Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meet the Muse: Carla Robertson

Girl-about-town Natalie Joos spends her days casting for shows like ADAM and Yigal Azrouël and editorials for the likes of Mario Sorrenti and Mariano Vivanco, but her passion is vintage clothing. Joos’ blog, Tales of Endearment, spotlights Joos’ “Muses,” impeccably styled girls who share her secondhand obsession. In a new partnership with, Tales of Endearment’s subjects will preview their shoots right here on Style File.

On a recent trip to Montreal, Joos was struck by Aldo campaign manager Carla Robertson’s unabashed flair for bright, outlandish vintage fashions. Her style philosophy is a little less eccentric: Just have fun with it. The two vintage clothing hounds did just that when they started digging through Robertson’s closet for their photo shoot. “She loved my vintage Versace pants,” Robertson tells “They’re a crazy combination of acid yellow, red, sky blue, and black, with Basquiat-inspired illustrations all over them.” Joos also found gems like Robertson’s chunky gold Flintstones necklace, a silk teacup blouse, and plenty of the only accessory Robertson loves more than shoes—vintage eyewear. “I started wearing them because I found contact lenses really unbearable and couldn’t deal with the idea of wearing one pair of glasses with every outfit,” she explains. Here, Robertson sounds off on these and her other vintage treasures.

How would you describe your style?
I like clothes that are fun, playful, and bright. I don’t like to take fashion too seriously. I wouldn’t say I stick to any particular era, but I do adore crazy colorful—borderline ugly—eighties patterns.
Interesting. What inspired this look?
I grew up listening to my mom’s favorite radio station in Brisbane—4BH 882. In the eighties they were all about playing easy listening from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. That’s for sure where I developed my taste in music and life aesthetic. Dolly Parton was always on high rotation so I started loving her from an early age. I love Dolly’s style. She’s sweet, sexy, and most definitely Dolly. Leather tassels, colored lace, cute gingham, rhinestones on denim, huge shoulder pads with a cinched-in waist…What’s not to love on that list?
Most people seem to have an interesting story about the origins of their passion for vintage. When and where did your interest in vintage begin?
I dabbled in vintage in my university years, but it was a trip to Amsterdam in 2003 that locked me in to the obsession. On that trip, I found two items that I still have with me now. My seventies denim jacket and a pair of fifties, cat-eye gold and crystal spectacles. I totally raided my mom’s and grandma’s closets and I still do it. There is something really special and beautiful about wearing clothes that previous generations of women in your family have worn. I have my grandmother’s kilt (which I adore) and my couch cushions are made out of her scarves. I love that she has a place in my Montreal home.
What’s your favorite piece in your closet, vintage or contemporary?
A seventies denim jacket with YAMAHA written on the back in black pen (by the previous owner). It also has an eagle patch crudely sewed on the front. When I bought it, the elbows had crazy sun-bleach wear marks, which makes me think the dude who owned it wore it on his motorbike all the time. I like the idea that items of clothing have their own tale. I bought the jacket in Amsterdam in 2003 and I still have it. It’s falling apart, but I still wear it all the time. I love it more for every rip and fray that appears.
Do you have any vintage items in particular that you collect?
I collect vintage eyeglasses. I find them in junk shops and then have my prescription put in by my optometrist. I found that buying vintage frames was a great addition to my wardrobe (and they didn’t cost an arm and a leg), so now I’ve built up quite a collection. I love being able to change my frames daily to match different outfits. It’s a really fun accessory for your face. At the moment, I’m loving my metal frames. They’re very male, slightly creepy, and that’s why I love them.
Since you work at Aldo, do you have a thing for shoes? What about vintage shoes?
I think every girl loves shoes, even if she says she doesn’t. Vintage shoes—especially heels—can be a bit of a gamble…sometimes you get lucky but usually they end up being quite uncomfortable. I have a pair of seventies leather boots that I love and a sweet pink pair of dancing shoes from the forties that never leave my side.
Where do you like to buy your vintage?
I really love the flea market in St. Michel out in the suburbs of Montreal—[it] is filled with wonderful treasures and great characters. However, my favorite shopping adventures are at yard/garage sales. Sunny weekends in the country are the best for picking up clothing, furniture, and bric-a-brac scores. I bought an amazing collection of hats for $2 a few weeks ago at a yard sale in Ontario. It’s also fun meeting the previous owner and I think it makes them happy to see their stuff going to a vintage fanatic.
Finish this thought: What’s old is new again when…
You take it to the tailor.

Written by: Style File

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