Words: Vanessa S Miranda
From rebellious French teenager to a good girl shaking up L.A’s fashion and film scene, Juliana Sorelli is an intriguing and fascinating woman, as electrifying as her signature cat drawing. As we exclusively launch her new film for her fashion label, The Hollywood Savage Society , we also discover how making clothes and shooting stories can come together as part of a particular way of seeing the world.
You were born in Paris but decided to move to Los Angeles. They seem to very contrasting places – the classic elegance of the French streets clashing with the eclectic Hollywood social scene. How did this happen?
I came here for the first time on vacation, at the time I was 18 and dropped out of art school in Paris, so I had a whole year free. After a week of being in America, I called my mother and told her I wanted to move here. She called back 15 minutes later and said if I went to school, then it was a deal. To this day, I have no idea why I made that decision, there was nothing here for me at all, I had met no one and done nothing at all! I just wanted to get away from all the more traditional European stuff, before that I had tried to move to Hong Kong but that was the year of that horrible bird flu. Now, nine years later, it all makes sense, but back then, it was almost idiotic!
First and foremost you are a filmmaker, but you also studied fashion and ended up owning a cult clothes shop & art gallery. Do these passions work together?
Yeah, the fashion side kind of just happened to me. I did go to school for it, because that was part of the agreement of me moving here. After I finished school, I swore to myself to never do anything with fashion, so I picked up interest in film and started doing that. Then, years later, I started to expand what I was making and it quickly developed into having a clothing line and a store. But all of it is related, they are different ways to express my interests. I always make everything for myself first, so the clothes are made because I want to wear a suit or I want a velvet coat etc. Same with the films, I always make something because I want to see it. These different things really feed each other. Like layers: you think of a look, you make the clothes, the look makes you think of a character and you make a small film with that weird character wearing the clothes. Now that I closed the store, I have more time to do videos and other content as well.
For a long time your shop didn’t had a name, just a logo of an electrified cat. What’s your relationship with the animal?
I really love cats and actually all animals, but to be completely honest, there was no thought about it at all! I just thought it was a funny drawing. I first did it for a poster of my film about a phony Hollywood psychic called Madame Le Chat! And now it’s been 3 years, I put it on everything! Everybody likes that cat it’s so nice, and some people even got it tattooed!!
You have your own clothing line, The Hollywood Savage Society. How did you get into fashion design and how would you describe the brand?
I started getting clothes made for myself because I couldn’t find what I wanted. So it really started with clothes for me, then people would ask if they could buy it at the store, so I decided to develop it into a clothing line. We were very lucky with it too; right away, we had these beautiful big articles about it and were selling the inventory pretty fast. So it kept growing that way, I still design for myself so I’m really not following any of the buying seasons etc… These days, I’m really into more tailored glamour outfits so everything has to be made to order.
Tell us about a project you are working on right now?
Right now, I just finished making the new clothes for Hollywood Savage Society, so I´m making a series of small videos, ‘mystery murder glamour’ vibe, with the clothes. I also started working for Linda Ramone, doing design and coming up with ideas with her for Johnny’s legacy. That’s very exciting and inspiring as well!
Here at Puss Puss Magazine, we’re exclusively launching one of those videos for Hollywood Savage Society. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind it and about the star of the video, the ‘Monte Carlo’ suit?
My inspiration were the old-school Parisian fashion shows, when it was all about just the clothes, no gimmick just a very elegant and sophisticated show. For the second part, I love all the 70´s murder and crime dramas. If I had a big budget to do it, it would have been an episode of Columbo designed by Yves Saint Laurent and captured by Chris Von Wangenheim. The suit is my favourite piece I have made at the moment; it’s all made out of heavy silk charmeuse, which is the most ‘lounge’ chic fabric. It feels like you are in a pair of luxurious pyjamas, but because it’s so tailored and the fabric is so heavy, you still look very dressed up and elegant.
There’s a certain punk-rock aesthetic to your store, your style and even in your short-movies. Do you identify yourself with the movement?
I certainly do! I love it, I spent a lot of time working with Brad Elterman on the band The Runaways, and we did two exhibitions together. Then I did another show with Donna Santisi who had made the cult punk book Ask The Angels. And now I’m working with Linda Ramone! But the thing that I always thought about punk is that a big part of it is some kind of natural state of mind. Like, if you want something, you can’t help but just go ahead and make it happened-type-of-thing. So I always felt like that, I always had that spirit, even when I didn’t know a thing about bands and all that. I think that’s the most important thing about it, not the look or the sound, just some kind of attitude that some people have. I think the aesthetic just came from that. Punk can be in a lot of things from different eras to me!
What’s next for Juju and the Evil Rock N Roll Cat?
I have no idea but I hope its fun, dramatic and full of glamour! I´m always down for whatever!