MEET PARIS REID
Philosophy Art Student and Model, residing in the Lower East Side of New York City
Tell us about a notable memory from your upbringing, relating to anything, maybe something that continues to shape the way you think today?
When I was younger summers were always spent out at the lake, my favourite place on earth. Yellow heat and small fresh red berries and a slick coating of water for eight weeks of the year. It’s a six hour drive from my hometown, and there’s this “enchanted forest” stop off the side of the highway in the middle of the Canadian mountains. I would beg my parents to let us go: it’s literally woodland fairytale figurines built into nature 70 years ago, giant toadstools and nursery rhyme characters and little whimsical houses in the trees. Very Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen. I was obsessed. I feel that the daydream, the immensity of earth, the space for wonder remain very much with me. I’m still in love with old fairytales, with that uncanny space between dream and nightmare. Like a Kay Nielsen illustration.
Where did you grow up and what brought you here? Tell us your “New York” story.
I grew up in a prairie province in western Canada. My family has always lived in the city, so urbanity has never been foreign, but back home there is a different immediacy of nature. Officially I came to New York for school; I had had it in my head that I would move here for some time before that though. Despite having a very idyllic childhood I was always conscious of an impulse to be elsewhere, even just out of curiosity, and we were fortunate to travel often when I was young. It’s interesting to consider what in the past would have been enticing to me about New York versus what is now. The two are quite disparate from one another I think. I’m more moved by the minutiae now… smaller details. The wilting flower in the window of my laundromat, a huge empty painted tub for butter outside a restaurant on the sidewalk, some little porcelain rabbit-shaped whistles a woman sells in Chinatown on a quilt. I’ve met some of the most gracious, creative and funny people here too. That’s what matters. Still, I’m such a non-committal person… I don’t see myself living in New York permanently. Or really anywhere permanently.
Currently you are in NYU at the Gallatin School for individualized study, they have a pretty DIY curriculum, how did you decide on a major there and where do you hope it will lead?
What I like about Gallatin is the space it provides for change, partially because I’m incredibly indecisive and also because I think that flux characterizes life. I’m just going to pour these abstract words on you: memory, transience and permanence, body, earth, reflection, anatomies of looking. Feel it as you will. My only hope is to have learned about the world, myself and others, and to continue to grow and shift no matter where things take me.
We were amazed to find a world of vintage in your closet, and really curated vintage to say so. Does 1 item in particular call to you in a unique way? Where do you find most of these pieces?
Oh wow, thank you. I rarely buy in New York; most of the pieces I have I find out west in Los Angeles or more often in the desert. My sister Afton and I will go through resale stores and vintage fairs forever. Tangential but I was just in the Coachella Valley and found these golden vintage Stuart Weitzman shoes in impeccable condition for $7.99. They look like they would be for sale at Maryam Nassir Zadeh. I couldn’t even fit them on my feet but merely hours later I was sprawled atop my miniature suitcase trying to zip them inside. I spend shameful amounts of time on eBay and Etsy too, but I’m so miserly that I just edit my Watch lists incessantly. I’ve seen people in LA and New York wearing one-of-a-kind items that I had favourited but didn’t buy. For me it’s so fetishistic. I feel I could be an amazing buyer, or have some sort of curatorial role. You know, if anybody else wants to fund the venture.
I guess the beauty of vintage is that every item that you collect calls distinctly. I probably feel most connected to the pieces that belonged to my grandmother… she was completely a hoarder and had the best style. As fascinated as I was as a child, I now definitely value those rows of shoes and silk scarves and monochromatic multi-piece sets in a different way… the designer clothes, amazing, but also just the possession of such idiosyncratic pieces, regardless of brand. It’s special wearing things that my mom wore as a kid or that my grandmother once wore. I’m almost the exact same size she was. So her clothes touch my heart. What gets my attention when I’m buying, though, is beautiful make, the weight or lightness of the fabric, or sometimes a print – I saw the most incredible baby blue dress with this circus-like, acrobat pattern that reminded me of Erté’s drawings. You would just never find material like that today, I’m certain. I’m also obsessed with clowns.
Combined with being a sophomore in college you are also constantly juggling a slew of freelance gigs, with a bulk relating to modeling, at the end of a long day what keeps you grounded?
Recognizing that much of my stress comes from trying to manage not misfortune but opportunities. I’m sure the things that feel like problems to me would be paradisiacal to many. Some days are tiring; ultimately though I am so privileged that most of my time gets to be spent learning in and outside of class, walking in the fresh air, and interacting with such unique and imaginative people. Realigning my perspective like that stops me from total lunacy. A long aimless wander and a hot bath will aid most ails too. Other days – most days? – I’m just a crazed mess and perversely love it. Sometimes I feel like I vibrate on a higher frequency that way anyway. Why be grounded. Let my head be in the clouds.
You’ve named your mother as an inspiration for your style, what are some elements you’ve taken from her?
My mother and I are very different when it comes to taste. We cross over in certain areas but often she’ll joke that I never like the things that she picks out. Where she has really influenced me is in a capacity for appreciation that runs so deep. When I was in junior high school she and I would sit and watch documentaries on designers and textile producers… We share a very genuine admiration for true craftsmanship. And her slightly obsessive nature… I’ve seen my mother run out of a building after glimpsing a woman across the street in a pair of silver block heels, chase her to no avail, scour online for literally weeks and then find the shoes but discover they’re only available in the United Kingdom. She ordered them to a friend in London who then had this 25-year-old man we had never met bring them overseas to our house in Canada. The follow-through is beautifully immoderate.
There are unique looking sculptures dispersed around your home, low and behold you made them all!
I guess so! Working with your hands is so valuable and so forgotten I feel, especially in academic environments which tend to address issues on a mostly theoretically basis. It seems like we’re constantly taking in information but often without any tangible way to relate to it. Ceramic work is cool because it’s so fluid and mercurial and non-terminal. There’s no instant gratification. You have to shape something, let it dry, fire it, glaze it, fire it again… all not knowing necessarily how various elements will react chemically or how a piece will look when it comes out of the kiln. It’s very connective and challenging at the same time. You have to relinquish something.
What is something you are currently re-discovering?
Making my bed, enoki mushrooms, cerulean blue.
What is something you are yearning to experience or learn?
I think I’d like to learn more about etymologies. It sounds like a vague and empty claim to say that I’m obsessed with words but I mean it very earnestly. I am so viscerally affected by the look of particular letters together and I’m always making lists of phrases that superficially seem nonsensical but have significance by way of their visual and auditory configuration. Or better yet they are just nonsensical. It’s kind of a complication of form versus content, I feel – or maybe I’m just talking about poetry now. When I was four I got this encyclopedia and I used to read it religiously… I think I need to get back to that. Experientially I would love to travel to Morocco, Japan. My grandfather worked in Tokyo frequently and I took a body and place course last spring based in Japanese literature. Morocco I’ve been wanting to go to for so many years. Maybe Algeria too because I’ve been re-reading Albert Camus.
What do you find the most harrowing topic of discussion currently on the news and why?
Oh wow. It feels impossible to select one issue over the painful number of others… gun control, nuclear warfare, sexual harassment, race relations, immigration policies, climate change… The fact that I can sincerely say ‘everything’ is distressing in itself. We live in such an unprecedented time in terms of access to media, which has so much potential for positive change, but I think can also overwhelm. It’s easy for people to engage in slacktivism with their eyes glazed over and call it a day, or to feel like there’s so much information that they just tune it out. Negotiating this digital landscape that is almost always an intermediate in these situations is difficult but can be remarkably powerful.
Maimoun comes from the Persian language word meaning to welcome guests/invite company. Let's talk about hosting.
I love that. My dinner party would have fresh bread and lavender and almond ricotta and my great-grandma’s crabapple jelly and figs and miso soup and pumpkin. Lots of candles and gauzy white. There would definitely be a mandate that you have to dress up. First and foremost I would invite my grandma Beverly who I never physically met but always have felt a strong relationship with. Whatever cosmic spirituality I believe in comes from her. My problem here is that I could add to the guest list forever, so I’ll just stop where I’m certain. Just me and Grandma Bev. We would cook together from the index cards of hers that my family still has and then have a picnic. I couldn’t wish for anything more than that.
This summer I lived in a loft in Los Angeles with my sister Afton and her best friend Ish, and for a week in August her other best friend Cole came to visit. All of us together is incomparable to anything else. We would sleep two in the same little bed and then two people would be passed out on the couches downstairs. In the morning we’d wake up and all wear a medley of each other’s clothes and basically speak our own dialect and drive to the desert or spend the night in the Malibu mountains or make the smallest instance into some of the best and most beautiful memories I have. I can’t even encapsulate it. I guess what I’m thinking about is how when you host others they also host you. We all give something of ourselves and create something new.