My Style: Tour Chelsea Fairless' Cheeky Pink Pad

You know the type: She can make a subway platform look like a personal runway, and turn an ordinary T-shirt into the most glamorous thing you've ever witnessed. One of our favorite such elusive fashion goddesses is Cat Party blogger and VFILES staffer extraordinaire, Chelsea Fairless.
Her personal aesthetic and sharp eye set her apart in every setting. Each month, thousands log on to Cat Party to read Chelsea’s witty, irreverent, and well-curated posts on everything from '70s horror films and '90s magazine editorials to musings on Kanye West.
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When she isn’t sharing her insights on style and pop culture with her loyal online following, you can spot her on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she’s lived for over three years. That's where we tracked her down, stopping by Chelsea’s fantastically girly, kitschy apartment to experience what it's like to surround yourself in pink, 24/7. (Spoiler alert: It's magical.)
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Chelsea wears a vintage lace skirt, an H&M leather jacket, and J.Crew sandals.

Tell us about your job and why you love it.
"I'm the archive coordinator at VFILES, which is currently in beta testing. We're planning a full launch for the fall. Apart from the fact that we have an absolutely incredible team, I love that I get to work with magazines that I admire, like Visionaire."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Patrick Nagel picture: "The figurine is a Blythe Doll my friend bought and gave my exact haircut. It’s probably the best gift I’ve ever been given. It also has its own quilted Chanel bag. Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend who gives them their own highly personalized bobble head toy. I really recommend it."

You’re originally from California. What brought you to New York?
"I came to New York to study fashion design at Parsons. Once I got here, I realized I hated my program and switched to graphic design, which led to my becoming a photo researcher, and then to my working with magazines. It was a very natural progression."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Chelsea’s shoe collection, a true high/low collaboration, has designers ranging from Miu Miu to Jeffrey Campbell in heavy rotation.

How do you think coming from California has influenced your style choices?
"When I lived in California, I felt like I related to more of an East Coast mentality. I wore all black and heels — and no one dressed that way. Then, when I moved to NYC, I ended up being the biggest hippie around. I started wearing flowing dresses and platforms, and got into more of an upscale stoner kind of look."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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“I love magazines. Over the years I’ve collected them from flea markets, thrift stores, and eBay, but most recently I’ve been getting them from the VFILES shop.”

Where and how do you find your inspiration?
"I'm perpetually physically surrounded by various forms of print media. My desk often has a very Selby-esque hoarder aesthetic, but it works for me."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Vintage bedspread and pillows.

What’s your best-kept design secrets?
"When I get paid, the first thing I always do is buy fresh flowers. My biggest decorating secret is that I like to buy two-dozen roses and put them throughout the house, and then mix fake flowers in with the real. Not in the same vase, but definitely in the same room. I like my apartment to look like a Ziegfeld Girls dressing room. If I could have flowers on every table, I would, but it’s just not practical. I also try to keep just one orchid alive each month."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Check out that Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol eye mask!

What was it like creating your own mini-magazine Chelsea? Did it prepare you for the work you do now?
"I’m not doing it anymore, though I definitely want to do more self-publishing. The first time I did it was for my thesis project at Parsons. It was a great learning experience. Everything I did was so out of my comfort zone. I didn’t take any of the photos, but I did pretty much everything else from interviewing people and doing layouts to producing and styling the shoots and illustrating the pages. I had my hands in everything. It was very DIY, but it came out pretty polished."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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"Repurposing coat racks for jewelry is key for me. You can’t keep that stuff in a box without ruining it, and it’s a pain to sort through. Just go to Bed Bath and Beyond and get a rack. You won’t regret it."

How did you get your apartment in such great shape?
"It took a lot of work. I’m talking about a whole team of friends coming in with the rollers and spackle. There was glitter we had to scrape off the walls. When I first got the apartment, I realized everything was somehow off. I almost think it was renovated by someone who was unbalanced. The ceiling is a different height in every room, and the windows are different lengths. My house is kind of like a Magic Eye, it’s all made of illusory angles. You kind of feel like you’re in a German expressionist painting. But I’ve managed to mold it into something I love."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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What is your main source of home inspiration?
"I don’t think I really had a conscious point of inspiration. I just have always had this very specific taste, so everything looks cohesive regardless of what I do. But, I liked the idea of having a bachelorette pad kind of like Michelle Pfeiffer/Cat Woman’s apartment in Batman Returns, and Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek’s apartment in 3 Women. With maybe even a little bit of Holly Golightly thrown in."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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How do you think working with [former Barneys fashion director] Amanda Brooks has influenced your look?
"I think it was very subtle, but she definitely had an influence. I worked on her book, I Love Your Style, when she was a consultant for brands. I did the research and helped with other little things. She’s since renovated her place, but it used to be much girlier, and with a pink interior. We share a love of weird '70s stuff that everyone else thinks is ugly. I’ve always really admired her taste."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Chelsea wears a Shakuhachi dress; she's holding a cat face balloon by Kyoko Hamada.

You also interned at Chanel; do you think that had an influence on your style as well?
"It wasn’t really the traditional intern experience. All I did was send handbags to Lindsay Lohan. However, it was a brand I really wanted to work with. I’ve always loved Chanel. It’s such an iconic house and Coco Chanel is a huge inspiration to me, both lifestyle- and fashion-wise. I also love Karl Lagerfield, but Coco would hate everything he does. It’s really compelling to me how Lagerfield has been able to retain the central message and aesthetic of the brand, but he interprets the look in a very trendy way. I mean, so much of what he does is ridiculous, but he’s so talented, and his timing is always so good."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Chelsea wears a Built by Wendy shirt, vintage necklace, Urban Outfitters pants, and Rodarte for Opening Ceremony platforms.

This is your second apartment in Bushwick. What kept you in the neighborhood?
"I love Bushwick. What brought me here initially was the cheap rent. Also, because I needed to have a big apartment for all of my junk. I would not want to move back to Manhattan, ever. I really like it out here. Also, I just think the people are nicer in Bushwick and it’s culturally interesting. The food is great, too. It has more of that “old New York” feel, and it’s seedy. I’ve always liked seediness. Some people don’t respond well to seediness, but I’ve always found it to be intriguing."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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“I don’t really wear makeup, but when I want to look put-together, I wear heels. These shoes remind me of the Wizard of Oz. It’s like, if Dorothy were from the Pacific Northwest.”

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Vintage couch; Tamar Mogendorff stuffed felt horse head; her pink walls are painted in Benjamin Moore “I Love You” pink's.

Who are your style inspirations?
"Definitely Stevie Nicks. Also, Diane Keaton, Zandra Rhodes, Sally Bowles, Anita Pallenburg, and Jane Fonda in Klute. I don’t like the term retro, but I like a retro look. I love a caftan. I think everything in the '60s and '70s just looked better, and I’d rather be surrounded by things that harken back to that period. Courtney Love also had a huge influence on the way I dress, and 1994 Kim Gordon in her babydoll outfits."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Chelsea wears a vintage necklace while reading In Between by Guy Bourdin. "This book is just about his fashion work, and mostly his work for Paris Vogue. He's probably my favorite photographer"

What are some of your favorite labels?
"I love A.P.C., Zandra Rhodes, Carin Wester, Shakuhachi…but if I had unlimited funds I would literally be draped in Chloé and Comme des Garçons."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Tippy Hedren “Birds” doll; Guerrilla Girls framed art from the Tate Modern Gift Shop.

What are three of your favorite go-to-pieces for everyday wear?
"A ruffled python-print Shakuhachi dress, In God We Trust’s “Best F*cking Friends” necklace (both from best friend Megan at Summerland), and a vintage houndstooth blazer I got at a thrift store last year."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Chelsea wears an Alice Ritter dress and shoes from Natural Comfort.

How do you find time to both write Cat Party and work full time?
"I can’t really post to Cat Party as frequently as I used to. I started the site five years ago with my friend Megan, but my life has just changed so much since then. There’ve been periods where I’ve been more diligent about updating, to periods of not-at-all. The fans of the site are great though. I’ve met a lot of really nice, wonderful people through Cat Party that I’ve gone on to become good friends with."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Chelsea wears vintage rings and is noshing on a strawberry sprinkle donut from Dunkin Donuts.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
"I’ve always been drawn to sort of hyper-feminine pop imagery. I’m really influenced by the '70s: the sensuousness, but also the playfulness. I’ve also always loved kitsch, particularly pieces with that soft-focus, hazy, sort of '70s sweetness, which are also kind of erotic."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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Where did you find most of the collectibles in this room?
"The dog head hanger is from Lisa Frank, and the jacket’s fake Chanel. It’s a really good fake, but it’s fake. It has Chanel buttons and the Chanel lining, but it’s definitely "designer impostor." I got it at Beacon’s Closet in Williamsburg. The poster on the mantel is an illustration of Stevie Nicks by Johanna Peterman, who specializes in Stevie Nicks paraphernalia. I featured her in the last issue of the zine I run, Chelsea Magazine . The other picture on the mantel is by my friend, photographer Sarah Wilmer. I go to a lot of flea markets and vintage stores, so that’s where the majority of my stuff comes from."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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"This record was actually put out by Visionaire, as part of its annual theme issue. It’s an image of Kate Moss shot by Mert [Alas] and Marcus [Piggot], from Visionaire 50: The Sound Issue and came in a limited-edition set of six records."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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If you had a signature scent what would it be?
"It would definitely be a knock-off of Britney Spears’ Fantasy or a Designer Imposter version of Comme des Garçons’ Rose. Then I’d put it in one of those cheesy early '90s bottles that say “if you like this, you’ll love this.” We’d call it 'My Bushwick Apartment,' and it would be $3.99 at Duane Reed."

Photographed by Maia Harms
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