Blogger, photographer, stylist, creative genius. Any of these words could be used to describe Charlottesville’s Sean Santiago, whose most recent work, Low Vintage‘s Low Look Book, has spread like wildfire on the web. We take a moment to chat with Sean, learning the source of his artistic energy and his plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about where the idea for the Low Lookbook came from and how it all started.
I designed Low’s new logo last year and wanted to help them further publicize their new name and the quality of the clothing they carry. I also needed some new projects to help build my photography and styling portfolios, so the Look Book took care of a few proverbial birds with one stone.
“The Muse.” That skirt is actually a nylon crinoline I found in with the slips, but it photographed really beautifully. The top’s shape and pattern reference some recent pieces from Givenchy and Stella McCartney collections and the boots ground the whole outfit thoroughly in the here and now, which is important when pulling together an all vintage look.
Your photography is stunning. How and when did you start taking pictures, and what led you to fashion photography?
I majored in Media Arts at university, and my concentration was Digital Video. Photography really only became a hobby when I was living abroad, as I wanted to document that experience. It quickly became a less expensive and easier alternative to video, and I’ve been able to apply a lot of my videography background to crafting still images. I don’t necessarily think of The Low Lookbookas an exercise in fashion photography, although I’m flattered you do! To me, I just needed to be able to take pictures that showcased my talent as a stylist. Hiring a photographer wasn’t feasible, so I needed to “bring it,” so to speak, on both fronts. I’m happy it turned out so well! I guess years of immersing myself in the language of fashion portraiture really helped.
Your blog, *fruitpunch, exudes inspiration. Who or what has been the largest source of your inspiration and why?
I’ve had a lot of blogs over the years, but *fruitpunch is the first that’s really “me.” I think the blog I had while transitioning to life here in Cville after being abroad was fun but overreaching; I’ve tried to divide some of those interests into other projects, like The Low Lookbook and my photography book, Sometimes I See the Sky. Not everything needs to be a blog! I’ve realized that. *fruitpunchis a bit more relaxed and, yes, as you say, exuberant, than other ventures. It’s a nice creative outlet and a place where I can attempt to fuse together various sources of inspiration, from a chic interior to a man in a dress – and everything in between!
What is your philosophy when it comes to your personal style?
First and foremost, “Dare to be different.” I like taking chances, because menswear is much more traditional and coded than what we might think of as fashion (for women). I turn a lot more to Asian influences now than I did a few years ago. I’m very small so I think I have more wiggle room when getting dressed. I can do ties and gloves and hats, yes, but I want to see how I can push myself in small ways in regards to shape and proportion and masculinity.
Tell us where what we might expect from Sean Santiago in years to come.
Well, definitely more! I’m trying to make myself live in the moment, so all I can say is that in this moment I’ve finished a script for a short video called “The Romantic.” Hopefully that will be shooting soon. That’s what you can expect!