Style is not defined by fashion, but driven by character and manner.
Jamila Raegan delivers to the senses. She is a breath of fresh air combined with a nostalgic notion. She is a Black woman, sometimes blonde, most often afroed, and her ‘dents du bonheur,’ or lucky teeth elevate her laughter to another level. You can’t just hear her laugh. It’s worth it look at it.
To field negative comments as a child, she says that, “My parents introduced me to Lauren Hutton early on. I love it! I was sad when my kid’s gap closed naturally.”
A multi-media artist, the only thing trendy about Jamila is the fact that she’s a server at the popular Café Habana in Lolita. “It was hard dressing the way I do while growing up in Lousiville, Kentucky,” said Raegan. “I’m into vintage. My sense of style gets a lot of support in Brooklyn.”
Adding to her dynamics, Jamila lives in Bed-Stuy as a single mother of her nine-year old son, who is autistic.
“I‘ve connected with people of all classes and races because of autism,” said Raegan. “Extreme Kids & Crew is my biggest support system. They are an organization in Brooklyn that offers art, yoga, music and more for kids with autism and other special needs. I’m so grateful for them.”
Here, Jamila answers a few questions to help provide background to her rich character.
What brought you to Brooklyn?
I moved here about 10 years ago for a relationship I was in. No longer in that, but I stayed here because I love it.
How has having a son with autism shaped you?
Standing up for ourselves is the biggest lesson. You have to fight with the ignorance of people who just don’t get it.
What moves you most about your neighborhood?
The diversity. While it’s complex for me, because of gentrification, the experience has been good. I appreciate the artists from different places.
Has Brooklyn refined, defined or redesigned your style?
Refined. I was pretty stylish before. In Kentucky, I felt like an alien.
What is your favorite vintage store?
CollectHer. Shana Jackson, the owner, teaches her customer how to make vintage current. She gets into it. Sometime I go in and say, ‘Dress me, Shana’. That’s style you can trust.
Where do you find inspiration on the internet?
Do I? I don’t know…I’m pretty analog. Trying to go digital.
What was the last print magazine you were inspired by?
Arise. The style is so sweet! The layout is great. It made me proud.
What song reflects you most?
Lately, True Colors by Cyndi Lauper. I’m playing it and singing it like it just came out!
What is you favorite nighttime spot?
It was 275 Grand! Now I like to frolic in Lolita. But I love Muzac wine bar. I’m definitely a regular.
Do you look to mainstream fashion for inspiration?
Yes. I love Betsey Johnson and the Spanish influence of Oscar de la Renta. Theory too.
What was the most inspirational thing you saw today?
I saw Joe Tiberino. He’s an artist who owns the Tiberino Museum in Philly. He was married to Ellen Powell-Tiberino (1937-1992), my favorite artist. She was also a fashion inspiration to me. She and Frida Kahlo are of the same caliber in my book.
What is a fashion ‘will not do?’
Anything overly trendy…But I feel like anything is possible as long as you know how to assemble it.
Yes! Expensive oil & vinegar. I am definitely a culinary girl.
Name something under the radar you want everyone to know about.
Me! My art. I’m working on my photo exhibit now. I can’t wait!