Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Cat Lee

At the end of 2015, I reached out to a magazine that I stumbled across on Instagram. They had a free-spirited vibe with loads of female empowerment undertones and used wildly vivid colors and energy (hell yeah!). As soon as I saw they had both a headquarters in Hawaii and Florida, I knew I had to reach out. 

I crafted an email sharing who I was, my website, and a selection of my writing. I offered to provide style &/or writing content, then took a deep breath and sent the email off into the hands of "the web." To my surprise and excitement, I quickly received an email back from the editor-in-chief herself; providing praise for my work and point-of-view, and the chance to share both through the magazine. We discussed potential writing options and the promise I would have "a go" at an article in the near future. Soon enough, I was given my first interview with a beautifully genuine Australian artist, Cat Lee.

I found something I connected to, took a risk for my creativity, and remain open to the diversity and adventure I gain through writing. 

Now on my tenth article for the magazine, and thriving in the variety through creativity, I am pleased to share that very first opportunity----my published work, my crafted words, and the magic of an interviewer and a subject who though miles apart, connected so quickly and effortlessly. 

                                                     Disfunkshion Magazine, Volume 23

                                                     Disfunkshion Magazine, Volume 23

you can read her feature below:

Unbound Creative Visions with Cat Lee

by: Leah Lou

"the tallest poppy is the first to see the sunrise"

She spends her days immersed in nature and paying attention to its subtle movements; to the gifts and inspiration that come from meditation, creative play, and choosing each moment. From conceiving an idea to developing it in full fruition, Australian artist Cat Lee is living, examining, and constructing a creative life. 

To live a creative life requires finding your personal joy and having the confidence to go after it day, after day, after day. Like an artist with a unique point-of-view, you can curate a life that brings you vibrancy, an understanding of the world around you, and a respect for your unique role in it. Cat believes “we all are creating our life; our own future; by every choice. I know the life I’d like to live and the world I would like to live in, so, I use this as a guide to how I choose to act; how I choose to see; who I choose to spend time with; what I choose to think; what I choose to hear and what I choose to say.”

Through the use of rich color and a deep respect for nature, Cat Lee can create pieces with both vigor and extravagance while evoking a peaceful and relatable energy. From where she stands, “there is so much sadness in the world and I truly believe happiness is so important to lift our energy to enable us to create change.” She chooses to adorn each of her animal pieces to provide that gateway to happiness and reveal the essence of that animal, as well as to shape her audience’s connection to these feeling creatures. 

It is because of her connection and conviction that she is able to express herself so freely. When it comes to her art, “I find starting the hardest part and I realize it’s because the first step is totally up to me.  Once the foundation has been laid, I let go of all control and allow the artwork to tell me what it requires.”

The power and freedom of personal choice requires that same first step; placing trust in the work and committing to the beauty of the end result. When Cat begins a piece, she “makes a huge mess of the foundation and works to resolve it. Starting with mess is so much easier than perfection.” The same can be said of each of us who steps into each day with the history and mess of the weeks, months, and years before. The mess is what provides experience, character, and pure personality. As a single mother and former “9-to-5” worker, Lee puts a great amount of work into the direction her life is going now. She too is inspired by and “energized when I’m around others who recognize their true calling and are bravely living it.”

So how do we express ourselves freely and walk through our own lives with courage, choice, and artistry? We stand tall. We give voice and expression to our own truth. We become like poppies. Cat introduced the deeply rooted cultural and social term, “tall poppy syndrome; a tendency for Australian people to keep others small if they seem like they’re breaking out of what’s the norm.” For her, the term criticizes those individuals who want to showcase their talents, celebrate their own merits, and simply be their best selves, no matter how weird. To stunt the growth of one another and push for “normalcy” would mean we all stop growing, learning, and sharing from different vantage points. We shape one another best by being ourselves. In doing so, we give each other the safe space to create from our mess, layer our own canvas, and develop at our own pace. 

What does Cat Lee wish women would be more aware of? She mentions, “I absolutely hope the message comes across to other women; young and young at heart; that regardless of what anyone says, you must Be Yourself; build each other up and there’s no need to compete.  The people in the world who we look up to and who are inspiring others the most are those who are truly being themselves.” 

You can find more of Cat Lee's work >>here<< 

and view the work and spirit of Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

lululemon lifestyle shoot

It's no secret i lurrrrrve me some lululemon and quite frequently sneak it into my outfits...even when I'm not working out. I partnered with the gorgeous new Winter Park location to create looks that showcase that very notion; style AND function, beauty AND strength. 

Of course I had to utilize the talented Amalie Orrange Photography to capture our work and take advantage of the morning light off "the avenue." You can also find our models, Riki and Kurt, in the store and happy to help you find the right clothes to support both your workout and now...your streetwear.

 Check out all the looks below!

LULULEMON-Lululemon with Copyright-RikiCUHood.jpg

Clothing and models provided by lululemon athletica Winter Park

Accessories & Styling by me, Leah Lou

Photography by Amalie Orrange Photography

 

 

Goddess Glam

I've posted 5 outfits for the past few weeks as a part of my instagram photo build-up series, #fulllookfriday and this 6th look is truly a favorite. Not only does the style encompass a feeling of elegance but it evokes light, warmth, simplicity, and ease (big proponent of marrying these descriptors). I scored this stunning Rachel Pally dress from my hometown boutique, Therapie. At the time I had no idea how or where I would wear a long flowing jersey-knit goddess dress but I knew it felt incredible on, was fitted yet loose in all the right places, and begged for a special occasion. -A photo session with Amalie Orrange Photography is always a special occasion ;) Especially when she found this stunning ivy wall, spanish tile ledge, and we had a perfect moment with the shining sun. 

These phases of the moon and stars cut-out bangles were a gift from a client/friend/life partner that were snagged from Bauble Bar. These rings are from my personal collection & curated over several years. 

I utilized this stunning beaded headband by Deepa Gurnani to keep the frizz of my wavey hair contained during midday Jamlando (Orlando for everyone else) humidity. Shortly after we started shooting, I tucked the bottom tendrils into the banded portion of this headpiece and created a 20s/greek goddess-inspired hair that looks like the pros did it ! Easy, beautiful, and kept my confidence up as the temperatures rose. 

This necklace was a gift from my mother-in-law and a killer find at a vintage boutique in Tampa, Rare Hues

Images: Amalie Orrange Photography

Styling/Modeling/Straight Eyeliner: Leah Lou

Dress: Therapie Boutique by Rachel Pally

Headband: Deepa Gurnani

Bangles: Bauble Bar

Necklace: Rare Hues

Sandals: Rosie by Lindsay Phillips

 

Safari Inspiration: 2 Chic Ways to Wear It

A few years ago I took the opportunity to spend three weeks volunteering in a rural village in Africa. The beauty of the people, landscape, and wildlife has never left me. Expansive plains and majestic creatures feet from our lodging truly made me value simplicity, nature, and the present moment. At times I have to take myself back there just to tap into that source.

This post shows you two ways to wear African-inspired prints (one giraffe, the other zebra) with chic pieces and bold accessories. 

Beaded ring:Zou Zou Boutique

Horn Bangle: Rifle Paper Co. 

Bracelet: hand-made by an artist at the Riverside Arts Market 

I decided to make these pants more "safari" than "nautical" inspired; Since the stripes are black and thin, they lend themselves toward a variety of unexpected looks. The trick to a high-waist anything with a belt, is to keep your top tighter or tucked in so that you keep the focus on your beautiful waist and don't lose your feminine shape.

  Giraffe Print Tank: h&m

Striped Flowy Wide-leg Pants: Zara

*Druzy Cuff, Bracelet, and Ring were gifts or hand-picked from places I don't remember

Fedora Hat: Zara

Necklace: Dora Mae Jewelry (one-of-a-kind vintage-made-modern pieces)

This Zebra print dress has been incredibly versatile and easy to throw on for hot days, a quick errand, and even a trip to the beach. The zipper detail allows for some adjustment in fit through the chest and the shirt-tail hem allows for both a flirty leg and some booty-coverage. I drew out the black detail of the zebras and added my trusty black gladiators to give this look some edge.  

Give "Safari-Inspired" looks a try--see what creative ways you can put your own spin to it!

Dress: Splendid purchased from Therapie Boutique

Gladiators: old Urban Outfitters find

All Images: Amalie Orrange 

Spring Florals and India Vibes

I'm going to reveal something about my photo shoots here...

Too soon? Do we know each other well enough yet?

When Amalie and I style and shoot together, we stop at spots that speak to us in the moment. The pre-planning/location scouting is minimal and the intuition/spontenaity is maximal. Yes, that is where the magic happens. For this look we wanted to marry the deep green of my dress with a bright, BRIGHT pop of another hue. Naturally The Orange Studio came to mind. 

We were also on the hunt for a bougainvillea, as they are currently in full and glorious bloom in the sunshine state. This sprawling one invited us into someone's side yard and left us feeling like we were a part of an Anthropologie catalog.  

Messy bun and straight eyeliner: Me

Earrings: Larissa Loden

Bracelets: Vintage Chloe Lane Boutique

Clutch: Marshalls find

Stunning Dress: Calypso St. Barth

Fringe Ankle Booties: Dolce Vita

All Images by the soulful Amalie Orrange Photography

Hats Off

I'm almost ashamed to admit (ALMOST) that I've had this hat for 2+ years (yikes...probably more!) and this is my first time wearing it. There's something committal about a large-brimmed hat that makes it a challenge to just casually add to an outfit. Sometimes a big 'ol brim makes me feel matronly or too "themey (think Kentucky Derby, Mother's Day brunch, garden party, etc.)."Even putting this look together, knowing I wanted something with this beauty of a brim, took all the right parts and pieces. 

Check each of them out below:

Hands down (is there an available pun in this?!?) this has become my favorite "clutch" because of it's texture, design depth, boho vibe, and combination of neutrals. I snagged it from Anthropologie on sale and it's even made its way into the branding of my business (check the hand-drawn version out here: http://www.leahloustyle.com/services). This bad boy is just too cool. I love pairing it with some vintage Indian-inspired bangles that make wrist stacking fun and easy. 

The nameplate necklace in ebony acrylic by Moon & Lola, is another favorite branding accessory of mine and is great on its own and even better when layered. I love how creative you can get with a nameplate; you can think beyond your norm by doing your husband's name, pet, or favorite saying. The more personal, the better in my book!

And finally, the last thing I put on are my shoes. Dolce Vita always delivers on style, comfortability, and sass. Win, win, WIN. They know my bodday! I love the gridded panel that keeps this peep-toe pair unique. 

Dress & Bag: Anthropologie

Shoes: Dolce Vita

Hat: Sandiego Hat Company; troved at Therapie Boutique

Nameplate Necklace: Moon & Lola

Killer Images: Amalie Orrange Photography

Festival Fringe

Music Festival season is upon us and whether you attend, soak up all the fashion through social media, or don't even know what I'm talking about...there's inspiration to be had from the care-free vibes and effortless looks. 

Fringe has been inching its way into the fashion scene for awhile and is fully realized with the current style focus on the hippy trippy, classicly-cool era of the 1970s. I love bringing texture and movement to my outfits and the construction of fringe does just that in one swoop! 

As the weather heats up, the promise of summer seems to call for light-weight and easy breezy.

Layered turquoise and gold accents draw out the navy of this fabulous susana monaco high-neck shift dress (zou zou boutique) and the taupes of the kimono (therapie boutique). 

Sonya Renee's take on the classic hoop is both unique and beautiful; I love how their hammered texture shimmers when they catch light. Stackable rings by Wanderlust + Co are playful, funky, and a great way to try out the "midi" ring. 

These beaded bracelets from Chavez for Charity, are easy to layer (I could load up my entire arm!) and go toward a variety of charities. Talk about a "feel-good!"

 

Vintage jewelry always adds a personalized touch and era inspiration to any outfit. Lately I can't help but don any long beaded necklace from Dora Mae. She has the time and vision to take vintage treasures and give them new life and new luster. 

To complete the entire look, I HAD to throw in more fringe (the more, the fringier right?!?!?) with some killer peep-toe booties from Dolce Vita. I'm not much for heels so these babies add some femininity, edge, and bring some strut to my stuff! 

Images by the talented Amalie Orrange Photography