It’s Cousin Elvy

We must be related, she believes. I mean, if you pronounced Joos in the Flemish language, the way my fellow countrymen do, it would sound just like Yost, minus the T. And Elvy allegedly has Dutch and German roots so it’s entirely plausible that our ancestors canoodled somewhere in the lower Netherlands. “The tall, tan, vintage-loving cousins!!!!” she cheerfully decides to christen us. I have no objections. Since we met at that crazy luncheon during the Sundance Film Festival, Elvy and I have stayed in touch, commiserating about the demise of New York and waited patiently to reconvene until she moved back to Los Angeles.

Laura Vivian Yost, better known as LV or Elvy, is an almost-30-year old actress “with writerly and jazz singerly leanings”, as she prefers to expand on the title. She grew up an only child in the Bay Area, in Silicon Valley. Her parents were brilliant computer people, with music and art as recreational indulgences. “It was a really beautiful place to grow up,” she remembers, “full of trees and intellects and hippies. I have many formative memories of going to the San Francisco Symphony and local theatre productions.” It was also the heyday of the Haight Street Wasteland. “I bought a green Bowie T-shirt there around age 14,” she recalls, “that was a seminal part of my wardrobe and development as Treasure Huntress.”

Elvy always knew she wanted to be an actress. Part of the appeal was the costumes and the fashion. She loves watching the classics, but warns me, “it can actually be a bit difficult watching old movies with me, because when I see a fantastic outfit on screen I growl and curse and claw at things like a mongrel.” (I decide I will not take that risk.) When she was 3-years old she dressed up as Wolfgang Mozart for Halloween, “because my favorite movie was and still is Amadeus. My mom and […] aunt made a perfect tiny 18th century suit for me, a replica of the purple silk suit Tom Hulce wears in the film. That was my earliest experience with vintage reproduction.”

Today we are in Studio City, at Elvy’s beautiful hillside house. She’s lived here twice. Eight years ago, when she found it, and now, by luck, when the house became available again after her New York stint. The walls are crumbling, the wood is rotting and the plumbing is seriously flawed but Elvy never wants to leave; she’s just waiting to buy it so she can renovate it. “It was built in 1951,” she says admiringly, “and hasn’t been updated much since then, which is dreamy architecturally but difficult otherwise. It’s worth it though; this house is filled with magic.” And also a cat named Rubbish, because a friend found her in a trash can.

Elvy’s style is undeniably feminine and romantic. She loves prints and the 30s silhouette. “The typical Elvy Outfit in my Fantasy Life would be a late 1930s silk rayon dress,” she dreams, “and I think a typical daily real life Elvy Outfit is a thrift store reproduction of something in that vibe. A man once tried to harass me on the street by shouting “My grandma has shoes like that!” and I told him his grandmother sounds like a lady with excellent taste. I’ve always felt more myself in vintage. I have better posture wearing it, and find that it’s generally much more flattering than most modern clothing. True vintage is also the most eco-friendly clothing option, which is a delicious bonus.”

The final dress of the day has a special story. “My friend Rel invited me last minute to a surprise party at a friend’s apartment in the West Village – actually an apartment John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived in for a while. We were in warm weather civvies, and on the subway there he looked at the invitation again and realized oh no, it’s black tie! We zoomed into the Housing Works on West 10th, and as soon as we walked in the door I saw that sparkly dress. I thought it might be too big or too absurd but when I tried it on, we agreed I needed to wear it. Then we saw the tag – the company who made that dress is called Black Tie.”

: – )

October 31, 2017

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