May 19th, 2015

Wonderland: a 4-Part Series

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ARTISTS FACEBOOK CHALLENGE. DAY 5.

Well, like the Scarecrow to Dorothy, this one seems like the hardest one yet. Maybe that’s because this was my biggest creation, built to last yet gone nonetheless. Or maybe it’s because this week marked the anniversary of losing our little spark, Lauren. Whatever the reason, it is with a heavy but hopeful heart that I wrap up this Facebook Artists Challenge with a journey back down the rabbit hole.

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Let me first borrow some other people’s words before I try to find my own. Cameron Connerty called 12South a “magic little house.” Nancy Perla Michaelis remarked about the 360-degree nature of my brand (I wore it, I decorated it, I built it, I employed it, I spoke it, I wrote it, I played its music, I represented it within the community).

The Guardian wrote this: “a cosy store established in a grey clapboard house set back from the street, is the most cutting edge, stocking affordable designer clothes sourced from across the US alongside vintage sunglasses, jewellery and chocolate. It specialises in the informal but chic look favoured by those too hip for Urban Outfitters, and its liberal credentials were confirmed by a 10% discount for anyone registering to vote in last year’s presidential election while at the store.”

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Jim Ridley of the Nashville Scene called it “playfully chic,” and then later he wrote about me: “the brainiac in high school who walked around with Marx in her backpack, with a head full of Broadway show tunes, with a snappy comeback at the ready for any sorority girl who dared look crosswise at her combat boots…three parts Amelie to two parts Juno, the pixieish proprietor of the 12 South boutique Two Elle. A petite almond-eyed wisecracker who runs the only fashion shop in town—maybe in the world—where you can get a copy of Kafka’s The Trial to go with your Converse high-tops, Lowe presides over a four-room enchanted kingdom of hip couture and a glamorous staff of well-read, culturally aware (and endearingly attitude-free) hotties. But it’s her personality that comes through in the store’s mix of geek-chic ’90s retro, high-style jeans and distressed college T’s, and slim silver pendants that depict girl-power superheroes.” And I’m sorry, world, I will never stop quoting him, because his words brought me unparalleled joy and honor….until Stephen Gilbert called me an “all-weather-whatever’s-clever-now-and-forever- tougher-than-leather woman.”

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So, those are their words, but I still struggle to find my own. I was just looking at photos of 12South, ones that I had never used for anything, ones that weren’t glossed over by stories I’ve already told. I said aloud, “I can’t do it,” and closed them up. I can’t say goodbye. It’s been many years. But somehow I just can’t do it.

Maybe I’m just not ready to be cute and clever about it. Maybe I’d like to think that the story is still being written. And really I don’t need to say much at all, because so much of it is already documented here or on twoelle.com. And so many of you were there! You wrote on those chalkboard walls I put up for you. You sat with me on the porch swing. You plastered graffiti, and you ripped it down at the end. You posed with me in the ads that lined local bathroom stalls. You sat on the couch I selected. You played on the pool table. Or the piano. Or the drums. Or the stage. Or the pinball machine that ONE DAY before it started smoking. You hung up your clothes on hangers that had bunnies on them. You walked out the doors I had shipped in from New York. You wondered why the exterior window frames on a structure that was built in 2008 looked like they had been there for hundreds of years (Me! I did that!). You wondered why there was a sign on the door that said, “Went for Paletas. Be back soon.” (Me! I did that!) You talked to me while I stood behind a bar, the last place I stood that felt as safe to me as a stage. And you bought things that I designed, and they still show up every now and then in your photos, bringing a deeper smile to my heart than you can imagine.

You were there. So, I won’t tell the whole story. I’ll just show you some photos of that thing I made. {I broke them down into 4 groups. I know. I’m far outside the scope of this Challenge. But here’s what: I don’t care. Join me down here in wonderland if you like. And Amanda Paytas Stevens: my deepest thanks for nominating me for this opportunity to share, waking me up, and reminding me to do what I do best.}

Regarding nominations, I started this Challenge in childhood and nominated in Nashville. I’ll now end it in Nashville and nominate in childhood with my family. I’m nominating Ninfa Lowe, Michael Lowe, Daniel Lowe, and Adam Lowe, creatives each in their own way.

OK, kids.

PART 1: THE MAGIC LITTLE HOUSE

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PART 2: BUILDING WONDERLAND

The day after the Hill Center Grand Opening, I felt an overwhelming sadness; the building phase was over. If we’re being honest, I think I liked building wonderland more than I liked living in it. Maybe that’s my truth: nothing ever felt as good as waking up too early, drinking too much coffee, getting my hands too dirty, and building a dream.

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PART 3: LIFE IN WONDERLAND

As mad as a hatter’s tea party and as confusing as a Caterpillar’s question, this was life.

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PART 4: GOODNIGHT, WONDERLAND

There’s something particularly poetic about building a dream and then having to break it down with your own hands. These were difficult yet liberating days, when I began deconstructing my world into manageable pieces that I could discard or pack away. That empty space still haunts me, but I always find something inspiring about the darkness.

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October 21st, 2012

Falling in the Sun

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Life, it seems, is different on this side. The leaves don’t change. The breeze doesn’t chill. And fall fashion is something of a store-displayed myth. I purchased my obligatory wool items in the hopes that I could recreate a life I once loved, but as the sun continues to shine, perhaps I must accept the truth of my newfound glow. So, the glitter of the Miu Miu sandals sparkles into October. But, as it’s fall, I’ll throw in a twist: I’ll play with pattern.

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Temperature demands that the sleeves stay short, but I’ll mix up the plaids and dots and camos and animal prints with reckless abandon. Just because I’ve welcomed a little warmth into my seasonal spell, it’s doesn’t mean I can’t still fall for the magic of this heavier time of year.

And it doesn’t end at pattern-mixing. Everything gets a little messier in the fall, kiddos. The hair gets pulled back, and the flaws become the strengths. I embrace the breakdown within the fall. It becomes…..my thing.

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So, despite the brightness of the light, the ambiguity of this transitional time settles in. Patterns get mixed up, persona gets messy, and a dash of glitter gets thrown in. It’s my first sunny fall in 15 years. Forgive me, friends, if it’s a little confusing.

Posted at 3:48 pm by rachel in: After Wonderland, Clothes

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October 1st, 2012

Support-A-Sib

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Well, according to the calendar and trendsters, we are well into fall. I have located my scarves and jackets in storage and procured the season’s best sweaters (I foretell animal duels between the J.Crew french hen and the Madewell sheep, but they’re family, so hopefully no blood will be spilled). HOWEVER, according to my iphone (the 4….not the 5….I don’t even have Siri….is it too soon to call it vintage?), it is still 100 degrees. So, before breaking out the battling family sweaters, I decided to keep it in my own family this weekend and fully represent my brother’s clothing line, Collective Los Angeles (also affectionately called Cola).

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Everything is available online at www.collectivelosangeles.com for your purchasing pleasure. I kind of love them all and haven’t really developed a favorite yet, although I’m currently leaning toward the Cola crop top paired with the Madewell striped pencil skirt. But can you really beat the Runyon shirt? Basically, sibling-loyalty aside, I’m a fan of the brand….enough so that I’m figuring out how to take solo shots of shirts with writing on them (it’s tricky when you can’t use a mirror!). And I’m even carrying my computer around town in a bag that has an expletive on it! So, f*ck fall, buy Cola, wear a tank top, and celebrate family! xoxo

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Posted at 3:04 pm by rachel in: After Wonderland, Clothes

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August 21st, 2012

Believe It Or Not

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I know, I know. It’s too soon. It’s still over 100 degrees outside, and we’ve added a touch of humidity, but sometimes a girl just can’t help herself. My favorite season has begun to reveal itself in my favorite places, and I’ll deny it no longer. I’m falling head over heels for the crew and their silly French hen.

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Yep, the touch of cashmere and the long-sleeve button-down is a bit of a health risk in this climate, but I’m nothing if not a risk-taker. I see you, J.Crew, and I’m ready to fall.

And maybe I was too quick to judge the notion of a Peter Pan….

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P.S. Can we also please talk about the Kate Spade Garance Dore line????

Posted at 8:45 pm by rachel in: After Wonderland, Clothes

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August 11th, 2012

Off to an Olympic Start

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The 2012 Olympics were all about fashion. That may not be what you were hearing on NBC, but that’s definitely what you were reading if you follow me on twitter @twoellerachel (warning: there was a lot of talk about glittery Russian tears). I’ve become completely swept away by the Olympics, and what I lack in hair clips and tight buns, I’ve made up for in Olympic-inspired fashion. Gap (yep, you read that right) made it easy with these vintage Olympic logo tees. #TeamUSA

Posted at 1:39 am by rachel in: After Wonderland, Clothes

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