FashionDecode introduces the sixth installment of “The Faces of Modern Beauty” by writer Johnny Cassanova. The Faces of Modern Beauty aims to spotlight individuals who are influencing or transcending the many facets of beauty. In the act of spotlighting these individuals, FashionDecode hopes to showcase and promote the various forms of beauty.
Growing up in California at young age, Miss Tosh lived in a world of glamour that no longer existed but that didn’t mean she wasn’t set out to create it. While seeking to create romance in the world, Tosh set her sights on the fashion industry with her capsule collections that infused romance and technology. As she creates a world of romance in the future, the glamorous blonde chats with Johnny Cassanova to discuss her visual aesthetic, nightlife in Chicago, and, most importantly, beauty.
Johnny Cassanova: How would you describe “true beauty”?
Miss Tosh: People are most beautiful when someone is radiating brightness into their spirit. What is most beautiful about humans is their willingness to create beauty – we all have the ability to imagine, be joyful, and make life stunning amidst all the chaos and absurdity we live in. Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously. If you’re not going to have a good time, no one will have it for you.
Johnny Cassanova: Are you inspired by beauty? Who or what is your beauty inspiration?
Miss Tosh: Various things inspire me. Beautiful women who were brave enough to express their personal identity inspire me. I am also inspired by aesthetics, which is a bit more physical. I live in a world of Technicolor, retro visions, glamour, and created beauty. However, my personal aesthetic and experience with beauty is much more practical. I feel most beautiful when I’m doing something I love, regardless of what I look like.
Johnny Cassanova: How did you begin to develop your visual aesthetic?
Miss Tosh: When I was little, my mailman gave me a photo of Marilyn Monroe and I was so taken aback by her beauty. So I began to watch vintage films and I thought all of the people in the films were still alive. I was living in the fantasy that the world of vintage films still existed. As a result, I told my mother to take me to Hollywood…I was so devastated. I had these dreams of glamour and beauty; none of it was there.
Johnny Cassanova: How do you relate to glamour on a personal level?
Miss Tosh: I’m a lesbian and it’s really difficult for people to believe how I can be interested in a type of beauty that has been so directed towards men. However, I don’t believe modern day glamour has anything to do with pleasing a man. Glamour now has erased its gender boundaries; there are just as many men partaking in this lifestyle, as there are women.
Johnny Cassanova: A beauty movement such a traditional glamour embracing a more diverse population correlates a lot to what we’re seeing in the beauty industry (overall diversity). Where do you think beauty will head next?
Miss Tosh: I believe we’re going into a spectrum of just being. We’re pushing boundaries within sub-cultures. Take a look at gay culture— the boundaries we have set for ourselves are being broken. We’ve stopped thinking “this is how a lesbian is” or “this is how a gay man is.” Our genitals will have little to do with how we choose to project ourselves. This permits us to create a multi-faceted, whole creature.
Johnny Cassanova: Was there ever a time when you struggled with self-acceptance and expression? If so, how did you begin to find clarity and comfort in your own skin?
Miss Tosh: In the short time I’ve been on this planet, I feel I have gone through so many alter egos. In a drag sense, I was many different characters. For example, I embodied the Regina George character, the skater girl, and the “cholita.” I full-on life-swapped with each character. I was able to live vicariously through them because I wasn’t sure who I was. It helped me because I couldn’t identify with anyone. There was no public portrayal of a glamorous lesbian. But as I got older, my art and performance community really helped me immerse myself in the person I am, regardless of who I am able to relate to.
Johnny Cassanova: What is your beauty regimen to maintain your skin?
Miss Tosh: I am not as disciplined as I always should be…
Johnny Cassanova: Aren’t we all a bit naughty sometimes?
Miss Tosh: I mean, come on, of course. I don’t always sleep as much as I should but I always try to make myself look as good as I can. Of course, you have to drink tons of water and, most importantly, wear sunscreen.
I try not to wear makeup every day and always take every ounce of makeup off. I left my makeup on one night this year and it set my face back seven months.
To remove makeup, I use coconut oil and then wash my face with a drugstore brand. Here’s a little secret: the number one trick is good lighting. Consider the place you’re going: if you’re going to take pictures, consider how your skin will look under the lights and then do your makeup. I just about die every time I have to walk into any place with fluorescent lighting.
Johnny Cassanova: What is your field of work and what kind of work do you tend to produce?
Miss Tosh: I am a trained designer and pattern maker. I release couture capsule collections once a year and have private clients as well. Aside from my design process, I am a creative director for a nightclub in Chicago called “Berlin.” At Berlin, I curate a monthly show called LQQKs. I do all the lighting, pick the DJ, act as the stage manager, and then I perform in it! Since the show began, I’ve selected local or visiting performers who are pushing the idea of what their field generally is. I don’t want the show to be regurgitated performances of the best; I want my community of performers to feel that they’re competing with themselves, not each other. We’re all unique and different, which permits us to have a loving atmosphere without any sense of competition.
Johnny Cassanova: Do you have any boundaries in your style or work?
Miss Tosh: If it’s amazing, it’s okay. I’ve learned that if you don’t tell people but it’s astonishing, people won’t care. However, I do believe there is a boundary between gross and entertaining. I want something to be glamorous and remarkable— I don’t really care for shocking. No matter how shocking it is, I can still find something more shocking living on the Internet. But if you don’t like something, you can close the book, not look, or walk out. Generally however, I don’t like limitations because no one should define how someone can do something.
In contrast, with my design work, if I tell myself I am only allowed to use certain patterns, fabrics, or ideas, I can have a much more focused collection.
Johnny Cassanova: What projects are you currently working on?
Miss Tosh: Aside from my monthly show at Berlin, I am working on my capsule collection as well as my ready-to-wear collection.
Johnny Cassanova: As a designer, if you could describe today’s fashion in one word, what would it be and why?
Miss Tosh: Revisited. We are living in a time where we don’t have a decade of style. We are at a place where we are saturated with so much information at an extremely fast rate. We can revisit any time period and discover a relationship in fashion between two vastly different eras. If you think about it, we’re fashion time travelers. We’ve got our time machines in our pockets and we can shop throughout history to define our individual style. I think it’s made it very hard for anyone to sell his or her products to the general population because there is no real definition of style anymore.
Johnny Cassanova: Do you believe it’s hard to be an original in a time where we are overexposed to media?
Miss Tosh: That’s a difficult question. You have to see it in a different perspective. For example, you can’t invent the t-shirt. You can play with length, shorten one side, and lengthen the other. It’s all been done. The idea of having to be an original was more relevant a decade ago. Now, it is more intelligent to think about the tools we haven’t explored. Technology in fashion is really exciting. I believe originality will stem from re-visiting things in a new lens, which is technology.
Johnny Cassanova: How does technology relate to your work?
Miss Tosh: One of the things I will never understand is why technology must always appear to be a gadget. Technology is magic and somewhat romantic. You can look at the person you love-right in their face- on a screen that can fit in your pocket. Technology, in fashion, should also be able to be romantic.
Johnny Cassanova: How would you make technology in fashion romantic?
Miss Tosh: The first piece I ever made was a sound and motion sensitive LED dress dawned with Swarovski crystals. It only responded to whispers or loud sounds. A moderately leveled speaking voice would not suffice. When responding, the LED lights would illuminate the crystals; it made for a very romantic scene. Also, my last collection involved thermal-dyes (which isn’t new) but I tried to utilize it in a different way. The collection surrounded the idea of secret lovers who couldn’t be together. The collection featured a collared shirt that would showcase red lips on the collar when the wearer’s body temperature increased.
Johnny Cassanova: What do you want people to take away from the beauty you’re projecting?
Miss Tosh: I want people to feel that they have a role model that encourages them to be brave. Even if you don’t fit in with the misfits, I want you to feel that it’s okay to be the extra-misfit. Fully immerse yourself in the person that you are.
By Johnny Cassanova