It’s a rainy Tuesday morning at the age-old Grounds of Alexandria. Domenica Calarco stands on the cobblestone entrance to the cafe wearing the vibrant red coat she’s made famous on her blog, Vogue Vandal. “It’s funny that I’m wearing vintage and this place is vintage,” she laughs.
There are children running around, lots of loud chatter, and the rain is pounding down on the tin roof. It’s chaotic. There are only a couple empty tables left outside. One is near the Grounds’ pet pig, Kevin Bacon.
“I have a couple pet pigs at home,” Domenica says. “A mum and a dad. Their names are Bacon and Eggs. We also have chickens and a few sheep. I guess I live on a bit of a farm. It’s not massive, but we have acreage.”
Domenica Calarco was raised in a country-esque home on a steady diet of Italian food and fashion magazines.
She’s not a conventional city girl fashion blogger, yet she knows more about fashion than most girls her age.
“There are a lot of girls out there that like fashion, but to me fashion isn’t about just following a trend,” she says. “Fashion is about taking that trend and meshing it into your lifestyle.”
Domenica’s Western Sydney home would seem frightening to most fashionistas, but she has had to adapt.
“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty or get dirt under my shellac nails. If I’m at home and I’m walking up to the pigs, I’m not going to be wearing high heels. I like them, but they’re not always part of my lifestyle. I can’t wear them on a daily basis.”
Domenica removes her red coat to reveal a black cowl neck men’s sweater. She’s also wearing boyfriend jeans and strappy sandals. Her coat cost $5 and her jeans, $6. She’s proud of such bargains. She isn’t wearing a single designer piece yet she looks like a million bucks.
“You don’t have to buy a pair of $10,000 Tom Ford heels to look chic. Although, when I can afford it, maybe. We’ll see,” she says. “I always find that make up and hair is also a big part of fashion. I could be wearing the simplest t-shirt and a pair of shorts but it’s how you present yourself.”
The concept of Vogue Vandal was created 2 years ago while Domenica was working as a secretary. Then late last year, she had a medical emergency that forced her to re-evaluate her life.
“It wasn’t really the path I wanted to take. I needed to be more creative. So I said, you know what? I’m gonna do what I want this year. And I finally did it.”
She quit her job to begin blogging full time. Since then, Domenica has managed to carve her name into Sydney’s hard-to-get fashion scene. She has been invited to fashion events all over the city, including Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, and she has worked with designers, PR agencies, and boutiques.
“I get sent free clothes from working with different companies but if I don’t like something, I won’t put it on my blog,” she says. “I will never wear something just because I’m being paid to. If you look at my blog, there are a lot of things that I recurrently wear. If you look at these jeans that I paid $6 for, I’ll keep wearing them because I love them.”
Vogue Vandal’s main prerogative is to teach women everywhere that they don’t need a Chanel bag to be Vogue. She doesn’t want to be famous just because she’s wearing Jimmy Choos, either.
Domenica has taken the concept of Vogue, the magazine, and flipped it on its head, torn it apart, and reconstructed its many sections. She’s vandalized it. In the best possible of ways.
All photos courtesy of Domenica Calarco’s Facebook page.