Relishing her new-found career “connecting the dots and problem solving” as a creative consultant working with artists, photographers and fashion labels, alongside her envious role as one of the Les Fidèles de CHANEL, the red-lipped raven-haired New York native, some-time model and resident style icon, Jen Brill, seems to have it all… Just don’t call her an it-girl.
As a native New Yorker, what was it like to grow up in such an endlessly creative and inspiring city?
Jen Brill: I grew up on the Upper East Side, and I loved growing up in the city – even when I was a child I understood how special New York is. I think it's one of the least judgmental, most accepting places I've ever been. My mother is from Hong Kong and my father is from Australia… They met in Asia, moved to New Guinea, then to New York and had me.
What were your favourite things to do as a teenager – are you still interested in some of the same things now?
Brill: I wasn't a "fashion kid" who obsessively read magazines and knew the names of photographers and stylists, but I've always loved images and faces. I had an appreciation of style more than fashion when I was a teenager and like any girl, I loved clothes. I wore a uniform to school so choosing what I'd wear on weekends was a form of self-expression. My father took photos so I was always interested in photography and art.
You used to be an agent at Total Management, what are you doing now?
Brill: I've been creative consulting. I've always loved connecting the dots, working with images, working with people and problem solving so this feels like a natural progression to what I've been doing for years. I am so lucky to be in a position where I can work with people who inspire me constantly. I have never been more excited about my career.
What did you dream of being when you grew up?
Brill: I wanted to be a painter.
You are also an ambassador for Chanel – what does that entail? It must have been such an honour to be asked to be an ambassador for such an iconic and (at one time) totally revolutionary fashion house...
Brill: Yes, It's an absolute honour to be a friend of the house of CHANEL – I love the brand, the culture, the clothing, everything really. As an ambassador, I go to countries around the world and give out lip-glosses, purses and jackets (just kidding)!
What are your other creative pursuits at the moment?
Brill: I work closely with a non-profit called RxArt which puts art in children's health-care facilities across the United States. We've done site-specific projects with everyone from Jeff Koons to Ryan McGinley in hospitals like Saint Judes, Advocate Hope Children's hospital and others. In September we are releasing a colouring book that CHANEL Beaute sponsored, and Robb Pruitt's work is on the cover.
You've become known for your personal style, and are often referred to as an NY it-girl – is this something you aspired to?
Brill: ‘It-girl’ is a term that I don't identify with. I see it as a way to describe someone who's stylish, wears great clothes, goes to parties, and that's about all. I'd call myself a lot of other things before ‘it’. The way I dress has something to do with beautiful things, ugly things, old things, new things, and everything in between. If I see something I like, I wear it. Some of my favourites brands are Christopher Kane, CHANEL, Proenza Schouler, Sophomore, Opening Ceremony, Alaia, Miu MIu, Mark Fast, Acne Jeans... I love love Nicholas Kirkwood and Charlotte Olympia Shoes, and lots of label-less vintage that is well made or funny.
What do you love most about living in New York, and in particular, Chinatown?
Brill: New York has endless energy that you can tap into it whenever you'd like. You can also fly under the radar from time to time, which is one of the reasons why I love Chinatown, it's perfectly anonymous.
Do you have a favourite artist or art movement? This issue, we are obsessed with the Dadaists...
Brill: There are too many to name, so I'll just name one: Dan Colen.
As someone who has always been surrounded by photography, who are your favourite photographers?
Brill: I'm excited about a lot of young photographers including Theo Wenner, Max Farago, Kacper Kasprzyk, Ryan Forester, Zoe Ghertner, Sam Falls, Elad Lassry and the list goes on... Some of my all-time favourites are Ed van der Elsken, Les Krims, G.P. Fieret, Wallace Berman and Daido Moriyama.
You have been linked for years with Terry Richardson – what is it about his fashion photography and way of life that has made him such an iconic fashion photographer?
Brill: Terry has inspired a whole generation of photographers, which is pretty mind blowing. He's not just a fashion photographer, he is an incredible artist. I see fashion and art as two different things – they dance around each other, and sometimes with each other, but ultimately art is art and fashion is fashion.
What is your all-time favourite item of clothing or outfit – where did you wear it and why do you love it?
Brill: My current all-time favourite is a black APC cotton cardigan from high school. It's perfectly soft and torn at the elbows… My friends have been begging me to stop wearing it.
Describe your perfect weekend...
Brill: During the summer I spend my weekends in Montauk. If I could swim in the ocean 365 days a year, I would.
It’s hard to imagine summer ending right now, but what looks will you be running wild in for the upcoming Autumn/Winter season?
Brill: I've been wearing a bikini for days straight – don't remind me of fall or winter just yet!