By Kiyanna Noel
Kiyanna’s Kulture is a biweekly column that highlights different kinds of fashion.
Fashion has taken its form in many different aspects of life. It can be used to describe or identify a time period or even showcase where someone got their inspiration. Senior at SUNY Plattsburgh Sydney Dennerlein got her inspiration early in life from alternative icons like singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne and Draculaura from the TV show “Monster High.”
“We grew up in the 2000s inspired fashion and I was very much into the goth alternative punk. I loved Avril Lavigne. I worshiped Avril Lavigne. Avril Lavigne throwing a random tire around her neck saved lives. I love that unpolished kind of messiness to the 2000s. We grew up with all these cartoons like Raven from ‘Teen Titans’ and Gwen from ‘Total Drama Island’, Sam from ‘Danny Phantom.’ All these goth girl characters, I adored them. I wanted to be them.”
But growing up in a suburban area in Long Island didn’t make it easy to express this side of herself. The lack of freedom to express herself truly affected how Dennerlein was seen and how this style didn’t represent her.
“When you’re seven years old and your mom’s like, ‘No. What are you doing? You can’t look like that,’ it internalizes with you and that stuck with me… All throughout my high school life, I was just this pretty much plain. The most exciting thing I would wear is a flannel or a really long cardigan,” Dennerlein said.
The digital media and TV production major and marketing minor student soon developed her own sense of makeup as alternative. By experimenting with her makeup, Dennerlein soon discovered the art of drag.
“During the pandemic, I started watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and that’s kind of where my makeup influence came from. My makeup is kind of like the star of the look.”
While Dennerlein’s makeup is now a bold statement, it wasn’t always this way. With her previous looks being simple black eyeliner and nude colors, Dennerlein’s makeup has gone in a new direction.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Are you inspired by anime? Are you inspired by drag queens when you do it[makeup]?’ But, it’s like I used to draw like hand-draw, and this is how I would draw my eyes. I would give all my characters these winged eyes and long eyelashes on the bottom, which I always got criticized for because I would do it on men too, because God forbid men have eyelashes.”
Dennerlein’s makeup goes hand-in-hand with her clothes. Dennerlein overall believes her style is more alternative, but it is “more universal” than people seem.
“It’s like a charcuterie platter of all things alternative,” Dennerlein said. “You got your goth pastrami, you got your preppy salami and I like charcuterie boards.”
Looking back on the times where Dennerlein wasn’t able to fully show who she was through her style, she is now more confident in her makeup and clothes than ever before. Even noticing that she has become the reflection of the people she aspired to be like in a new era.
“I’m kind of taken back to my roots of this little girl who looked up to all these cartoon characters, Avril Lavigne, you know any, big celebrity who wore just a smidge amount of eyeliner and now it’s kind of full circle,” Dennerlein said. “I feel like I try to take a modern 2020s like-aspect to it, where it is a bit more polished and not as rugged.”
While some students may not be fully aware of the next steps in their careers, Dennerlein has some big yet conflicting hopes for her future, combining her love for both fashion and TV production.
“My ultimate dream job is to be a floor manager for ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ I want to be that person that is like, ‘Five minutes ladies,’ I would want to do that forever. But, I don’t know how they would take it if I said, ‘Hm, you could use a bit more highlighter,’ Dennerlein said.
Dennerlein’s fashion icon, drag queen Trixie Mattel is one of the many teachers that shaped her makeup. While Mattel wasn’t someone Dennerlein knew personally, she still inspired Dennerlein to try different methods and create a new form of self-expression.
Self love and appreciation is necessary for all walks of life and Dennerlein explains that it is just as important to love the artist just as much as you love the art.
“I embrace this part of myself physically as well,” Dennerlein said.
For anyone looking to try different styles, or even experiment with different areas, Dennerlein explains the most important part of any look.
“Be in an outfit that makes you happy because otherwise, why wear?” Dennerlein said.
Fashion is not only the clothes you wear or the runway you walk, it’s a way you can express yourself through an artform that showcases who you are and what you represent.