Lives of style: Anette Harris

I fell in love with those kids,” Anette Harris recalls. “My favorite memory as president of the San Francisco Junior League was bringing two small girls from the league’s Community Program onstage with me at our annual fashion show.” Holding on to Anette, the two little girls then reached out to each other, forming a circle of friendship. Anette, a tall, stunning beauty, admits, “It’s always been about children — and education.”

Born in Houston (“I’m the only little chicken that got out of the yard!”) Anette attended Catholic schools and colleges (BA, University of Dallas; MA, Boston College), majored in English and landed a job at Holy Cross, admitting the first class of women to the formerly a male-only college.

Realizing one Easter weekend, “I was so tired of [snow] shoveling. I’d lived through one too many freezing days,” she came west to San Francisco, where she worked at the California College of Podiatric Medicine as Director of Admissions/Public Relations. She met her husband, Marc Loupé, former vice president of finance at Sun Microsystems, who then lived in Los Angeles, at a surprise party. The two “dated long-distance for a year,” before marrying in 1979. Anette then launched her own business in 1980.

But it was something else that tugged at her heart. “I loved working in the community,” she admits. Anette hit the ground running: She joined the Board of Big Sisters of Marin, serving as president of Women Entrepreneurs of San Francisco; served on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Women’s Council; became president of the Junior League of San Francisco; joined the San Francisco Symphony League; and then moved on to the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony, where her interest lies in raising moneyfor the Youth Orchestra.

Harris was founder and chair of the First Fundraising Gala for Students Rising Above, in 2004, and is president of the Bay Area Arthritis Auxiliary, founded three years ago, which is holding their signature annual fashion show and luncheon, featuring fashions by retail partner Wilkes Bashford, on Sept. 27 at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

“The Junior League is all about community,” Anette emphasizes. “It was a transitional time, when I was junior league chair,” Anette notes. “The organization was moving from a day organization to a night organization. Primary business transactions were happening after work. I’m proud of the San Francisco Junior League. We are a leader among other Leagues. We embraced homelessness, AIDS awareness — and it’s one of the more progressive Leagues to have women of color. Twenty-five years ago Leagues didn’t admit Jewish women or African-American women, and in 2000, I was the first African-American woman to be president. That opened the door for more to follow.”

Anette’s expansive two-story Marin home sits high on a sizeable hummock and overlooks a panoramic land and seascape. Walls of windows anent glass-paneled doors and skylights; sunlight permeates the the Mediterranean-style abode, allowing ease and egress to patios, gardens and a rectangular pool. Art by Matisse and Picasso; European, Asian and African art and sculpture abide in harmony and panache in a palette of neutral, elegant, parchment-colored walls, sophisticated entry columns, light oak floors and splashes of color. The kitchen, with huge glass panes above the countertops, is a highlight. The extensive, capacious bath-spa and the putting green are perfection.

For Anette, a bred-in-the-bones beauty whose signature is warm, welcoming sophistication and the charm that emanates from intelligence and a deep regard for others, the key factor in all of this is making others feel comfortable.

Keys to Anette Harris’ style

PHILOSOPHY OF STYLE: Very conservative with a hint of pizzazz. Black with bold colors. No pastels. Every now and then something out of the box. For décor: Eclectic. I like people to feel at home.

STYLE SECRETS: Keep your skin natural-looking and clean. I exfoliate once a week with Lancome Exfoliance. I exfoliate my whole body. I make a health smoothie every morning — fruit, yogurt and juice.

GOT STYLE FROM: My parents. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I made very fashionable after-school clothes — I only used Vogue patterns.

STYLE VS. COMFORT: Style. You can be stylish and comfortable.

COLOR VS. TEXTURE: Color. Although, in texture, I love cashmere.

FAVORITE COLORS: Purple — I like rich colors. Cerulean blue, orange, lime green.

SECRET CACHE OF: Elephants— trunks turned up, facing East. Art.

MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: Other than my husband, I love my mother, Florence Harris, and my friends. I also love the ring my mother gave me.

WHAT WOULD PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU? I’ve got a green thumb. I take care of all the plants inside (Anette has nurtured an African Milk Plant since her wedding 28 years ago), and the bearded Irises in the garden.

MOST UNUSUAL THING ABOUT YOU? I’m kind-hearted. Soft-hearted.

DESIGNERS: Michael Casey, Louis Feraud, Celine, Stuart Weitzman shoes, Akris. Judith Ripka is wonderful.

STYLE ADVICE: Keep it simple.Embrace your own style. Strive to be beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside.

LIFE ADVICE: Treat everyone the way you wish to be treated. Strive to exude calm and happiness; you can give that to others in the hope that they will pass it on to other people.

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