Month: October 2009


An abandoned former child star mourns her beloved lost forest creatures by donning their remains, awaiting the arrival of hunting season …and her inevitable vengeance.

Painfully Hip Design Collective and Preen. A creepy collaboration.
Happy Halloween, children.

deer legs necklace
creepy fashion photography

Deer legs, dolphin skull and cowhides are all vintage. No animals were harmed in the shooting of this fashion editorial.
photos by Ryan Mihalyi
model: Ashley Geiger
makeup: Octavio
hair and concept: Addam Moreno
wardrobe styling and concept by Erin Bradley of Preen, Tucson
styling by Amber Mortensen

Painfully Hip Design Collective and Wingflash Designs

When I came upon Laura Kepner-Adney’s glorious gilt organics line of jewelry, I was stunned. Jaw-on-floor. She uses semi-precious stones, but only the kind you’ve never seen before, and combines them with organic materials like shark teeth, delicate baby’s breath, oil slick beetle wings and diaphanous leaves dipped in liquid gold. If you are craving something real in your life, visit Wingflash. No photo will ever do these pieces any justice.


wingflash designs

This shoot was my Tucson collective’s first shoot, taken in my living room and closet. I rather think we rocked it. Ok, well “we” might be a strong word, since it isn’t very difficult to style a partially nude redhead with the most beautiful jewelry I have ever handled. Let’s just say I have been over-fucking-whelmed by the tsunami of talent currently swarming about me.

photos by Ryan Mihalyi
model: Ashley Geiger
hair: Addam Moreno
makeup: Octavio
jewelry by Laura Kepner-Adney
styling by me and Addam

closeups (by request): Continue reading Painfully Hip Design Collective and Wingflash Designs

Painfully Tempting: Vintage Jackets at Market Publique

As much as I love to layer, the weather in Arizona has thankfully not gotten cooler than a 5 year old’s tepid dunking milk. So I have not of yet had occasion to wear any layers (not counting the occasional bf blazer over my high-waisted short shorts – gotta keep it classy) this fall. But one can always look, right? I have nothing against coats – just the weather they require to be useful.
(Click photos to check auction)

Bright Blue Wool Boyfriend Blazer from Erstwhile Style - current bid $42
Bright Blue Wool Boyfriend Blazer from Erstwhile Style - current bid $42

God, I love this color!

Embroidered Wool Coat - current bid $38
Embroidered Wool Coat (are those SEAHORSES?) - current bid $38

Are those SEAHORSES? I love me a slouchy, warm coat with a tropical theme.

Tweed Swing Cape - current bid $42
Tweed Swing Cape - current bid $42

Going gone! This’ll be going the way of the big ass fish by the end of the day!

Green Wool Coat with Fur Collar - current bid - $64
Green Wool Coat with Fur Collar - current bid - $64

Pounce! This too shall pass in 7 hours. Gasping for breathe.

60s Swing Coat - current bid $175
60s Swing Coat - current bid $175

Perfection. All the androgynous appeal of a boyfriend blazer, with all the sass and femininity of a 60s swing coat. I’m just going to go ahead and count on the mercy of the universe to bestow something like this on my life. Eventually…

Its photoshoot day again!! My roving gang of artistic fanatics are at it again… we need to come up with a team name! This will be our third shoot since I moved here, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Upcoming this week: our beauty shoot for Wingflash’s sharktooth and gilt organic jewelry and our 70s school girl, Biba-inspired fall shoot. Here’s a wee teaser.

fall winter trend 2009 2010
photo by Ryan Mihalyi
model: Katie Palmer
styling and concept: Amber Mortensen
hair by Addam Moreno
makeup by Octavio
wardrobe and additional styling by Diana Deaver
accessory styling by Jasmine Jarrett

Painfully Trite Twitter Tweets for 2009-10-25

  • Check out my new look "Mary Quant est mon héroïne" on #
  • Going hiking in the desert. Forgot that pants (cacti that shoot spikes) or at least socks (scorpions) are a very good idea. #
  • Photoshoot day! On location at this gorgeous industrial space. The theme? Biba-inspired 70s schoolgirl with some sexy denim mixed in. #

check me out: psyche-mehl-ic

Photographer and artist, Joe Mehl came down from Phoenix this weekend to pitch this collaboration idea he had, with a staggering amount of enthusiasm and a big ol’ wack of stickers in tow. They looked like this:

amber doused in fractals

That’s Ryan’s photo of Addam’s haircut, doused in fractals and what he calls “light paintings.” Said project will be unveiled sometime in ….2010.

Joe came along to see my lovely and dear friend, Emilie, perform for the halloween edition of Black Cherry Burlesque. After pulling an impromptu all-nighter the night previous, let’s just say that I was in no condition to be out and about at a bewitchingly rowdy bar. So my (equally hungover) friends and I found a quiet, dark, comfy booth in the back, where we ended up missing the first few minutes of the show… the exact minutes we’d pried ourselves out of our beds to see. Oops. Sorry, Emilie! We were even more sorry when we realized how next-level this show had been so far… Mary Poppins and Spock Girl were amazing.

Check out Emilie’s last Halloween performance Friday night, Oct 23 at 11:30pm at the Surly Wench in Tucson! I know I am!

Anyway, it sucked that we weren’t allowed to take photos of the show, but Joe ended up getting some great shots of me my extra styley friend Abraham, and Joe’s friend David wandering around 4th Avenue and Hotel Congress. Wearing my beloved Mary Quant vintage dress almost made up for the hangover… although that didn’t help any with my photogenicity that night.

mary's taco stand tucson, az

mary quant dress
mary quant dress

hotel congress patio

Abraham Cooper

Oh and here’s a doozie shot of our “street.”
Rubio Ave

mary quant dress

vintage Mary Quant shift – $30 US Vintage, Chicago
houndstooth stockings – Marshall’s $7
suede ankle booties – Diana’s (thrifted)

Photos by Joe Mehl

One of these things is not like the other…

We received the following comment today:

I’m loving the hair, & I was kinda shocked I found your lovely face in one of my town’s local bar’s flyers
other than that I love reading your blog.
keep it painfully hip <3<3 -Denisse

We, of course, knew nothing about this. And, Denisse, we’d really like to know the name of your town so we can, perhaps, have a go at the “sexual piñata.” This is the best day ever.
The image is below. Let me prepare you… I am never going to stop laughing at this. Ever

The following post is Rory’s reaction (he’s the handsome devil with the thumb on the right). Who was the other guy, you ask? No idea. Another victim of bad photoshopping… which was also inflicted on my formerly 2D digital boobs (I mean, you can’t pull off a Hooters shirt ironicly if you own actual boobs. C’mon).

via AwesomeAllDay.



Original post where our Fayetteville souvenirs go wrong on our Painfully Hip Roadtrip.

Wow… this gives me the cold dead feeling in my insides previously reserved for films by Todd Solondz.The photo is taken from the Awesome All Day Good Will Tour outside of Fayetteville. I’m not sure who the hispanic stubbly guy is but, I’m choosing to believe that he is Diana’s new boyfriend Lorenzo Lamas.

My Spanish is wonky, but I’m pretty sure the flyer roughly translates into:

October 23rd


For tornadoes and people suffering from tuberculosis

LIVE BOOZE of 8-11

And yes a Tornado can coincide with a tuberculosis, they are the two love lives in the Jungle at night!

Discuss this with your sexual Piñatas!

And yes a Tornado can coincide with a tuberculosis, they are the two love lives in the Jungle at night!

Discuss this with your sexual Piñatas!

ummmm…… wow.

Painfully Trite Twitter Tweets for 2009-10-18

  • My weekend was like a live reenactment of Braveheart if you replace the blue paint with fake eyelashes and the violence with good times. #
  • Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! I miss you. #
  • Got the CUTEST gold "button" necklace here: IT'S SAMPLE SALE WEEK!! Pure glee! #
  • Check out my new look "back in black" on #
  • Painfully Shorn… or How I Fell in Love with a Gay Man. #
  • is on a desert sunset / perfect weather / Stone IPA high. My grin muscles are killing me. #
  • Hey, Weekend? Could you just, y'know, calm down a little? Yeah, thanks. That'd be GREAT. #

Painfully Cinematic: Two for the Road

I watched this delightful piece of Henry Mancini magic starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney over the weekend and was understandably impressed by the costumes. Surprise! They were designed by Mary Quant. I think we all kinda knew that Ms. Hepburn was capable of pulling off anything, but I’d like to say two words right now: pleather pantsuit.

Audrey Hepburn Two for the Road
Audrey Hepburn Two for the Road
Albert Finney Audrey Hepburn Two for the Road
Two for the Road
Audrey Hepburn Two for the Road
Two for the Road
Audrey Hepburn Two for the Road Sequin Dress
Audrey Hepburn

Painfully Shorn… or How I Fell in Love with a Gay Man.

Last week I woke up and felt like it was Christmas morning in July (except it wasn’t July, it was October… only it felt like July because I’m in the desert…). Why you ask? Because it was motherfucking HAIRCUT DAY.

You see, the gorgeous Jasmine of Billie Goat Vintage had asked me 2 months ago to be part of her amazing runway show on Sept 25th, and had graciously asked me to please grow out my hair for it. I knew it was important to her, so I didn’t hesitate to promise to keep away from the scissors – NOT an easy feat considering that my hair is my arch nemesis, and I’d rather have as little of it on my head as possible at all times.

Here I am on the runway… Turned out there was actually no need at all for me to grow it out since they just ended up fixing a big yellow clove hitch of fake hair to the side of my head anyway… By the way, those are butterfly wings affixed to my eye. The hair and makeup was pretty awesome all round. Check it.

Click photo to see the rest of this amazing show!
Click photo to see the rest of this amazing show!

I must thank you again, Jasmine, not only for letting me sport the most amazing dress ever, but for priming me up for the best haircut of my life.

Fast-forward. I have just met one of the most talented hair stylists I will probably ever know. We become fast friends because he is FUCKING AWESOME… and he offers to cut my HAIR!! My gnarly, fried, bleached-to-shit, nothing hair! And what does he do with it? He makes gold. An alchemist is he. He spent, like, an hour on my 3 strands of hair. Addam Moreno, ladies and gentleMAN, the creative director of Joico.

Yes, Dirty Harry, I DO feel lucky. Thanks for asking.
Yes, Dirty Harry, I DO feel lucky. Thanks for asking.

photo by Ryan Mihalyi
hair by Addam Moreno
gilt shark tooth earrings by Laura Kepner-Adney

Here’s the front, just for the record, in the immediate afterglow of scissor heaven via my laptop photobooth.

This is what glee looks like
This is what glee looks like

BTW, Tucsonans, we are currently looking for hair models for a free cut and color by Addam. YOU WIN. Please contact me at IF you are not afraid of change.

Phoenicians? Is that what we call people of Phoenix? I really hope so!
Don’t miss BOOTY SAFARI tomorrow night, October 15, at the Ruby Room! My friend Joe! He paints with light! Plus it will be a crazay partay!

joe mehl

check me out: i think these shorts are actually made from my skin

Honestly, I took this outfit shot a few weeks ago and can’t recall where I wore it. I do remember not really wanting to put much effort in so I chose black on black (but I can never resist some colorful accessories). So this outfit is my comfy casual version of a little black dress.

I have do have to say one thing: These leather shorts are the most perfect garment I have ever owned. My friends are getting sick of hearing about them (“So… my leather shorts totally slept through the night last night for the first time, can you believe it? I can’t believe what a pleasure they are, can you?)

high waisted leather shorts
high waisted leather shorts


(Everything is thrifted/borrowed from Diana’s thrifted collection except the green headband from Little Red Fox).

These shorts are in perfect condition, lined in satin, light as a Miller High Life, and they make the shit out of any ensemble. They are as low-maintenance as a couch-surfing Mr. Clean – wipe and go. They are somewhere between classy call girl and pin-up rock chic. They complete me. I should re-name this blog Painfully Repetitive – Amber Wears Her Leather Shorts. Again.

I promise there are more things to come besides leather shorts. Saturday we had a photoshoot of next level professionalism. It features, among other things, a stunning 6’2 redhead named Ashley, eyebrows fashioned from tiny green leaves and jewelry made from the teeth of sharks. Giddy!
Also, I received a perfect, perfect haircut from the most talented stylist in Tucson, possibly Arizona, possibly the world. Although I could not, of course, prove any of this except the haircut part (because now I’m even hip when I’m picking my nose).

Can I say one other thing? Tucson, AZ is wonderful.
But then, the quality of a city is all about who you know in it.

Dearest Tucson,
I’ll admit it. Moving to you was a total whim. I had no clue what to expect, but it was not, within 5 weeks of arriving, to be swept up in an unstoppable tidal wave of creativity, inspiration and unfettered acceptance. I want to say thank you to beauteous Emilie, who brought me to the cool kid convention, who always hooks me up and is there for me and my shenanigans. To hip as shit Erin – if you are into it, I will be too. To loverly and amazing Kristen and Noah for instantly embracing me and making me feel a part of their family at the opulent palace of Casa Libre (I may have to start paying rent). To brothers and huggers savant, Adam and Abraham for being incredibly kind and always cheering me on. To Addam(!), Octavio, and Ryan for being unbelievably talented and endlessly enthusiastic toward every one of my stupid ideas. And to Diana for your unabashed support, for keeping it real, for being you. All of you inspire me to be compelled to create and to savor every morsel of the process.
I love you, Tucson, because you have a a cost of living to make a pauper feel like a prince, a kickass art and music scene, stunning vistas, and spring instead of autumn.
I love you because you love me back.
Lucky me,