Interview: Elle Muliarchyk’s High-Fashion Journey

by on May 1, 2013

Elle Muliarchyk is a unicorn! She’s a model, photographer, and over-all visual artist who pushes the limits of the fashion realm by drawing upon her experiences. In just a little over 3 months, Elle journeyed across the US curating her latest project “Escapes from Paradise,” a captivating visual project with cathartic escapism and a touch of voyeurism. Hit the link for more!

The project can be found on her website and features mostly black and white photographs and gifs that are presented like a visual diary, including prose writing was done by Anne Kelly. The images feature Chadwick Bell‘s spring 2013 collection and have a 1940s film noir aesthetic coupled with an ethereal score that, according to Elle, represent a “lost youth.” Quite frankly, considering all of the current discussions of #the #youth, I really couldn’t agree with her perspective more. Having previously been interviewed by The Cut, Interview Magazine, W Magazine and more, we’re so lucky so have gotten a chance to speak with her! Check out what she had to say below–

Escapes From Paradi

1. I love the premise of “Escapes From Paradise”–with its fleeting tones and sense of escapism. What does that say about you? It seems like you’re on a mission of self-discovery, periodically saying “captive,” which I can definitely relate to as a Junior at NYU.

I’m definitely feeling like a captive 99.9% of the time. I feel like I was born in the wrong time (I should have been born 50 years later). I always wanted to be a scientist and studied for it. But now I am held captive in a body of a fashion photographer even though all of my inspiration is 100% non-visual – literature (most of all!), ideas, flavors, quantum physics, biology, technology, relationship between people, ethics, the transitory nature of things. I also MADLY love wine and food. I don’t think there is a profession right now to encapsulate and showcase my passions. So I need to constantly invent my place in this world. But regarding Escapism – I’m really bad at it. I hadn’t had a vacation for all of my mature life. That’s why THIS Escape was very special.

2. How long did you work on this project?

On and off 3+months. I traveled across the West of the US, then took a break and did the East coast. Than I did some more.

3. Explain your relationship with Chadwick Bell. How did you guys meet? What does he think about the project?

I met him and his work partner Vanessa Webster a few years ago when I covered one of their first major shows for the New York Times. I came to their studio many times. I watched the Spring 13 collection being born. I became fascinated with the woman and the world he created for that collection. I imagined her as a 2013 version of Georgia O’Keeffe – an artist girl escaping the suffocating bubble of the city in to the desert (physical and metaphorical) to find clarity and reinvent herself. I proposed I would BECOME that woman and document everything. We decided on the “look”, which would be B&W, inspired by the 1920’s photography documenting modernist artists on their “Escapes” to the West. We found further visual character references in Goya’s drawings. The women there are “worldly”, even dark, because they had lived through a lot. They are not ethereal “David Hamilton” girls frolicking in the sunshine.

Escapes From Paradise Escapes from Paradise

4. How did you curate the score for the project? The ethereal feeling is exacerbated that much more. It has elements of rock and electric.

I wanted to keep the feeling of the nature and add that “human darkness” sound. I wanted it to be like tuning a Time-Machine Radio. That’s why you hear the fleeting rock and electric moments, which to me are the sounds of the confused lost Youth.

Though my photos depict a physical (geographical) escape, we never escape from the stuff in our heads. I wanted to illustrate the sound you might have in your head while you are in the middle of nowhere trying to de-clutter your mind. It’s like nature is tuning in-and-out and then “remixing”/jamming with this total mess in your head.

5. While I’m on the subject, which recording artists would you like to work with on future projects, if any? Why?

Out of all the living musical artists Phillip Glass is my hero. His work is not there to please. It’s a constant experiment and discovery for him – and a challenge for the listener. Who else would be crazy and daring enough to come up with Einstein on the Beach – a five-hour opera where nothing really happens and no story is being told? Though I doubt he’s got time and strength at this point to collaborate with me… Although.. I should ask!

I am not very versed in the contemporary popular music scene, but I am very inspired by the process of how music is made – now and in the past. I read Keith RIchard’s biography where he goes on for pages describing how to capture a poetry of a single note. This is AMAZING to me! Or a contemporary example: my very talented friends (band called Tempers) have scored many of my little films in the past, and it’s pure magic to see them work. When we collaborate I don’t even know the names of instruments! I just tell them – “I want this moment to sound like the smell of the sunshine on a cold day in February.” Or, “a sound of jellyfish making their way through the syrupy-thick black water. Then the two of them wordlessly start jamming and suddenly, the perfect sound materializes itself in the air! It’s mind-blowing.

Escapes from Paradise

6. Have you ever thought about making this in to a physical installation? I feel like SHOWstudio would definitely want to be a part of it with this high-fashion aesthetic.

I would not say no if the right help comes along; my ideal way to display has already happened. My dream way of experiencing it is like curling up with it in your bed as with your favorite book or a copy of the New Yorker. Without anyone watching over your shoulder. You don’t have to get on the list and RSVP. No street style photographers waiting outside the gallery. No metaphorical “like” button. Besides, I didn’t grow up going to museums and galleries, so I don’t have this reverential feeling for them. Some exhibitions are exceptions of course. But my Escapes is all about an intimate and personal experience.

7. Who are some of your favorite designers? You mentioned you are getting a chance to work with one of your favorites, can I know whom?!

My upcoming collaboration is a secret for now! My other favorite is Alaia of course. I love designers who have a consistent muse, who LOVE and respect an empower women. Each collection might look different – but in fact they are just showing you a different aspect of the same woman. That’s when I feel like the designer is an artist AND a real person, not just a product designer.

8. You seem like a gal of a completely different era, if you could choose, which era would you have liked to experience? I, personally, would have loved the 60s!

(Haha – I read this question AFTER I answered it above.)
I can’t think of any time in the past when it was a great time to be a woman. Right now is the best time for women (yet) to create and grow and get recognition. But I think the world will be a better (though possibly more tumultuous) place in 50 years. I believe more creative self-educated people will finally be able to express their voice. This will lead to CRAZY and wondrous results. Right now I see the world as a very very rough draft – a messy science experiment of an ADD fifth grader. I wish I were born in the future!

Escapes From Paradise img-muliarchyk_112910532345

9. Anything else you want to mention?

I was JUST ABOUT to say a LOT of things but with a corner of my eye I saw a quote someone posted on FB– “The more specific you are, the more general it’ll be.” -Diane Arbus

I’ll add this anyway: I believe in the magic and a transformative empowering inspiring quality of Fashion. Most importantly – I want to inspire the people who see my work to believe in themselves and say no to the nay-sayers. Those are all of the things I am struggling with, and slooowly finding answers. Get onto my magic carpet! 

Elle muliarchyk
Designer: Chadwick Bell 
Art Director: Jacob Wildschiødtz 
Story by: Anne B Kelly 
Music: Superflux 
Covers Artwork: Tarik Mikou
Website design: Plume

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