Saturday, January 30, 2016


Trash Into Treasure

Artist, blogger ( @trashylvania) and future biomedical researcher Lizzie Astrosludge—aka Trashylvania—was waiting for the Milwaukee Avenue bus.

Why “Trashylvania”? What do you consider trash and why do you like it?
I came up with the name “Trashylvania” around 2009, which popped into my head when I was thinking about the destructive nature of living in a disposable culture that is all too quick to make hasty waste out of anything deemed conventionally and terminally useless, whether it’s a candy wrapper on the ground or a suffering person. I felt it suited me for having a lifelong background of extreme poverty and growing up struggling in a dangerous neighborhood. I mainly had everything secondhand, and repurposing everything I had was, and continues to be, a source of personal pride and fulfillment. I suppose I really took the proverbial “turning trash into treasure” practice to heart. In a light, personal philosophical sense, I see “trash” as a deservedly bold reclamation of not only my roots, but as a testament to my efforts and triumphs over years of self-loathing and perceptions of worthlessness for so much of my life, often due to direct oppression and harassment by authority figures.

What does color mean to you? Why is it so present in your aesthetic?
This is a fun one! I inherited a relatively benign condition called synesthesia, in which the lines between the five senses can become a bit more blurred, so they overlap sometimes. For me, bright colors produce a sensation of tasting pure sweetness, so I associate a great amount of childlike contentment and relaxation surrounded by neon monster toys, lava lamps and blacklight posters portraying swirling rainbow oblivion.

What is your basic color palette? Do you ever wear just black?
My all-time favorite color palette is slime green, the most electric hot pink, and a bright purple. I usually balance my brightness with one or two black pieces. Occasionally, I revisit my angsty teen years and wear all-black with different textures for each piece, so layers and details are still prominent. I got a bit of a sartorial burnout from needing to fill my closet with mostly black pieces, since I was working in a media-relations office. Typically, my aesthetic revolves around clashing colors and themes and embracing what’s typically denigrated as ugly, bizarre and chaotic with a sharp wink and a sly smile.

Where do you get inspiration for your outfits?
I’ve been interested in psychedelic, kitschy and vibrantly strange looks since single-digit ages; throwing a tantrum over not picking out my own outfit was certainly not out of the question back then. A few inspirations I can think of are Harajuku street-fashion niches, thrift-store clothes with patterns and colors so loud you can’t hear while you’re looking at them; irreverent, dated and vibrant pulp art; nearly the entire aesthetic of the film “A Clockwork Orange”; stuffed carnival-prize animals, toys and other colorful things—which typically represent childhood happiness—laying in dumpsters, other waste receptacles or the street; the World of Warcraft character Illidan Stormrage, Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Enid Coleslaw from Ghost World.

What are your style resolutions for 2016?
My 2016 fashion resolution is to finally let go of all the pieces I never wear (like old work clothes) and treat myself to some serious statement pieces—the more fantastical and absurd, the better.

Originally featured in Newcity


Life's a drag

Invited to host Soho House’s Route 66-themed New Year’s Eve party, Shea Couleé showed up with a look she describes as “1950s Cadillac meets the streets meets cotton-candy confection.” Channeling a Vogue fashion editorial featuring model Karlie Kloss at the graffiti-covered Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, she worked with Chicago designer Randall Hill to create the pink neoprene dress. Hill finalized the look by spraying paint on Couleé from head to toe—including the toy car sitting atop her wig. The Columbia College costume-design alum says she’s “equal parts bourgie and banjee. A ‘banjee girl’ is your neighborhood girl hanging out on the front stoop, while my bourgie side represents the fantasy of being the polished, well-taken-care-of rich woman.” Despite donning elaborate getups, she says a constant consideration is comfort: “I don’t mean physically, because sometimes you have to suffer for fashion. But your look should represent something you really want to wear and embody.” And for those willing to stand out, she says, “The bigger, the better. You want your fashion to be an experience.”

To experience firsthand Couleé’s looks, see her perform in drag shows on Wednesdays at Hydrate, the Naughty Little Cabaret on Saturdays, and Smart Bar on Sundays.

Originally featured in the Chicago Reader

Crystal, Amara and Alexis

Three beautiful, smart, and thrifty young women won my heart in 2015—and happened to dominate my camera—with looks that didn't break the bank. They were further proof that style has more to do with being savvy than being spendy. Each of them sprinkle their outfits with well-curated secondhand items: Crystal Zapata's yellow Tommy Hilfiger top, Amara Alexandra's denim jacket, and Alexis Kingery's killer cat's-eye sunnies. Chicago's sidewalks don't see much better than this trio.

More pictures here.

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader


Freaking out 

"I describe myself as a freak," says School of the Art Institute of Chicago painting student Reygan Putman. "I've been called that as an insult for years, and I like the idea of taking that back and claiming it for myself." Known to friends as Casper, Putman has worked at a haunted house seasonally since she was 12. Being in character, often as a clown, helps her deal with her anxiety, she says. Influenced by 90s Japanese street fashion and, in particular, punk singer Nina Hagen, Putman's colorful garments come from thrift stores and underground brands such as the heart-and-dollar-sign top from the Berlin-based line Indyanna and shoes from LA's YRU, the platforms of which the artist glammed up with a custom paint job. "I hate the idea of trends and practical, boring clothes," Putman says. "I'm just doing what feels right." See more details of her look below.

Originally featured in the Chicago Reader


Two 2015 trends in one effortless look

Clare is effortlessly sporting two of the year's major trends: a bob haircut and wide-legged pants. She elevates her look with a pair of 90s platform boots, sunglasses, and a pop of color provided by her yellow purse. It's very basic but also very fashionable, and it's all in the details.

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader


A fashion writer's knit dress puts empowerment at the forefront

Fashion writer Lauren Fern was flitting around during a release party for Giorgio Armani's new self-titled autobiography in the designer's Oak Street store. Fern stood out, largely due to her knit dress by Gudrun & Gudrun, a brand based in the Faroe Islands whose collections are handmade by women in Jordan and Peru as part of the company's women's empowerment projects. The womenswear expert for the Chicago Chic lifestyle website, Fern sees fashion as "an analytical art form" and an attitude rather than a reflection of "the size of your pocketbook". Getting dressed is about "feeling like yourself and leaving room to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time." See her gracefully doing just that on Instagram at @unfabulous_elle.

Originally featured in the Chicago Reader.

Electric Blue

An electric blue jacket makes this late-fall outfit spark

This winning look is all about a smart mix of texture, proportion, and color. The electric-blue, faux-fur jacket gives it character and warmth by adding brightness while still honoring the fall vibes. I also love the wide-legged pants and the glossy, pointed-toe combat boots.

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader.


Lucky Color

Loyola psychology and photography student Sofia A. (@sofeeuhsofia) was hanging out in Wicker Park.

What are you up to?
My friend tipped me off on a sale going on at the Lomography Store. Photography has been a passion of mine since childhood, so I couldn’t resist.

How did you style your outfit?
I never read my horoscope, but this morning I came across one that said my lucky color for the day is a deep red. So I wore all of the red that’s currently in my closet. The coat is a comfy fit for a day on the town.

How do you keep your looks interesting during the winter?
I’m from Southern California so winter in Chicago poses a lot of challenges for me. I like to wear different-colored hats and coats. Having a wardrobe that can be worn in layers during the winter is key.

If you could have a magic piece of clothing what would it be? What would it do?
What came to mind instantly was an invisibility cloak! If I had one, I could get from place to place safely without worrying about degenerate men catcalling me and threatening me on my way home anymore. That would be great! Although what would be even greater is if women lived in a society where they didn’t need to avoid those situations at all. Then, I could’ve answered this by saying what I really want is something suede that can’t be scuffed or water damaged.

Who inspires your style the most?
I think retro women inspire me the most. I’m especially fond of the sixties because I find that women maintained a strong-yet-refined sense of femininity throughout the era. I adore how colorful and playful fashion was back then.

What tune were you listening to?
Toro Y Moi.

Originally featured in Newcity.

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