Introducing Brooke Johnson, aka Kill E. Kapowski

Woh, it's been a REALLY long time since I posted! A lot has changed since then. One of the greatest changes in my life has been the birth of our grrrl gang, The Downtown Dolls. Nickie of Wild As a Mink and Mel of Idee Geniale are also members, so look out for some group gang photo shoots soon!

Brooke Johnson is our treasurer (yes, we take this seriously and all have important positions) and resident silly gal extraordinare. She can be found roaming the streets as Kill E. Kapowski. Don't get in her way when she has that special twinkle in her eye cuz she make look sweet as pie, but she's an undercover badass who takes no prisoners!


So, you're originally a west coast girl. How did you land in NYC?
After graduating college in Utah, I decided I wanted to try life in the big city. So I figured why not move to the biggest one? I love the history of New York and all the opportunities it presents just by living here. It's also possible my obsession with Felicity played a very small role in my moving here, haha.

Describe your perfect NYC day.

I'll describe one of my favorite days I've had so far: My best friend Kim was visiting and we rowed boats in Central Park, had a shopping adventure on Canal Street, lunched in Little Italy, moseyed around Williamsburg for a bit, ate a delicious dinner at Fada then finished the day off with drinks and some photo booth fun at Union Pool.

How about a perfect west coast day?
There are 3 things I love to do whenever I'm visiting California: 1. Take down a Double Double from In & Out, 2. As a big fan of the ocean, I'd frolic on the beach for an afternoon, and 3. Visit an amusement park- Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm (Ghostrider is the greatest wooden roller coaster on the planet!)

I understand you are in a girl gang. (Wink wink nudge nudge) What's that like?
How did you know!? Well being apart of the Downtown Dolls is pretty much the greatest thing ever. All the girls in the gang are so wonderful and it's so nice to have such a great group of like-minded friends. I feel like we're pretty intimidating... I wouldn't want to run into us on the streets of Brooklyn!! :)

Tell us about your blog: What does it mean to you and why did you start it?

My friends inspired me to start blogging and since I'm learning more about photography, I thought a blog would be a great platform to share my photos. My blog is titled One Red Balloon- I feel like a single red balloon is a classic image that conveys a sense of wonder- an underlying theme I hope comes through in the pictures I take.

How would you describe your personal style?

Hmm.. I feel my style is an East Coast/West Coast blend. It has a scholastic vibe, something I associate with the East Coast, but it's West Coast in the sense that it's simple and laid-back. In short, Nerdy Chic... with flip flops.

What was your favorite look from the Dusty Rose shoot?

Oo so hard to pick just one! I loved the first dress- the short black one with the big sheer sleeves - I felt very glamorous in it. I also really loved the black military jacket with gold trim, gold sequined bra and high waisted leopard skirt. I felt like a cougar on the prowl in that outfit!!

Thank you so much for letting me play dress up in your amazing vintage clothes, Dusty Rose!! I had such an amazing time!!
The pleasure was all mine, darling.

The ladies of Stepford

I spent my formative years in the lefty, lady power Pacific Northwest, but sometimes after a backbreaking days work, I find myself daydreaming about being a perfectly coiffed homemaker whose main duties are keeping the house clean and the highballs coming when my darling breadwinner comes home. (Sorry, Portland, please don't hate me.) Of course, I'd never last because cooking and cleaning are not my strong suit, and I go nuts when I'm away from work too long.

But in my fantasy, these would be my summer grilling clothes. I'm such a sucker for 1950s tops. I love the structure and the cinching. I love that you need good posture to look good in one. My comfy clothes make me lazy!

Wild as a Mink looking smoking hot in a 1950s pale yellow SEERSUCKER top

Showgirl Godzilla doing cute girl glam in a 1950s GINGHAM top - SOLD

Dames in Denim

Three different decades offer their take on denim. James Dean, we thank you for taking this lovely textile from the rugged workwear world and making it something people could wear to make a statement. And what a statement each of these little numbers make!

Idee Geniale
wears a 1980s denim BUSTIER with silver buttons and ruched back

Showgirl Godzilla wears a 1950s DENIM ROMPER with tie back halter top

Wild as a Mink wears a 1970s DENIM HALTER top and 1970s SURFER STYLE striped beach trunks -- BOTH SOLD

Woodstock Bathing Beauties

OK, yeah, I like to dress beautiful ladies in clothes that are far more sexy than anything I'd ever wear. But it's cool if it's all consensual, right? And seriously, if you look this hot in a crochet bikini top, you should be out there flaunting it!

Photos edited by photographer Elle Ribera

Showgirl Godzilla wears a Cream 1970s CROCHET string bikini halter top

Wild as a Mink wears a 1970s pastel pink CROCHET string bikini halter top

Mean Reds

Actually, these reds are the opposite of mean. I don't think Holly Golightly would have felt anything other than elation if wearing one of these dresses. I'm loving the super 50s rockabilly vibe of the anchor embroidery as well as the bandana print. Think of all the fun 50s hair styles that you could play with when wearing these babies!

Idee Geniale wears a 1980s nautical SAILOR GIRL tent dress, a 1980s navy and white nautical striped SASSON logo shoulderbag, and 1980s white leather southwestern NATIVE AMERICAN motif sandals

Showgirl Godzilla wears a 1980s red bandana print BABYDOLL dress

Abstract Expressionism

I feel like it's a constantly evolving process, but one of the most challenging things about planning a group photo shoot is deciding what pieces to put together. I try to go for themes, color schemes, similar silhouettes... but this time it was more about the prints. They're both abstract watercolor blocks of color. It was a stretch, but I still kinda liked the two together.

I think there are probably many people out there who will be very pleased to see Mel and Nickie in an Olan Mills style portrait, like two sisters hamming it up during a family photo session. Super cute, right?

Nickie wears a Pastel 1980s ABSTRACT PRINT wiggle maxi skirt with ruched details

Mel wears a 1980s abstract watercolor print TUNIC tent dress

Burnt Orange

So this is our THIRD group photo shoot with Idee Geniale, Wild as a Mink and Showgirl Godzilla. We started with "close to the studio", moved on to "in the park (and by Nickie's apartment)" and the decided to go with "urban rooftop". Little did I know that in one week my landlord would decide that he wanted to give our apartment to his son (we move out on our four year anniversary in this spot!), so I'm glad we got a rooftop shoot in before it was too late. Sigh...

Our bedroom before the gals arrive

Preparing for these shoots is always super fun and super intense. Trying to find themes that work together, praying that something will fit each body, finding the right accessories... and then when the ladies come over with their shoes and their jewels, it all just works itself out.

I put these two looks together because I thought the burnt orange in the garments looked nice together. But it turned out that BURNT was the overall theme of the afternoon - it was so hot that even with about 15 minutes of shooting, we were all melting until we got back down to the AC. So thanks to these ladies for braving the heat!

This is my dream outfit, but it doesn't fit me. But I knew it would be perfect for Mel. And lo and behold, when she and Nickie saw it they both laughed about how perfect it was for her.

1970s ETHNIC PRINT linen top with boat neck

1980s preppy DOONEY AND BOURKE duck logo handbag

1980s burnt orange shorts with SCALLOP detail - SOLD

I think I've at least alluded to this before, but Nickie has a body that doesn't quit, so (as you'll see in some coming looks) I kinda end up putting her in some more, ahem, "sexy" looks. But I thought it would be nice to see her in something more elegant and classic. Don't worry, the sexy stuff is coming and it will be worth the wait!

1950s floral print FULL SWEEP school girl skirt with polka dots

1980s UNGARO structured handbag with textured faux aligator skin

Introducing Elle Ribera

I saw the photo above in the daily newsletter. I was instantly smitten and when I saw that the photographer, Elle Ribera, lived in NY I contacted her immediately! You can look forward to more photo shoot collaborations with her, but she's so striking that we really wanted to shoot with her in front of the camera as well. She has great look and a wild shock of intensely blond hair that often gets her mistaken for Lady Gaga. There are worse things in the world...

The weather wasn't kind to us on our first meeting so we ended up having to shoot most of the looks indoors which is never as fun. But stay tuned for some of her shutterbug magic soon! And if you are looking for fresh talent, better snag her before someone else does!

Black 1980s BODY CON bandage dress with PEEK A BOO cutout

When did you first get into photography?

I actually only first got into photography a little over a year ago. My major was undeclared during my freshman year of college and I really had no idea what I wanted to do until I took a photography course as an elective. I have always had an interest in the arts, but until then I never knew exactly which medium to concentrate in. Photography really felt like the perfect fit.

Your photographic style sometimes seems really magical and ethereal. How do you come up with the concepts for these shoots?

I draw a lot of inspiration from my past. Growing up in Newport, RI with beautiful gardens by the harbor, I tend to be drawn towards soft colors and lighting. A lot of the time when I'm trying to come up with an idea for a shoot, I try and think of things that I can make happen in a photograph that would be rarely, if ever, seen in real life.

Now that you're living in NYC, what are your plans?

Trying to find a job! Once I get that all squared away, I'll just work all summer and continue to do some freelance photography on the side. I'm hoping to work with more models this summer, so I'm very excited about that. Then in September I'll be starting classes at The School of Visual Arts studying fashion photography!

In your dream world, what are your goals as a photographer (or anything else)?

I really hope to take my love of fine art and conceptual photography and bring that into the fashion industry. I need to be in a career where I can be creative and express myself.

Where can we find you online?


How would you describe your personal style?

I'd describe it as being very similar to the style of my photos. Definitely very romantic, ethereal, and soft.

What was your favorite look from the Dusty Rose shoot?

The pastel colored sequin dress was beautiful! I also really liked the high-waisted leather skirt with the striped top, which is surprising because it's definitely far from my usual style, but the pieces worked really well together.

Pastel 1980s ABSTRACT WATERCOLOR beaded cocktail dress

1980s black leather CHIA puff skirt with deep yoke

Our dress went to the Tony's!!!

One of our favorite beauty queens, fashion blogger extraordinaire Showgirl Godzilla, is becoming a stylist to the stars. Some of her Broadway friends are so impressed with her style that they've enlisted her services. As she is a regular in our photo shoots these days, she's become intimately familiar with our stock. Sherie Rene Scott asked her for a few dresses for some fancy events, and, just our luck, she loves vintage! Here are some pics of her in Dusty Rose Vintage digs.

Sherie at the Tony's in a 1950s white rhinestone dress

Sherie with Nikka Lanzarone (aka Showgirl Godzilla) at the Everyday Rapture opening in a vintage Dolce and Gabanna LBD

Sherie at the Drama Desk Awards in a 1950s floral dress


There are so many ways to do florals. In these two shoots we focus mainly on the pastel abstraction of an 80s liberty print and the Victorian chintz of 80s Laura Ashley.

We sell to a lot of very crafty ladies on Etsy, so we left these dresses their original length rather than raising them hem because there are so many fun things one could do with all that extra material. An oversized hair bow, a bag, a braided necklace, etc. Or, there is always the option of leaving the dress long. Hems are crawling up as much as down. And a long dress is PERFECT for that garden party/picnic if you're looking to maintain your modesty. No panty flashing here!

Showgirl Godzilla wears a
1980s strapless chintz FISHTAIL dress

Pastel floral 1980s LAURA ASHLEY sundress with bow detail

Wild as a Mink wears a
1980s floral LAURA ASHLEY sundress

1970s pastel ABSTRACT PRINT Saks dress with angel sleeves (SOLD)

Idee Geniale wears a Pastel floral GARDEN PARTY gauzy cotton babydoll dress


It's no secret that I have a taste for the more flashy and extreme when it comes to clothes, but I can get into a nice neutral look as well. There are limitless styling possibilities with a simple beige or khaki. My inclination is to splash out with florescent pink or orange - I just can't help myself!

I love how different all these looks from our shoot with Idee Geniale, Wild as a Mink and Showgirl Godzilla are. They span the decades and yet look so cute together.

Idee Geniale wears a 1960s mod dress with PETER PAN collar and floral print

Wild as a Mink wears a Beige 1980s striped SEXY SECRETARY dress

Showgirl Godzilla wears a 1970s beige wrap dress (SOLD)

Kitten Bow Cool Kats

Those of you who follow any of my fashion ramblings know that I have a wee little thing for the sassy secretary look. It started before having my mind blown by Maggie Gylennhaal in the movie Secretary, but I'm pretty sure that intensified it quite a bit. And then along came Peggy Olson in Mad Men. There truly is nothing like a well dressed woman with a bow at her neck.

Here are a few demure office lady looks from our spring shoot with Showgirl Godzilla, Idee Geniale and Wild as a Mink.

Wild as a Mink in a 1960s paisley print KITTEN BOW secretary dress (SOLD)

Idee Geniale wears a 1960s mod KITTEN BOW mini dress

Showgirl Godzilla wears a 1960s mod print mini dress with KITTEN BOW ascot

Hecho en Mexico

Mexican wedding dresses are perfect for a day in the park. If you live in a place that gets humid they're even better. The light gauzy cotton breathes so well, so no clingy mishaps.

This is yet another look from our Park Slope shoot with Idee Geniale, Showgirl Godzilla, and Wild as a Mink. Getting these gals together is so fun because they all become something so different in front of the camera.

Mel looking effortlessly adorable in a 1970s embroidered MEXICAN mini dress (SOLD)

Nikka gracefully sporting a Cream 1970s embroidered MEXICAN WEDDING dress

Nickie sassing it up in a Pink 1970s gauzy MEXICAN tent tunic with ruffle shoulders
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