Most stylish New Yorkers: Vashtie "Va$htie" Kola

The downtown party girl incorporates vintage Chanel accessories into her tomboyish street style.

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  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    "This ensemble recently became my go-to. I'll wear it two to three times in a row. I know, I'm terrible," says Kola. She wears a vintage Northwest Territory flannel shirt purchased for $1 from a Salvation Army store in her hometown of Albany, with an oversize Cheap Monday cardigan from Shop Nasty Gal (nastygal.com). Her Doc Martens are from Karmaloop (karmaloop.com), a company she often works with. These Grey Ant Wax 4 (greyant.com) sunglasses were a gift from co-owner Natalie Levy. "Grey Ant is known for always thinking outside the box when it comes to eyewear."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Kola is often asked if she's willing to sell her Louis Vuitton (1 E 57th St at Fifth Ave; 212-758-8877, louisvuitton.com) Christopher satchel, a limited-edition piece that is no longer available in stores. She received it as a gift.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    "As a kid, I hated that I could never find anything with my name on it, like those cheesy souvenir license plates," Kola says of this charm necklace, which she scored while visiting family in Trinidad. "When I saw this, I had to have it."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Kola adorns her wrists with a stack of gold brass bangles, mementos from a trip to South Africa, and a repurposed vintage Chanel belt. Her vintage amethyst ring was purchased from an estate sale. "I like to imagine that a fascinating older lady wore it in her youth, while drinking martinis and going to the theater with a different handsome beau every night," she muses. Her skull ring often draws comments; it was a gift from Karmaloop, and is part of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean jewelry collection.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    This ensemble reinforces the value of having stylish friends: The vintage YSL men's dress shirt was a gift from a buddy who had outgrown it, while the Supreme leopard-print jacket came from a friendly creative director at the company. Kola keeps the rest of the look simple with Burberry Prorsum (locations throughout the city; visit burberry.com) boots and Wolford (619 Madison Ave etween 58th and 59th Sts, 212-688-4850 * 122 Greene St between W Houston and Prince Sts, 212-343-0808 * wolford.com) tights, her go-to brand for hosiery. "Their pieces last me years, and I swear they're bulletproof," she jokes.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    This three-finger gold ring was a replacement for a two-digit version that was stolen from her at gunpoint. "I loved [that] ring so much. It took me a while to save up for it; I almost didn't hand it over when the gunman demanded it," she recalls. She had her current one made by the same Canal Street jeweler who created the original, and uses all three fingers to hold on tightly to her vintage Chanel purse.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Another vintage Chanel belt finds new life, this time as a military-decoration-style necklace.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Kola purchased her pleated leather skirt on online after seeing a Tommy Ton photograph of a similar item; she pairs hers with a Levi's jean jacket from a vintage store in Albany and a coral cropped top (designed to be worn under a sari), which she bought from Cure Thrift Shop (111 E 12th St between Third and Fourth Aves; 212-505-7467, curethriftshop.com). She finishes off the outfit with a vintage gold-trim quilted Chanel bag.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    These Darcie leopard-print boots were another gift from Karmaloop. "They have a small heel which makes them dressier, but they're as easy to wear as a flat boot."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Although she has no religious affiliations, this former Catholic schoolgirl loves rosaries. This gold version by Jacob & Co. (jacobandco.com) is decorated with yellow, blue, white and pink pav diamonds.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    This vintage Gucci timepiece is an example of how music influences Kola's style: She purchased it on eBay after she got a Schoolly D lyric---"looking at my Gucci it's about that time"---stuck in her head.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    The '90s devotee adores her retro Express (locations throughout the city; visit express.com) leather bomber jacket. "Wearing it makes me feel like I'm in a freestyle group," she jokes. She pairs it with a vintage Balmain printed shirt, which she says reminds her of "the Caribbean islands and old money," from an Albany Salvation Army store. Kola had a friend fit custom five-inch platforms to the soles on her Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, originally purchased from Foot Locker (locations throughout the city; visit footlocker.com).

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    These Levi's shorts were purchased as full-length jeans from the now-shuttered Antique Boutique, and turned into cutoffs when the knees were ripped beyond repair. Every summer, Kola takes them to Pablo Vargas at Stanton Tailor Shop (90--96 Stanton St between Ludlow and Orchard Sts, 212-353-9753) for patching.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    For the self-described "T-shirt and jeans" girl, this everyday look is all about comfort. The tee is part of the Rude Boy Yute collection Kola designed for her line Violette (violettenewyork.com). The inspiration was her West Indian heritage; the graphic on the shirt is the Trinidadian flag. Her slouchy Levi's were a vintage find from Housing Works Thrift Shop (locations throughout the city; visit housingworks.org).

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    This NYC Nike Destroyer varsity jacket was exclusively sold at 21 Mercer (21 Mercer between Grand and Howard Sts, nike.com) back in 2009. "[I got the jacket] for a small campaign shot by Kai Regan, which featured me and a handful of other NYC creatives, like Scott Campbell, Curtis Kulig and Lucien Marc Smith," explains Kola.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    These colorful bangles are another memento from Kola's trip to South Africa, where she sat on a Str.Crd (strcrd.com) discussion panel with other international artists. "I was inspired so much by the culture and history of Johannesburg that I went crazy, buying as many accessories as I could."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    These kicks are another one of Kola's creations, as part of the 2010 Jordan x Violette collaboration (hence the violet hue). The collab was part of the shoe brand's 25th-anniversary celebration; this badass girl holds the distinction of being the first female to ever design a Jordan. "The sneakers mark one of the biggest accomplishments to date for me, going from a kid who couldn't afford Jordans to having your own---unreal!"

Photograph: Marielle Solan

"This ensemble recently became my go-to. I'll wear it two to three times in a row. I know, I'm terrible," says Kola. She wears a vintage Northwest Territory flannel shirt purchased for $1 from a Salvation Army store in her hometown of Albany, with an oversize Cheap Monday cardigan from Shop Nasty Gal (nastygal.com). Her Doc Martens are from Karmaloop (karmaloop.com), a company she often works with. These Grey Ant Wax 4 (greyant.com) sunglasses were a gift from co-owner Natalie Levy. "Grey Ant is known for always thinking outside the box when it comes to eyewear."

Vashtie "Va$htie" Kola (a.k.a. Downtown's Sweetheart), 28; artist, designer and party promoter (vashtie.com); East Village

Her personal style: "Part '90s alterna-girl, part classic tomboy, part downtown debutante with a dash of thug."

Her inspirations: "I draw inspiration from many places, but especially skate culture, the 'hood, masculinity, uniformity, music and film. Anything from a Morrissey lyric to a Nas album to a Bertolucci film or Octavia Saint Laurent from the film Paris Is Burning can inspire me. When I was in art school, I went through a phase where I dressed like the boys in The Outsiders—Wrangler jeans, white tees with the sleeves rolled up. My friends called me Pony Boy."

Favorite stores: "I love Buffalo Exchange (332 E 11th St between First and Second Aves; 212-260-9340, buffaloexchange.com) They are constantly selling and buying, so special finds are always circulating. Search & Destroy (25 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves, 212-358-1120) is such a relic and reminds me of New York when I first moved here in 1999. You can always find the Japanese punk-rocker employees blasting metal and slinging a variety of vintage pieces. Opening Ceremony (35 Howard St between Broadway and Lafayette St, 212-219-2688 * 1190--92 Broadway between 28th and 29th Sts, 646-695-5680 * openingceremony.us) is always filled with amazing brands—from big names to the creative unknowns—and never fails with its collaborations. Oak NYC (28 Bond Street at Lafayette; 212-677-1293, oaknyc.com) has the sleekest array of clothing, and its own signature line is perfection—clean silhouettes meets fashion-forward design. I enjoy fashion most when it's comfortable, and everything it carries is ready to wear."

Her signature item: "For a while, it was my vintage Levi's chambray shirt and then it was my Frye motorcycle boots. I think now it's my vintage denim cutoffs and thigh-highs—I wear them nonstop."

Her favorite local designers: "I absolutely adore my fellow Trinidadian designer Genevieve Jones (genevieve-jones.com). She makes amazing jewelry and bags that represent her edgy and exquisite taste. For fun and stylish eyewear, its Kerin Rose[[PRODUCERS: please link this to the kerin rose slideshow from last year's most stylish]] (kerinrose.com), who was a TONY most stylish New Yorker last year. If I have an event and I need a one-of-a-kind party frock, it's Dominique Auxilly (dauxilly.com). She designs comfortable, stylish, figure-complementing dresses that will have all eyes on you, guaranteed. For creative T-shirts that double as art and make superb gifts, [I go to] Deer Dana (deerdana.com). Design duo Dana Veraldi and Kevin Tekinel create lovely line-drawing portraits of cultural figures like Pablo Picasso, Olivier Zahm, Frida Kahlo and Amare Stoudemire, and print them on shirts. Dee and Ricky (deeandricky.com) make the best accessories that are definite conversation pieces."

Her all-time favorite New York style icon: "I have a lot of favorites—Chlo Sevigny, Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite, Andy Warhol, Q-Tip, John Cassavetes, Lenny Kravitz, Marc Jacobs...too many. If I have to pick one, I'd say Patti Smith. Everything about her art and her style resonates with me. Her look is a perfect balance of masculine and feminine. It's classic, consistent and uniform—all themes that I love in fashion. At first glance, her style might seem lackluster, but I find it daring and strong. She's unapologetic and direct."

How her style has evolved: "My tomboy uniform has stayed consistent, but as I've gotten older, I've been more open to dressing femininely. I was so against makeup and dresses, but I realize that sometimes there is a time and a place for it. Although dressing like a boy is second nature, I find it fun to get dolled up from time to time."

Favorite salon: "I get my curly tresses cut at Warren-Tricomi in the Plaza Hotel (1 W 58th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-262-8899, warrentricomi.com) by Thibault De Monterno. He's been cutting my hair for about seven years. I trust him completely because he's the best, and a good curly cut is hard to come by. When I need a quick bone-straight blowout, I go to see my stylist Rosie Mesias at Bellissimo Hair Spa (223 Mott St between Prince and Spring Sts; 212-431-4936, bellissimohairspa.com). Recently, I was introduced to celebrity stylist Gabi Corney (hairstylist2thestars.com), who is my go-to for events and photo shoots. She's helped me be daring with my hair, adding in clip-ons for volume and drama."

Favorites spas: "For a spa splurge, I go to Great Jones Spa (29 Great Jones St at Lafayette St; 212-505-3185, gjspa.com) for a Swedish massage, where I can also take advantage of its water lounge. If I need a quick fix on a small budget, I go to Keisy (229 E 9th St between Second and Third Aves, 212-253-6171) for an acupressure massage. For facials, it's Mamie's Skin Care Center (30 E 60th St between Madison and Park Aves, suite 208; 212-260-9372, mamiesskincare.com). As I've gotten more into a raw diet, I stumbled into the world of raw facials and discovered holistic healer Monica Watters at Sacred Touch (245 E 60th St between Second and Third Aves; 212-838-3717, sacredtouchnewyork.com). Her raw-facial and reiki treatment is a physical and spiritual release of toxins that will leave you floating on air."

How her style is influenced by her profession: "Being in a creative workspace leaves room for you to be free with your wardrobe. I dress how I choose, which usually centers around being comfortable. I think you can be [just] as productive and successful in sneakers as you can be in a pair of heels. Just dress your personal best and no one else's."

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