I never dress according to the same theme two days in a row...
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Bebe Zeva and I’m an 18 year old style blogger, cultural analyst, costume enthusiast, and self-proclaimed bête noire. I’m a senior in high school looking forward to getting my degree in Fashion Design and Sociology. As cliché as it is, I don’t really know exactly who I am yet, and I guess that’s why I accept inspiration and influence from such a vast expanse of sources. I never dress according to the same theme two days in a row because I don’t want to get too attached to any one persona. Having a comfort zone or security blanket sounds like my worst nightmare. I thoroughly enjoy the pressure of having to surprise people.
How did you first get interested in fashion and why is it important?
My mom stocked my closet with well-constructed clothing as a child and taught me to appreciate high-quality fabrics, colors, and textures as soon as I was able to buckle my own shoes! I was definitely one of those kids who wore Mudd brand flared jeans with platform sandals and scrunchies, but I don’t think that made me any less aware of fashion despite it being far from "chic." While my elementary school classmates were wearing Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts with Baby-G watches and velvet sweatpants, I was wearing floor-length denim skirts with embroidered butterfly tank-tops, suede clogs, newsboy caps, star-shaped sunglasses, and oversized corduroy blazers. In fact, my style then wasn’t far from what it is now!
I attribute my obsession with fashion to the fact that I was constantly moving around as a child—every time I entered a new school as "the new kid," I knew that I had to find a way to make my classmates notice me and accept me into their social circles. Unfortunately, my plans usually backfired because people perceived me as a "diva" for caring about the way I looked. That said, I’m incredibly grateful that I chose to stick to my guns and not compromise my love of apparel for acceptance from judgmental peers.
People often claim that fashion is entirely superficial and unworthy of praise, but I think that’s simply an excuse unmotivated people make for not being able to manifest their own personal style. Fashion isn’t solely superficial; it requires as valid an artistic vision as any other form of creativity. Fashion is about perspective; it’s about applying one’s character to their clothing so that passersby can make accurate internalizations about their tastes. Above all, it’s courteous to dress up. Show your community that you respect them enough to honor their presence with an effortful outfit. If you were invited to have tea with the Queen, there’s no chance in hell you’d wear a pair of blue jeans because you intrinsically know that it’d be disrespectful. I like to treat everyone I know like the Queen; no one is exempt from having to show their friends and acquaintances that they appreciate them!
What are your passions?
I’m fascinated by subcultural movements, sartorial trends, and fad ideologies. If it’s a pattern of behavior specific to a historical era, I want to memorize every thread that composes the fabric of its being. I am enamored by the human condition. I’d like to study sociology in depth and apply it to fashion design and marketing. By understanding the makeup of demographics, style progressions, and geographic fashion evolution, one can easily forecast the birth and spread of trends. That type of information is extremely useful in the fashion industry and, thankfully, something I can see myself pursuing as a career in the near future.
How do you describe the fashion scene in Las Vegas compared to other major cities/fashion capitals?
Very, very minimal, veering on completely nonexistent. For every 100 people in this city, there is only one person dressed well, and that person is just visiting from Los Angeles for the weekend. This city is composed of tourists. If you’re not a tourist, you probably live in the suburbs and conform to suburban standards of beauty and "fashion," which, I think, most of the people on LOOKBOOK would agree isn’t really fashion at all: rhinestone encrusted boot-cut jeans with Ed Hardy tops and flip flops. Las Vegas is known for its glorification of drinking, clubbing, and gambling. Can you honestly see Anna Wintour strutting down the Strip toting a Birkin bag on one arm and carrying a Starbucks beverage in the other? Me neither.
What do you love about living in Las Vegas?
Despite the dearth of fashion consciousness coming from Las Vegas’ tourist population, there’s lately been a tremendous influx in couture shopping options. City Center, Vegas’ latest metropolitan project, brought in more contemporary designer stores like Lanvin and Miu Miu, which are able to draw in a younger and style-savvier audience. I love that I constantly have access to designer stores from every end of the spectrum—Chanel, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, Barney’s, Alexander McQueen, all within walking distance! At any point in time I could mosey down the street and come strutting back home in a pair of Louboutin pumps. Most cities don’t offer such an incredible concentration of designer options in such a small space. Beyond the appeal of shopping is the way Las Vegas looks in general. Admittedly, it’s constructed of a series of facades, but the neon signs are captivating and I love that I can see the distant glow of the Luxor’s famed light from my bedroom window.
Top 3 places to visit in the United States:
Williamsburg in New York City, my favorite neighborhood in the world! I’ve never felt happier than in the moments I spent grazing the brick walls of Brooklyn with my fingertips. It was electrifying to weave through the bustling throngs of Williamsburg natives, all clutching classic novels in canvas backpacks, eager to purchase their next bottle of Kombucha and head home to their lofts, towering over the energy of an unprecedented youth. I can’t wait to one day be one of them.
Central Park in Manhattan. Something about the rich greenery flourishing among an island of industrial architecture is inspiring beyond description. I distinctly remember sitting in a park bench, staring into the horizon, and wondering “How could anyone ever be depressed here?” I’d desperately like to fall in love and bring my sweetheart to that grassy plain in the East Coast breeze.
Venice Beach in California. It doesn’t matter if you’re an authentic free-spirit or a passing visitor, the optimism floating through the seaside atmosphere is infectious. Denizens and derelicts of Venice Beach are fascinating to observe, and even more fascinating to engage in conversation.
Describe your personal style and its influences/inspiration.
My personal style is an amalgam of themes from iconic eras, like mod 1960's, free-spirited 1970's, goth 1980's, grunge 1990's, and cyber-chic 2000s. I like anything that looks like it’s been dissected from an occultist fairytale. If it’s gothic, pastel, macabre, or Dada, I’ve probably spent hours fawning over it, desperate to reinvent it in a quintessentially Bebe Zeva fashion. I try to gather inspiration from the most unpredictable of sources, like science textbooks from 1995 and vintage Polly Pockets. I get the most pleasure out of replicating the aesthetics of characters from films, fables, novels, and illustrations.
Favorite designers and places to shop?
I especially like the works of Jeremy Scott, Riccardo Tisci, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Ashish Gupta but I don’t own much, if any, clothing created by my favorite designers. To me, designers are artists. I appreciate their vision and product but don’t feel obligated to possess their creations. My favorite places to shop are secondhand stores like Buffalo Exchange or novelty boutiques like the Gypsy Den here in Las Vegas. If all the designer apparel in the world evaporated over night, I’d be completely contented swimming through the cornucopia of secondhand goods at the Sunday dollar sale. Labels are not important to me.
The first thing you look at in another person's outfit is:
The entire theme. I couldn’t gauge how fashionable an outfit is based on one characteristic if the entire thing was simply…blasé. However, I do consider silhouettes, layers, textures, and color schemes to be of paramount importance. More than anything, I like to see that someone else is wearing a completely inimitable ensemble. That means one-of-a-kind statement pieces worn in ways that are consistent with an established theme, like “seafaring French fille” highlighted by an outstanding mariner’s sailing cap.
What do you skimp on?
Handbags. I wear my black Rebecca Minkoff fringe messenger with almost every outfit.
What do you splurge on?
Blazers. I own at least 30, but most are vintage hand-me-downs from my mom’s 90’s wardrobe!
A fashion rule you always break:
"Take one thing off before you leave the house." Ha! I always opt to put six more things on!
A fashion rule you never break:
Rules are meant to be broken, especially for the younger fashion set. It seems like the older you get, the more obligated you are to adhere to stylistic laws, otherwise you can get away with almost anything.
What do you think is the most recent notable trend to appear/reappear, and what are your thoughts on it?
Color blocking. I’d probably think it was cool if I didn’t see it 500 times a day worn in the same exact sequence; cropped orange pants, blue pumps, white blouse, purple blazer, lime green clutch, red lipstick. Come on, people! If you’re going to mix and match solids, at least do it in a way that hasn’t been sported thousands of times! If I see one more person wear a pair of neon pants with peep-toe heels I will downright shave my head bald.
What is the most underrated item in menswear and womenswear?
For men: cuffed pants and necklaces. There is absolutely nothing sexier than Versace’s SS 2011 menswear collection.
For women: Lingerie! More statement onesies, more floor-length robes, more sheer nighties, more lace intimates, more pastel capes and sleepytime night gowns!
Your favorite colour(s) of the moment are:
What is your next "must have" purchase?
It’s too warm to wear this summer, but I’ve still got my eye out of for an affordable black feather coat. My next phase is doomed to be “ornithic goth.”
What is the ultimate showpiece in your closet?
Probably my embroidered bolero jacket reminiscent of an ostentatious matador. It’s made of black velvet, gold thread, and colored jewels emblazoned among the collar. I try to wear it as sparingly as possible because I don’t want it to ever lose its novelty!
Are there any fashion icons or famous people whose style you admire?
Tavi Gevinson, for representing the ultimate teen witch, Lady Gaga, for emphasizing the genius of anti-fashion and performance art, and Frida Gustavsson, for showing how runway couture can be made to look casual and effortless.
What's on your iPod / bookshelf / DVD player at the moment?
On my iPod: Tennis, Tame Impala, MillionYoung, Ariel Pink, John Maus, X, Buzzcocks, The Velvet Underground, The Strokes, The Misfits, and Pictureplane.
On my bookshelf: Cute, a chapbook by Jordan Castro and Mallory Whitten, and Best Behavior by Noah Cicero.
In my DVD player: My favorite 1970s animated film, The Point, narrated by Ringo Starr.
What can't you live without?
Buffalo wings, liquid eyeliner, lace socks, Lime Crime lipstick, and a wi-fi connection!
What is your personal favorite outfit on LOOKBOOK by you, and by another member?
My personal favorite look of my own is ASLEEP AT A PARTY (see above look). I think it’s most characteristic of my present infatuations; lullaby witchcraft, white lace, and ethereal pastel fabrics. The sheer outer layer on my mint robe reminds me of an elaborate canopy bed I had for baby dolls as a kid.
My favorite look from another member is Dressed to Depress by Cosette Munch. Everything about the look is perfect—the fluidity of the outfit, the coordinated color scheme, the flattering fit of the garments, even the cropped black hairstyle. When I look at this picture, I feel overcome with the desire to print it out and carry it with me, showing it off to everyone who meets my glance by declaring “This is style! This is sophistication!” Cosette’s influences from literature, film, and art history are made extraordinarily evident in her ensembles; they are brilliant every time.
Next place you want to travel to (and why):
Israel! I’m Jewish, so I feel especially endeared toward my cultural homeland. I attended Hebrew school for seven years and was always encouraged to visit Jerusalem. I feel that I’d have an incredibly pivotal experience traveling throughout the country, taking in the rich history and ancient architecture.
In the year 2016 you will be:
23 years old and hopefully settled into a studio somewhere in the heart of Brooklyn—a beautifully furnished apartment where I’d have my own vinyl record collection and a walk-in closet stocked with garments from my world travels! I’d also like to be published in a variety of magazines and journals by that time. I’d still like to fulfill my lifelong dream of publishing a novel and poetry collection. Before I self-identified as a style blogger, everyone knew me as a writer, journalist, and poet!
What would you say to someone seeking fashion advice?
Don’t you dare fit in. Wear what you know, not what you see. I don’t care how trendy certain styles and items are. If they aren’t consistent with YOUR artistic vision, don’t wear them! Sincerity is the cornerstone of style. Only wear what comes naturally, even if that means an outrageous costume. Sound like a paradox? Much of fashion is.
M'c Kenneth wants to know: If you had a chance to be in someone else’s shoes, and live their life for a day, who’s fashion personality will you be and why?
Betsey Johnson! I’d desperately like to be surrounded by the inspiration that galvanizes her creative visions. I like that despite her age, she’s overflowing with the vigor of youth. Also wouldn’t hurt to have a peek at her divine wardrobe…
What should we ask the next interviewee?
If your entire identity could be represented by an inanimate object, which would you choose?