In our series "People We've Met Along the Way" we will share with you the unique, interesting, amazing humans that we have had the pleasure of crossing paths with while on the road. As "Trippers" we believe that the kindred spirits, the connections we make with total strangers, and experiencing new locales through their lens, are some of the most monumental parts of traveling. These are the stories of the beautiful beings that have captured our hearts...
by Anjelica Jardiel
The first time Aris and I met, she was sitting in the back seat of a van, we got some beer with her girlfriends and rode out to Pattaya from Bangkok for a friend's birthday party in a villa. She put on Cardi B, "Once upon a time, not long ago, I was a hoe..."
She invited me to spend Christmas at her house. It was our first Christmas in Bangkok. The night consisted of trying on wigs, playing dress up, dancing and singing, and eating space pancakes.
We went to Wonderfruit Festival together, and that's when we clicked. She was voted "most effortless" by the attendees, and couldn't walk more than 2 minutes without someone wanting to take her picture. She always humbly obliged, and told the other person that they were beautiful.
Aris recently realized that she can do anything she dreams, and everyone who sees her can tell she's doing something right.
Name: Aris Van Calster
Occupation: Wardrobe Stylist
What were you like when you were 13?
I was an introverted tomboy when I was 13. I used to wear my older brothers old baggy trousers and keep my hair in dreadlocks. If you would've told my I would be wearing high heels when I was 13, I would've laughed in your face and told you you were crazy.
Where does your passion for fashion come from?
The earliest memories that I have of being interested in fashion are of my father working in his little studio, cutting fabrics, creating suits and dresses. Once in a while he would ask me what I wanted to wear, and he'd make it for me that same day. I always thought he had some kind of magical powers. My dad lived for fashion. I think that's the main reason why I've always loved interesting fabrics and quirky combinations. Later, when I was a teenager my mother used to give me 20 euros a month for me to buy clothing, which wasn't that much. But that definitely made me gifted at finding cheap clothing or at buying cheap fabrics and customizing it into my own creations.
What was a major turning point in your life, perhaps when you decided to follow your heart?
The day my father passed away. He died whist sitting behind his sewing machine. It was then that I decided to follow my passion and continue what he started.
What gives you confidence?
Making people feel beautiful. Making art. Just creating beauty in general gives me a feeling of confidence.
What do you want to contribute to the world?
I want to be able to become a successful stylist. Not just because I want the success, but more so because I've suffered, still struggle with depression, and fear of people and how they see me. It's through the power of making someone feel good about themselves that I've learned to feel good about myself. And I genuinely believe I can inspire girls through my work.
You have roots in many countries. Tell us about where you've lived and why you live in Bangkok now.
I was born in the Dominican Republic. I lived there until the age of 6. I then moved to Belgium for the longest part of my life. I lived in Italy for awhile before moving to China. From China I moved to Vietnam and from there I ended up in Bangkok. Out of all of the countries I've lived in, I feel like I found myself in Bangkok. There is something about the food, the people, and the fashion that attracted me. From the first time when I came to visit, I knew I wanted to live here.
What is "black girl magic" to you?
Black girl magic to me signifies the acknowledgement of black beauty. We live in a world where the beauty standard is very narrow-minded. To me black girl magic celebrates women that have been told for centuries that their hair wasn't good enough or their skin light enough. It's a celebration of black women saying "my beauty is magical".
Where is your favorite place you've ever traveled to?
Where do you want to travel to next?