Together, Suzanne and Vincent are Southern Gothic personified, two characters out of their favorite literary genre. “I saw her on MySpace and I was obsessed. I fell totally in love; I never thought she’d like me or be interested in me in a million years,” Vincent says. But in the end, he had no trouble getting Suzanne to leave her stint as a therapist in a psych ward in the Florida swamps where alligators outnumber people. After all, how could a girl who yearns to be a larger than life persona from a book, resist Vincent in a turquoise bolo tie and fitted black jacket with pewter buttons that is inspired by the preacher Hazel Motes from Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood? Suzanne must have been the ultimate renegade for such a narrative, dodging wild boars in her as casual-as-it-gets (for her) sparkly, “morning Geisha shoes,” and the signature maxi dresses that are her form of pajamas.
For Vincent, his buffalo-printed fringe vest is a reminder of the American folklore he learned from matriarchal chieftain Lydia Mankiller. When there’s a storm, he recalls, the buffalo, instead of running away like every other animal, charges into it. So, when every job fell through for Suzanne after leaving life in the Panhandle, Vincent sold off an old guitar amp and they used the proceeds to buy all of the antique dresses they could and started their now-thriving business, Spanish Moss, named after the kind of moss that only grows on Southern oak trees. Together, they have traveled nearly every nook and cranny of America looking for the most extraordinary secondhand treasures, living their lit-inspired fantasies. Suzanne channels everyone from Lisa Bonet, in a cream-colored sweater worthy of the Cosby Show to a John Singer Sargent portrait in a burnt-out velvet shawl. Their honeymoon was a three-month cross country road trip through the Southern Literary Trail, which runs from Oklahoma to Austin to New Orleans to St. Augustine, making a stop in the house of F. Scott Fitzgerald. “It’s so 1920s… white lights hanging from old oak trees, Spanish moss, old cemeteries, the cobblestones… It’s beautiful,” Suzanne says. “You can’t not be inspired.”
The two are passionate about America, and travel its roads non-stop. With hands, fingers, and wrists wrapped in turquoise, Suzanne feels she has “homes in a million different places.” To her, a ten hour drive to a friend’s birthday is no object. They embody the definition of “free spirit” in their work ethos, trading a 9 to 5 job for the road, sleeping in their car and wishing they had a place to do laundry. Both grew up learning American history and culture close-up. She, on month-long road trips with her brother, grandmother and mom. Suzanne points out that her dad was a hippie in ‘75 who sold drugs out of a van, while her mom never smoked a cigarette, loved the Beatles and was very Christian. Vincent is from El Paso and it remains one of his favorite places. The son of a minister who is like a Protestant Indiana Jones, along with his mother, raised their kids while saving the world, everywhere from India, where they once lived out of Gandhi’s house to Panama, making stops in between in “the slums of everywhere.”
Now temporarily settled in Nashville, Vincent breathes the same air as some of his icons, like Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. He loves a badass hat with feathers and turquoise and gives a charm bracelet a mysterious edge like some of his favorite books– all while getting his graduate degree in English literature. He’s heading for a phD and dreams of spending the rest of his life as a professor, talking Cormac McCarthy and Thomas Pynchon “with my sweetie and some kids and two Great Danes, playing in an apocalyptic delta blues band, and always traveling.” While Suzanne, whose originality is obvious in her eclectic pile of rings and bracelets, mirrors the authentic inhabitants of the towns she once wanted to tell stories about as an iconographer (like Zora Neale Hurston). She now reappropriates her favorite eccentrics in the curation of the couple’s collection of old and new clothes. “It’s very much about art for us,” she feels.