SweetLeigh

A Sustainable Life. Make Magick.


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Girl Gang: The Dinner Party

March is Women’s History month here in the U.S.  Women are spectacular and women’s day is every day in my world. Well some of my favorite women, the women of #UntamedStyle, have gotten together for March to celebrate Women with this month’s theme of Girl Gang. I was reminded of feminists icon, Judy Chicago’s feminist art installation, The Dinner Party which I had the chance to see when it was installed in the Brooklyn Museum. If I could gather any group of women together  for my Dream Dinner Party it would be much more intimate then over a 1,000 women represented in that work of art. Maybe 6 iconic living or dead women who fascinate me. I would love to pick their brains, share our experiences and lure them into becoming members of my girl gang.

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I’d take a page from Frida Kahlo’s cookbook and prepare a Zucchini Salad, have a wine seltzer and fresh fruit bar for improvised Sangria. I would invite everyone to  bring a dish of their creation, after all,  we’re all creatives here. We’d mill and settle as we please around a lovely outdoor area with candles and faerie lights for when the wind picked up. I imagine lots of foliage and lush flowers. More lanterns to move with us as our engrossing conversation leads us easily all night. 15150459048_13eacb5727_b

THE GUEST LIST Nona Faustine, a radiant artist whose projects rock my world! In her artist statement, Nona says that her “work starts where intersecting identities meet history. Through self-portraiture, I explore issues about the body within photography.” One of her most mesmerizing works is the “White Shoes” series. She tours locations of New York City’s 250-year history of hidden slavery through photographs. In these locations, she takes nude self-portraits in white shoes. Stunning, shocking, and moving are these intersections.  Nona Faustine currently has a GoFundMe along with amazing photographer Marilynn Nance to fund their travel to “Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Restaging Histories”, conference in Italy.  Yes Nona, so much yes.

“From Her Body Sprang Their Greatest Wealth” 2013 Site of Colonial Slave Market, Wall Street Copyright of Nona Faustine All Rights Reserved

Iris Apfel is a Style Genius, in her youth she worked for Women’s Wear Daily, became an interior designer and along with her husband ran a textile imports company. Let’s not even mention her huge collection of vintage costume jewelry. GaH! I would love to sit down with her and pick her brain for fashion and design stories for days.  At 93 years old her wit is as sharp as ever and she is about to finally be the star of a documentary of her life. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. But I’d rather sit and talk to the woman whose wardrobe was worthy of a museum exhibition, fabulous Iris.

Carol Rossetti,  you know. If you don’t know her by her name you know her by her deceptively simple and kind Women Project. The illustrator and designer created a series of biographical images of named women, some inspired by women she knew personally and many more as a result of fans contributing to her work.  These simple illustrations are lessons in identity politics. In her project statement she says “I feel very disturbed by the world’s attempts to control women’s bodies, behaviors, and identities; so I’ve started a series of illustrations in a friendly tone hoping to reach people about how absurd this really is.” Her illustrations of women with names and identities completely their own, and without apology have been translated into innumerable languages. Any woman can relate to this important body of work that will soon become a book. Carol inspires!

PicMonkey Collage

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Maya Angelou was lost to our physical world in May of 2014. She posthumously released a recording completed before her death of a collaborative hip hop album of her seminal work I know why the Caged Bird Sings. The album is called Caged Bird Songs and it is amazing. What is most interesting for me about the project is that through it I learned that Maya Angelou – before she was one of our most revered poets – was a musician, a calypso singer, and modern dancer. I have fallen in love with Maya all over again. I would love to spend some time with the divine Ms. Angelou. slide_351348_3790147_free

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski. There is little I can say that can begin to summarize the work of this Queer mixed Afro-Latina artist. Her artist statement speaks for itself. I can only offer the final paragraph of it for you to – like me – imagine how amazing her company might be. ” I call my works experiments because I don’t see them as conclusive or original.  I am acutely aware that whatever I make is in constant dialog with what has been made before, and see my practice as a continuation of variables that are in the persistent rotation to produce unending results.  I experiment so that I may allow myself the freedom to change my mind, to be pushed into new ways of thinking, making, and naming.  I am interested in using the future as a site of experimentation, as well as a space to gain freedom and visibility around the conversations of race, gender, sexuality, and class. I see this making a kind of sympathetic magic. Not because it calls into being that which is rendered, but because it calls into question that which has already been, and dreams up that which could be.” Sounds like magic to me.

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Storm Sayer by Amarylis DeJesus Moleski

Ruth Asawa was an incredible artist. She is known for both her large-scale public sculptures in San Francisco, co-founding the Alvarado Arts Workshop for young students developing a teaching method for arts and gardening used all over the bay area.  She died in 2013 after living with Lupus since 1984. My favorite work of hers are her wire sculptures, pictured below. I would love to engage with this forward thinker and creative mind.

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Portraits of Ruth Asawa with her work by Imogen Cunningham (Left) Her work as displayed on her living room (right)

And there you have an amazing Dinner Party my loves and secret Fantasy Girl Gang. I think I would call it a gathering of Unicorns.  Who would be on your Guest List? Check out some members of my real life Girl Gang, my #UntamedStyle Cohorts on their amazing blogs: Michelle, MargotVeronica

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Thrifted: Halloween!

 TwoFridas 3 jpgFrida Kahlo was an artist, a socialist, a wife, a lover, a survivor, and remarkable woman. I love her art, her individuality, her strength, her non-conformity and yes her amazing aesthetic. So for my Halloween Post I Shopped My Closet to pay homage to the image of this extraordinary woman. Frida!

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Frida Kahlo

When it comes to Frida Kahlo there are three recognizable elements to her image. 1) Although her closet included European style pieces she was known for wearing the traditional Tehuana style of dress. Her family’s roots are in the Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico – which is also reported to have been a matriarchal society! Yaaaaaaaaaaas people! 2) Her hair is often braided and decorated with fresh flowers or decorative headpieces. 3) Lastly she is known for her adornment, often wearing large beautiful pieces from her Pre-Colombian period jewelry collection.  Little did she know that her social, political and personal dress choices or timeless personal style would become iconic and forever associated with her.

Two Fridas...1) I am a textile queen and all about amazing fabrics and fit and I am quick to adjust a garment if it isn’t quite working. My idea of a shopping spree generally involves a thrift shop and my first Outfit post is no exception. It so happens I scored this amazing Irene Pulos dress that needed no adjustments, just some light mending. Made in Teqlaquaque, Mexico I found this number at Iguana Vintage. An epic find! Hand embroidered with lime green ribbon trailing from an appliqued and embroidered watermelon at the waist. Underneath I am wearing a beautiful Long Lace skirt over a crinoline. Both were also thrifted from another favorite spot!

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2) My hair is parted down the middle and I made two large braids on each side beginning from my temple and working my way up. Think of two braids facing upwards from my temples instead of hanging down. I then secured them together at the top of my head with an elastic hair band and tucked the ends of the braid under. I secured any loose locs with bobby pins. I removed two artificial flowers from their stems, glued a small rectangular piece of scrap fabric on the back of each flower, securing both ends to create a small loop. I used bobby pins to secure the flowers by the loop to the front of my hair. So simple really. Its my new favorite quick hair do (minus the flowers), and makes me feel quite fancy!
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3) Luckily I have a fun collection of jewelry I’ve collected over the years or found in thrift shops. I picked up the yellow leopard bangles about seven or eight years ago and hope to never be parted from them. About 10 years ago, I started to take my jewelry more seriously and started investing in pieces I loved vs. buying jewelry in bulk. Although I still pick up costume pieces, and thrift shop for jewelry occasionally, I have to LOVE it to take it home. I do keep a running list of incredible pieces that I wouldn’t mind having someday (check out my Fantasy Jewelry Pinterest board). I think Frida would have approved!

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Dress: Vintage, Thrifted
Lace Skirt: Thrifted
Crinolin: Thrifted
Necklace: Thrifted
Bangles: Similar & Similar
Rings: It’s been Far Too Long To Remember

Lastly, I just want to offer a quick reminder, Frida Kahlo is a person, whose signature style I am emulating here. A person, not a culture.  Please don’t forget to be respectful and remember that someone’s culture isn’t a costume. Here is a nice piece on how to avoid cultural appropriation year round. Besides, who would chose to infer a limited racist, cultural or nationalist stereotype when you could be a Sleestak. Have fun, be safe and of course be fabulous this Halloween!

For More Fabulous Halloween Inspo, check out My darling Untamed Style Sisters’ take on Halloween! over at Zaftig Times and Cid Style file! !

Michelle Link!Veronica


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Halloweenie!

20111031191458 (2)Hello My Name is Vanessa and I’m a Halloween Addict. I have always been a Halloween Addict. Even before Halloween. As a toddler I used to sit around in my mother’s long wigs and play with my Diana Ross doll, in essence, believing whole heartedly that I was, infact Diana Ross. Because I am a Believer. I will never stop believing that life is a musical, that there are indeed unicorns and that I can channel myself into anyone that I so desire.

VANESSA

My costuming came early. Thanks to my mindful mother and her sewing machine purchased over six months via lay away with money she had quietly put aside from her housewife’s allowance in the late 60s . I was always ready for a costume party or holiday event. Clearly mom is where I get my can do attitude. I didn’t have store bought clothes until I entered Junior High. Refashioning is in my genes!

Halloween is my annual chance to imagine the possibilites for myself. It is the ultimate exercise in my own creativity, and my joy of play shared by others! I love it so. A little roundup of my costuming life:

Lil Me costumes

My favorite by far of my childhood costumes was my Raggedy Andy for a Costumed Birthday party. Mom did good! I spent my post adolescent early 20s being a vulcan starfleet member year after year. The lovechild of Uhura and Spock! I later moved on to the classics. I’ve been Cleopatra on more than one occassion, and One of my alltime favorites is Frida Kahlo. I do LOVE her so…. Last year I found out many a straight man in my life loves a Unicorn and I particularly enjoyed my mermaid for a costume ball at the Egyptian theater. Another year brought the Bride of Frankenstein and my own version of Metropolis’ villainess meets Barbarella. It was the year of the Cinema….

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The sky is the limit darlings Think BIG. Be glorious. Stay Glamourous. XOXO

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