18.7.11

A Labor of Love: Fashions by Raquel Rodriguez, Age 11.

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A week and a half ago, I participated in a group art show. I had a great time checking out art from other people, talking to old friends, and meeting some new ones.

While I was there, I stumbled upon the book project of Raquel Rodriguez. When I opened up the cover, I was automatically smitten. I got so excited that I started leading friends over to her area to check out the book as well. I couldn't put the thing down!

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Here's why: Raquel's book is a compilation of drawings she made when she was 11 years old (that would be in 1991, young thangs). They're drawn out on that familiar blue and white paper, and inked in ballpoint and colorful marker. There's four on a page, and the book is substantial. This was obviously something Raquel labored over for a long time when she was younger. She was devoted to a vision!

I was immediately taken with the fact that Raquel's "models" looked so fantastically uber-femme: busty, big lips, moles, and huge hair. They were clad in clothing that looked like it would be just at home on ladies right now. She even had themes to go along with each set of outfits!

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I made sure I procured Raquel's contact information that evening, and then promptly emailed her the next day. I didn't know why, or how, or what we would do, but I knew we needed to work on something together relating to her amazing book.

We decided to do a photoshoot based on Raquel's drawings. Raquel selected items from her our wardrobe to mimic three of her "models": Lisa, Angelina, and Roxy. She also put together her hair and makeup, based on the looks of her girls. Here's what we came up with!


Lisa's look:


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Lisa is casual. She sports overalls and a flirty, fluttery top, paired with a scarf around her hair.


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Angelina's look:


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A sleek black top, handpainted, colorful skirt, and high heeled boots. Sha-zam! Don't forget the sassy bow perched in the hair!


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And finally, Roxy's look:



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Of course, Roxy is a rock'n'roll girl! Concert shirt, little jean cut offs, rocker tights, and those high heeled boots again. Sling back some badass attitude and she's ready to go!



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And here's a little extra: a q and a with incredible fashion oracle, Raquel Rodriguez!


Who/ what were your fashion influences at age 11?


My biggest beauty influences at the time were probably the women in my family and community. There were so many gorgeous women around, aided of course by perms, Aqua Net and Maybelline. But I knew that they were devastatingly beautiful and daring with or without makeup. And they were probably influenced by the Fly Girls from In Living Color, Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. Pop and R&B music videos were big influences. I was also into the show Style with Elsa Klensch on the weekends, so I did soak up some high fashion influences. That was where I learned about Adrienne Vittadini, Claude Montana and Giorgio Armani.


How have these influences changed or remained the same now, as an adult?


Well, it is now exactly 20 years later, and fashion has come full circle. Looking through the book, you'll see that there are a lot of things that feel really current today, or are an indicator of where current fashion is about to go. That was the motivator for this photo shoot. And there is still one Fly Girl that is still a global fashion influence. She's also a good example of how it's not JUST about the clothes, it's about what the woman does in those clothes.


What motivated you to draw and carry out such an extensive project at such a young age? What was your motivator? Have these motivators changed as you grew into an adult?


The motivation for the initial book of drawings 20 years ago was just...obsession! Obsession with glamour, a burning passion and love for fashion. I mean, I was obsessed with fashion, just on my own - I don't remember there being a lot of issues of VOGUE or Bazaar lying around ever. I was lucky enough to often visit someone who had cable and that's where I watched Style with Elsa Klensch. Otherwise, who knows what would have become of me! Obsession with one day being a woman like all of those that I saw on TV and in real life. I wanted to absorb all of their positive traits and beauty as my own. I consider the book an homage to all of these women.
My motivators are much the same - obsession with art and fashion, and wanting to absorb beauty. But it's not just about the beauty of what a woman looks like IT'S THE BEAUTY IN WHAT THE WOMAN DOES!


Can you tell us how you came to decide to turn your drawings into a book? Who is your audience?


I've had this book with me for 20 years throughout moving around to different places and also disposing of a lot of drawings because it just gets to be too much. It's presence was always in the back of my mind, and I thought that when my art became more well known I would include it in a sort of retrospective book. Chapter One would be like RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ: THE BEGINNING. This might be the earliest work that I have, although I started to express fashion and glamour in my art at around 5 years old by drawing lots of accessories on the figures. I probably drew cleavage on those too.
Recently I realized that the book was exactly 20 years old and that I saw girls on the street wearing the same things, and that if I came across one of the pieces that I had drawn in a store, I would consider it a total score. I thought people NOW would get a kick out of it.

.......

Thank you so much, Raquel! You're a gem.

For inquiries or information on obtaining a copy of Raquel's book, email her at artfoxrox@yahoo.com. She'll also have an Etsy store up soon, called Imnotyourpuppet.

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