Professional matchmaker and street style queen Amy Van Doran is slipping out of a flesh-colored leotard and into a vintage prom dress when she suddenly lifts a sequined green stiletto above her head and asks, “Do you think I can wear this as a hat?”
This kind of question is hardly out of the ordinary for Van Doran, who at the time was posing for a series of photos that cast her as a psychedelic mermaid, a court jester, and a modern-day Marie Antoinette. The Florida native and founder of The Modern Love Club, an exclusive New York dating service, says she has been “enraptured” by self-expression since high school, when she lived next to her grandfather’s junkyard on Merritt Island and wore garbage-bag ensembles and a mulberry-purple Mohawk.
Van Doran’s look has calmed down since then, but it is admittedly still a bit zany, she insists from behind oversized white-framed glasses that could be paired just as easily with sleek black cigarette pants as with a plastic lobster-topped hat. Her eclectic style and affinity for outlandish accessories have been spotlighted by lifestyle publications such as Time Out New York and StyleLikeU.com and earned her “It Girl” status in the September 2013 issue of Nylon, the culture-centered fashion magazine. She reflects, “I’m kind of a clown in the sense that I’ll wear something if I think it’s going to amuse you. I love all [forms of] expression, and fashion is great because you can play so many different characters. I love creating different worlds and personas.”
One of these roles is a professional matchmaker, or a “guru of all things love,” as Van Doran puts it. She is working with a select group of eighteen men and women on her active client list, and for each she has devised a strategy for meeting and successfully connecting with a potential partner. Through hour-long sessions of “active listening,” Van Doran has determined what her clients are looking for in love and initiated the process of helping them find someone with whom they may bond. Her roster right now includes professionals in technology start-ups, publishing, music, fashion, art, and a number of other fields.
Frequently, Van Doran’s first job as matchmaker is to give unbiased advice on how to establish realistic goals when it comes to romance. “You have to set yourself up to be successful,” she recommends, “and sometimes you need an outside perspective to reformulate the question of what your wants and needs are.” She’s also a firm believer in “You.0,” the idea that people should promote their best selves. “I don’t think everyone has to dress wacky to be who they are, but there’s such a sexiness about ‘doing you,’ and ‘doing you’ well. If you shine, you’re going to attract that other light,” Van Doran declares.
Unabashedly walking up to someone and introducing yourself, whether it’s on the subway or at a local grocery store, is another means of connecting that she enthusiastically encourages. “Every guy I’ve met, I met either on the street, on a roof, or in a coffee shop,” Van Doran maintains, adding that what’s important is not where you find someone but rather having the courage to reach out to him or her. “There’s not enough time in this life to be afraid.”
When Van Doran is asked whether she plans to franchise the Modern Love Club in order to take on more clients, her answer is simple. While a long-term expansion of her operation is always possible, she is more interested in giving a select clientele top-drawer service and immersing herself in the intriguing culture of New York’s personalities. She asserts, “I’m good at my job because I care deeply about my clients. They are who I’m motivated by.”
As for Van Doran’s sense of style and the confidence she wears on her sleeve (and her head, if she should find the right shoe to double as a hat), when she traipses through the city, she radiates an unbridled aura of positivity that attracts new friends, clients, and strangers alike. “I think I’ve found a real harmony … between how I feel about myself and what people see when I walk down the street. I feel very fortunate for that,” she muses.