Vintage is like my calling in life. I need to go and save valuable items from hands that might be unappreciative of them.
Nadja Seale is a 25 year old make-up artist, stylist, and owner of vintage store Vintage Vices from Pretoria, South Africa.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Nadja, it is Russian for “hope” and I like to consider myself as an entity with a fair amount of optimism, which might be a branch of hope. I am 25 years young and work as a make-up artist, stylist, ceramic artist, owner/seller of a vintage range called Vintage Vices and I can also put in there, chef. I grew up in a small town in South Africa called Witbank. Apparently where I stay now, it is pretty bad for your “image” to voice that fact, but I like [my] humble beginnings. I studied to become a chef because I like how it combines something that you do everyday (i.e. eating) with art. After that, I studied make-up and prosthetics and started working with a creative agency in South Africa that gave me the opportunity to work for magazines like Elle, Oprah, Fairlady and a few local ones.
How did you first get interested in fashion and why is it important?
When I got my first Barbie at the tender age of 3. I don’t think my parents knew how lethal that would become. I remember going to first grade and asking a lady to design clothing for me. Not sounding like a little brat, it was more wanting my own style that the Children's section in the South African Department Store never stocked. After that, I was about 16 when I realized that fashion would become my nonverbal means of communication. And when I started working with larger magazines as a stylist, I realized that it would also become my means to help other people express their personality in a photo to the public.
What are your passions?
My Lord Jesus…and work is definitely my passion, but with my occupation comes with the great privilege of working with people and being able to transform ladies from plain to exquisite. So that goes hand in hand with my passion for people. I think we as human beings are such great phenomena and I absolutely love working with individuals. I have also found a great passion for ceramic art. It is another creative outlet for me. I think I am the type of person that needs creative stimulation in all areas of my life or else the dreaded word—BOREDOM—steps in. So, to avoid that evil word, I opted for a fair amount of ADD to keep me occupied.
How do you describe the fashion scene in Pretoria compared to other major cities/fashion capitals?
I can say that Pretorians are less concerned about major fashion labels , but put a fair amount of effort in the way they present themselves. They might be a bit more scared to take chances on fashion. I see that, because often when I walk around town I still get a few weird glances like, “What are you wearing!?” I find it more amusing than offensive. I am a sort of person that would never be satisfied with what others consider the norm.
What do you love about living in Pretoria?
I actually just heard a lady say tonight: Pretoria is a small town on steroids. That might be the reason that I really love it and yet really dislike it. But I like the fact that Pretoria has a large amount of people speaking Afrikaans (my native language); that culture is close to my heart. I also love the Jacaranda trees in Pretoria. They only bloom in October for a short period of time and the whole town looks like it has purple snow.
Top 3 places to visit in the South Africa:
Knysna/Wilderness: It is the most beautiful place on earth, it is very artistic and there are still a large number of hippies there that adds to the Bohemian mood. Soweto: Because it is like the African capital and has the coolest hangouts where someone actually taught me a bit of Zulu. Cape Town: Because, well, it's Cape Town.
Describe your personal style and its influences/inspiration.
My style is definitely influenced by nature and my day to day frame of mind. I think in South Africa we have the privilege of having an immense disposition of natural influences. If you walk in my city you will come across African people sitting on the side of the road making pieces of art out of scrap material. An immense amount of inspiration comes from the cultures around me. It is warm and colourful but in the same way natural and fresh.
Favorite designers and places to shop?
Vanessa Bruno, I love how the clothing is always romantic yet boyish at the same time, but ultimately I like to shop at thrift stores or antique shops. My all time favourite shop is called Green Sleeves in Stellenbosch, Cape area. It is filled with classic treasures. Phillipa, the girl that works there, has taught me so much with regard to looking at good material and how to scout a great vintage dress. I always feel that vintage is like my calling in life. I need to go and save valuable items from hands that might be unappreciative of them.
The first thing you look at in another person's outfit is:
Mmmm…that's difficult…maybe without realizing it, I look at the quality of clothes more than the outfit. I have a big appreciation for vintage and the way of excellence it had been made with.
What do you skimp on?
Accessories, because I always seem to lose them. I could buy a thousand earrings and never have any left by the end of the day, which is the biggest reason that I rarely wear earrings.
What do you splurge on?
I have a thing for leather. Maybe I had some biker influences in my bloodline. I think I could maybe have been related to Evel Knievel; I dig his white starry-eyed leathers. So anything leather, I will splurge on, be it shoes, bags or jackets…or Evel Knievels ha ha.
A fashion rule you always break:
When I just started out as a rookie stylist, I was working for a magazine and the girls working with me had the rudest way of speaking to others, they might have thought that due to the reason that they were “fashion scouts” they could be mean. I suggested putting an element of “earth” in one specific photo shoot we did. Something like cool ostrich feathers. They immediately said, “NO FEATHERS” So due to the “NO FEATHERS” incident, I always include a feather somewhere when it is not “allowed” by fashion scouts.
A fashion rule you never break:
Did fashion have rules? I seem to be oblivious to that.
What do you think is the most recent notable trend to appear/reappear, and what are your thoughts on it?
Feathers ha ha! But without a doubt, tribal influenced prints and textures. And I absolutely adore it. I like how you can use the same hues/colours of different prints and textures and combine it. I also think that beadwork plays an important role. It is a good thing because something like beadwork takes an immense amount of time and that takes people back to living a bit more slowly and making quality materials.
What is the most underrated item in menswear and womenswear?
Feathers! No, I will stop with the feathers before I sound like a brothel owner. I could maybe say in both cases: a bolo tie which the cowboys wear. I absolutely love them and they add such a quirky edge to any outfit. Plus, I like the fact that it can be a nice DIY project for any one.
Your favorite colour(s) of the moment are:
All sorts of natural colours like beige and cream. Those colours make me so happy. I don’t need chocolate when I see those colours.
What is your next "must have" purchase?
Another hairless dog.
What is the ultimate showpiece in your closet?
A vintage wedding dress that was made in the 1920’s, from pure silk. I found it at a thrift store in South Africa and my sister ended up getting married in it!
Are there any fashion icons or famous people whose style you admire?
I really like Steven Tyler’s style. He is pretty bohemian for a guy and makes his clothing work for him. And then I have always loved Katherine Hepburn’s style. She is classic without looking too conservative.
What's on your iPod / bookshelf / DVD player at the moment?
Listening to Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros…at this moment, reading Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee…not at this moment, watching a river runs through it... in my mind... who doesn’t like a young Brad.
What can't you live without?
My dog. She is my best friend and is such a character. She is a Chinese crested so she has no hair. I am a bit of a clean freak so that helps, because she gets bathed very often.
What is your personal favorite outfit on LOOKBOOK by you, and by another member?
My own would be a look is Bloodbank (See above). I was obsessed with Bon Iver at that time. While we did the shoot I was playing it in my head and when the photos were edited it was also playing. So Bloodbank was pretty much the vibe. There are so many great looks on lookbook but Andre’s look really stands out. He is such an experimental artist and such a sweet person too.
Next place you want to travel to (and why):
I have traveled quite a bit around the world so the one place weirdly enough that I would like to go to is in Africa too, Namibia. I have never been there and everyone says the people are so sweet and the scenery awesome. It combines desert and sea. Isn’t that great? One moment you could be in wasteland and the next you could get a wave at the beach.
In the year 2017 you will be:
Living in a white house on a farm in a small town with lots of locations to take photos, doing vintage pop-up stores around the town and organising organic markets on the farm, being married to a vet...mmmm the life of an idealist.
What would you say to someone seeking fashion advice?
Get inspiration from lots of places or sources but build your own style up around that. Remember that your fashion is peoples' first perception of who you are so always keep it in line with your personality…and wait for it…join LOOKBOOK!
Edward Honaker wants to know: Let's say that you have a TV show about your day-to-day life. What would be the name of the show? What would be the theme song?
Hi Edward…really like your dog! Back to the question, it would be called: Make-up Your Mind. I am a make-up artist and tend to be indecisive of what I would like to be when I grow up, if I ever grow up. Maybe I will just decide to never grow up—that’s it, decision made. The theme song would be MGMT - KIDS.
What should we ask the next interviewee?
If you could be any piece of clothing on any person’s body, what piece of clothing would it be and on who?