Second Life’s fashion industry is one of the biggest on-grid industries, following suit of the Real-World fashion industry. The industry has developed into a mass market, generating buzz offline in glitterati circles brimmed with big Real-World fashion names. Within this ever-growing mega industry, few individuals that sashays to the forefront of the fashion industry, takes off with it.
Second life fashion industry has catapulted the careers of designers, fashion bloggers, and most importantly, its models. One name in particular that takes the cake for me is the fabulous and humble Ava Jhamin. Miss Ava has graced over 200 fashion show runways within the Second Life platform. She started her career as most SL models tend to-fashion and model-specific academic training; as second life is filled with a cornucopia of fashion-specific academies to accommodate the further blossoming of the Second Life fashion industry. She attended a number of schools to hone her craft, but as she paints her past with the number of academies she attended she only found one in the lot that was satisfactory, after having spent 60,000L as part of her adventure to find an academy with a substantial curriculum. As I expressed my complete shock and disgust, she soothes my pain with the mention of her own venture with fashion academia-L’amour brand.
L’amour brand is the brainchild of Ava Jhamin, started with the idea of provided the grid with a “true” fashion experience that focused more on quality rather than quantity. She starts with the models training at her own fashion-specific school L’amour Nexus University. I grew completely excited to have heard of a fashion academy coming to the grid with the mission to truly educate aspiring models through hard-work, dedication, and education.
This brilliant fashion maven has an amazing story to tell, of her successes and the darker side of modeling. I, honestly cannot do this seasoned fashion goddess enough justice on my own without her overt responses to my giddy curiosity.
Mikile Vinciolo: You're founder and active president of the L'amour brand. Can you tell the readers what is encompassed in the L'amour brand?
Ava Jhamin: I think above all else is that I pride myself on both doing the best for designers and giving them amazing for the money they pay. I also do the same as far as schooling. I want them to leave L'Amour/L'Amour Nexus now with all they need to go kick butt out there on the grid. I want to say also above all else we at L'Amour don't care about a models name or what she has done, it's what you do with me from day one. You don't get into L'Amour because "you think your all that". (Smiles) Also same with the competitions I [produce], or with the designers--they are judged fairly and not because of who one knows but who truly is the best.
Mikile Vinciolo: Now, it is to my knowledge that you have a long resume of fashion accomplishments as a model. You have retired, and, now, have so generously turned to coaching, training, and mentoring aspiring models, and producing fashion shows. Tell me why said route instead of retiring completely from the fashion industry, or turning your attention to say a fashion blog and the occasional styling for designers?
Ava Jhamin: Well, in a nutshell, I hated doing runway. My forte is teaching and taking models as far as they wish to go. I find it very rewarding to train to the utmost and then set them loose and see what they do out there. When it is in your blood it just is and for me it very much is. But, I belong in teaching, producing and directing shows, it's my passion really Mikki. I also still do a lot of vendor and Flickr work for designers. I love to take a brand new designer also and get them out there PR them to death and see them grow huge.
Mikile Vinciolo: Now, you have a rather extensive mission statement for the L'amor nexus University; in a shortened paraphrase, can you explain what the mission is, as it ties into my previous question?
Ava Jhamin: In a nutshell, we want to bring Second life to a new arena of shows. I have always prided myself on being different from the same drab of shows. With Hezabel Blackheart and KarlinJames Zepp, for us, the sky is the limit. We had the grand opening show on Saturday and it was insanely good. People went crazy and everyone stayed for whole two hours going crazy it was amazing. I made it a point to not be involved in this show and was in the audience like everyone else. AND WOW is all I can say. So SL watch out for us! Also, in training, we are taking it to the next level. Where I am weak Hez is strong and vice versa if that makes sense. So models who go to our school are going to be trained in a way the likes of SL has never seen.
Mikile Vinciolo: Watch out SL. I am scare of you girlfriend. (Laughs) Moving to the overall vision of the LNU, what is the defining point of your academy that sets you apart from the other institutions of the fashion academia? I have to say that your approach to fashion with a fizzled down focus on "future wear" is unique.
Ava Jhamin: I think for me the most important aspect is that students will get a well-rounded education and be able to do anything with anyone and rock. I am sick of schools charging students and teaching them nothing. I think the main thing that sets us apart is we train and we train you hard and we work you to the bone, but in the end there will be nothing you can't do out there on the grid. I also think we are tough but it do with so much love. Also, for us you are not our students for 5 weeks and then forgotten, you have us for life. Something Hez and I feel very strong about and no other agency really does. And I don't think anything out there we are not going to do.....furry, future, Cyber, anything and everything that will show our unique approach to shows. Like we said on Saturday say goodbye to the poofy dress, updos and boring poses....
Mikile Vinciolo: OMG! I know where I am coming for future fashion training...Speaking of academia, I personally feel that there should be a regulatory league of sorts that manages all of the fashion academies, and kind of acts as an information HUB for those looking to integrate into the Second Life fashion industry. How do you feel about something like that occurring?
Ava Jhamin: Let me say that it is happening; I can't say more than that right now but it is in the works. I will not be involved in the committee's doing; I will just lend my opinion that I think it's about time. LOL! Then we will have actually accredited institutions. A certificate means nothing if you don't back it up with amazing training. I am a graduate of 5 schools so; I speak from experience on this one. At one institution, I learned a ton long gone and I ended up working for them. All the rest, I didn't learn one bloody thing and spent about 60,000L. At L'Amour Nexus you will, above and beyond, get your money's worth.
Mikile Vinciolo: Excuse my candidness, but damn. 60,000 Linden is quite a lot of money to fork over to a series of companies that ultimately taught you nothing. That sounds like fashion Las Vegas to me. This brings me to my next question: What about the fashion industry do you see that have changed for the better? Have changed for the worst?
Ava Jhamin: Yes, it is a lot of money and I have spent almost 5 years trying to set the example. It's a very slow process. I think for the worse just a lot of fly by night agencies pop up and take money and disappear. For the good I see a storm brewing and changes happening and I am thrilled. I think new models are asking more questions about schools, about competitions and that is a good thing. We had agency reports but that turned into more of an attack on people site. I wish with all my heart it would go back to the roots of what it was intended to be. I also think a great thing, as in peak of mesh age that wonderful things and shows will come out of it. I think the fashion industry, just like in RL, is an ever changing industry. And you will always have bad and good just like in RL.
Mikile Vinciolo: Doing a bit of digging, I found that you work/have worked with PulseTV on the GirlTalk series, Indie Radio, FashionFIx, and NuVibez-what are some the experiences that you would share with friends?
Ava Jhamin: I still do, we are on the same sim. I adore Scorp and Nani and have been involved with them for over 3 years. I think the most fun was in doing FashionFix, of course. We would have guest designers and talk and do a mini fashion Show. I was Model Coordinator and co-producer. Also Girl talk -bringing again maybe some controversial topics but also ones that needed to be talked about. [Nani and Scorpinosis] are very concentrated right now on Clubbing Connection and new ventures. But we always know we are there for each other if need. I was involved in every aspect of Pulse including Nu-Vibez- I wrote many an article for NuVibez.
Mikile Vinciolo: I know that you have a tremendous love for the SL grid of fashion. Would this love ever drive you to make an appearance on a runway at any time? Or you're leaving that monster behind for good?
Ava Jhamin: I have done a few as favor or charity. But now? No way Jose. I really truly just didn't like it never did. It was a ways to a means I think. And when I found my true passion it was easy to say done retired. I think my only regret is because a lot of people may not remember because so long ago but I did probably 200 shows. And I don't miss it. Also I did runway and modeling RL and SL MUCH harder. People don't realize the work involved for something most see as just walking. But they don't realize lag, and just how much work is truly involved in runway.
Mikile Vinciolo: Well, Ava, I must say that I’m happy that you spoke out so frankly about the behind the scene madness of the fashion industry in Second Life and that is so quickly censored. I am also happy to express and lend thanks to your leaving the runway to properly train and challenge the next wave of model novitiates to be unique, tough, and sage fashion figures.