Arden Wray lives in Toronto and just graduated from the photography program at Concordia University in Montreal. She recently shot an editorial spread for issue 12 of WORN, and sometimes takes photos for our blog. Arden is (almost naturally) friends with Yuli Sato, another Montreal photographer and a recent WORN Crush. Arden talks to WORN about silly high school phases, Britney and Justin’s matching outfits at the American Music Awards, and the inspiration behind her shoot in issue 12.
What’s your favourite fashion publication, and why do you like it?
My favourite fashion magazine is Lula, hands down. I’m a total dork and hold onto all the issues, so I’ve got a big stack of them in my bedroom. I really appreciate how finely they’ve tuned their aesthetic. It’s really consistent in its palette and feel, so after a while it kind of seems like hanging out with an imaginary girlfriend flipping through it. They profile really interesting women and frame it all in such a sweet, earnest, conversational way. It just makes me feel really good to look through it, which is definitely not what I’d say about a lot of fashion magazines.
What did you dress like in high school? Has your style changed much since then?
I went through all sorts of silly phases. Nothing too extreme, just more awful in hindsight than anything. Picture evenly spaced blonde highlights, too much makeup, and platform flip-flops. I like to think it wasn’t all my fault. My friends and I joke about the period between 1999 and 2003 as being “The Void” — just a total style wasteland where pretty much nobody looked good. I would point here to Britney and Justin’s matching denim cowboy get-ups at the 2001 American Music Awards. An IMDB search of the 2001 Teen Choice Awards gallery is also pretty stellar entertainment. So, from there, my style has changed pretty hugely. I think it was in about ninth grade that I really discovered vintage and fell in love. Now, I love wearing classic pieces, natural materials like cotton and leather, and neutral colours. I’m hugely inspired by the look and feel of Chloe.
What’s your favourite photo or series you’ve ever taken?
I think the work I feel most connected to is the “Nesting” series I completed in 2010. I worked on it from this place of just being so completely at peace with where I was at in my life. I was in love and just kind of lazily happy, spending time with close friends and building a home for myself, and I wanted to create a document of that experience.
Have any fashion photographers in particular influenced your work?
I definitely love the aesthetic of Juergen Teller. I’m more influenced by fine art photographers, however, than fashion photographers generally. Stephen Shore and William Eggleston were some of the first artists who got me really excited about the potential of photography and inspired me to start shooting. In terms of people working right now, I’m a big fan of Alec Soth. All of them share a really raw, honest quality in their work which I hugely admire and respond to.
If you could take a photo of anyone, anywhere in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d love to be able to photograph my mother’s mother, who died before I was born. Even though I never met her, my mom always tells me ways in which we’re similar and little stories about her. She designed fabulous hats for her living, had a huge personality, and just seems like somebody who would be so warm and delightful to be around. I’d love the experience of taking her portrait and getting to know her in the process.
Can you tell us about the photo shoot you did for issue 12 of WORN?
Setting out for the shoot, we were playing with this idea of two girls sort of camping out in a space but making it their own. We wanted a very luxurious, vintage vibe to the whole thing but to play with the feeling of something always being a little bit off as well — a sort of Margot Tenenbaum meets Dallas vibe. We ended up having the opportunity to shoot in a super ’90s condo in Montreal which belonged to the parents of the art director, Pascale. The space was hilarious — no right angles, mirrors everywhere, intense carpeting, and lots and lots of peachy-bandaid coloured paint. We had a super lovely team of ladies on set and our models were two of my babe friends, Ming and Sadaf, so the energy was high, even though it ended up being a long day, and we all had a good time. It was funny incorporating some of the silly props we did — chinese takeout (which we all happily munched on before using), a big palm tree (which Serah-Marie and Ted bravely lugged to the set), and sparklers in the elevator (which almost set off the fire alarm and called for evacuation of the whole complex). In between chatting about Jordan Catalano and Twin Peaks, ogling Natasha Thomas‘s gorgeous designs, and grooving to silly music, we managed to get some really great shots! I love the spread and I hope the readers will too.
Interview by Stephanie Fereiro
Photos by Arden Wray