We have been following the lovely Victoria Mesenbrink's work for some time now and finally had to reach out to get the full story on her career. Based in Portland, Victoria is always on the move styling for all sorts of clients, projects and photoshoots. Read on about a chili hot dog shoot, eating Taco Bell in bed and being caught jamming to Ciara.
Let's start from the beginning, how did you get into styling and making people look good?
I've always been into fashion even as a kid. I once asked my mother, while looking at old pictures, why I was the only child that look ridiculous and she told me that I wouldn't let anyone dress me from age 3 on. That explained everything. I grew up thrift store shopping and garage sale-ing on the weekends with my mom and siblings in her 1981 white Chevrolet station wagon. We were pretty middle class so I had to work and pay for all my clothing starting in high school. Naturally I got a job at Nordstrom (like everyone) so I could buy all the cool kid clothing (you know Abercrombie and stupid shit like that). I was on a working girls budget, so I thrift store shopped and often browsed bargain shops like TJ MAXX for a deal then mixed them with the designer items. This really helped me develop an eye for style I think having to pull together looks with a tight budget and mix highs and lows. It was embarrassing at the time going to a private rich kid school that my mom taught at but now I can appreciate that it really help curate my styling atheistic. Eventually I went to school for fashion and women's studies, studied in Florence for some time, moved to Seattle post college, started styling and was a buyer for my bf's boutique, moved to PDX and opened a boutique with her and expanded my styling clients while running my boutique. Eventually, I sold the store to my partner and focused solely on styling ever since. Sorry a bit ramble but you get the jist of it.
Working in huge cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Milan and Moscow, how do those cities compare to working in Portland?
Every city I work in is different in it's own way and each has it's own strengths and weaknesses. Portland is great because I get to be close to my family and friends and sleep in my own bed, which is always nice. Doing a fashion story in Portland is harder then NY or LA naturally because we just have less designer access. That doesn't mean we don't produce amazing fashion stories out of Portland, it just means it takes more time, planning, and work. I actually appreciate this most about living here because it forces me to get creative like when I was growing up and trying to create my own sense of style but having to do it on a shoestring. I appreciate not having everything right in front of me. I think it helps my brain come up with better ideas actually instead of putting all the models in the latest Celine collection, let's put them in trash bags and spray paint them gold and throw feathers on them or whatever. Funny thing is that is so trendy right now to be abstract so we are in luck. We are also lucky to have so many amazing local designers and shops that do carry designers you can find in major fashion cities. It's not that Portland is that different it is just smaller.
You've worked with some incredibly talented photographers in your career. Who stands out in your mind?
I've been lucky to work with some of the most recognized and talented photographers in the industry and even more who are on the up and coming so this question could be a shorty story, but I will keep it short and current. This month I'm on the road with Billy Kidd. He has an amazing story where he basically said 'fuck it' to the man and taught himself photography and is now killing it. That shit is so baller to me. It's just never too late to do what you want because really there are no rules to life if you think about it. Life is just a concept of what people and society make it so when someone just breaks the "rules" like that I'm into it, especially when they choose to be an artist. It's hard work though. I was also recently in Hawaii and I shot with Nathaniel Goldberg which stands out because DUH.
Has there been anything crazy that has happened on set? Any wild moments?
Of course (like tons) I always joke about making a reality show about what we do because there is always something so insane or ridiculous happening on a set, big or small. Oh I just thought of a good one... a few months back in LA I was shooting with Hasse Nielsen (for the first time) at 5th & Sunset before it closed. The wardrobe area was in the back corner and seems super private so naturally when Ciara "Ride" came on at lunch and me and my buddy went back to the wardrobe area to dance like high school girls getting our eagle on in front of the mirror for 3/4th of the song before the whole crew starting clapping and screaming for us. We turned around, saw that there was another mirror behind us reflecting our major dance moves to the whole set. HA!
Can you give us a sneak peak of big projects you are working on in 2015?
2015 is going to be a big year for me with collaborations with other artists. I am trying to dedicate more time each month to these personal projects / collaborations. Last month I spent a week in my studio shooting a different project each day. It's exhausting but I found myself so busy last year with hired work that I didn't let myself let loose and do whatever weird shit I wanted to do. For me I need to do these things or my brain get's stale.
I recently did a chili hot tub party shoot with Barbies and then made Barbie grilled cheese sandwiches with my Kev Kev who is super genius. I have a studio in town that is a store front and that may open to the public at some point this year…like for one day…
I am also working on launching a new site since my site has basically not been touch in two years. That is a big project for everyone, right! My number one project right now is getting some braids in NYC next week and at some point this year having all white hair and not having to cut it but I starting to lose hope on that one.
You have been on the road for awhile.. what are you most excited to eat/drink/do when you get back to Portland?
This month is an insane month of travel for me. I left on the 3rd and won't be back until March. I'm currently on a flight to Barcelona typing this email on only 3 hours of sleep and after we land I head straight to set from the airport. It's not all glitz and glam like Instagram makes things out to be. When I'm home and not until after I snuggle my boys and puppy wuppy, I will most likely eat Taco Bell and drink white wine in bed while texting the chain and checking Instagram.
EYES & EDGE