Photo by Coco Haus Photography.
[Note that this article was initially posted on the blog section of the brand My Retro Closet on July 30 2016, following our collaboration]
1. You seem like such a busy lady with singing, acting & modelling careers under your belt, but which has been your favourite so far and where does your focus lie in the future?
That’s a tough question! I wish I didn’t have to choose because for me they are all part of the same mould. Growing up I wanted to live in Hollywood, be in movies and sing.
Many moons later, I live in Hollywood, I’ve produced my own Cabaret show “The Lady In Red” which I performed for years and I got to do a lot of extra work in movies and appear on the Fran Drescher Show.
My Cabaret show was great as it allowed me to have plenty of experience performing live. But I never got around going to the studio to record a full album. I did write a song for an award-winning documentary “Let Them Eat Cake” back in 2012.
And we got a lot of praise for it with Michael Bogomolny who co-wrote ” Patisserie. ”
I would love to do more soundtracks because they really allow you to work on other projects at the same time. But, ultimately I feel like I need to release a record that is 100 percent me. Music will always have my heart. This is where I am the most vulnerable and this is where I get to write songs about topics that are important to me.
To go back on the topic of modelling. I started working on building up my portfolio as a model by collaborating with different photographers. back when I was still living in Paris in 2008. At the time my shoots were more artistic and I worked with no brands at all. After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts of New York, I moved to L.A in 2010. I quickly became part of the pin-up scene and 4 years later I landed my first campaign job as a model for Pinup Girl Clothing. It was for their Couture for Every Body Campaign that has now become one of their house brands.
After doing that photo shoot, I decided to take charge and reach out to other brands and independent designers to help shape my own brand and get myself out there more. As much as I want to do more mainstream modelling jobs, they really don’t quite fit with the aesthetic that I see myself being a part of. I find that a lot of plus size clothing brands are not that exciting and frankly I don’t like the styling at all. Being considered a petite plus size model is tricky because some would say I’m not really plus size because not big enough and not really a real model either because I have huge boobs and curves for days. So mixing my pin-up aesthetic with more contemporary or non pin-up brands is a lot of fun.
This year I wanted to get into lingerie modelling and I booked my first lingerie campaign with Secrets in Lace, a lingerie brand that works with pin-up icons like Dita Von Teese and Gia Genevieve. I had a few meetings with Daniel Whitsett (CEO and Designer of SIL) who designed several samples to fit my voluptuous body and this was yet another dream come true.
Since then I shot another campaign for Zathiya Lingerie which will see in Elle Magazine and I began collaborating with more lingerie brands such as: Curvy Kate (UK), Curvy Couture Intimates (US), Hips and Curves (US), Cervin Paris (FR) and of course your brand My Retro Closet.
As far as short term projects, I am currently working on two editorials with my husband, Jason Kamimura and noted fashion photographer, Heidi Calvert. Planning on a trip to London this fall so that I can coordinate my own bookings for campaigns with both Lingerie and clothing brands. I’m not signed to an agency, as I am a freelancer so I like to go ahead and make stuff happen for myself. That’s the only way I know!
Reflecting on my achievements and goals, I realize that the past two years have been strictly dedicated to my modelling, as well as growing my own PR business that focuses on working with retro inspired brands ( I represent the UK based brand “The Pretty Dress Company”) . Instagram has become my own TV network. I really fell in love with digital marketing and the endless possibilities that one has, to create their own niche. I am not sure what the future holds for me, but I definitely want to get into Videography more. Now we have one full minute to share moving images on I.G and that’s dope!
I began sharing fun videos from my photo shoots on my Instagram last year and my followers loved it.
My goal this year is to definitely incorporate more music and create more video content for my Instagram page and beyond. It’s a need for me. As much as I love modelling, performing has always been a part of me. So mixing modelling, performing and video all together would make me so happy and fulfilled. I am extremely grateful for the trust that brands and up and coming designers have placed in me. This has led me to work with amazing people like you Abi and I hope that we will be able to collaborate on more projects together.
2. I’m in love with your sassy pinup girl style and it looks like you have the wardrobe of dreams! But what lead you to become interested in vintage inspired fashion?
Thank you so much! It always cracks me up that people see me as Sassy pinup girl. As far as my pin-up wardrobe, I really can’t complain, my closet is literally exploding at the moment! And I just re-organized my closet, so it’s finally getting there. As far as what led me to become interested in vintage inspired fashion, it has been quite a journey to be honest.
Fashion was always a part of me. Growing up I always dressed to the nine and drew inspiration from designers like Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint-Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier or Thierry Mugler. I doesn’t mean that I did a good job at emulating their style, but they were always on my mind. I love going to museums in general and I become super excited when it’s a fashion or jewelry exhibit. So far I got to see the designs of Armani, Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier and Cartier as part of various fashion exhibits that took place in Paris and New York. Sadly I missed the Yves Saint-Laurent exhibit that took place at Le Petit Palais in Paris years ago. I almost got on a plane to Paris just to see that one. But my mum did get to see it and she told me she was grateful I told her to go. I also travel a lot and I love buying books about fashion on TV shows or movies that have had an impact on me. “Sex in the City”, “Mad Men”, “Blade Runner”…. all have had such a tremendous impact on the way I see vintage inspired fashion. So as you can see fashion is something that takes an important place in my life. Not for the superficiality of it, but because it is a form of Art and it has helped create so many amazing characters.
I think it’s interesting how “The Lady In Red show” led me to fall in love with vintage fashion, as it was a tribute show to the 1920s up to the 1950s. I created that show because I was going through a bad breakup back in 2010 and I felt like I needed something in my life that would help me make that bridge between my Parisian upbringing and living in crazy La La Land. The more I looked for costumes for my show the more I fell in love with the retro lifestyle. And I’ve never been quite the same ever since. I think that my background in Opera and Theater also makes me look at clothing with different eyes. I still love rocking black leggings when I go workout but for the most part I dress pin-up 99 percent of the time.
3. Who are your beauty & style inspirations?
I’m not going to be very original but Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stéfani are my number one queens when it comes down to beauty and style inspiration. Growing up I listened to No Doubt a lot and I wore bindis like Gwen. I love her free spirit and the fact that she does what she does following her guts and no particular trend. Gwen is a rockstar and being myself an avid rock addict I relate to her style a lot. Dita has more a timeless look, but she also does edgy vintage to perfection. Dita has inspired me to pursue excellence when it comes down to styling and find looks that are unique to me.
Fun fact, Dita Von Teese follows me on Instagram. I met her several times at some of her events in L.A and we both had a booth at the Vintage Expo in Los Angeles. I respect both Dita and Gwen Stéfani for their ability to carve their own niche, the fact that they are strong women who are hard working and unique.
As far as beauty inspirations I love contemporary icons like Charlize Theron, Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek. But If I had to pick my all time favorite beauty icon that would be the great Sophia Loren. She has that joie de vivre and natural beauty that make me feel like I can relate to her. I’m European after all.
4. What are your favourite retro lingerie essentials?
My lingerie essentials would be:
- A black bullet bra for my ladies. Believe it or not if you already have large breasts it’s tough to find bullet bras. Luckily I had one made in my size by Secrets in Lace for my upcoming cover in Vintage Boudoir Magazine. Now I wear this bra all the time, underneath a blouse, a wiggle dress. It just goes with everything.
- A pair of high waist panties are a must! I just don’t feel the same if I’m not rocking them. I used to wear thongs as a teenager, but as I got older I got curvier. And now they are my go to panties!
- A set of nude underwear in my skin tone. It took me a while but I just found the perfect set that is offered in my size 34G. This is great because it will go underneath everything, as it is pretty much my exact skin tone!
- Robes for comfort! Yes please I love them! They are so easy to wear and take off. And I love the comfort when I chill at home or go to bed that’s what I wear. I currently wear the Veronica Robe in baby pink by My Retro Closet. And I cannot wait to add it in more colour ways. It’s comfortable, classic and timeless.
- A pair of FooFoo Slippers. I fell in love with their designs earlier this year and I hope that we get to work on more projects together. They are such a staple and I love how comfortable the heel is, yet extremely elegant!
Photo in the middle by Coco Haus Photography.
5. From Paris to LA! But which is your favourite city & why?
I love both Paris and LA. I’ve also lived in New York and Barcelona and I find that each city has something that I really love. LA has been amazing to me, as it has inspired me to become an entrepreneur, push myself even more and allowed me to create my own niche. When I moved from New York to Los Angeles, about 6 years ago I would never have thought I would become a pin-up and curve model. So the experience has been pretty incredible and I especially cherish the dialogue that I have with my followers on social media. After years of hustling and I’m still at it, I have a new appreciation for the expression “work your ass off to make your dreams come true” and what it entails.
Paris is my birthplace and where I got my values from. I will always be a Parisian at heart and I hope to be bi-coastal at some point because it’s part of having a balance. I love Paris for its easy access to culture, the fact that I can walk everywhere and of course the food. I miss eating crepes in Montparnasse sometimes! Growing up in Paris I had American dreams which I have now mostly fulfilled and that’s incredible to me.
So Paris will always have a special place in my heart, although L.A was the place that allowed me to really do things instead of dreaming about them.
6. Finally, I have to ask, what’s on your My Retro Closet wish list?
The Veronica Robe in every other colourway! It’s to die for. I love that the fabric is so fluid and soft. It makes me feel like an effortless Old-Hollywood starlet. The Joan bed jacket and The Dixie Open Babydoll in signature black are also on my wish list. I’m excited to see My Retro Closet grow and see what other designs you will come up with Abi! Everything is just so pretty and made with love.