Makeup and Styling by Kathie Kaech-Kim
Guys, a bit of advice if you ever try to holla at Natalia LaLonde: Don’t brag. She’s been farther and done more than you. Barely in her 20s, she’s able to call Turkey, Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and Los Angeles her past homes. Not that it matters much; Ann Arbor’s her current one, and in the last few months alone she’s jetted off to Chicago, Santa Domingo, Punta Cana, Manilla, Tokyo, Hanoi, parts of Cambodia, and London. She speaks three languages fluently, and though only parts of it may come back to her in conversation, French (a fourth) was her first. A dual major at the University of Michigan with a diploma from the United Nations High School in Vietnam, don’t bother arguing with her, either. She’ll win. No, guys, even your A-game probably won’t be good enough. But do try your best—in the end, that’s what might impress her the most.
Give us the 10-second introduction to Natalia:
I’m 5’9”, from Michigan, an international business student, a nerd, and a hippie at heart.
From Michigan, by way of ...?
[laughs]. Originally Turkey. My dad was working there internationally for Citibank when he met my mom and they had me. But then we moved to Tunisia in North Africa where I learned to speak French, then a month in Switzerland, a year in Thailand, then Vietnam until about Fourth grade, then Michigan.
Truth time: Is your dad secretly an international spy?
[laughs] No! He’s an international “boutique venture capitalist.” Basically, he helps small businesses in other countries get off the ground.
You’re currently studying international business and Asian studies—coincidence?
No, I wanna do pretty much the same thing after school, but from a fashion/lifestyle perspective. Living in all the places where we did, it just makes sense for me. Plus, it’s a cool way of life.
So after you moved to the States, did you stay here?
Permanently, yes. Well kind of—I did go back to Vietnam for my senior year in High School, and did a lot of traveling in between.
What was it like going back overseas after not being there for so long?
Different. It really changed a lot. People hear “Vietnam” and think jungle and post-war, communist turmoil, but the cities are big and very developed today. And there’s a beautiful coastline that borders the South China Sea with some cool little beach towns. We actually rented a motorcycle and rode along the coast from Mui Ne to Saigon last time I was out there. It’s funny—a lot has changed, but a lot more still feels like home to me.
What about living and working there on your own?
It was cool. The streets are crowded and narrow, so I usually rent a motorbike when I go there. Working is cool; I did some modeling and worked in sales for this purse company called Ipa-Nima—which was really cool because it gave me the opportunity to move to L.A. for a while and help introduce their brand to the States.
Word? When did you stay out here?
For a few months in between high school and when I went back to Michigan for college.
Did you like it, or did you love it?
I loved it! That was the best summer of my life. We’d spend all day at the beach and then go to the Abbey for mojitos, then out to the Edison or the Roosevelt. Or Château Marmont to relax. That summer really makes me think about moving to L.A. full time.
That’s what we like to hear. We also hear that going out is your thing?
Definitely. Well, anywhere with music and friends. Drinks definitely help, too. And I’m pretty easygoing about it. Clubs, bars... I even went to Bonnaroo one year and loved it!
WTF is that?
It’s a four-day music festival in Tennessee. Kind of like Coachella out in Cali but you can’t leave so you have to camp there. It’s not for everyone—I guess some people might not like spending four days in 80-degree heat, but I didn’t mind.