V for VA$HTIE, Violette & Va Va Voom!
New York, 11/12/2009
I’ve been thinking for a while about expanding the topics of this little blog since I have been receiving a lot of mails and Facebook messages asking me for more content. After some consideration I decided to slowly expand the OUNI LIKES category. From now on, I will be posting from time to time additional Polaroid Portraits of People/Artists I love or admire or maybe just curious about. So when I was planning on visiting New York with my beloved partner in crime Jules, people quickly assumed I was going for the blog. Which was actually not the case. I was a New York virgin and I could not stand that thought any longer. I mean, nobody likes to be a virgin right?
But the longer I thought about it, the more I was triggered to come home with blog content. Now, you have to understand that New York is not my territory. And it’s not like I can walk into JAY-Z’s NY condominium and ask for a Polaroid right…? I figured it would be too hard to chase artists, there were no interesting concerts at the time so I decided to try to find some content for the OUNI LIKES category. First on my list was the pretty lady you can admire above: VASHTIE KOLA.
Some of you might know her, most of you probably not. Allow me to introduce:
VASHTIE KOLA aka ‘Downtown Sweetheart’ is a young entrepreneur and one of New York’s most beloved ‘IT-Girls.’ This girl is one hell of a busy (queen) bee. She is a video/commercial director and directed videos for artists like Solange Knowles, Kid Cudi, Faith Evans, Rihanna, Armand Van Helden and probably many more to come. With this video she got the world watching her from a little bit closer:
Vashtie started very recently her own fashion line called VIOLETTE , a brand she likes to describe as:
“If Louis Vuitton had a daughter living in the Lower East Side. She’d be rocking a cool t-shirt, kicks, and a great handbag”.
Check out this little lookbook video to get an idea about her line:
Last but not least she is a party co-host with Q-TIP for the notorious OPEN parties at SANTOS party house New York and got a huge success with her 1992 party concept she organized with her best friend Oscar. People like Jay-Z, Vincent Cassel, P. Diddy, Mos Def, The Cool Kids and many more are happy to RSVP when she throws a party! Vashtie is a very pretty lady so it’s not a surprise if I told you she models from time to time and when she got some time left on her hands, she dares to consult big companies like Universal and Def Jam.
My favorite Vashtie shots:
(By Kevin Amato)
For Nylon Magazine:
Now…enough with the name dropping let me explain how I got this pretty lady in front of my camera.
At first, I thought it was going to be very simple. It’s not like she is a huge international star? …right…? I contacted her through her MySpace page, explained my blog and waited it out. Not much later I got a positive reply telling me she was down for the idea but asking me to contact her manager. I decided to play by the rules and do exactly what she asked me to do. First mail: No Reply. After a second mail I finally got the feedback with standard questions:
– How many readers
– How many hits a day
– How many publications
Hmm… her management was obviously very careful with these sorts of demands…. Like you all know, I don’t really play that game, I just walk up to an artist, explain the blog + concept and get a personal agreement from the artists. Or not.
I’m not very familiar with the manager thing but I was fully aware of the fact that I could not pass the hierarchy of ‘THE MANAGEMENT’ and wrote a final email and responded to the questions. You have to understand that this is a little blog from Belgium of all places and for them I am a probably a total nobody. I left Belgium for New York with still no answer back. To my relief I finally got a positive mail after 2 days NY, confirming a meeting with VASHTIE in the following days to come.
On friday December 11th, It was on. After some back and forth mailing added with some Blackberry-ing we were standing on an East Village corner in the blistering New York cold waiting for Vashtie. After 5 very long minutes we noticed her and her manager ROB coming towards us. It was on! We kindly introduced ourself and thanked them for their time. Vashtie came straight from a 2 days photo shoot for the lookbook for Rachel Roy (Fashion designer and beloved wife of Damon Dash) and we realised the fact that it was a privilege that she took the effort of making some time in that busy schedule of hers for basically 2 nobodies. We noticed that there was no table free at the nearby coffee-house so Vashtie and Rob decided we could do the interview at her place. How crazy is that?? One day you are reading Vashtie’s blog, the next you are in her sofa right in front of her, ready for a nice and cosy Q&A!
So… I am very proud and happy to present my very first interview for you guys…
OUNI meets VASHTIE :
You are a Partyhost, a fashion designer, a director for both commercials/music videos, you consult major brands, you do Q&A’s for Supreme Magazine ànd you are a model. Did you believe that this was written in the stars for you when you were a 15 year old girl?
Yes. I hope this doesn’t sound snotty, but I always felt that these things would come into my life or at least being recognized for it. It might seem young or naive at the time, but I was definitely aiming for the stars.
Do you consider yourself mostly a director above anything?
Hmm… I see myself as an artist foremost but If I réally had to choose (which I would hate) I would chose being a director.
In 5 years from now, how would you like to see your fashion line evolving?
At the moment I am doing everything myself, from sales to prints to design. I’m taking it slowly to the next level to hopefully come out one day with a full cut & sew line. In time it would be nice to work with people in a way that I can delegate specific work, so I can focus more on the creative process. Violette is now sold in New York, Paris and Japan and I would like to see my line in more specific boutiques that offer an exclusive range of brands with that something extra. And who knows, maybe one day New York Fashion Week…?
If there would be a European actress/IT-Girl/singer wearing VIOLETTE, who would she be?
Hmm… That’s a good question…I think DAISY LOW would be the girl and MC Melodee from LA MELODIA.
Which video did you see recently and said to yourself : Damn! I wish I made that one or was creatively involved in.
Tough question….there are so many…but ….I definitely have to mention:
The Flashing Lights video from Kanye West directed by Spike Lee. It has such a cinematographic feel about it, and although it is just a snippet, you long to see more of it. Also, the way the woman is portrayed is very strong and not rude or offensive like many other cliché hip hop videos that show the thugs with girls popping bottles in the club.
I am crazy about the Bjork video ‘All is full Of Love’ (directed by Chris Cunningham). Unbelievable that this video is almost 10 years old, the special effects and creative idea of that video is almost timeless to me and watching the video makes my mouth water.
Your blog posts are about music videos, friends, food and give people a secret peephole into your life and your (work related) activities. Is there a downside to the blog you didn’t see coming?
My blog made me a popular figure in a way and the downside to that is when I post an opinion on my blog it sometimes creates a conflict because people don’t agree with some things and react heavily towards that opinion. People think they actually know me based on my blog posts and for that reason I feel the need to be less open and more carefull in what I post and try to leave more sensitive subjects ‘open’ for all opinions, asking my readers what théy think about it.
You’ve worked with several photographers by now, being a model for BBC in the past and more recently for Rachel Roy and NYLON magazine, any photographers on your list you would love to work with and how would you like to be portrayed by them?
I would love to work with Mike Schreiber, I recently met him and we will be working together very soon, so I’m excited for that.
I am crazy about the work of Mert Alas & Marcus Piggot, I love how they portrait the female body and if I could work with them I definitely see myself (being the tomboy that I am) in a more sensual, glamorous and high fashion setting and styled accordingly.
Last but not least I would love it if Anthony Mandler took my picture. He is both a director and photographer and an ex-collegue of mine and I admire his work. (Anthony Mandler directed 9 of Rihannas videos and is a much wanted and respected video director)
What’s your latest must have fashion item?
Lately I am craving for Genevieve Jones gold safety-pin earrings, maybe the ones wìth the stones. (smiles)
What are you listening to right now and what are your suggestions for European blog readers?
I’m listening to Terence Trent Darby, The Cure, Elliot Smith, a lot of Reggae, some PJ Harvey and Neneh Cherry for the moment.
I think Europe should definitely check out: Theophilus London – Lissie Trullie – Amanda Blank and The Virgins.
Last, but not least, If I say BELGIUM, what are the 3 words that pop in your head.
Waffles…Boys… and Chocolate!
What else? That is probably the most cliché answer you might get right? (starts laughing)
My first No Balls, No Glory; A Polaroid Story interview!
I hope you liked it… After the interview it was time for the Polaroid picture. I thought it would be appropriate placing her before her Violette curtains and asked her to give me 2 different looks.
3.2.1. Flashing Lights. Bingo!
While we were waiting for the pictures to come through, she suddenly decided to show me hér Polaroids she took of some friends which was very nice of her, it showed a real common interest, I mean, she didn’t hàve to show me her collection. I had to look twice but I definitely saw Polaroids from Jay-Z , Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Terry Richardson, Paris Hilton, Rihanna, Solange Knowles etc.
Miss Kola had my entire wish list on Polaroid. More, she could do a whole damn exposition with them! Honestly… It made me feel a little stupid, doing what I do, but hey, …. there is no way back now… right? I hear you asking how on earth she was able to take all those Polaroids up close and personal? (meaning, smiley faces, relaxed atmosphere, no sweaty backstage pictures, nice framing,…) Well, maybe the fact that she had a steady relationship for many years with that other artist topping high on my list might have something to do with that…
Who that might be? Hey…I don’t kiss and tell… Do your own research…!
I secretly admitted to Vashtie that Theophilus London was very high on my list to snatch on Polaroid but so hard to reach since I have been email stalking his management but with no result until that day, and that I’ll probably have to wait when he comes to Europe one fine day and walk up to him myself. And that was it.
I thanked her manager ROB for having us and spending their precious time on us little Euros and we kissed Vashtie goodbye. I know some people don’t value the word IT-girl but I can only state that Vashtie Kola is definitely something…
PS: Later that night Jules and I went to the notorious OPEN party and in a corner of my left eye I noticed Vasthie entering the venue with Theophilus London. I did not even mention it to Jules, because sometimes you just feel you just have to wait for the right time to come and for some reason Santos-Stalking didn’t feel right… So I sipped on my rum & coke and danced the night away while Mark Ronson and Q-Tip were in charge of the tunes. (And if you read this Mr Theophilus London, I’ll get you one day! With or without a manager!)
Special thanks to Rob and Isis for their co-operation and for enduring my stalker emails –> ❤Santos Party House
Violette New York