Imagine coming home from a long day at school and running over to the check the mailbox. Inside is a pile of bills, offers and other miscellaneous letters that concern other family members. But at the bottom of the stack you notice the gleaming magazine cover with the familiar script of the word Seventeen imprinted at the top. You flip through the pages until you come across a feature with your image along with an inscription about you.
For most girls like myself, this is the daydream we have continuously throughout our adolescent years to adulthood. But for 17-year-old Chinese American Natalie Liao, this is her reality. Natalie is best known for her blog lavagabonddame in which she offers tips, showcases her favorite fashion trends and gives visitors a preview of her stylish daily outfits.
Fashion lovers are so inspired by her she has accumulated over 300,000+ blog views in the past year. I had the opportunity to interview the San Francisco native and learn of this busy, young fashionista’s life along with gathering a few tips we could all utilize.
AsianWeek: Alright Natalie let’s talk about your early times in fashion; when did you notice that you had knack in styling?
Natalie Liao: Being a young girl who fantasized what I would wear to parties of all sorts, I have always been interested in fashion, prior to trends and labels.
AsianWeek: When you were little did you get a say in what you got to wear?
Natalie Liao: I believe I started to dress myself in the middle of grade school and that’s when I realized I loved to play with color palettes and proportions.
AsianWeek: Do you ever act as the fashion stylist for your family members or friends?
Natalie Liao: I’ve played stylist countless times for friends and my aunts.
AsianWeek: Let’s talk about that feature you had this past April with that little fashion magazine, Seventeen—sarcasm completely intended. How did Seventeen discover you? When they asked you to be in their magazine what was your initial reaction and thoughts? As a Seventeen subscriber for years I want to say congratulations because that is a dream of mine and I am sure, many little girls.
Natalie Liao: I’m assuming Seventeen stumbled upon my little webspace on the web. My initial reaction to their invitation was complete shock- I never in my life imagined that a big fashion/lifestyle publication would take interest in me, let alone one that I’ve been subscribing to since my pre-teen days.
AsianWeek: Do you still keep in touch / work with them?
Natalie Liao: I can’t say exactly which projects are currently on the backburner, but I can assure you that I am looking forward to working with them again.
AsianWeek: What would you tell girls who want to work for Seventeen or aspire to break into the fashion industry?
Natalie Liao: Be your own muse and immerse yourself in what you love to do.
AsianWeek: Ever since your feature spread have girls constantly asked you for fashion advice? Have boys asked you for fashion tips?
Natalie Liao: I have received e-mails concerning my fashion consultation and I have had a couple guy friends who’ve asked me which pair of shoes I liked better.
AsianWeek: Time to get the deets about your infamous blog. I really am a fan of your posts on blogspot. Tell us about your blog, lavagabonddame.blogspot.com, how did that come about? How old were you when you created it? Why did you name it lavagabonddame? How often do you blog?
Natalie Liao: I was fifteen when I created La Vagabond Dame. Initially my blog was my form of documenting inspiration quotes and visuals before it became a full blown fashion/lifestyle blog months later. My blog name is my French twist on the phrase, ‘the vagabond lady.’ Sort of like how a vagabond never has a permanent home, I wanted to use that analogy with my sense of style- it is always evolving.
AsianWeek: Your outfit pictures look so professional, where do you take your pictures? Do you take them yourself or does someone take them for you?
Natalie Liao: I just really am lucky to have a patient group of friends who are willing to take my photos during our outings.
AsianWeek: How do you pick your daily outfits? To me they always look perfectly put together.
Natalie Liao: Sometimes I would picture what I’d wear with what in my mind for certain events or I’d literally throw pieces together at the last minute before school.
AsianWeek: Now I have some miscellaneous questions ranging from personal fashion to tips and your future; Where do you find your best deals?
Natalie Liao: I find my best deals at my local good wills and charity shops.
AsianWeek: How would you classify your style, or are you versatile?
Natalie Liao: My style is eclectic and definitely versatile. A bit of edge to a feminine look, a look from all decades preceding the nineties with a modern twist.
AsianWeek: Is fashion for you a hobby or something you want to incorporate into your future? What is your dream job?
Natalie Liao: Fashion is definitely something that I want to live and breathe in no matter what age. I currently don’t have one specific dream job; however I do hope I lead my future as a successful career woman where five inch heels and ankle grazing gowns are a daily thing.
AsianWeek: Where do you draw your inspiration from, celebrities or decades?
Natalie Liao: With fashion, everything and everywhere is inspiration- if you pay attention. For me, I lust for the olden days, from the flapper style in the twenties to old Hollywood glamour from the forties leading up to the strong shoulders of the seventies. I love Olivia Palermo for her versatility and closet that makes any girl green with envy.
AsianWeek: How has fashion evolved over the years?
Natalie Liao: Personally I feel that fashion has not only evolved but brought back several styles from decades before these past few years. From Christian Dior’s Spring 2010 line a la forties Hollywood glamour to seventies inspired Marc Jacobs spring 2011 collection.
AsianWeek: Let’s do some quick, fun questions. What are your favorite accessories? And what can you not leave the house without?
Natalie Liao: My favorite accessories include my stacks of gold bangles, collection of chunky cocktail rings, floppy hats and leather belts. I can’t leave the house without my phone, itouch, tube of red lippy and sunshades.
AsianWeek: Now Natalie, as you know we are an Asian centered website so I have to ask you about your culture. Does your heritage play a role in your fashion sense? To me you are kind of a rare inspiration since there are not many Asians featured in the fashion industry.
Natalie Liao: Although my heritage does not play a huge role in my style sense, I am proud to represent the Asian community.
AsianWeek: Do you have any hopes for Asian Americans in the fashion industry?
Natalie Liao: As for Asian Americans in the fashion industry, I do hope to see more promising individuals such as Alexander Wang and Anna Sui.
Again, if you want the latest trends, tips or fashion advice check out Natalie’s blog: http://lavagabonddame.blogspot.com/