We’re not saying that naming your line after yourself is a bad thing. We’re just noting that if you have an un-ironic DJ name you once used while spinning cheesy music from the eighties, that’s a pretty honeyed alternative. Meet Graciela Fuentes—formerly known as La Tirana, Spanish for “female tyrant”—who, even during her beat-droppin’ days, always knew she would be an artist. After earning a BFA from Word University in Texas, landing an MFA from NYU, and dabbling in photography and video production, she found herself drawn to more industrial vibe—one that recalls the backdrop of her hometown, Monterrey, Mexico. “It’s a bit of nostalgia for seeing these machines—you can look at them and see how they work. Looking at my iPhone, I have no idea how I’m even talking on it,” Graciela explains.
After a few years working primarily on computers with digital media arts, Graciela yearned to create something physical. One carved alabaster ring later, the creative spark caught fire, laying the groundwork for Tirana Jewelry. Her favorite part of her process: Sourcing antique pieces from flea markets the world over. Those scores, kept in a sacred drawer in her Williamsburg studio, are then molded and cast in recycled silver, gold, and bronze to be sculpted and soldered into brand new pieces—for a line that’s romantic, steampunk, and tough all at once. “I like the idea of a female tyrant because I don’t think it has a bad historic connotation like the male tyrant,” Graciela says. “A female tyrant is a little bit more of a woman in power, a woman that knows what she wants, a woman that can get her way.” —jackie varriano
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Rock Out With a Lo & Sons Playlist
There’s a reason the names “Derek” and “Jan” start with D and J.
When Derek and Jan Lo aren’t making killer travel totes and overnight bags with their mom Helen, the brothers are likely DJing on New York’s Lower East Side. (Yes, we totally wish the Lo matriarch was in the booth, too.) To show off those skills, they’ve pulled together a compilation of songs inspired by their Of a Kind edition, the Windsor Camera Bag. “I think what really makes our bags special is that we’ve managed to bridge conflicting ideas in an elegant way—it’s extremely hard to find that balance of style and substance,” Derek explains. “So we chose music from modern artists who either have paved their own path in a unique way, or bridged genres in a creative and sophisticated fashion.” —olivia seely
“Machu Picchu” by The Strokes
Jan: “The bassist used to sometimes DJ at the same L.E.S. bar where I used to DJ—obviously his night was way better.”
“L.E.S. Artistes” by Santigold
Jan: “Later, when I was living and DJing in Beijing, it often tripped me out realizing small and interconnected the world is. Thanks, interwebz!”
“Cherry Wine” by Nas, featuring Amy Winehouse
Jan: “Who can’t relate to that yearning for that something real, which definitely seems more elusive as one gets older and more successful?”
“Mushaboom” by Feist
Derek: “If you don’t feel a little cheerier after listening to this, you are not human.”
“Groove Me” by Maximum Balloon, featuring Theophilus London
Derek: “One of the few electro-rap tracks that gets me going.”
“Lost” by Frank Ocean
Derek: Stories make the best songs.
“Get Free” by Major Lazer
Jan: “After Hurricane Sandy, the song definitely took on a different level of resonance with the imagery of the levees breaking.”
“Myth” by Beach House
Jan: “Happened to re-listen to this song with some friends right before Sandy, back when the hurricane reports still did not seem fully real.”
“Get Some” by Lykke Li
Derek: “This is like an emo version of ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll,’—yet it’s so good.”
“Staring At The Sun” by TV On The Radio
Derek: “It’s so damn dramatic, poetic, and just plain epic.”
“Faster” by Janelle Monáe
Derek: “My favorite modern-day jitterbug beat.”
“Video Games” by Lana Del Rey
Derek: “Anthemic love song.”
“Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear
Jan: “I remember first mixing this song in after a mini Southern rap set—and the hipster kids lost their proverbial shit.”
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Emerging Thing of the Week: Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
A sketch of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews that appears in Nylon, as photographed by Pitchfork Reviews Reviews.
All I really want in a DJ is someone who will play songs I know and love and can dance and sing along to. And that’s tricky territory because playing songs everyone knows and loves and can dance and sing along to also happens to be the job description of a Bat Mitzvah DJ.
But my favorite DJ is crazy special because he’s all about playing those songs you know and love but never really realized you know and love—and definitely never realized how much fun they’d be to sing and dance to. He calls himself Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, and he has a totally endearing and compelling blog. And he made a playlist for us to listen to in the office—talk about positive contributions to corporate culture. —claire
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She’s our first, so we ask her to reveal her firsts. This is not nearly as creepy as it sounds.
Since Mandy Coon is our inaugural designer, we wanted to talk to her about some of her own milestones, in fashion and elsewhere. And, as it turns out, this topic’s pretty fitting: The New Yorker by way of Texas has had an awful lot of lives for a woman of 34—she modeled and DJed pretty seriously before becoming a designer to watch. We’d compare her to a cat, but we wouldn’t want to offend her French bulldog Petunia, who also goes by Stinky.
First Look: “When I was ten, I was obsessed with Morrissey, and I was convinced I was going to marry him. My older sister would be like, ‘He’s gay,’ and I’d say, ‘No, he’s not,’ and get really mad. I was really into wearing men’s clothes then. Now when I think back, I realize that was pretty awesome. And my sister would cut my hair—she’d shave the sides. I’d still have kind of long hair, and one day my mom would notice and scream, ‘What the hell, Missy! She’s eleven!’”
First Modeling Job: “It could have been prom dresses—that was one of the first ones. Or a mall fashion show in Houston.”
First Apartment: “In New York, I first lived in models’ apartments, which are like hell. Then I lived at Kenmare and Mott in a tiny, tiny space, and I had two roommates. One was this girl Sarah, and one was Kenzo Minami, the artist. I think we were just drunk most the time.”
First Design: “I did this little sheath dress with this really big exaggerated ruffle that I had at a boutique and sold to friends.” [Pictured here on her pal Justine]
First Pet: “When I was a kid, my sister and I had a pony, Possum Face. He had a white mane and was brown and cream. My dad used to breed racing horses, so every weekend, we would go out to this little ranch. We’d try to catch wild cats and then come home to my mom scratched all over the place.”
First Collection: “It was actually Camilla Stærk, who I was working for, who got up my nerve. One day she said, ‘You’re going to do it. You’re going to have a presentation. You’re going to have a real collection.’ She handed me a sticky note and said, “Here’s the number for the lady who does the fashion week calendar. You’re going to call her. You’re going to get a date.” And I was like, ‘You’re crazy, lady.’ She said, ‘No, this is the right step. You’re ready.’”
First DJ Gig: “It was Halloween, but I don’t remember the year—maybe 2005 or 2006. It was at that place Fat Baby, with Anouck Lepère. I was terrified. I was shaking. But by the end of our set, I was like, ‘Wait, wait! Just let me play a few more songs.’ When I do it now, I have to tell people, ‘No, I don’t have any Lady Gaga.’”
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Growing up outside of Houston, Texas, in an area that is now Applebee’s suburbia but at the time was just plain removed, Mandy Coon always had an appreciation for the left-of-mainstream (see: the super-cool goth girl she idolized in junior high, Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”). And though she read her mom’s magazines growing up and participated in family thrifting expeditions, she was never really a fashion diehard. But after doing some time as a model—her ticket out of Houston, and eventually to New York—and as a DJ, she started drifting towards the style world, working for a casting director, starting her own little agency, and soon heading to F.I.T., where she studied haute couture sewing and tailoring. “When you’re a little older and going back, you know exactly what you want out of it,” she explains, describing herself as the old fogy among a slew of newly transplanted 18 year olds (if you care to believe that).