Vashtie Kola is truly a renaissance woman – New York based Director, Filmmaker, Artist, Designer, Creative Consultant and DJ. She has cultivated the Downtown New York City scene for over a decade as a style icon, but her curatorial outreach and influence spans worldwide.
She moves easily among Fashion, Film and Music, she has emerged as “a role model for young tastemakers,” as the The New York Times titled her when they wrote about her in a Style section feature profile. Black Enterprise coined her “Vashtie Kola: Curator of Cool.” Vashtie is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts where she studied film. She grew up in Albany, New York as a first generation American of Trinidadian heritage.
From an early age Vashtie found ways to create options when she felt like she didn’t fit in or lacked economic means. She worked in an Albany tattoo shop as a young teenager and dreamed of going to film school. “When you are alienated for being different, you begin to be unafraid of who you want to be. I’m comfortable with being creative. It allowed me say, you guys think I’m weird and I’m going to do what I going to do. I was always interested in meeting new people and being different.” Vashtie was attracted to skateboarding, hip hop and punk rock – the hallmarks of a counter culture that would cultivate her path. “It was art and it was creative and it was a way to touch a lot of people all at once. I wanted to make art that would inspire other people.
When she established herself in New York in 1999, she found her way to places like the legendary Supreme skate shop on Lafayette St. in the East Village, where she fell into a vibrant DIY scene. The avante garde press soon declared her “Downtown’s Sweetheart.” Vashtie quickly grew to be a multi-disciplinary force melding art and style with her original and refreshing perspective. “I’m a good representation of the culture in this strange digital era,” says Vashtie.
Vashtie’s domain is expansive, but her approach incorporates a core sensibility that marries the cosmopolitan to an unhinged street aesthetic, which is why Time Out New York once named her “Most Stylish New Yorker.” She challenges the boundaries of gender, beauty, and individuality embodied by the aesthetic of her brand Violette, which she launched in fall 2008. Violette is carried in select boutiques, including Colette in Paris. The distinctive flair found in her designs for Violette has served as a platform for partnerships with brands. In 2010, Vashtie became the first woman to design a Jordan brand sneaker under the Violette signature in an empowering campaign oriented toward girls featuring the tagline was “sometimes the king is a woman.”
She collaborated with Beats by Dre on “Violette Beats” on a New York City taxi themed pair of limited edition headsets released in 2012. She brings her vision now to the Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream brand where she is currently serving as Creative Director for the Ice Cream Girl.
Her roll as a Host and DJ also defines Vashtie’s presence on the New York scene. The”1992″ parties that she organized with her friend and partner Oscar revitalized New York nightlife while revisiting a formative era in her life. The party has also been produced in Miami, Paris and Amsterdam and will re-launch in 2013. In January 2013, DKNY featured her as one of the faces of their 90s Capsule Collection Campaign for Opening Ceremony, alongside super model Cara Delevigne.
Vashtie has directed videos for Justin Bieber, Kid Cudi, Solange, Jadakiss and more. She directed Bieber’s first music video in 2009 which featured Usher. She directed the commercial campaigns for the Pepsi Refresh Program that starred Will.i.am and featured LMFAO, which aired at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Her most recent projects include music videos for Big K.R.I.T (“Boobie Miles” and “Insomnia”,) Joey Bada$$ (“Waves”) and Kendrick Lamar (“ADHD”.) Her work, at times, investigates social issues, including an upcoming music video for Joey Bada$$ that exposes the tactics of “stop and frisk” in America. Vashtie’s approach to the art form of the music video ranges from the surreal to stripped-down, monochromatic and raw. “I like to think that it’s super organic and feels right by the artist. I’ve been creating a sense of loneliness in my recent work, “ she says. She has also directed several short films, including one which starred Kid Cudi.
Vashtie is active with several charities including NYClass (Fighting The Horse Carriages in NYC), St. Jude Children Research Hospital and ASPCA.