Why “Trashylvania”? What do you consider trash and why do you like it?
I came up with the name “Trashylvania” around 2009, which popped into my head when I was thinking about the destructive nature of living in a disposable culture that is all too quick to make hasty waste out of anything deemed conventionally and terminally useless, whether it’s a candy wrapper on the ground or a suffering person. I felt it suited me for having a lifelong background of extreme poverty and growing up struggling in a dangerous neighborhood. I mainly had everything secondhand, and repurposing everything I had was, and continues to be, a source of personal pride and fulfillment. I suppose I really took the proverbial “turning trash into treasure” practice to heart. In a light, personal philosophical sense, I see “trash” as a deservedly bold reclamation of not only my roots, but as a testament to my efforts and triumphs over years of self-loathing and perceptions of worthlessness for so much of my life, often due to direct oppression and harassment by authority figures.
What does color mean to you? Why is it so present in your aesthetic?
This is a fun one! I inherited a relatively benign condition called synesthesia, in which the lines between the five senses can become a bit more blurred, so they overlap sometimes. For me, bright colors produce a sensation of tasting pure sweetness, so I associate a great amount of childlike contentment and relaxation surrounded by neon monster toys, lava lamps and blacklight posters portraying swirling rainbow oblivion.
What is your basic color palette? Do you ever wear just black?
My all-time favorite color palette is slime green, the most electric hot pink, and a bright purple. I usually balance my brightness with one or two black pieces. Occasionally, I revisit my angsty teen years and wear all-black with different textures for each piece, so layers and details are still prominent. I got a bit of a sartorial burnout from needing to fill my closet with mostly black pieces, since I was working in a media-relations office. Typically, my aesthetic revolves around clashing colors and themes and embracing what’s typically denigrated as ugly, bizarre and chaotic with a sharp wink and a sly smile.
Where do you get inspiration for your outfits?
I’ve been interested in psychedelic, kitschy and vibrantly strange looks since single-digit ages; throwing a tantrum over not picking out my own outfit was certainly not out of the question back then. A few inspirations I can think of are Harajuku street-fashion niches, thrift-store clothes with patterns and colors so loud you can’t hear while you’re looking at them; irreverent, dated and vibrant pulp art; nearly the entire aesthetic of the film “A Clockwork Orange”; stuffed carnival-prize animals, toys and other colorful things—which typically represent childhood happiness—laying in dumpsters, other waste receptacles or the street; the World of Warcraft character Illidan Stormrage, Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Enid Coleslaw from Ghost World.
What are your style resolutions for 2016?
My 2016 fashion resolution is to finally let go of all the pieces I never wear (like old work clothes) and treat myself to some serious statement pieces—the more fantastical and absurd, the better.
—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.