Buckle your seatbelt, because we’re about to take you into the mind of an atomic fashionista with our newest Geeks Are We interview. If fierceness was rated from a scale of 1 to 10, J Von Stratton serves up a bedazzled infinity symbol with playful elegance!
(Photo by Jiamin Zhu)
Take a gander at her website and you’ll learn instantly J Von Stratton is an individual of many talents. Performer. Designer. Entrepreneur. Even at times, she’s a mermaid. Not of the flippin’ your fins, not-getting-too-far variety, but the type that embraces beauty from all facets of life. Even in the beginning, J’s love for fashion grew with some of our favorite characters from the world of DC Comics.
“So, ya’ll remember when Batman: The Animated Series came out? Well by this time I was already completely obsessed with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman,” says J. “So when this series came out it added to my love of Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harlequin.
“I had a sketchbook and every day when I came home from school I’d sit and sketch countless heroine/villain lady costumes. I had a huge book full!”
Sadly, J believes all those sketches were tossed while in her teens, but the designing and exercising creativity didn’t stop there! Through high school and college, J was sewing her own costumes. As she puts it, “I really just always was.” J knew she would sew throughout her life especially when fashion influencers like Bjork presented different style ideals.
“I wanted the cool weird stuff Bjork was wearing, but couldn’t just fly off to London to buy a $4,000 dress from McQueen, so I had to figure it out. Some of my early stuff was bonkers, and terrible, and hilarious, and great.
“But it all propelled me forward to being the brand I am now.”
What a brand J is! Her world of fashion is an adventure. Not only was J a wardrobe assistant for So You Think You Can Dance and Lady Gaga’s 2009 tour, but she designs regularly for winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 Jinkx Monsoon! The two go way back and worked closely to create custom looks for Jinkx.
“It’s getting crazier and crazier these days as she’s very rarely in town, so often times we get no fittings or one brief one mid-way through process. But she always turns it out! I’ve made her last three finale looks (crème butterfly, emerald Queen ball gown, and the gold ball gown she just recently wore). I love working with Jinkx. It’s like dressing a life-size Barbie!”
This is all only one talent of J. We haven’t even delved into her life as a performer! Back in 2004, J began her career as a burlesque performer with The Atomic Bombshells. She’s performed with such names as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Dita Von Teese, and her talents in the theatrics and dance booked her trips all over the world. Naturally, memories were made!
(Photo by Ouch My Eye Studios)
“My fav[orite] experience so far as a BQ performer has got to be when the Atomic Bombshells went to Shanghai, China for the Olympics. The Olympics were in Beijing, but all the big cities were going nuts!
“Since Shanghai has such a rooted history for being the playground for Westerners in the ‘20s and ‘30s—The Paris of the East, they call it—one of the venues in town wanted to bring back burlesque for a 9-day party celebrating that era. We had a huge band that learned all our music, and for 9 days we performed each night in front of the lit up skyline of Shanghai. It was completely awesome, bizarre, wild, crazy.”
With how prominent burlesque is where Espionage Cosmetics is located in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve met so many performers with different enlightening experiences we enjoy hearing about. We asked J what lessons she’s personally drawn from being part of the community. Starting out with her first performance, she reflected on her transformation from being nervous to feeling empowered as a woman.
“Maybe it’s because I’m older, but I think much of it has to do with the fact that for 12 years I’ve been surrounded by women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities performing their art without self-conscious hesitation. Awesome things happen when communities of women feel great about themselves.”
This is us after that statement….
*Featured image credited to Ken Lapworth Photography. All images belong to J Von Stratton unless credited otherwise.