Friday, 21 August 2009

Say hello to the delightful Lara

A couple of months ago I began following a lovely blog titled Her name was Lola and before long this site became a firm favorite. Reading this blog was like sharing morning tea with a good friend. Translation? Her name was Lola put me in a good mood and provided me with quality conversation. 
'And who is the author of Her name was Lola?' you might ask. It is none other than the radiant actress Lara Hillier.

Lara has grown up almost living and breathing theatre. Her performance in one recent stage production which required her to take on a multitude of roles was described by one critic, Alex Yuschik, as mesmerizing to watch on stage"... "delivered her lines with such raw emotion that the audience gasped"... "Her words reached the theater’s rafters, compelling and bewitching her listeners and rousing the crowd to an enthusiastic applause at the end of her performance".* 
If this is Lara now, just imagine what her future will bring. I suspect, with her talent, work ethics and positive life force Lara will continue to draw fans both on stage and on the blogging page.

When you first thought, "Right, I am going to start a blog", what was the driving force behind this decision?
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to study abroad in London, UK in the middle of my third year at Carnegie Mellon University, where I attended the School of Drama. I was all-at-once tremendously excited and tremendously anxious to be so far away from home, and entirely on my own, for the very first time. The blog began as a means of overseas communication, really. I discovered, through posting on Her name was Lola, I could keep my friends and family back home in-the-know about my various travels and adventures abroad.

Reading back through your blog I can see you are well travelled. Is there any city that is a particular favourite for you? If so, explain why.
Since seeing Paris for the first time, I must admit I’ve become somewhat of a Francophile.  It was dreadfully cold and rainy for the entirety of my stay, but it’s just the most extraordinarily romantic city in the world.  The architecture, the food, and the fashion!  Le sigh!  Everyone dresses their best in Paris.

I understand that as a child you came to acting in a round about way. First you were in a choir, which then led to an acting role. Tell me a bit more about this first experience.

For three years of my childhood, I was a part of a marvelous children's choir. At the end of each year, we performed in large concerts at Carnegie Music Hall, in Pittsburgh. It was an enormous deal for a ten year old. For one such concert, a song called for a small, comic role (the exasperated wife of a Revolutionary War-era soldier). At the audition, we stood singing the chorus over and over again; and as time went by, children were asked to be seated (due to lack of facial expression, lack of interest, etc.). Not me! I remember being so thrilled at the prospect of performing I hammed it up. Big time. And I got the part. I remember running offstage at the concert into my mother's arms, exclaiming, "I felt just like Carol Burnett!" And that was that.

I find that more funny, mad scenarios tend to take place backstage of theatre productions than compared to say working in an office. Tell us about one memorable moment that took place during one of your productions.
This past winter, I was performing in a production of Mary Zimmerman’s METAMORPHOSES at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. The play calls for an enormous, onstage pool (something like 4500 gallons of water) and my character must dive in at the end of an extremely traumatic scene. Backstage there were Boy’s and Girl’s “Hotboxes” to warm us up, make quick changes, and dry hair. I can’t tell you how many times I went running, water in my eyes, straight in to the Boy’s box. We played Gods and Goddesses onstage, but behind the scenes? It wasn’t pretty.

Who are your role models? Explain why you chose those people.
For one, my little sister. In her time on this planet (and on the soccer field) she has encountered more injury than most do in a lifetime; but she has a fierce spirit and the most extraordinary sense of humor. The ultimate spitfire, I will always admire her ability to pick herself up, brush herself off, and begin again.
I hold a deep admiration for Audrey Hepburn. With the utmost grace and beauty, she managed to utilize her movie star status to raise awareness and aid impoverished children all over the world, as a goodwill ambassador to UNICEF. She led, what I believe to be, a truly beautiful life. And my, but wasn’t she glamorous?

Name one thing that you would simply love to try, but just have not got around to it yet.
I would love to learn a language. After all those years of Spanish and Latin in school, I wasn’t committed, and nothing stuck. I adore listening to others speak French (again, with the Francophilia!) and I would truly love to learn.

What has been the best advice you’ve received in the acting profession?
The best advice? It’s a business.

Describe the tastiest breakfast you have ever had.
I had the most exquisite Eggs Benedict at The Café at the Frick (home to Henry Clay Frick, one of America's greatest industrialists). The Frick estate remains one of my favorite places to visit in all of Pittsburgh.

For more information about Lara visit the following online sites:

* Quotes from article A Splashing Success by Alex Yuschik.

Thank you Lara!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Enriching Designs by Vanessa

A short while ago whilst blog surfing I came across a gorgeous blog known as Designs by Vanessa. It was such a colourful and inspirational site that I immediately contacted the owner, Vanessa Coppola and asked to interview her. To which, Vanessa kindly agreed. 

Where did your creativity begin?
I come from a long line of creative people so I think it is just in my genes. Since I was little, my dad encouraged me to paint, sculpt, draw, etc. and I was never forced to color inside of the lines! My grandmother taught me how to sew, crochet and how to make something fabulous and new out of something ordinary and old.
Describe the sort of things that inspire your designs?
Well if you have seen my shop, you can probably tell that I have a thing for birds. I describe myself as a girly girl who still loves nature. So with that said, I’m inspired by all things frilly but can still appreciate my natural environment.

Which artists do you admire? Explain why.
I admire my dad because I can see first hand how his passion for art has enriched his life. He has had horrible back problems for the past 10 years and when he goes into his studio to create he is able to better manage his pain. At the moment he is into Tin Art and I’m trying to convince him to open an etsy shop…he could be the Tin Man!
Many artists have their own process or meditative approach to fleshing out their ideas and putting that to paper. How would you describe your process for getting into ‘the creative zone’?
For me, my creativity comes in waves. Once an idea pops in my head I feel like I have to create it at that moment and I have been known to stay up all night to finish a project. Sometimes I’ll go for a week at a time where I don’t even enter my studio but that is what works for me.
As you see it, please describe your design style:
Like I mentioned before, I would describe myself and my design style as a frilly girly girl who still appreciated nature.
Looking at your shop I notice that the current focus of your paper goods is both birds and cupcakes. Where did your love of birds and cupcakes come from?
I’ve had a love for all things birdie ever since I was little and our home is decorated around birds. I think I started using them in my designs when I was inspired by a family of birds nesting right outside of our front door. Cupcakes are a new obsession after tasting Sprinkles cupcakes for the first time!

What other themes have you played with in past designs?
As far as my jewelry goes, I’ve worked with all types of beads/findings but decided to really focus on what I love…the classic pearl. My most recent line of cards to sell out were called Tree Hugger Cards.
Which tools and materials do you like best when crafting?
I love pearls, fabric and paper of course.

Now for the wacky question! Describe the tastiest breakfast you have ever eaten:
I’m a huge fan of strawberry crepes!

Visit Vanessa's online sites:

Also if you happen to be living in Phoenix, Arizona, the store Bunky Boutique stocks Vanessa's designs. For more information visit the Bunky Boutique website.

Thank you Vanessa, for participating in this interview.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Nicacelly: The First Interview

Postscript: The below article was originally loaded to Emjie Treasures 26th July 2008.

Recently, I contacted one of my favorite fashion designers – Nicole Markoff, the genius behind the Nicacelly fashion label. I first heard of Nicacelly late 2007 when I watched a video interview on The Fempire and was instantly hooked by Nicole's funky take on clothing - it was both peasant and modern. As a result I can proudly say that I have my very own Nicacelly hoodie - which always causes a sensation whenever I wear it.

For those new to the label Nicacelly, you will find Nicole’s stance on the fashion industry to be both refreshing and delightful. It has been one of Nicole’s aims to avoid sweatshop production and to quote her “to not make redundant crap”. Following is an interview of Nicole “Nicacelly” Markoff. Enjoy the read and check out the links at the bottom…

What is the origin of the label name Nicacelly?

The name Nicacelly started as a nickname for me by a close friend, but if divided up, it is my name combined with a great aunt's name that passed in the Holocaust. So I kept it for those two reasons, as well as the fact that it sounds kind of Italian, which people tend to gravitate towards, and has a tip-of-your-tongue kind of ring (NIK-A-SElly).

What is the Nicacelly motto?
Remixed Fits and Fiber. I started out and will eventually return to making fiber into art, and clothing is the way to manifest those ideologies into products and bring the art into more of a public realm. I come from a youth culture (ages ago, now!) that reinterprets their world through taking bits of history and combining them with bits of the future, and v/v, hence the remix element.

Do you have a favourite piece in your current collection? If so please describe it.
I started making jackets last season, and I can't help but be proud of the Pon jacket- it's my first collaborative endeavor with a small factory in northern Thailand, named after the woman who works with me over there, P'Pon. Each piece is handscreened, pockets have sweet lining, there is a picture lining in the back yoke, and it comes belted in leather with vintage box closures. Very eclectic and delicious, and the fit is sweet. For fall, I'm doing a reversable wrap blazer, which will feature handwoven fabrics from Issan province, naturally dyed.

What piece in your wardrobe do you practically live in?
Aside from my soon-reverb jackets, I am ashamed and proud to say that I live in American Apparel and vintage when I'm not wearing my own clothes. I rocked the boo neckline from my collection for a long time, and now since I'm working a lot and doing a lot of yoga, I feel like the most conscious choices that I can make are those that are second hand or domestically made or sweatshop-free. So I do that as much as possible.

The world is changing with consumers wanting to appear much more individual and unique – whether it be by wearing homemade designs, buying indie or vintage clothes. Do you see this trend continuing to grow in the future?
I think that the indi aesthetic has a few more years in terms of trend. After that, people will be looking for more tailored looks and quality. I believe the mainstream has gotten incredibly casual, especially with the crazy interest in streetwear over the last few seasons. Moving forward, I think folks will desire to "find" designers as well as higher quality looks that are more product and less hype. I think I'm perched in there somewhere.

For better or for worse what directions do you see the fashion world taking?
I don't really participate in the "fashion" world too much these days, but I think people are going to have to pair down their wardrobes as the economy and world changes. I think the green explosion is noble, and I look forward to see who stays afloat amidst it all and in its wake.

In your opinion what is the worst clothing trend you have seen worn on the streets in the past year?
I'm not a huge fan of men in tight pants, but for some reason it compels me to take a closer look.

Out of all the places you have ever traveled to around the world, what has been your most favorite destination? Why?
I'd have to say that still, to this day northern California really does it for me. For a long time I was jumping from here to there, all around, and attempting to live abroad. However, I've finally become comfortable in the place where I live and have made home. Knowing what the previous night's sky will yield the next day, and knowing which corner will bring the greatest gust of wind entices me to continue traveling local.

In your design work, describe the evolution that you have seen so far.
Sometimes when you are in it, you can't see it from above. I've had a chance to look from above recently, and I think that when I started, I jammed as many images and flowers into one piece as I could muster. Now my tastes are simpler, and I think that most of my time will soon be spent focusing on fit and pattern, mixing the simple canvases into more evolved ones, and then hunting down the best and rarest fabrics that I can.

When planning a new range, what do you watch/read/listen to, to stimulate the creative juices in your mind?
It's always music and a reflection of what is going on in my internal world. Nicacelly has always been a dialogue in music and image, urbanity and country (as they are in most cases reliant upon each other for survival though they might deny that), hence the urban cottage aesthetic. I'm still negotiating that balance, and where it was blatantly obvious before in the final product, now it is more subtle and illustrates its meaning in the method. I try not to look too much at magazines, but rather what needs to be filled in terms of necessity (a warm hoodie that doesn't look like a hoodie, hence the bishop wrap hoodie from last season and we are carrying over to this one), and what meanings need to come to the fore (handmade fabrics, a true return to green life). So I just observe women, men, and their pets, in the park, in the woods, in the club, and try to create a pragmatic web.

Describe the tastiest breakfast you have ever had.
Now you are talking my freakin' language! Here's my favorite home cooked brekkie: two sunny side ups on rye toast with herbs de provence and muenster cheese, roasted tomatoes with garlic and basil, vegetable hash (mushrooms, garlic, peppers, etc.), and chicken mango sausage. Sided with a huge glass of mate and another equally huge glass of fresh juice (canteloupe-plum-grapefruit), followed by a spliff and nap. that is true luxury.

What is the one question you have never been asked in an interview that you wish someone would ask?
You just did it- the breakfast question.

Sites that you can find Nicacelly at are as follows:
The Giant Peach
Nicacelly Blogspot

Nicacelly is also associated with such groups as:
Miss Crew
The Fempire
While you are at it take a peek at an excellent video interview of Nicole Markoff hosted by The Fempire.