Saying that Kristina Elle loves rainbows is an understatement. This Texas artist and social media fashion icon loves rainbows so much that she's practically become one.
“Rainbows have helped me a lot during my transition from being an angsty teen to who I am today,” Elle explains. “I love rainbows a lot, so I wanted to combine my love for Harajuku (a district in Tokyo) and decora fashion and rainbow style to make it my own.”
Every day Elle dresses head-to-toe in bright, colorful clothing with an array of matching accessories in her rainbow-colored hair, and she doesn’t just do it for her social media page where she has more than 31K followers. This is her look and she commits to it on the regular, even though it takes her hours to prepare to leave her Austin house.
It’s a lot of work, but she does it for herself, for her son, and for all the other strangers she inspires along the way.
“There have been many occasions when people have come up to me and said, ‘You just made my entire day. You made it so much brighter,’” she says. “It warms my heart to hear that, that I can change someone’s day just by being myself.”
Elle was also recently featured on Hooked On The Look by Barcroft TV, a show that highlights people who enjoy extreme fashion, makeup and/or body modification. Afterward she received many positive messages on her social media accounts.
Although not everyone reacts positively to her flamboyant style, she doesn’t mind the looks she often gets in public. She says she barely notices them anymore. It’s the positivity that seems to stand out most to Elle, which is why she does it, to express herself and spread positivity. However, the origin for her style hasn’t always been a story of sunshine and rainbows.
When Elle first moved to Texas from Singapore with her family as a teenager, a combination of family discord and turbulent high school relationships, on top of the usual teenage angst and hormones, sent Elle into an emotional tailspin.
“There’s just a lot that I was trying to figure out,” she says. “Unfortunately, I coped with my emotions very unhealthily through self-harm, and I would often run away from home.”
Elle battled depression throughout high school with only brief moments of stability. “It was really frustrating because I was trying really hard to make a change,” she says, pointing out that she made good grades and wanted to be a good kid. “But I was going through stuff emotionally and mentally that was very rough.”
During the summer of Elle’s second year of living in Texas, she and her boyfriend broke up. “I wasn’t handling it
very well, so I tried to commit suicide multiple times,” she remembers.
“There was one time when it got really, really serious, so my parents and boyfriend called the cops. They told them that I was a danger to myself, and so they got involved,” she says the cops told her family. “(My family) brought me to a rehabilitation center for teenagers. I stayed there for about a week. They helped me sort out all my mental health issues, and once I left I continued to see a therapist. But the issues with my family and myself, it was ongoing.”
It continued to be an uphill battle until Elle’s son Enzo was born during Elle’s senior year of high school.
“Things didn’t really stop until I had my son. That’s when I really wanted to make a change,” she explains. “Of course, depression isn’t something that you can just switch off whenever you want to. It’s a chemical imbalance in your brain. It’s not something that can easily be fixed, so I still deal with it from time to time, but I have a lot healthier coping mechanisms now, compared to when I was younger.”
Elle takes mood-stabilizing medication and continues to talk with therapists when she needs to, but her go-to coping mechanism is fashion.
“When I got into Japanese street fashion, or Harajuku fashion, it was one of the healthy coping mechanisms that I had for myself — to be myself and also to express myself creatively,” she says. “It has helped me tremendously with my mental health issues.”
After Enzo, who is now 5, was born, Elle wanted to set an example for him to be fearless in his pursuit of authenticity.
“I wanted to teach my son not to let other people’s thoughts rule his life, to let him be his own person. I felt like I would be a hypocrite if I listened to other people,” she explains.
“I took baby steps at first. I was just collecting pieces of clothing here and there, and every day I just wanted to take it further and further. I felt like there was no limit to how far I could take it. I guess it has gotten really far now, but I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made with my style. Right now, with my rainbow style, it’s definitely how I feel comfortable every day.”
When Enzo draws family portraits of his mom and dad, as children do, he always draws Elle with all her colors.
“Even with my hair color and all the tiny little details. He really goes all-out with the colors,” Elle says while laughing. “(Enzo) loves it. He’s always been very into art, and I think him seeing me be so passionate about what I love rubs off on him. He’s definitely a really creative, passionate little kid. It makes me really happy that the changes have been positive on him.”
Of course, now Elle’s fashion has gone far beyond their household. She posts her looks on social media nearly every day and travels around Texas attending anime conventions, where she enjoys participating in the fashion shows whenever she can to show support for some of the designers who have helped her build her colorful wardrobe.
“I love entertaining the crowd and getting to showcase the work of all the designers,” she says. “I love supporting indie designers, so getting to meet them and help physically support their dreams and goals of spreading their message and brand is really awesome.”
Elle was going to school for fashion marketing, but she recently decided to change her major to fashion design.
“I’ve been very inspired by these indie designers, and I want to take a shot at creating my own fashion brand as well, so that is in the works at the moment,” she says.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
“I definitely want to continue to wear the style, even when I am 79 years old, and to continue spreading this positive message through colorful clothing.”