Where in Time is Jamaica Cole?

Homeless, aimless and unemployed, I appear to be in gypsy mode once again. But that doesn’t mean I’m going go overboard with baubles (overbauble?) and dress like a schizophrenic costume shop refugee a like I did in 2009. This time I’m taking the high road (well, only clothing-wise. The low road has WAY better bars).

For the past six months or so, I’ve cooled it with my accessory obsession (obsessory? accession?) (sorry) (not sorry) and stuck to a look comprised mostly of dresses and shoes. There is a get-up-and-go simplicity about it, and it’s given me the opportunity to downsize my wardrobe into a travel-friendly two-bag affair. However, I seem to have only collected a variety of short floral dresses and cowboy boots and now I look like I’m wearing a Jamaica costume.

Something must be done, lest I end up an action figure. I can see it now: a displeased plastic frown from juggling my miniature suitcases while trying to find my tiny boarding pass. My haircut comes pre-experimented on by little kid scissors, and if you look in my luggage, there are seven more outfits exactly like the one I’m wearing.

I have approximately one more month in Tucson before I’m truly floating in the wind. Now is the time for reinvention! So stylistically, I’ve decided to embrace the vagabond life in a Kathleen-Turner-in Body-Heat homage to the 1930’s via the 1980’s.

Confused? Good. So am I.

Whilst thrifting in Flagstaff, AZ with my mom, I came across this pattern:

The masculine/feminine silhouette balance and the monochrome simplicity made me weak at the knees, and better yet, this (view B) is one of those easily thriftable looks. A pair of high rise pleated pants can be easily made into shorts with minimal sewing skills. Just cut a couple of inches longer than intended, then roll up, tack down and press. Wear with a brown belt over a simple silk tank and then throw on one of those ubiquitous oversized white button downs and roll up the sleeves. Top with a wide brimmed hat or a pair of big earrings, adopt a breathy voice, and you’ll win/break the heart of almost every character ever portrayed by Michael Douglas.

Want to embody a modern, monochrome Carmen Sandiego, but avoid the Polly Esther Fabrique? If you’re not me, you could try the actual high road and achieve this look with new clothes!



above photos via fashion gone rogue

And if you want to get just crazy high on the high road (at least as far as scoring points with yours truly is concerned), be sure to check out what may very well be my last Tucson fashion show on July 20th. The theme of the night is “future primitive”, and even though I appear to be doing “vintage modern”, I’m sure I can rationalize it all somehow. In keeping with my current approach toward life in general, the best plan is…no plan?

I wonder how I’ll manage to pull this one off.

Check Me Out: Impersonating Edie (...or attempting to)

Last weekend was… as surreal as it gets. Describable in one made-up word: WARHOLMANIA.

The Tuscon Museum of Art is now showing an amazing collection of original Andy Warhol screenprints so they wanted to do something special for their opening. And special always means dead people impersonation, right? So Friday the museum invited Drew Krewer and I to come in full costume and full character as Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick, making a surprise appearance directly from that “Factory in the Sky.” We were even featured on the Six O’Clock News!

While Drew could easily sashay into the room with only his charm, his usual styling finesse and a spritz of silver hairspray, it took an entire team to get me in fighting Edie form. First off? The fabled dress by my beloved roommate and besty, Jamaica Cole of Sapphire Cordial (pictured in the previous post).

photo by Jessica Castillo


photo by Omer Kreso


(Hair by Addam Moreno, Makeup by Lynette at Toni & Guy, Tucson – Thank you!!)

And, of course, the ever-important jewels, designed by my dearest Laura of Wingflash Designs!

Paula Taylor and Amber Mortensen - photo by Tucson John


Necklace by Wingflash, Whipped Cream by Diana

While Edie managed to last about 27 years, I lasted exactly 10 hours – through the epic POP! Afterparty at the Rialto, complete with a Velvet Underground cover band, mylar photo booth, gallons of whipped cream, a Warhol Death Reenactment, endless dancing, and a good slathering of Tomato Soup. SPENT.

But no rest for the weary, because the next day we had a request to transform into go go dancers at the Eric Firestone Gallery. They had THE most amazing exhibit, including some never-before-seen Andy Warhol photographs. Unbelievable.


Jamaica Cole photo by Tucson John


Danielle Theriault Sit-Down Dancing photo by Tucson John


The gogo dancing lasted for 5 hours straight with no less than 4 costume changes each. So it goes without saying, I spent the last three days in bed. Sick as a dog. Like Edie coming down from a multitude of barbiturates.

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PHDC Painfully Trip: Edie Sedgwick Takes San Francisco

Have you ever had that feeling that life is happening at you? That you’re suddenly caught up in a wave of good news, exciting prospects, turned corners and open doors?

I have.

How did I possibly manage to: score a room at an historic luxury hotel from the City of San Francisco), model for an incredible photographer in clothes dropped at my hotel by up-and-coming local designers, encase my face in faux lashes and whopping earrings courtesy of Mac Cosmetics and a collaboration with Wingflash Designs in bustling San Francisco locations, attempting to echo one of my favorite personalities, Edie Sedgwick…. and NONE OF IT WAS MY IDEA??

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And that was only the beginning of this epic tour. Right now I’m in Chicago receiving more luckbombs, having a soul-illuminating few days with close friends and bracing myself for:

-another roadtrip, starting wed, with a rough and tumble all girl band who just happen to be as obsessed with thrift stores and fashion as I am.

-a stylist gig back in San Francisco with my first legit celebrity, the Hipster Prime Minister himself. I will not deny it if you guess correctly! Think ironic. A little Brilliant, slightly sleezy. Think vacant, traffic-stopping gaze…

I keep having to check for the horseshoe in my ass. That would be embarrassing…
Thank you all so much for reading.

Continue reading…

photography by Cecilia Austin
couture fray dress by Abi McCannon, Your Crutch
t-shirt dress from Painfully Hip Vintage
other clothing by Danielle Due Citta, Dyno-Solo
earrings by Laura Adney-Kepner, Wingflash Design
hair by Addam Moreno, Iso Hair
makeup by Oaeza Pathan, retail manager at Mac Cosmetics, Nordstrom – Westfield Mall San Francisco
styled and modeled by Amber Mortensen

Continue reading PHDC Painfully Trip: Edie Sedgwick Takes San Francisco

Painfully Extraneous: Miranda July

Miranda July cracks me up. Inexplicably, every time.

Here’s the “fashion spread” she recently shot for Vice Magazine’s Film Issue, where she morphs, Cindy Sherman-like, into extras in classic films.


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Painfully Cinematic: Les Photos Inspirées par Amelie Poulain

When Cecilia Austin, whose work I have been admiring for a while now, asked me to be the stylist on a photo shoot inspired by one of my all-time favorite movies, Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain), I nearly wet myself with glee.

It is a astonishing, painterly movie but Audrey Tatou’s wardrobe – as I found when I re-watched this masterpiece for inspiration – is just a touch dated and ordinary (probably in order to downplay her undeniable good looks). I loved the challenge of bringing out the iconic whimsy and 1920’s inspiration a lot more, while keeping the bashful naiveté and tomboyish mischief that so defines her character.

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Amelie Poulain lookalike
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This pale cornflower ballgown from the 1950s was a left field exception, granted, but we had somehow gotten permission from the Historical Society to shoot in San Francisco’s majestic Old Mint after all, and nothing else would do for the ballroom-like vault room. This dress was the property of one very talented Kristin Cofer‘s late grandmother, and she kindly entrusted me with this relic. I am so glad we could immortalize it for her. So lovely.

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Photographers = Cecilia Austin and Ed Cabalit
Model = Jocelyn Largent
Hair and Makeup = Diane Worthley
Stylist = Amber Mortensen
Special Thanks to Kristin Cofer and Alicia Black of Babyfoot Vintage

Painfully Hip Design Collective and Agent Ribbons

by Amber Mortensen
(co-authored by Rory)

When Agent Ribbons (vaudeville outlaws, theatrical bandits, our only hope of making it out of monotony alive…) rolled into torrid Tucson like a three ring circus of unquestionable awesomeness, we were excited to reimburse the stratosphere some of our couchsurfing karma. Natalie Ribbons, Lauren Hess and their fanciful dancing bird, Christopher, hit the road from my old stomping grounds (Sacramento, CA) and have been on the lamb since January. We couldn’t let them make their escape with out documenting their dangerous levels of va-va-vaudeville vavoom.

I was feeling a definite Bonnie & Clyde streak brewing. Voila, our very first band shoot!





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They chose their performance outfits from the “Painfully Hip Closet/Room” for their performance at the gorgeous Solar Culture Gallery – a mustn’t miss in Tucson – which they rocked without question. After the ensuing spectacle, they left the crowd hankering for more and decided to sing for their supper at the Red Room later that same night. Better believe they had the entire restaurant up and dancing! Quite the feat… especially when late night mozzarella sticks are involved.

Agent Ribbons performance

photographer: Ryan Mihalyi
styling: Diana Deaver and Amber Mortensen
Hair and Makeup: Amber Mortensen
Special thanks to Stacey and to Solar Culture!

Is it Vaudeville? Or “cabaret-inspired victorian punk garage?” Pictures are always nice, but I’m going to let Natalie’s green wiggle dress do the talking:

Follow Agent Ribbons on Twitter.

If you are a touring band rolling through Tucson, and would like to raid our styling skillz and alliances with amazing photographers like Ryan Mihalyi for some promo shots, launch us an email at painfullyhipATgmail.com!

agent ribbons and painfully hip