maven muse: ariana velazquez
this maven muse is a san diegan local, FiDM alumni, and a force to be reckoned with. we have loved getting to know ariana and seeing her spunky style around town. she recently let us pick her brain about why she loves san diego, what her favorite shoot has been thus far, and of course some of her maven favorites. be prepared to fall in love.
What is your first memory of falling in love with clothes and styling?
My parents used to make a big deal out of back to school clothing so I would go to the mall and we would spend hours in Limited Too because my parents really love shopping so they would bring loads of clothing to the dressing room and make me put on fashion shows for them. I remember having so much fun putting things together. Outside of that, when I was a kid I used to collect magazines like teen bop and others and then cut out celebrities outfits and paste together mood boards on construction paper. I think the curation aspect of fashion is what has always appealed to me.
How has San Diego influenced your style and what you do?
I think growing up in a suburb (Eastlame) really made me want to feel different than everyone else and style was a really easy way for me to do that. I would put together outfits a week in advance and it was just my way of stepping out of the usual. I think today it is still sort of the same, obviously the weather has a huge influence on my style, I really love to layer and I actually have a ridiculously large collection of jackets considering our climate, but I have to find creative ways to style myself in our warmer climate which I think is probably the biggest influence that San Diego has on my style.
I really resent the denim and flip-flops people in San Diego, so you’ll probably see me dead before I do something like that.
What has been your favorite shoot or concept you have worked on?
I really loved a shoot that I put together, Lonely But Not Alone. It was the first time that I produced something totally on my own and had more than just a model and a photographer. The concept came from being inspired by a friends house, it was really open and spacious and I had recently collected a bunch of great pieces from the 80s that were sort of glam. I had also come across a platform online called Serious Boyfriend and they had these great embroidered tees that said “Makeout or Die Trying” and the sentiment behind that and all of the other influences I had around that time put me onto this concept of a girl living in a big house all by herself, maybe she has agoraphobia or something, she is afraid to leave the house. And yet, she still dresses up, she looks fabulous at all times has this expansive wardrobe in this sparse cold home. I used a cardboard cut-out of Justin Beiber as a prop to add commentary on the idea that even when you are “alone” you’re not really because you’re always with your thoughts. Beiber represents the terrible things that girls are always telling themselves and the absurd thoughts that we let affect our lives. It works because Beiber used to be really relevant and hot (or whatever, I don’t get it) but now he is kind of a loser and no one cares. Which is the same way that it works with the thoughts in your head. At first you give them all this attention that they start to dictate your life, but eventually, hopefully, you let go of that and they become irrelevant. They are still there, but you’ve learned how to tune them out and they lose their power.
How would you describe your style?
That is so complicated because I don’t feel like I really fit into one style category. I am kind of all over the place. I think that I take a lot of inspiration from the 80s, it is one of my favorite time periods, but as I have grown up it has evolved into less obvious influences. Not that juxtaposition is really a way to describe style, but it is something that comes to my mind all the time when I am asked something like this because I feel like I really try to put things together that don’t necessarily ‘go’. Like I hate when people think that all of their blacks have to match or that there is a certain type of shoe to wear with a certain type of pant. I think the rules are stupid as long as you feel good. I don’t really follow any of those things for myself. I have recently noticed myself defaulting to pants and a t-shirt type of uniform though. It is just easy to not focus on deciding what I am going to wear and letting all my creativity go towards whatever project I am working on.
What has been your experience with being a female in this industry.. Especially being a short gal?
I think that I have been extremely lucky to not have felt any direct discrimination as a woman in this industry. Whether it is because I am working in a smaller place like San Diego or because of pure luck, I’m not sure. I do think that I work and create with awareness of being a woman though, which I believe is the best way to move forward when you don’t have a personal battle to be fighting. When I was in New York in November I was talking to a photographer friend and we were discussing work and it led to her confessing that she feels that the industry in New York is very much male-dominated. Though I couldn’t relate on a personal level, it led us to a discussion on how we can make our work, that too much of society and outsiders is superficial, feel important and how we can feel like we are not ignoring the problems in the world while still doing the things that we are passionate about. I think that the best way to do this is to be a leader and create with intent. No matter how much I love collaborating and working with others to make beautiful imagery, I have tried to really work on my own concepts as more of statements. While they can be high fashion and aesthetically pleasing, I want there to be more to them. It is hard to find that balance and make the people around you interpret the work that you are doing the way that you intend it to be. But the best you can do is create from a pure and honest place. As for being small, I think it has made me a little bit more of a hard ass. I used to feel just in everyday life that men especially felt like they could take advantage of me or not take me seriously because I was a small woman, but I have built myself up to have a work ethic and personality that doesn’t tolerate that.
What do you believe is the most important part of an outfit?
That is so difficult. I have never really been an accessories girl until very recently. I used to really just focus on the clothing and didn’t even give all that much thought to shoes. But I think what I have come to really appreciate is making each piece of the ensemble purposeful whether it is on me or a model. I really enjoy color theory and architecture and I think structure and color are two things that dictate a lot of the way that I style. With that being said, I think the most important part is all of it. And really the way that you represent it. Sometimes I will put something on a model and I might be a little unsure of it, but they get onto set and give the look a whole new life. Most anything you wear can work as long as you’ve got the right attitude.
How do you feel about clothing and what it communicates to other people?
I think that what we put on our bodies is so incredibly important. Not only for the way that other people view us but as a form of confidence. I used to LOVE watching What Not To Wear, I would sit in my room and watch hours and hours of episodes back to back on TLC. I wanted to take over the show someday. The psychology behind it of taking someone who maybe put no thought into what they dressed in or maybe someone who put a lot of thought into it but just was expressing themselves to an extreme is what really made me want to be a stylist in the first place. I truly believe that what you wear can affect your day and your mood just as much as what you put on can tell others how you’re feeling on the inside. Fashion and style are such powerful forms of self-expression that sometimes society takes for granted and doesn’t utilize to the best of their abilities.
Some of you maven favorites?
- Forever and always, anything Baguu! So happy to have a place where I can come and get my Fix instead of having to order online and wait.
- Boy Smells, honestly… not huge on candles, but the name is angsty and amazing so I have to support(:
- COLD PICNIC RUGS!! Though I have yet to buy one (because I can’t decide which I want and I am too nervous to get one and then be like damn, should have got the other one) It is so cool to know that if I ever stop being a lame-o and make up my mind, I can just go into Maven and instant gratification!
- Last but not least, Sqirl jams are LIFE! It is so nice to be able to come in and get my fix when I haven’t been to LA in a while.
But overall, I love Maven so much. Discovering it was such a big deal to me because it was basically like being able to shop everything I love on Instagram but in person. There is nowhere else in San Diego that does this well, especially for women and I am so happy to be able to support.
When do you feel the most confident?
I feel the most confident when I put on an outfit that I had a dream about and it actually looks as bomb irl as it did in my dream. I also love being on set and dressing people. I get a high off of it and I think it is my favorite when other cast members or the photographer are doubting my decisions but then they notice that I made a good call. I try to not do things that are expected. I want to style in new interesting ways that are still realistic but creative and out there at the same time.
Your favorite place to grab some food in San Diego?
Honestly, there are a lot of great places to eat in San Diego but I have recently really started to enjoy cooking. I try to cook for myself as often as possible. However, if I have to pick somewhere I’d probably say either Plant Power or Luigi’s. Can never go wrong with good vegan food or a tasty slice of pizza.
all photos provided by ariana velazquez