Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune is notably quoted as saying – The world changed when fashion instead of being a monologue, became a conversation.
That quote for me sums up the allure that the online holds for me. It encapsulates the power that a blog can have. It is the reason why I am as excited about print as I am by its online building block.
I am of the belief that a good blog creates conversation. It provokes thought and gives you new perspective on something already seen.
One of my favorite blogs is Shala’s Rabbit Hole. Written by Shala Monroque, Creative Director of Garage Magazine (Monroque was formerly Editor-at-large of Pop Magazine), it continually challenges me to thought.
Monroque’s ability is one of all great dreamers; the ability to draw you into their dream, the challenge to think for oneself, the call to imagine without boundary or border.
I was honored to interview Shala on her site, the things that inform it and more.
Her answers are a revelation, it is an honor to share them with you.
1. Hello Shala, thank you for granting with reference to your blog, Shala’s Rabbit Hole. What inspired you to start the site and how would you best describe it to someone who has never had the pleasure of reading it?
I stumbled on blogging when I was the Editor-at-Large for Pop Magazine. When I left I wanted to continue on my own platform and so I created Shalasrabbithole.com. The site is meant to be one of inspiration hence no advertising. I didn’t want it to have any distractions. I’ve been playing around in my head with the idea of randomness for a long time now and that’s a big part of the blog. Like how two things together may not make sense but if you stare at them or think of them next to each other long enough you will come to make it mean something. Often the images have nothing to do with the text, but I juxtapose them based on my feelings, not thought. Really it’s meant to be a glimpse of how things are processed in my head.
2. The name of the blog references Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s Alice in Wonderland. Is this a favorite of yours and how did you settle on the name?
When I started traveling extensively, I often felt like I’d fallen down the rabbithole. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, things were not the way they were supposed to be. One example of this is in the summer months I would go to various art fairs in different cities and in every city I landed in I would see some of the same people. That to me seemed like an odd dream. I think of a rabbit hole, in the way that Lewis Carroll describes it as a sort of black hole, a place that exists in the imagination or memory even, yet maybe only one person can experience it this way. I sought to create my own rabbithole.
3. Yours is a way that is distinctive in its bearing. What is your opinion on the strength of your perspective?
I’m a daydreamer and I’m also very curious, I spend a lot of time digging deeply like a mole through the recesses of my mind. I have lots of memories and I like rearranging them, not necessarily in order. I like to call it “fictitious memory”
4. What to you is the making of a good blog and which ones are you currently reading?
It depends, I mainly troll through fashion blogs, but there are all types of blogs in every field. I think at best a blog is one that constantly creates interesting and unique content. In fashion I like Tmagazine’s blog because it has such broad coverage on fashion, art, design and it’s always news, I especially like its “chic in review” section for its cheek.
Tommy Ton’s Jak & Jil is also at the top of the list. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and it shows in his photographs. That’s really what separates him from all the other street-style photographers, his eye is so sharp he instinctively knows what’s next.
And then I love Tumblr because I love images.
5. You run the gamut of everything from wistful images taken in foreign locale to current day events. All written in that voice unique to you. What informs and inspires your site?
I love art. I love beauty. I love images and words. I think these things form the foundation of the blog.
6. The categories of the blog are so poetic in their being. What is the story behind each; Basin Jamet, The Crystal Tearoom, Tuning In To Josephine and River of Beauty and Youth?
Basin Jamet, is an actual place in the mountains of St.Lucia, the island that I’m from. It’s meant at once to be an inside joke and also a marker. Basin Jamet is a river pool where the girls would go swimming and scream very loudly, basically there they were uninhibited, the true essence of themselves. Sometimes I feel so many restrictions are placed on women, women could never get away with a lot of the things that men do. But there, at Basin Jamet the women did as they pleased, they bathed naked, they got along, they laughed really loud and they didn’t care what anyone thought. A jamet means a loose woman. It was not necessarily a positive word but I like to think of them in a positive way because in my child’s eye, they genuinely seemed happier than women who were tied down to societal conventions.
This category on the blog is a celebration of the freedom of women.
I came up with the name, The Crystal Tearoom whilst dancing at Club Plastic in Milan. There is a room in the club where the ceiling is covered in chandeliers. Whilst dancing and again daydreaming I was thinking that it could be a great place for conversation on any topic and this room would be in the middle of nowhere, a dark hall sparkling with lights and hushed conversation. Since it was probably never going to be a reality I thought well why not make it a place on the blog.
River of Beauty and Youth is an imaginary place as well where beauty abounds.
“…I improvised, crazed by the music…Even my teeth and eyes burned with fever. Each time I leaped I seemed to touch the sky and when I regained earth it seemed to be mine alone.”
I used to have this quote from Josephine Baker on my Pop blog and I thought it to be so powerful. All the odds were against Josephine Baker and yet she had such a powerful sense of self. Imagine, even today if she did what she had done all these decades ago she would still be criticized. But she delved deep, and she brought to the world such a gift that only she could have dug up, and it was so necessary. But it took strength, courage an understanding that isn’t ordinarily found. It is the gift of the artist to go this far.
7. On reading your blog it is seemingly obvious that you are in love with words. Would you say this was the case and if so what is it about them that compels?
Yes I have always loved words. I’m not sure where this love comes from. I tried writing long before I could, and I made up stories from my books based on the pictures when I did not yet know how to read. So eager was I to understand the world. I was also always juggling two languages, English and French Creole and then there was the language in between the broken-English. The little differences were always interesting to me.
8. Everything from the blog name to your story like telling nature of posts encourage readers to think, imagine and dream. How important is this for you?
If you’re not thinking for yourself then you pass over your power to someone else. I do not believe in that. Imagine if Josephine Baker had listened to the people who told her to put her clothes back on. Everyone has the ability to see the world differently, but sometimes we doubt ourselves and just follow the pack, but what of the Steve Jobs’, Barak Obamas, Nicolai Teslas, Nat King Coles? Can you imagine what the world would be like had they not been dreaming?
The whole point of the blog is to inspire thought, imagination and exploration and to dream.
9. What are your thoughts on online as medium?
Well first of all it’s brand new. We’re still grappling with it. I’m not sure what it will grow into but at the moment it has incredible reach and that’s valuable.
10. Shala’s Rabbit Hole is synonymous with?
Many kind thanks to Shala for the interview.