Sometimes interviewing people who are looking to be interviewed is boring. Who cares about when your album drops, a woman might be president! And her opponent is a Satan reboot with skin discoloration! It seems like everything is exploding with new twists and turns and we want to know what you have to say about it. With Person of Interest we are looking for individualized takes on what’s happening in the world.
This week we speak with Karina Salmeron, the founder and creative director behind high-end accessories line Valas, and her younger brother Kenneth Villager, who oversees the brand’s business operations.
Where are you guys from originally?
Karina: We’re from the Bay Area. I’ve been in Los Angeles for almost 15 years and Kenny has been here for eight years.
Tell us about Valas?
Karina: Valas in Spanish means bullet. We built the brand based on transforming a negative experience into a positive opportunity. I’ve always worked in retail as a manager, so I’ve grown up around high end items. I’ve always had an affinity for bags and shoes and always hoped to have my own brand. When I was working in retail a friend of mine passed away and it pushed me into this crossroads where I didn’t know where I was going to go or what I was going to do. At that moment I decided to start creating and designing. Finally I made something I was proud of. Then I decided this was something I wanted to take somewhere, so I asked Kenny to help me out.
What was the item?
Karina: The first product we made was this vintage suitcase we reworked.
So are you guys predominantly an accessories brand?
Karina: Yes, as of now. We do backpacks, bags, shoes. I’d like to start getting into hats. I’ve always had a thing for accessories, I really believe they complete an outfit.
Recently Fransisco Costa left Calvin Klein, Hedi Slimane was let go from Saint Laurent, and Phoebe Philo is no longer working with Celine. What are your thoughts on the shifts these major design houses are going through?
Karina: There are only so many movements you can make in fashion until you hit roadblocks with creativity and money. Maybe these designers just felt that they were hitting a wall with those brands and they want to explore other options. Another possibility is they want more money because people are paying attention to the designer as a brand rather than the house they’re designing for. People are starting to connect to the designer themselves, not just the brand they’re working with. A lot of people are wearing Saint Laurent because of Hedi specifically.
Who do you think would make the best fit for Saint Laurent now that Hedi is out?
Karina: I don’t know if he would be the right fit, but I just love Yohji Yamamoto. To me, he is a true artist. He is an original and I really look up to him. I do know there is a person from Versace who is now going to design for Saint Laurent, his name is Anthony Vaccarello.
What current trend do you think is totally played out?
Karina: I’m ready to see some of the early ’90s grunge styles leave.
Kenny: A lot of people in the Bay Area catch onto trends much later than Europe or even LA. One trend I see a lot in the Bay Area still is the flannel tied around the waste.
Which celebrity Instagrams do you follow?
Karina: I love Solange [Knowles’s] Instagram with all the bright colors and all the odes to 1980s culture. It’s very Sade to me. I like her overall aesthetic.
Who would you like to see wearing your clothes?
Karina:There are a lot of celebrities I’d like to dress, but the few that stick out to me are Solange and Zoe Kravitz. They are true originals.
Kenny: From a male’s perspective, I would say A$AP Rocky. He’s so respected in both fashion and hip-hop. It would be really cool to see someone of his caliber wearing our designs.
What about Frank Ocean? Have you listened to Blonde at all?
Kenny: I’ve listened to the majority of the album but there is something about it that I’m still not catching on to yet. His first album was just so great, I connected with those beats and melodies instantly. For his new album, I’ve got to listen to the lyrics more, the content of what he’s saying, in order to vibe out to it, because there isn’t a particular beat that’s piquing my interest. But Frank Ocean is great, we really respect him as an artist and visionary. And we admire that he dropped this album independently, he’s not signed to Def Jam anymore.
Coming from the Bay Area and now living in LA, what are your thoughts on our new football team?
Kenny: Well I’m a 49ers fan, so I think it’s fantastic. The city was missing a football team. Yes we have the UCLA and USC football rivalry, but there’s nothing quite like the NFL. Especially with this weather in LA, it’ll be nice to go to the games.
I would have liked to see the Raiders come back. That would have been a good fashion moment—khakis and a Raiders bomber jacket. What about the Olympics, did you watch them?
Kenny: I did catch some of the Olympics. It was fascinating watching the women’s gymnastics team. You just see these tiny girls who are like 15 and 16 and they’re just representing themselves with such strength and class.
Karina: And then there are people like Michael Phelps who doesn’t let a day go by without practicing. I really admire his discipline.
Which Olympic team would you like to design a uniform for?
Kenny: Either the men’s basketball team or the women’s gymnastics team. The men’s basketball team is more of our demographic, but from a design perspective, I think designing leotards for the women’s gymnastics team would be really fun.
Now for the speed round. Leather or suede?
Black or Brown?
Snapchat or Instagram?
Real fur or faux fur.
Karina: I prefer really nice quality faux fur.
Kenny: Can I plead the fifth?
Drugs or Alcohol?