INTERVIEW WITH ILSE MARTINEZ

her·it·age: HOOD OPULENCE

We decided to tap into the excellence right at our fingertips and sat down with Co-Creative Director, Ilse Giselle. To hear her speak about her heritage and family is an ode to both them and herself. 

She retells stories from her childhood with a clarity that envelopes you and a touch of flair that makes you wish memories could be a full sensory experience. Ilse's story is a joyful delivery of femininity and fierceness and the art of owning both. 

Keep reading for tales of perfectly painted lips, mirrored walls in Miami, and phenomenal women dripping in gold.

WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

My name is Ilse Giselle and I’m from Los Angeles.

WHO DO YOU DEDICATE THIS SEGMENT TO?

I dedicate this to my mother. To the woman she was and the woman she is now.

To my aunts whose femininity encouraged me to explore my own. 

I dedicate this to the woman I always dreamt and hoped I would be. 

And as an honorable mention this is also dedicated to Doña Esperanza, my mother’s personal jeweler who would come and sit in my mother’s living room with a briefcase full of gold.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THEM?

My mother was always quiet and serious, with a level of mystery and allure that I could only ever dream of achieving. 

My aunts, one of them much older than my mother, the matriarch always had her short hair perfectly curled from her nightly roller set, gold jewelry, and a coldness about her that seemed to bring men to their knees. If looks could kill were a person it would be her. 

Then there’s my other aunt, a kept woman, a stay-at-home wife without a spending limit and all the free time in the world. I grew up listening to stories about how she would make her own press on nails out of plastic straws and paint them red when she was a little girl. 

I remember being 9 years old and sneaking into her room to admire her menagerie of Chanel perfume bottles. All numerically organized.  Her favorite was Chanel No.19 and my favorite to steal a spritz of was No. 5.

WHAT ARE/WERE THEIR HOBBIES THAT YOU’VE INTUITIVELY PICKED UP ON TODAY?

My aunt was a kept woman, a living room doll as she would call it. She would spend her days handwriting letters and cards to send to her family and friends. 

It made me feel special as a little girl to receive mail. That’s something that I have carried with me. I now make it a point to hand write cards and letters and I still spray them with a hint of perfume. 

Always Chanel.

TELL US ABOUT THEIR HOME AND SOME OF THE FINE DETAILS THAT YOU REMEMBER?

My mother had black leather sofas, huge ceramic vases, marble slab tables. It was opulence and elegance in its own right, and elegance was always what my mother strived for. 

Music was always playing in the house, sometimes one sound loud enough to reach everyone, sometimes different genres all coming together from different rooms to create a unique playlist to my childhood. 

My aunt’s Miami townhouse had mirror covered walls, her pastel pink leather sofa balanced out by a big painting of a Zebra. The mirror walls in her house would go on to produce amazing mirror selfies, shot on film no less.

HOW DID THEY ADORN THEMSELVES?

When I close my eyes and think back to the memories of my mother I can still see her gliding the blackest black liquid eyeliner across her lids, her mascara wand curling her long lashes, the dark red pencil liner delicate and precisely lining her lips followed by her dark red lipstick, always matte. 

Figaro chains and matching bracelets, gold name plates, and gold hoops because as my mother always said, “Never leave the house without earrings. A good pair of earrings will always make you look put together.”

DESCRIBE HOW YOUR HERITAGE AND MEMORIES OF THEM HAVE IMPACTED YOU TODAY?

My mother was the most stylish person I knew in real life. My mother never wore dresses. Her style always teetered between the feminine and masculine. I would beg to borrow her clothes. 

My personal style is directly inherited from my mother. I grew up a tomboy, unsure that I could ever reach the levels of femininity, style and grace that my mother and my aunts seemed to possess so naturally. 

As a queer woman my femmeness was learned, encouraged, practiced, and perfected. My jewelry now is a collection of silhouettes and styles I grew up seeing as a little girl. 

I never leave my house without earrings on, my nails are always done, and I still love the smell of Chanel No.5

WHAT SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF YOUR HERITAGE PASSED ON TO YOU DO YOU HOPE TO CARRY FORWARD FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO COME?

I can only hope to unapologetically live in my femmeness, to adorn myself with love and the essence of the women that came before me. 

I want to encourage the women that will come after me, my little cousins and my younger homegirls to wear the lipstick, to wear rings on all your fingers, to make that fashion choice they think they can’t make. 

this campaign was directed by Sucré Digital — Learn more