Vintage Vandal is also known as Jasmin Rodriguez. We first met this East Coast bred beauty some years back, and have seen her develop into a marvelous young lady. Ponyboy was thrilled to photograph Jasmin for our feature at her mid-century home in Las Vegas, a perfect setting for our shoot. We finally had the chance to catch up with this girl-on-the-go and chat about her background and her new life on the West Coast. Jasmin, who rose to recognition on the internet with her incredible vintage style blog Vintage Vandalizm, is conquering her goals and breaking new territory. Photography Alexander Thompson. Additional photos courtesy of Vintage Vandalizm.
PONYBOY: You’re from New York City originally. Please tell our readers about your upbringing.
JASMIN: Yes, I was born and raised a New Yorker, although I now reside in Las Vegas. Growing up in New York was very interesting. My dad was a street racer from Brooklyn and my mom was a break-dancer from Queens. If you ask me, I was exposed to the best of both worlds. Both Brooklyn and Queens had such an impact on me as a kid. The older I get, the more I yearn for what it all used to be. For example, I miss seeing Brooklyn streets with Puerto Rican flags hanging off of Fire Escapes and kids playing in the water of open fire hydrants. I long for different salsa songs playing as you passed brownstone buildings and smelled the delicious aroma of Puerto Rican food. I very much miss the diversity of Queens, the different cultures I got to witness walking down Steinway Street, the view of the City skyline from my bedroom window, and passing the Five Pointz factory adorned with graffiti every time I took the 7 train. Though New York is a tough city to grow up in, I wouldn’t change a thing. The good, the bad, and the ugly amongst everything else I mentioned has had a huge influence on who I am today.
PONYBOY: At what point did you start getting into vintage fashion?
JASMIN: I started getting into vintage fashion when I was about fourteen years old. I didn’t have a job, but I loved fashion. So, any time I would get money from my mother, I’d stretch my dollar by going to thrift stores. I wasn’t concerned about being the “cool” kid in school with the latest fashion crazes. I wanted to do my own thing. I naturally gravitated towards clothing from the 1950’s and 80’s. And I still have many of those pieces today. It didn’t occur to me until years later that I had an impressive collection of vintage pieces by major designers. I never looked at labels. I looked at style, creativity, and potential. The 50’s, 60’s, and 80’s clothes always suited my taste and figure very well, so it was all I bought and still buy today. I even have stuff from the 20’s and 40’s.
PONYBOY: Your vintage looks seem to change on a daily basis. Sometimes you are dressed 40’s, and sometimes you might be dressed with an 80’s vibe. Is this correct?
JASMIN: Yes, I don’t like to limit myself. My style depends on my mood or inspiration for that day. Fashion is more fun when you aren’t limited to trends or eras! I like to mix it all up and have fun with it.
PONYBOY: You’ve become well know because of your Vintage Vandalizm blog. How did that all come about?
JASMIN: It all came about because I love writing. My first blogs were on AOL, Xanga, and Blogspot, before I got serious with Word Press. My first blogs were about romance, kind of like “Sex and the City” except that I was terrible at writing about that stuff! Then I got more into fashion, especially when I started thrifting. I wanted to show people that you didn’t have to spend a lot of money to look fashionable, and that inspired me to start blogging about style on a budget. I had no idea it would become as big as it did.
PONYBOY: After living in New York for your entire lifetime, you picked up and moved to Las Vegas. Tell us about that experience.
JASMIN: Yes, I had to do it to prove to myself that I could. They say if you can survive in New York, you can survive anywhere. And they were not lying. Sometimes we, as New Yorkers, believe that it is the be-all and end-all; and although it is a great city, it is definitely not. There are still so many opportunities awaiting us all in so many other places. I didn’t realize that until I moved here. I still have the same opportunities, if not more. It has been such a smooth transition and I can’t believe how happy I am to be here. I have my best friend, Santiago, and my wonderful Vegas friends to thank for that. I love my job as a buyer for Pinup Girl Clothing because the people I work with are incredible. I do have things I still need to adjust to, such as missing my family and friends, but luckily I have been able to travel back home to New York four times this year. I’m also still adapting to the different cultures here, but I am learning so much and my experiences, thus far, have been amazing.
PONYBOY: You have a very close relationship with your mother, who we have had the pleasure of meeting before. From our observation, you seem almost like sisters.
JASMIN: We are very close and I have a sister that I am very close to as well. I don’t know what I would do without both of them. My mother is a warrior. I have never met someone who works harder than her to put food on the table and smiles on everyone’s faces. The woman carries the weight of the world on her shoulders with such grace, never asking for help. I’m not sure who I would be today without her guidance and encouragement. As for my sister, though she is younger than me, she is so ahead of her time. I could talk to her about anything and she responds to me with compassion and understanding. Compassion is so important. I am glad my mother passed that on to us.
PONYBOY: Do you miss living on the East Coast?
JASMIN: Yes, of course! Do I miss the high rents and crappy jobs? N0! But I do miss summer nights in Brooklyn, the winter snow in Central Park, the gorgeous shops in Soho, cutting edge art galleries in Chelsea, and those delicious Crepes at the Creperie in the Lower East Side. I also miss the culture, not just Puerto Rican culture, but New York culture, because that is something very much within itself. Sometimes I think New Yorkers are a different breed of people, however, not in an elitist way. More so, we are just cut from a different cloth than the rest.
PONYBOY: You work full-time for Pinup Girl Clothing as their womenswear buyer, which sounds like an incredible opportunity. Do you still have the time to contribute to your blog on a regular basis?
JASMIN: The great thing about Pinup Girl Clothing is that they allow their talented staff the freedom to work on their own projects. I definitely have more time to contribute to my blog, but since most of the work I do involves being on the computer, I sometimes need a break from staring at my laptop screen. I try to do at least a post or two every week, but I spend more of my free time living life than working on my blog! When I lived in New York, I never had time to really live my life. I was always working two or three jobs to stay afloat, and using my days off to dedicate to my website. I very much needed a break, so I’ve taken it easy on myself this year. I basically blog when I can.
PONYBOY: What opportunities has living in Las Vegas brought you, besides your job with Pinup Girl?
JASMIN: Well, I now live in a stunning 1960’s home built by Palmer & Krisel, which was something I could only dream of when I lived in New York. It will soon be published in two Las Vegas magazines. I recently taught a retro style class at a great shop called Amberjoy’s Vintage Closet, and will soon be teaching another at the Stitch Factory. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to work with many incredibly talented West Coast photographers whose work I have admired for years. I have only been here for about ten months now, but I’m incredibly excited to see what else Las Vegas has in store for me!
PONBOY: Are there any projects that you have coming up in the near future?
JASMIN: I’m currently working on a huge project, but I have to keep it top secret until it is 100% confirmed. So stay tuned!
PONBOY: One last question, are you dating any gentleman at the moment?
JASMIN: No, I am not dating anyone at the moment. I ‘m trying to focus less on romance and more on my goals, so I stay out of trouble. However, I am always open to the idea of being swept off my feet by a handsome gentleman who will embrace who I am. Love is a beautiful thing, and I could never say no to that, no matter how busy I am with work!