When Gretchen Röehrs graduated in 2012, she moved from her dad and mom’ rural Missouri home to California with $20 to her title. She slept on a buddy’s couch in Palo Alto and wrote “lovely letters” to Apple, Google and different digital behemoths, on the lookout for a job. She had studied trend design however not lengthy into her diploma realised it wasn’t for her. It was whereas she was an intern at Vogue in New York that she had a fair greater revelation. “I was working on vogue.com, and discovered that you can translate something so rich in print into something even more beautiful online.” That was the purpose, she says, when she fell in love with digital.
But Silicon Valley wasn’t as welcoming as she’d hoped. “Vogue means nothing out here,” she laughs. “Most people see fashion as frivolous and feminine – it’s so frustrating. But I thought, I’m going to make them care about it.”
The solely firm to answer to her letters was a buying app referred to as Shopkick. Röehrs took a job there and moved to San Francisco. “It’s much cheaper than Palo Alto, which I found culturally vanilla, not very stimulating.” Six years later, she has simply joined Rothy’s, an organization that makes girls’s sneakers from recycled plastic bottles, as artwork director. But it’s the modest fame she’s discovered on-line that has propelled her profession in a means she by no means anticipated.
Röehrs lives in Hayes Valley, an inventive, inventive neighbourhood of San Francisco. It was as soon as partly lined by an elevated motorway, the Central Freeway, which was critically demolished after an earthquake in 1989. Almost in a single day, Hayes Valley was reworked right into a bustling, walkable a part of city. Its highly effective residents’ affiliation has banned almost all chain companies, leading to an inevitable imbalance: you may come out for a deconstructed classic shift costume however not a pint of milk. “It’s wonderful: no Starbucks, and so many great independent shops,” says Röehrs, “but it’s impossible to find a good grocery store.”
The fashionable, three-storey residence constructing the place she lives together with her accomplice, Jeremy, and their 2 canine is in-built a spot the place the freeway as soon as stood. Inside, it’s a heat jumble of antiques, books, artworks and crops – the latter one thing of an obsession – that belie the trendy environment. The giant canvases, principally portraits in oil, are by Röehrs. “I haven’t sold a single one, so our home serves as a pop-up gallery.”
A floor-to-ceiling bookshelf is artfully messy, with titles displayed in any respect angles. Next to it’s an industrial gray wall – truly a cement help beam left naked. An Eero Saarinen oval eating desk is from Craigslist, surrounded by mismatched classic chairs and stools. “I love colour and excess. I’m the complete opposite of a minimalist,” she says. Most of the antiques within the residence are Jeremy’s. “He’s from a classical home, and had a proper upbringing with real silver and china,” she smiles. “We have a lot of heirloom pieces from his family.”
A beforehand “dark, dead hallway” now has a well-lit gallery cling of art work – a mix of buddies’ items, pictures by Jeremy, and Röehrs’ personal “scribbles” and work. Plants are all over the place, together with a pair of magnificent fiddle-leaf figs standing watch over the couch. “I know they’re going out of style, but they’re so beautiful,” she says. “I’m making an attempt to copy a jungle in our residence. I find yourself making my approach to Flora Grubb (the one plant store in San Francisco you want to know) and getting one other plant. We take care of our crops and canine as in the event that they have been our youngsters.”
A pair of floor-standing globe lights by the couch are from Target. The couple’s bed room is painted – partitions and ceiling – a deep blue, which offsets a mid-century sideboard and outsized mirror. “It feels like I get to tuck into a velvet envelope every night,” she says. The solely factor lacking from dwelling is a few outside house. “I would happily exchange an organ or two for a backyard. Even a terrace.”
While adjusting to life on the west coast, Röehrs began to create doodles in idle moments at work: whimsical line drawings of ladies, photographed sporting actual fruit and greens as a substitute of garments. A romanesco kinds a full skirt, a cluster of sprouts is a cocktail costume, a pair of bananas is a memorable trouser go well with. “They were inspired by the bounty out here,” she says. “I just couldn’t believe you could buy tomatoes and blackberries in January.” As a taunt to her contemporary produce-deprived buddies on the east coast, she began to submit them on-line. “People began liking and sharing them, and then through no action of my own, they went mad,” she says. To her shock, Rizzoli has printed a quantity of her drawings, and Röehrs has created a sticker app on iTunes referred to as Chic Eats. “There’s no great secret to them – they’re easy to understand, and they make people smile.”
With the success of her “edibles” and her new job, “which is finally, properly in fashion”, Röehrs appears like life is beginning to settle into place. “Growing up, I always wanted my surroundings to reflect who I am. Now they finally do.”
• Edible Ensembles: A Fashion Feast For The Eyes, by Gretchen Röehrs, is printed by Rizzoli priced at £18.95.
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Hannah Booth from theguardian.com