INTERVIEW | Kiwi Fashion Girl Sophie Hardley Talks Living in NYC

15.2.17

Living in New York is a dream come true for most twenty-something’s, but perhaps none more so than young New Zealanders.

But finding your place – and building a career – in the city that (literally) never sleeps can be almost impossible. So I spoke with Kiwi fashion girl Sophie Hardley about her love affair with New York, establishing herself in the fashion industry and working for Carine Roitfeld, and what advice she would give other Kiwi’s who want to make it in the Big Apple.

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After living in Sydney for a few years, what made you decide to take the risk and move to New York? 

Until arriving in New York the only thing that made me lust after this city was Woody Allen and the proximity of a flight to Europe. That was until I waltzed (gracelessly) through the snow on 5th Avenue and leapt off the subway to the sound of a muso’s trombone. This city offers up magic and mundane all within the hour but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have my boyfriend to thank for plonking me on a plane and the soles of my high school converse for keeping me here.

 

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“Central Park, one of the only places in NYC where surprisingly I feel calm. There have been instances where I have walked through this park and found myself alone for at least 20 minutes as if the city were empty.”

Where do you work in NYC? What projects are you currently working on?

Since touching down in the states I have worked with stylists and creative directors alike from Victoria’s Secret campaigns to Vogue China editorials. In what felt like a divine warm up I find myself marveling amongst some of the most iconic photographers, designers and artists the universe has to offer, working on CR Fashion Book under the inimitable Carine Roitfeld. I fondly recall watching the documentary ‘Mademoiselle C’ and practically sobbing, proclaiming to my boyfriend that I would simply fall to bits and melt, if I was ever in the presence of Carine Roitfeld. It still holds true to this day, although the melting effect has subsided slightly…

 

You seem to spend a lot of time surrounded by strong and powerful women, from Carine Roitfeld to the hard-working Victoria’s Secret angels, what have you learnt from them? Is there anyone you have been particularly impressed by?

Interactions with strong and powerful women are, luckily, a right of passage in my industry, albeit starting at home in New Zealand and now reflected in my friendships in New York day in and day out. Women such as Annie Leibovitz have inspired me for altering fashion ideals, Iris Apfel for her delight in the madness of this town and its inhabitant’s, rightly claiming “If you’re not interested, you’re not interesting.” and Gigi Hadid’s incredible professionalism and focus which rivals that of an Olympic athlete. I’ve been acting as a sponge ever since arriving in New York and often the women I admire are for their sheer politeness and gratitude; a notion of being humble. It seems somewhere between Wall Street and Midtown manners fly right out of the yellow cab windows.

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“My favorite building in NYC, The New York Public Library. “

Despite the soaring rent prices, tiny spaces and masses of tourists, we can’t help but adore New York and all that it offers. Was there a particular moment where you realised you had fallen in love with the city?

Not to dampen the impulse of a single moment, but for me the love I feel for New York is more that of manifesting a complicated, unstable relationship. The highs and lows are of rollercoaster proportions. When they are high, they are monumentous; walking home from seeing a film in the East Village I once blurted out “Look – someone has spread glitter all over the streets and along the roads! How wonderful.” But they were the same old streets and the same filthy roads, I just had a good day at work and a restful nights sleep, and that was all it took.

 

What advice would you give someone looking to make their mark in NYC?

It would probably be along the lines of less talk more action. Not in the realm of pressure and struggle, but more literally speaking. My advice would be to book your flight, get on the plane, and simply be here. Try not to overthink and overanalyze because New York is difficult to dissect and the 3am rubbish truckers make for terrible listeners. Even though it may feel uncomfortable and often intimidating, reaching out to friends (or friends of friends of friends…) is frequently the best way forward, especially in a hyper competitive and sometimes hostile industry such as fashion in New York.

 

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“Brasserie Witlof in Williamburg, Brooklyn. When it all feels like a melting pot of metropolitan madness I retreat to Williamburg. Not a new notion, but one that satisfies my neighborhood cravings.”