Bonjour mes amis! Today I'm tickled pink to bring you the latest post in our exciting ongoing Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger interview series.
As you may have guessed, this time around we find ourselves in the beautiful country of France, where we're chatting with none other than my lovely friend, and long time vintage + historical + Lolita fashion blogger, Nella Fragola and her eponymously named blog.
A dynamic and engaging woman with a wealth of passions, a love for all things Scottish, an exciting life as a model, and beautiful blog, which she updates regularly, Nella is someone that has fascinated and inspired me from the moment that we first crossed paths online several years ago now.
I'm thrilled that Nella shot her hand up in the air as a volunteer for this series and equally excited to be sharing more about her with all of you here today.
Please read on to find out more about Nella's interests, awesomely unique vintage + historic + lolita fashion sense, her modelling, why creative writing means so much to her, and oodles more!
Thank you very much for taking part in this series, Nella. For those who are just having the pleasure of meeting you and your blog right now for the first time, can you please tell us a bit about what lead you to start blogging?
Dear Jessica, you’re welcome. I'm glad to be doing this interview on your lovely blog.
My first blog, all the way back in 2004, was on Skyblog, a French platform, which was really ugly and full of angry teenagers (haha!). Actually, I was too, but my blog was refreshing to me. It was the only place I could talk about Japanese fashion, as I didn't have any offline friends who were interested in this subject. I've never stopped blogging since that day, but have changed topics and blogging platforms numerous times since then.
In September 2013, I launched my current blog under my modelling name, Nella Fragola, and am still writing about fashion there, as I've become even more interested in vintage style looks.
These days I mostly want to share my outfits with others wanted to share mostly my outfits and other fashion related topics, including the ethical side of this industry. I’d like to make my readers aware of abuse in the industry, and to help them know more about which brands care about ecology and work conditions and which don't value these important points.
How have you found blogging has touched, or even transformed, your life?
It helped me to connect and meet people with similar interests in real life. I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging! I wouldn’t be the person I am without my blog. Before it, I was shy and lacking in self-confidence. Blogging has really helped me to better myself.
You presently call France home, but you have an immense love of Scottish culture (so do I!). Do these two cultures factor into your blog heavily? What about other locations/cultures that speak to you?
Yes, it does as I travel frequently to Scotland and now work with many designers there. Half of my wardrobe is made in Scotland and perfect for Scottish weather - it's the total opposite of the heat that one encounters here in the south of France - haha!
Italy is also a huge part of my life, as I am half Italian on my mum's side. But to be honest, Scotland is the one and only country I've gone to that truly felt like it was home for me, and that I could stay there forever.
My fiancé and I are planning to move there one day - the sooner the better! I like France, but the place I feel fulfilled and complete in is definitely Scotland. Some of my family are from Brittany so, in a certain way, I was born with bagpipes music in my blood!
Is there much in the way of a vintage related subculture where you live in France?
No, not much to speak of. I wish it had more! There are some vintage fairs, but it's hard to find good vintage stores around these parts. There's only one in my hometown. It's called Blow Up, and is great! With so few local options, I buy most of my clothes online.
Nella dear, I have long been struck by what a powerfully artistic soul you have. Do you feel that such has always been who you were or have you cultivated this side of yourself more as you’ve gotten older?
When I was just six years old, I already knew I wanted to follow an artistic path for my life. Getting to be a model and a blogger is something quite new, and I never though I could do it! The older I get, the most I want to focus on the arts. I like to think that I’ll learn new things until the day my final day of life.
You’re enchanted by a wide array of different styles and eras. What have been some of the most influential on your life?
Rococo and Victorian eras. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the French Revolution. My favourite movie was (and still is, actually) Gone with the Wind. When I grew up, I started to focus on 1950s, which, fascinatingly, is currently the era that I'm the least interested in. My favourites these days are the 1930s and 40s, and most of my wardrobe is from that period. I especially like the fashions of the war years.
There was so few materials available and so many restrictions in place, yet women still managed to look so elegant and well put together. Fashion was a way to show one's resistance under the Occupation, and that is so admirable.
Are these ones that you’re currently focusing on, too?
Edwardian is my latest obsession! I have already some stunning pieces (blouse, petticoat, maid's apron), but I won’t be satisfied until I have more from that period!
With such a dynamic range of time period influences, how would you sum up your current style, as it sits right now in 2016, in a few words?
Very difficult. I can’t stick to one style or one period, and my history with Lolita fashion made me who I am today. I like to mix up eras. I think I have a personal style and I don’t try anymore to follow "the rules" or to be historically accurate all the time (except for some festivals or events, like WW2 commemorations). I just wear what makes me feel pretty and happy.
What are a few items in your closet that you reach for time and time again?
My dream for years has been to own a Lilli Ann suit. It has happened now! I also have another LA jacket, but to be honest, I would love to find another suit, in navy blue. That’s is going to be my next fashion goal, I think. I am also looking for more shoes. I had a foot surgery in 2014, and now I finally can wear what I want!
You do a lot of modelling work and have collaborated with some incredibly talented people over the years. What drew you to modelling and how does it influence your style (or vice versa – style influencing your shoots)?
I didn’t wake up one day and say "I want to be a model". It was just something that occurred through happenstance, as I met a photographer who encouraged me to give it a try. I never thought I'd be good at modelling, but I've learned so much over the year and now I can’t imagine ever stopping.
I hope to be a rockin’ old granny one day and still look stylish! If the blog Advanced Style still exists come that point, I'd love to be one of the women featured on it.
You’ve done some fetish modelling over the years. Have you also done burlesque performances?
I have! So far I've done three burlesque shoes. I enjoyed them and it was fun, but I don’t think that's the path in life for me. I find that I enjoy watching others perform more than I like being on stage myself. I like Lada Redstar a lot, she's my favorite burlesque dancer.
What advice, that you wish you’d known before you began, would you give to someone who is just starting out in the modelling world?
Be selective! Don't think that just because you're a novice, you don't have the right to only work with the jobs that you truly want. Try to learn more about yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and work your facial expressions. As well, you need to know how to move and pose your body.
Do you ever get behind the lens yourself, too?
I like to take pics of my travels, as well as my fiancé and his kids, be they as souvenirs or for my blog. I don’t want to be a photographer working with models though. I’d rather be in front the camera than behind it - definitely!
In addition to fashion, modelling, vintage, Lolita and historical fashions, and Scottish culture, what are some of your other interests?
I have been learning how to play the Celtic harp for the past ten months now. Music is one thing I’ve always wanted to do, but I was afraid to be too old to learn. Let me say, you’re never too old, it’s never too late. Just do what makes you happy!
I like reading a lot. I read every kind book, from novels to scientific topics. Ever since I was a child, I've really enjoyed astronomy and astrophysics. I actually read Hubert Reeves (I am huge fan of his) and just finished a book about French Women during the Occupation called Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation, by Anne Sebba.
I know that you really enjoy creative writing, too. What sort of role has this played in your life over the years?
My mother died of a breast cancer when I was just eight years old. I felt empty and alone. Writing saved me! I started to imagine an happy world with heroic characters to protect it.
I haven't stopped writing since then. I've published some of my short stories in magazines and I have self-published on Amazon Kindle, too. I am going to finish my first novel soon, hopefully, and I really hope that I'm able to find find a publisher whose interested in releasing it.
Also, some of my short stories are going to be translated into English! I plan to then publish them on Amazon Kindle as well, and I’ll try to find an English publisher for them, too.
Thank you very much for sharing such intimate and personal fact about yourself with us, honey. I'm truly sorry that you had to experience such an incredible heartache when you were a young child.
Circling back to modelling, are there certain types of shoots that you’re drawn to more than others and is there anything that you’d say is currently “off limits” in terms of what you’d be comfortable shooting?
Vintage style, of course! I used to do a lot of pinup and fetish modelling, but I am less interested in these areas now. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing full frontal nudity and I don’t get why some photographers want me to be totally naked without an artistic point of view. I like artistic nudes though, and also soft eroticism, but I wouldn’t want to do those types of modelling myself.
Who have been some people – in any field – that have strongly influenced and/or inspired your work as a model and/or blogger over the years?
I don’t say this because you’re interviewing me, but you’re one of my favourite vintage bloggers! (Jessica's note: Thank you from the bottom of my heart!)
I also really like Kayla from Gracefully Vintage, Norafinds, Paper Mothball Vintage, and Idda Van Munster. My yesteryear vintage crush is Vivien Leigh. I've loved her ever since I was a child and she's been a my major vintage inspiration to me throughout my life.
Honestly, I am a bit nerd and am a big fan of X-files. Gillian Anderson is the biggest crush of life! She is always stylish and elegant, and the older she gets, the prettiest she becomes. Plus, she might be the only lady on earth to rock a 90s suit… Haha!
Fashion designers inspire me a lot, too. Some of my favourites include Stewart Christie, Lena Hoschek, Voriagh, Ginger Jackie, Clara Maeda, Marilyn Feltz, Nanapaprika, and many other artists as well, from music to movies, books, paintings. The list would be too long though, I am afraid, to name them all here.
Do you consider yourself to be a “pin-up girl”, and what does that term mean to you personally?
No, not anymore. I used to. Honestly, I don’t know how to explain with my own words what a pinup means to me, but the best image I have in mind of such is the work of (pinup artist) Gil Elvgren.
What are some things, big or small, that bring you joy?
My home that I share with the three people I love the most (my fiancé and his children). My friends are a big deal to me, too, as I have no family left.
I like drinking a cup of tea while reading or writing, and I like enjoy going for a walk and seeing beauty everywhere around me. Simple things are the best. Less is more.
And last, but certainly not least, are there any exciting happenings – blogging related or otherwise – that readers should watch for coming down the pipeline in your life in the next few months?
I am going to be doing some great collaborations with amazing designers and I want to focus on how they work.
Also, I'm headed off to spend a month in Skye, Scotland later this year to finish my novel, and I am going to do a daily report about everyday life on that stunning Scottish island while I'm there. Be sure to stay tuned!
Connect with Nella on the following sites:
Meet the past interviewees who have taken part in this delightful ongoing post series:
February 2015: Emileigh | March 2015: CiCi | April 2015: Helen Mae | May 2015: Esther | June 2015: Ms. Falcon | July 2015: Jessie, and Laurence & Sylvain | August 2015: Holly | September 2015: Rhia | October 2015: Franny | November 2015: Emily | December 2015: Porcelina | January 2016: Nora | February 2016: Kate | March 2016: Carla | April 2016: Jessica E. | May 2016: Skye | June 2016: Kate-Em | July 2016: Janey
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Thank you so much for this stellar interview, dear Nella. It was a joy getting to know you, your creative passions, and your daily life better. Many thanks as well for being the inspiring, resilient gem of a person that you are.
I wholeheartedly recommend that all those who aren't doing so already, bop on over and start following Nella's blog and/or social media accounts on the double. She shares such engaging, awesome things there and chances are, you'll find numerous interests that you share in common her.
Next up, for the first Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger interview of this autumn, we'll be boarding our vintage airplane and zipping back across the Atlantic. Once there, we'll sit down and chat with a long time US vintage and historical costuming blogger + sewer, who, much like Nella, has many diverse interests that we'll be delving into.
This is someone that I've had the pleasure of knowing and being friends with online for a number of years now and who I am absolutely honoured to get the chance to talk with. Trust me when I say that you won't want to miss this post!
Definitely be sure to tune in towards the end of September for it - and as always, if you're an active vintage (or pinup, rockabilly, goth, etc) blogger and would like to take part in this fun ongoing series, please don't hesitate to zip an email my way anytime. I'd love to interview with, too!