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Style Icon is semi-regular series that highlights Angelenos who aren't strictly in the business of fashion, but who have an affinity for style, clothing, retail?or just plain looking good.
Laena Geronimo is a very young 'old head' on the LA music scene. For the past couple years Laena has been playing bass guitar and singing with The Like, while playing violin with Swahili Blonde, percussion, violin, vocals and keyboards with Dante Vs. Zombies, and moonlights on bass with Residual Echoes. She's been involved with about a dozen other LA indie faves, so you've probably seen her on stage even if you didn't mean to. Laena's current focus is her solo project, Raw Geronimo. Heavily inspired by the musical works of both of her parents (her dad played drums in Devo), Raw Geronimo's sound could be called "jungle-punk-soul-surf-goth-world-avant-pop.”
In addition to her musical talents, Laena rocks some serious sartorial ones as well. She mixes high and low vintage and contemporary lines with confidence, and pretty much has the cutest look we've seen. We spent the day with her spelunking the depths of her amazing clothing collection in order to bring you the inspirational details.
So Laena, your closet is pretty much an explosion of pattern and color: and most of it is vintage. When you go vintage shopping, what do you look for? Color, fabric, pattern, time period?
The first thing that I look for in vintage is quality fabric. The way that different materials fall on the body makes or breaks an item for me. One of the main reasons that I wear so much vintage is because you can find really beautifully made clothes in fine fabrics for cheap. A lot of designers heavily reference selected vintage pieces for their own collections, but they charge a much prettier penny because of the costs of materials and labor, and also for their expertise in assessing what's fashionable now and creating an alluring context. I have a strong sense of my own eclectic style and I take pleasure in being resourceful, so vintage is a no-brainer really.
What are your favorite vintage shops in Los Angeles?
Squaresville is my go-to vintage shop; it's just the right size and price point. I've gotten some of my favorite pieces there. For a committed afternoon of serious treasure hunting I go to Jet Rag. For super high quality, cream of the crop vintage I go to Lemon Frog. Playclothes is a bit of a trek for me, but they are truly a proper vintage store, organized by era with a huge selection of reasonably priced incredible finds, and it's well worth the trip.
When you've toured have you found any great pieces? Are there any things that come on tour with you that you can't/don't rock in LA?
Touring with The Like involves a lot of vintage stops. I got an amazing orange and pink play-suit at Relic in London which I've worn a ridiculous amount on stage and in photoshoots... For the most part though, I'm not really in the mood to shop when I'm on tour. I think it may have something to do with how spoiled I am with the abundance of amazing and inexpensive vintage in LA. Portland is great for vintage too actually.
As far as things that stay in the suitcase go... I mean there are specific items that are worn for shows and things with The Like that I definitely wouldn't throw on in my own day-to-day life; my character in the band basically has a wardrobe of her own at this point. The mod 60's look is something that I have always loved as a facet of my own style, but the whole aesthetic of the band for this last album was pretty solidly built around that one very specific look?... So yeah, I kind of rebel against it every time i get back from tour and just go super grunge and wear no makeup and the same clothes for like a week.
The Like takes its style references from the 60s. For your new solo project, Raw Geronimo, are you taking inspiration from a specific time period as well?
No. I am much more interested in now. "Now" is just a combination of everything that ever was anyways... especially in this world we live in today where we have infinite access to images and information about virtually everything at our fingertips. I mean various artistic movements, tribal ceremony, counter-cultures, funny fads, cave paintings, royal processions, exotic plants -- all of it, spanning the ages! I am inspired by the insane mush of it all.
You play like a million instruments, is anything off limits on stage due simply to mobility?
What I wear on stage is only really limited to my own mental restrictions... Every instrument and every project calls for a different character to me, be it more feminine or masculine, in-your-face or demure etc, and as a performer those characteristics are largely defined by the clothes that I wear. When I'm singing in Raw Geronimo it's a little different because I'm not playing a peripheral character really... it's hard to explain... It's not really a girlish or boyish thing, it's more of an androgynous force in me. One thing that I do know is that I intend to really get into it mentally and physically as a front person- I want to be able to crawl, jump, run around and get all theatrical if I'm feeling it. So yeah, no frilly skirts or cutesy little dresses, nothing too risque. Really the bottom line is to allow for Raw Geronimo's aesthetic to develop and evolve naturally, hopefully into its own unique thing.
How would you describe your style inspiration?
Ahhhh: I think maybe this rug? My mom brought it over from Romania when she moved here in her early 20's, and it's hand made in every sense of the word. The bold but harmonious colors, geometric patterns, and the way that the shapes and colors relate to one another; it's extremely inspiring to me. The rug basically defines my aesthetic. I want to have my face painted in those specific colors and shapes for some photos very soon- that's how serious I am about this rug.
Who are your style icons?
Let's see?Patty Hearst, Barbarella, Ziggy Stardust, Adam Ant, Kate Bush, Dr. Strangelove, Poison Ivy (of The Cramps), Patti Smith?- but I dunno really. I'm having to think really hard through some reverse upside-down process to come up with these names. I'm really referring to an outfit that said person was wearing in like one photograph or during a specific era which is seared into my memory as being like, right up my alley. I don't consciously emulate or refer to anyone else when I'm getting dressed.
LA is a town that can seem to focus on appearances, labels, etc. Does that come into play at all for you?
Definitely not labels, but I suppose it would be naive to say that appearance isn't important to me. For me it's not about beauty or judging people based on how expensive or fashionable their clothes are. I see clothing as just another form of expression and a way to quickly gauge another person's general interests. It's not a very conscious thing for me, especially living in an area where a lot of people dress with an artistic flair. When I'm on tour outside of a major city or visiting family elsewhere in the country it's different; everyone looks at me like I'm from outer space.
While most of your clothing is vintage, what are your favorite contemporary lines/designers?
Maison Martin Margiela, The Battallion, American Apparel, Popomomo, 8000 Nerves, Lover, Haider Ackermann...
Is there any style choice you've made that you regret?
I don't regret anything, ever.
Is there anything you can say with confidence, I would never wear this/try this look?
I can't say with confidence that there's anything I wouldn't try, except for a few life threatening things. Sometimes I'll wear something horrible just for the pure irony of it. There was one Dante Vs. Zombies show that I played dressed as a cheerleader, complete with Hooter's style fake-tan stockings, athletic socks and sneakers.
That sounds fantastic.
What's your current go-to outfit?
Well I've been just recording and rehearsing a lot, so basically I'm shuffling around in this green and black oversized button down, with black skinny jeans and my Paul Smith brogues. Every day.
Raw Geronimo's first fully electrified show will be held at The Bootleg Theater on April the 8th, and Raw Geronimo ends fashion week with a bang with an acoustic set at the Popomomo party at the Mandrake.
(Story and photos by Lizz Wasserman)
· Raw Geronimo [Facebook]
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