Ruth Mora is a young and beautiful hispanic artist from the Los Angeles area…
Ruth Mora is a young and beautiful hispanic artist from the Los Angeles area…
Style for me is about aesthetics over gender specifics. From a young age, I was drawn to a very androgynous, conceptual self-image.
Santa Muerte Trading Co. is a southern California based vintage clothing company with the most impeccable taste. We first saw co-founder Crystal Landeros some years back at a Viva Las Vegas weekender and have been mesmerized by her style evolution ever since. She demands attention with her beautiful Mexican movie star looks characterized by her voluptous shape, raven-haired bob, hypnotic green/blue eyes and constant, mysterious smirk. However, it certainly does not stop there. Her clothing ensembles are standout with various looks including brightly printed vintage blousons, 40’s palazzo pants, dramatic dresses, vintage t-shirts and jeans, colorful head scarves, bakelite jewelry, espadrilles and her signature Chimayo touches. And partner/fiance, Anthony Rosas, is not shy with his own personal style. He’s a sharply dressed gentleman, mixing high-waisted vintage gabardine trousers with 40’s horsehide leather jackets, and accessorizing with neck scarves and old school hats. Anthony is also a very talented photographer, who keenly documents all of Crystal’s fabulous looks amongst luscious and colorful, sunny California backdrops. And this is Santa Muerte Trading Co. All photographs courtesy of Anthony Rosas/Spanish Dagger Photography.
Follow their fabulous vintage looks and photography on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/santa_muerte_trading_co/?hl=en & https://www.instagram.com/miss.mari.mambo/?hl=en
PONYBOY: Crystal and Anthony, please tell us about your backgrounds.
SANTA MUERTE: We are both first generation Mexican American, born and raised in Southern California.
PONYBOY: How and when did you start getting into vintage clothing?
SANTA MUERTE: We both began our love affair in our mid-teens, and, of course, have continued learning through the years.
PONYBOY: How did the two of you meet?
SANTA MUERTE: That’s an interesting question! We met on a social media invite several years ago. The invitation was for Crystal’s 18th birthday celebration. She came up to me and complimented my glasses. After that, I worked up the courage, requested my favorite bolero and asked her to dance. The rest is one for the books. Haha!
PONYBOY: Why did you name your company after Santa Muerte?
SANTA MUERTE: We both share a fascination with memento mori artifacts, folklore, and our culture/religion. Being both Catholic, we agreed on the name due to La Santa Muerte being associated with protection, healing and safe delivery.
PONYBOY: Where in California are you based?
SANTA MUERTE: We are based in Compton, Los Angeles county.
PONYBOY: You primarily seem inspired by the 1930’s-40’s decades. Is this correct? And, where do you both find this inspiration?
SANTA MUERTE: Yes! We are enamored with 1930’s and 1940’s Americana. There is something so sweet about that generation. The culture, architecture and fashion is a main component in our style inspiration. We love browsing through old catalogs and photograph’s in search of period street fashions with an edge. Cinema, individuals, and our city also play a very important part.
PONYBOY: Crystal, you have a certain elegant style, not unlike a Hollywood film star from back in the day, even while wearing a vintage t-shirt and jeans, and with the accessories that you throw into your looks when photographed. Have you always had this sort of chic, nonchalant sense of fashion?
SANTA MUERTE: I hear it quite often, but I’ve never thought of myself as elegant. Thank you. I’m humbled. Since I was a teenager I’ve always looked for inspiration through old photographs and films from the golden age of Mexican cinema. In my personal style, I try to reflect the style of all the beautiful women of that era but with my own flair, of course. I tend to work with the staples of women’s vintage, incorporating rare pieces as well. There is also so much beauty in simplicity. And I never liked the idea of falling into a traditional look.
PONYBOY: Anthony, your own personal style is very strong as well. Were you born with this innate approach to men’s dressing?
SANTA MUERTE: Thank you. As far as I can recall, I’ve had a certain attraction to shapes, lines, contours and color. My personal style continues to evolve as I find more vintage inspiration. I feel the key to my style is to keep things simple, tasteful with period items and express with a hint of flair.
PONYBOY: Over the years, has it become more difficult to find these incredible vintage gems that you both wear and sell?
SANTA MUERTE: Yes, we can truly say high-end desirable vintage has dissipated over the years. Our passion for such rareties is the motivation behind our late night online searches and early A.M. flea market hunts.
PONYBOY: Anthony, we love the incredible photos that you take of Crystal. Your photography is very powerful in terms of composition, angles, colorful backdrops, etc. Is this something that you studied, or did it come naturally from being a hobby?
SANTA MUERTE: Thank you, that means a lot! My photography began as a way to promote items and our personal style. I tend to go on instinct. For me, natural light is key. I look at my surroundings for inspiration. The detail of my subject will always define the beauty of my photography. As far as color, it’s king, of course. I’m very passionate about vibrancy and saturation.
PONYBOY: Is there a sense of community in the Los Angeles/California vintage world? We see photos of all of you dressed in incredible vintage wear at parties, functions, etc. Does it ever get competitive with other sellers/collectors?
SANTA MUERTE: There is a sense of unity here in California amongst vintage aficionados. We don’t see it as competition. We’re glad that vintage will be appreciated by friends and collectors alike. After all, we share the same passion.
PONYBOY: Do you sell exclusively online? Where can one find your product?
SANTA MUERTE: We vend at vintage pop-up events here in Southern California and occasionally flea markets, when we know there will be a certain clientele in town looking for specifically 1920’s through 1950’s vintage fashions. Most of our higher ticket items go online (Etsy, e-Bay, and private collectors) or to international vintage collectors. The demand is quite high overseas.
PONYBOY: What can we expect from the two of you, professionally speaking, in the near future? Styling, wardrobing/costume design, or a shop perhaps?
SANTA MUERTE: Santa Muerte is currently working on a 1940’s period reproduction clothing line for men and women, as well as a few collaboration projects. We both have experience being personal stylists, something we will be taking on a professional level very soon.
PONYBOY: And far as personally, we read that you are engaged. Do you have a date set? And do you yearn for a family?
SANTA MUERTE: Yes, we’re engaged. Planning the wedding has been quite time consuming, but we’re getting there. Anthony has a son from a previous relationship, and we both agree that’s all we need for now. But plans are always subjected to change.
Talented New York artist and collector Scott Ewalt is enamored with the seedy and campy side of life, something that we at Ponyboy thrive on as well. Ewalt is a longtime dj, spinning at many of New York City’s trendiest clubs, events and fashion shows. His exhibit, dubbed Back in The Night, which originally ran over a year ago at Participant Gallery in New York, will make it’s debut on the West Coast. This extraordinary exhibit took over 20 years in the making and was well worth the wait. The inspiration is drawn from the old male revues and topless bars of New York City’s Times Square. Back in The Night at Hinge Modern in Culver City, California opens May 31st and runs through July 6th. An exhibit not to be missed!
PONYBOY: Scott, please tell us where you were raised and when you moved to New York City?
SCOTT EWALT: I was raised in Santa Cruz and San Diego. I moved to New York to go to college and to swim. Luckily, my best friends from home, Perfidia, Miss Lauren, Miss Guy, Todd Tomorrow, photographer Ron Bachman and a handfull of others moved here shortly after. So, we were a gang and all supported each other and collaborated, and still do.
PONYBOY: We remember meeting you at a Maxi Records party in the early 90’s. You told us you went to Princeton and were friends with Brooke Shields. Ha!
SCOTT EWALT: I’m almost sure we met earlier. I did go to Princeton with Brooke. We were friendly, but she knew my friends better. She was beautiful and super nice.
PONYBOY: Did you study art in school? When did you decide to become an artist?
SCOTT EWALT: I’ve been making images my whole life. I had done ads and logos for companies when I was was still in middle school and even earlier. I studied painting and architecture in school, which is why my work often includes buildings within a dreamy environment. It was an uphill battle, but after graduate school I really hung my shingle and took it seriously.
PONYBOY: You were around in the Patricia Field scene in the 90’s as well. How did you meet Pat?
SCOTT EWALT: I met Pat when Perfidia, Guy and Lauren started working at Pat’s store on East 8th Street in the Village.
PONYBOY: Pat has always been a supporter of young artists. Did she buy your work?
SCOTT EWALT: I did a funny window for Pat’s with Perfidia honoring Yma Sumac’s concert series when she came to new york. Yma came to the store and was very touched. Yma was on David Letterman and we were so proud of her. That’s when Pat and I started being friends. I started collecting Times Square signage and burlesque ephemera in the 80’s. And I bought the two marquee signs from the Venus. Pat is part Greek, so I sold her the second sign. She loved it so much she named her second store Venus. And I did the promotional artwork for the store. We’ve collaborated many times and she is always complimentary of what I make.
PONYBOY: People constantly bitch about how New York has lost it’s edge, and artists are being driven out of Manhattan, etc. What are your thoughts on the current state of the city, culturally?
SCOTT EWALT: Everyone moves to New York wanting it to be the ideal of what they grew up with. New York is always in flux, so I don’t think anyone gets what they came for. But it also encourages people to change it themselves. New York is great when you’re young and that will always be true. It is true that a large number of artists have been pushed off the island by rents, but I still feel it’s just as inspiring as it ever was and as vibrant as you make it.
PONYBOY: We also remember that you’re friends with 60’s model/icon Peggy Mofitt, the muse of the late fashion designer Rudi Gernreich. How did you meet? Are you still in touch with her?
SCOTT EWALT: I met Peggy and Bill Claxton at a gallery opening for Steven Arnold. She liked the way I looked and said ‘Rudi would have loved you’. I told her I was a true fan of her and Rudi, and I was also a big fan of Bill’s LP covers for Chet Baker and other west coast jazz artists. I think they liked that I adored both of them equally. I had her come and lecture at UCLA and show the then rarely seen Basic Black film, which is seminal. We remained friends until I moved back here.
PONYBOY: You also have a close friendship with pop artist Kenny Scharf. How long have you known him for?
SCOTT EWALT: We met from Joey Arias, and were immediatley like brothers. He is the nicest guy in the universe and has been a solid and constant catalyst. We are doing our last Cosmic Cavern a Go-Go party on May 3rd. It’s a dayglow psychedelic love fest, not to be missed.
PONYBOY: Tell us about your art. What really inspires you? What makes you get up in the morning and work till the wee hours.
SCOTT EWALT: I’m very inspired by the history of punk from 19th century diablerie artists and goth night clubs, victorian male burlesk, the surrealists of Paris in the 20s, Berlin’s wild boys in the 30’s, burlesque/vaudeville/variety/road show culture in the 40’s, the great bondage illustrators, the Ed Wood gang, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Little Richard from the 50’s, the vox drenched punk bands like The Music Machine, The Sonics and garage bands from the 60’s, the glam culture of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and The New York Dolls. along with airbrush art and photorealism from the 70’s – and especially the way bands like The Cramps, Plasmatics, Soft Cell and The Misfits reintroduced it all for my generation. I like some high art but I’m equally inspired by forgotten psychotronic filmakers and artists. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many artists here that live it, and that inspires me the most.
PONYBOY: How would you describe your art? And who would you say your typical client is?
SCOTT EWALT: I guess the underlying element is inversion, which is not what the high art world likes right now. They reward for making the beautiful ugly and vague abstraction. I lived through some dark times culturally here, so my art makes the unsavory celebratory, and is never vague. For me, the real punk is to do something very difficult and complicated and to make my ideas clear. My typical collector likes my work for the endurance and discipline.
PONYBOY: You recently had an amazing solo exhibition here in New York with great reviews. And now you’ll be moving this exhibition to Los Angeles?
SCOTT EWALT: Thanks. I’m very excited about going back to California. I love the culture. I have some amazing friends there and have a good feeling about it. I’m being shown at Hinge Modern, which is the perfect place for me.
PONYBOY: And finally, tell us about your fascination with Russ Meyer, your old sign collection, and your extensive tee shirt collection.
SCOTT EWALT: Well, I love punk culture. I love Roger Corman, Russ Meyer and Ted V. Mikel’s films. They were the punks of Hollywood. I also love strippers and burlesque, both female and male. I especially like Russ Meyer because he united burlesque and filmaking from the beginning. I also like real people cast as they are. He and Fellini were both doing this long before Warhol. So his films are the best eye candy and I love all his women. Meyer’s paramour/muse, Kitten Natividad, is a close friend. And I have also had friendships with Tura Satana, Haji, Raven de la Croix, and Cynthia Meyers. I love burlesque signage for many reasons. They were basically discarded until very recently, which made them easy to collect. I love the way they elude to sex and subversion in a playful way, aren’t vague, and are made with great skill. I love that Times Square sexuality and its culture was microcosm. I started collecting t-shirts for a few reasons. Out of shyness, I liked how they spoke for me and they are the only thing that fit my lanky torso. But most of all, I love that they are Warhols for your body and only get better with age and wear. I have about 1000 original strip club and punk shirts. For my show I recreated 10 shirts from adult businesses that probably had them, but I’ve never found. This is a unifying theme with all my work.
Resurrection New York and Los Angeles is pleased to announce AMBUSH: SEX & FASHION, an important collection of sex related high fashion and vintage street wear. In conjunction with this event, Resurrection co-founder and fashion designer Katy Rodriguez will release an original collection of ready-to-wear and street wear. AMBUSH: SEX & FASHION will take place exclusively at Resurrection stores and website starting May 15th, 2014.
Resurrection has amassed an important collection of sex related clothing, accessories and ephemera spanning the 1970’s through the 1990’s. Iconic silhouettes and themes represented in the collection include DIY culture, pornographic iconography, leather and bondage. Handmade t- shirts featuring the graphics of Tom of Finland, Rex, and lesser known gay artists will be presented. The collection also features a range of work by high fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Walter Van Beirendonck, to name a few.
Designer Katy Rodriguez’s capsule collection, created to celebrate AMBUSH: SEX & FASHION, features a re-issue of Rodriguez’s Porno Print (2001) taken from 1970’s pornographic film stills. The print, juxtaposed against her signature silhouettes, fuses traditional elements of couture and sex culture. Rodriguez has created limited edition pieces for the event including a group of street wear exclusively available at Resurrection.
Ashton Hirota is the designer/stylist for the Ashton Michael label. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ashton first sprung onto the fashion scene at the young age of nineteen, with his first LA fashion week show. That quickly led to boutiques picking up his line including Patricia Field and Fred Segal. The rest is fashion history. Ashton has gone on to making one-of-a-kind fashion forward creations for performers including Will.i.am, Nicki Minaj, and Usher. We spoke to Ashton in-between client fittings, the opening of a new shop, and prepping for his Ashton Michael Spring/Summer 2014 collection.
PONYBOY: You’re making quite a mark not only in the LA fashion scene, but universally as well. Tell us how you got into designing clothing.
ASHTON HIROTA: When I was thirteen years old I was a child model/actor. I grew up with a passion for clothing. Being able to play “dress up”, I realized at a young age the power that apparel can have on someone’s state of mind. As I got older I just fell into it. By the age of nineteen I started my first company and never looked back.
PONYBOY: Your collections seem very dark and futuristic. Is that how you would describe the aesthetic for your clothing designs?
ASHTON HIROTA: I’ve been called a few things. “Urban Goth”. “Future Punk”. “Weird”. Hahaha. The terms have been across the board. I just call it ASHTON MICHAEL!
PONYBOY: What inspires you to design clothing?
ASHTON HIROTA: TEXTURE. I love working with monochromatic texture. Creating a 3D shape out of flat objects triggers me. I typically work in black, nudes, grays, etc. There is something about these colors that will last forever in a closet and become a staple.
PONYBOY: You have a big celebrity clientele. Who is your favorite to work with?
ASHTON HIROTA: My two favorites to work with are Will.i.am and Rico Love. Will has been a long time client, and has become a man that I admire and respect so much. He’s incredibly talented, smart, and one of the kindest people I know. He really is about building an artist community and is a huge advocate in team playing. I am blessed to have him in my life and work with him on the regular. Rico Love is another whom I admire a lot. Most people know his music re-writes, and he produces. Yet not as many know the man behind these chart toppers. I can relate a lot to him in that respect. Being the man behind what people admire, but not knowing the source is incredible. Both of these men are willing to take risks in fashion and still keep masculinity paired with it.
PONYBOY: You just opened a new space in Hollywood?
ASHTON HIROTA: Correct. I had worked out of the same shop in the heart of Hollywood for the past 9 years and just four months ago I moved four doors down and opened up the first official ASHTON MICHAEL ATELIER. It’s a creative workspace and showroom/store front (with a full bar of course).
PONYBOY: Who would be your ultimate dream client to design for? That you have never worked with.
ASHTON HIROTA: I used to say Cher, just because she is so iconic and really can do no wrong. She is such a powerful woman who doesn’t give two shits about what people think about her. That mentality is what I want people to feel like when they wear my clothing. But now that I’ve worked with her this year a few times, I’d have to say my next on the bucket list is Deborah Harry. Hands down, for more reasons that I can type.
PONYBOY: Minus celebrities/entertainers, describe the customer that buys your ready-to-wear.
ASHTON HIROTA: I think my target market is the man or woman who wants to make a statement without screaming it. He/she is an individual who can catch the attention of others with minimal amount of effort, someone with a strong sense of self and identity.
PONYBOY: What designers do you look up to?
ASHTON HIROTA: Rick Owens. Most people don’t know but I worked out of his old atelier for the past 8 years in Los Angeles. I see a lot of similarities between our aesthetic and would love to follow in his foot steps. He started out LA based and is now internationally loved and appreciated.
PONYBOY: If you could design for any big name house, who would it be?
ASHTON HIROTA: It would definitely be for Balmain or Givenchy. The craftsmanship of their garments are beyond fabric and thread. They are works of timeless art.
PONYBOY: Lastly, what do you see for yourself in the future?
ASHTON HIROTA: WORLD DOMINATION