It’s hard to believe that I met India about four years ago when I went to Seattle to visit my fiancé. She was the sweetest girl (and still is!) and was just starting out on her amazing modeling journey. In just that timespan, she has traveled all over the world and is conquering the modeling world one day at a time.
You started modeling at 16 years-old. Did you ever think you would have accomplished so much since then?
When I started modeling, I felt like I had found my niche. I knew I would do something big and accomplish my goals, but I never imagined I would do it with the help of reality television! I’m very proud of where I’ve come, but now I have even bigger goals to accomplish.
Congrats on winning season 23 of ‘America’s Next Top Model’! How does it feel to have that title?
It still feels quite weird to be honest! I’m very much still adjusting to the title. I watched every season of America’s Next Top Model growing up, so being a part of that small group of winners is unbelievable to me. When I agreed to do the show, I never expected I’d win… but I did. And I am so excited to conquer the modeling world with the title of America’s Next Top Model.
Who have you looked up to along your journey?
I always looked up to Cara Delevingne in my early years as a model. I love that when she’s in front of the camera, she’s fierce and means business, and when she’s off camera, she’s a total goof ball! Now I really look up to Gigi Hadid, who has a career as a fashion model and a commercial model after reality TV. It proves to me that I can make anything I want of this experience!
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about the modeling industry.
The best advice I’ve received is to be confident. If you act confident, people will believe you are confident. We can all accomplish so much more just by standing tall and being sure of ourselves.
It’s amazing that you’ve lived (and modeled) in Europe, Asia, L.A. and now NYC. Which location has been the best learning curve for you?
I would say I learned the most about modeling in Europe, but the place I learned the most about myself was in LA. It was in the last month of my time in Los Angeles that I realized I will never be perfectly “model-skinny” and that I don’t really want to be! I decided to stop fighting my natural weight and just embrace the body I’m so blessed to have! All bodies are beautiful, and genuinely believing this has made me a much more confident and self-assured woman.
Now, let’s get into fashion! What has been your most memorable “look” from a photoshoot?
I loved my look by Christian Cowen for the comeback episode of America’s Next Top Model. He is such an amazing designer and my outfit made me feel like a fierce fireball!
Who is one designer or photographer that you would absolutely love to work with?
It is my dream to shoot with Mario Testino. His work is the best of the best (in my opinion) and he has shot every major super model in history. A designer I’d love to work with is Alexander Wang. Not only are his designs cool, edgy, and totally my style, but he is also an absolute legend in the fashion industry.
How would you describe your style?
I’d say my style is sort of punk rock/ 90’s grunge, with a feminine twist.
If you’re ever feeling intimidated or self-conscious in a shoot, what’s your “go-to” so that you feel more relaxed and comfortable?
I just always remember that I have family, friends, and a boyfriend that love me no matter what. If one specific photographer or client doesn’t like me, it doesn’t matter! Because I am confident in who I am and have a great support system back home.
I met Marcus when we worked at the Better Show in the city and we connected immediately. I love fashion, he was styling the hosts–what’s there not to like about? Aside from being a stylist, Marcus has a bubbly personality with so much to bring to the fashion industry.
What got you into styling?
I started off as a model at age 12 in New Orleans. After receiving a car from my father at age 15 I was told that I needed to make my own money for gas so I got a job on weekends at Hemline Boutique in New Orleans where I learned a ton about merchandising, buying, selling and also styling. From there I worked for Dolce & Gabbana, Blue Cult Denim, and Prada. But, it was at VOGUE as an intern then as a paid stylist assistant that I got my feet wet regarding styling and the creative process.
What’s your favorite part of working in the fashion industry?
I love the lives I change. Designer clothing is great, the parties are amazing and the people on the outside are always so beautiful but, nothing makes me happier than giving a deserving woman a new lease on life through fashion and my service to her. I’m able to allow my passion to serve others and I believe thats what life is truly about.
If there’s one piece of advice you learned working in the industry, what was it?
Hmm, I have learned so many things especially over the last three years by being on television. But the biggest piece would be to stay true to yourself, listen to your gut and smile everyday. You must feel good about yourself and what you are creating. Be sure to slow down and smell the roses. You will get where you want to be but its not worth it if you have had to kill 30 dreams of others or you didn’t stop to help someone else on your way to the top. BE KIND and the universe will reward you.
Who would you love to work with?
I would love to work with Hilary Clinton. I would also love to work with E! as an on air style reporter. Stay Tuned!!
Is there something about the industry that people may be led to believe or do not know about?
Énervé – it means “edgy” in French and I like to always incorporate something French and something edgy into my outfit
What is one accessory that you must always have on you?
A chunky necklace! I think you could take a simple outfit and turn it into something fashionable just by adding a statement necklace. I always carry my favorite silver one and my favorite gold one in my bag with me so I can swap them out depending on the outfit. Also my pleather pants rarely make it back into my dresser. They just go from the washer to the dryer to my body and back.
Which fashion trend (if any) do you think is making a comeback?
I’m not sure if it’s made its official comeback yet but I’m hoping that I can stop looking so odd when I wear clothing that reflects the 1920’s flapper/1930’s old Hollywood glamour. I think aspects of it are making a come back like heavily embellished tops/dresses and big fur jackets. I’m still waiting for pin curls to make their comeback!
What do you appreciate about fashion?
I love that fashion allows you to pick and choose which trends you’d like to incorporate into your style while putting your own personal twist on it. There probably aren’t two people in the world who have the exact same fashion sense. I think that’s so cool.
What is your go-to store?
Oddly enough I love thrift stores. My favorites are probably Goodwill and Plato’s Closet. I love that you can find something truly unique that not everyone will be wearing. Plus I change my style so often as a college student that I love (need) me a bargain.
What is your style secret?
While bargain shopping is one of my secrets, I think spending $ on a few versatile, flattering, staple items is key. Money spent on a pair of jeans that make your booty look good is money well spent. Another secret is to not spend a ton of money on something just because it’s a trend. My trick when a trend comes out that’s a little out of budget is to find something similar that’s a little more “me.” For example, while I think Michael Kors watches are the bees knees, I also think eating daily is the bees knees. My heart said yes; my wallet said no. So I decided to fish through my grandpa’s belongings and find one of his old, large watches to wear. It looks good and it’s sentimental, too!
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self about dressing in school?
Don’t worry so much about what others think and don’t spend all your (mom’s) money at Limited Too and Abercrombie, Holly, for goodness sakes. I used to think way too much about what others would think if I wore this or that and now it’s like, “Do I like it? Yes? Okay then let’s wear these chunky Goth boots with this French sweater and gaudy rings.”
What do you think really makes or break an outfit?
Your confidence! I think anyone can wear anything and make it look good if they feel good in it. Don’t dress to impress anyone but yourself.
Danielle is one of my cousins and is also a world traveler (to say the least). For the past few months, Danielle has been backpacking to different countries with one of her friends. She has seen so many different cultures and people which is so fascinating to me. Her blog, Wonderlust, covers everything from where she has been to fun adventures (she is currently traveling).
In one word, how would you describe your style?
While traveling, Comfy-Casual.
You’ve been traveling all over the past few months, what have you noticed about the way people dress? Have you seen a huge difference?
Over the past 2 months and a half I have been to New Zealand, Australia, Bali Singapore and Thailand. The styles are different in each place.
New Zealand: Very outdoorsy/ sporty and casual. Obviously in big cities the style is more prominent–people are more dressed up. Whereas in smaller cities people are just dressed casual.
Australia: I wanna say hipster and surfer are the main styles. In many small towns shoes are optional when going out in public, most locals don’t wear them. In the cities the styles are very artsy and hipster.
Singapore: Since it is a big city, my thought about the style is people tend to dress up more. There is such a range of styles though because there are many different cultures mixing together.
Bali: There isn’t so much a style as much as people just dressing comfortable or dressing appropriate for their job. I was amazed how they could wear long pants and long sleeves in the heat. For the majority of people, the style is casual and comfortable. Yoga is very popular in bali, most people you see will be wearing casual yoga pants and a light flowing top.
Thailand: People dress much more conservative, to go to temps women need to be more covered up. In the south islands it is a style for the men to have really long hair. I saw a lot of tight jeans on men and edgy/rock type shirts. Women dress similar. However comfy casual is also a constant style. In the north the style is a little more conservative.
In general for Thailand and Indonesia Sarongs and fisherman pants are pretty popular. Make up is also not very popular in any of the places I have been.
Have you been inspired by any specific fashions as you’ve been traveling?
I really liked the style in Australia and wanted to buy everything. It was so different and artsy– many boutique shops. I am also growing to love the comfy pants sold all over (Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand).
Is there anything new that you have learned about their culture and the way they dress?
Thailand: need to be more covered i.e. for temples/ places of worship. Karen Hill tribe in the north, wear Brass rings around their neck as a symbol of beauty.
New Zealand: The Maori tribe has a big influence on the culture still. Many people have tribal tattoos having significance with the maori culture. Many people wear Jade around there neck in shapes of different protection symbols.
Have you bought any cool accessories/piece of clothing along your trip?
I had to get a Jade necklace when I was in New Zealand. I also bought a pair of pants in Thailand. At night the pants are a good idea to protect from mosquitos.
Since you are backpacking all around Asia, what do you usually wear?
A light, loose tank top, casual comfy shorts or jean shorts. Also always have a sarong on you, in case to cover up or go to the beach. As far as shoes go flip flops are my go to choice. However I have a pair of keen sandals for hikes and adventure trips. A bathing suit has also been a constant “style” for me. I wore one almost every day in Australia, Bali and in the south islands of Thailand.
Mere has been a very dear friend of mine for a long time. I wanted to feature her for November–not because she’s one of my best friends (though it does make me biased) but because she has the best style I have ever seen. Her style is daring and extremely chic. Follow her on social media if you love pink, glitter and glamour.
What got you into loving fashion?
Fashion started at an early age for me but developed over the years and my style has definitely changed. I specifically remember as a child picking out my own outfits and always having everything match perfectly. If something was turquoise and it was paired with a cobalt blue that simply could not be! Years of searching through Vogue and Bazaar for the upcoming trends of the season, and gazing upon websites allowed me to gain more perspective on fashion and really got me obsessed! The fabrics, the colors, the patterns, the beauty of it all-what a world, what daily inspiration to any young fashionista out there!
What is a fashion trend that you regret partaking in?
There are a few things that I can remember as a growing gal that were hard to stay away from because you were thought of as “uncool” I specifically remember walking into the lunch room of middle school and seeing all the Abercrombie skirts, polos, and thinking wow those girls are cool, I have to shop there-but much to my dismay, my mom said to buy things of quality that will last, and Abercrombie was simply a “thing” of the time and years from now no one will wear it. Gosh parents are always right aren’t they? How do they always know? Although the Abercrombie years I successfully escaped, I want to thank my mom for taking me to see other options as a young kid and understand that being cool and fitting in did not always define your style, and creating your own being is just as “cool” and important.
What would you say your signature look is?
As stated before, styles are changing, seasonal items come in and out, but currently and most times in the past my go to look has been preppy chic with a twist of classy hipster nerd. Adding a smart factor to the New England style of classy cool.
What is your go-to outfit?
Go to outfit is currently skinny pants, with short boot socks, heeled booties for those chilly New Hampshire days, a button down, comfy cozy sweater, and oversized barn coat. Depending on the weather would swap the booties for some Hunter boots and add a preppy hat of some-sort. Doesn’t matter the weather-stand out, make those gloomy days bright, and don’t forget to add the most important thing to your outfit-a smile 🙂
How do you think your style is different from other girls your age?
At school, I think it is about the same type of style, but also depends on the occasion. For the most part, I always dress up (except on soccer game days) because you never know who you will meet at any time in life-always have to be prepared and look sharp!
Being in college, what are some ways that you hunt for sales or great deals?
Being in college without a job means hunting for deals, and when you get a good one, wow is it empowering! I first decide on a outfit I want to create, whether it be an idea I saw, an outfit on Pinterest, or simply remixing an outfit I already own with new pieces, having an idea is key when shopping for deals. First look at the sales racks to find out the stock they have, but also try places like Marshalls, TJMaxx, and upscale Thrift Shops such as Second Time Around. Also if you know when your favorite stores are having a sale, get ahead of the game, grab some coupons and go! The deals are out there and if you know how to put your self together, anything will potentially work!
A: There were a lot of contributing factors. Last year I really immersed myself into all things fashion. I loved makeup and clothing, etc. beforehand but then I just really got into it. I was always looking to make new outfits, figure out new makeup looks, try different hairstyle, etc. It sort of just went from there. I follow a lot of fashion bloggers on Instagram and they all inspired me. I saw them doing it and thought, “hey. I can do that, too.” Let me tell you, though, it’s definitely not as easy as it looks! But it’s absolutely worth it.
Q: What makes your blog different from others?
A: There are a lot of blogs that are similar. Some blogs are designed to be similar on purpose. I think what separates my blog from everyone else’s isn’t the fact that I write about different things…I think it’s the fact that I write unapologetically about whatever I want and with my own voice. I’m not trying to be someone that I’m not. If you like my blog and my writing, great! Thank you! I really appreciate that! If not, it’s not going to stop me from blogging about what I love.
Q: What are your fall must haves?
A: I think the typical fall must haves: leggings, long-sleeve anything, boots. I recently wrote a blog post about my fall obsession: jackets. I blogged about my favorite fall find: a Vince Camuto jacket. I think that blog post pretty much covers everything. You can read it here: http://wearsbyris.com/2014/10/09/looks-im-loving-vince-camuto/
Q: What are your favorite stores to shop at?
A: Everywhere. I’m always looking for new stores to expand my wardrobe! I love clothes and I’m not biased at all. I’ll try anything! I have so many different stores in my wardrobe so I’m not sure if I could actually pinpoint one store. If I had to pick a few of my favorites, though, I would go with LuluLemon, Lilly Pulitzer, C. Wonder, J. Crew and Juliana’s Boutique.
Q: Where do you go to find a great bargain?
A: Apps. I know that sounds weird but I have a lot of apps on my phone that will send me notifications when there are sales going on at my favorite stores.