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I first came across La Carmina's blog a few weeks ago and was immediately drawn in and fascinated by this young entrepreneur. Blogger, Fashion Designer, TV Host, Huffington Post journalist and those are just the few of her many talents. BSF caught up with La Carmina to delve into her world.
Could you describe yourself and what who you are to our readers?
Hello, I'm La Carmina Goth/Japan/alternative blogger, coolhunter, and travel TV host (Travel Channel, Pepsi, Sony). I write for the Huffington Post & AOL, published 3 books, and run a popular blog about my adventures – http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/
I’m obsessed with Visual Kei bands, my earless cat Basil Farrow, cute food and spooky nightlife. I hope you’ll connect with me through my blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Let's jump straight in and talk about your style, what is Harajuku?
Harajuku is a well-loved Tokyo district inhabited by various “style tribes” inspired by alternative subcultures (Punk, Goth, 80s). Here, you’ll see youths with ripped-up t-shirts, zombie jewellery, and piercings all over. To me, Harajuku means out-of-this-universe fashion, freedom and creativity.
At what age did you first start getting into the Harajuku fashion?
My parents are from Hong Kong, and we travelled to Asia every year from the moment I could crawl. In my early teens, we took a trip to Tokyo, and I was mesmerized by the Visual Kei, Gothic Lolita and Punk styles I saw in Harajuku. The world of alternative fashion, music and subcultures felt like home to an outcast like myself. I continue to love and be part of this “spooky-cute” world.
Your style is very unique and differs from a lot of other Harajuku styles I have seen, where did you draw inspiration for this?
I am constantly inspired by my fellow creatures of the night, who congregate at alternative / underground parties (especially in Osaka and Tokyo). I like to mix it up, so I draw inspiration from Goth, Cyber, Lolita, Victorian, Steampunk and other alternative styles. Perhaps the thread that holds it together is curiosity and courage in my outfits, regardless of what others may think.
Who influences you in Fashion today and why?
I adore the styling of Visual Kei / Jrock musicians like Mana, Versailles, Kaya, Kanon Wakeshima. But most of all, I’m inspired by my “pirates”, my friends and underground associates, who never fail to create out-of-this-world looks.
Let's talk about your fashion line, what it is called?
Over the past few years, I’ve partnered with a variety of clothing brands on design collaborations. The Japanese earthquake devastated me and actor-model-singer Sebastiano Serafini. As a result, we co-founded Project HOPE, a t-shirt line with Japanese label 'Like Atmosphere'. Various artists contributed designs, with proceeds going to the victims of the tsunami and earthquake.
What made you start up your own line, besides the obvious flame for fashion?
My relatives work as agents in the garment industry, so I’ve always been curious about the business side of fashion. I enjoy the whole process, from sketching designs to sales and marketing — it’s fantastic to see your creations come to life.
I see you have your own blog, have you always wanted to be a fashion blogger?
Five years ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was! Nobody could have predicted that the Internet, social networks and blogging could create the path I’ve stumbled onto. Right now, I wouldn’t do anything else.
You seem to be a woman of many talents, How did you cross over to TV Host and Author?
My La Carmina blog and online presence originally led to TV hosting, arranging and consulting offers. Relatively soon after launching my blog, I received publishing deals from Penguin and Random House for my books, Cute Yummy Time and Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo
Then Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods discovered me and invited me to be on the show. This opened the floodgates to gigs with CNN, NHK, Travel Channel, Canal Plus, Sony Australia, Dutch Pepsi and more. My First Mate, Naomi, is invaluable as a translator and fixer on Tokyo TV shoots. So the logical next step was to establish our own company: La Carmina & The Pirates (http://www.lacarmina.com/pirates/). We also offer coolhunting, subculture consulting, Japan brand connecting, you name it.
You have written three books on food and restaurants within the Tokyo pop culture? Is cooking another passion for you?
I am fascinated with the intersection of pop culture and cooking. My cookbook Cute Yummy Time was inspired by the adorable bento-decoration trend I saw in Japan. Think rice balls and sushi made to look like smiling penguins and Hello Kitty. Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo is full of stories and photos of Japan’s wildest theme restaurants, from monkey waiters to cosplay maids. All my books are available on my site.
Now is there a secret to creating the perfect Bento box? I've tried and it always looks a complete mess.
My book has 70 step-by-step recipes that transform everyday healthy foods into kawaii characters. Almost everything takes 10 minutes or less to decorate, and doesn’t require special equipment — so anyone can do it! You can preview Cute Yummy Time here:
What is your favourite restaurant in Japan?
My friends and I are die-hard fans of Kagaya, a home-style Japanese pub in Shinbashi. The Japanese owner, who calls himself “Mark” has been running the place for over twenty years. Without giving too much away, a trip there will result in a multi-course meal of traditional vegetables and tofu, several costumed puppet-shows, racy interactive performance art, and if you're lucky, some fun vintage parting gifts! I photographed and wrote about this izakaya in my Wacky Restaurants book.
Is there any plans to do more cooking books?
I’m constantly writing for my blog and journalism outlets — and yes, I’d love to do more books. I’m not sure what I’ll tackle yet, but you can always expect something bizarre from me!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Five years ago, I couldn’t possibly have imagined I’d be in the place I am now. I hope that five years from now, I’ll have evolved as much or more.
Do you have any advice for your fans following in the same footsteps as yourself?
Buck up and do it. Now. It’s better to launch five projects and have one succeed — than to sit around, doing and learning nothing. Today, it’s possible to get started on nearly no budget; I taught myself video/photo editing and web design. As everything grew, I looked for new opportunities — writing books, journalism, coolhunting, TV hosting. Keep strong through the storms, and your pirate ship will get to the treasure!
To find out more about La Carmina please visit her;