A Gypset Romance

There was a time when I wanted to live like a nomad. Travel from town to town, country to country, living out of a vintage Volkswagon van and off the land. Although a civilized life offers comfort and luxuries, it often feels stifling and restrained. A nomad could enjoy the freedom of the open road and sleeping under the stars.

I’ve nurtured that fantasy for as long as I can remember, imagining costumes for the journey throughout the three decades I’ve been alive including eras and looks from the days of grunge, boho and the 70’s. Anything that encompasses loose, flowy fabrics and vintage patterns.

I came across a profile for Siena Fleming, who is neither a nomad nor a hybrid of the grunge-boho-70’s variety. But I find her style ecclectic and refreshing enough to evoke a sense of freedom and a devil-may-care attitude. And I’m not gonna lie, but I’m proud of my Asian/part-Asian sisters.

Pretty girl. I love how she curls the ends of her hair like that!

A walk on the wild side. If I were nomad-ing around town, I'd love to glam it up with all that leopard. Diva! And can someone tell me where I can find a headdress like hers? It's inspired me to rummage through my jewlery boxes for something to double as appropriate headwear.

Why can't I look this ethereal in a white sundress? There is something to be said about being able to "carry off" a look.

Body ink. Hers says "I am my own" in Russian. I'm contemplating getting a huge mural on my back, but I'm not sure what of yet. To me, the perfect tattoo would make the perfect accessory to someone's personal look.

The tapestries and wall hangings reflect Siena's Manchurian heritage (she's also part European).

A glamour shot of her mother. Apparently they are really close.

My recent fascination with all things “ethnic” is inspiring me to purchase a book called Gypset Style, but I always have to check myself to make sure I’m not appropriating something culturally significant in a disrespectful way. The book only got 4 reviews, but one of the negative ones pointed out that the book exploits the racism and poverty that Gypsies experience. And I’ll be the first to admit that I do have the “privileged, jet-setting, fashion magazine” fatansy of the Gypsy “lifestyle.” (Hey, I don’t live in a bubble.)

I do wonder how fashion designers reconcile using inspiration from cultural sources and doing it with respect for the very culture they’re acquiring it from. I figure there’s a difference between completely taking an entire outfit and using it in a manner that offends the original purpose of it (like using a qipao, or cheongsam, to dress a porn star) and incorporating structural elements from the article of clothing into their own design (like using mandarin collars on tuxedos). I remember being irritated when Gwen Stefani first came out with the Harajuku Girls and basically used them as her travelling minstrel show.

On that note, I’m gonna hold off on purchasing the book. I have to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing.


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