Her twitter name is Bunny Bisous, her first blog was called Julia Lapin (lapin means bunny in French), her current blog is called Yes! A Bunny Stream of Conch, and its logo depicts two bunnies touching each other’s noses, yet Julia Frakes’ favorite animal is not a rabbit. In fact she names many different animals – horses, moose, goats, pheasant, cats, dogs, pigs; in that order – except rabbits. “It’s just an old nickname from around the time when I worked very closely with Paper Magazine, prior to starting a personal website in 2008,” she thinks back. And I guess it stuck. Appropriately so. Because 21-year old Julia Frakes is a tiny little mouse with a tiny little voice which no moose or pig could possibly relate to.
For our vintage outing Julia and I visited Frock, an expensive-looking, beautifully curated vintage store on Elizabeth Street. It must have been one of the coldest days of the year. Snow was still piled up in smutty-dirty, icy globs on the sidewalks and the temperatures had reached alarming depths. But we braved it all like champs because much like me, Julia Frakes adores vintage. “I am a history major and politics buff, so perusing antiques and vintage wares is definitely the most rewarding and thrilling of shopping experiences in my book,” she tells me. On the – though rare – occasion that she shops, Julia gravitates towards the elegance of the 1940s or the aura manifested by Vogue UK during the 1970s – “that distinctive mishmash of woolens and plaids, scholarly menswear paired with the era’s delicate prairie aesthetic, as captured by such legends as Sarah Moon, Francesco Scavullo and Norman Parkinson”. But her greatest source of inspiration is the 1982 Vogue edition of More Dash than Cash by Kate Hogg. “The high-and-low, bucolic-cum-urban manner of dressing as captured in Hogg’s credo and the dreamy images contained therein have since had a sweeping impact on my whole fashion philosophy.”
When I ask Julia to describe her personal style she comes up with the most fascinating backdrop for her fashion education. Before she was a Fashion Writer (she writes for The Journal, Paper, Dossier and Vogue Nippon) and model (she is represented by Next ‘Special Bookings’), she lived in Pennsylvania where her family ran apparel manufacturing factories. Growing up in this textile environment “certainly spurred a lifelong appreciation for all of the handiwork and fabrics behind domestically-produced garments, not to mention a deep-rooted respect for old-school Americana like Pendleton and Ralph Lauren,” she recalls. But what’s so much cooler is that she quotes Heidi, Switzerland’s national treasure from the namesake book by Johanna Spyri, as the eccentric, spry optimism at the heart of her style. You might remember a very young Shirley Temple in the 1937 movie adaptation. “That sprightly spirit and exuberant attitude has surely become more polished while I have grown up, but its distinctive ragamuffin cheerfulness—always with something a bit off,” she elaborates, “—is definitely something that I still cherish to this day.” So while Julia took hints from a children’s tale to adopt her personal style, her massive knowledge of history and fashion literature have attributed to a grounded yet girlie sense of style, minus the bunny ears.