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Marlena Kaesler

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

After I've created something.

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

I admire colorful women that get distracted by flashy things as they walk.

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I admire eccentric combinations of things I would have never thought of. I love it when a woman is confident about her body. My friends sometimes comment negatively on girls that wear short dresses. I like it when a woman celebrates her body and feels confident enough to show it off.

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

I saw the "bullet with butterfly wings" video (by smashing pumpkins)
I don't know why it made such a huge impact on me, but it did.
I had hair down to my butt. I was in grade 7. I saw glitter eye-makeup and short hair on the bass player.
I went to my parents bathroom and I cut all of my hair off.
My mother was in shock. 4 months prior she made me trim my hair because "it looked ratty" and I cried as the hairdresser trimmed it.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

I stopped buying clothes and started making them.
this way, I never have to worry about being impulsive because it takes a few hours to make a garment. You have to try it on a lot too... you never walk away from it saying "what was I thinking?"
because you were scrutinizing about it for five or more hours. You knew what you were getting into.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

I haven't worn pants since grade 10.
I have a 24 inch waist and a 36 inch hip.
I was sick of feeling fat when I put pants on because they never complimented my curves.
I hated that a size zero existed.
I was sick of feeling like my top half fit into society's standards of beauty, but my bottom half was unacceptable.
Dresses never make me feel bad about my body, dresses fit on it nicely. I say no to pants no matter what the circumstances are. I wear many layers of tights in the winter.
I hate pants, I love my body. I'm never going back to pants.

7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?

in grade 10 when I decided to throw out all my pants, this gym teacher said to me "i noticed you're wearing skirts all the time, are you dressing up for something?"
(sarcastic tone)
and I said
"yes, I'm dressing up for life. I'm proud of being colorful."
she was wearing a grey tracksuit.
she never commented on my clothes again.

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

I try to find ways of getting excited about them, even the most boring tasks. If i'm not excited about them, I won't focus on them or accomplish them. There's something exciting about almost everything... if you try and look for delightful aspects of them.

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

This indian dollar store has intensely colored eye shadow palettes. They have lime green, yellow, coral ect. I've never seen them anywhere else.
The color is intense.
I bought 5 of them. every time I see a new palette I stock up because I just can't imagine life without yellow eye shadow. It's probably carcinogenic...
I should probably avoid wearing it but i'm addicted and it's my simple pleasure. putting on yellow eye shadow in the morning makes my day.

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

things that hide the waist.
waists are awesome, hiding them seems like an injustice.

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

My mother is conservative. She doesn't like glitter or sequins.
If I could, I would fill bathtubs with glitter and just roll in them.
Nobody would want to hug me ever again. I wouldn't care. Mom never had a problem with me borrowing her clothes.

13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?

My oma (grandmother) is obsessed with embroidery and poppies. So am I. I try to wear poppies in my hair but the petals fall off pretty quickly and it ends up looking like i've put grass in my hair.

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

My father once told me he didn't want me to meet with him near his office. He said "you dress too weird, the people in my office are going to talk about it."
So I would take the bus or I'd wait for him in places far enough away from his office.

From that day on, I wore much brighter colors and stranger combinations, so my father could always find me no matter where we decided to meet.

16. Please describe your body.

I'm tiny but curvy. No matter how thin I am, i'll always be curvy.

17. Please describe your mind.

It's like a Terry Gilliam movie. There's a lot going on. It's action packed, It's entertaining. It's hard to focus on everything that's happening. I don't quite get it but I enjoy it. It won't get great reviews and you probably won't understand the plot until several days after it's over. It doesn't matter. I love Terry Gilliam movies. I especially love the ones that got bad reviews.

18. Please describe your emotions.

even my sunglasses have a rose-colored tint.

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

I'm wearing a vintage floral print. It's stained with many things from the many projects i've done wearing this dress.
There is a small bird snuggled on my shoulder.
I'm sort of wearing her. She likes the warmth of my neck. I like the warmth of her feathers.
I have no makeup on but my eyelash glue is still on my eyes and it's making my eyelashes stick together into one eyelash.
My hairdresser friend needed to practice blow drying hair last night. I swam in her pool then I got my hair done by her. My hair is fucking perfect.
I feel like the goddess of luxury right now, and I smell a little like chlorine. LIfe is fucking beautiful.

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

Clothing and makeup are an extension of your personality. If you wear that with pride, it will inspire others to do so as well. If we all chose to wear our personalities rather than hide them behind status quo, maybe we'd all be a little more happy.

21. With whom do you talk about clothes?

Everyone. Anyone I can.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

They don't.
I cut them out of my list of influences a long time ago.
the moment I did, I was a lot happier.

23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?

I have very strong taste and style.
Your taste is your style. They go hand in hand.

Taste and style are quite meaningful to me. Expressing them is a way of letting the world see bits of your personality. If you love your taste, and express that with your style it won't matter how the world reacts to it.

24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?

There's no such thing as a waste of money on clothing. Clothing is art, art is inspiration. Inspiration makes us feel different about some of the dreary aspects of life.
I've even felt a little better at funerals if I'm wearing something that gives me strength.
as long as you don't try and force yourself into being something you're not, clothing will always be an extension of who you are. It's an investment. If you choose wisely, you'll never have to change your wardrobe.

I once starved myself for two weeks to get an embroidered jacket. I had never bought a designer thing in my life. I had to have this jacket. It was embroidered black velvet.

12 years later, I make a living creating embroidered black velvet things. The jacket continues to be a source of endless inspiration.

25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?

You can take off most of your clothes and they still won't see your asshole.

26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?


48. Do you find it comforting or constraining to have a uniform?


50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?

no, i'd love to have their privledges though.

51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

No matter what era, if you have money your clothes looked good.
I'm a poor artist right now, and clothing/fabric are still nice for those who are poor because of mass manufacturing and globalization.

It's great to be poor but still fashionable.
You can't always peg how rich someone is by what they are wearing these days and I like that.
It wasn't always this way.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

that depends on if you ask me in the time frame near my period.

53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?

I think "damn, I hope I can still pull off this look when i'm old!"

54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

I love romanian gypsies and polish folk dancing costumes.

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

an office worker.

57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?

oh, i just wouldn't wear clothes. I'd decorate my pubes in odd ways.
I'd probably have many rashes on my body due to the dying and decorating of my pubes.

I mean, i'm pretty cool with my body. I wish there wasn't such thing as celulite, but you can't win em' all.

59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?


60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?

I'm lazy about perfume. It's a no no if you're into acting. I've seen people get kicked out of auditons for wearing perfume.
you never know who is allergic.

But holy fuck do I ever love that britney spears perfume. It looks like a sorceress spell and it smells like candy roses.

62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?

IT'S SO IMPORTANT. I've chosen outfits based on the makeup I want to wear. I'm a makeup artist. I love makeup.

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

I made this strapless dress that has andy warhol bananas as the breasts.
It was the first embroidered thing I ever designed. it represents my pride in being a weirdo.

72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?

a velvet embroidered betsey johnson jacket. It was the first piece of clothing that taught me that clothes aren't just clothes, they're art.

74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?

It looks like a parade of drag queens had a violent rampage in my apartment.
there's just piles of stuff everywhere, eyelashes, and random flashy things.
The other day, I accidentally sat on a huge bag of pearls. Who keeps large bags of pearls on a couch cushion??
I do.

75. Were you ever given a present of clothing or jewelry that especially touched you?

anything my Oma has ever given me. She is unapologetic about her amazing eccentric style. It's given me the strength to be who I am. I cherish anything she's ever given me.

77. How and when do you shop for clothes?

when i'm forced too. I hate shopping. I make most of the things I wear.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Like a strawberry shortcake doll.

79. How does how you dress play into your ambitions for yourself?

My clothing sets me apart from other people. It makes me memorable.
One day I will be able to have a clothing line. Right now I just make dresses for myself.
I'm too poor to have the resources to truly open up the things I create to other people, but if I didn't have style, i wouldn't sew. If I didn't sew I wouldn't have much of a life purpose.
My style and how people react to it, gives me hope for my ambitions.

80. How does money fit into all this?

It doesn't.
The best things I own, I've found in the garbage.

81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?

A belt! Belts make everything look special, and they allow me to show off the parts of me that I like.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

July 13th during the time that the Jem doll was released. Born in Hamilton, living in downtown Toronto now.

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

I'm super duper poor. I've come from close-minded small-town rural farmland.

What kind of work do you do?

I'm an artist

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?



"Faces. As an Illustrator she’s drawn them. As an Actor, she’s made them. As as a Makeup Artist, she’s put them on. As a musician, she’s melted them off and as a Costume Designer, she’s covered them up.
Marlena Kaesler makes things, and she made the sentences for responding to this survey."

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