Article by Michelle Rose
Photography by Lauren Wade
After a golden hour fashion shoot with photographer Lauren Wade in beautiful Ascot Hills Park, Spacedust proprietress/clothing designer Michelle Rose sat down with fellow Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Annabelle Freedman for an interview.
In this very dynamic & poignant conversation, a discussion of Annabelle's personal style led to their thoughts on the simultaneous superficiality & depth of the art of dressing; while the topics of gentrification & unhoused issues in the LA neighborhood of Echo Park gave way to Annabelle's insights on the concept of policing – not just as an institution but within each of us.
For this photo series, Annabelle wears Michelle's Nemisis Trousers in Conductor Stripe (styled with their own pieces), and Michelle's Airlock Maxi Dress in Cyberry.
Spacedust also sells an exclusive selection of Annabelle's Hand-Marbled Accessory Pouches.
For a limited time, use coupon code ANNABELLE15 to get 15% off any variety of Nemisis Trousers; any colorway of Airlock Dress; and any of Annabelle's Hand-Marbled Pouches!
Find all of Annabelle's art at their website www.annabellefreedman.com
Watch the interview on our YouTube channel, or read on & view photos from the shoot below.
Michelle Rose: Okay, we are here with Annabelle Freedman.
Annabelle Freedman: Hey.
MR: Tell us about you! Who are you?
AF: I’m a Los Angeles-based musician and clothing designer, and human.
MR: Awesome! Do you want to shout out any specific projects? Tell us about your projects in a little more detail.
AF: I guess with music, I have one project that’s out called “Free Debris” that is a nine-track EP, available on all platforms. I have a handful of other singles that are out at this point, but I’ve also just completed an album which will be coming out this year. With clothing, that’s been a really fun upcycling endeavor – that has been really enjoyable, with marbling, which you know about.
MR: Mm-hmm! I’m very familiar with the marbling. We actually sell some of Annabelle’s pieces at Spacedust!
AF: Yeah, little baggies.
MR: Little accessory pouches.
AF: Yeah! And it’s been nice, especially during COVID times, it’s been nice to think about how to repurpose things that I wasn’t going to be using. All that stuff was actually for a music video, there’s a song called “Little Toes” that’s out, and we had these white, satchel sort of things, I’m not sure exactly what you’d call them, but they were garments that we made that almost look like togas. I didn’t know what to do with all this extra material, so I used that material to dye, which was really fun.
MR: Awesome, I did not realize that! Okay, cool so at Spacedust we have these pouches that are hand-marbled fabric from Annabelle’s music video. That’s so cool on so many levels.
AF: Yeah and shout out Tiberi, who’s the cut and sew artist, who turned those into actual pouches, too. Who’s also really on that tip of trying to minimize the global impact of how much we use.
MR: Yeah, very important.
AF: It’s all extra zippers and stuff that she had, so I feel super lucky.
MR: Yeah! That’s awesome. So, tell us about what you’re wearing today. You have this outfit, which is a little covered right now, because it’s a little bit chilly, but tell us about everything that you’re wearing.
AF: From the bottom up, I got some Docs that were from a Goodwill – very grateful for the situation – they were pre-worn, comfortable. And these pants are one of yours from Spacedust. So comfortable, I love the zippers here and I’m just going to stand for you, too. They have pockets in the back, which is a necessary situation. I remember when I came in, you hemmed them for me, too. You had them long already, and it was like, “ooh, where should they go?” So, the custom length was super lovely.
MR: Yeah, just an extra little bonus.
AF: My sister got these three necklaces for me at the Rose Bowl flea market recently when she was in town, so shout out Ariella, thank you. And this is a hoodie that I always keep in my car. It was getting cold, we did not have this for the photo shoot, but CAPYAC is a group that I work with often. Actually, they were the collaborator for that song “Little Toes” that the music video was made for. They always keep it warm.
MR: Awesome. And you had a little tank top underneath too, and you don’t have to show it, and we don’t need all the details on everything, but I love the way that you also styled that – for some of the shots – with sleeves that came off a vintage dress, I think?
AF: Yeah, the dress was Jess’s, from Moon Honey, Jess Joy. Shout out Jess Joy!
MR: Oh! Okay, cool, all the shout outs.
AF: Exactly. So those sleeves – she was like, “I don’t know what to do with this dress, I never wear it. Do you want it?” I was like, “I don’t really wear dresses that often, personally” – I love them, especially on other people – but I was like, “I will take those sleeves though, ‘cause you were just going to donate them.” They’re kind of cream with black polka dots. You helped me out, pinned them.
MR: That was so cool. I love that you can change your outfit up so easily, just add some sleeves.
AF: Yeah, somebody else made the sleeves. I just cut them off, but I’m down for it.
MR: Yes, well you created the look.
AF: Thank you!
MR: We also got some shots of you in – a dress – but I thought it was a dress that you’d be into.
AF: Yeah, totally.
MR: I’m glad I was right.
AF: It was stretchy and comfortable, and had a massive oversized hood, which was dreamy and perfect. I love dresses for shoots and for things like that, it’s just like during the day, I don’t usually end up – I have a few dresses because I love them, especially long ones. All two of my dresses are long ones, and so with that one, it was like “hell yeah, I’ll go with that.” But it was enjoyable and comfortable as well.
MR: Sweet! Awesome. So can you tell us, since these pants belong to you, can you tell us what drew you to these pants? Well, you did, actually. You did.
AF: Yeah, but – I just really enjoy the stripes. I haven’t seen pants like this, and I felt like they were just so well-made. I was really excited that they could be customizable, but also – the first pair that I tried on fit perfectly.
MR: Yeah, that’s great. And they look awesome on you.
AF: Thank you! So do yours.
MR: Thank you! Yeah, they work well.
AF: I was actually really close to getting those too. I was like, “Oh! Those are also amazing.”
MR: We still have these…
MR: So, is there a way you could describe your personal style? Do you have a phrase or anything, or…?
AF: I don’t have a phrase yet, I’m open to suggestions. I think that my style reminds me of when you get to someone’s house who cooks with nice ingredients, but they are maybe low on the essentials. And they pull together what is going to be a magic moment. I actually really like doing that too, I like cooking at other people’s houses when they don’t know what to make. I feel like my closet is that every day.
MR: So like, scavenging for all the ingredients, and you put it together and it tastes amazing.
AF: Yes, exactly, and because there was discernment – and I actually like the ingredients in my closet. It’s like, someone who had good taste for their pantry to begin with, but maybe they’re low on what they thought the bangers were. That’s my closet.
MR: That’s so cool.
AF: Thank you.
MR: So, for you, where do style and art intersect? I know this is a tough question.
AF: Ooh! No, that’s a good one. It’s wearable art. I think it’s nice, because we are all choosing to wear something every day. And I feel like a lot of people think that fashion is superficial, and I think that just denies that – yes, everything we wear all the time is superficial, and we have the choice to either play with that or not. And also take ownership of what the signaling means to other people, because a lot of times we’re expected already to wear a certain thing in a certain way.
MR: Right. So kind of breaking rules. But also – I love what you just said about – it’s always superficial so let’s have fun with it. Right?
AF: Yeah. It’s literally the top, it’s topical, it’s on top of our skin, but it also serves a function and it can be really comfortable, and it can feel amazing.
MR: And it can be an extension of us.
AF: Yeah. I feel like there have been a few moments when I’ve had conversations with people about how commanding a signifier feels really empowering, and that it actually leads to real connections, too. Even my bandmate, Kofi and I, when we went to South By Southwest a few years ago, there was this one day that Kofi just came looking so fly, and looked so cute, and everybody approached him like, “What band are you in?” – already making the assumption that he’s an artist, which – he is an artist regardless of how he dresses. Much like, I’m an artist regardless of how I dress, but I do think that it paves an easier path for ourselves when we dress in a way that sends signifiers that we’re deliberate about, because we’re already sending signifiers.
MR: I love that! So, what brought you to Spacedust initially? Was it… me?
AF: Yeah! I think it was definitely you, but also I think I first went there for Echo Park Rising, not even knowing that that was your store. I was like, “What? What are you doing here?!” and you’re like, “this is my store, what are you talking about?!” I went a few years for Echo Park Rising, and then I was in there maybe twice when I was walking, pre-COVID times, when I was just like, “Let me peruse Echo Park and see what’s up.” Yeah, it’s been a staple.
MR: What do you love about Spacedust?
AF: Oh, so many things. I love that it has local artists. I love that it’s a really inviting and welcoming space, and that it’s always adapting. I feel like every time I go in there, there’s been growth. That’s so gorgeous to see, because I think a lot of times people get stuck on an initial branding or something, or try to like – “This is what it has to be forever” – and I just love, even the last time I came in, how it was just like “There’s a mural here now!” And it’s like, “Yes! Keep going!” So it feels really adaptive.
MR: Yeah, it is such an extension of me and I’m always changing and growing, so why not the space that I’m creating and inhabiting?
MR: Why do you, personally, feel that it’s important to shop local?
AF: First of all, it’s easy to shop local. Everything’s here! We are so spoiled.
MR: Yeah, you don’t need to reach that far.
AF: No, it’s actually like “I shop local” is a cop-out! Because it’s like, “duh.”
MR: Yeah, shouldn’t that be normal? Almost like, shouldn’t “organic” fruit be the normal fruit?
AF: Right! Like, why do we have other options? I don’t know. Obviously I feel like there are such huge consequences to our planet, so that’s an easy shout-out, like minimize that. Obviously a lot of the resources we have in any shop – there’s really nothing that is consumer-based that’s zero waste, or guilt-free –but I do think that there are better options, and I think that that reduces harm greatly. Even just for transportation of things, it’s like, “go ahead!” And also it’s cool because then you might run into someone that you know, or walking around with a garment that somebody is familiar with, then it’s a point of connection already. I’ve had that happen so many times.
MR: Yeah! So magical. So, what about Echo Park? Do you love Echo Park in particular?
AF: I have so many good memories there. Like, I remember even as a kid in high school – shh, don’t tell – but I would use my fake ID to get into the Echo, oh my god!
MR: What’s the statute of limitations on –
AF: I know, shh! I mean I’m grown now, so… I remember idolizing it as a kid, and I remember also seeing a lot of the pain of gentrification that’s happened there too. So at this point, I have really good memories with Echo Park, and I also have some – like, anything we love there’s room for criticism. Why criticize things you don’t love? I appreciate the residents, I appreciate so much of the music community. I feel like the majority of where I was able to even finesse getting to know people has happened in Echo Park, like Play Like A Girl scene. So many other important, pivotal movements happened there, and continue to happen there, too. It’s everything.
MR: I appreciate your point of view, because you’re right – it’s the wonderful, and it’s the difficult stuff.
AF: Yeah, even with the fence up around Echo Park Lake, there is no Echo Park without also the violence that happens when we displace people. Especially thinking about it now, that’s something that I consider. But I love what it has meant, and I hope that it will continue to honor the people that do live there, whether housed or not.
MR: Yes. Do you have any other specific place in Los Angeles – or environment – that you love to go to, to create or get inspired? Besides a beautiful park?
AF: Yeah, honestly – we’re here!
MR: Ascot Hills Park?
AF: Yeah, here in Ascot Park, I actually hike here two days a week, before work. And whenever else I can. Also Griffith Park, I really appreciate. I would say my home, like shout out wherever you’re at. Honestly that’s where the majority of my writing happens, and most of my work happens there, most of my growth happens there, most of the fall-aparts that are so essential. But also, I think everyone else’s studio, everyone’s home studio or work environment that I’ve been welcomed into has been incredibly formative.
MR: Very cool. Well, I’m glad we got to shoot in one of your favorite places to be. That makes sense. Can you highlight a positive change you’d like to see in the world, and how you feel we can enact this change?
AF: I think an easy positive change would be to abolish the police – now. Like, we could really do that right now. And I think it’s not even just the police as an institution – which, obviously yes – but the police in each other that feels that we have to incriminate or disappear people in order for safety to occur, or for justice. Justice is not punitive. It can’t ever be based in revenge.
MR: It has to be based in healing, and in community. We can’t be ousting people or making people afraid to live their lives.
AF: Yeah, and it just doesn’t work. People are always like, “What about murderers? What about rapists?” It’s like, did [punitive justice] ever stop somebody? And also, okay – we get somebody in this really violent environment after – let’s say it was somebody who was violent – it does’t change their behavior. It’s not restorative in any way. It’s certainly not transformative. So, it’s completely pointless and violent. And if it weren’t for capitalism and the patriarchy, it wouldn’t be happening.
MR: Right, and clearly that’s why it’s a big waste of money and resources.
AF: Exactly, and it’s an environmental calamity too. So I think a lot of these things are tied in. People are often into either environmental justice, or something political, or social justice – it’s put into all these things. But they’re all interacting with each other. The way that we disappear garbage reminds me of how we think we can disappear people. Nothing ever goes away, we have to deal with it all, you know? I don’t know, I guess it’s a lot of things, but I think abolishing the police would be very – that could happen. Think about $8 million a day in LAPD alone! We could use that money, come on.
MR: Yeah, agreed. Well, is there anything else you’d like to say, or to ask me?
AF: I would like to ask you, what do you feel proud of with your shop?
MR: Oh gosh. I feel proud that even in the darkest moments – and when I say that I’m kind of like, it’s just a shop, “darkest moments,” whatever –
AF: But you care about it, so yeah.
MR: There have definitely been moments where it’s been such a struggle that I – and it’s a struggle on my psyche because it’s very personal to me, and I wouldn’t do something that is not personal to me. But I would say that I’m proud of having envisioned the alternatives for my life, and having still come back to it. And it’s reassuring to myself, that you know what, this is the best-case scenario for my day-to-day, at least for right now, in my life. I can always decide not to do it, I can always change my life, but I’m really enjoying it now. I’m proud to be filling it up with more clothing, too, and to have friends shopping and wearing my clothing, and to see them in my clothing is so cool.
AF: Yeah, and it’s growing so much, too. I feel like the way that the shelves have so much of your own line, too, is just so admirable. Seriously, I’m glad you’re proud of that, because I’m proud of you for that.
MR: Thank you. Awesome! Thanks for chatting with me today.
AF: Thank you! Appreciate you.
MR: I appreciate you!