If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear that Sarah is Barbie herself.
It was a Sunday night as we pulled up to the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. There, standing in the corner bright but meekly, was Sarah Woolley in her blonde wig, gold heels, and one-of-a-kind vintage Dolce & Gabbana hand-print dress. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear that Sarah is Barbie herself. Her long, tiny frame and big eyes make her appear animated. If you pair that with her colorful style, limitless wardrobe, soft voice, and delicate personality, she is something out of a doll house.
Over the course of our evening, Sarah changed her look several times throughout the night as I imagine Barbie does. She went through numerous outfits and even changed from blonde hair, to no hair, to black hair and then pink hair. It felt like I was with 100 different dolls rather than just one. Even though Sarah might look like a new Barbie day in and day out, one thing never changes - her character.Under all the artistic outfits, colorful hair and vibrant make-up is a sweet girl and honest soul from Melbourne, Australia.
I became aware of Sarah on YouTube where she racks in about 45,000 subscribers under her channel, “SarahAllDolledUp.” At first, I counted on her for hair and make-up tutorials but little did I know that she would become someone that made me feel not only inspired but understood. Sarah has been very open with her followers about her mental health. She has never shied away from talking about how she felt and or taking time away from YouTube and her work life to focus on herself. At a time where I was feeling down about life myself, Sarah helped to make me feel less crazy and not ashamed that I didn’t want to get out of bed for weeks at a time.
In more recent days, Sarah has stepped away from YouTube to focus on her store, “All Dolled Up” where she curates a unique selection of vintage clothing. As we sat down for drinks at Adults Only in Hollywood, we talked about her start in fashion, relaunching her store, and her journey with mental health.
Hi Sarah! How is your time in the states? Are you enjoying LA?
I really, really like LA. It’s completely different from what I’m used to but I love the palm trees and all the interesting people. It’s a very accepting and fun place.
What do you think about LA’s fashion?
I’ve had a bit of time to wander around and I’ve found that the people here are open minded and free and very colorful. I see a lot of color, a lot of people are very into vintage here as well. I really like that.
How does the fashion in LA compare to fashion Melbourne?
Melbourne is probably the most open-minded place in Australia. Australia as a whole isn’t that fashion-forward but I’d say it’s definitely a bit more okay to be different here which is really great for me. I find that I can do my own thing here more.
Would you ever consider moving to LA?
It would probably be a big step for me to move somewhere to America. Maybe if I had a job opportunity but I’m quite happy in Australia. I think if I were to move anywhere it would probably be to Europe.
What part of Europe?
I’d probably move to Amsterdam or London because I have a Visa. My parents are English, they’re both Londoners [and] Jazz musicians. They grew up in London and I grew up in London till I was about six and then I moved to Australia.
How was it being raised by Jazz musicians?
My parents are pretty cool, open-minded people. I’m really really close to my dad especially. I think that they just always wanted me and my brother to be happy. They didn’t put pressure on us to live a certain lifestyle that everyone else is.
How did you become interested in fashion?
I think when I was younger. I actually grew up a bit of a tomboy, I mostly grew up with my dad and brother but I was always really artistic and crafty and into reading. I was always creative and imaginative. Then when I was probably 13 or 14, I got really interested in the punk and goth scene, that was my start in fashion and then I just started buying Vogue magazines and looking up all these different people and I became pretty obsessed with it.
I understand that you’re relaunching your store, “All Dolled Up.” Tell me about how that’s going and the process.
Obviously anyone that follows me online knows that it’s been put off [a few times] and there’s a number of reasons why. I had a lot of stress for a long time and I was also doing a lot of travel and just kinda living. Now I’m ready to commit to my business on a full-time level. I’m actually going to divide it into two separate businesses, one is going to be vintage and one is going to be second-hand designer.
What’s the meaning behind “All Dolled Up?”
I created the name “All Dolled Up” so long ago that it’s kinda crazy that I’ve kept with that because I’ve had that for maybe 10 years. I think I was maybe about 18 when I created that. I started it on a blog actually. I think it was kinda inspired by a brand I liked at the time, Wheels and Dollbaby. I liked the idea of Barbies and dolling up, and just the feeling of that. We’ll see how long I’ll stick with it. Maybe I’ll change it one day.
Do you ever see yourself designing instead of being the buyer?
“I think that in the long term, I would definitely have interest in being a designer. Probably not actually manufacturing the product but I would really like to design product, that’s something that would interest me down the line.
Where do you do most of your buying for the store?
When it comes to my wardrobe, as well as what I source for other people, I’m always just on the look for anything different and I pick up things everywhere. Anywhere from a high-end fashion store, a garage sale - there’s no real particular place. Traveling has definitely exposed me to a lot of brands and labels and vintage that I wouldn’t have found out about just staying in Australia.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing that you own?
It would be really hard for me to decide on one piece but I’ll definitely say that I have this Versace two-piece blazer and skirt set which I absolutely adore. Another piece I have, which was my first really big buy as an adult was a floor-length leopard print John Galliano gown and I’ve just never seen anything like it. It was actually purchased for this really crazy woman’s wedding to this millionaire who was much older than her and it never went through. She actually got her stomach stapled to fit into this dress.
Since you’re shopping for different, for both yourself and your store, is it hard to separate what you should sell and what you should keep for yourself?
So the way I discipline myself between my store and my own wardrobe [is that] any item that’s in the office is stock, and it’s for sale, and I’m not allowed to touch it. So I have to emotionally separate myself from the clothes so that I’m not tempted to take them [because] I’m obviously tempted all the time.
Does that method work 100% of the time?
(laughs) The deal is that if I take something from the store I have to put back the same value into the store from my own wardrobe.
So there was a period of time where you had been going through some stuff and decided to drop everything, travel, and take time to be with yourself. I think that was really brave of you and I really admire that you’re so open about your mental health with all of your followers. How are you feeling recently?
I’m actually in probably the best space I’ve been in for a lot of years. I think as you get older, you change. I realized a lot of things about myself and other people. I felt really depressed about this world for quite a while and I think that getting away from everything and growing up a lot in the last few years [has helped]. I feel strong enough now that I can handle stuff a lot better than I used to. I’ve always suffered from depression but I feel like I have a handle on that now.
What advice would you give to those that are victims of depression?
I openly will say that I’ve been on medication now for two years for it. I think that the main thing that a lot of people reached out to me over, even over fashion, that I am open about mental health and how I’ve struggled with it. I would say that you’re never alone. There’s always someone that is going through the same thing as you and you can always get help. When you think that everything is the end of the world, I promise you that whatever it is, it will get better, even if it seems like it won’t at the time.
It seems like depression is quite common in creative people, do you think there is a tie between mental health and being an artist?
I think anyone I know that is really creative or artistic, every single one of them struggles with some form of depression or anxiety because we’re naturally very feeling people and we express ourselves through what we do and we wear our hearts on our sleeves a bit. It’s a different way of thinking. I think it’s good to be open about it, it makes you feel less alone.
Do you consider yourself a role model or advocate for mental health awareness?
I’d be honored if someone saw me that way. I wouldn’t call myself a role model but if I can make someone feel less alone or feel like I’ve helped them in some way, that means so, so much to me and I’ve actually started doing some volunteer work and studying to do some mental health talks at high schools because it’s something I’m really passionate about and that’s kind of what I want to do next as a side thing.
Tell me about your relationship with YouTube. You’ve had your channel for quite some time now, where do you see it going next?
I actually started doing YouTube because I was really into Rockabilly at the time and I hadn’t seen any videos on YouTube at the time that were about it so I kind of just did it for fun. Then I started getting quite a big following and I got really into it for a long time. Then YouTube kind of changed. It became a lot about drama or advertising and all this clickbait. I kind of took a step back from it but since actually visiting the states and having people from all around the world since I’ve traveled come up to me and know who I am and say the videos have meant so much to them, has made me think that it doesn’t matter about money, it doesn't matter about how many people follow it, I want to go back to videos now. I don’t care about making money from them, I don’t care about advertising. I just want to make videos to serve the people that they’re gonna make happy.
When I had originally found you on YouTube, it was the video where you had shaved your head for the first time ever and you decided to record it. Is that your most popular video?
It’s one of my number one videos. I think there’s a few where I’ve dyed my hair that have the most views and those ones have gone to the point where they’re at half a million views so naturally I start to get hate comments on them because once your video gets to that point you get hate on them but the shaved head one has probably got the best response and the most people have reached out to me over it.
How did it feel to have such positive feedback about your shaved head?
The first time I had ever shaved my head was on that video so obviously I was terrified. It’s a huge thing for a woman, especially someone that’s so obsessed with fashion, it took everything to do it. [When] I did it the first time, I grew it out but then I remembered the feeling I had, the empowerment of doing it and now I’m addicted to it. I just keep doing it, I can’t stop. Every time I feel a little bit down about the world I just shave my hair off and it makes me feel better. (laughs) I really would recommend to do it once in [your] life. It really is such an amazing, liberating thing for a woman to do it because you feel so vulnerable and exposed [but] you also feel so powerful at the same time.
Parallel to positive feedback, how do you react to the hateful comments you receive on YouTube?
I think a lot of [strength] comes with age and that’s something that I want to tell people now. You have to remember that this person does not know who you really are, they know nothing about your life. Most people that leave hateful remarks on you, especially online, are really unhappy in their own lives. They [think] they have something to prove or they’re intimidated or jealous or whatever their reason is. Just delete it, don’t even give it the time. If you give them your energy then they're winning. I would suggest for anyone that wants to go into anything online to just be prepared for those messages but also remember it’s nothing personal because that person has never even met you.
What inspires you?
Anyone that follows anything I’ve done knows that I’m massively inspired by David Bowie. He’s my number one. I’m hugely into the whole 1960’s-70’s, Twiggy, Edie Sedgwick, and Andy Warhol Factory era. I’m really inspired by Punk, Rock, drag queens, anyone that feels free to express themselves. I respect anyone that does that. I love art and music as well. Music kinda goes hand-in-hand with fashion in my opinion so collecting vinyl also inspires everything else I do.
What’re your favorite vinyls that you own?
My favorite vinyl I own is a hand-signed David Bowie vinyl which I rarely ever show anybody because it’s very, very special. I also have a large collection of original Rolling Stone vinyls. My vinyl collection is huge, I have over 1,000.
So while you were here in LA, you were working at Dragcon. How was it? What was the energy like?
Dragcon was really intense, it was really tiring, exciting, full-on, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. It was amazing to see drag queens being treated like celebrities and have them respected and have so many fans there for them. It made me really happy because it made me see how much there is appreciation for people that are diverse, people that are unique. It was just really great energy full of people who were just there to have fun and be themselves and get dressed up. It was everything that I’m about, uniting people that are different, acceptance, gay rights, art - the whole thing was just very inspiring.
Do you have any favorite drag queens?
Miss Fame and Violet Chachki are two of my favorites. I love Alaska’s personality but I actually spoke to Farrah Moan who’s in the new season and after speaking to her, I think I’ve fallen in love with her. She’s kind of taking the place of one of my top drag queens now but I also have a big soft spot for Sharon Needles because I just love her, I love her personality. Obviously Ru, a huge inspiration.
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap it up?
I guess if anyone that reads this just feels that you wanna wear something and someone’s told you that you can't or if you ever feel like you want to do something but someone else is telling you that you can’t do it—just throw yourself out there and do it. You only have one life to be your true self and just enjoy yourself. It’s the most liberating thing you can ever do.
Hair, make-up, & styling: Sarah Woolley
Photography & editing: Bradley Avila