Monica Canilao

This Artist Takes Fashion Inspiration From Frida Kahlo

by BUST Magazine

Photographed by Chloe Aftel

Monica Canilao

ARTIST | Oakland, CA

Tell us about this outfit.

The skirt came from a weird junk shop in Sebastopol, CA. The belt is from Mercy Vintage in Oakland. The bathing suit’s from ASOS and I added beadwork to its straps. The bag was from a friend who found it at an estate sale. The necklace was a birthday gift from a friend, as was the old beanie. I’m also wearing a gold metal crocheted bracelet made by my friend Arielle de Pinto. The earrings are by Buddha Jewelry.

Where do you typically get your clothes and accessories?

They’re pulled from a lot of weird, eclectic places like flea markets, vintage stores, and hand-me-downs from friends. I alter or add to almost everything I wear. Because I sew, I can visualize potential in a garment and can easily turn it into something wearable.

Who are your personal fashion icons?

I am forever inspired by my friends who all push outside the norm. Also, I love Grace Jones, Björk, RuPaul, Alexander McQueen, Frida Kahlo, Nick Cave, and David Bowie, to name some more well-known fashion-forward freaks. I like clothing that plays with gender roles and that is challenging and fluid.

If you could wear only one piece of clothing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Onesies, because you can just slip them on and layer them. That includes bathing suits, which I wear all-year-round as tops.

Your artist statement on your website says, “My life and art are modes of intentional living borrowing from native traditions and contemporary subcultures.” How does that translate to your fashion?

Everything I wear and use in the art I make is comprised of things I have found that have been discarded, gifted, or already worn by others. They are objects I give a new life to. In native cultures, every scrap is used and nothing goes to waste — I have always tried to act with that sentiment in mind. There is enough stuff in the world.

Monica CanilaoPhotographed by Chloe Aftel



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Renaissance String Summer SkirtRenaissance String Summer Skirt, £60,

The Disco ShortThe Disco Short, $59,

 By Robyn Smith

Photographer: Chloe Aftel

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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