Visual Arts

Studio Visit: Paper Doll

Camille Messina, 24, fashion designer, filmmaker, singer and hairdresser, lives with three roommates, four pets and one creepy mannequin in a quaint Tempe condo.

Favorite art form: I don't know. Fashion comes the easiest. If I haven't done that in a long time, it makes me feel better. Music is really up there, too. I've been doing fashion the longest, but I've been writing since I was really little -- it just never had melody to it.

Résumé: I've shown at the Lodge in downtown Phoenix and monOrchid and Holga's. . . . The next main shows I'll be working on won't be until February. I'm also working on a short film right now, which is taking up most of my time.

When the fashion bug bit: My sister and I, when we were younger, would go to rave parties all the time, and we would dress in these really crazy, elaborate dresses. I think I love being entertained. You're at a party and you see someone who looks like this total character. It's just fun.

Ecstasy, etc.: I did it, but nothing like that ever controlled my life. I drink pretty regularly now, but it doesn't stop me from getting where I want to be. I definitely did my fair share of acid growing up, but all that stuff was just being young and figuring things out and being foolish. I wouldn't change anything.

Her fashion specialty: Couture. And lately everything has been made out of paper. I don't do a lot of things that are the traditional way of going about them. I don't even own a sewing machine. A lot of things are sewn by hand, and a lot of times things are taped together.

What she wears: It's about entertainment when you're in [couture], but at home, as an individual, I'm pretty low maintenance. I like wearing pants and comfortable tank tops.

Favorite fashion era: I like classy '50s style. I don't dress like that, but I like to pick and choose from that.

Runway philosophy: It's a lot of work for five minutes on the stage. It's like, you spend months working on one thing and then the girl goes out and turns around and comes back. Not a lot of gratification.

Favorite accessory: I wear these bangles all the time.

Biggest fashion faux pas: During those whole rave days, some of the worst [outfits] came out. When you're 15 and trying to be eccentric, it doesn't work out so well.

Vices: I don't smoke. I probably drink too much.

Favorite drink: I like to drink beer a lot. I don't like sweet drinks. I like gin and tonic and beer.

Her drifter days: I took a couple years off between high school and cosmetology school. I wasn't really sure what I wanted, but I did know that I wanted more than what I grew up with. I was pretty poor growing up, so I knew I wanted to create a new situation for myself.

What she did with the time off: Nothing. I just worked and made money and spent money and was just being young and crazy. It was fun, but I wasn't really getting a lot done. It was a lot of running. Not running from anything, just running to live. Treading water.

Favorite local hangout: Regularly I go to the Rio Salado on Tuesday nights. Friends of mine DJ there and do live hip-hop.

Strangest possession: Probably my mannequin. I remember the first week I had her. She was in the bedroom, and I woke up in the middle of the night and was like, "Ahhh!" I used to have another one that was more avant-garde shaped . . . but I traded that one for my tattoos.

Tattoos, other than what's on her arms: I have one on the small of my back. It has Japanese characters that say "my father," because he passed away when I was 17 and he used to live in Japan. That one I got in someone's basement when I was 17. That was a little sketchy.

Designing rituals: I usually smoke a little reefer. Other than that, not really. I always work alone, I guess. It's easier that way. You get in a zone.

Fashion is: Self-expression. I really think that that's something that gets left behind in day-to-day life. People just get caught up in making money and spending money and goals and where you're going. You have to balance all that. -- By Ashlea Deahl

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Ashlea Deahl