Got the basic blues? Elle Erickson has the cure.
This lady knows how the right outfit can boost a mood, especially if it’s a bargain. The Asheville, NC-based style maven travels the Southeast bestowing unique antidotes for closet and mind with her Urban Gypsy Traveling Trunk Show, a glittery haven of upcycled clothes, chic accessories and good vibes. Savannah has become a regular stop on her circuit, and Elle will pop up her tapestry tent at Sulfur Studios Jan. 22-24.
There are always treasures to be found in her ever-evolving inventory, where most items are $6. Part curated thrift shop, part G-rated rave, the event also features tarot readings, henna painting, spontaneous dancing and plenty of positivity from Elle herself.
We caught up with the itinerant fashionista as she was packing up her van and talked vintage leopard onesies, clothing karma and how kitsch can be a portal to meaningful human connection.
Yay, I need an infusion of your fabulousness! What keeps bringing you back to Savannah?
Elle Erickson: I love Savannah anyway, and to be able to come and interact with so many awesome artist and creative people. I feel like the town really gets what I'm doing. And the people are just so lovely. I just have a blast.
You've transformed several galleries around town for your shows, bringing props and creating a fantasy world overnight. Is this is your first time at Sulfur Studios?
Yes! I'm excited about it! Though I haven't seen the space so I don't know how much square footage I'll have. I hope there's enough room for the henna and the tarot. But whatever it is, it'll be great. Even if it's just me, one rack of clothes and some glitter, it'll still be fun!
What's in store for us this season?
This time I've got a lot of fur pieces and vintage lingerie. Plenty of accessories and capes. I also have a full rack of menswear.
I have everything from Talbots to Ann Taylor to the weirdest, craziest vintage leopard onesie, which someone is going to love! Your grandma could come in and find something at the same moment as a high school goth kid. I feel like there is an exact thing for every person.
How do you gather your inventory?
I do a lot of thrifting, and I go to estate sales. I also purge friends’ closets, and sometimes my own.
Once in a while, I go out in my front yard and there are just crates of amazing clothes that seem to have dropped from the sky. That’s my favorite.
There’s definitely karma involved. It’s gotten to the point where people give me these wonderful pieces, because they know they’re going to go to a happy place.
I’m always amazed at how affordable everything is. Most things cost six bucks! How do you even do that?
Look, I could obviously charge more and get away with it, but I like keeping the prices reasonable and budget-friendly. Part of the experience is being able to walk out and not have that icky feeling that you spent too much. It’s guilt-free shopping! And the recycled aspect takes it to a whole other level of conscious consumption.
How do you describe your personal style?
Well, I don’t follow trends. I never go for any specific look. I just go with whatever catches my eye and I put it together. Somebody recently called me “Boho Cinderella.” [laughs]
What's with the "Psychiatric Help" booth you've started setting up at the shows?
That's my obsession right now! It's based on the Peanuts comic strip, you know, Lucy sitting there doling out advice. It's something that I saw at Burning Man a few years ago—someone had set up an art installation in the middle of the desert, and anyone could walk up and run the booth, so I did!
I loved the experience so much I had a friend build me one, and I’ve been popping up with it ever since. I have a menu for glitter applications, free advice and hugs, all these things to choose from to make people feel better. People come up thinking it’s this kitschy little thing, but by the end of it, we’re getting into these deep conversations and making meaningful connections. People really need that, and they’re not getting it in their lives.
I’m doing a Kickstarter in the spring to build more of them. I want to travel across the U.S. and leave a trail of them in different cities. It’s the simplest thing, but anyone can sit down at it and create a portal for human connection.
So the trunk show is an excuse to spread all kinds of other magic.
It’s true! I’m not even gonna hide it anymore. Clothes are just the vehicle I use so I can tell you about all the stuff I really care about. I’m certified in plant-based nutrition, and I’m so passionate about helping others become physically and mentally healthy. People come to the Urban Gypsy Trunk Show to shop for clothes, but I also put out documentaries out like Forks Over Knives and Happy.
I hope to inspire people to pay attention to things like healthy eating and self-love and to realize that they’re not stuck in that crappy job or mediocre relationship. It’s amazing what getting out of your comfort zone can do.
I’m having so much fun in my life and I’m living my passion. I want other people to do the same.