Style Diary: Shangri-L.A. (An Unabashed Nod to Weetzie Bat)

I just re-read Weetzie Bat a few days ago. While I had loved Francesca Lia Block’s fairytale retellings, I was faintly let down the first time I read through the book – was I expecting more adventure and grit, I suppose? Re-reading it gave me a better appreciation for Francesca’s poetic style and “overwritten” imagery. Reading the many young adult stories she’s written are like taking guided meditations to a place hot and hot pink, her own personal vision of Los Angeles and a well-loved, if slightly worn, vintage Hollywood.

pink fringe dress: $24 | strawberry parfait t-shirt: $25 | ‘mermaid’ print t-shirt dress: $38 | creamsicle heart sunglasses: $14 | unicorn pendant: $18 | lace shorts via ohthelovelythings | Weetzie Bat photoshoots by Autumn De Wilde

Next time I was out shopping, I realized I was looking for ‘Weetzie’ fashion, a nice spunky girly-punk alternative for long summer days. I picture all of the Weetzie Bat books taking place in the ‘lush-plush-peony-pink’ sunset, so that’s the color palette I chose for this inspiration collage.

To give you a feel for my ‘Weetzie-style’, here are a few particularly pretty quotes from my copy:

“In the daytime, they went to matinees on Hollywood Boulevard, had strawberry sundaes with marshmallow topping at Schwab’s, or went to the beach.”

“… she couldn’t leave where it was hot and cool, glam and slam, rich and trashy, devils and angels, Los Angeles.”

… Fifi’s house was a Hollywood cottage with one of those fairy-tale roofs that look like someone has spilled silly sand. There were roses and lemon trees in the garden and two bedrooms inside the house – one painted rose and the other aqua. The house was filled with plaster Jesus statues, glass butterfly ashtrays, paintings of clowns, and many kinds of coasters.”

To get a taste of Ms. Block, you can read more quotes of her work here.

Other things that feel Weetzie-y: pink glitter sandals, bubblegum toenails, bleach blonde pixie cuts, hot pink leather jackets with studs, silly sand art necklaces, vintage petticoats, Marilyn Monroe impersonations, silent movies, dresses made from 1970s bed sheets (I’ll have to wear mine as soon as it warms up – strapless with huge kitschy roses), natural crystal jewelry.

Now, since I know one of you Weetzie fans is going to ask – no, I didn’t include a Native American feather headdress in this collage, which the book states you wears in the first scene, as to me this sounds like cultural appropriation. For more information, please check out the tumblr My Culture is Not a Trend. I did, however, choose a pink fringe dress, but not one with particular Native American heritage.

  • http://crunchingsandmunchings.wordpress.com/ Rebecca

    Delightful! I love all the descriptions of Weetzie’s fashion in the Weetzie books! And props to you for nixing the Native American headdress.

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      Thanks! Glad to get some positive feedback on no-headdress. I really like fantasy-style dream catchers of the type I’d buy at the county fair as a kid, but thought they could be similarly problematic, so I left those off as well.

  • http://aestheticacademic.wordpress.com/ Caroline

    Huh, the comments about cultural appropriation are interesting. Lolita fashion is essentially Japan appropriating European history, then other countries appropriating it from them. And Wa-loli would most certainly be appropriation with the use of traditional kimono elements. What’s your opinion on that?

    I’m also interested on where you’d draw the line as far as who is included in the culture. For instance, I’m 1/4 Native American. I’m not trying to argue anything, I’m really interested in your views on this. ^^

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I think the difference between lolita and appropriation is that while Japan is taking Euro-american Victorian period dress and turning it into a fashion style, it isn’t, one, a sacred part of our culture (though you could bring Juliette and Justine’s Crucifixion print into this is you really want) like a warbonnet is to Native Americans, and two, the Victorian period is not a vibrant and living culture as the Native Americans are today. For another, I wouldn’t say that Victorian style is so much limited to a single race (some of the elements of cultural appropriation being tied to racism) as many people of the time period wore the clothes. 

      I’m not sure on where to draw on the line on who’s included. My family claims that we are related to Iroquois people way, way back but I have no way of verifying this and I do not have any relation to that culture, so I definitely don’t consider myself to be included in the culture. From my perspective, I would say you are ‘included’ in the culture if you were raised with it and those things are sacred to you, again using the warbonnet as an example. If for some reason you did not grow up with that as your culture (adopted perhaps?) I’m not sure, it would be a case-by-case basis and your own inner feelings I suppose. I’m not really sure on that one really!

      • Lalaland

        All good points! I think in Lolita the only thing that could be considered appropriation are the crosses in general (in gothic for example), however there is another important aspect to consider: the power. Japan has never been an oppressor to Europe…not saying it has never tried to, but it didn’t happen ^^”
        Instead Native Americans have been oppressed since forever, that’s why the appropriation in that case is like adding the latest slap in the face! 

        Also, this quote summerises a last point i wanted to make but am not really able to write ^^” :

        “The problem with cultural appropriation is that it replaces the original with a copy created by the dominant culture. It dilutes the original, removes all symbolic value from it and replaces it with a ready to consume product devoid of context and meaning.
        Cultural appropriation, at its most extreme, is a violent form of colonization because it removes the original group behind the culture and reinforces stereotypes about that group (i.e. ALL First Nation folks are reduced to “war bonnets”, whether their culture uses them or not; all Latin@s are reduced to a stylized version of Catholicism regardless of their spirituality; etc.). The mechanism of commodifying a culture ends up being a tool to re-inforce [sic] racism as it reduces the people behind those cultures to a mere cartoon like representation of their realities. It’s a great way to ultimately Other and objectify entire groups of people by taking something that is dynamic and ever evolving and freezing it for a marketing photo opportunity.”—Flavia Dzodan

        • Lalaland

          Oh and also, in regards to where to draw the line…i dont know either, but im sure that a person who belongs to a specific (oppressed) culture would not disrespect it any further…feathered headdresses would be only worn by men (and only by certain groups of Natives) and with very specific meanings…so im sure that someone who knows it would respect this ;)

          As for foreigners wearing lolita clothes..it is in fact “just” a fashion style! moreover, a foreigner who adopts lolita, pretty much adopts the whole idea of lolita…so it stays true to itself. To use an extreme example, a foreigner who converts to a certain religion is not committing appropriation when using/wearing the symbols of the religion. But do think about the annoyance that surrounds lolita cosplay costumes…. ;)

  • Fao.

    Yay! I didn’t know you were a fan of FLB, too =)

    [Also, I’m native, and I appreciate that you didn’t include a headdress in this. xo!]

    • http://www.parfaitdoll.com Victoria Suzanne Stella Alice

      I’m a huge fan! I just took the opportunity to fangirl at her Twitter – turns out she tweeted this post!