Fashion blogging between the borders of our country has never struck me as a phenomenon worth the effort of watching – until I started my own blog and knew a few girls who proved that I was truly wrong.
I bumped into Raluca‘s blog, The Daily Tutli-Putli (its name stems from a character in a short animation), a little over five months ago and have been sneaking on it ever since. At first I was mesmerized, then I felt a tiny sting of girlish envy, but when I got to know her better and absorb her ‘ways’ readily, I gave in to my twisted dress-up & play syndrome – that’s where we most visibly meet. She was my only first choice for the interview project – in which I hope to cast a more insightful light upon Romanian fashion bloggers – mainly because she was the one to inspire it in the first place. I was drawn by both the desire to bring out the beautiful person beyond the dashing clothes and the excitement of constructing two sartorial stories driven by her inscrutable style. We had this fairly otherworldly chat on a Sunday morning, on facebook (the closest to a real-life interview, I thought), in which ideas collided and mingled, sketching a close-up of Raluca, in my view the most distinctive, daring personality in the current local blogging scene (and, believe me, I don’t think the world of anyone). She can and does live her clothes better than anyone else wears their image.
Barna Cristina: This is your fifth interview, as far as I know. How does it make you feel and how much does this (honestly) boost your confidence? You may go to extremes, like “I woke up in the morning and yelled in front of the mirror with dumb excitement”. We’ll understand.
Raluca Rosu: I remember being extremely excited whenever there was a feature or interview about me. I am, of course, thrilled now as well. It has always nevertheless been a combination between pure, clean joy and narcissistic gratification. These interviews are very helpful because they make me confront these two parts and because I also tend to think in extremes. One day I love myself so much that I want everybody to know it, the next day I’ll be hiding and cursing my entire closet.
BC: So you do the ‘catwalk’ thing while walking on the streets, or? I’m just curious, because I tend to do that when I love myself in a particularly outbursting way.
RR: I walk in a specific and self-conscious way whenever I feel pleased with how I’ve combined my clothes, that’s true. It also never lasts more than 10-15 minutes if I am alone because I get all sorts of comments and stares and start to feel sad. I would never change my style because people disapprove of it, but it makes me less thrilled to walk proudly. When I walk with my boyfriend, for instance, I feel so safe and admired that I forget about the stares ( the comments rarely appear, of course ) and I walk in a rather natural manner which does not really resemble any kind of catwalk. I guess the catwalk is not my style.Well… I do it in front of mirrors at home, I must confess.
BC: The Daily Tutli-Putli is only a few months old – in the blogging world, it’s still a ‘baby’, one which has recently learned how to walk (and it does it very well). When and why did you decide that this was ‘the thing’ for you to do, right now? And, furthermore, how far would you like it to reach?
RR: I think it all started last summer, but I was still in denial. Actually, it started with my first interactions with street style blogs in highschool and immediately after my arrival in Bucharest. I felt so thrilled when the girls from Bucharest Style stopped me on the street, back in 2010. The decision of actually starting my own blog came later mainly because I felt somehow scared and because I was postponing it irrationally , an old tendency of mine. But in March 2012 I said to myself : You can do it. I was lucky to have the full support of my boyfriend, Ionut, who started taking pictures of me everyday. I am still surprised that the blog is only four months old, it feels like I’ve had it for years, and that’s true in a way…my life being profoundly influenced by the clothes that I choose to wear and the other way around. I am not sure how far will it go or how far will I go. I am generally the kind of person who embraces change as it comes.I am not a big fan of planning, so I don’t really know. I am certain that I’ll never cease to be fascinated by my dialogue with fashion, be it friendly, be it sometimes rather reserved.
BC: You’re by all means a person with a very wide sphere of interests, clearly reflected throughout your blog. You study philosophy, and you seem to go farther into psychoanalysis, literature, poetry, then cinema, music, etc. Hence, it may not come as surprising that your relationship with fashion is two-sided. How does your overall cultural experience influence your sartorial approach? And also, I’ve observed that girls who are particularly into culture & arts tend to dress in a very personal way – both the intellectual and the visual experience prove to be the best starting points for creating a solid fashion identity. How did yours develop over time and which were your first encounters with fashion?
RR: I think I should make it very clear that what I admire most in people is inner consistency, thanks to Albert Camus and psychoanalysis. This inner consistency reflects in their actions, in the ideas they tend to promote, in the clothes they wear. I try to be as consistent as possible, it’s a constant struggle, and my style reflects it faithfully. I am unable, for example, to consider models in a photoshoot “well-dressed”. No matter how fascinated I may be by their fragility or power or beauty, I’d always want to meet the designer or the stylist. Everything I hear about, read, listen to, watch, ends up on myself or on my blog : the way I choose to pose, the places I choose for posing, the words I tend to write, etc. When I first started the blog there were only pictures but I slowly realized that this way I would be artificially dividing myself. Now I feel free and whole, somehow.
My first interactions with fashion must be correlated with my first interaction with music. From the unforgettable style of the Andre girls back in the fourth grade to the dark style of Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls I’ve never stopped feeling inspired by all sorts of artists. Sometimes it is not a direct influence, as it was with Porumboiu’s movie I’ve seen recently. I watched “Liviu’s dream” after a photoshoot and the text on the blog became closely related to it and in a strange way did the actual clothes in the pictures.
I also remember my first pair of striped knee-socks : black and white. I felt just like Amanda Palmer. I could still feel the same if I wore them, and that’s the best part of approaching fashion in this manner.
BC: You leave the impression of being constantly torn (meant in a creative, not a destructive way) between various influences, indeed. It shows perhaps the most in the references you make in your blog posts: quotes from books, songs, and such. Is this your reality or do you also happen to try hard, sometimes? I’ve had a friend who used to make me feel quite inhibited by talking mostly in quotes and evoking images from movies I had never heard of, all niche and cryptic, and it turned out that she was just doing her homework well. I know this is not your case, but I’m wondering whether there’s a constructed (not artificial) part to it, as well.
RR: I am rather chaotic and unpredictable when it comes to choosing a book to read, a movie to watch or a band to listen to. Of course, there are times when the references on my blog do not come in a spontaneous manner to me. That’s when I have to actually search for them but only starting from the pictures already taken or from the mood I’m in. I also tend to forget quotes and only remember how they made me feel. That’s another reason for the extra work, as I want to share that specific quote with the world. Even when I stare blankly at a page trying to write a post, I try not to try too hard, ending up writing just a line, but of which I can say : ” It belongs to me. “. In these situations I also go back to old obsessions and avoid building a fragile castle of cards. I also let myself influenced by other people’s recommendations. So as for cultural references, my blog is a rather collective one.
BC: Your ‘personal style’ is altogether striking – your overall look is what inevitably caught my eye in the first place – and unusually fresh and free of all social precepts that generally apply to a ‘fashionista’ (what an ugly word, yet perfectly suitable to a certain category of girls /women – I won’t get into more details, though). Tell me a bit about your ‘philosophy’ and its descriptive lines: ‘buried in second-hand clothes’, ‘no trends, no labels, no make-up’.
RR: I am always very glad when people actually understand what I try to express through my blog. It would be enough for me. I wouldn’t need them to like my style if they understood it. Of course I am pleased when they like it as well, but the main issue here is understanding. I wanted to be clear right from the start that this would be a blog about my way of dressing and shopping. I am literally buried in second hand clothes, I have closets filled with them and I keep on buying. It also related to the fact that my passion for dressing up began also with my need of hiding my strongly debated fragile body from my classmates. Then I transformed my armour in revolt and then in the pure joy of wearing myself on the outside as well. As for this simple line : ” No trends, no labels, no make-up.”, I owe its clarity to my boyfriend’s constant feedback while trying to write a description of my blog. He helped me realize it was all about this : not caring about what people normally wear on the street, not caring about labels when you actually shop, and not dressing up as a statement about being feminine in general. I stopped wearing makeup in highschool because I found it a waste of time, for example. This doesn’t mean I despise people who wear it. The main point here is that I was trying to lay the grounds for both a descriptive element for my blog, which in time has fortunately become also a normative one.
RR: When I’m in my hometown I do it quite often during my stay, even everyday. When I’m in Bucharest I don’t have the time to do that, but I end up shopping once a week or once at two weeks. I am fascinated by piles of clothes, but I also get my kicks from seeing carefully arranged second hand clothes. What really offers me pleasure is the perspective of finding clothes that give me endless possibilities and which enrich my creativity.
BC: I, for one, have turned to vintage (from online stores) and then second hand clothes for financial reasons mostly, and it was frustrating, at first. It still is, when it comes to accessories (shoes!). But I would never trade the excitement of finding beautiful, unique bargains for the boredom of shopping mainstream brands. How did second hand confiscate your entire wardrobe? Also, for the fun of approximation: how many dresses & skirts do you reckon you have?
RR: Second hand started to take over my wardrobe during high school mainly due to the appearance of many second hand shops in my hometown. It also had a lot to do with me focusing on discovering myself and my style, along with it. The prices combined with the thrill of the search made it impossible to resist. I am not sure about the number of dresses and skirts, but I do keep my clothes in about 6 closets. So I would say approximately 50-60 dresses and 30-40 skirts maybe. I will try to count them when I arrive to Bucharest. You’ve made me wonder.
BC: Your styling often incorporates different characters – Lolita, Holly Golightly, and so on. But you clearly stated that your ‘postmodern Holly Golightly’ is more than a costume – you wear her rather than her clothes. How does the character you ‘wear’ change your mood, attitude, gestures? And what does Raluca Rosu look like when she undresses all those layers?
RR: The character I wear often makes me stronger, or that’s how things used to be in the past. Growing up, letting go of old fears made me wear the characters I love out of passion for them or for the worlds they portrayed. I never feel sad because of the character I wear, I feel sad because of Raluca Rosu, as she is never left behind. But she can also make me laugh, frown, live.Raluca Rosu is still made of thousands of layers but they are all transparent in the right light. I don’t intentionally hide underneath my clothes and if you’ve got the right light you can easily see my shape. I am the clothes, I am the moods, I am the songs. I am defined by all these past layers and all the layers to come.
BC: Would you rather consider yourself a creator / artist or a muse? Were you ever in the situation of clearly inspiring someone else’s means of personal expression? I have personally undergone a bit of change since I’ve been following your blog: you have enlivened a braver part of me, which was totally unexpected, especially from a fellow Romanian blogger. Thanks:)
RR: I think anybody can be a creator and a muse, and I find myself in both of these positions. I think I inspired people during my highschool years, it became quite obvious at a certain point. But they’ve inspired me as well in unexpected manners, so it has been a fair trade. The same applies to the two of us. I have also become braver due to watching you, sometimes I find myself “wearing” you, or at least a part of you, or a part of other fashion bloggers (Romanian or foreign). That’s the best part of this complex world of fashion blogging: you can celebrate creativity together if you choose to leave behind an immature narcissism and focus on the enriching exchange with others. This doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I feel extremely possessive about my style, but the blogging experience helped me tame this destructive part of myself, transforming it into more creativity and courage.
BC: In one of your posts you said: ‘Beauty attaches itself to you once you stop chasing hollow images of it”. Is it that simple? Do you think all people harbour a dimension of beauty, one that slips out best when it is no longer under the radar of consciousness? Which are the hollow images you have stopped / are struggling to stop chasing?
RR: That post and that line were extremely personal. It was both a confession to myself and a confession regarding my relationship with my boyfriend. We, as everybody else, sometimes tend to be charmed by the beauty of the shell. Nevertheless, I get to despise the shell if the substance inside turns out to be dull, tasteless. I see beauty as a consequence of the interaction between your physical and psychological traits. I never draw conclusions after seeing physical beauty by itself. So I’m running away from drawing a conclusion only after admiring a short and maybe irrelevant caption of someone. I also surprised myself in finding beauty beyond a shell which most people wouldn’t find worthy of attention. For example, I find Amanda Palmer and Thom Yorke to be two of the most beautiful people in the world.
BC: It is really refreshing to see that the written part of your blog grows to be increasingly self-reflexive. Blogs centered on outfit posts, with a varied amount of originality, and with the typical ‘description’, can be fun to browse, but also exhausting to come across, at some point, so a girl with a devouring desire to conquer herself is infinitely more interesting to watch than the average one that tries to conquer the world without knowing 10% of herself. Where do you see yourself in, let’s say, 10 years from now? This is not about planning, rather about intuition and hope.
RR: I can’t help thinking of this great song by Amanda Palmer, ‘In my mind’. She talks exactly about her future. I see myself still struggling, it would be naive and against all I stand up for to think otherwise. I hope to be as enthusiastic about the world as I am now, which also goes along with Albert Camus and I sure hope I will not be tempted to take any leap of faith in any direction. I hope I’ll never actually naively hope that “everything will be fine”. I recognize my position in the world, I am lucid and desperate, I feel revolt and I will never cease to live fully. I want to be able to say just like Amanda : Fuck, yeah. I am exactly the person I want to be.
BC: This could be the perfect ending line, still.. I am left with some voyeuristic curiosity regarding some more trivial details of your life. I do believe objects can tell a lot about a person, not only clothes. I like that red armchair of yours, and the photo with your legs resting upon it. Would you say that’s ‘very you’? How much would you sell that armchair for?
RR: I didn’t pick out that chair. It was there when I arrived, but I’ve grown very fond of it. It’s not mine to sell, but if it were I would try to part from it if someone special wanted anything to do with it.
BC: I’ll consider that . One last thing: I’m going to style one or two outfits very much inspired from yours. Could you imagine a type of story you would like to see them in?
RR: Well, I’ve been imagining myself in so many different scenarios and landscapes that it’s hard to name one. I would definitely like to see them in a childish but also burlesque atmosphere, the innocence of playing with dolls confronted with the fear and darkness of growing up.
So, below there’s the fashion story inspired by Raluca’s style which happens to have a lot in common with mine, and I’m sure anyone would agree to that. I still couldn’t drop the 5 inch heels aside…
Photography courtesy to the lovely Patricia Imbarus, who surely had a rough time with my demanding stubborness…
PS. I kept this material away for a long time already, because it was supposed to be published on the All Hollow blog. Unfortunately, people these days still have the annoying habit of not answering (numerous) mails, whatever their answer would be. Well, what can I say, I waited and waited for what had already become an invitation blown away by the late summer wind. No hard feelings, I don’t have time for that kind of stuff – but what I do make time for is reading Ioana’s column on the blog (Ioana from Ruffles for Breakfast, that is), check it out! It’s pretty damn cool.