Real Talk with La Carmina
La Carmina’s alternative Goth fashion, travel and pop culture blog has led to international TV presenting, press trips and appearances—including New York Fashion Week. She’s a Huffington Post Travel journalist, author of three books on Penguin and Random House, and hosts TV shows for Discovery, National Geographic, Food Network, Travel Channel and more. Visit her site for spooky-cute Harajuku fashion, Goth nightlife, youth subcultures, theme cafes and Scottish Fold cats.
Leveled Magazine: Where were you born?
La Carmina: Vancouver, Canada.
LM: Explain what you do, and how you got started.
LC: My job didn’t exist before the invention of blogs and social media. I started LaCarmina blog relatively early, in September 2007. I fell in love with blogging as a way to communicate my passion for fashion and alt culture, especially in Japan. Gradually, LaCarmina blog built a following and led to projects I never dreamed were possible, including writing books—“Cute Yummy Time” and “Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo”—and hosting TV shows for worldwide networks.
When I started out, I had no connections in the entertainment industry. However, blogs and YouTube videos are a great way to showcase your work and build an online audience. Producers found me on the net, and invited me to be the guest host on shows about Japan, underground culture and young travel. Everything grew from there. To date, my TV presenting work includes: Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” Discovery TV’s “Oddities,” National Geographic’s “Taboo,” “The Doctors,” “Today Show,” CNN. You can see my film clips here.
Since we kept getting offers, my First Mate and I began a “TV fixing” company, La Carmina & The Pirates, which helps travel, culture and food shows film in Japan and worldwide. As fixers, we do local production arranging, translating and organization for shoots.
LM: Summarize who you are in one sentence.
LC: Spooky-cute pirate mistress with a round, earless cat.
LM: What does fashion mean to you?
LC: With fashion, you create who you are (or who you want to be). I am particularly drawn to alternative and Gothic styles, as they go beyond the typical limited definition of “beauty.” I’ll take purple lips and spider web eyelashes over Barbie doll makeup any day. I especially love the experimental spirit of Harajuku. Each time I walk through this Tokyo neighborhood, I’m inspired by the wild hair colors, DIY punk clothing, and cartoon patterned tights.
LM: Who have been your biggest influences?
LC: My Scottish Fold cat, Basil Farrow, is my Zen master. Career-wise, I love the TV work and creative paths of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain.
LM: What is your biggest fear?
LC: I’m not afraid of ghosts, heights, pain or horror movies… but I have phobias about germs, certain antiques and especially dirty coins. I will never, ever, touch a public handrail.
LM: How old is your cat?
LC: Forever young. He’s a Scottish Fold cat, so he’ll never lose the fuzzy-cheeked kitten-face. Pics here!
LM: Who is your favorite rapper?
LC: That’s the first time I’ve been asked this question! I never listen to rap music, but I have a soft spot for PaRappa the Rapper. He’s the rapping dog in the PlayStation rhythm game, famous for songs like “Chop Chop Master Onion.”
LM: If you could only listen to one song on a flight around the world, what would it be?
LC: If I’m spending more than a day on a plane, I hope I’ll be fast asleep for the whole ride. I’d listen to what is supposedly “the most relaxing song of all time,” by British band Marconi Union. Working with sound therapists, they created a track designed to knock you out. Perhaps I’ll field-test it on my next trip to Tokyo.
LM: Who is one of your favorite designers at the moment?
LC: I love romantic and dark accessories, with a touch of Art Nouveau and Art Deco—so I’m a huge fan of Angelica Brigade. The designer, Joyce Katuari, makes unfussy but glamorous floral clips and jewelry, including the ones I’m wearing in these photos. They’re great for modeling and TV appearances because they look great on camera, but are lightweight and don’t hinder my movements.
Joyce Katuari—the founder of Angelica Brigade—is an independent designer who prefers to use unconventional materials & methods to create her handmade jewelry & accessories. She thinks that video game & anime characters, as well as the people who lived in Marie Antoinette’s era, wear the most amazing accessories. It’s her aim to create dramatic, eye-catching, & sculptural pieces that stay in place & not hinder the wearers’ movements as they run, jump around, & navigate through their daily hurdles. Emulating Rococo era’s high quality & labor-intensive craftsmanship, her works are the antithesis of disposable fashion.
Model: La Carmina (Follow La Carmina on Facebook & Twitter)
Hair stylist: Isolde Semple at Avant Garde Hair, Vancouver
Photography by Joseph Wong
Post-processing by Argiris Maipas
Hair flower fascinators & jewelry: Angelica Brigade
Striped Black & White dress: Atelier Pierrot
Black sailor dress: Lolita Girl Clothing