A blogger with a difference - Interview with Amelia Èclectique

September 05, 2017

La Femme Eclectique Irish fashion culture blogger

This month, I had the very real pleasure of interviewing journalist, blogger, sustainable fashion crusader and all around nice person, Amelia Èclectique of La Femme Èclectique. We have been insta-friends for a time now and I have always been struck as much by her positivity as by her aesthetic. Amelia splits her time between Florence and Dublin and her colour-drenched blog and insta feed features some of the best creative outputs of both cities. Her positive attitude and way with words really sets her apart in today's oversaturated micro-influencer / blogger / vlogger media space and I was thrilled she said yes to my interview request! I invite you to read our full interview below!

Can you tell me a little bit about Amelia and her alter ego La Femme Èclectique

I started up La Femme Èclectique as a side project back in 2011, not quite as a reference to myself or an alter ego - though my fashion and culture tastes do seem to get more diverse/obscure with every year! - but as an ode to the modern-day style enthusiast who takes inspiration from an ever-evolving variety of themes to dress themselves; from little-known fashion history movements to expressive, vibrant artworks. This premise has more or less remained the same in the 6+ years that have followed, but lafemmeeclectique.com has since evolved into a colourful corner of the Internet where both current affairs in the fashion industry (sustainability is a core focus of mine) and more
under-the-radar creative talents are celebrated. No two articles are ever the same!
Why do you do what you do? 
 
Because nothing gives me quite such a buzz the way that writing does. I've had a long-standing love of spotlighting emerging designers and creative trailblazers, particularly those who have talent and initiative in droves but haven't received even a fraction of the recognition they rightfully deserve. To have that very action be a valid part of my day-to-day job description is something I couldn't feel more fortunate about. 
Do you think Ireland can sustain its fashion and creative graduates and why?
 
I think that Ireland has a considerable amount of scope to create more platforms that sustain and nurture its fashion/creative graduates, because from a talent point of view, creativity is an inherent part of this country's DNA. The difficulty that lies in incentivising our graduates to stay and to establish themselves here is, from my perspective, often down to a simple lack of resources; which in turn often stems from a lack of government funding. Whether this is down to a budget impossibility or a viewpoint that supplying these creative resources should be less prioritised (unlike the opinions of the UK/other European neighbours) is somewhat unclear. 
There's also the challenge that lies in finding a willing and paying target audience if your designs veer more on the maximalist, avant-garde side - something that say London designers, on paper, have more chance to find given the city's abundance of experimental style purveyors. If I could single-handedly buy up the collections of Dublin's most colourful designers in a bid to get them to stay put, I would! 
You have accomplished a lot in a short time, what advice would you give a young fashion loving graduate looking to make a living from their writing?
 
I would say to feel the fear and do it anyway - and to always, always send that pitch email/interview request/job application etc etc! The worst that can happen is that someone says no. Once you get comfortable with that worst-case scenario, you'll be flying and always on to the next target. The beauty of working in any journalistic field in this digital age is that there are boundless publications with as many boundless opinions on what their readers what to hear. Many look at this from a negative angle, which I can appreciate - if there's such a vast quantity of magazines out there, is it not an oversaturated area to work in? - but this also means there's more chance than ever to find your niche, and for freelancers like myself, it means you can write for several publications in varying cities without needing to continually reside there.
They say millennials will change careers an average of five times, do you think that's likely and how has your career(s) developed?
 
I think there's a lot more scope to shape-shift careers and dive into a new profession compared to a couple of generations ago - another by-product of the digital age - so even though five seems like a steep number, given that millennials have been immersed in technology practically since day one of their existence, I'm inclined to agree with that statistic. I've more or less stayed down the journalist road from my starting days to now, though I have added certain aspects to the mix over time - website development & design/styling and in particular, social media strategising - but my focus on fashion and culture reportage has not shifted in the past few years.
You seem to love collaborating (from your website, twitter etc) - what is it that attracts you to this type of working?
 
It's probably my favourite type of working! I think a meeting of two creative minds that come from different backgrounds/different facets in the industry is a very powerful thing to harness, and some fantastic projects and initiatives can stem as a result of that. I'm exposed to the power of that on a near-daily basis, and that formed a key part of a recent article Deirdre McQuillan penned for the Irish Times Weekend Magazine, where myself and a group of female trailblazers - a stylist, a photographer, a jewellery designer and a garment designer - were individually profiled as we gathered together for a creative Le Drunch at the Marker Hotel. The group dynamic was just seamless and triggered a lot of interesting ideas relating to the industry and to cross-overs between our different fields. It was one of the most organic brainstorming sessions I'd ever been involved in: us being interviewed for the article was pre-organised but, post-interview, our back-and-forth of ideas and perspectives wasn't. I always feel (and it was said multiple times on the day) that when you put a group of creative women into a room together that get on well, have integrity and open minds, some really wonderful things can happen. 
What's on your vision board right now?
 
A lot of East Meets West influences - as always, anything bursting with colour is a necessity of mine - such as Hong Kong cinema and Alessandro Michele of Gucci's European-Chinoisserie styles.
In a world of lookey-likey bloggers and micro-influencers, what is it about vintage and sustainable fashion that interests you? 
 
I think that in a world where mass-consumerism, facsimile design and copycat culture is so prevalent, there's something really refreshing in the originality and unique backstory to vintage clothing. Not many people necessarily make the link between vintage and sustainable fashion - though thanks to the brilliant surge in global discussions on conscious consumerism, all that is visibly changing - but vintage fashion technically is a category within sustainable fashion. It celebrates quality over quantity purchasing, has no ties to the factory-worker exploitation that has marred this industry most harshly in the past couple of decades, and more often than not is sold by independent, small-scale shops and specialist charities (ie businesses with traceable origins and with real, tangible integrity).
In this current moment in the industry, I think it's empowering as a consumer to know what your money is going towards and what it is supporting - but I equally wouldn't say that a 100% boycott of the high-street is feasible right now, because it could have harsh ramifications on the underprivileged workers who are manufacturing fast-fashion garments. Before proper change can occur, giving them some wage is better than no wage at all.
Which Irish creatives' work do you most enjoy wearing / looking at / reading / eating etc?
 
I am a huge fan of the 3D-printed garments that Sarah O'Neill (who is leaving us to work wonders over in London's Royal College of Art) always conjures up. She's a literal colour wizard who's paving unchartered territory, especially in Irish Design items, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what she dreams up next. Morganna Murphy is another favourite - her embellishment prowess is an indispensable addition to Dublin's design scene - while the ladies behind Black Sheep Foods are magic at pairing unique flavour combinations and making the most visually-pleasing nibbles imaginable. I always look forward to the events/launches they cater for. 
What constitutes an ideal day for you?
 
I love getting the most out of every day - blame the freelancer life, but spending an entire working day from my home office leaves me feeling stir-crazy - so it would constitute being out and about, with a very early wake-up call and a very late bedtime. I'd also manage to have boundless energy throughout the day (something that never seems to happen!). I'd have a complete phone detox, would finally get to one of Yayoi Kusama's visually-stunning exhibitions, and after whiling away a few hours in some bargain-filled vintage treasure trove, I'd have Asian tapas in the best restaurant I have ever eaten in - Tao in New York. It's the simple things, really.
Yayoi Kusama Louisiana museum of modern art 2010
Yayoi Kusama. image: www.artsy.com
What would you do if you only had 6 months to live and money wasn't an issue?
 
I'd probably do all of the above, repeatedly! If money wasn't an issue, I'd fund all the concepts that Ireland's creative population have inventively thought of but don't have the capital to make happen, to give the country's industry a chance to make leaps and bounds in its progression. But not without first setting up my family and good friends, of course.
What piece of clothing or jewellery can't you live without, why?
 
This is almost like trying to pick a favourite child, but I'll have to go with a vintage Armani silk-velvet coat I picked up at 85% off 7 years ago. I'm not a typical high-end consumer but can never resist a bargain, especially since the coat is a rich emerald green (which a good 60% of my wardrobe is made up of!). It never fails me.
Who are some of your style heroes and who has been an inspiration to you in your career to date?
 
Iris Apfel has to claim the top spot on my style heroes list, always! She unabashedly tears up the sartorial rulebook and is never dictated to by trends, as well as garnering influence from creative sectors well beyond fashion itself: this is the kind of style philosophy that my whole relationship with how I dress myself is now based on. From a career inspiration point of view - looking specifically within the fashion journalism industry - the late Franca Sozzani immediately comes to mind. It was stated right after her passing that she looked at the fashion world through a cultural lens, and I think this perfectly represents how well she broke down creative boundaries and always proved fashion's historical, political and social relevance - talking about the latter, her pioneering stance on diversity in this industry is a key example of that.
 
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La Femme Éclectique

 
A vibrant fashion and culture website spotlighting the most diverse of creative talents, colourful cities and groundbreaking initiatives. lafemmeeclectique@gmail.com
 



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