A Talk with ELENA BARTELS

Coat – Marc O’Polo
Shirt – Brachmann
Jumper – Bruno Cucilleni

A Talk with ELENA BARTELS

Photographer – Paul James Hay

Styling – Camille Pailler

Hair – Masayuki Yuasa

Make Up – Lee HyangSoon

Model – Elena Bartels

It’s been more than ten years since we first worked together, and it’s been incredible shooting you again. I must admit that I was a bit nervous, you have come a long way since the first images we did together, but in the end, I feel as though nothing has changed, and you are as stunning as ever. Thanks for being so trusting!

It was a pleasure working with you again PJ. I’m a big fan of your photography and was – once again – reminded why. Thank you very much.

Jacket – Joseph
Blazer – Nobi Talai
Pants – Nobi Talai
Necklaces – Jane Kønig

That’s very kind coming from you with the line-up of top photographers you’ve worked with! Who would you love to work with next or again?

I loved shooting with so many photographers. Steven Meisel was an absolute highlight, doing the Louis Vuitton campaign and a cover story for Italian Vogue in the same week in NYC. Somehow it seemed there was a huge mystery about who he is. I’m an awfully curious person, so getting to know “the unknown” was indeed exciting and unique to the experience.
Not long after, I had the pleasure to shoot with Daniel Jackson for British Vogue. He is so much fun!
I also remember pulling off the weirdest poses and having the worst muscle soreness after shooting with Mikael Jansson (Interview Magazine), another super cool day with a great photographer! Also, travelling to Mont Blanc with lovely Viviane Sassen for the Missoni campaign was quite an adventure. This is just to name a few. It’s a long list of great people and extremely professional photographers! I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single day and that I’m incredibly grateful for the experience and getting to know such inspiring people! I’d love to do it all over again!

You have had a few life-changing events over the last decade. I’m looking forward to hearing about your life but first. How has it been for you, and how have you spent your pandemic time period?

I spent some time on interior projects and started a new workout routine. My life before the pandemic was a very cool mixture of a student’s life in Berlin and working as a model. Obviously, the latter, which included travelling and meeting lots of inspiring people, was non-existent anymore. You could say… I feel I did what most people did; small side projects and showing solidarity for those at risk.

Jacket – Joseph
Blazer – Nobi Talai
Pants – Nobi Talai
Shoes – Jimmy Choo
Necklaces – Jane Kønig

What small projects?

I wanted to use the time to learn Spanish but also allow myself to be a little lazy and catch up on famous movies & series.
I haven’t watched a single Bond movie nor Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, so let’s say … Spanish isn’t going so well.. I guess I procrastinated quite a bit =)

So Elena, what are you watching at the moment?

Haha not my favourite question, and here’s why: I’m absolutely hopeless when it comes to movies, series including names of actors/actresses. I enjoy watching movies/series in the evening. However, the chances are that I either fall asleep or can’t remember the movie’s name as soon as it’s finished. BUT: I admire those awesome acting skills and the great work of producers. Before I started modelling, I could imagine going into acting. I’m thinking about putting some time and effort into this – one day.

The world and industry has changed a great deal in the last ten years. How do you feel about it?

The media and advertising industry’s ideals of youth and beauty have changed significantly since I started to Model. Importantly I feel the move toward diversity had been and still is so important.
I like change and find it interesting to observe the change from the perspective of someone who works in the Fashion industry, but also, observing friends and family who are complete strangers to the industry.
Looking at my pictures from 10 years ago, I sometimes wish to relive some moments with the knowledge I have now.
But quite frankly, to this day, I do not fully understand the industry and am fascinated by how Fashion and art move.

Coat – Marc O’Polo
Shirt – Brachmann
Jumper – Bruno Cucilleni

It’s interesting that you have come to this point again; I was going to ask earlier when you mentioned, “I’d love to do it all over again! ” What would you approach differently?

Nothing at all

You lost your father and grandmother during the transition from the Runways to full-time Uni. How have you managed this? It would have been a challenge for the best of us.

Losing two of the most important people in my life was a massive struggle. My family and I got through this together, and my friends patiently insisted on being there for me. I’ve always been impressed by my father’s character and couldn’t have wished for a better “hero”. Meeting new people now means that they don’t get to meet my Dad, which is sad because he’s such a big part of who I am.

From a “by standing” position, it was astounding to see how strong you were during that time, Elena… really quite remarkable. So you’ve switched from law – to business. How are you going with this?

I think combining law – and business school is an exciting combination. I’m planning on starting with aeronautical engineering next year if the fragrance option doesn’t come in soon. LOL

You moved from New York back to Germany in 2018. What’s the best and worst thing you like about each city?

Funny enough, Berlin reminds me of New York City and NYC reminded me of Berlin. The craziness, the diversity, hectic people as well as people enjoying life. I love that both cities offer very different moods and atmospheres. And there is something indescribable about both cities. Admittedly, I enjoy jumping in the car to escape the madness and enjoy a starry sky and country air, but for some reason, I always choose the more vibrant cities to live in. I guess I’m not quite ready for three dogs, five kids and a Thermomix® yet.

Blazer – Nobi Talai
Pants – Nobi Talai
Shoes – Jimmy Choo
Necklaces – Jane Kønig

I’m with you on the similarity of Berlin and New York. I feel the same. Do you miss the vibes of Spanish Harlem? We don’t have that hood in Berlin.

True!
In Harlem, I enjoyed jazz clubs, gospel music and discovering the history of the area, with quite a few famous artists growing up there.
“Home” (back then) was a very different world compared to the Downtown Manhattan work life. Going back to New York City one day, I would probably choose to live in Brooklyn, which I also liked a lot.

I watched the Louis Vuitton Fall Winter 2012/2013 show, the one you opened with the steam train! I still can’t believe how epic that show was.
What was it like to open that show on your opening season?

It was epic, yes; totally surreal to be the one they chose to open the show. Up until an hour before the show started, I didn’t know I was the first Model to walk down the stairs of that beautiful train. To this day, I still get goosebumps when I hear the show music.

What are three strong memories from your first season?

– Getting dressed by Karl Lagerfeld, having a quick chat about Hamburg with Jil Sander and meeting other great designers, stylists, agents, models, … and really everyone involved.

– Also, it was very new and exciting for me to fly from London to Milan to Paris and back to London in just one day. Back then, I was in school and leaving Germany maybe once a year to go on vacation.

– Strolling around the most beautiful cities in the world and – with all the Fashion Week hecticness aside – taking a few moments to enjoy different surroundings and cultures and being able to experience all that at the age of (not even) 17 years.

If you could advise any new face, what would it be?

Stay who you are. Don’t let anyone change your principles, vision or personality. There is no “perfect”. For some people, you’re exactly what they’re looking for, and with others, it simply doesn’t work out. Enjoy every single moment of the ride, and don’t get upset when it’s a “no”.

When the pandemic is over, where would you like to travel?

Right before the pandemic hit, I wanted to go on a road trip through Canada. This will most likely be the next bigger trip when the pandemic is over.

What are three things you would like to archive in 2022?

1st: I would like to found a company. I’m not sure if my idea is any good or good enough, but even if I fail tremendously, at least I tried.

2nd: Keep working on my Spanish

3rd: I’d like to look back at the year and think that I haven’t wasted too much time on nonsense. I guess that’s the biggest goal and it will take more than a year to get there, if ever. Time is precious and I want to spend it wisely.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Well, apparently, this is our rhythm to shoot together. I would appreciate if we don’t wait that long this time!

The pleasure was mine Elena, Thank you, and I can’t wait for what comes next!

Coat – Marc O’Polo
Shirt – Brachmann
Jumper – Bruno Cucilleni
Pants – Joseph
Boots – Marcell Von Berlin

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