StyleCaster teamed up with model Crystal Renn for a 3 part cover series entitled, “Crystal Renn: Identity” a week-long editorial project, in collaboration with film and video photographers Dusan Reljin, Cameron Krone and Jason Last.
Crystal Renn was the natural choice for the multi-media project because of her strong sense of self, inherent beauty and willingness to collaborate with each team. Crystal researched a range of references to perfect each of the characters across varying platforms.
Below is an interview I conducted with Crystal during the close of the final day of the project with Dusan Reljin. You can also watch the video interview above. Enjoy!
Emily Finkbinder: When StyleCaster approached you for this project, what was your initial reaction? Why did you want to get involved? What made you want to put your all into it?
Crystal Renn: Well, for one, the thing that I like most about modeling is that I get to act. Everyday is a new character. I get to express another layer of myself, and the clothing almost acts as a prop in a scene. So when StyleCaster approached me, I thought the opportunity was fantastic to really showcase who I am in different settings.
EF: The choice was clear for James Worthington DeMolet and myself that you were the only person who could fully pull off this project. Part of the reason we came to that conclusion is the obvious fact that you put a lot of preparation and research into your work as a model. We wanted someone who would be excited to collaborate with us.
CR: I take my job as a model very seriously. I think other people who do this job dont look at it like that. They think they are beautiful and they rely on that. What Ive found to be the key to success as a model is having something within. Expression. Who are you? What character are you? Expression.
I think that when I got into this job at a very young age, I made it a point to know all about the types of art that the photographers produce, knowing who those photographers are, knowing who the designers are. I was very aware and knowledgeable about fashion at a very young age. I take it seriously. I absolutely love it. When I am going to a shoot, I want to know who the makeup and hair is, and I want to know the references. I want to know who I am going to ultimately play on that day, so I can do my job to the fullest.
EF: On the set of Jason Lasts shoot everyone in the room could sense that you were fully embodying the character we created. You even cried on cue, it was magic!
CR: Thats right. I have to say the inspiration for that first shoot was Girl, Interrupted. I thought it was fantastic. For one, that its one of my favorite movies. Angelina Jolie is the character that I thought of. In a way, I thought of it as the character slowly stripping away everything she has.
The character starts out beautiful and glamorous. I think that as a model, thats usually what girls do. They want to always be beautiful. What I was interested in especially was the fact that maybe I was going to show a different side. I wasnt necessarily supposed to be beautiful. It was supposed to be an emotion, an expression because its ultimately the character falling apart slowly, layer by layer. Eventually she gets to the point where she must put herself back together. I think that we all have been in this situation; we have all had this breakdown moment. It was really a nice release. I think thats what I like most about my job. Maybe some people do yoga, some people jump out of planes and Im a model.
EF: Todays shoot with Dusan Reljin was a natural partnership. I know that youve loved working with him before, and you personally requested that he be a part of the cover series. Whats your relationship with Dusan like? How did you know hed be such a perfect fit?
CR: The interesting thing about Dusan is he can shoot many different looks, many types of light, many types of emotions and feelings. We have established a relationship, and as the model I want to feel as comfortable as I possibly can.
There is this sense of trust that you have to have, when youre doing something like what we did today. There are a lot of awkward moments that a photographer can catch in between. Some photographers want every shot to be perfect. What is so fantastic about working with Dusan is that he understands the process to the highest degree. I know that if I get three awkward shots in between the star shot, hes not going to judge me. I think that you have to have that kind of trust to have a fantastic shoot. I find Dusan incredibly inspiring, and photographers like him make me want to do my job. They make my job fun.
EF: What was going through your mind when you landed the Chanel campaign? What was it like working with Karl?
CR: When I found out I got Chanel I had been waiting for that moment for so many years. I remember asking my agency When am I going to Chanel? When am I going to Paris? It was this on repeat recording of me just asking about Chanel. The fantastic thing about working with them, and whats so fulfilling for me, is that I was really healthy, and in a really happy place when I worked with them.
When I found out . . . jump for joy . . . that would be a light version of what I did. I have to say it was the moment of my career; being in front of him, having him photograph me. I just remember thinking I mean, can it get better than this? I think at that point I had to say, ‘I need to keep going from here.’ I had to pinch myself that day; that was a moment for me.
EF: That must be a strange feeling, to think, Can it get better than this? You can only move forward.
CR: Chanel was so important to me because it was one of the first designer brands that I ever knew. I was a girl living in Clinton, Mississippi. Before being scouted and discovered to be a model I had never even heard of fashion. When I discovered exactly what it was, I mean, I had an insatiable appetite for anything that I could get my hands on. Chanel ad campaigns were absolutely one of those things. I think that I had a quiet moment to myself when everyone was gathered around the computer, and I remember having the thought ‘Oh my god. Oh my god.’ I have to record this moment in my memory because when Im looking back years from now, that will be one of my proudest moments.
EF: Do you think you have the acting bug now? After working on this project with StyleCaster? Do you think youre going to start to explore it?
CR: I think that I absolutely could explore acting. I think that in a way I already do that. What you do as a model youre acting in a still photograph, you show emotion, but you have to hold some of it in. As an actress its free flowing. I think that what I am going to have to learn in order to be an actress is forgetting the camera, and what youre taught as a model is to always be aware of the camera. It is always, what are your angles? Where is it? As an actress, you have to totally, completely forget. I think I am going to have to retrain myself if I want to go in that direction.
However, I am up for the challenge. If I were approached with the right part like with StyleCaster, I would absolutely take it on, and I would take it on 100%. Thats just the way that I am, and thats all that I am satisfied with.
EF: Can you explain your complete fascination with astrology? How did this develop, and why does it strike a chord with you?
CR: I do have a love for astrology, and its definitely one of my hobbies. I think that I formed an interest in it when I got myself into a bit of an impossible situation where I needed some advice and help. I suppose I looked everywhere, found nothing, but I looked to the stars. I needed something to make me laugh. After understanding the system completely, I found that that the impossible situation I was in all of the sudden became possible. It helped me understand people better. Even if at the end of the day, if its not true, Im fine with that because it gives me a sense of comfort and understanding about who people are. In a way astrology gives you something to grasp onto when just meeting somebody, and there is definitely a comfort level to that.
EF: Youre completely determined, and you have one of the strongest work ethics of any model Ive seen in the business. Was there something or someone in your past, something in your upbringing, that got you to where you are today?
CR: The thing that created this work ethic in me, this drive, this ambition, I would say is having to overcome impossible odds. Not only in modeling, but also in life. Life sometimes is really hard and I wanted to make something of it. I didnt want to be just some girl in a small town. I had higher aspirations of university, meeting people, traveling the world, experiencing life. I knew that if I was going to do that, I was going to have to work extremely hard to get out of the life I was living before. At 14 years old when I was scouted, I was ready to move to the big city. I was ready because I was dreaming big things. I didnt see myself in that small town. I work hard for the things I love, I love modeling, I love expressing myself, I love the people who work with, I love the travel, the clothes, the whole thing, I just, I love it. I think that if anybody loved anything as much as I love this, I think that they would probably work that hard too.
Links to additional stories from the Crystal Renn Cover Series:
Stills from Stand By, photographed by Fabien Montique
In Her Skin, a fashion editorial, photographed by Cameron Krone
Surfer, a fashion film, directed by Dusan Reljin and Hilde Pettersen Reljin
Stand by, a fashion film, directed by Jason Last