I could be wrong and ruthlessly biased but aren’t the latest Aldo campaigns a bit retro? There’s a joyous Lily Donaldson manhandling a giant garfish wearing high waisted red shorts, a flesh colored boob tube and red ankle socks for Spring 2011. And there’s Canada’s pride Jessica Stam wearing hot pants, polka dots and white socks twirling a jumbo-sized red plastic heart for Spring 2010. Undoubtedly Terry Richardson’s comical and iconic style of photography is responsible for this delightful vintage turn of direction at Aldo, but when I met the shoe company’s new Campaign Manager I couldn’t help but connect some other dots, even if completely imaginary and wishful thinking.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, 33-year old Carla Robertson moved to Montreal only four months ago. At Aldo she oversees the photo shoots, video productions and the general rolling out of the campaigns across the world. She’s a vision of retro-fied perfection. From her slick boy cut hair style, to her latest obsession “male and slightly creepy” prescription metal frames, to her crazy colorful, “borderline ugly” 80’s patterns, Carla’s style screams fun and dance. She loves Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and anything 80’s Country & Western. “Leather tassles, coloured lace, cute gingham, rhinestones on denim, huge shoulder pads with a cinched in waist… what’s not to love?!” she laughs. Her Ipod playlist is a mix of heavy metal and 1950’s chansons. Her new boyfriend is rockabilly – her taste in men sort of comes with the territory. “An appreciation for vintage is definitely on the list of what I look for in a man. How else will he put up with all my junk?” she jokes. “Luckily my boyfriend totally gets it.” As a house warming present he bought her a glow-in-the-dark koala bear! Eight years ago, she started collecting glasses as a way of adding a cool accessory to her look. Contacts weren’t cutting it and “frames didn’t cost an arm and a leg”. In a nutshell, Carla doesn’t take life or fashion too seriously. She gets dressed according to her mood. ” I don’t really plan outfits,” she explains. “I just get up in the morning, grab what pops into my mind – maybe it’s a shoe, or new earrings or a particular top I rediscovered – and try and piece something around that. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t. But that’s all part of the adventure of wearing a new concoction every day. Then some days are definitely jumpsuit days!”
Carla’s apartment is situated in Outrement, the predominantly Hasidic neighborhood in Montreal. She lives above the famous Lester’s deli, “home of Montreal’s finest smoked meats sandwich”. And admittedly the smells in the corridor and stairwell do make you hungry. She moved in about three weeks ago but already the place feels like home, and very much like Carla, into the smallest details. The 1950’s mint green dining table and pastel pink chairs match perfectly with the 80’s jungle print jumpsuit and pink socks she wears today. Bits of Dolly appear in every room of the house. Her collection of album covers is enviable and inspiring, especially that hilarious Barbara Streisand record! Every piece of furniture and clothing in Carla’s house has a history, wether picked up at a yard sale during a sunny weekend in the country or brought back from Australia. “There is something really beautiful about wearing clothes that previous generations of women in your family have worn,” she says affectionately. “I have my grandmother’s kilt which I adore and my couch cushions are made out of her scarves. I love that she has a place in my Montreal home.” Her love for vintage sprouted during a trip to Amsterdam in the 90’s and locked in an obsession she’s taken to different eras over time. Needless to say she was in her element when Terry put on the Grease soundtrack on set. “No-one in their right mind can dislike tracks like Beauty School Dropout.”