On a campus of oversized T-shirts and Nike shorts, Gabriela Herstik stands out.
The self-proclaimed “death queen” has half her head shaved, frequently wears all black and carries around a purse decorated with three pentagrams and the word “witch.” To her, an outfit isn’t what you throw on 10 minutes before your 8:30 class, but a material representation of who you are. Fashion isn’t a hobby — but what she breathes.
The fourth-year fashion merchandising student started her blog, www.breathingfashion.net, when she was in 10th grade. Though her blog was originally a place for her to write about designer collections and avant-garde trends, it's evolved into something more personal.
Herstik grew interested in the occult around the same time she started her blog. Her exploration of fashion and spirituality occurred in tandem, but it took awhile before she understood how they worked together. In describing herself, Herstik speaks of her soul style. “Fashion is the last layer in completing who I am,” she says. “It’s a physical manifestation of what my soul would look like.” This comes out in an editorial way on her blog where she has a series of outfits inspired by Tarot cards.
In everyday life, it means owning her witchiness through wearing mostly black, high heels and her signature red lipstick — Lady Danger by MAC.
She has some real experience under her probably vintage belt: a semester at the London College of Fashion and an internship with designer Rick Owens. Her blog is more of a medium for her to express her ideology of being a death queen.
Herstik defines this as “a woman who owns transformation.” Herstik’s favorite Tarot card, the death card, represents transformation. “Change is an inevitable part of life,” she says. Through embracing the death card, she embraces change, a necessary skill in a field as fast-moving as fashion.
Some of Herstik’s favorite designers include Valentino, Simone Rocha, Alexander McQueen and Ann Demeulemeester. She admires Vivienne Westwood, the punk movement and how they used fashion to portray their ideals.
“Fashion’s always been a revolutionary part of how we show ourselves to the world,” she says.