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The apartment is tiny, perhaps the tiniest I’ve ever seen. Where are the other rooms? Where is the couch? The television? A closet?? This is a true New York moment and testimony to the rent-crazed, space-savvy resilience of its inhabitants, or as 24-year old Marieke puts it: “The apartment was something of an impulse rental. The lack of closets has definitely been a challenge, but it’s also given me a great chance to edit. Less is more!” But it’s cozy and lived in. It has a soul that bares itself on every shelf and available wall. Marieke’s wardrobe is a concoction of suspended hangers she bought on-line. And the fireplace houses books instead. And there is a deck! “I love the outdoor space,” smiles Marieke, “when it’s warm out, I spend tons of time on the deck, and grill as often as possible.” So when you think about it, those 500 square feet of prime real estate in the East Village is not a shoebox. It’s “a one-bedroom duplex with outdoor space” and it’s been Marieke’s home for nearly two years.

Marieke Sterling wears a lot of black. When we meet, she’s head-to-toe: black boots, black skinny jeans, black, low-cut T-shirt and black leather jacket. It’s her uniform. “Black just feels right to me,” she confirms. “I’m inspired by minimalism and 90s fashion, with some of the rock ‘n roll influences of that period, and black checks all the boxes.” She admits that her days of dressing in vintage and patterns are numbered since she started her job as a creative writer on the marketing team at Chanel. “I work more on the business side of things,” she explains, “and prefer to keep the focus on the work I’m doing, rather than the clothes I’m wearing. I like the idea of a signature “look”. Plus, my hair tends to be a little wild, so I like to keep my outfits more streamlined. There are no strict “rules” at Chanel – it’s just my personal preference.” Or do I sense slightly dark impulses? I see a leather whip, and a black leather body strap she inherited from her girlfriend Yesim. “I like to be a little provocative,” she admits, “so I see the beauty in those kinds of objects, but I can’t say I’m that into S&M. It’s really more of an aesthetic than anything else.”

But we do manage to find some color and cheer in her wardrobe. Even though most of her vintage collection had to be stored, she’s kept a few of her treasured, old Gaultier pieces and digs them up “for special occasions”. Like this one! When she slips on the skin tight, sexy dresses I’m reminded of Marieke’s modeling career. She started with IMG when she was thirteen, then took a break to go to boarding school in Andover, MA, and modeled full-time for a year after graduation. Then quit again to be part of the Galletin program at NYU – she took philosophy, literary theory and even some French. “I still do some modeling here and there,” she says of the current state of her career. “Ryan McGinley and Max Snow are two highlights. I’ve always loved Ryan’s work, and have felt lucky to be a part of it. I’ve worked with him a bunch of times over the years, doing everything from stunt dives out of trees to trips down South to shoot with exotic zoo animals!” It’s a far leap from the academic, publisher or writer she had envisioned herself to become one day but nonetheless fulfilling because in her own ways, she’s relentlessly curious, and “always trying to learn more, see more, and grow more.” Something tells me those bass guitar lessons are more than just a fad. I think the world needs a hot leathergirl band…


February 18, 2013

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