An Interview With Leslie Joy Ickowitz ~ #FashionIsAStory

In Events, Fashion, Trends, Updates on September 6, 2017 at 9:21 am

Original and passionate. Two very appropriate words to describe Leslie Joy Ickowitz. Leslie has had the pleasure of serving in many creative roles in Tampa. She is the publisher and editor-in-chief at VERTICAL Tampa Bay, was the style editor at Creative Loafing, could be seen on local television every month and has made a name for herself as a celebrated art and destination photographer. (She has also been a long-time supporter of Tampa Bay Fashion Week!)

She has a fashion philosophy — “It doesn’t matter what size waist or the the size of your wallet. If you express your individuality and carry yourself with confidence you will rock whatever you’re wearing.” Leslie lives her fashion philosophy every day and is a great example of someone successfully pursuing her passions and turning it into a career. Read the interview below to learn how Leslie helps the local community, what her favorite accessory is and why people call her the Carrie Bradshaw of Tampa Bay.

What inspires you daily?
An opportunity to live creatively. It feeds my soul.

How did you pursue your career field?
Vertical Tampa Bay was launched in 2009 during one of the worst economic spirals in our country. At the time, people were really frightened because they did not where their next dollar was coming from or if it was even coming. Everything was going in the wrong direction and I asked myself how can I play an uplifting role in the community. It took a very honest conversation with myself to realize I would have a fashion and lifestyle magazine. That night, I created Vertical Tampa Bay Magazine. I named it, I created eight departments and named them. The next day I called one of my dear friends and colleagues to help realize my vision. That’s literally how I got started.

How do you or your company help the Tampa Bay community?
Vertical Tampa Bay was designed to showcase the local treasures in a very bold, very colorful, very polished way. It also gave people an opportunity to contribute and be featured. It was very important to me, for an integrity standpoint, that everything in Vertical Tampa Bay be completely local. I really wanted to have a prominent commitment to our community. So every model, every photographer, every hair and makeup artist and stylists was local. People could not believe we had this kind of talent and Vertical Tampa Bay was the vehicle to show people that we do. That’s how we helped the community, by shining a spotlight on local talent that should not be overlooked. Besides highlighting local treasures, we also gave back to the community. Our first fashion show was in downtown St. Petersburg. We worked with a local fashion designer and at the end of the show, we did a live auction of the garments with the proceeds benefiting homeless teens in the area.

How do you encourage creative thinking at Vertical or in other parts of your life?
Vertical has been on hiatus for almost three years now. I lost my father and it wrecked me and I put it down. It’s exactly where I left it and is accessible at but I have not created any new content for Vertical in sometime. But that led me in to Leslie Joy Original. In addition to being the publisher and editor-in-chief of Vertical Tampa Bay, I was also the style editor of Creative Loafing and I was producing local television content every month for four years during that time period. What happened along the way, that was a very unexpected yet completely lovely thing to have happened is I developed an interest in photography and I have emerged as a celebrated art and destination photographer. I have some museum exhibitions, gallery shows and I have my biggest show ever coming up this month and it’s what I’m now focusing on.

A well-dressed person always has…

Describe your signature style in one sentence.
I am the girl who you’ll find in a black t-shirt and jeans with great sneakers. When I get dressed up, I like to go vintage. I guess you can say that I channel my inner Jimi Hendrix — a 70s rocker, edgy situation.

What piece of clothing do you wear every day or what item in your closet can you not live without?
There are three things that I never leave the house without. My rings. My wedding band is worn on my left, ring finger, my engagement ring is worn on my right, ring finger and I must always have a ring on my right, middle finger. The ring could sometimes be a simple one or it can also be a outrageous cocktail ring. I always have to wear rings. Also, in my left ear is an earring that belonged to my father. I never take it out. It’s very important to me.

Do you have a favorite designer or what celebrity is your style icon?
I have often been called the Carrie Bradshaw of Tampa Bay. In part because I look like Sarah Jessica Parker but also because I do my own thing when it comes to Fashion as I believe she did in her role as Carrie Bradshaw. When it comes to designers, I do not fill my closet with brands but I do appreciate the beauty and the artistry of fashion. So Valentino, Dior, Betsey Johnson are brands I like for the artistry of work they create.

What’s your favorite fashion trend?
I do not have a favorite fashion trend. But I would say the most important fashion accessory is a smile.

Speed Round
Less or More? Less
Favorite Color? Sunshine Yellow
Favorite Store? La France
Best spot to relax in Tampa? My home is my sanctuary.
Sneakers or dress shoes? Sneakers
Tie-dye ~ hot or not? I don’t know about hot but I do appreciate the colorful nature of it.
Pants, shirts or dresses? Jeans

Leslie biggest solo photography show is coming to Downtown St. Pete this week. “LoveLife” is an exhibition of photography that takes the viewer on a global tour, stopping at destinations like Cuba, California, Ball, home and so much more. The opening reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 at The Studio@620 from 6 to 9 PM. It’s free and open to the public. Join us there!

Follow Leslie on Instagram: @lesliejoyoriginal and Facebook.

UPDATE: Schedule changes due to Hurricane Irma have postponed the LoveLife exhibition. Details are as follows:
LoveLife Opening Reception: Saturday, Oct. 14, 5-9pm (Second Saturday Artwalk)
Artist Talk: Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7pm
Closing Reception: Saturday, Oct. 28, 6-9pm


(Photo credit: DAPhotospot)



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