INTERVIEW Gifted, gorgeous and gutsy—meet Candice Lake

Six-foot-tall Australian, Candice Lake, has become what the media like to call a ‘hot hyphenate’: once a Law student, she’s now a model-turned-photographer-turned blogger, which means she’s happily taking (and calling) the shots, rather than posing for them!

Interview with Candice Lake

You're covering the New York Fashion Week scene for us—did any themes stand out in what NYC’s best-dressed ladies wore to the shows?
There’s a lot of denim around, and white is still a recurring theme that seems to be here to stay. SS16 felt more relaxed than other seasons, with a more polished idea of ‘Normcore’ (‘anti-style’) coming through in streetstyle looks.

What about the shows at New York Fashion Week? Any observations regarding standout looks, color trends, fabrics or silhouettes that made an impression?
There’s a strong ’90s theme still running through many collections, along with a serious return of the slip dress à la Kate Moss ’90s Calvin Klein. Tibi showed a lot of embellishment and I think we’ll be seeing a lot on the streets next summer. Also, orange is the new black.

How important is it for a photographer to connect with streetstyle subjects to get authenticity in a photo?
Streetstyle is like all portraiture: if you have a relationship with your sitter you’ll get a better photo. That said, sometimes the fact that you don’t have a relationship with someone allows a certain amount of beautiful awkwardness and, perhaps, gives truth to the image. Streetstyle is quite different to what it used to be five years ago at the shows. Then, it was organic, but now it’s rather curated, so you sometimes have to hit the streets outside of the shows to find more authentic fashion. I always love seeing how young fashion assistants and students interpret fashion. I love it when I see someone making a trend all their own, or interpreting the current trends in a really creative way. For instance, I saw someone who had painstakingly embellished her jacket with Swarovski crystals—it stood out as completely unique.

Do you find that people are happier to be photographed in some cities rather than others?
I really can’t decide which city I love most. It’s all so polished and cool in New York with everyone pulling out bold colors and bang-on-trend looks. London is where I shoot all my favorite girls—a lot of the cool experimental girls are there. In Paris, my favorite girls dress in a feminine vs. masculine aesthetic, and everyone is impossibly chic.

Did crystal embellishment feature a lot?
I saw a lot of crystal decoration on jackets, and the leather jacket is back, with DIY embellishment signaling a slight return to grunge. We also saw Swarovski crystals on the faces of Givenchy’s runway models, which was incredibly new and exciting and hopefully the beginning of a new face jewelry trend.

What style influences will you personally take away from NYFW?
I’m a big fan of minimalism with a twist of something fabulous. This season was all about that: a pair of denim jeans and a t-shirt paired with an embellished bag; or a simple two-tone slip dress with an embellished chain belt. Simplicity mixed with glamour at its very best.

Watching photographers at work during your modeling years turned you onto photography. Did you study photography formally? How long was it before you had the technical knowledge to pursue it as a career?
After school I went straight into studying Law. I actually wanted to go to art school but everyone told me it was a bad idea. I stuck it out for a few years, although luckily a model agent from Milan spotted me, and I got on the plane a week later and never looked back.
I instantly started walking in shows for designers like Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Chanel, and doing campaigns for Ralph Lauren. The defining moment was the Versace Versus campaign with Steven Meisel: I remember calling my agent, distraught, to tell him I had been dropped from the shoot, as he had only shot five frames. A few months later I saw an amazing image he had taken of of me on a billboard! That’s when I began to understand the genius of the people behind the industry and decided I wanted to finally go to art school and study photography. It was later, in the middle of a Harpers Bazaar shoot, with lights entwined around my body as I stood precariously in a pool of water that I asked the photographer if I could assist him on his next shoot. I don’t think he could really say no at that point! That was the day I began transitioning to the other side of the camera.
I went back to university and gained a BA in Fine Arts with Honors, and four years later, after doing a lot of assisting, I moved to London. I started working with Vogue UK shooting streetstyle at the shows in New York, London and Paris. I was taking so many photos that my editor suggested I start a blog to showcase all my extra work, and that was how www.candicelake.com got started. Without modeling, I’d never have had these amazing opportunities in photography.

Any advice for newcomers?
I learnt pretty early on that nothing falls in your lap—you have to make it happen and grab opportunities you're given. I get a lot of emails from students asking for career advice, and I always give four things: Listen to your instinct. Take risks. Don't take no for an answer. Work your butt off doing something you love. Some pretty major moments for me were: getting my first story published in Vogue; my Graduating Exhibition being shown in New York and later featuring in Vogue; and US Vogue doing a feature on me in their Best Dressed Issue. Although I think if you’re genuinely excited about doing something you love, that’s pretty much the most amazing "This is it" moment you can have. I still feel like this most days!

You always look as though you put yourself together effortlessly—do you have to think about what to wear before you leave home/the hotel each morning?
I always make sure I look unique, yet always myself. I stick to a uniform of classic cuts with a little twist, like a pop of color, an oversized coat, or a bright hat. I never really plan what to wear—I go with how I feel that morning (which makes me a serial over-packer!). I live in leather pants, as they are super-comfortable to shoot in, but also more luxe than jeans. I’m 6ft tall so I can get away with wearing flats, which I think are very chic. As much as I love them, I never go over 3-inch heels when I'm with my camera.

Do Swarovski crystals feature in your wardrobe?
I love a touch of embellishment, and one of my favorite pieces is a Charlotte Olympia crystal bag.

How do you split your time between photography, modeling, journalism, blogging, and other media commitments? Not forgetting motherhood, which has surely eaten into your me-time …
A normal working day is never the same, which makes life interesting. I got back from NYC yesterday, where I was modeling in a campaign; today I’m shooting a story for Vogue Australia (I’m the Style Editor); and tomorrow I’m flying to Paris for Fashion Week.
During Fashion Weeks the day usually starts at 7am: I’ll have a breakfast meeting, go to the shows, meet with the PRs to discuss upcoming shoots, or prep for editorials that I’m about to shoot. There’s also a lot of deskwork when you have your own brand. The main thing for me is time management and ensuring I have quality time with my family. When I’m home I’m 100 per cent with my family. We love to picnic in the park, and go swimming and bike riding together. I think this balance is incredibly important, especially when you’re a mum.

Swarovski Crystals Magazine #01 - Everyday Extraordinary

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