Pop!: Meet Allison

Pop! Street Fashion is an experimental collection of patron street fashion at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  It is devoted to photographically documenting the sartorial narratives of patrons who visit the library. Please email My Nguyen for more information.

Meet Allison.

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It was fellow Pop Library Associate Alana who first saw Allison, 21, and suggested I approach her for the Pop! fashion blog. I turned in the direction she was pointing. What I saw was a striking, self-possessed young woman with amazing hair. Her simultaneously basic and provocative prints (a mysterious eye pattern on her shirt! A pair of geometric-patterned leggings!) coexisted gorgeously with that magnificent pouf on her head. Perhaps she had decided that morning to reinterpret the 60s bouffant for the contemporary woman. (I approve.)

The simplicity of her make-up—a swipe of black eyeliner on her lids—really framed the look. But what I found even more fascinating than Allison’s self-described "space princess" style was her intelligence, grace, and thoughtful responses.

Read more after the jump.

Who are your style inspirations?
I would say that my style inspirations don’t lie within any one person. I tend to sort of—in keeping with the theme of the day—become an aggregator of a lot of different styles, movements feelings and periods of my life. I also draw from styles that I would wear from elementary and middle school and reappropriate and restructure the clothes.

Where do you shop?
I’d say mostly my shopping habits are very varied. I go to a lot different thrift stores. I make a point to go to the most hole-in-the-wall type thrift store that I can whenever I visit a new place. This is just to get a feel for the people, their refuse, and to see real parts of people and parts of themselves that they left behind. I also really love the act of thrift store shopping. Most of the fun for me is in the hunt, as well as further honing my tastes, and thinking more clearly of what I want by sifting through a lot of what I don’t want.

What’s the most inspiring thing for you at MLK Library?
The most inspiring thing for me would probably be the pacing of the space. It’s very open. The atrium when you first walk in is extremely open. I think that it just is a spatial representation of everything that MLK was about. Openness. Freedom to move throughout the space wherever you may want to go. I think that’s really the best possible way to represent that concept. The ceilings are very high, there’s lots of beautiful windows. It’s very calming to be in this space.

Are you a big reader?
I am. My most recent conquest was Sic by Joshua Cody. It broke my heart and then trashed the pieces. Actually, I got it at this very location because I looked it up and this was one of the only locations that had it. Luckily, it’s near my job so I was able to just scoop it up.

What’s it about?
It’s a memoir about his experience leading up to and following his diagnosis with cancer. It’s infinitely relatable because he doesn’t place himself in a martyr’s role or in any sort of inaccessible or easily pigeonholed place within the historic volume of cancer narratives. He’s just able to bring it to a very accessible and relatable human place. Which is very valuable. I really like that book.

Do you have a favorite book?
You know, I don’t. For the time being, that is my favorite book. But that varies every time I read a new book. When I decide to sit down with a book and invest in it, I do just that, you know, I feel emotionally entrenched in what I’m reading. That turns into a favorite, whether it’s reading about art or reading someone’s memoir. It takes up some sort of personal significance for me once I’ve read it and left my thumbprints on the pages.

What is your most prized possession?
Hm. I could say it's the boots I’m wearing now, because they’re my feet. I don’t wear heels or flats. I have a boot tan. They’ve grown, and they’re leather, so I’ve worn them in so long that I feel I’m barefoot. That’s all I really need from shoes.

If you could have any superpower what would it be?
I’d probably want to be able to travel through time, which is kind of trite. But I feel like there’s a vast amount of things that we can learn at any one spot in time. A pool of knowledge and experience—and also personal growth—just sort of morphs, and not even in any one particular direction. It just expands exponentially in every direction. That happens every time you visit another country. It follows the same principles.

What’s your dream job?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, actually. I’ve sort of been in a transitional period. I’d say my dream job would be doing something that pays me enough to allow me to maintain my own jewelry studio within my home, and have the leisure time to be devoted to it.

Tell me more about this jewelry store/studio?
It’s not live yet. I’m still in production right now. But it’s called Petrichoiia. One of the things I wanted to focus on was making what I produce available to members of any and all sexes and genders. I feel like the act of adornment isn’t an exclusively female practice. I want to help to create a safer space within the jewelry market for everyone.

I use a lot of found items. The very first designs I ever made were with old wine corks. I cut them into rounds or stuff them into things and make strange things that way. But now I’ve moved on to using cloth, either from scraps of clothes that I’ve modified or from friends.

I’m really against spending money to make jewelry. That’s what actually started my whole process. I really wanted something to wear to show who I am but I was unwilling to pay for it, and I was unwilling to steal it. So I thought the next logical alternative was to make something unique that reflected my tastes.

And who are you? How would you describe yourself?
One of my friends recently has dubbed me and/or my alter ego, as Cheetah Galactica. That was a recent development.

Is it apt?
I feel like it is. Sometimes I feel like a space princess in the way I dress. These leggings probably help to paint that picture. I feel regal but not in any sort of traditional, earthbound tastes.

What’s your philosophy in life?
It’s changed pretty drastically over the last few years. Two years ago I had long chemically straightened hair and shopped at H&M and Forever21 pretty exclusively. And I got sort of caught up in what others thought what I should be and was not really in touch with who I am. Having to stifle [myself] under cheap clothing was very difficult. So now my life philosophy centers mostly around caring for myself and for others. That’s something that I’ve been focusing a lot of time and energy on because it’s often overlooked in this generation.

In this generation, it’s always about instantaneous exchanges and anything beyond that is not worth the time or effort. It takes a lot more, even now, to take the time to hand-write someone a letter or to cook a dinner from scratch for someone or draw yourself a bath. But those are the moments I cherish the most.

Describe yourself in five words or less.
I would say I am as limitless as I allow myself to be.

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--Story and photography by My Nguyen



Check out more Pop! Street Fashion:
Meet Allison
Meet Brea | Meet Laura