Platinum Blonde and Badass: Sienna


We're sitting on the floor at the Vancouver Art Gallery; marble floor below, domed roof above, surrounded by the echoes and captivated by a radiating, bold, and authentic voice––that of local designer and artist, Sienna.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

S: Deep down inside myself [Laughter]. I don’t know, it really is inside of me. All of a sudden one day I will be looking at someone’s pants and be like, “It would be so much cooler if this would look like this.” It doesn’t have to do with what they’re wearing or what they look like, but all of a sudden I will just draw inspiration from looking at other people. When I'm analyzing other designers, I look at their own work and then completely change it by channeling my own creativity and style.


Q: What role does clothing play in your life?

S: It plays a really big role. I have some bad anxiety issues, so putting on clothes is a way of presenting myself to others in a more comfortable way. I always pay attention to what other people are wearing. I think you can really easily be judged positively or negatively by what you’re wearing, so it definitely plays a big role in my life and I’m sure it plays a large role in others, too. It’s the next thing after your face that people see.


Q: How would you describe your style?

S: My style… I don’t have a style. There’s not a single word that could come to mind that could put me in a box in that sense. One day I will be like a goth kid and the next day I will be super girly, wearing a super short dress and feel feminine.  Other days I don’t even feel feminine in the slightest and I want to wear baggy pants and be super androgynous. So it really reflects my ever–evolving mood.

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Q: If you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?

S: Oh, I have no idea. The first thought that came to mind was Amy Winehouse because I just love her. Can it be a fictional character? Because I feel like also a Greek god. Like sitting down with Hades! I read Percy Jackson as a child, I’m sorry. But like with Hades or Persephone would be super cool. Or even like Queen. Nothing to do with any of my passions, just one of my favorite bands. Like Rihanna? Just because she’s amazing.  AHHHH so many different people.


Q: Why choose fashion as a means of expression?

S: Because I’ve always sewn. I was the only one that my Grandma could pawn it off onto, no one else in my family is really that creative in the tactile sense. Plus, I can’t draw for shit. I’ve always been super artistic. This was the one thing I could connect to and something I could be proud of. Rather than drawing, which I do for fun, and never ends up working.



Q: What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?

S: It really depends. Ideally, I would own my own business and have my own clothes. I don’t necessarily have a goal that I’m working towards, other than being able to sustain my lifestyle off of my passion. I don’t even care about being really famous or having lots of money, as long as I can have enough money to eat, have a roof over my head, and be able to create whatever I want. I can’t think of a certain scenario, but having my own store would be really cool, or having my own shows. There are a lot of other possibilities I’m super open to.

Q: Talk about something you had to overcome and how you did it?

S: I think the overcoming a lot of my own insecurities and my own anxieties has been a really huge thing. I’m scared to create things, because if I do I can be judged for them. So I think that overcoming my own inner thoughts and insecurities is a big thing standing in the way of me truly putting all of myself out there. The biggest thing that I do to combat that is to ignore myself and even just sit and draw or sit and sew a random thing. I was quilting with my Grandma the other day! Just reminding myself that this is something that I really do enjoy, and this helps me get back into it. I forget how much I like it because I tell myself I hate it, and that way I can’t get rejected if I do make something and it doesn’t work out.


Q: You say you’re insecure, so do you second guess yourself when you share your artwork?

S: Always [Chuckles]. I’m always second guessing myself. Not even with my art but with life in general. It’s a big thing that I struggle with, for sure.


Q: We’re really big fans of your hair. Why do you dye your hair as a way to express yourself?

S: I was in grade 9 and I wanted to dye my hair and my mom was like “hell yeah!” So she would help me dye and bleach my hair. My grandma even did it once – it’s kind of a family event. I don’t know why I do it, I think I’m bored with my brown hair. I’ve also never met anyone who has uninteresting hair. It’s a fun way to add colour and another way to stand out. It’s me being loud. It’s me being like “look at me.” I’m able to show off, and even if I am just wearing leggings and an old sweater I still feel badass. I like having short hair and doing weird things with my hair, because why not? It grows back!  It’s the one thing I know will always grow back. 

Q: Do you come from a creative background? 

S: Both my parents are engineers. They’re both super smart and they don’t have a creative bone in their body. They started their own companies, so they are creative in that sense. My mom especially is super accepting of pretty much anything that I want to be and that’s super cool. My sister wants to be a singer, she sings in cafés and she also wants to go into astrophysics. My mom is like, “as long as you are smart about it and can sustain yourself and make enough money, do whatever you want.” She can see that art and fashion is something that truly makes me happy, so she just wants me to be happy. I’m lucky that I’m in a family where we do have enough money that I could try out different things like travel or live at home at try new things. I am very privileged in that sense.



Q: So you want to go into the fashion industry, but it can be quite terrifying, naive on social problems, and exclusive. What excites you about the fashion industry and what are your doubts about going into it?

S: Opposite of doubt; it’s actually spite that’s making me want to go into it. I’m not a tall, naturally blonde, beautiful, thin girl like the typical “conventionally beautiful” designers are, nor am I a gross old man. It’s a very old man dominated industry. We are starting to see more diversity with body shapes and race. But, someone who is considered plus size is like a 12, and that’s not plus size, that’s just an average size for a lot of women. A lot of the models have really small waists and really big hips which is still just the voluptuous and conventional body types society likes just stretched out. So, I think especially if I were to have my own fashion show or company I would try to have a lot of different people represented in it. Not so much that it’s my “branding", I don’t want to be a sole diversity-focused brand, because that gets annoying. I want it to be effortless diverse because that’s what life should be. That’s what every industry should be. Hiring models of color should be second nature, along with hiring plus-size folk, disabled folk, LBGTQ+ folk and anyone else. It shouldn't be about hiring minorities to prove a brand is diverse, rather it should just be naturally integrated into what you want to put out into the world. There are so many models, and entertainers who are in minority groups and deserve the same jobs that are handed to privileged people. Obviously, some brands have a certain target market, but you can’t just have skinny white people as a target market. That’s not how life works.




This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

VoiceMisa Yamaoka