Sticky cotton candy, glittery seats, bright lights, dirty creeps; the trashy pleasures of a carnival. Nothing celebrates home town tradition like the arrival of an old school carnival, a timeless staple of classic Americana. I have always found the rides, the food trailers, the vibrant colors, the sounds and the smells of a carnival to be beautiful and intoxicating. It’s a place of simple pleasures filled with the people from every nook and cranny of town, not just the “beautiful people”.
I have found fashion inspiration in carnivals for as long as I can remember to create a look that celebrates the playfulness, color and grit that goes inside and behind the carnival grounds. As we drift into Autumn, I wanted to create a “Farewell to Summer” celebration, with a Summer Fashion Finale at a carnival.
Growing up in the Chicago area, “Windy City Amusements” is the name we all recognize when it comes to carnivals. Because it was late in the summer when I put this shoot together, I was lucky to find a carnival for the Barlett, IL Heritage Days put on by the locally beloved, Windy City Amusements!
I teamed up with my good friend (and favorite photographer), Antony (Tony) Caldaroni, to shoot these looks with Chicago model, Nicole S. in the carnival’s full glory. Long story short, I ended up having terrible food poisoning the day of the shoot, so while I was dying in my car in the parking lot, the crew made it all happen! Tony and his wife, my dear friend Beth, Nicole, and my bestie/MUA, Mondana V., took charge and brought my vision to life in an incredible shoot! I could not have done it without these amazing people! They rocked it! I hope you enjoy these beautiful photos as much as I do!
Nicole made the perfect “carnival cutie” as she played the role of the “small town sweetheart / carnie’s hot girlfriend”, a sexy sample of trashy, beautiful eye candy. For jewelry that shines as bright as her eyes, look nowhere else than designer, Laura Michele of Atomic Lace, a Tio Trash favorite! These electric pink glittery lightening bolt earrings bring the summer fun and kitschy glam to the carnival styles we created! Makeup artist, Mondana V. chose the delicious shade, “Candy Yum Yum” by MAC, to bring the sweet taste of summer to the center of the look.
Because a carnival brings the kid out of all of us, I wanted to create a girly and playful style that’s as sweet as cotton candy. This outfit is a head to toe look from my most favorite place to get the hot looks for less, UrbanOG.com. The metallic silver shoes are a nostalgic throwback to us 90’s kids and ensure that Nicole is tall enough for all of the rides! An acid wash skater skirt with a tied up tee, creates the 80’s metal trash vibe that fits so wonderfully into the carnival atmosphere.
Nicole stops for a sweet treat, a carnival favorite. Cotton candy pink and blue creates a summertime softness, perfect for a wearable sugar high.
Sometimes a little of your own flavor is needed to complete a look. This rainbow horse print tee, from Urban OG, is a great piece for the Native American trend. However, I wanted to take it from the Native American trend, to the current “fantasy trend”. Using rhinestones, glitter, felt, and fabric glue, I blinged out our horse and turned him into a beautiful unicorn! Adding your own flare is a great way to re-work your old pieces and keep up with the changing trends.
Also, I wanted to keep Nicole covered in sparkles and sweetness, and this cotton candy necklace and sprinkle ring from Miss Friday’s Freakshow Treat Shoppe, do just the trick! Gummy bears, sparkles, sprinkles and more, this Etsy designer has it all! Be sure to visit her shop for unique and delicious jewelry you will crave!
Eat up, Nicole! We have games to play and rides to go on!
Step right up! Get your tickets to the gun show!
Nothing says, “God Bless America” like a hot blonde, a round of ammo and sexy gun. This outfit is all about looking like a sexy slice of cherry pie.
Leopard print and big shoes are sexpot secret weapons, and when paired with acid wash denim and campy couture pieces, we get the perfect carnie call girl. The red platform Van Burens by Luichiny are my favorite shoe on the planet and you will continue to see them as long as Tio Trash has a pulse. They are pure white trash, sexy perfection, and obviously perfect for this look.
With cherry earrings, Tio Trash signature heart sunglasses, and a pinch of salt in the popcorn necklace, we have achieved the American dream. Not all of us have a sweet tooth, and if this is the case for you, this adorable popcorn necklace from Baby Loves Pink, is the perfect little snack for that carnival flavor.
Sometimes fearless fashion and cool confidence makes others tremble in your presence. Don’t worry Nicole, your haters are your congratulators! (haha – not everybody at the carnival was very pleased). After all, Tio Trash is all about a badass attitude and letting your freak flag fly no matter what anyone else has to say.
You will hit the bullseye every time and keep all eyes on the prize with this form fitting acid wash body suit from UrbanOG and this leopard skirt from Forever 21. And always remember, if you can’t win the trophy, you can be the trophy.
When you’ve played all of the games you can and eaten deep fried delicatessens to your heart’s content, it’s time for a girl to cause a little trouble and have some harmless American summer fun!
As the center of attention, she’s got the boys spinning in those striped short shorts, a great way to show some booty and leg but keep covered while you play. Although she’s stirring up some trouble, Nicole comes in peace, shown by this “Peace of America” top by Urban OG.
The cotton candy goodness never ends. These adorable life like earrings (one pink, one blue) are available from the amazing jewelry designer, Ashley from The Great Vorelli on Etsy, a shop full of lots of life like little goodies!
Nicole cozies up to her man, giving him a little sweetness for his long day in the summer heat. You can’t look that good and not go home with a charming bad boy, the King of the Carnival; a match made in carnie heaven.
I felt that these white fringe ankle boots (a lucky Ebay score), really brought this outfit home. I wanted this outfit to be the representation of an American Summer. The U.S.A flag heart sunglasses and the boots give a timeless flare to the trendiness of the shorts and top. The Hello Kitty necklace and the cotton candy earrings keep it young and sweet even though it is wild and sexy. It is every element you remember about being a teenage girl, and you can wear these memories with a kick ass outfit. If you love it as much as I do, you can fold it up and save it for later … 🙂
That’s right, a visit to the carnival is a prize every time! Carnivals are usually put on to celebrate long time traditions in your home town, and create memories and a sense of security when we can revisit them. The rides become scarier the older we get and the tickets get more and more expensive, but that youthful magic never fades. Where else can you eat a deep fried Twinkie without shame or judgement? Where else can you fondly remember the times you snuck vodka in a water bottle to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl with high school friends? Where else can you seal your puppy love with a cheap oversized stuffed animal won just for you from your first boyfriend?
A carnival, my friends. It’s one of the remaining pieces of “old school” American culture, untarnished by modern technology and demands. It’s beautiful simplicity, yet colorful, bright, exciting, and just the deep fried smell in the air gives you butterflies with memories of moments past. The carnival is for all of us. Every couple, every young family, every carnie, every group of high school kids you see there is an important part of that town, that story, and they are coming together to a place that knows no class to celebrate and live the true grit of an American summer, a teenage wasteland and the connection we will always have to the places we are from, no matter how long ago we left them.
Goodbye, Summer! We will see you again soon!
Shout outs and love to the amazing and talented Jewelry designers:
When it comes to jewelry, I always rock the costume jewelry. I especially believe in supporting artists who create unique hand made pieces. A true artist knows how to make a piece that tells a story and not just mass produce a trend. Thank you to all of these amazing Etsy artists and the exception on the far Right, the Queen herself, Miss Betsey Johnson (the gummy bear knucks and heart rainbow ring).
Big Thank You to Bartlett Heritage Days and Windy City Amusements crew for helping us and playing along with our photo shoot!
I would also like to thank the amazing photographer, who continues to amaze and inspire me as an artist, Tony Caldaroni and his beautiful wife, Beth. Please visit Tony’s site for moving and breath taking photography, AJC Imaging. It is pure magic. He really brought my visions to life and beautifully captured every inch of this experience. Find out more about Tony’s experience behind the lens at this photo shoot, and how he created these beautiful images! CLICK HERE!
Thank you to the beautiful model, Nicole S. for rocking this shoot with a fierce attitude, and being such a good sport about all of the Tio Trash fun! AND for looking flawless in the intense heat of that afternoon! See more of Nicole on her Model Mayhem Profile!
My best friend and make up artist, Mondana Vaziri, for the beautiful hair and make up and hauling ass to assist me at 8:00 am after a long week of nursing school AND for taking charge of handling the wardrobe while my ass slept in the car!
It was a great summer of trashy magic and amazing photo shoots at Tio Trash! I am blessed in working with the best and most talented models, designers, photographers and MUAs around!
Our very first summer has ended and now its’ time for creepy awesomeness for Fall and Halloween at Tio Trash! Thank you for following!