In my year and half of photographing students on campus Anthropology major Keysel Pelaez has easily been my most photographed subject. I first met Keysel when I was saw him walking in front of the Green Library wearing a vintage Koolaid blue shirt and red plaid wool bell bottoms with leather Chukka boots. Even if I hadn’t of noticed his outfit his massive afro is impossible to miss, almost taking on a personality of its own. Since then every time I run into him he has never not had on an almost fully thrifted outfit that always seems to take on a dandy 70s vibe. Recently I got the chance to actually sit down with the famous style star of the FIU campus and dig deeper into understanding his unique style and personality.
You are very well recognized on campus for your style. Do you get approached often about this or do you feel that people are afraid to talk to you?
I’m often approached about it and I really enjoy it because it really works as an ice-breaker. Even the people that approach me negatively, like I’ve been told I’m weird and I enjoy that too because it’s still an icebreaker and I like embracing the negative and the positive because that is how this world works.
The first thing someone see’s is what you present on the outside and that is why I’m so invested in my appearance. My value system values presentation.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around without at least one piece of thrifted clothing on. What got you interested in vintage clothing?
A sort of respect for the old. The fact that I’ve always been into history has a lot to do with it and that I think we can learn from our past and fashion is not different from that. We always build on ideas and fashion does the same thing.
I got really into it by reading. Author Evelyn Wha definitely has influenced me and he had this sort of Oxford England 1920s fashion thing going on that I love. Oh, and German literature, I’ve always enjoyed the Empirical fashion. There are things you can take from that, the feeling, the attitude. It’s the sense of looking good all the time, dandyism. They all had their presentation and I try to maintain good material in my clothing like cool pants, leather shoes. I don’t like mass produced cookie-cutter fashion, I don’t want to look mass produced. And that even goes into my car, a 1972 Beatle. Essentially I want to be simple, trying without trying.
Do you believe there is such a thing as good taste and bad taste?
I think everything has its place. How you go about it is a question of tact and I think there are things that can be tact-less.
Do you have a favorite art movement?
Art Nouveau because it’s about the natural touch of embellishment and extravagant movement that heightens Epicureanism, going ahead and redeeming it with natural qualities is really beautiful to me. Like humanity and nature can exist together and still have fun.
If you could live anywhere at any time where and when would it be?
The Himalayas because it has changed so little in the time that it’s been. I’ve always enjoyed the Buddhist value system and sometimes I need to get away from it all and I feel like the Himalayans are a place I could live forever.
What do you think the difference is between fashion and style?
Fashion would be more like the specific clothing that there is and style is how you put it together. I think everyone has style because it is just about where their values are placed.
Do you think style is an art?
Yes, definitely. Anything that is touched by human hands is an art.