This week our #Badgirlcrush is the stunning Laura Okita from Paper Mothball Vintage.
Born in Eastern Colorado, Laura Okita moved to New York City after completing a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She worked as a model in New York and Europe for over 10 years, but was always more intrigued by the process of taking the picture than modeling. She desired the freedom to be found on the other side of the camera.
Equally inspired by fashion design, Laura is a self-taught pattern maker and designer, working mostly with hand sewn couture and vintage techniques. From her experience as a model, she began photographing herself in her creations and founded the blog Paper Mothball Vintage.
While her work mostly initiated as a self portrait artist, she has begun expanding upon this foundation to work with models and fashion publications.
Laura enjoys working in any and often all of the photographic process including hair, makeup, styling, photography, modeling, art direction and retouch design. Whether she is working in digital formats, 35mm or 120mm film, she always aspires to allow her vintage voice to shine through.
Q: Laura thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Our aim for our #badgirlcrush of the week is to give our followers/readers some insight into everyday creative women that inspire, we especially love your Blog, Photography work, Styling, Make up and glamorous Hair tutorials!
A: Thank you, Im really excited to be a part of this series.
Q: How long have you been an artist for? Did you study/ teach yourself? Do you work full time as an artist or also have another career?
A: I started everything about 3 years ago. I began by teaching myself to sew using vintage sewing patterns. From there I would photograph myself in my designs, and about 2 years ago I started my blog. I found that I really like photography and in the last year have put a lot more focus on both digital and film photography. My blog features primarily self-portraits, but I do also like to work with models.
I currently work as a secretary during the day. I hope to work in photography and styling full time in the future.
Q: Can you share with us your early career as a model and your love for working behind the camera.
A: Working as a model was fun because I got to travel and meet new people. As a 15 year old girl it was exciting to get to wear makeup and get all dolled up, but it was never very satisfying for me. I wanted to be the creative director realizing my own visions or the photographer framing the shots. I never put much thought into switching sides of the camera when I was a model, but realize now in hind sight that it was what I had really wanted.
Q: Tell us about Paper Mothball Vintage, is it essentially a Hub for all of your creative work?
A: Yes it is. My personality lends me to be scattered across so many different disciplines that having my blog really focusses everything back to one point. It really ties all of my passions and creative outlets together.
Q: We see you are a self taught Designer / Pattern maker, can you share one of your creations with us and tell us about the construction of the garment;
A: I was married in a vintage 1930s dress to my husband at city hall in New York City. For the reception party in Colorado, I wanted something new but from the same era. I decided to make this dress, inspired by the 1930s.
The center waist portion was hand beaded with vintage salvaged crystals and pearls. All of the inside seams and hems are finished with vintage techniques true to the era. The back is finished with rows of vintage crystal buttons.
Q: Who are some of your favourite women from the 40s and 50s and 60s, or do you have a specific era that speaks to you?
A: A few of my favourite mid-century women are Lillian Bassman, Dovima, Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall.
Its really hard for me to choose one era and my blog definitely reflects my interests coming from many different inspirations, but I would have to say I am more drawn to the fashion of the 30s and 40s.
Q: Who are you inspired by? Do they influence your photography work?
A: Im inspired by everyone and everything, plants, animals, architecture, colors, vintage fashion, designers, history, my family and my peers.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your personal style and some of your favourite vintage pieces?
A: I love dresses. Since I have always been tall for my age, pants never tended to fit me. Dresses are much easier and I feel, more comfortable. I love to wear things with great color or patterns and prints. A casual day out in NYC during the summer for me would be wearing a 1940s cotton or silk crepe dress, a light swing coat for sunblock and of course red lipstick and sunglasses.
My favourite vintage pieces at the moment are a set of 1930s and a single 1950s cream and rhinestone bangles, a vintage makeup compact and a red and white striped 1950s swimsuit.
Q: We love the way you do your make up, especially your cat eye!, could you share with us some of your favourite beauty products?
A: Thank you! I used to use a liquid non-water proof eyeliner by Guerlain. The long brush makes it easy to apply. Its also easy to remove if you make a mistake. Recently, Ive switch to gel eyeliner. Bobby Brown and Mac both make good eyeliner gel.
I like using a red lip liner pencil all over the lip rather than lipstick which tends to bleed and fade. I like an orange red for my complexion from Gucci. For skin I like Benefit’s Highlighters and Erase paste.
There are good cosmetics that are less expensive, but I think investing in a great product you will use every day is worth it.
Q: Who are some of your favourite musicians and filmmakers, what works of theirs influences you?
A: I like to listen to Lana Del Rey and Lorde when Im working on photos on my computer, I like jazz and swing/ big band music like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Count Basie when Im relaxing at home or out. I also like a lot of 70s and vintage rock and roll.
I find that I always love all of Harvey Weinstein’s work. He creates really dreamy worlds and often vintage inspired films. I love the hair, makeup costuming and cinematography of The Grand Master directed by Wong Kar-Wai.
Music and films make us feel something and I think any of these great artists inspire something whether it’s an emotion or love for an era or just a rhythm to get you going.
Q: Where can we find you on a Sunday afternoon?
A: Most likely I am working on a dress or editing images at home, but when I go out, I like to walk around shopping in Williamsburg or Soho with my husband. We love to grab a late brunch on the weekend.
Q: Tell us what this year hold for you.
A: I have some new projects planned for summer in my self portrait series. I would also like to start working more with teams and publications.