There’s no city as diverse as New York. It’s what made me fall hopelessly in love with it and what still keeps me on my toes fifteen years later. There is something comforting about having to be tolerant and openminded, about being surrounded by so many different accents, ethnicities and cultural nuances. It grows on you because you’re a part of it. Everyone contributes to and benefits from the melting pot, whether you were born and raised here – a rare breed – or traveled across boarders and oceans to get here. The fact that you can walk fifteen blocks and find yourself in a completely different world, where the store signs look foreign, people’s customs are unusual and the smells transport you (this is both good and bad…) keeps your curiosity on high alert at all times.
And there’s no place more true than Brooklyn. I’ve lived in Williamsburg for ten years and I’m still amazed at how colorful this borough is. When I was still doing street casting I was asked to find all kinds of people and there’s no better place to do research. I braved the gold grills of Fulton Mall to find “thugs” for Vibe magazine. I witnessed a shirtless, bleeding man being dragged from a dumpster in Brighton Beach, when I was looking for “Russians” for Japanese Vogue. I was laughed at in a Jewish women’s clothing store in South Williamsburg trying to convince a Hassidic woman to have her picture taken. And posted outside a gym in Greenpoint to find a “Polish boxer”. I could write a book about my adventures, but what it comes down to is education. Even though this city is sometimes brutal and hostile, your experiences – and vocabulary – are richer because of human interaction. So what if you’re the only white girl on the M train at 11 PM? It’s what keeps it REAL.
Vintage red/orange patchwork tunic by Prada; Python sandals with tassels by Jimmy Choo; Vintage shorts; Vintage skirt; Orange ‘Puss & Boots’ cat-eye sunglasses by Pared; Beaded green patchwork clutch by Delduca.
Photos by Annelise Howard Phillips.