I spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet looking at clothes. Whether that’s a new cowboy fringed jacket someone is punting all the way from Texas via eBay or Tommy Ton’s coverage of Paris Fashion Week, I literally become obsessed with items of clothing. Along with the extreme emotional attachment to garments, my sartorial obsession now reaches further than fur lined bomber jackets and custom made boot chains (seriously) to the discerning individuals wearing them. Here are three of my favourites.
Miroslava Duma or Mira to her friends is one quarter of the glamorous troupe of women affectionately known as the ‘Russian Mafia’. Duma is the daughter of a Russian Senator and as well as a spell as Editor at the Russian Harper’s Bazaar she is also the founder of Buro 24/7, a website dedicated to fashion, art, architecture, cinema, music and style.
Having been photographed at every major fashion week around the world for the past few years I have seen her style evolve from cute fashion follower, to a bold taste maker. As well as being incredibly pretty and photogenic she also represents a cultural and democratic shift for young women in Russia. The Soviet Union was once a fashion-free zone; prior to the 1990s, there were no fashion boutiques and no fashion magazines. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 changed everything, as Duma recalls:
‘It was something in the air that you felt and realised: significant changes are coming. I grew up with the understanding that inexpensive and staid dress was the right choice for me. I didn’t know what it was to be ‘an instrument of propaganda’ but I remember thinking, ‘Why does it have to be like that?’ I was too young to know the political implications but it was something rebellious deep inside of me. The department stores had such limited stocks of clothes – I was a huge fan of the Hollywood golden age, so I got my fashion fix watching movies featuring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe.’
Duma publicly supports new Russian designers, many of whom are her friends, while also favouring Marni, Alexander Wang and Prouenza Schouler. Having being labelled as a Russian ‘it girl’ with all its vacuous connotations she manages to maintain a business, look wonderfully chic and claims that the most valuable time is spent with her husband and son, not as vacant as some might think.
It is also easy for people to detract from a person’s utter fabulousness because of how much money they have. Duma is undoubtedly a product of her wealthy background but I think it is far more productive to praise those who make the right choices when there is so much scope for price to overcome taste (see Kanye West’s ladies range). Duma favours style over frivolity and she nails it every time.
Finally, when asked what she does in her spare time she eschewed the usual fashion pack reply of Pilates or yoga and instead says she enjoys eating Tofifee candies. In my book those are the confectionary equivalent of crack and therefore not only is she an intelligent and wonderfully dressed woman but one with impeccable taste.
Candy is a 23 year old rapper and former stripper who also hosts a blog dedicated to photography. The reason I‘ve chosen Candy is because it would be so easy to draw assumptions about her as a person based on how she looks and what she raps about. She takes no prisoners when it comes to lyrics and the delivery of these. I challenge you to think about anything else when someone is swinging their 3 foot braids and telling you they are real…”just like her titties”
While many women and a lot of men feel offended by a 5ft 6 half naked women with a child on a lead and only a few metal plates covering her modesty I find her totally intriguing and quite enjoy the idea of her offending a lot of people.
Nothing she is doing is particularly new; she cites lil Kim as an influence, but she stands out against the backdrop of a music scene where producers and media alike would probably prefer it if you were a little sweeter and swore a bit less.
Candy is among a new wave of strong female artists who aren’t afraid to shock, do you remember the first time you heard Azealia Banks 212? And you’re thinking to yourself did she really just say that?
The reason Candy stands out is her incredibly bold style. Vice have branded it as a warrior- princess- stripper aesthetic. Most of the time she prefers wearing dollar bills to actual garments and she shuns big brand designers in favour of her friend Seth Pratt who custom makes most of her clothing.
As well as promoting herself as a strong woman she manages to embody the idea of female sexual freedom. She has said she wants to break down the barriers of how women are supposed to be sexually. In her lyrics she talks about reclaiming words like ‘slut’ which men and some women use to talk about each other in a derogatory fashion.
“It’s time to take the word back, slut is now a compliment, a sexy-ass female who runnin’ shit and confident”
Whether she will succeed in doing this, I’m not too sure but I applaud her efforts. While many would argue that her overtly sexual approach to music and life in general sets a bad example for younger kids, her songs are so littered with swear words she clearly isn’t aiming them at the younger market. I’m not naïve enough to believe that means younger people won’t still access her music but at least for once they will see a woman shaking her ass in the camera because she wants to, not because a rapper has given her a stack and told her to.
She herself says, “Well being a woman that likes women, I guess you could say I’ve derived inspiration and wanted to promote strong women my whole life. I’m all about women helping women.”
So maybe Candy is part of a new movement of metal clad feminists? Don’t agree? I dare you to tell her otherwise!
Not many 28 year olds own a company with $24 million net revenue and a three year growth rate of 200% but Amoruso isn’t any ordinary woman. As founder and CEO of online retailer ‘Nasty gal’ she currently heads of one Americas fastest growing online businesses which currently employs over 100 people and is getting bigger by the day.
Nasty Gal started out as a vintage shop on eBay, selling clothes and accessories. Amoruso would source clothing from flea markets and Salvation Army stores and then sell these on at a premium. She ran the whole operation herself from listing the items on the website to packing and sending. It was here that she developed her sense of what the young female shoppers desired and she quickly realised that most items rarely had a set value but instead their value depended on the current demand for the item. She called this ‘perceived value’ and this keen understanding of her market was to put her in good stead for future business ventures. She also happens to be a self- confessed clothing fanatic with the humour to match; she is noted as saying “if it looks like a vagina, it’s probably couture.”
Anyone who shops at Nasty Gal (and if you don’t I suggest you check it out) will see just how intelligent an entrepreneur she is. They don’t spend money on big budget advertising campaigns but instead they use social media platforms to directly speak to the customer buying their clothing. Amoruso defines her target customer as;
“In her late teens or early-mid-twenties and super body-confident. She knows how to dress for her shape and isn’t afraid of wearing makeup and short skirts and being sexy. She’s into fashion but her taste doesn’t just apply to what she wears: It applies to food, interior design, and travel. She wants to have awesome experiences and be the best-dressed girl around — without spending an arm and a leg.”
The brands name was inspired by the eponymous 1975 album of American rock and soul Betty Davis. On its website, the company calls Davis “the patron saint of bad-ass women…complete with lame platform thigh-high boots”.
Amoruso encapsulates everything it means to be a successful business woman in the 21st century. She runs a powerfully feminine organisation, a company run by women, for women, and her influence is ever growing.
2012 saw Nasty Gal release the first issue of what is planned to be a semiannual ‘lifestyle’ magazine titled Super Nasty, which will feature spreads on “fashion, music and culture,” and will be included free in customers’ orders. Amoruso is editor in chief.
Beyond that Amoruso is clear about where Nasty Gal is headed, and it looks like global domination. With a customer base of over 350,000, most of them outside of the U.S. her chances of success look favourable.
Coco Chanel once said, “in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” And so far Amoruso appears to be proving this on both counts.