An afternoon would be well spent exploring Portland fashion photographer Lavenda Memory’s online content: a gorgeous blog packed with original content illustrating her personal style and life (including saucy quips and sweet shots of her daughter), a brand new YouTube channel and work by the photographer that plays on the edgy and the beautiful. Even better would be to put away the MacBook and spend an evening celebrating the official launch of her fashion blog with Lavenda herself. Tomorrow night at Union/Pine is your chance to do so.
While her blog exudes optimism, it’s not fluff. The attention to detail that seems to serve her so well in her work comes through in her personal style, which she described as a mix of understated and envelope pushing. Talking to Lavenda, you get the sense that her approach to just about everything in life is a healthy balance between fun and fierce intention.
C: I saw you mention your “uniform.” I love using that as shorthand to warn my friends that they’ll be seeing me in almost the same outfit as they saw me in yesterday. What does Lavenda’s uniform look like?
L: About every 3 months I’ll realize I was maybe leaning into a uniform a little too heavily and think: “Wow, I’ve been wearing that a lot.” Right now, I’m in boyfriend jeans. I’m ethnically Puerto Rican, so I like to add sexiness, like a crop top, especially with something overly androgynous like boyfriend jeans. I’m obsessed with looks that aren’t overly feminine, but it’s also fun to play with that. Always though, the default uniform is black from head to toe
C: Does your Puerto Rican ethnicity influence you at all in your style choices?
L: Not really culturally or stylistically. I’m from Texas originally…I grew up in Tex-Mex culture. My grandfather was a missionary in Mexico and my mom and aunties spoke Spanish fluently. There’s something very polished about Mexican culture [which I was influenced by]. I have a polished undertone to my style.
C: I read that your style inspiration is your mother in the ‘90’s. Tell me about that.
L: My mom was the eldest of 12 kids and they all grew up saying she was the most beautiful. She looked like the wonder woman actress with a beautiful, classic, fitted sense of style. She was attracted to crazy patterns like animal prints. I didn’t get comfortable with those until a few years ago.
C: Describe to me the thought behind Lavenda’s Closet.
L: I grew up in a small town in Oregon, where the dress code was Abercrombie and American Eagle. I felt marginalized and didn’t fit in. I was wearing heels and jeans before anyone else was and stood out. Fashion has always been incredibly important to me. Style blogging to me is like writing poetry. It is very intimate to share how I see myself.
C: What is your experience as a woman in the professional world?
L: It is insanely challenging to be a female business owner. I’m a fashion photographer, so I’m a woman in a field permeated by the male perspective. I shied away from expressing myself this way because I never wanted to be taken less seriously. I felt like I needed to establish myself first and let my work speak for itself.
C: You felt like you had to be careful so you wouldn’t be perceived wrong.
L: Yes. Men don’t worry about that. They just push straight forward, and don’t have as many roadblocks. We juggle much more. But I own my sexuality and I love that I’m a woman.
What’s interesting to me is the pushback I get more from women. Working in a small town like Portland, it is weird to see how women feel threatened when you are ambitious as a female.
C: Like some women have bought the myth that there’s only room for a few successful women?
L: Yeah, and to do this, you almost take on qualities that are socially thought of as male qualities.
C: Do you feel like you experience less sexism because you work in the creative field, as opposed to women working in more traditional jobs?
L: The benefits I experience are because I freelance in the creative field, not that I work in the creative field. If I don’t like things, I can change them. Once I had a male studio mate who tried to intimidate me…as a freelancer I had the power to say this isn’t a good fit for me. I can choose tone of relationship. For women working in a creative agency, there isn’t that freedom.
C: What are some of your favorite collaborations you’ve worked on?
L: I was the face for Solestruck NYC for a year. That was a blast. I recently did a collaboration with blogger Samantha Rosen. She came up and we spent a day taking her to my favorite places. It’s fun for me to work with other bloggers, getting their vibe and energy. I also recently did a giveaway with Bean Goods [with Claire Wolfson].
If you can’t wait until tomorrow for more Lavenda, head here to watch a video on her newly launched YouTube channel. The official launch party for Lavenda’s Closet (presented by Jillian Rabe) will feature live music by local artist Lina Lamont, a custom photobooth by Portland Closet Company, wine from Union Wine, custom cocktails from New Deal Distillery, desserts by Artisan Cake Company and a raffle with a basket full of goodies from Lavenda’s favorite stores.
Lavenda’s Closet Official Launch Party: Friday January 31, 2014. Doors at 7:00PM with toast and special announcements at 8:30PM. $5 or free with $10 raffle purchase. Union Pine at 525 SE Pine.
“Memory…is the diary we all carry with us.” -Oscar Wilde