La Fashionista Celebrates First Anniversary While Looking Ahead

July 30, 2014

La Fashionista is a sweet little boutique with a ton of clothing and accessories that'll take you way back!

La Fashionista is a sweet little boutique with a ton of clothing and accessories that’ll take you way back! The window is an ever-changing palette subject to crazy new displays.

by James J. Jefferies

It is a season of swift-moving positive change, particularly for merchants who are used to weathering the slower summer sales in the Downtown Tucson area. There have been enormous boosts in outlook, with all of the infrastructural upgrades and projects to beautify the area, visible in everything from repaved streets to the wide variety of planters that can be seen adorning the walkways along most major thoroughfares. It has given those who have endured very specific reasons for optimistic appraisals of what is to come, given the arrival of the SunLink streetcar.

One year ago, Eleonor Leon started a business that reflected her life’s greatest passion, vintage and retro clothing, at her small boutique known as La Fashionista. Her absolute love of clothing as a gateway to another time, and a powerful vehicle for self-expression, began at an incredibly early age. “My mother used to dress up in costumes for Halloween,” said Leon. “Her and my Dad used to go to estate sales up north. My mother was very hip for the seventies, and we had murals of palm trees and the ocean inside our house.”

An appreciation for aesthetics and a fierce sense of style quickly took root for the young Leon, given her mother’s penchant for taking that extra step, be it for her look, or even when it came to choosing furniture in the house. “Our bathroom felt like an art museum, with this black and white look to it – and a shower curtain featuring Hollywood movie stars,” said Leon. “We had an orange couch.”

Vintage clothes to the left, wigs to the right. This has been the state of La Fashionista since Wig-O-Rama became a partner earlier this year.

Vintage clothes to the left, wigs to the right. This has been the state of La Fashionista since Wig-O-Rama became a partner in space-sharing earlier this year.

You can see evidence of all these impulses between the lines when walking around La Fashionista. There’s miniature art projects galore, small bits of macrame, and even a sonic temple on high above the cash register featuring an 8-track player. This is the environment of someone who has retained an enormous amount of visual input during her time on this planet, and inhaled much from pop-culture in general.

Of course, the trends of thrift-shopping and general worship of all things kitschy and retro would seem to point to a bright future for La Fashionista, who had an eventful first year that saw Leon forge an unexpected alliance with Wig-O-Rama, who found themselves without a home despite their long and storied tenure at their old structurally-embattled historic location nearby.

“I decided to share my space with Wig-O-Rama, and it has been mutually beneficial,” said Leon, as having a partner to help share the rent has certainly helped during the leaner summer season. The wigs have definitely drawn their share of onlookers and people who are operating on the same stylistic wavelength as thrift-store deal hunters.

This intriguing little monument high above the register, replete with Polaroid camera and 8-track player with The Beatles at the ready, is right at home amid Downtown Tucson's fun-but-funky vibe.

This intriguing little monument high above the register, replete with Polaroid camera and 8-track player armed with The Beatles, is right at home in La Fashionista, driving home the fun-but-funky vibe of yesteryear.

That arrangement will soon come to a close when Wig-O-Rama returns home to Congress Street, but Leon remains just as bullish about the future, especially now with the streetcar finally taking passengers along routes that run right by her 6th Avenue shop, nestled directly between Broadway and Congress. Leon also has a brand-new neighbor, Flash In The Past, where a fierce sense of vintage pinup-styled studio photography would also seem to nurture a kindred spirit. “Everything’s changing,” said Leon, “but it all seems to be headed in the right direction.” We couldn’t agree more!

La Fashionista is located at 45 S. 6th Avenue, and you can connect with them via their Facebook page here. If you see the excellent black cat who belongs to the owners, he’s totally friendly.

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