patch up areas because the dress had many more peekaboo places to begin with.” But it was the first couture dress she ever donned, and she’s still reeling from the sensation of wearing it. “It was a piece of artwork,” she gushes.
Anderson’s love affair with vavavavoom fashion — paralleled only by her love for acting — started during her childhood outside of Houston, where she played dress up in her grandmother’s closet. By the time she was 14, she worked three jobs just so she could go shopping at the mall.
“I used to go to the Contempo Casuals sale rack and come away with the craziest things,” she recalls with a laugh. “Unfortunately, I got sent home from school a few times because my outfits were distracting.”
She credits her Texas upbringing as an early style influence — like the memorable woman she once saw at the mall wearing an all-pink leather outfit with a pink cowboy hat and diamonds. “Texas women are out there. I love that!” she raves. “I love people who take risks, who do not feel the pressure to fit in a certain category. That can just be so limiting, and limiting for your mindset as well. I think it’s OK to be a little different.”
She says her husband has always encouraged her to dress however she wants.
“She’s always been — since she was very young — eager to define a realm for herself and not be in lockstep with what’s approved,” Maxwell Anderson says. “And one of her many charms is her innate sense of how to mix things up and stir things up. She enjoys making a gesture that’s unanticipated.” The couple, who share a 19-year age difference, met at Emory University in Atlanta while she was a student and he was the director of the Carlos Museum, and have a seven-year-old son, Chase, together.
When he was appointed the director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Jacqueline, at age 20, headed to Toronto. “It was a little intimidating at first being a museum director’s wife. For a while, I tried to be a little more conservative — it’s a pretty staid crowd,” she says. “But now, I’m like, you know what? This is who I am.”
Her theatrical style has also come in handy on the set. She’s a regular on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and has appeared on “Ed” and “Hack,” as well as in films like “Investigating Sex” and the upcoming “Chester Story” and “Jesus, Mary and Joey.” Not surprisingly, she often incorporates her own wardrobe into her roles. Like when she landed the part of Delilah in “Half-Baked” as a vixen who totes an electric bow and arrow, she knew just what costume the role demanded.
One black patent leather catsuit that was hanging in her closet.