Street Fashionista: Matthew Retkowski

Categories:      Fashion
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Street Fashionista: Matthew Retkowski by Leslie McAllister

I call it mullet dressing. You’ve heard of the hairstyle, sure. For fashion, the formula is similar: Business up top; party on the bottom. I’m talking button-down and tie with a pair of jeans and some boots.

With the holidays tapping us on our shoulders, it’s time to dress up, or down – or in this case, both! You can have a lot of fun with this look too. Really bold and fun intermixing of patterns; the thing is, you kind of want to get ballsy – it makes it more fun. Basic jeans with a patterned button-down and a loud tie, toss in some accessories, like a tie tack or a watch fob, and you are on your way to Coolsville (a la Rickie Lee Jones).

Chick-a-dees this is your thang, too. Take a lovely ivory silk blouse, add some diamonds and pearls, and throw on those high-waisted flares, followed by a pair of killer spikes (heels that is…). Just promise me to do the tousled, beachy-waved, bed-head thing – it makes the silk blouse more believable.

Maybe you are meeting the parents for Thanksgiving. Maybe celebrating with friends – either way, you still want a presentable, tailored look without all the fuss. Jeans just help to keep the style balance and bring the look home… for the holidays. Ah denim, fashion’s greatest invention.

Who? Matthew Retkowski, artist, sculptor

Where? Opening of Pointe Foure Vintage Boutique

Why Matthew? He’s got this look licked. I am totally feeling the navy blue gingham button-down with the floral tie – it really makes what’s happening up top interesting and sophisticated. Then he adds the tie tack, which seals it for me. He pairs the look with jeans and a leather jacket. I am sure that he – as an artist – is just following his natural aesthetic, but no doubt he is nailing mullet dressing.

What We Want to Know

Describe your style. When it comes to style inspiration, I keep it McQueen – Alexander the designer and Steve the actor. The raw fearless creativity of Alexander’s work serves as a constant reminder that it’s okay to have fun and take risks, and I take class and comfort cues from Steve. All in all, I’d say I have a sort of Classic ‘50s Americana-dude vibe with intermittent bursts of balanced flamboyance.

I like how you mix prints and use accessories but still maintain a relaxed cool edge. Is this intentional? I think maybe it’s just a natural byproduct of the way my fashion style mixes with my persona.

Aesthetically speaking, what moves you? I glean much of my aesthetic inspiration from the patterns and compositions found in nature. Fractal microcosms, momentary shifts in shape and color, etc.

What is lacking in Erie's art scene? Cohesion, evenly shared, easily accessible funding and resources, and passionate leadership. There’s a lot going on, but it’s fractured.

Tell us about the work you did for Emily Lynn George at Pointe Foure. Being familiar with some of my furniture and design work already, Emily initially commissioned me to design and build several industrial retail displays. Through working together, we soon realized that by combining our vision, ideas, and talents we could collaborate towards creating the best space possible. We communicated daily and developed a close working relationship throughout the process.

I choose to treat my clients as friends. I refuse to take the cues from corporate America and separate personality and ideals from my work because I choose to believe that there’s still room in this world for work that embraces human nature and stands up to a handshake. I made the decision to support Emily in her drive to realize Pointe Foure because I admire and respect her desire to see Erie’s creative industry grow and flourish.

Working on any other projects? I'm working on a piece of social sculpture focused on bringing awareness to the importance of building and maintaining healthy urban tree populations. The project explores the boundaries between art and activism. Anyone interested can follow the project as it grows at

You are a sculptor amongst many other things. Take us on that journey. I creatively investigate curiosities that arise from a constant and meticulous observing my environment. Sometimes I investigate by sculpting physical solutions, other times I might write, and others, I may use a technique altogether foreign to me. Scientists answer their questions by the rules laid out in the scientific method. As an artist, I answer questions by discarding rules and embracing the fundamental principles of design and aesthetic.

What keeps you in Erie? I find myself asking this question a lot actually. I guess ultimately I stay because Erie is home. This strange city has harbored me through many years of growth and development. There are a lot of other places doing far more relevant things with a far more advanced collective mindset, but I suppose I maintain a sort of stubborn and possibly naïve hope that Erie can someday join the ranks and become the kind of place that other cities can look to as an example of progressive action and forward thinking. I’m not ready to give up on that hope quite yet.

Divulge your guilty pleasure. Eating copious amounts of Romolo’s chocolate.

Find me out on the town and challenge yourself to get noticed by the Erie Reader! Leslie McAllister can be contacted at, and you can follow her on Twitter @ShopJuJu. 

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