What is style? For some, it’s the clothes on your back. Or the way you walk. The way you speak. But for three undergraduates, style is much more than just mere fashion or simple ideology. It is a way of life, a way of being, a way of thinking about the day-to-day. A worldview! Read these conversations: Get a peek inside their heads, see Yale from their perspectives.
Camille Chambers ’15: model student
// BY LEAH MOTZKIN
Camille Chambers ’15 is beautiful and intelligent. Yale’s favorite model has been taking a year off to live and work in New York City. WEEKEND had a chance to chat with Chambers on the phone in between casting calls to hear about what she’s been up to.
Q. You’re currently in New York, taking a year off to pursue a career in modeling. Your life must be very different in New York than that of a current Yale student. What have you been doing since then?
A. I started modeling full time this summer, and I realized that this is the only time in my life that I’d be able to do it and give it a shot. After taking fall semester off, I decided to take another — the agency was definitely pressuring me to take the full year off. I’m really happy with the decision.
Q. What agency?
A. Wilhelmina in New York and Los Angeles.
Q. Can you describe your typical day?
A. Normally, I get my chart — that is, my schedule of what is going on in the next day — anytime from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. the night before. If I don’t already have a job that will take all day, I will go on casting calls. I can go on anywhere from one to 15 castings in a day, running around the city to meet clients. Currently, Paris Fashion Week is going on — so things in New York are slow. [Leading up to] New York Fashion Week, however, I had about 100 castings a week.
Q. When did you know you wanted to pursue modeling as a career?
A. I started modeling as a junior in high school and had a mother agent who was based in New York. She was placing me with agencies in New York, Chicago and Milan. She was always who I would go to when I was thinking about modeling. She was the person who most encouraged me to do it. I never wanted to grow up to be a model, but once I got involved, I realized it was a unique opportunity to do something I wouldn’t get to do later on. I kind of thought, why not do it now when I have the option?
Q. What is a mother agent?
A. A mother agent is the person that scouts you. They then place you with an agency.
Q. What role did modeling play in your life at Yale?
A. I was always very clear with my agencies that when I was in school, I was in school. It was very rare that I’d go on castings or have jobs when I was at Yale. Every now and then, I’d get something and miss class for a day or two. But it was never too hard to balance. I think for a lot of girls, if they aren’t up front with agencies, it can be hard to balance.
Q. I just saw the Vimeo from your shoot with Emily Cho. What projects are you currently involved in?
A. The Emily Cho shoot was the most recent job I had last Friday. Emily Cho is a new handbag designer, two girls from New York who get all of their bags professionally made. I did their fall look book. The video is the behind the scenes from the shoot. The real video is coming out in wthe fall, when they release the new line.
Q. Who are some of your favorite designers?
A. Oh my gosh, I have so many! I actually really love the Emily Cho handbags. In terms of clothes, I love Calvin Klein, Chloé, Balmain, Vince, Zac Posen and Ralph Lauren.
Q. Do you hope to pursue modeling professionally after graduation?
A. I’m not completely sure. I definitely want to keep my foot in the door, because it’s really hard to get back into modeling. I probably will not do this after undergrad. I’m hoping to get direct books for jobs to make money, but not necessarily pursue it full time.
Q. What is it like living away from Yale’s campus? How was that adjustment?
A. It’s been really nice, actually. I’ve never had my own bedroom at Yale. It’s actually really nice to have a little more space, even though that’s weird in New York City because no one is used to having space there. But coming from a dorm room, I think it’s really nice to be independent. In terms of getting away from school, I really miss everyone. I try to come back as much as possible and love it when people come visit — I’m really excited to come back though.
Q. Do you think it will be hard to readjust to college life after being away?
A. I think it will be harder than I think it is. I haven’t really thought about if it is going to be hard or not. I’m sure there will be certain things. I’m definitely excited about coming back to dining hall food. I’m totally supporting myself in New York. So being back in college, where all food is paid for, will be nice. It will definitely be an adjustment in terms of classes and all of the readings.
Q. What are you studying? How can you see modeling fitting in with that?
A. I am an American Studies major. I am focusing in business and media culture. I want to go to law school after undergrad, and I am interested in fashion law. I started working with The Model Alliance a few months ago, and it has been really interesting seeing how the model industry and fashion world plays into legal aspects and what important things are left out of the model industry.
Q. What are some of the coolest experiences you’ve had as a model?
A. I had a job this summer working in Milan. It was a bridal shoot, and the location for the shoot was at a villa on Lake Como — the same villa that was in the James Bond movie “Casino Royale.” It was so beautiful and really glamorous. Normally people think the modeling industry is glamorous when it’s not — but this time it was!
Dorian Grinspan ’14: fashion editor
// BY KIKI OCHIENG
Dorian Grinspan ’14 is not your average Yalie. At 20 years old, the Parisian native may be at the pinnacle of college fashion and looks poised to dominate the fashion world in the near future. As editor in chief of Out of Order Magazine, Grinspan has brought together a collective of top-notch artists, writers and stylists to create a biannual mammoth publication that brings together multiple aspects of culture — everything from fashion to lifestyle to music and film. His life and his work are a testament to high culture. WEEKEND caught up with the jetsetter in between meetings, photo shoots and shows at Paris Fashion Week.
Q. How did the idea for Out of Order come about? Was it your idea or was it a collective process?
A. When I got to Yale, I was asked to join a magazine and take care of fashion for that magazine. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the way things were going, but I was interested in everything we were doing and producing, so I quit. When I quit, some people that were on the team at the other magazine decided to do something with me as well. And so some of the people from the magazine I was working with before came with me and started a new magazine which was then called Blur. It was supposed to be 40 pages and produced at Yale, shot with people from Yale and only with stores around Yale. We had, you know, J.Crew and Urban Outfitters and stuff like that. We did a photo shoot that was supposed to be 10 pages — our main shoot for the issue — with a few friends. I really, really liked what the shoot looked like, so one day I decided to ask some friends from Paris, from before I came to college, to shoot for me. I had a young friend of mine who’s 16 or 17 and a really good photographer shoot with me and I styled it. I actually didn’t like that one either, so I started another one. Then that other shoot came about, then we started doing interviews and decided to get bigger and start a website, then a blog, and then it evolved from there very organically. None of it was really planned or anything like that.
Q. So the magazine was originally called Blur, and then became Out of Order?
A. It was called Blur for a little bit, and we all agreed that this name was kind of awful. We couldn’t figure out another name, so we spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of name it would be, and eventually we landed on Out of Order.
Q. What sparked your interest in fashion?
A. You know, I was always around it from when I was very young. I always used to kind of hang out with people who were older than me, and my first boyfriend was a photographer. He’s the one who first took me out to fashion parties and stuff like that in Paris. My first experience with fashion was with him, although I interned with Numero before. Numero’s a fashion magazine in Paris, and I really liked that too. I don’t know — it was a mixture of a lot of things. The social aspect of it and then the creative aspect of it, that I really liked. It’s an overall experience of fashion that is very interesting to me.
Q. How did you go about recruiting writers and contributors from other universities for Out of Order?
A. Again, it was very organic. Well, the one who’s been working with us most consistently and the one I rely on the most is Juliet Liu [’14]. She’s at Yale and is our managing editor. Then we had Cristina — well, two Cristinas actually — and Jessica. It was friends of friends and people they went to high school with, people I went to high school with. We’re all in college, and we’re all friends. It’s like, “Hey, do you want to work with us? Do you want to write an article on this because I know you know a lot about this?” or “Do you want to interview this person?” and going from there. I had a friend who is also a music editor and now at Tufts. I first approached him to write articles about music, and then he became an editor, then he found people he thought would be interested in writing. And it kind of goes from there. It’s kind of word of mouth.
Q. I’ve seen Out of Order’s website, and it’s frequently updated, stylistically appealing and really accessible. How do you think digital and social media are impacting the fashion and art worlds?
A. I can speak less about the art world because I don’t think I’m an authority. Well, I don’t think I’m an authority on fashion either, but I know more about fashion than I know about art. In terms of fashion, it changed it completely. Especially with Instagram, and Twitter before Instagram. Facebook, now I feel less so, but maybe that’s just the wrong impression. It’s very important from the magazine aspect because you’re being judged now on your Twitter followers and it’s very important in terms of advertising.
Q. In your opinion, how do you think Yalies fare when it comes to their personal style?
A. I think it really depends. Fashion is different for everyone. I used to wear crazier outfits, and now I’m more into jeans and sneakers. It’s perfectly acceptable. I feel like some things you’re just comfortable in. If you look around on campus, people dress pretty well.
Q. Do you think there’s a distinct difference between American style and European style?
A. No, I think it’s all interconnected. I think there’s an American style or a European style although American prep is kind of a look that’s very American, but you find a similar version in French bourgeois type of vibe. But you see the similarities in Italy or London as well, just as much as you see the New York grunge or thrift shop look in Paris. The style goes across borders. I don’t think it’s very continental.
Q. Do you have any advice for people who might say that they don’t have the time or money to think about fashion regularly?
A. Someone once told me that good advice is to tailor jeans. It’s something that doesn’t require a lot of money or time and actually looks much better every time. Otherwise … most of the time, people look awkward when they try too hard, you know? The more comfortable you feel with yourself or the less effort you put into it, the more “you” it is.
Q. Do you see Out of Order as a college commitment or something that will be an ongoing project?
A. I have no idea. I don’t think Out of Order can now, as it is, go on without me because the way it’s set up would be very complicated to take over right now. I don’t know how to answer this question, but I guess I’ll know more in a year. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but we’re working on our second issue now. I like what we’re doing, and I do believe that it’s good, but I don’t know how it’s going to be received. Now I’m just constrained with making this work.
Jin Ai Yap ’16: feminist on the go
// BY MICHELLE HACKMAN
Here’s someone who looks like she’s going to be a force on the Yale scene for the forseeable future — and WEEKEND’s introducing you to her right now, so can you can try to be as hip as she is as soon as possible. Time to meet the inimitable Jin Ai Yap ’16.
Q. What’s the deal with the scooter?
A. I’m from New York, and I found it pretty convenient there, and I used it a lot in the last months of senior year. I use it a lot on Science Hill, I have to go there about four times a week — but I usually take a shuttle up because I’m lazy.
Q. Do you use it indoors?
A. Yes, when there are long, beautiful empty hallways. I’ve been called out a few times, but surprisingly not in Sterling Chemistry Lab where I like to scoot. I thought they’d be the most strict there.
Q. Are there a lot of people who used scooters at home or here at Yale?
A. The most common scooter users are 8-year-olds. I was. I put away my scooter and I brought it back out — which was a good choice. It’s either children or adults who ride these scooters with big wheels. At Yale, it’s a small group of people. It’s a strange mix.
Q. Do you consider it a part of your aesthetic?
A. That’s an interesting question. I don’t, but I’m well aware that it adds to my strange hipster girl aura. As much as I hate that word.
Q. How would you describe your aesthetic?
A. It really varies, depending on my mood or what I’m inspired by on a particular day. I have trouble dressing in the morning when I’m not feeling inspired, but a lot of the time I like to become people who inspire me.
Q. Like who?
A. In high school, I would go all out — dress up in a different Halloween costume every Friday. I have been Ramona Quimby, Gwen Stefani, Madonna. I try to embody what is most essential about them. I’ve definitely been the same person on two different days and done two completely different things.
Q. By different things, do you mean you’ve made different fashion choices?
A. I have a relatively extensive wardrobe, but I still get tired of it. A lot of the pieces in it, for instance a fishnet shirt that I have, have a lot of different associations. I like surprising myself by finding new ways to look at clothing, like, ‘Oh, that looks like it’s from the 80s if I pair it with something else.’
Q. Describe what you are wearing today.
A. Oh god. I was having a terrible day today so I wore leggings and a Hunter athletics shirt. But right now, I’m wearing a maxi dress with a print that has people on it and a balcony scene with clouds, and it’s salmon and teal. And my fishnet shirt.
Q. So you’re wearing a fishnet shirt on top of a dress?
A. Yes. With a navy and dark green plaid blazer on top. And my Doc Martens, which are the only shoes that I own.
Q. Why are they the only shoes that you own?
A. I think I decided two years ago that, as much as I love shoes and as much as they let me express myself, most beautiful shoes are horrendous to wear and expensive, so I decided I would spend a lot of money on a pair of shoes that would last me for years, and they have.
Q. What are you trying to embody today?
A. Oh god. It’s not always a particular influence. It’s just my mood. On some days, it will begin with my make up — I’ll do something crazy with it, and that will give me inspiration. And today, I just wanted to wear the fishnet shirt, and I needed to wear something underneath.
Q. How do you think your aesthetic compares to most people’s at Yale?
A. To be completely honest, I don’t see much of an aesthetic at Yale. I honestly don’t know how to compare it, because most of what I see is pastel and boat shoes and Yale clothing. Yale clothing is a big part of that. I don’t own any of that except for what’s been given to me for free.
Q. Is it too preppy?
A. There’s nothing inherently wrong with prep, I guess, and there’s nothing wrong with people not putting as much thought into clothing. This just happens to be my creative outlet.
Q. Would you say that your aesthetic is feminine?
A. For the most part, it is. That’s interesting. Most of my inspiration comes from femininity or particular female personas or characters. I recently became aware of how I sort of fetishize female celebrities or female icons and I embody those in my aesthetic. That conflicts with my personal views about how women are fetishized, even if it’s worshiping rather than degrading. But I can’t help it. Women are inspiring.
Q. We’ve heard that you work at the Women’s Center. What does the Center mean to you?
A. Well, I’ve identified as a feminist for quite a while. It’s been something I’ve been interested in actively for a few years … I never really identified with Asian communities as much as feminists.
Q. What are you trying to do through the Women’s Center?
A. My goal — I was more optimistic at the beginning of the year — but my goal, for quite some time, is to bring feminism to a wider audience. Not just demystify it, but eradicate a lot of the negative stereotypes or misconceptions that cause people to not identify as a feminist, even if their views are completely aligned with forms of feminism. Or just the stereotypes and misconceptions that cause people to dismiss what I’m saying when I say, ‘I’m a feminist.’ My opinions are undermined because I am marginalized.
Aside from staffing at the Women’s Center, Erin Vanderhoof (a former WEEKEND editor) and I started a feminist discussion group that meets every other Tuesday. The goal is really to bring people of all backgrounds or familiarity with feminism to discuss freely a lot of issues — not just about feminism and gender, but about race and class here at Yale.