Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Célèste Brott

Célèste is a young woman living in Cleves with her boyfriend and cat. She writes a column for examiner.com

Tell me a little about yourself and where you live.
I'm 21 years old and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Well, technically in Cleves, which is a small town just west of the city. I live with my boyfriend and our cat. I go to school at the University of Cincinnati. I'm a senior creative writing major with a poetry focus. Fashion has always been a huge passion of mine. Since I'm a writer, my dream job would be to write about fashion for a magazine or website. Right now though, I'm writing a sex and relationships column for examiner.com. You can find it here: http://www.examiner.com/x-25008-Cincinnati-Sex-and-Relationships-Examiner

I used to be really into acting--I was even a dramatic performance major at a conservatory my freshman year--but I feel like writing is more suited to me because I can speak in my own voice instead of embodying another writers words. Lately, I've gotten into standup comedy, which is right up my ally because it involves performing things that I myself have written and because humor is something that's really important to me. I also keep a fairly regular blog of my ideas and activities at

What does fashion mean to you?
I like fashion because it's the point where are, beauty, and self expression meet. What you wear is important because it communicates to the world what kind of person you are, how you are feeling that day, and how you want people to see you. I think I may have initially gotten into fashion because, being of French origin, I felt like it was a part of my identity. I know that that's why I initially got into studying Ballet and French; I felt the need to live up to my French name, Célèste. I'm not really sure though, because I've love fashion for as long as I can remember. I used to make my own dress-up costumes when I was around six years old.

How would you define your city's fashion?
Well, Cincinnati doesn't have a reputation for being the most fashion forward city. It's no New York, LA, Paris, Milan, or Stockholm. However, it's got it's own charm and there are definitely some very fashion forward people and a fashion community here. My school has one of the top fashion design programs in the country, so while a lot of the people walking around my campus wear horrible sweats like on any other campus, there are others who wear their own designs and sport trends before they hit the mainstream. The majority of the city, though, is less fashion-conscious. People on the west side wear mostly high school hoodies, Bengal's jerseys and Old Navy jeans, while people on the east side wear mostly North Face fleece, leggings and Uggs. There's definitely a uniformed look that people fall into.

What can’t you live without?

Fashion-wise, I can't live with pairs and pairs of opaque black tights and a slew of self-knit scarves. In general, I can't live without my loved ones, books, the internet, or music.

What are your favorite shops and designers?
My favorite store by far is Anthropologie. They are quite expensive for my college-student lifestyle though, so--apart from the staple gift card I get every Christmas--I can usually only buy one or two things there a year. I shop at thrift stores a lot and in vintage and consignment stores. I alter a lot of the things that I find there. My mom only shops in thrift stores, so when I was about 10 and went in a department store for the first time, I was amazed to find that they carried the same item in several sizes. My mom loves to tell that story. There were times when I resented not wearing new clothes, especially during awkward puberty when I really wanted to fit in, but now it's a big part of my identity. Thrifty forces you to learn how to be creative and innovative with fashion. It also allows you to create a truly unique look. I was never one of the uniformed clones, because even when I went through a phase of wanting to be, I didn't have the resources to be. I do buy more new clothes now than when I lived at home. I love vintage, but I also love buying cutting-edge new stuff. I've discovered recently that a lot of my stuff is from Forever 21, even though they often don't design with big-chested girls in mind. I understand that they have to save on fabric to keep things cheap, but that's still annoying. I also shop at American Apparel when I can because I believe in their anti-sweatshop cause. Also, Topshop and Ebay are great for online shopping. We still don't have a Topshop in my area, but we did just get an H&M. I've liked both of them since I studied in Cambridge, England when I was 17.
As for designers, I am a huge fan of Coco Chanel as far as her historic significance is concerned. She's a real game changer and an original thinker and if Coco Avant Chanel doesn't win the Oscar for costume design, I'm going to picket. I love Givenchy, Chloé, and Anna Sui as well. It's all a bit of a mixed bag. I can appreciate a lot of different aesthetics. I rarely get tied down to one.

What is your favorite era of style?

My favorite is definitely the 1920s. I love it for aesthetic reasons as well as symbolic ones. Aesthetically, the silhouette, the drop-waist dress, the cloche hat: it's all amazing. But the symbolism is great too. The 1920s were a huge change for women. When women stopped wearing corsets and raised hemlines, their silhouettes changed entirely, and with them changed the idea of their sexuality. Instead of the hourglass shape (which was symbolic of fertility) being admired, now it was a woman's legs that took center stage. The changes in fashion allowed women to participate in sports and leisure activities more freely. They could actually dress themselves without help, so they were more self-sufficient and independent. Rather than being hourglasses, whose sexuality was based on the ability to bear children, these women were sexual and independent. The new silhouette tells the story of of the sexual liberation that was going on at that time.
My other favorite era of style is the early to mid 1960s, which coincidentally (or perhaps not) was also a time of sexual liberation. I love the Edie Sedwick look. I also love the beehives and the mini skirts and the go go boots. I really wish my mom had saved some of her clothes from that era for me.

What’s on your playlist?
My all-time favorite band is Dresden Dolls and my favorite artist is Regina Spektor. I do tend to get obsessed with certain songs and I make little playlists for each month full of the songs I'm obsessed with at the time. Some of my recent obsessions include "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" by Black Kids, "I Want You" by Fefe Dobson, "Cette chanson et pour vous" by Django Reinhardt, "Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene, "Love in a Trashcan" by The Raveonettes, "Deux garsons pour une fille" by April March, and "Stay" by Lorene Scafaria.

Who's style do you admire?
There are a lot of girls on lookbook, whose style I am just in awe of. Some of my favorites follow:

What is your most cherished item?

The teddy bear that my brother gave me when I was one.

What question should I ask the next person interviewed?
Who would play them in a movie about their life?

Chelsea Whipps wants to know: If you were forced to wear one pattern (floral, stripes, polka dots, etc.) for the rest of your life, which would you choose, and why?: It would definitely be plaid. I have a strange plaid obsession that I can't really explain. I actually always wished that I went to a school where we had to wear uniforms, because I liked the plaid-skirted-school-girl look so much. Most people that I know who went to Catholic schools or other private schools with plaid uniforms hated them, but when I was an exchange student in Japan, I was surprised to find that the girls their loved their uniforms as much as I loved them. It's actually fashionable in Japan to wear your school uniform when you go out at night because Japanese culture values youth so much and wearing a school uniform is a trendy way to showcase that you young.

To see more of Célèste Brott go to

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