Marie M. Lodi, AKA Agent Lover, is a real dream boat. Born and raised in Southern California, she spent her younger years indulging in ’80s and ’90s pop culture, and now spends her time keeping up her website AgentLover.com, writing for ROOKIE, brunching with pals, and making her delicious cake hats. She has great bangs, a wicked dress collection, and an amazing sense of humour. Agent Lover talked to WORN about baby hoodrats, Latina girl gangs, teenagers on the internet, and where she finds style inspiration (anywhere and everywhere).
How would you describe your personal style?
1960s Satanic French schoolgirl with just a touch of baby hoodrat.
Do you ever imagine yourself looking completely different than you do now?
My hair has been every kind of colour, so my days of abusing it with bleach and dye are over! I don’t think my hair will be anything else but dark. As for the bangs, I do wonder if I will let myself look like geriatric Bettie Page or if I will eventually grow them out. Only time will tell! As for the clothes… ALL BETS ARE OFF! I might be wearing velvet assless chaps tomorrow, who can say?
When did you start making your Cake Hats, and what was the inspiration?
About four years ago, I did a photoshoot at Madonna Inn. It was a Marie Antoinette-ish, tea party-theme, so naturally I wanted to wear a cake on my head! I found a fake cake at a craft store and attached ribbon to it and that was that. Afterwards, my friends Emi and Nate suggested I should just make my own cake hats. Now, whenever I have a crazy idea in my head, these two are the geniuses who help me figure out how it will come to fruition. After some experimenting and my dad’s culinary knowledge (he’s a chef), the Cake Hats were born!
It seems like you’ve tried to work almost anything into a hairpiece or hat—is there something you’ve been dying to work into some headwear and haven’t had the chance to yet?
Oh man, I think I have covered almost everything! I’ve done huge gold insects, sea creatures, pizza, fruit… and there was this hat that looked like lips with a cigarette sticking out that Emi made for me me, based on a vintage photo a friend had sent. I do love me some food themes so a taco and burger hat are definitely in the future! Maybe a book-themed hat? I will need a library function to go to, of course. The ultimate creation will have to be a hat with a little me on it, wearing a hat with a little me on it, and so on and so on. IMAGINE!
If you were to dress like a piece of food what would it be and what would the outfit look like?
Well, I was pizza for Halloween and I do have a corn on the cob costume! Again, I’m sure those aren’t the last of food-themed outfits in my life!
You share a few of the Wornettes’ love for John Waters, and that comes as no surprise considering your mastery of a deliciously cool and tacky style. What do you love so much about John Waters?
He is so great, isn’t he? I remember LOVING Crybaby and Hairspray when I was a kid, then in high school I got into the less mainstream ones like Polyester and Female Trouble. I only surround myself with good-hearted and intelligent perverts, so I just think he and I would get along really well. I wish there was a book called “365 Days With John Waters” where I could read his wise words on the regular like they are daily affirmations.
What attracts you to vintage shopping?
To start, I think a lot of the clothes back then were made better. These days, you get a cardigan at Forever 21 and it turns into a ball of string after one wash. I also love the look and style of the older eras and would rather wear something that makes me look like a 1970′s librarian than a beige Kim Kardashian bandage dress. I just feel the old things are more soulful, if that makes sense. Although, let me be clear, if I randomly feel like wearing a bandage dress tomorrow, I WILL AND NOBODY CAN STOP ME! (It definitely wouldn’t be beige, though.)
There’s a lot of teen girl culture floating around your blog, whether it be your obsession with valley girls or your recent interview with Francesca Lia Block. You also write for Rookie. What are your thoughts on teenage girl culture today?
This is something I actually think about often. Teenagers these days literally have the world at their fingertips. They are exposed to so much more information than I was so it makes me wonder what the ultimate effect will be. For instance, if you hear about anything—let’s say a band that you think is interesting—in mere minutes you know their history, what artists influenced them, what other bands sound like them, who they dated, etc. When I was a teenager it wasn’t so easy! It was all magazines, movies, and word of mouth. I remember the very first time I heard No Doubt, it was when I watched Clueless at the movie theater. I was like, “OH MY GOD, WHO IS THIS!?!?” There was some sort of magic in that, you know? So I wonder, do teens today get bored and jaded a lot faster because of the constant, endless, super-speed flow of information? But on the other hand of this double-edged sword, this readily available information can be so educating and wordly! I get impressed (and intimidated) by what some of these teens are talking about. All I cared about back then was making out to Marilyn Manson and watching Gregg Araki and Troma movies! There’s so much going on these days though, of course they have to be well-informed! On the THIRD hand (hehe) I think about if you were to make one stupid mistake online… it will be on the Internet FOREVER… so that’s scary too! I thank the Universe all the time that the internet wasn’t around when I was a crazy teen. I guess it’s hard being a teenager no matter when you are/were one.
You wrote a fascinating post about creating Chola style. Besides the personal connection to this style (your anecdote about your cousin had me smiling), what do you love so much about the look?
Well first of all, I LOVE the movie Mi Vida Loca, which is about young Latina women growing up in gang culture in Echo Park. Huge, huge influence. Really though, it’s just a Southern California thing. It’s such a part of the culture growing up. As for the look, you always have to appreciate someone who understands that makeup is a form of ART… and Cholas definitely do. I learned a few makeup tricks from some homegirls in junior high.
Dress obsessed: Do I dare ask… do you have a favourite? What makes a great dress?
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child! My current favorite is a striped black and blue Betsey Johnson dress. I wore it the other day with neon yellow socks and a bun with a bow on the top. I felt like a waitress from Earth Girls Are Easy. I love that dress because it’s comfortable to wear and accentuates my curves. That’s what makes a good dress for me—something that complements my body that I can also move easily in… in case we need to make a run for it. I also love a dress with versatility—something I can wear with boots or high heels.
Do you have a dream dress?
Uh oh… I can go ON and ON with this question, girl! I I have always been obsessed with the Marjan Pejoski dress that Bjork wore to Cannes in 2000, as well as this pleated peach dress she wore to the 2005 Venice Film Festival, whose designer is not listed anywhere! Because of those two looks of hers, I subconsciously flock towards coral dresses and ones with flowy pleats. I once found a vintage dress that is somewhat a combo of the two that I actually wore on the shoot we did for this interview! I also still adore the dresses from both Luella and Moschino Cheap and Chic Spring ’10. And I’d love all of Anna Karina’s dresses from Une Femme est une Femme and Pierrot le Fou.
You started Agent Lover on Livejournal. What was it like turning something so personal into a website? What’s different? What’s the same?
When my friend Klaus convinced me to switch to my own site, I knew I had to do things differently because “the public” wasn’t going to get my weird posts about going to Las Vegas wearing Hulk Hogan masks along with my weird made-up slang and inside jokes. I first focused on fashion and shopping which evolved into outfit posts. After a while of finding my vibe, I started incorporating my 80′s and 90′s pop culture knowledge. When it comes to clothes, I have always been more influenced by a character in a movie than Fashion Week so I naturally progressed into talking a lot about that too. Now I think it’s a good mix of everything I like and strangely enough, the stupid slang I have always said is now understood and is also said by my readers! I basically feel like my blog is one big slumber party where we can all bond over things and say, “Oh my god, you remember that too?!?” A Rie-Rie’s Playhouse, if you will.
You had a really inspiring stay in Tokyo. What was the biggest fashion surprise you stumbled upon?
I loved how nobody seemed to bat an eye at anything when it came personal style. We saw everything from punks to goths to Little Bo Peeps to “normal people” who would be the most stylish people ever if they were in America. Everyone is effortlessly chic there. Here in the States, there will be at least one person staring at you if you are wearing hot pink knee socks and some grapes on your head. What’s the big deal? I’m just trying to live my life! UGH, TAKE ME TO TOKYO WHERE I BELONG.
Who are your top five fashion superheroes?
Betsey Johnson has always been my favorite designer. There never has been and never will be anyone else like her. She has had such a fascinating life, and she cartwheeled her way into the fashion world with her colorful, wild clothing. Mona May is the costume designer behind Clueless which obviously started everything for many of us. She also did the costumes for Romy and Michelle and the MTV show Just Say Julie, which brings me to Julie Brown. Did you see what she wore to the Earth Girls Are Easy premiere? It was a tight white dress with a wire hem. It looked like a UFO! So incredible! And then there is Bjork who I’ve already talked about. I just love people who don’t give a F and take risks. Nowadays everything is orchestrated by a stylist, WHICH IS FINE… but it was just a bit more interesting and raw back then. And finally, the late Chicano singer Selena Quintanilla, who is sitting on a bedazzled moonbeam up in heaven looking down on all of us. She inspired my love for sequin bras and big gold earrings.
text by Jenna Danchuk
photography by Lisa Kannakko