Category Archives: Characters

Create Your World

See those hands?  That’s how I feel about asking someone if I can take their photo. I have always been drawn to street fashion photography ever since I used to peruse  magazines at a local Japanese bookstore. That’s where I first became aware of it. I was excited by the curated windows into everyday people’s style on the street. Eventually, in the mid-00’s I would see these street style blogs popping up, not to mention Bill Cunningham’s work in newspapers and magazines prior to that.The blogs brought it more to my attention and they were INTERNATIONAL. Stockholm, Helskinki, Mexico City, Kingston. It became a merry-go-round of looks unique to those hoods.  So, why the hesitation to participate in such a happening trend? Maybe it’s shyness. Maybe I think people will feel like I’m stealing their souls — or, that I just won’t take a good photo of them! I mean, I have more confidence taking photos of objects. My first attempt was when I met a particularly stylish woman at a friend’s party. Vintage 60’s hostess dress. Jewelry she made herself. Her makeup was so Elizabeth Taylor from Cleopatra days. Oh, man. Anyway, the photos came out dark and her dress was all wrinkled — not in a good way. So, I didn’t try again. I blamed it on not having business cards to give out. I did start taking photos of family members which served as a warm up. I was comfortable with them; they would even take direction.  Friends were a different story, though. You know, “I’m coming over to take your picture. No, don’t worry about your outfit (But of course, you’ll look stunning because you always do, but no pressure, really).”  In my coffee post I got some practice with strangers. “Can I take a picture of you doing latte art? I mean I’m advertising the café and everything!” No problem, they replied. It was easier than I thought.  This post is yet another baby step. I could totally try to trick you and say, “Oh, yeah. I came across this really striking woman in a parking lot. I don’t know anything about her, but doesn’t she look amazing??” But then, enough friends read this blog that know her and would ask me, “What are you trying to pull, Laura? Isn’t that our friend? ”  Did you see what just happened there? She turned around and there was THAT. The outfit that slays as it walks away. I personally need more bustles in my life. Thanks, for letting me practice my street photography on you, Kai. I did just run into her on the street, but in all telepathic honesty I did wish upon a morning star that she would be at the meeting I was attending. Here, I was leaving the meeting and she was arriving. And in all skill-crutch honesty, I took none of these photos. Evan was with me and he has a DEGREE in photography. And lastly, in all historical honesty, one time Kai and I made an elaborate plan to meet at the art museum and do a whole photo shoot relating a great piece of art to an outfit she would wear. But she was like, “Ah, I realized I don’t work that way. Too much thinking.”  I do a lot of thinking with my outfits, OBVIOUSLY. I really enjoy it. Kai says she just goes into her closet every morning and is like a painter with a palette. If it doesn’t work right away she just adds more. I love the description of that process. I love it’s honest simplicity. Ha.I could go on and on about Kai’s style. Every time I see her it’s a treat. It’s not just her vibrant personality, humor, intellect, and childlike curiosity (she’s always learning something new)… it’s her excellent outfits! Yes, they make me think of poetic mystery and romantic epic adventures, but also they are a reminder to be myself in every aspect of my life. Yes, an outfit can do that. While she is in the intuitive moment every morning as she faces her “palette”, she is always true to herself. She wears her spirit on the outside. More of that.   

Jacket by TBA. Skirt vintage, by Penelope. Under t no label. Bag by Fatface. Boots by Florentini + Baker.

All photos by Evan Hartzell.

Adventures Down Secret Stairways (or how to accessorize for cold weather wearing a sun dress)

Everyone should have at least one red lit in the dark photo portrait. Thanks, Evan.

This post was called “Winter Bohemian” but then it turned Spring. In L.A. we are still having some cool evenings so I am thinking a post about dressing warm in a sun dress is still relevant, right? I mean, this is an issue for me. I tend towards being cold unless I am doing yoga at least six days a week — when my circulation is really at top performance (ooh, such techy talk — “performance”!). Makes me feel like a baby having to be all bundled up in pants and a coat while all these people run around with nothing on their legs or shoulders, no goosebumps, sandals, hair up, looking so carefree and breezy . Another outstanding fwp.

We followed the directions.

About the secret staircase, though. I love the magical hidden among the mundane. That’s why I love magical businesses and headquarters that are right in front of your eyes, but that mere muggles do not detect. l also love The Borrowers for this reason and portals like the one Alice comes across in Through the Looking Glass…. So, that is where we went this cold and starry night. I was going to let my love go alone to China Town to check out a musical project of someone he kinda knew online, but once he showed me the instructions to get there, I HAD to accompany him. I was definitely not disappointed. Betalevel is a cool spot to check out music “projects”. It’s experimental. People sit in chairs and really listen to/watch performances. It is an intimate experience which took me back to the early 90’s when we used to go to all kinds of funky coffee houses to check out music and art.

Oooh, my hair looks so long and thick. Optical illusion I love.

Back to the outfit… to use a popular phrase which I do love, this is a cold weather dressing “hack”. So, here is a list of six things that can help you, too wear a sun dress in cold* weather.

•Long dress! Well, duh. And this one is longer in the back which gives it the illusion of being more breezy and light.

•Not cotton. This one is acrylic, but I also have a wool sundress. Seriously. It’s from the early 60’s. I don’t understand its existence, but how lucky am I? Anyway, if the sun dress is not cotton that really helps.

•Warm accessories. Like this acrylic, thick, super long scarf I made. I have also worn hats for warmth. In my opinion, if you put it together in a cool way in terms of size, color, shape, texture you can sneak warmers in!

•Boots. Obsessed. So, of course. Need I say more? The ones pictured are great because they are short clog boots so they go along with the illusion of not too wrapped up looking. I also love this socks with sandals thing that is popular right now. I tend to collect an array of colorful socks, so that style really works for me. My sandals are pretty flashy as well.

•Secretly warm sweater. A long sweater that is thick and edged with faux fur can be so cozy and not heavy looking. I was so excited to find how well this works. Make sure, though that the sweater has a tight weave so those icy winds don’t creep through.

•Layers. This is the most obvious hack, right? Everyone knows this one. But… it’s all about nice colors, shape, textures that go with the sun dress at hand. The layers compliment the dress. Here, I wear a thin, but warm long sleeve t shirt that wishes it was Patagonia. Also, tights. Gotta have those. Good, thick ones.

Back to the music… Here is some k-blamo music featuring a photo from this shoot. Yes, we have a youtube channel you can subscribe to now! Just click on “subscribe” and you will get an email whenever we (k-blamo) post a video.

*When I say cold, I mean it is lower than the 70’s. I know it’s funny, but come on. Lower than 70’s fahrenheit in the evening is not sun dress weather!

Dress label was removed (friend’s closet clean out!). Sweater by 21 up. Scarf homemade. T shirt by Uniqlo. Boots by Hanna Anderson.

All photos by Evan Hartzell

Bladerunner Teen D.J.

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Plastic stars in lantern nights,

The blue and white and neon lights,

Liquid in the flowing pipes,

Mist my eyes the sounds are loud,

Cold the air my hands withstand,

I yearn,

I yearn to be,

I see the signs,

See the signs and dream,

When the music makes my ears,

The sky,

Darker white then the early morning,

Fear to touch,

Touch the ground,

For I might,

Pick up to have found,

A thing a fear of past steps there,

And smile not upon their sight,

For shadowed face and pocket hands,

They keep me safe,

I wish for sand,

Oh I may live to breath the air,

Air of sea that the sun dearly loves,

And find to me that I am to be loved,

Streaking lights and dizzy stars,

On a day there shall be,

A shining star.

-Aristotle Hartzell, 2017

Is he the teen d.j. for the 1984 original or for the 2017 sequel? And what music will he spin? For the original it would surely be this, whereas for the sequel it may be this.

All photos by Evan Hartzell.

Suit jacket by Topman, customized by Aristotle. Wind breaker by Patagonia. Cords by Old Navy. Socks by Uniqlo. Shoes by Fashion.

Miyazaki Moment

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Who loves Miyazaki?? I do!!

I’m trying to remember the first time I saw a Hayao Miyazaki film. I know my boys were pretty young – at tops 5 and 8 years old – based on my memory of where we lived while we watched them. I’m pretty sure we rented a DVD (or VHS, even??) from Vidiots, and that once we watched one, we had to watch EVERY Miyazaki movie that was available at that moment. Well, not Princess Mononoke… yet. A little graphic, that one.

Previous to our discovery of Miyazaki, we had explored everything Disney. The older boy liked to pause Bambi and draw from the stills. We also loved everything Japanese. Japan’s influence was there from the beginning for me because my dad had been stationed in Japan after WWII. My husband and I had both grown up collecting Japanese stickers (how I loved Hello Kitty!) and watching Speed Racer. As parents we had made sure our boys were exposed to everything from the wonders of eel sushi in Little Tokyo to Giant Robot on Sawtelle.

Back to Miyazaki… We started with Panda! Go, Panda! (screenplay by Miyazaki), The Cat Returns (executive producer), and Porco Rosso (director and story). Next, I think we got into Kiki’s Delivery Service (director, producer, writer) and Castle in the Sky (writer and director). We didn’t have access to any more films that we knew of until years later with the American releases of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (my favorite film, period!), and Howl’s Moving Castle.

One of Howl's incarnations with Sophie, as her curse wears off.

One of Howl’s incarnations with Sophie, as her curse wears off.

I could go on FOREVER about my favorite Miyazaki characters, but this Clothes Story is about Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle who I wear so proudly on my shirt above. I’ve read on the internets that many a young girl has fallen in love with the Howl of the novel, Howl’s Moving Castle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true about the movie character. I love this writer’s read of the movie’s metaphors, especially of seeing the moving castle as representing Howl, himself with it’s many faces, baggage, and stealing away to undisclosed locations. I have a similar character in the graphic novel I am working on. Who doesn’t love a complex, dark, love interest who hides his heart behind a shallow-seeming front? They are irresistible – especially when he is a ridiculously handsome wizard with at least three different names, secretly doing good deeds and secretly falling in love with his 90 year old cleaning lady! (Ooh! Another similarity to my project!) I love Howl because he illustrates that our higher self is always within reach, and sometimes it is witnessing another’s acts of love – in this case, Sophie’s –  to move us toward embracing that higher self.

Oh, and Morrissey, “A Heart’s a Heavy Burden” NEEDS to be the title of your next album. Hello, Morrissey? Can you hear me??

T shirt by Hot Topic. Jeans by Joe’s. Similar earrings on Etsy, here and here. Brooch is vintage. Mine are from Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite. Denim trench is  vintage. Similar, here.

Photos by Evan Hartzell.

 

Sade in my Day

  

        So, like I said in my last post, I’ve been space clearing. I don’t mean just going through a pile of papers or one box of photos or a closet. This is a whole house. It’s all going down at my childhood home where I grew up – the only house I grew up in, the house with an attic, the house with a closet under the stairs, that once had whole bedrooms devoted to storage, with endless forgotten kitchen cabinets and the house with a deck full of tarp covered boxes.

Although it is emotionally exhausting going through your whole life history, there is a ton of benefits. For example, revisiting different chapters of your own style through photographs, letters, sketches, music and maybe even a few articles of clothing can teach us a lot about ourselves. One such chapter I revisited with enthusiasm was the Sade chapter.

In terms of music appreciation, there is no Sade chapter. She has been my favorite vocalist since I discovered her in the 80’s. With no other artist would I read every word of every song she wrote before putting the new vinyl on the turntable for the first time. Her lyrics are just as important to me as her delivery, her vocal sound, and the band’s musical collaboration with her. In 1987, as I completed my Tess chapter over the summer, I entered college ready to embrace the Sade chapter of style.

While the Tess chapter was a country bath full of lavender flowers that washed away all of the glitz of eighties blue eyeshadow and Wham U.K. day glow, the Sade chapter was about growing up into an artist with classic and sophisticated style that was at the same time European and embraced diversity. Sade represented a simplicity that spoke of strength and individuality. I felt like I had a lot in common with her at the time. She was born in Nigeria, grew up in England, went to art school where she studied fashion, and afterwards when she helped out some friends who needed backup vocals, found her love of writing songs. I also felt like I was bicultural growing up in Southern California with a firm grounding in all things Mexican. I got into fashion school, made a detour to an art major, where I also “helped out” some friends who needed vocals for their electronic music class. Lyrics also came to be one of my favorite parts of the music process as well.

My Sade chapter of style really took off when I decided to be her for Halloween in 1987. Of course, I doubt anyone knew who I was channeling at the time. I continued with this inspiration on and off for at least a year. Hair pulled back, red lipstick, gold hooped earrings, with a lot of denim, black and white. At one point, I even found it necessary to invest in a black bolero hat. The best word to describe what I thought of her style at that time would have to be “cool”. Just like her approach to creating and her approach to life, her style expressed integrity, brevity, a sense of being comfortable in her own skin. For a woman of color who was expanding her “languages”, it was a whole collection of qualities that could help me make this transition from girlhood to adulthood.

Pulling a black dress from the way back of my closet, which I wouldn’t normally wear these days, as I am so addicted to color, I paired it with a white shirt that was a recent thrift store find. Black and white? What was I doing? So unlike me these days. And then it hit me. The Sade style chapter was making an appearance – a result of all this unearthing of the past. The gold hoop earrings are updated. One side of my head is now pretty short as it’s pulled back. Red lipstick? That hasn’t gone anywhere. Some things just stick.

I like the idea that time is a circle. My synesthesia lets me see this moment as a spinning wheel, each spoke in the wheel a different moment – past, present, with inklings of the future. As they spin together, they become a beautiful blur, the miracle of our evolution.

Dress by Patagonia, shirt by American Eagle (boyfriend fit) – thrift store find, shoes by Dansko, earrings by Mingle, necklace by Evan Hartzell. All photos of outfit by Evan Hartzell.

Some of my favorite Sade style moments.

Some of my favorite Sade style moments.

How to Make and Use Fashion Spirit Cards

      

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The card I chose with what was written on the back.

The card I chose with what was written on the back.

My FSC's.

My FSC’s.

Okay, I’m telling you what to do again. But, why should you have to suffer if I’ve learned something that can help you? Oh, the reasoning of a Leo!

Three words:  Fashion. Spirit. Cards.

Now, I’ve done my homework, and all the fashion tarot  or fashion oracle cards I am seeing out there function as traditional tarot cards with a fashion theme. My version – which I am calling spirit cards actually tell you what to wear.

We need this. Obviously. I mean, if someone like me who spends an unusual amount of time looking at and thinking about style, has moments where I don’t know what to wear, just think about what it’s like for people who don’t. You know who you are, surgeons, administrators, people with three jobs, and parents of more than two children!

And the best part? You can easily use things you have lying around to make your own! Now, I’m going to explain how to make and use your own cards, using my three outfits above as examples. These were all based on the Georgia Okeeffe art card I drew one particular day.

How to Make and Use Your Own Fashion Spirit Deck of Cards

  1.  Make/Select Your Images  My FSC’s were put together by grabbing a bunch of my favorite postcards I had stacked near my closet. Some were sent to me, others I collected. You can do the same, or you can collect a bunch of images from old calendars, magazines, or print them off Pinterest. The point is that your cards have variety. For example, they can be very literal and represent sporty you, bohemian you, classic you, etc. or you can choose images like your favorite artworks or landscape photos that leave it more open to how you want to interpret the card. I prefer this last idea because I love the freedom and possibilities inherent in interpretation.  Try to have a selection of at least ten cards.
  2. Will This Card Inspire Your Day or Your Whole Week?  Good question, right? I tried fashion spirit cards on a day when I needed to pack a few days worth of outfits. So, you can use it for a day or a week or it can be a good tool when you are packing for a trip and want all the outfits to kind of go together or at least share accessories with each other.
  3. Draw a Card  Without looking, take a deep breath, and really concentrate on using your indigo chakra – yes, I said chakra. Ask yourself a question such as “Who am I on this day?” or “What do I need today?” or “What message do I want to put out there today?” It’s up to you. Clothing choice is totally spiritual. Don’t disagree; just go with it for now. Look at your card, accept it, have fun with it. If you are looking for direction in your wardrobe, now you have it.
  4. What Qualities Does that Card Represent for You?  I chose a Georgia O’keeffe card from, like I said, a stack of my favorite postcards. If your cards include more open-ended images like this, think about what the image you chose represents for you. For me, Georgia represents elegance, determination, independence, earthiness, and a connection between sight and sound. Images abound of Georgia in the 30’s through the mid 80’s and she is always dressed in a way that exudes confidence, strength, and femininity at the same time. With the Victorian like lace top I was trying to hark back to her early days where she had to assert her own voice in a culture that was not used to the idea of a happening female artist. I can imagine her taking a feminine top like that and doing something unexpected with it, like pairing it with dark jeans and silver manly shoes.
  5. Does this Card Inspire a Color Palette? If you are a color obsessed person like me, then let color by your guide. With the last outfit, the warm hues of the southwest landscape where Georgia spent most of her life definitely dictated which shirt I chose, whereas the black and white dress reminded me of her days in NYC where she starred in Steiglitz’ black and white photography. So, you might take direct inspiration by looking at the colors on the card or go deeper by making other associations. Lastly, remember that every color palette expresses emotion. Maybe the emotion you are expressing is how you feel or maybe it is how you want to feel.
  6. Power/Capabilites Are we talking Pokemon cards now? Not quite, but zero in on what you are capable of in an outfit inspired by this card. With the bottom outfit, I am definitely capable of hiking that gorgeous desert landscape with ease. Long sleeve shirts protect my arms from the sun. On the other hand, in the top outfit, I wear a dress in which I can conquer any art opening in New York City with charisma and grace.
  7. Look for Shapes In 2000, Molly Bang came out with a book called, Picture This: How Pictures Work. My children’s very artistic kindergarten teacher used this book to teach children about the power of shapes and colors in telling a story. Take a moment to study the card you drew and see how the shapes might dictate your outfit. Jagged lines in a print or pointy lapels in a jacket might express precision. Soft shapes might express dreaminess. See how fun this can be?

And with bringing it back to FUN, I remind you to not take yourself and your outfit too seriously. Try something new, experiment, think playfulness. If you are not in a position where you feel like you can take big risks with your outfit, start by taking small ones, or take them on the weekend. If you do try this, be sure to share in the comments. We’d all love to hear how it went for you. It would be so… encouraging.

Again, try something new… Fashion Spirit Cards!

Top outfit: Boots by Teva, dress by Hale Bob – similar here, rebozo worn as scarf from La Tienda at the Mexican Museum, San Francisco – similar here jacket is thrift store find, necklace from Taxco – similar here, Mexico, bag by Escama Studio.

Second from top outfit:  lace top by Marc for Marc Jacobs, jeans by Levi’s, shoes are thrift store find.

Bottom outfit:  Shirt by Patagonia, tank by American Apparel, jeans by Levi’s, jewelry vintage.

Top two outfits photographed by Evan Hartzell. Bottom outfit photographed by Aristotle Hartzell

The Ghost Daughter 

Photo by Aristotle

Photo by Aristotle

Mauricio Navarro abstract

Mauricio Navarro, untitled, acrylic & resin on canvas, 30″ x 24″

Quick post here… I had a couple of “serious” posts I was working on that I just stuck in the trash. (It wasn’t lack of commitment. I just didn’t really have any good outfit photos!)  Instead, well, I just finished The Ghost Daughter last night, and I am in the glow of it’s awesome ending. One of my favorite people in the world, Maureen O’Leary wrote this glorious work of fiction. Yesterday, I also saw the work of a promising, emerging artist, Mauricio Navarro. I must write about both of them!

But where did the outfit come from? How is it related? As Roy Batty says, “Questions…” My main question is “Do I love something because it is just inherently great or because it reminds me of some personal memory?” Of course, I am conflicted on this answer. I want so badly to say, “Both!”

The Ghost Daughter opens with Mother Nature unleashing her power on a unique and storybook, central Californian town. This fictional earthquake was based on one in 1989 I experienced as “part of” my college education, we might say. The author, my good friend and housemate at the time had to kick her way out from underneath an oak desk at her downtown Santa Cruz place of employment. I think she knew it was an earthquake. On the other hand, I was luckily, sitting in a little field of cabbage painting a watercolor as part of an outdoor landscape painting class. I watched the redwoods “jumping” up and down. I stood up and hopped around, thinking the ground was going to open up any second. It was a long 15 seconds. Still, I didn’t think it was an earthquake. I thought it was the apocalypse – mostly because of what the grand, old trees were doing. And even now, I remember exactly what I was wearing. Black bolero hat on my long dark brown hair, white t shirt, red plaid above the knee prairie skirt, and cowboy boots – perfect outfit for an earthquake in that setting, I think.

Maureen wrote a novel I will definitely read again. It’s one of those books. I don’t think it is just because of the familiar subject matter – or even just because it addresses themes that I’ve been interested in as of late. Maureen’s descriptions capture my imagination. They make me smile, and sometimes they make me squirm. She paints with her words. It’s not just colors and patterns, though. She addresses all of the senses. Clothes have scents that tell so much more about where the character has been. Boots make sounds that express confidence. Maureen, you had me at the outfit descriptions. If you want a teaser (or inspiration for that matter), look at her Pinterest board!

So, back to my outfit above. This is personal, these outfits of The Ghost Daughter, I admit. Back in college I was trying to figure out who the grown up Laura was, and of course, because it was me, I would do it through outfits. Some of the young women who attended UC Santa Cruz at that time (1989) had style similar to Angel, one of The Ghost Daughter‘s main characters. First of all, natural, even wild hair was essential. There was no style ironing to be seen. There was white eyelet like you might see under a 1900 buttoned up dress. There were a lot of crochet fitted tops. Prairie skirts. Oh, the prairie skirts. Cowboy boots, of course. Jeans had to be railroad worker jeans, all worn and distressed. This was one of the looks I experimented with at that time. On other days, I might be 40’s vintage, grunge lover, or sporty girl borrowing from her boyfriend’s closet, but the cowgirl/prairie girl look was one of my favorites. So romantic and strong, this style evoked a love of poetry and the ability to mountain bike for miles over hilly terrain.

So, on this day I was almost finished with The Ghost Daughter, and I was accepting my love for this character, Angel – through my outfit. She reads like a real person I played at being back in those days. It was a revelation to realize that when I imagine my “higher self”, she dresses like Angel. I celebrated all those qualities I love about her as I wore this outfit all day long on my many adventures. Thank you, Maureen for reconnecting me with them.

Okay, and also on that same day I was picking up the older boy from his haircut appointment at Don’s Cutting Edge, and gosh darn it, but if one of the paintings hanging in the current exhibition didn’t just go so perfectly with my skirt! And it reminds me of Big Sur’s Gallery at Ventana – Ooh! And Big Sur plays a role in Ghost Daughter as well! The painting is by hair stylist and artist, Mauricio Navarro. From Mexico City originally, Mauricio grew up inspired by the colors and energy of the diverse metropolis. Now, his paintings, both representational and abstract, express both the city and the quiet moments in nature that Mauricio loves about living on the coast of California.  If you are local to Los Angeles, check out Mauricio’s current showing of his work up through August. You might end up with a ventana to another world on your wall, or at the very least, an new update to your hair.

Hat by Silver Wave, skirt by Everest Handcrafts, top vintage, boots by Hanna Anderson, necklace homemade, Will bag – hand painted and additional silkscreening by me!