As a writer, creative mind, NYC local, and lover of all things hauntingly beautiful, we knew that Christina Grasso (A.K.A. @thepouf) would make the perfect next design partner. Christina has a habit of making the everyday romantic and opulent— which is exactly what we wanted to bring forth in her new capsule of vintage-inspired Cat Eye frames. Christina x APERÇU features eight colorways, including four variations of a black silhouette for those who also love the classics but have an appreciation for the finer details. Each frame in the collection has a special meaning to Christina, so we figured we'd sit down to get a little more insight on the design process as well as delve into the world of all things 'The Pouf'!



What was your biggest inspiration when developing the design? How did you decide on the shape and color palette?

I find a lot of inspiration in old film, specifically film noir. I knew I wanted to do some sort of cat eye, both because I think it suits most face shapes, and because it has a certain timelessness to it. After pulling several references, mostly from the 60s, and doing a few rounds of edits, I felt like we were able to nail what I was envisioning.

As far as the color palette, I knew I wanted to go with the classics: black, tortoiseshell, off-white. I also wanted a few different variations of black to encapsulate different moods. As a former dancer, ballet pink has always been a color I've gravitated toward, and I've always loved red as an accent, be it red lipstick or red sunglasses. It feels very old Hollywood. And finally, the black and white pair were a reference to my closet, which is pretty evenly half-black and half-white. These particular frames have a mod feeling to them, which I love, and I've always loved mismatched socks, shoes, gloves, etc. They're different and a little unexpected, and a really fun piece.

We know it’s difficult to choose just one, but if you had to wear one pair from your capsule every day, which one would it be and why?

This feels like picking a favorite child! But I'd probably say the Nicks. Since I wear mostly black every day, they certainly match my wardrobe, and I love that the amber lenses make them suitable for indoor wear, also. 

When shooting the campaign for this collection, what was the main mood/message you wanted to convey in the images? 

It was really important to me that the images conveyed a cinematic quality and told a story, and with that, carried a certain depth. It's something that's difficult for me to articulate, but I know it when I see it. It was also very intentional that the "set" was the Hotel Chelsea. Given the Hotel's long history and association with so many prolific artists, it felt like a perfect backdrop to the frames, inspired by old film and named mostly after artists, musicians, and writers. I feel really lucky and grateful that the Hotel allowed me to shoot there, a place where the halls echo with endless stories, and these photos feel very special to me.


What’s the most sentimental fashion item in your closet and what’s the story behind it?

You'd be hard pressed to find an object or article of clothing in my home that doesn't have some sort of story or meaning behind it–I'm very sentimental, and (unfortunately) I keep everything.I bought a Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 in Paris when I was 19 with money I'd saved up from lifeguarding and ice cream scooping (my first jobs), and I think it was the first designer piece I ever owned. I wore that bag to death, and now the patina is beautiful and the shape is super slouchy, which I love. I'll hold onto it forever.

I have a checkered trench coat by Oscar de la Renta that is very special to me. I worked at Oscar in PR at the start of my career, and I was lucky to acquire this coat at the end of my time there. It was part of the final collection he did before he passed away.

When I was 14, I fell in love with a strand of Chanel pearls that I saw in the window of a Chanel boutique in Chicago and swore they would be mine someday. When I was in Paris for my first Chanel show a few years ago, I bought the pearls at 31 Rue Cambon. They signify a dream come true in more ways than one.

Lastly, I have the original black sheep sweater that Princess Diana made famous. My Mom has always loved her (as have I!) and bought it in the 1980s shortly after Diana was seen wearing it, and gave it to me a few years ago. I don't really wear it as I want to preserve it, but it means a lot to me.

What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion and content creation? 

I wanted to work in fashion from the time I was very little, before I even knew what that would entail. And "content creation" as we know it didn't exist then, of course, but the concept surely has in different ways since the beginning of time. I thought I'd become a magazine editor, but honestly what I do now is pretty close to that in an evolved form.

I come from quite a creative family: my paternal grandfather was a photographer and my maternal grandfather was an interior decorator and a professional singer. My mom was the one who really fostered a love for the arts in myself and my siblings, and for me that manifested in a love for photography, fashion, art history, and writing. 

I had a Tumblr in college, and then a blog, which eventually evolved into an Instagram. I'm from a small town and had no family connections, and have built my career from scratch. I started doing little brand deals in 2015 while also working full time in fashion. A lot of people don't know that I worked in editorial and PR for over a decade before transitioning to full-time content creation, which happened both organically and as a result of being laid off during the pandemic. But those years of traditional work experience taught me everything.

I feel really lucky that my work is my passion and vice versa–even if that means having a slightly unhealthy work-life balance and a strange, emotional connection to everything I do for a living. Not many people can say that, and I'll never take any of it for granted.


You notoriously shoot stunning self-portraits for many of your campaigns- could you tell us a bit about how you prepare and create a story through the images?

I started taking self-portraits on a tripod in my childhood bedroom when I was 14. Everyone thought it was pretty weird (to be fair, it was), but it's funny that it kind of foreshadowed what I now do for a living. Part of it is born from practicality: I live alone, and find it's usually most convenient to simply photograph myself when needed. This was also a necessity during the pandemic when I turned to content creation as a full-time job. 

In doing so, I've found that, as someone with a strong creative vision, it's easier to get the shot myself than try to explain it to someone else. And I love that this enables me to tell a story through my own lens, my own gaze, and no one else's. Working with a photographer can be a huge energy exchange, and requires a sense of vulnerability. If there isn't a connection, or if, as the subject I feel uncomfortable, this will be evident in the photos. I typically feel most empowered as both the photographer and the subject.

I also have a hefty book of references from which I'll lightly take inspiration, but I usually get the most ideas as I work and go from there. It's not the most streamlined way, of course, but so far, it's served me well and for that I'm very grateful.

What’s your favorite way to practice self-care?

To be honest, my approach to self care is pretty basic and uninspiring, and I'm not the greatest at it. I try my best to get enough sleep (I never do), drink enough water (it's not going well), and have always been very protective of my alone time. Especially given the social nature of my job, I can only function optimally if and when I've had enough time to recharge. I love going on a long walk with classical music or a funny podcast to get out of my head. And yes, I'm very diligent about my skin-care routine, but in terms of self care I think that's just a cherry on top.

What’s something you never leave your apartment without?

My friends would tell you that, based on the contents of my bag, I am always prepared for an alien invasion or God knows what else. Somehow I manage to fit lip balm, lipstick, keys, AirPods, my wallet, gum, a phone charger, some sort of snack, facial mist, Boy Brow, a Moleskine and pen, a mini hair brush, hand sanitizer, Chanel hand cream, a compact mirror, perfume samples, a lint roller, SPF, and sunglasses (of course). It's a little excessive, but you just never know! I hope that, wherever she is, Mary Poppins is proud.


What fashion trend do you want to see a comeback of?

Rather than the reemergence of a specific trend, I'd love to see more people embrace and experiment with personal style. While social media can be a great tool for self expression, the algorithm tends to reward trend-based content and style which, naturally, discourages and perhaps impedes the development of personal style and the expression of it. Personal style is a constant evolution, but I think by heavily allowing trends and constantly looking to others to dictate the way we dress, we can miss out on the joy and creativity of taking a risk or assembling an outfit that feels truly personal. 

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences since co-founding your nonprofit dedicated to eating disorder advocacy in fashion and entertainment, The Chain? 

The Chain has now been active for seven years, and everything we do feels super rewarding and meaningful. The knowledge that I've been able to even help one person in the smallest of ways is the honor of a lifetime. Recently, I had the opportunity to advise on Brittany Snow's latest project Parachute, a film which addresses eating disorders, and that was such a cool experience. And at the end of this month, I'll be speaking at the UN for World Eating Disorders Action Day, an opportunity I could have never imagined. Sometimes doing this work feels like screaming into the void, and other times it feels like we're actually making a difference. Either way, I am humbled to be a voice for others, and grateful for the platform that allows me to do so.

As a writer and creative mind, what’s your best advice for someone who’s feeling creatively uninspired?

My best advice would be to get offline, easy as it is to doom scroll. I often find myself in a creative rut, and I think this happens when I subject myself to too much digital noise or pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing. In doing so, it's easy to lose sight of one's own vision. I rarely find creative inspiration on social media, and often find it in the most unexpected places: tassels on a window treatment, small architectural details, rainy days, hands in Renaissance art. Old films, 90s runway shows and editorials, museums, and photography books are also among the many places from which I intentionally seek inspiration.  But I do think creativity comes in spurts and doesn't always arrive when you need or want it to–I've never been able to create good art under duress.

Could you tell us a hidden talent of yours that many wouldn’t suspect upon meeting you? 

This isn't really a talent, but I have a very wry sense of humor–I'm pretty shy, so I'm not certain this always comes across–and I am also quite a peacekeeper. Additionally, I am really good at making wine disappear at a party and can do a mean backbend. Catch me at the right time, and perhaps I'll do both at once.

Do you have any books or movies that piqued your interest lately?

So many, but I do wish I were a more disciplined reader, as it takes me forever to finish a single book. I've always been this way. But I love anything by Patti Smith, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Annie Ernaux, Olivia Laing, and Joan Didion. I read Faith, Hope, and Carnage by Nick Cave last summer–it's easily digestible as it's written in short-interview format, and it's an excellent read on creativity and grief. Right now, I'm reading a book about Anne Boleyn (may she rest), and Holy Feast and Holy Fast, an old, out-dated book about the religious significance of food to medieval women. They're both kind of really interesting and really boring, but I always like to feel like I'm actively learning.

As far as movies, I'll always love Girl, Interrupted; Interview with the Vampire; The Virgin Suicides; Devil Wears Prada; The Beguiled; The Craft; Death Becomes Her; The Parent Trap, and The Addams Family.

And I find so much inspiration in the graininess and cinematography of old film: The Hunger, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Belle de Jour, Daughters of Darkness, Cinema Paradiso, and The Red Shoes, to name a few. I can watch them without sound, and still every frame is so artfully done in a way modern film rarely portrays.


What is your guilty pleasure at the moment? 

 Buffy the Vampire Slayer, true crime, and fragrance. 

What’s a quote that holds a lot of meaning for you?

As my career is one that necessitates constant growth, and growth is usually uncomfortable, I often find myself in situations in which I feel fear, anxiety, and/or some level of imposter syndrome. I always come back to something that Joan of Arc said: "I'm not afraid, I was born to do this." Given the context in which she said this, I realize it's a bit dramatic to apply it to, say, walking into a fashion show, but it always helps me feel a bit more grounded and empowered.

 We are so excited to introduce Christina's collection to the lineup and we hope you are, too! Be sure to grab your favorite (or a couple) to add to your timeless and treasured collection. 🖤


May 21, 2024