Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Who's that Girl? - Vinny Vandal

Age: 27
Ethnicity: Puerto Rican
Currently live: Las Vegas
Day job (what pays the bills): Executive Buyer for Pinup Girl Clothing.
Hobbies/Aspirations: To be a successful business woman and designer. 
Education/Study: Fashion Design

What was growing up like for you? 

Growing up was tough most of the time. I was different, I had no friends, and was surrounded by a lot of negativity. I lived in a bad neighborhood, went to a terrible public school, and was exposed to a lot of things a normal child shouldn't be exposed to. My mother did the best she could to protect me from the world and to keep me as happy as possible but its not easy to shield your kid from much these days. Looking back, the things I experienced and saw really broke me in, made me more aware, strong, and ambitious. Ambition is what got me out of that neighborhood. Strength is what gave me hope for a better life. Now, here I am.

Do you see yourself as a Model?
 I do not see myself as a model. The title doesn't mean that much to me, you know? I just love taking photos so I am able to be creative with my looks. Its more of a hobby for me than anything. Just something fun I like to do.

When did you become involved in modeling and what do you love about it? 

I became involved when I first started my blog in 2008. That's when the inquiries started rolling in and I thought "Why not?". I did street-wear a lot at first then I dabbled into pinup modeling. Now I do a little bit of both.

When did you start your blog Vintage Vandalizm and what was the aim initially? 

I originally started blogging in 2000 on Aol, then Zanga, then Blogspot, until I decided to take Vintage Vandalizm to the next level on Wordpress. Ive been with Wordpress for 7 years strong now. My aim was to "inspire by being". i wanted to have a blog that was personal, unbiased, and creative with fashion. I wanted it to be a place people could visit when they needed inspiration or a boost to be more of themselves in a world where we are constantly told to live up to unrealistic expectations. I want to empower with my writing and style and hope that I can turn my website into a magazine one day.

How has the experience of blogging brought positive experiences in to your life and what are some of your highlight moments? 

Ah, where do I begin? It has brought me opportunities I never thought were possible through the platform of blogging. I have landed great jobs like my current buyer position with Pinup Girl Clothing, I have been to amazing places, met some amazing people, worked with incredible designers like Betsey Johnson and Bob Mackie, collaborated/connected with hundreds of amazing brands, and modeled in fashion shows. Most importantly, Ive been able to connect to people all over the world who understand me and embrace who I am. Ive been able to help them in so many ways and that, is a blessing within itself.

You are very much a modern retro glamour gal of sorts. What is it you love about vintage pinup style glamour and styling?

 I love vintage pinup style because its extremely glamorous. You can't say one bad thing about it. Women used to put real effort into their personal style. They weren't afraid to stand out, they weren't afraid to be creative. I love that. So many women would rather blend in than stand out these days. Women in the 50s were exhibitionists with no apology. I can relate.

What do you admire in other women? 

Strength. Its a shame women don't get enough credit for being strong. We have to deal with a lot of heavy shit on a daily basis and are often scolded for speaking out. Magazines pressure us to be a certain way and society pressures us to be a certain way. It can be paralyzing for many women and detrimental to their self esteem. You know the world is corrupt when a woman's worth is determined by her weight, whether her thighs touch, or how much she embraces her sexuality. We deal with harassment and discrimination on a daily basis from people and the media and we still go on. That's strength.

Who is Vinny Vandal? 

I like to describe myself as someone who has a lot of heart. I'm extremely creative, I fight for what I believe in, I'm really honest, and I am extremely compassionate. I'm definitely flawed lol, I'm really sensitive and sometimes a little pitbull in lipstick...but my intentions are always good.

Where do you draw inspiration from? 

I draw inspiration from everything. I love art, culture, and history so I mainly take inspiration from those outlets. I'm not moved by trends or what's "in" or "out" of fashion in Magazines. I like to do my own thing.

How would you describe your personal style? 

A little bit of everything. I'm not just retro though I identify with that style the most. Sometimes I like to dress goth, sometimes I like to do street-wear, sometimes I like to look like Cleopatra, and sometimes I like dressing retro. I also like mixing some styles together. You will always see some type of retro factor in any of my outfits, even when I am doing street-wear. That's the beauty of fashion and self expression, you can do whatever you want so long as you don't care what anyone thinks. That's mental freedom.

Are you a fashion brands girl or do you just wear what you like or whats comfortable?

 I wear what I like. I never look at labels when I shop. Too many people focus on labels and not enough people focus on quality and creativity. Lets be honest here, labels don't always mean FASHION. Ive seen designers create ugly shit and have seen people wear ugly shit just because it was by some renowned designer. Just because you are wearing a label does not make you fashionable by default. So many people do this and I often wonder how much money they spend on a name just because they think it heightens their value. It's completely biased and bogus to me.

What are your top 5 fashion staples you cannot live without? 

This is a hard question lol. I can't live without my purple leather jacket, my Kate Spade black purse, my sephora liquid lip color, Liquid eye liner, and Tarina Tarantino earrings (I have like 12 colors because I wear them every day). I'm pretty simple huh?

Favorite places to shop? 

Any and every thrift and vintage store. In New York, I used to LOVE Buffalo Exchange and Beacons Closet and in Las Vegas (I now live here) I love the Glam Factory and Buffalo Exchange here.

Who would you say is your style icon? 

This is probably going to seem snobbish but I don't have one. I'm really not moved by any particular person for fashion. My mother and aunt had a huge style impact on me growing up but that's about it.

Tales of love & lust? 

I fail in that department haha. I'd like to think I have it pretty good in other areas of my life, but romance isn't something I have gotten quite right yet so I spend most of my time being committed to myself. Who better than you right?

What is it that you love most about being a woman? 

I love it about 3 weeks out of the month haha. I love being able to play around with fashion and makeup. I think women are works of art. I like to look at myself as a blank canvas I can be creative with every day.

What do you find sexy and desirable about yourself and those around you?

 Hmm. I think confidence is sexy and I'm pretty confident. I also think humor is sexy because I don't like people who take themselves too seriously. I find vulnerability to be the most desirable trait, mainly because most people are forgetting how to be human. Being human is beautiful to me.

From the outset you come across as not only a gorgeous woman but a strong, smart and confident one. Would you say that's an accurate perception of you and what are your key tips for loving yourself and learning from yourself?

 Well, I am glad to hear that is a perception of me because I strive to be strong, smart, and confident every day. I have my moments of doubt and insecurities like everyone else. I can sit here and say I love myself every day, but some days I don't. The important thing is that I bounce back because I have this undefinable hope that is still their even when I feel extremely hopeless. You learn how to love yourself when you accept that you aren't perfect. You learn how to love yourself when someone treats you unfairly and you know you deserve better. It takes experience and resilience. Experience is the teacher, resilience is the strength.

When no one is around what is Vinny usually doing?

 If I am not working, I am probably playing video games. I like to get lost in surreal RPG games, as crazy as it sounds, it's my therapy. My imagination can run free.

Is there a public and private Vinny?

 Of course. I am pretty open about a lot on my website but only my closest friends and family get to see all of me. I choose what I put out into the world publicly, and I only choose to do so if it will help or inspire someone. However, I have to keep some things to myself. Mainly because sometimes you give and people want to know more. Sometimes it gets a little creepy.

What's your take on life and what advice would give any of your fans? 

My take on life is that it isn't easy, many of us don't have it all figured out, and many of us learn at different paces. Don't ever let society, the media, or people in your life bring you down or tell you how to live your life unless they really have your best interests in mind. We all have a purpose and that is our own to follow. Be resilient and be brave, take risks, and learn from them. There are no mistakes in life, just lessons.