This story is part of Image Issue 11 “Renovation” in which we look at everyday architecture – and what it would look like to tear it all down. Read the whole issue here.
Renovating your own style starts at home. And by home, Keyla Marquez means the various places around town where what she calls the “LA edgy girl vibe” lives. “LA girls, they don’t give af-. There’s something about LA culture and the way it seeps into fashion—Sundays at the car show, Sundays at the flea market. Girls just look good. And they feel good too. You can feel their energy,” she says. “There’s so much originality in the way these girls dress – they’re economical, they’re vintage. The way the kids dress out here is so cool – the way they mix vintage with designer with their DIY. Like all those DIY kids selling on Melrose… I always stop and check out their stuff. The kids will literally just set up their frame and a tent. This is the evolving and renewing fashion of youth. They set up their own shops on the street.”
Marquez, who has styled LA luminaries like Mia Carucci, Cherry Glazerr and Mandy Harris Williams, draws inspiration from the way LA girls develop awareness – awareness – of their sexuality and draw strength from it. The right outfit can change your mood when you see how it works on you in the mirror; it can change the way you feel. For Marquez, a powerful outfit looks like her new Freak City ensemble: blue pants with attached skirt and a matching hoodie, all covered in orange flames. “Every time I wear this, people are like WTF, Keyla, and I’m like, ‘I know I look good,'” she laughs. “I actually wore this on a second date with a guy.”
Experience guides Marquez’s approach to the meaning of clothing. She was born in El Salvador in the midst of a civil war. She spent her time with her grandmother and mother, who both ran their own clothing lines from home. Her grandmother, who owned the largest house in the neighborhood, welcomed the women into the neighborhood and sewed ruffled velvet dresses to wear on weekends. “The war left a traumatic mark on me, but now that I’m healed, I see it as empowering because I’ve seen the power of community,” Marquez reflects. “It’s like making magical moments out of tragedy.”
“Politics but make it fashion” is a slogan often found on Marquez’s Instagram posts. When photos of children in cages hit the news in 2018, Marquez designed bright T-shirts that read “NO ICE.” “I crossed the border when I was 5,” she says. “It could have been us.” The shirts raised $6,000 for the separated families. And in 2020, she once again explored the potential of a simple garment when she challenged artists to reinterpret the white t-shirt; All proceeds went to families affected by COVID-19.
This summer, Marquez is launching Lujo Depot, which she describes as “an online showroom for clothing rentals by the industry, for the industry.” She plans to feature smaller, lesser-known designers and run a blog that will share the designers’ undertold stories and “what inspired them.”
Marquez recognizes that there is a story behind every project. For her, this story is closely linked to how and where she grew up. “I love LA so much. So much of my work is LA,” she says. “Now that the culture I grew up in is finally getting influence and support, it’s really nice. I choose the style based on the life I’ve lived here. When I do jobs that represent LA, it’s like I am. I’m LA”
Elisa Wouk Almin: You initially worked in architecture and design. Has that influenced the way you put an outfit together?
Keyla Marquez: One hundred percent. I understand construction. I understand fabrics. Understand the basics of design. Working in an architecture firm helped me get a better understanding of how colors and images work. I learned theory and balance. And how to put a deck together – half our jobs are in front of the computer putting those decks together for clients and trying to sell a vision or an idea.
EWA: How would you describe your brand as a stylist?
KM: I never style anyone in anything they would never wear. i love colors I love LA and I love jewelry – my jewelry set is crazy.
EWA: What can you do about an outfit to make it feel new or fresh?
KM: Accesories. A good belt, a good chain. A striking shoe. An oversized jacket. One thing that is super extra. A big gold hoop.
EWA: Tell me about your love of bows.
KM: My dad died six years ago and I had all these tapes made with his name on them. I always have a part of him with me. I also want to look like a gift to the world.
EWA: What is an outdated notion of style that needs to go?
KM: Sex. Male and female. There should be no clothes just for men or clothes just for women.
EWA: How can we be a little freer, a little more innovative with style?
KM: when i was younger I used to be very limited to clothes. I used to say, “I’m short with this” or “I can’t wear the X-thing because it makes me look fat.” I’m so over it now. Everything looks fine when you give it this setting. It’s all about the approach. We need to give clothes that space and freedom to be more than just what you think.
EWA: Who is an LA designer renovating style?
KM: Many of my friends’ brands that I support so much and are part of my community – Gypsy Sport for example. He’s so good at taking upcycling and our culture and making it work for us. make fashion. Growing up in LA, our culture was never considered fashion. People thought: “They are poor, they are ghettos.” And now Vogue has articles about brands like Gypsy Sport or No Sesso. It’s also a renewal of old-fashioned ideals — celebrating things that were once looked down on because immigrants aren’t really celebrated. But we’re slowly changing that. Because immigrants are now coming into positions of power. And we get paid to tell our story.
EWA: What three adjectives would you use to describe your personal style?
KM: Powerful, confident, daring. I don’t care what people think when they see me. I am the b—.
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