My God! It's almost a year since I first met Rachel Clark and look how much she's grown! Last June I Q+A'd Ms Clark for my Spur/Japan magazine model column after hearing she was on set for Louis Vuitton Cruise FW07 with M+M and Ms Grand. I love me some Rachel Clark because she is the realest model I know right this minute. Here's the abridged transcript that's the proof:
Rachel Clark first surfaced on our model-watching radar while we were visiting Miami in December 2006. Her local booker dragged the unwilling 18 year old out for an impromptu meet and greet. "She's going to be huge!" he boasted and scanning Rachel quickly you could see that all the raw materials were there...the long clean body line good for runway and the angular, beautiful face that could be painted into anything you want it to be.
But there was a hitch. It was obvious that Rachel hated the entire proposition of fashion. In her tank-top, cut-off shorts and flip-flops she was so heedless to high fashion that it seemed unlikely she would catch on in a world where personal style was a dividing mark between working and non-working models. With her nonchalant stroll, her lazy way with a cigarette and her haste to run off to play video games with her beach pals, she seemed more like an escapee from a late period Larry Clark film (think "Bully" ) than a budding super-model
And then she flew into NY, unexpectedly opening the influential FW 07 Proenza Schouler show a few days later. That decision was courtesy of the of the stylist behind the show, the very powerful editor of Pop magazine and constant left hand hand to photographers Mert n Marcus, Katie Grand. It is she who has advanced Rachel's cause more than any other. Grand also recently cast Rachel in an upcoming Louis Vuitton campaign, signaling that her passion for this sharp edged American beauty is sincere.
This is not to say that Grand is the only fashion support behind Rachel. The American teenager has also shot Harper's Bazaar with Solve Sunsbo and though she was cancelled from the Prada show at the very last minute, Miuccia Prada still deemed her worthy to be one of the five girls shooting the upcoming Prada car shoe ad.
All that fashion success has done Rachel a world of good because when Spur caught up with her at her agency, Supreme, she had transformed herself into a cool downtown NY fashion babe in her quirky little vintage boots and her retro-rock n roll jacket and tank top. She was funny, playful and clearly happy with this unexpected turn of events. Here's what she had to say.
W:Last time we crossed paths was in December in a diner on 11th street in Miami. You weren't sure that you even wanted to be a model .
R: I don't think I was sure about anything except for eating. You were appalled by how much mayonnaise I put on my food.
W.(Laughing) I'd just never seen a model eat mayonnaise before. Is Miami where you're from originally?
R.Originally I'm from Ohio. A very cornfield, "Ye Olde Village" type of town with the Amish and all of that. When I was 4 we moved to South Florida. Lived in Florida for most of my life though.... in the South Florida/Palm Beach area. I was an only child until I was 11 and then I sprouted up a little baby brother, then they adopted another one .I was very used to be an only child and not sharing bathrooms and all that. When I was 16 I moved back to Ohio.
W.How long did you model for in Florida before moving to NY.
R.A few months. In the Fall of 2006. It was very part time. Then I came to NY in February which was crazy and hectic.
W. How did you get scouted in the first place?
R. In Florida I wasn't scouted I just kinda walked into an agency. They said they weren't accepting open calls but I sent my pictures via email anyway then they called me and said can you come in tomorrow Then I came in and signed a contract with them that same day.
W.Very rock n roll of you !
R.Yeah that's what happens when you don't have a job. You do what you have to do.
W. NY Fashion Week was a big start for you with the opening slot at Proenza
R. While they were fitting me they told me "You know you're opening the show right"and I said "Oh really. What does that mean" Then I came back to the agency and I asked them what does opening girl mean ? It still took me a few weeks to figure out the meaning of it all. Now I realize it was a pretty good start
W. So do you feel that you've adjusted well to the world of high fashion?
R. Its still a strange transition. It was kind of difficult going from hectic... frazzled... runway runway runway to having to understand the entire process of all the different jobs, what the different kinds of jobs means. What your client is looking for. It took a lot of getting used to. When I first started I thought I was going to absolutely hate it. But it helps not being in the model's apartment anymore. I got out of there pretty quickly .
W.Was it the pain of listening to the other girls' music?
R. Yeah. There was a big Gwen Stafani thing going on. Over and over. All night.
W. What's your preferred kind of music?
R. As far as modern things go I like Placebo...Metallica. But I'm really into big bands. Glen Miller. Ella Fitzgerald. Percy Faith. Count Basie. Frank Sinatra.
W. How do you like jetsetting between NY Paris and London, all in one week?
R. Zipping back and forth for a few days at a time and I really wish there was time where I could walk around and take pictures. But its really surprising... after America that in Paris you're in a car for like, fifteen minutes and then you drive from one place to another and you can take pictures of the entire city on that one ride.
W. Has traveling made you love clothes more? What are the keys to Rachel's personal style?
R. I was a T-shirt and jeans and Converse girl in Florida. Band shirts. Straight rock n roll. Wifebeaters and long torn up boy shorts. I was very grungy and now I just wear the clothes that people give me. I was never too big into designer labels so I don't even know how important some of these names are .Or how much it costs. I dress very basic and simple. I do a lot of thrift shopping .I still buy band T-shirts and keep my rock look. Which is kind of the Supreme agency look any way. I was a goth in high school. I had a bunch of black clothes anyway. It works.
W.So how are your high school goth pals taking this new model version of Rachel .
R. My friends in West Palm Beach didn't believe me when I first started doing this . When I'd go randomly down to Miami and I'd be like "I have a photo-shoot down in Miami". They'd be like, "Yeah right. The girl who's afraid of having her picture taken in high school." It was bad . For a while they were convinced that I had like a secret lover down in Miami. I was working in a video game store before. Then I started bringing home pictures and then they'd be like, "Thats cool." I' d call my mom like at 11 clock at night and start shrieking that I was in Harper's Bazaar and then she say "That's nice" and go back to sleep. Now she carries around a scrapbook of my pictures . They check up on my things on the Internet. They check the style.com thing to keep up with what I'm doing. I called them up to be like " Hey . Guess who's in the Top 50." They were like. "What is that?" They were very confused, They were like, "That' s not you. Why is your hair red? Your hair's not red" ! I'm like" Its dyed guys!" They're like "Your hair is not that nice!"
W. Well the more you do it, the more it polishes you. Could you see yourself doing this 10 years from now?
R. Does it last 10 years?
W. If you really, really want it to.
R. Well...The entire point is to go further, not focus on the length of it. I want to make sure it progresses and that I keep going up and up and up. Its really good for supporting the family If I could do it for as long as I could then that would be good .Financial wise. The beautiful pictures in magazines is a nice keepsake for the grandchildren but the financial part is the responsibility part that I take seriously. I am supporting a few generations of my family with my paychecks.
W.So a million dollar fragrance or cosmetic contract would be a dream for you.
R. Oh yes! I've got a lot of plans for investing money to make sure that there is no stress for finances in the future. I'm not that high maintainence. There are not many things I want for myself.
W.Well watching you evolve as a model is a fascinating process and we can't wait to see you in the Spring shows. Thank you...
R.Are you wrapping up? Wait a minute!You didn't ask me what my favorite show was!
W. What was your favorite show dear Rachel Clark.
R.The Proenza Schouler. You know why?
W. Hmmm let's think really hard.
R.Because they had Kool Aid backstage. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
W.(laughing) You can take the girl out of Florida but you can't take the Florida out of the girl!
R.Got that right!
W.Well thank for being so open and fresh and real Rachel . We wish you tons of success.