Char Ellesse, Model, Art Director and Instagram 'Influencer' recently styled pieces from students at our member universities at the GFW18 Campaign Photoshoot on the roof of The Truman Brewery. Having been featured in Weekday campaigns, and recently signed by Wilhelmina models, Char is an emerging creative, fighting for visibility and representation across the industry.
We caught up with the Girls Will Be Boys platform creator to hear more about the passion project, how to execute an authentic design collection and why the inclusivity created through blurring the lines between gender boundaries can be achieved through your very own social channels.
Firstly, what made you want to be involved with Graduate Fashion Week?
Well I like how it allows all of the designers to be expressive and represent themselves in a form of artwork, which is what I do, so I feel like I just wanted to help represent whatever they want to represent as well, because I am big on representation!
How would you describe what you do?
I am a freelance art director and the founder of online platform called ‘girls will be boys’ erm which is about blurring the lines between gender roles through content creation. So I did a short film called ‘oh my god she’s bald’ just to kind of delve into the experiences that women who have shaved their head and kind of gone against gender stereotypes have found it, and I also do modelling!
Recently there have been many videos of people shaving their heads and then receiving a real mixed reaction. Is it part of that trend, pioneering that movement?
Yeah so, it was a passion project initially. I wanted to do it since I had shaved my head 4/5 years ago, but I didn’t know how to execute it well enough and I didn’t have the people around me but I felt like it was the right time considering more people are jumping on it. I thought it would get more exposure, and then more people can jump on it. It kinda felt like the right time but I’ve wanted to do it for a while.
What made you initially want to shave your head?
To be honest, I’m lazy! I didn’t want to have to do my hair and I kind of just wanted to be enough without my hair because of confidence issues. I feel like once you shave your head it just opens up like you’re just exposed, I know it sounds silly but a lot of girls securities like in their hair and their appearance, erm so yeah I just wanted to be happy with myself and shave my head.
You can't hide without hair!
Yeah, you can’t hide behind anything!
There are many soon-to-be graduates pieces here today. Which collections have caught your eye?
The statement pieces definitely, I like to play around with silhouettes and stuff! Especially because I have my shaved head, so, all you can see is the silhouette because there is no hair or anything getting in the way, so there’s like a big I can’t remember the collection, like a big oversized pink sparkly jacket! It’s wild, it’s wild.
So if you had to give some advice to the students that made these pieces, about to showcase with us in 6 weeks, what would you say?
Have confidence in your work, just know that you know why you did it, you know how you want it to come across. So just make sure it’s 100% authentically you and then people will receive it how they receive it but at least you know that you’ve done, you’ve executed what you want the outcome to be.
Which actually perfectly leads onto my next question, how do you make sure that you remain true to yourself on social media?
It’s very hard, but you just have to keep checking in with yourself like is this, does this present me? Like if I saw me on social media is that the kinda person that I would want to be friends with or that I would be inspired by, or that I felt like was sending out the right message? So, I think yeah just checking in with yourself and also making sure you’ve got a solid group of people around you whether it’s friends or family but just people who know you that can kind of keep you in check.
Whilst we have many international universities, London is the home of GFW. Known for it’s creativity, it's one of the fashion capitals. What are your favourite things about London?
How expressive you can be, because I actually waited until I moved to London to shave my head so, because I felt like I would be more accepted here like people don’t really care or people more so appreciate you standing out, then just blending in. You’re actually noticed for standing out. I think it’s a good place to just be yourself and start that journey of like self-love and self-expression.
How did you end up becoming an 'influencer'?
When I started Instagram the term ‘influencer’ wasn’t really around. I would just post outfit pictures on outfit pictures on outfit pictures so it was just me being me! Brands kind of latch onto that, PRs want you to see how you can style this piece or like get involved with more things and then you kind of come underneath the umbrella term of ‘influencer’. So I guess it kinda happened just, doing what I wanted to do and showing what I wanted to show!
And lastly, what’s your favourite account on Instagram?
My friend has a really good account I’m gonna plug him! He’s from Paris and he does styling, art direction, photography but he’s just very aesthetically pleasing. So it’s his outfits along with restaurants that he’s been to or buildings that he likes and becomes it’s from like a Paris perspective, @simonnndjock
And ohhhh I feel like I wanna pull up my phone now, what else, I’m gonna have to get back to you to get the good ones!
Interview by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins