Sunday, May 19, 2013

20 on +40: Cameras + Coffee vs The Beret ROUND ONE

20 on + 40
Note:  To showcase the wide appeal of +40 bloggers that goes beyond their own age-group, I'm starting a new blog  feature, the 20 on +40. This feature will showcase 20 other friends in the community who pick their favorite +40 blogger, interview them, and write about it.  This is the second of the series.

Canadian beauty, +40 style blogger Melanie is an artist from Vancouver. Her personal style blog, A Bag and A Beret hit the ground running last year, and her voice, style and face made powerful impressions on anyone ever visiting her blog. Thoughtful, introspective explorations of style ala Cindy Sherman and Mel's artistic flourishes of dress hang seamlessly with her nearly model good looks. It's a powerhouse style impact: bold dressing on her lithe figure, and that unforgetting piercing blue stare. 

Decades apart, and across the Atlantic resides a certain Roz Jana, a 17 year old  fashion wunderkind, who already has been peeped at from around the world on a slew of street style blogs. This teenager  has written expertly on the subject of fashion for the likes of Oxfam, The Guardian and British Vogue.  Like Mel,  her leggy figure and gorgeous face could easily be confused for that of an off-duty model, but Rosalind's interests seem to lie elsewhere.  As good as she looks in front of the camera (you can see how good on her blog, Clothes, Cameras and Coffee) it seems apparent that Roz would rather be behind it, or at least behind a  good typewriter, clacking out in resounding Querty beat, her thoughts on fashion, feminism, and  taking a poetical turn at her arts + letters. Clearly, these two are kindred spirits.

So it came as little surprise, when I asked Roz to interview her favorite +40 blogger for this series, that Roz picked Mel in a heartbeat. What did surprise, however, was how they both wrestle with body image, artistic ambitions,  and their take on the fashion industry.

Mel Kobayashi: Artist, Writer, Photographer, Style Blogger. Roz Jana: Artist, Writer, Photographer, Style Blogger


Roz and Mel got on so well, that Roz's interview got away from itself- and the tables turned, with Mel dressing up and playing the interviewer to Roz. Their conversation has been broken into two parts, so read on, and stay tuned! 

Rosalind:  Have you always dressed in such a unique and vibrant way, or is this something that has evolved over the years?
Melanie: My attention to dress has ebbed and flowed, but I remember wearing two-tone purple flare pants with a red-and-white-striped shirt when I was about eight years old. Through the years I've used my style as a political statement, an invitation, armor, camouflage, and decoration, but it hasn't been until the past three years or so, that my style has been a source of light. At no other time have my clothes felt like such an organic and spiritual extension of my being, and I ascribe this current state to my surrender to the chaos, if that makes sense.
Rosalind: You've done some Cindy Sherman style projects examining the way that changes of appearance affect your sense of self. What did you learn from your experimentations in different wigs or lip sizes?

Melanie: I've learned that altering myself to elicit a response is not nearly as powerful as heartfelt expression. I've always known that instinctively, but this cosmetic tourism has confirmed the idea that authenticity shines the brightest. I've not just dressed but felt the stereotypes associated with certain looks. The two times I tried the long red wig experiment in public I was shocked by the significant change in how men treated me. I've always considered "being myself" a fluid thing, but I am still exploring how I can express those dormant parts of me temporarily to empower who I am the rest of the time. Now I've got a question for you, Roz: Having seen your writing, photography, styling and drawing in your blog, I regard you as an artist. How would you define an artist, and do you see yourself as one?

Rosalind: I would define an artist as someone who is curious about the world, and wishes to capture, observe or imagine some part of it in a creative medium – whether this is in writing, painting, sculpture, photography, fashion, music, etc. Having said that, I don’t think that there is any one way to describe an artist, as everyone will have slightly different perceptions and expectations of what ‘art’ is.  I would consider myself an artist in training at the moment. I’m still very much learning my craft when it comes to writing and photography, and relish the thought of learning and creating in years to come. I hope that at some point in the future I will indeed be able to define myself as an artist.

Melanie: What do you think are the limitations of blogging, if any? How do you envision blogging fitting into your future?

Rosalind: I think the primary limitation is the ‘blogger’ label. At London Fashion Week at least, there seems to be a perception that bloggers are somehow inferior or amateur. As someone who has a blog, but also works for other publications, I find this very frustrating. I can understand the complaints, as the British Fashion Council gets absolutely saturated with bloggers with different levels of success requesting press passes. And yet, the problem is then in consequently treating ‘bloggers’ as some kind of collective, rather than judging the merit of each individual. We don’t assume that all magazines have the same circulation figures and aesthetic, so why should it be expected that all blogs adhere to a similar formula and number of readers? Personally, I hope that one day I can make the transition to having my own website...However, for the moment I’m happy to just keep continuing blogging.
I don’t think that there is any one way to describe an artist, as everyone will have slightly different perceptions and expectations of what ‘art’ is. -Roz Jana
Rosalind: What is your opinion on the modern obsession with appearance?

Melanie: There seems to be an enormous dichotomy in terms of how the developed world is obsessed with appearance and how individuals project themselves in public every day with sloppy style. The cult of celebrity sickens me, to tell the truth, and I think feeds a nasty blurring of lines between fantasy and reality. We are bombarded with unrealistic expectations about body weight and daily happiness quotients, but instead of fixing the things we can fix, like respecting ourselves and others and focusing on how we can be forces for positive change in our own spheres, many of us often wind up depressed, even more critical and cynical, and more distanced from those impossible ideals.

Melanie: How long does it take you to craft a blog post? What kind of writing satisfies you the most?

Rosalind: The short answer is that it takes too long! No, I do indeed relish the chance to craft posts. The writing tends to come last, unless I have a very specific theme that I want to cover, such as feminism. In that instance it’s a matter of then finding photos that will accompany the piece without being too tenuous. It probably takes around three hours for each post, if the styling, photography, choosing of photos, writing, editing and final checks are all taken into account.  

Rosalind: Mel, you talk of your body as being like a canvas. What's your opinion of those who use such a statement literally- by tattooing, piercing or otherwise adorning the figure?
Melanie:I celebrate our right to freedom of expression as a precious gift.  Anything goes.

Coming Soon! 
20 on +40: Cameras + Coffee vs The Beret ROUND TWO


mispapelicos said...

This is such a brilliant idea, and such a deep inner soul touch beyond ages.
You are in the right path, my dearest Bella. Your leading power and kind warmth reflects in us all.
Most impressed.
My love to Melanie and darling Rosalind.

Anupriya DG said...

Aah! Roz is such an inspiring young talent!!! And seeing her in a tête-a-tête with such a dynamic & fashionable woman like Melanie is a treat in itself!!! Can't wait for Part Two!! :)

P.S.: I'm all the more charged up for my interview now!!! :D

Vix said...

Two of my favourite women in one post! Fabulous! Can't wait for part 2! xxx

Unknown said...

So true about authenticity. Thanks for introducing me to two new voices in the blogging community! Debbie @

Lucys Lounge said...

bella what a great idea. i love the 2 ladies you paired together i know melanie but not rosalind. i don't buy magazines any more . i did buy 6 a month at one time. this quality of writing you just don't get in paper any more thats why i love looking at blogs. a great job bella , and bravo melanie and rosalind. lucyx

Susan B said...

Wow! What a fantastic read. Bella, applause to you for helping to bring about this brilliant exchange. Can hardly wait for Part 2!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing interview!

Curtise said...

Always interesting to read what intelligent and thoughtful women have to say about what they do. Great idea, Bella.

Anonymous said...

This is very thought-provoking - in fact, I bookmarked it so I can refer to it again easily. They're both such intelligent women, and the way they write you wouldn't know they were different ages. Excellent pairing, Bella!

Ofelia said...

Such an interesting concept and how amazing that two stylish and smart women can collaborate and get to understand each other a bit more.

Patti said...

Great stuff here - I'll be re-reading these interviews for certain. Such insightful, talented women!

Forest City Fashionista said...

This is a great idea, and I'm curious to see what kind of questions the 20 year olds have for the 40+ bloggers. I love Roz's definition of an artist!

Debra said...

What a great idea. I loved it.

Suzanne said...

What an interesting dual interview.

I thought it was very interesting that age was completely irrelevant in the conversation. Both women were so elegant, intelligent and concise.

I loved it! Can't wait for the second part.


Unknown said...

Great post! Roz and Melanie are both fascinating, beautiful, and inspiring women.

Jean at said...

A grand slam. An Oscar, Emmy and Pulitzer. Two of the best, where the sum is even greater than the parts. You are amazing and I'm soooo grateful to see the light of your universe. XXOO

The Style Crone said...

I was mesmerized by the exchange between Melanie and Roz. Intergenerational energy at its best! Bella, your creative and expansive ideas never cease to amaze. I love this feature!

Unknown said...

I LOVE this-great idea,Bella:)

Bohemian Chick said...

Fantastic idea! I really enjoyed reading this, and I had never heard of either of them. I'll be looking for these posts from now on. You have such a ood imagination for things that people will enjoy reading.
Are you still doing the shoe feature?

Melanie said...

I have to thank you, Bella, not only for generously inviting me to be a part of this and the opportunity to get to know Roz, but also because your post motivated me to upgrade my browser at last so I could read it! LOL. Hugs, Bella.
PS. That's not me; that's my evil twin.

Mrs C said...

The beauty of blogging - the opportunity to learn from others and see things from their eyes and perspective. Amazing how so may +40 bloggers out there :)and we are rocking the blogsphere!

MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES (a fashion and life-style blog)

CityScape Skybaby said...

Really enjoyed this Bella and looking forward to part two. I knew Melanie but not Rosalind, so I need to remedy that. I'm like Lucy, I used to buy a lot of magazines but I get much more satisfaction from reading blogs such as yours now. xx

The Dainty Dolls House said...

Loved this, very cool idea too. Happy Monday, have a great week :) x

Anonymous said...

I love this premise! Here are two bloggers I knew nothing about until now. I think this is a terrific way to move beyond the fashion to get a glimpse at the philosophy that drives these ladies. Well done, Bella! ;-)

Spashionista (Alicia)

Mrs. D said...

What a fantastic idea. Thank you for sharing this!

Kathleen said...

Thank you so much for this interview. I love Melanie's blog and point of view.

A Matchy Matchy Midlife said...

What a GREAT concept!!!!! And one of our most amazing and talented +40's to feature. I loved her cartoon, that was priceless. Can't wait to hear more from them.


Sheila said...

Fantastic! Melanie is one of my idols - I feel privileged to have met her!

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

What a great interview. I could just imagine them holed up together, drinks in hand chatting away. Or, hanging upside down from a tree branch. Either way, I very much enjoyed the read!

Sue xo

Ziba said...

Gosh, your blog and this interview is dripping with so much creativity and thoughtfulness! And it's really a breath of fresh air to read quality content like this amidst the thousands of 'cookie-cutter' blogs out there!! Going to keep my eye out on these two talented ladies.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much to Mel, Roz and, of course, Bella, for providing this exceptional post. Like Suzanne, I'm ready for the second part.
And like Patti, I'll be back to re-read. This post touches on concepts and concerns that I think about often, and it is energizing (paraphrasing Judith!) These two women remind me of what is possible, relevant and satisfying.
If I have not yet made myself clear, I LOVED THIS POST!
Yes, please. More of this!

Rosalind said...

I adore Mel's cartoon. That is beyond brilliant.
It was an honour to take part in this interview, and on a personal level for me to have so many insights into Mel's thoughts & aesthetic. I'm very glad that it all came about, and looking forward to seeing Part 2 up. xx

bluehuewonderland said...

Great interview. Melanie is a powerhouse of style and creativity. These posts are a great idea, so inventive and interesting!

blue hue wonderland

BellaBean Vintage said...

What a great post, interesting, inspiring - so lovely!

Beret And Boina said...

Nice post! You may find this blogger interesting too, with over 4 years of non-stop daily beret blogging:

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Brilliantly put together! What a meeting of beautiful minds and talent - that means Rosalind, Mel, and you, Bella! And I love the photo collages which I am assuming was part of your creative input. Well done! - J xxx