Championing off-kilter style, the star of Dazed and Luxottica's ‘Class of 2016’ campaign talks idiosyncratic eyewear and industry diversityLuxottica
Mae Lapres is the runway queen bee whose off-kilter style and empowered attitude says, ‘I’m coming for the crown.’ A consummate Parisian, you might recognise her from fashion week catwalks or multiple campaigns – but when she’s not playing at being the muse, she prefers to take charge of her own style, collecting vintage threads and customising them. “I think I’ve been through all styles!” she exclaims. “Emo, princess-y, Britney Spears, military… You just have to test it all and get to know what you like.” Intelligent and vocal on issues affecting the industry today, she’s the model prom queen bound to win over the hearts and minds of all who encounter her – including Iris Apfel, Lapres' personal style heroine and fellow specs-wearer, who she befriended on the day of the Luxottica campaign shoot. Here, the inimitable model of the moment schools us in surviving the industry and what makes great personal style.
On her personal style advice
What makes great personal style? Experience. When I was in high school I was literally Jenny from Gossip Girl. All the other girls were wealthy, they had the latest brands, they all had Balenciaga bags and I didn’t have all that so I had to make it myself. That’s when I got into customising. Weirdly, and I’m not avant-garde or anything, but I started wearing super-big eyewear. I took my grandma’s vintage sunglasses and turned them into spectacles! Everyone made so much fun of me – I was, like, the main target. But then American Apparel started selling this vintage eyewear and everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, where did you get your glasses?’ and I was like, ‘The glasses you’ve been laughing at for the past two years?’ and they were like ‘Yeah.’ I was like ‘They’re vintage, go find them if you can!’”
On the importance of extracurricular activities
Since I started modelling it’s all been about modelling, but when I’m at home I do like to cook a lot! I do a lot of shopping: (I love to) dig out a little vintage, a little unique accessory or two! I used to customise clothes when I was in high school. But I did have a lot of extra activities. I started music when I was five! I was at the conservatoire, so classical music. I had choir, I did about ten years of piano, I did two years of harp. I tried to do guitar, but I’m kinda clumsy with my right hand and I tried to play guitar with a right-handed guitar which just did not work out for me. But, by the time I reached 16, I’d started nightclubbing! I met a few DJs so I was singing on their songs, writing lyrics. I ended up being the keyboard player for a band called The Teenagers.
“I’m not 1m 80cm, I don’t have long legs, I’m not that type. In the end my personality helped a lot, and suddenly everything opened up! Now I feel like everyone can have a chance in modelling” – Mae Lapres
On how she found her confidence in the industry
When I started years ago I had a bob haircut and, of course, being Asian, it was really tough for me – the industry was still pretty narrow-minded. Asians weren’t really that accepted yet, and I had a hard time to start off with. I was always in the edgy editorials. And I’m not 1m 80cm, you know – I don’t have long legs, I’m not that type. In the end my personality helped a lot, and suddenly everything opened up! Now I feel like everyone can have a chance in modelling. But it’s also risky because it’s easier to become a model but it’s also easier to be rejected. I feel like one day you’re the new face and you’re on all the new covers and opening all the shows and then the next day another freaky girl is gonna come out and you’re forgotten. It’s all about respect, in the end. When you’re on set you have that respect for everybody, and you do your job professionally and in a nice way, and then there’s no problem. I don’t judge people so I don’t expect people to judge me, (but) maybe that is wrong! I’m just a very crazy girl.
On who she would save the last dance for
Um, obviously the hottest guy for the prom queen! But it has to be your best friend, right? I think that’s what you wanna remember, cause when you’re young, you know, boyfriends come and go, girlfriends come and go, but your friends are always here for you, especially high school friends. They are the friends that you’re gonna lose for 10 years because everyone goes their separate ways, but in the end those are the years that made you. I mean when I look back to my high school best friend, we never see eachother, but our parents know each other, we had all these pyjama parties, she knows me I know her... there’s no judging. We actually love each other, you know? It’s not my soul mate but almost – so yeah. I would save it for my best friend.
Check out Luxottica's full Class of 2016 here.