comes from the heart, and I greatly value and appreciate our new-found friendship. His background amazes me. Model, photo fashion stylist, vintage clothing buyer (he has an Etsy store here), hair stylist, makeup artist, fashion writer and now fashion photographer (he’s coming to NYC to shoot the runway shows during NYFW next month). Not only does he really actually come from a farm — he was raised in Rockdale, Wisconsin, sort of near where my sister was born (Oshkosh, b’gosh!) — but he bravely left those environs for Madison at the tender age of sixteen, where he immersed himself in the art and performance world. As a model, then an entertainer at various infamous clubs (including one of which was frequented, scarily enough, by Jeffrey Dahmer at the time), he landed in Milwaukee where he worked as a sought-after club performer for thirteen years from age 17 to 35. Covering the days of disco, punk, and rock ‘n roll of the ’80s, Bjorn was named one of the city’s top performers by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 1991, during what he refers to as the “mini-Warhol scene” that was transpiring in that town.
FashionWhirled: How and why has thrift become a passion for you? With your role as Goodwill’s fashion expert and a background as varied as growing up on a farm to being a model, hair stylist, writer (what aren’t you able to do?!), what part does vintage or thrift play for you in every aspects of your life, professionally and personally?
Bjorn Nasett, the Fashion Farmboy: Growing up on a farm, re-using and recycling wasn’t a virtue, it was a necessity! My mother, Audrey, was someone who could always find beauty in everything. A coat of paint, or a remodeling of one of her old jackets into a suit of clothes for one of her children, wasn’t only thrifty, but truly brought her joy. In a small way, I try to let people know that style and fashion exist in your thought process, and that can be manifested in many ways, including items found thrifting or elsewhere. Really, though, enjoyment of what you wear, and fully owning that experience is what sincerely means great style to me. Whether it is the latest from Marc Jacobs, or a hand-me-down from a friend. Making anything you wear into YOUR personal style is what fashion has and always will be about, no matter what anyone says.
FW: When and where do you shop for the special pieces you find? How do your finds change you emotionally, psychologically? What criteria do you use in making the decision to recycle, reuse, renovate or reinvigorate a thrift find to sell on your Etsy shop?
FFB: When I shop for items to re-sell, or wear myself, I only shop at charity thrift stores that have some benefit to the community they are located in. Many people do not realize that stores like these often provide vital, even life-saving programs to people in need of assistance. Too often we judge others by the clothing on their backs and not the content of their character, so I’m very proud to support these organizations. The criteria I use is pretty simple, quality, design, and wearability. What good is something vintage if it is unwearable? Then it becomes a costume, and that’s fine for Halloween, but not for everyday wear. I search for classic silhouettes on my thrice or more weekly shopping trips! When shopping thrift, you must have a plan of attack. I always do dresses first, quickly skimming the rack without looking at every piece, next is jackets, blouses, etc. I don’t spend more than an hour in any one store. If I do then there must be tons of great stuff, which I pile in my cart, and carefully inspect last, before I check out! [Ed. note: We must go thrifting together!]
FW: Who is your muse, why is he/she your muse and how does he or she affect the style decisions you make?
FFB: As a kid, I grew up watching the black and white movies on the late, late show. I was mesmerized by the stylization of the women’s clothing in vintage films. Even though this may sound predictable, I particularly loved the Hepburn’s, Audrey, and Katharine! They were always chic and sophisticated throughout their lives. I often think of them when shopping. Would this be suitable on either of them? Since they both epitomize great personal style, it is no wonder they’ve become iconic. Plus, thinking of them helps me restrain my crazy inner Mrs. Roper, who loves wild prints and over the top accessories!! Not that that’s a bad thing! I also loved Cary Grant, always stylish, rakish, dapper, all those adjectives! He’s at his most stylish in “To Catch a Thief” his casual look with the neck scarf just slays me! In a good way of course. He was handsome and fashionable all the way into his waning years. LOVED his big black glasses later in life!
FW: If you could have any notable individual — dead or alive — visit your “pop-up shop” on Etsy, who would that be and what items would you want to dress them in or want them to purchase as their own?! Which piece(s) are your favorite(s) and why?
FFB: I would love to have Chloe Sevigny visit.
Why? Because she’s fearless when it comes to fashion. She wears what she likes whether she’s criticized by the “Fashion Police” or not. I would want her to wear this beautiful vintage 60’s coatdress made of ivory silk.
I just think it would give her a wonderful sense of refinement, very Jackie O. My favorite piece however, is a full circle skirt from the 50’s that is made of black wool felt and imprinted with a gold floral filigree design and rhinestone embellishment. It is a crazy beautiful piece! I found it on the Christmas Tree Skirt rack at a thrift store. They had no idea it was a vintage Dior inspired skirt!
FW: What words of wisdom do you live by, or strive to live by, and why? What advise would you give to others?
FFB: Wearing a great big smile is the best fashion accessory of all! Being as inclusive as you can, rather than exclusive with fashion advice to others, and to seek what is meaningful to you in your life, and the rest will fall stylishly into place.