Gracia Ventus of The Rosenrot on Unconventional Style
- July 1, 2014
- Written By Timothy Nguyen
Gracia Ventus is someone I look up to immensely. Based out of Singapore, The-Rosenrot is a blog that not only has amazing outfits but also a great resource for information. I first came across Rosie (a commonly used nickname which is a shortened version of Rosenrot) on Reddit. I was immediately fascinated by how unique her style was compared to anything I’ve seen. My first actual encounter with her was on a fashion IRC channel, where we got to know each other a little bit. Inspired by her writing, I knew I had to reach out and ask a few questions.
Rosie, you have a brilliant sense of fashion. What do you want to talk about? What do you want to communicate?
I never quite know how to react to a compliment, but thank you for your kind words nevertheless.
Having blogged for a few years now I think my focus has shifted towards highlighting unconventional forms of aesthetics. Our society as a whole tends to be driven towards achieving perfection and flawlessness. Therefore by the time I’ve seen the hundredth astonishingly gorgeous collection I get extremely bored. Mainstream fashion keeps churning out beautiful clothes that are so mediocre in ideas one can easily plaster one well-known designer’s name on another label’s collection. And there are enough bloggers out there singing their praises too so the last thing I’d like to do is to add more noise to the chatter.
Rehashed appropriation of subcultures without any new perspective is also getting quite stale (here’s looking at you Hedi Slimane). There are too many literal interpretations that barely scratch the surface. Surely there is more than one way to showcase one’s love for punk or rock and roll.
Neither do I want to talk about the latest trends. It actually gets pretty tiring to look out for every micro trend, make a collage to showcase its origins/how to incorporate them into your wardrobe and then write a half-baked excuse as to why people should be jumping on the latest bandwagon in hopes that readers will click on the affiliate links. Don’t get me wrong, that act on its own is not something to be demonised. It’s the frequency in which it is done that is appalling. It encourages rapid obsolescence, and god knows we have enough problems related to our rate of consumption as it is.What I do love to talk about is weird clothes, especially those that present a perspective to aesthetics and forms that I have never considered before. Works that set me thinking get me excited about fashion amidst the onslaught of tepid offerings from luxury houses and fast fashion. The best designers are those who have a strong voice and can materialise their ideas through high-quality garments. There are also plenty of young talents out there who deserve to be noticed, hence I’d like to bring light to their works through whatever capabilities that I have. Whether new or well-established, I tend to pick out designers whose creations stand outside the flow of trends without having to resort to kitsch or gimmicks. At the end of the day I would just like to point out that there is a diverse approach to fashion and beauty, not just the narrowly-defined airbrushed flawlessness we are constantly surrounded by.
Is there a defining moment in your life that started your journey into fashion?
There was no dramatic revelation for me. I certainly did not wake up one morning deciding to plunge into the world of fashion. My first step was no different from everyone else’s. I started consuming fashion like any other teenager, having picked up my first copy of Seventeen when I was fourteen. I thought I wanted to be a biologist, then I changed my mind and ended up in a three-year diploma course in Visual Communications. It was around that time I started thinking of fashion as a career. I graduated at the age of twenty hoping to be a fashion photographer but landed a job in a publishing company where I worked under two magazines titles. One was the local equivalent of Lucky Mag, the other was very much like GQ. As a stylist and writer I had to produce two fashion editorials and another two involving scantily-clad ladies while dishing out random styling advice to readers. During this time I wasn’t knowledgeable at all about fashion as an industry, I couldn’t even pronounce Lanvin or Loewe correctly. But my short tenure there deepened my appreciation for fashion and its affiliated industries as a system.Throughout my late teenage years I had been dabbling in vintage clothing, specifically the 80s and 90s because of the type of music I listened to. After my stint at the magazines, I moved to Melbourne for university where the vintage market is so robust I pursued vintage fashion indiscriminately. That was until I saw a pair of Stella Mccartney’s monstrous wedges worn by the amazing Kate Lanphear. I fell in love with them and won the same pair on Ebay. Owning them made me realise how designer fashion is a completely different ball game compared to mid-tier and mass market. From the unique idea to the quality of construction, I could see why *some* designer items are justifiable in terms of pricing. So down the rabbit hole I went and have never looked back since. However, the love for cutting-edge clothes didn’t surface until 2011 when I saw Rick Owens’s FW2008 collection for the first time. It opened my eyes to the notion that fashion goes beyond clothes. From there I discovered other influential designers like Ann Demeulemeester, Margiela and eventually the Japanese masters themselves.
Where do you see Fashion going? Your fashion?
In the last few years, fashion has become fashionable. People constantly lament on the death of fashion but it has only begun its cycle of popularity. For the first time in centuries fashion is growing to be a mainstream hobby for men. And if most men – like it or not they are still the main driver of consumption – can finally accept that fashion is not exclusively effeminate or gay, we should expect to see a much greater interest in fashion consumption on the whole. Men would fear less for their masculinity the next time they care about the colour of their shoes. Women whose opinions have been influenced by patriarchy might finally let go of their sexist view on fashion and embrace it as a non-gendered activity. We can already see the amount of peacock-ing that men are capable of in Pitti Uomo. Give it another few years and I suspect that more men would be ready to experiment beyond the cut of a suit or the width of a tie.
I don’t know where fashion will take me in the future. I used to laugh at Comme des Garçons. And look at me now – gushing about her collections every few posts and singing her praises wherever I go. I mean, I still criticise some of the things that Rei Kawakubo puts out, but at least I have a better understanding of where she’s coming from.
What is style to you?
This is a tough one. I think in my simplest definition, style is having a perspective. Obviously there are some styles I am partial to, but I’d like to think there’s no right and wrong point of view. If someone’s outfit raises my curiosity or pique my imagination WITHOUT looking like they’re trying too hard, then he or she would probably be stylish in my books.
Do you enjoy the more common less Avant Garde styles? Do you wear those styles?
I do believe that most of my clothing choices are simply the experimental forms of conventional garments. Take away the drama and you’ll see them as double rider perfecto, military coats or tailored blazers – garments which I am very fond of. I suppose they can fall under various subcultures and styles.
I like Nordic minimalism and I do incorporate that in my wardrobe quite often in terms of silhouettes and colours. When I have to run errands I may either wear my basic Rick Owens dresses or go full on grunge with a t-shirt, baggy Levi’s and my trusty Harley Davidson boots.
What is your goal with your site? Do you have a endgame planned for it?
When I started out I probably wanted to be famous, roll around in endless mounds of freebies, and hang out with fashion insiders.
I no longer have any goals for the site hence I run it on a post to post basis. It’s a platform for me to say and show what I think is interesting, that’s all.
How do you take your photos?
It’s a simple set up involving my beat-up 9 years old Nikon D40 mounted on a tripod that has a bent leg and a remote control
How did you come up with the name “The-Rosenrot”?
The Rose, or The Red Rose(s), or The Rose Red – depending on how you want to read into the German word. I wanted a title that does not have the word style or fashion in it, or any of their amalgamations, but is still able to represent beauty and aesthetics while conveying a sense of strength and formidability. Bear in mind this blog was created at the time when I was an outwardly angsty rocker chick. The angst never goes away but I have stopped doing literal portrayal of my musical taste in my dressing now. Also it partly serves as a homage to one of the best bands of all time – Rammstein.
Are you part of any online fashion communities?
I used to be extremely active on Style Zeitgeist (SZ) until some years ago, when many people I respected quit almost simultaneously, leaving behind a mostly unsavory pit on the plate. Having left SZ I found myself getting involved quite heavily with Reddit’s r/femalefashionadvice, before finding Harajuju and Care-Tags. Harajuju is a close knit community that leans towards Japanese street fashion. Even if I haven’t got a single clue about Lolita fashion, and dare I say neither do most of the male members, we are all rather open to the contrasting subcultures. Care-tags on the other hand is very dynamic. Despite its burgeoning size everyone remains open to most aesthetics, like having a giant colourful extended family. Plenty of craziness without the drama that plagues most fashion forums these days.
Have you and do you still get criticism for your style?
Oh yes of course I have, but the last one I remembered was doled out to me two years ago. I was criticized for doing a poor job in wearing Rick Owens. Granted I plunged straight into the runway pieces so I didn’t have the hair nor makeup styles that complemented the outrageous clothes. This was something I realized further down the line. For me Rick Owens is rather bipolar as a label. On one hand he produces basics that most people can carry off, and on the other his inter-galactic Amazonian spacesuits require the right kind of poise, attitude and demeanor so that the clothes will not consume the wearer. I’d like to think that even his basic biker jacket is an easy piece, but I have seen people getting swallowed up in the severe cut of the leather.
These days people just wonder how I can wear my layers in the tropics. My answer to that is homeostasis and air-conditioning.
What is your dream place to live if money were no object and why?
Right now I’d have to say central London. It’s the bubbling epicentre of young talents – every block of flats on the East End may be housing a raw talent or a burgeoning designer holed up in a messy studio, and there’s an endless supply of stores that sell all my favourite established labels (hello Dover Street Market). The vibe on the street is dynamic and adventurous because the kids and old folks alike dare to experiment. Aside from fashion, I live to eat. London – being a multi-cultural melting pot – is terribly good in providing all the different types of food anyone can think of. Should the weather turns for the worse you’ll be sure that someone will be chatting you up about it. If I do get tired of the hustle and bustle I can just hop on Ryanair and fly to Scotland to enjoy the majestic sight of the Edinburgh castle, which for some reason puts me at ease instantly.
I have noticed on your blog that you have been traveling a lot. Care to share where you have been and what you have been up to?
In April I flew to Europe for a month-long vacation. I have been flying to England occasionally in the last few years but this time I ventured into the continental side since I haven’t been there in over sixteen years. I’ve made friends with a few Europeans online and I thought it was the right time to finally meet them face to face, having known them for almost two years now. I hopped from London to Budapest (to meet an old friend), then onward to new adventures in Belgium and Rome before spending a serene week in Oslo.
Any final thoughts or words for the readers?
I love penguins.
Special thanks to Gracia for doing this interview and providing me with all the photos.
Make sure you stop by Rosie’s website The-Rosenrot.com, like her Facebook Page and follow her Twitter to get all the latest updates!
Rosie was also featured on Care-Tags Episode 13. Check out my friend’s show!
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