In Conversation with Natalie Joos – By Carolyn Asome
Few women light up the fashionscape quite as electrically as Natalie Joos. She sends the street-style shutterbugs into a frenzy and little wonder, with her bold mish-mish of colourful vintage finds. We catch up with the Santa Monica-based writer, style influencer, photographer and author of the blog Tales of Endearment, to discuss why dressing for the boys – “think of it as the anti-Man Repeller” – is her preferred option.
Born in Belgium, Joos studied political and social sciences with a major in journalism at the University of Ghent before arriving in New York in 1997, via a stint in London. She was studio manager for the British photographer Craig McDean, who encouraged her to pursue her talent for model casting – she took his advice in 2003 when she set up her own casting company.
Today, Joos is papped as often the models she used to cast for international magazines and advertising campaigns. Recently her focus has returned to her writing, and editing her blog, Tales of Endearment, which she launched to share her passion for fashion; she describes it as “stories about love, friends, vintage, music and life”. Earlier this year, Joos moved from New York to California.
You live in Santa Monica, but grew up in Belgium. What’s the difference in the way people dress?
Belgians who are into fashion dress in a very dark way – there’s a lot of black, asymmetric clothing from Martin Margiela or Ann Demeulemeester. I’m not very Belgian in this respect; who knows, perhaps that’s why I left. I can’t imagine myself in those sort of clothes. I like to feel feminine: I want to feel and look like a woman. So colour is good for me, as is a waist and a nice heel.
In LA, you can be more experimental. I can wear all my vintage stuff, go as nuts as I like. I have so much fun putting outfits together here. It’s more liberated and also vintage-inspired. And much more bohemian than New York. I lived there and everything was catered to networking, business and money, so you always had to look perfect there. People are constantly trying to elevate their look.
What’s your everyday uniform?
A vintage mini dress and a pair of flats. I like designer vintage by Geoffrey Beene, YSL and Ungaro, but I don’t go looking for designer vintage and in any case all the designer stuff has been so picked over. I find my best pieces for $60.
What is your style maxim?
I dress for the boys. If I’m standing in front of my mirror and I think what I’m wearing is so unsexy no guy is ever going to want to talk to me, then I go and change [laughs]. I want to wear what I feel sexy in. I wanted to start a blog at one point called “I dress for the boys”; the subtitle would be “The anti-man repeller”. It’s ok for Leandra [Medine] because she has a husband, whereas I’m divorced.
Flats or heels?
That’s a tough question. I love flats – I have so many good ones. It’s all about flats these days. But I am in essence a heel girl.
Who are your all-time favourite designers?
Nicolas Ghesquière for sure, and a dress from when he was at Callaghan. Miuccia [Prada], I love how she thinks outside the box. Geoffrey Beene in the 60s. And the original Yves Saint Laurent.
Which are the classic items you would always invest in?
A really nice coat that is super-classic, perhaps from Max Mara, and shoes. I suppose that’s the only thing I spend my money on. I used to buy a lot of Balenciaga, and also Prada and Miu Miu. My favourite pair of shoes is the Saint Laurent Candy shoe, because I love the 70s and platforms.
I hate trends, why is probably why I love vintage so much. I don’t care if culottes are trending because if I look hideous in them, I’m not going to wear them.
What piece have you owned the longest in your wardrobe?
I still have Levi’s from when I was 17.
What is your wardrobe transformer?
I love oversized sweaters and I have this one sweater from H&M, which was a sample sent from their PR. It’s huge and grey and fuzzy and transforms any outfit from being up to down, which in LA is very useful. I’ll wear it over a cocktail dress or when I’m very dressed-up. You never want to look too polished here, you want to trash your outfit a little.
What’s your advice to someone starting out in fashion who wants to make a success of themselves?
Don’t underestimate the importance of interning; I’m always telling anyone who is interested in this that they should draw up a list of people they admire and would like to work with and write to them and ask if they can intern. It’s that first step of growing up, knowing what you want and going after it and getting experience. Also, travel and find an internship out of your comfort zone. I also recommend not specialising too early: if you want to go into fashion marketing, study marketing not fashion marketing, or for fashion management, study economics. You will benefit from a much broader world perspective if you don’t specialise too early.
What is the most out-there piece you’ve ever bought?
A 1940s black velvet to-the-ankle gown which probably once belonged to a movie costume collection. It has two long slits so that you can almost see my underwear. It’s insane, but not really a repeat dress.
What’s in Natalie’s shopping cart?
Last thing you bought?
Two dresses from Etsy, one red gown and one 60s polka-dot mini dress.
Who makes the best…?
Flat boots: Prada, classic and timeless
Little black dress: Céline
Sunglasses: Tom Ford
Delicate everyday jewellery: Jennifer Fisher
When you’re not working, what do you like to wear?
A pair of jeans or track pants, but that’s when I’m not coming out of the door.
Do you shop on the high street?
No, because I hate disposable fashion.
Do you like statement earrings or delicate, layered pieces?
You have flawless skin what is your beauty secret?
Thank you, I’m quite consistent with my routine in that I always use a cleanser, toner, eye cream, serum and then a night cream. Although I like to switch around the products. Currently, my favourites include Caudalie eye cream, Lancôme Génifique Serum and Hydrating Gel Mask and Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream, which really is magic. I also like to slather Sisley Black Rose Cream Face Mask. To make your face look dewy, I use Shiva Rose glow face balm, which also plumps your skin.
We love your Instagram feed – tell us who we should follow to get more fabulous outfit inspiration?
Your must-have holiday items?
Music in my ears, sun on my face, cocktails in my belly.
The beauty products that you won’t leave home without?
How does you feel social media has affected fashion shows, especially Fashion Week?
Personally I am always so inundated with images of the same looks and trends that I am tired of them by the time I can actually make that long-awaited purchase. I think we should chill the rehashing. The seasonal showings have become completely inadequate, mostly because of social media. Why don’t we create shopping events, rather than trade shows, where fans and bloggers and customers can buy what they see? Give them champagne and music and discounts and make it a fun evening, rather than a 12-minute, cost-ineffective ordeal. And why don’t we have buyers and editors make showroom appointments instead? Don’t they do that anyways? What’s the point of sitting through a show when you have to do re-sees and sales meetings later?