In 2018, Zero Decorum had the chance to talk with two creative minds from Toronto. Rachel and Claire are teenage twins who attend Etobicoke School of the Arts, and their talents include makeup artistry, photography, dance, and fashion.
In which creative ways do you express yourselves and why?
Rachel: I express myself everyday through dance, makeup and what I wear. I’d say I most frequently get to express myself through fashion, because choosing outfits is something you do every day. Dance allows me to express more complex things about myself– I choreograph and perform pieces that mean a lot to me and communicate a story or a narrative. I’m always inspired by whatever I’m going through at that point in my life, and it sounds cliché but sometimes it’s a lot easier to express how I’m feeling through movement. With makeup, I love experimenting with different looks and trying new things. It’s fun to switch up the way you look by going outside of the box, and sometimes it ends up looking crazy but that’s all part of the process! It’s also something people notice more, since it’s on your face, so I find it is a really direct and obvious form of self-expression.
Claire: The three main ways I creatively express myself are though fashion, dance, and photography. Dance is something that I’ve been doing since the age of three. With dance I am able to express myself in the most personal way. Being onstage requires you to be extremely vulnerable, whereas with photography there is more of an artist and viewer relationship, rather than a shared experience being created. That being said, using film photography as a medium is also a very personal experience for me. I take different experiences or narratives that are most important to me, and combine them with fashion by styling and directing all of my shoots. Fashion allows me to express myself daily with each outfit I choose. I think that I find fashion so interesting because of its history, and also how much I believe it influences youth culture and different societies
Was there ever a point in your lives where you dressed fairly basic, and then started wearing pieces that were more unique? If so, what were your initial fears and hesitations?
Both: In middle school we definitely dressed fairly basic. We went to an all girls private school in north Toronto and had to wear a uniform, so we had very little freedom to dress how we wanted to. Our style was influenced a lot by the so-called “popular girls” in the private school scene, as it was hard being the new kids. We remember feeling like the way to fit in was to dress like everyone else, which meant wearing things like Uggs and Canada Goose jackets, sadly. When we switched to Etobicoke School of the Arts for high school, we were able to wear what we wanted and start to develop our own styles. At the beginning, there was definitely a bit of hesitation to wear unique pieces. Our school is super accepting, so once we realized that no one really cared what you wore it became a lot easier to experiment with our individual styles.
In an era of everybody wanting to dress the same way, how can one create their own style?
Rachel: I think it’s really just about staying true to yourself and wearing what you want, but I know it’s easier said than done. When you belong to a generation that is so caught up in social media, it’s hard not to be influenced by what’s popular or ‘trendy.’ For sure social media is a great way to find inspiration, but it’s important to differentiate between what you like and what you think you should like. Just because something is popular one season, doesn’t mean you have to like it or wear it. I think for a lot of people dressing like everyone else or following every single trend is a sort of self-security, because it can be scary to be different. To have your own unique style you have to take risks, so I think people have to be okay with that and not be afraid to be different.
Claire: Do what you want!!! I really can’t stress that enough. When you’re genuinely being true to your own self and your own style, it’s definitely the most rewarding. People are drawn to uniqueness. Even with so many trends coming out of fashion weeks and social media influences, you can wear pieces that are “trendy”, but stay true to yourself by the way you style and accessorize your outfit.
“People are drawn to uniquenEss.” - Claire
As twins, have you ever felt resentment or competitiveness? If so, can you tell us about a time you overcame this?
Both: Dance forces us to literally compete against each other, but it’s never been in an unhealthy way. We both use competitive dance as a tool to train and take advantage of the performance opportunity, but in terms of the competition itself we are always super supportive of each other. There’s never any resentment or jealousy between us, we always push and inspire each other to do our best. Artistically, we’ve never been in any other situation that could get competitive with each other as we are pursuing completely different things– fashion and makeup. They do overlap a lot, but it actually works in our favour because we get to collaborate on a lot of different projects.
What are some of your favourite brands and why?
Both: Neither of us have a specific favourite brand. We own clothes from a lot of different brands and a lot of vintage stores, so both of our wardrobes are very mixed in that sense. Currently, some stores we’ve been loving are Opening Ceremony, Wasted Paris, Prix Workshop, Brashy Studios and I.Am.Gia. There are also a ton of good vintage stores in Kensington (Toronto,) like Sub Rosa and Breathless, and we are always looking at Value Village and on Depop for other second hand clothes.
What is your favourite part about fashion and makeup?
Rachel: What I love about both fashion and makeup is that they allow you to express yourself differently everyday. What you wear and how you present yourself says a lot about a person, and it’s also a fun way to be creative. I love the freedom I have with fashion and makeup because there are unlimited possibilities to create with both. I am always trying new things and experimenting, and constantly creating unique looks that push myself as an artist.
Who are your icons? Why?
Rachel: One of my biggest inspirations is Pat McGrath. She is an extremely successful makeup artist and has now started her own makeup line called Pat McGrath Labs. Her work as a makeup artist has been on almost every catwalk at every fashion week, and has graced countless covers of magazines such as Vogue and Elle. I look up to her so much because she has not only built a reputation for herself as a makeup artist, but as a businesswoman. She is truly self-made, and has established a makeup company that is now valued at around a billion dollars (surpassing Kylie Cosmetics!!) Her success has come purely from her talent and hard work, which I truly admire. In the future, I hope to be able to combine my passion for makeup or dance with business similar to how McGrath has, so she is a huge inspiration and role model to me.
What are you working on right now?
Claire: The biggest thing I’m working on right now is Portfolio Day. Its an arts showcase at my school– Etobicoke School of the Arts– that allows each student to set up their own space and present their work to reps from different schools around the world. My portfolio is going to include my photography throughout high school as well as a few looks from a line that I’ve been working on and designing over summer. After that, my biggest thing is going to be organizing and directing the fashion show at my school with Rachel and a few other friends.
Rachel: Currently I have a bunch of different things going on. In terms of makeup, I’ve set up a separate Instagram account for myself as a makeup artist. I separated it from my personal account so I have a page dedicated specifically to my looks, and to make it easier for people to contact me for jobs. I’ve already gotten a few jobs through my separate account, so I’m really excited to see where it will take me. There’s still a lot of work to do and things I have to figure out, but it’s going well so far and hopefully it just gets better from here. In general, I’ve done a few shoots and a fashion show recently, and I have a few more shoots and videos coming up that I’m playing around with some looks for. Dance has also been taking up a lot of my time because I’m competing in Poland on Team Canada at the IDO championships. There have been a lot of rehearsals to prep for that, especially on the weekends, but it’s been an amazing process and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to dance for our country at such a huge competition.