Welcome to the Beauty Sessions, conversations in the makeup chair with Toronto’s best-dressed women
Chapter 3: Vintage queen Julie Yoo, musician and model Elissa Mielke, fashion and lifestyle web producer Cat Williams
This summer, we’ve partnered with one of our favourite stores—the beauty mecca Sephora—to host a series of conversations with some of the most stylish women in the city. (Each of these amazing women has a coveted place on Toronto Life Stylebook’s Best Dressed List.) In this instalment, designer vintage expert Julie Yoo, singer-songwriter and model Elissa Mielke and ET Canada web producer Cat Williams talk about drawing inspiration—from art, design, music and the city.
Makeup by: Sephora National Pro Lead Artist Lou Swinden Payne and Flavia Muresu, Senior Artist for Sephora Canada
Photography by: Vanessa Heins
Who: Julie Yoo, vintage collector and retailer.
How do you define your personal style?
“I tend to lean towards minimal fashion, with a bit of avant garde and rock and roll thrown in. But I believe style is how you wear something, not necessarily what you’re wearing.”
How does that translate into real life?
“I’m a working mom, so my style is very functional—skinny black jeans, a t-shirt and sometimes a blazer on top. That functionality applies to my makeup as well. That said, I’ve always been a fan of a pop of colour on the lips.”
Where does your love of style come from?
“My interest in fashion and beauty comes from the fact that I’m a very visual person. I love art, design and architecture. I’m drawn to 1960s brutalist buildings, for example. I’ve built up a small collection of modernist jewelry and sculpture. I spend time flipping through old magazines from the 1920s and ’30s, and even 1970s Sears catalogues.”
Do you draw inspiration from the city?
“Toronto is home to me. I was born here, I went to school here, I was raised here. I love its culture and creativity. I’m a West End girl. Our store, I Miss You Vintage, is a designer and luxury resale store that’s been on Ossington Avenue for 12 years. We were one of the first retailers to open on the strip and we’ve watched the neighbourhood change dramatically. More artist-run galleries, music studios and restaurants have moved in, so it’s both an exciting and inspiring place.”
Name three things that you consider beautiful.
“First and foremost, my son. Number two: I like walking around in the city at night, looking at the silhouette of Toronto city skyline, and getting that authentic urban, metropolitan feeling. Third, I have a fascination with history and design, and where those two things intersect. For example, I like looking at the film noir era’s screen sirens and their beauty shots. It’s always appealed to me to see that stark contrast of black and white, and the glamour and elegance.”
Who: Elissa Mielke, singer-songwriter and model.
Where does your love of music come from?
“I started singing in church and I played piano and guitar there too. Music is what I secretly wanted to do as a kid, but I didn’t know you were allowed to pursue it as an adult. It was a nice surprise to find out you can.”
Who are your influences?
“I love Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Patty Smith and I appreciate good writing and strong songs across a number of genres. Even now, I think I’m just getting to know a lot of singer-songwriters that other people grew up with. I grew up in the countryside just outside of Hamilton, and we didn’t listen to a lot of popular music—only hymns, classical music and jazz. My parents are academics. They are artistic and creative, but they’re not in the arts. They would sing while doing the dishes. When I was a teenager, I would come to Toronto to play shows. I’d have my keyboard and my fake ID, and I’d play at the Silver Dollar or Sneaky Dees—that’s when I found other people who were doing the same things as I was.”
And then you also found yourself in the fashion and modeling world. How did you develop your sense of style and how do you define it?
“I like when clothes have a sense of humour. With modeling, you’re supposed to always look very polished and perfect, but I like things that are imperfect, and sometimes even a little bit silly. Growing up, my grandmother helped raise me, and she would always tie a polka dot apron around herself, and she would be like, ‘Okay, we’re going to go see the chickens.’ So I like the eclectic—things mixed together that you wouldn’t think go together.”
What about beauty and make up?
“We were definitely not allowed to wear make up when I was young. I remember the first time I put on mascara, I was going roller-skating and there was a boy I liked. A friend gave the mascara to me and showed me how to use it. I put on way too much of it and walked around feeling very glamorous.”
What are the things you consider beautiful?
“I find it beautiful when people are very at home in their bodies, and feel free in who they are. I find aging very beautiful, and have started to be excited to get wrinkly and look forward to grey hair. I also like when people wear things that are different, or do things that are unconventional, but in a way that they’re totally at home in it.”
Is that how you would describe yourself?
“I would describe myself as adventurous, and compassionate, and very curious, and a little bit strange, but learning to be strange in a good way.”
Who: Cat Williams, fashion and lifestyle web producer for ET Canada
Have you always loved makeup?
“Always. I love make up and it’s part of who I am. I also learned the hard way. When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with Avril Lavigne. I would wear all this eyeliner under my eyes—way too much in fact. Luckily I grew out of that. I wake up early just to do my make up. Ultimately, I do it for myself: When you leave the house and you have your make up done, you feel good.”
What makeup trends are you obsessed with now?
“I love contouring and highlighter, which gives you this great dewy glow. More than anything, what I find beautiful is when someone is confident, and that confidence radiates. At the end of the day, it has to start with you.”
Do you think your hair is your signature?
“Someone in my office was joking that Kim Kardashian totally copied my hair! It’s who I am. But growing up I had this horrible bowl cut, it was the worst thing ever.”
If you had to pick one beauty item that is your power, what would it be?
“Mascara. I love having bold lashes. I think it draws attention straight to your eyes, and brightens up the face so much. When I have great lashes, I feel like I’m good to go.”
What are some of your influences, in terms of fashion and beauty?
“For me, it’s a generation of style bloggers. My style has evolved throughout the years and when I see what people are wearing and how they’re wearing it on Instagram—that really influences me. Social media enables you to enhance your already amazing style.”
Does this extend to your friends as well?
“I have a longtime group of girlfriends from high school. We’ve grown up together and we’re all so different, but we compliment each other. We pull from each other. I hear my friends sometimes say, ‘You wore that piece and I went out and got that, or vice versa with me.’ We feed off of that energy. It’s collaborative style. We all have our different voices and we bring that together.”
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