‘It took me 28 years to love my skin, to understand my skin, and to consider this as my unique identity…’
Jasmin Rodriguez, editor-in-chief of Vintage Vandalizm wears her NYC roots and her family history on her stylish, vintage sleeves. As she puts it, ‘Everyone knows me as “Vintage Vandalizm” as everything I represent is a marriage of the timeless beauty of vintage and the gritty rawness of my vandalized city, NYC.’ The successful blogger, style icon and buyer for Pinup Girl Clothing dropped by to chat with Victory Lamour about vintage style, Puerto Rican pin-ups and her lifelong battle with keloid scars.
Your father was Brooklyn-based street car racer and your mother a break dancer from Queens. You often cite them as your earliest inspirations. Can you tell us a little about them?
My dad was a street racer turned legal racer because now he races his Chevy Nova 68′ in English Town. My dad is currently a mechanic who specializes in classic car restoration and the fact that he never gives up on his dreams is what keeps me aiming for mine. As for my mother, she was a dancing prancing stylish diva back in the 1980s and really popular amongst her peers. She doesn’t dance anymore but her work ethic, determination, and style is what inspired me the most. My mother was a huge influence on me growing up because she worked hard and always pushed me to use my infinite potential. Till this very day she empowers and reminds me that I serve a greater purpose in the world and I am slowly but surely on my way.
You are known for your unique, 50s and 80s inspired modern pin-up looks, with an edge. What advice do you have for people who love vintage and retro style but don’t know where to begin or how to make it their own?
The only advice I would give people who love retro style is to just have fun with it. Just because you love the 1950s doesn’t mean you have to just stick to vintage, doesn’t mean you have to style yourself just like everyone else, doesn’t mean your hair has to be styled 1950s or even your makeup for that matter. Incorporate bits and pieces of other things you like to make your style your own. I love many eras and I like to mix and match them and I could care less if it’s seen as unconventional or not 100% authentic to the 1950s era. Forget what the purists say, do what you feel is right.
As a buyer for Pinup Girl Clothing, what do you look for?
I look for versatile pieces both a retro gal and modern gal can wear. Anything can be dressed up or down depending on how you style it. I also love buying unique and bold pieces for the girl who isn’t afraid of standing out. (Note: The striped top and rocking’ red capri pants above are both Pinup Girl pieces.)
Vintage lovers often have to search hard to find non-white performers, style icons and pin-ups from the midcentury. I know you have worked hard to research Puerto Rican actresses or pinups from the ‘50s. Can you tell us about some of your favourites and why you searched them out?
Sadly their weren’t many Puerto Rican pinups in the spotlight during the 1950s. I like to think I am making up for all of them who may have been ignored because of racism, because it affected us latinos as well. To name a few who have had some luck breaking into the spotlight; Rita Moreno who was a famous actress and most recognized and praised for winning an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and the second Puerto rican to win an Oscar. Another was Marquita Rivera who was an actress/singer/dancer who was known as the “Queen of Conga”. And last but not least, Mapy Cortes (pictured below, with Victor Mature) who was also a dancer and actress who participated in many films during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.
You recently blogged about your war with keloid scars. You wrote: ‘Since I was 12 I have lived my life in fear of every cut, scratch, burn, or blemish hoping my wounds would heal correctly and not turn into some huge scar that doesn’t stop healing. What made it harder was not knowing anyone else who had this problem though there are more than 3 million cases a year.’ It must have been a big step to reveal your battle. What has your experience of keloid scars been like and what made you decide to speak out?
My battle with keloids has been a long and brutal road but feeling alone in my fight is what made me want to talk about it. I wanted other girls who dealt with skin issues to understand they weren’t alone. People talk about weight issues all the time and its a common conversation amongst women but I often think, what about those with skin issues? What about those of us with skin conditions we cannot control with something as simple as “pro-active”? I am not saying one is more important than the other, I am saying this needs to be discussed more.
Women are photoshopping their skin to make themselves seem flawless, myself included, and I thought, “How am I helping women by photoshopping away my keloids? How am I helping someone like myself who may be fighting the same battle?” Posting a photo of my bare back and talking about it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but it was necessary in winning this battle once and for all. Seeing all the beautiful responses and receiving messages from women who are dealing with acne and other skin issues made me realize that I had made a difference – a difference I wish someone else could have made for me as the 12 year old girl with giant scars all over her back.
It took me 28 years to love my skin, to understand my skin, and to consider this as my unique identity and the fact that I had inspired so many women to love their own skin made me realize that my keloids may have served a purpose.