I’m not going to lie: the process of shooting these frames one Winter’s morning in New York was definitely the tipping point for my spending most of Fashion Month wallowing in what, by Milan, I was pretty convinced to be pneumonia.* High risk of cold exposure injury, Mayor de Blasio crackled over the radio (to be read in Gary Owens’ Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In tones). Temperatures to reach close to zero this afternoon. Please do not go outside unless absolutely necessary. “Zero degrees Farenheit, that is,” the concierge at my hotel pointed out from under the flaps of his trapper hat.
Cut to the fashion industry pulling up their sheer tights, silk pussy bows, and insubstantial tailored outerwear (if any), stumbling their way to between SUVs double parked outside hour-late shows, armed with street style game-faces and broken souls.
Meanwhile, I had taken the morning off to embody an even more tragic fashion victim, shoulders bared to -17°C sunshine, forcibly enlisting my unsuspecting hair and make-up artists to give up their limbs in the name of the most ridiculous self-portrait cover ever shot. Even without suspended mirrors, hands reaching into all frames from all angles, and The Zhang trying to give Twister-style isolated body part instructions to four different frozen human beings simultaneously, the process of self-shooting looks entirely ridiculous. Certainly, I’ve photographed myself in terrifyingly public places before, but, on a mission to visually crystallising the concept of an independent modern day Renaissance Woman (or man) who don’t need no man (or woman), this was a whole other level of chaos on set. TIME Magazine, who happened to be documenting my life for that particular day, was so confused by what the hell was going on with all our running inside to thaw out after every shot, that they washed their hands of the whole situation, and reduced everything I do to being an “Instagram celebrity”. We all know how I feel about that.
But back to the hard-hitting stuff. With these two covers that I shot for Vogue China’s new and record-smashing publication, Vogue Me, I wanted to hammer home what I’ve been flogging for the past five years. The youth of today don’t need to blindly follow the paths and pressures laid out by generations beforehand. Be the one in control. Contrary to what your career adviser at high school preaches, you are not limited to one skill set. No given human is capable to being good at just the one thing. Particularly in creative industries where it actually makes sense for one of diversify (and today, it’s entirely necessary to in order to maintain any kind of competitive edge), you can forge multiple career trajectories in multiple directions without any risk of each cannablising the other so long as they’re complementary, and you’re open to working with and constantly learning from other people.
I, for one, find it so bemusing when brands and publications credit their lack of progression to “not having enough resources”. Of course, this stems from HR laziness – it takes just a little more digging, researching and interviewing to find someone who has cultivated two or three or four skills, rather than settling for your Jane Doe who looks perfect on paper, but in reality, can action less than a quarter of the role you should be filling. But let’s not focus on that for the time being – you’ll just end up trying to channel an disproportionate rage against The Status Quo and The System which you can only really pity and get back to work, if you want to see any real change over the lifetime of your career.
No, no. None of that for a Sunday night.
Back to my hectic faux-perm.
Which I so desperately wanted to keep, until I thought about the dead-straight regrowth.
*Fortunately, it was not pneumonia, and French antibiotics are terrifyingly concentrated, so Paris Fashion Week was much more pleasant in the absence of that looming sensation of an oncoming coughing fit.
MODEL // MARGARET @ IMG