Model Georgia Hilmer has one of the greatest Instagram accounts around, featuring everything from commentary on her college classes to scans of her 35mm photography and beautifully-lit backstage shots. In an industry where social media accounts are of ever-increasing importance and Instagram has expanded beyond a company name to become a verb, a well-orchestrated stream of images is a vital part of a model's arsenal. But Hilmer's extends beyond the mere selfie and so, in honour of her exacting curation, we thought we'd ask her what about social media interests her – and what it's like comparing reading lists backstage at Chanel.
What do you do when you’re not modelling?
When I’m not modelling I go to NYU. If I’m not holed up in the library there studying, I’m reading as much as I can, taking photos, or trying (failing) to learn how to dance.
What are you studying?
I’m in the Gallatin program at NYU where students get to design their own major. I’m constantly changing my mind about my focus but for now I’m taking a mix of sociology, short-fiction and American literature classes. I feel like college has allowed me to embrace my curiosity fully. I’m encouraged by some really incredible professors to ask questions – both of myself and of the texts I’m reading. My favourite part of being in school is falling into conversations and arguments with my classmates and teachers. The discussions usually upend my thinking – they never fail to inspire and surprise me.
Have you always been interested in visual culture? Has modelling changed or informed that at all?
My mom studied textile design, my dad was an architect and my brother is a sculptor and designer. Art has always been a big part of my life; I took life drawing and print-making classes as a teenager and, when I was a kid, weekends were for museums and galleries in Manhattan. Growing up on the internet and working in fashion has definitely expanded my access to and appreciation of visual culture. Blogs, Tumblr and Instagram are goldmines for imagery. Modelling has deepened my knowledge of the artists and artwork that serve as references for today’s fashion; I’ve learned about people like Nan Goldin and Richard Avedon and come to better understand how old ideas feed new work.
Who are your favourite photographers?
I love Collier Schorr (“Blumen" especially), Mark Borthwick, Nan Goldin and Corinne Day for their raw vulnerability and ability to bridge fashion and art. I am obsessed with Irving Penn's still lives and sittings portraits for Vogue from when he worked with Phyllis Posnick. Juergen Teller and David Sims have timeless cool. I think Jamie Hawkesworth and Harley Weir are making really cool photos right now. Some of my favorite photos ever are from Mike Brodie’s "A Period of Juvenile Prosperity," the book he made while hopping trains across the US with a bunch of other stowaways.
Who are your favourite Instagrammers?
I like a really eclectic mix of Instagrammers. I’m constantly scrolling for stimulation and inspiration: I follow food bloggers and this one really special florist (Saipua), then my friend Bardia’s posts show his wicked sense of humour and Clement Pascal captures the most beautiful light. Molly Young is one of my favorite young writers; The Paris Review curates a really great selection of thoughtful quotes and excerpts. I think Instagram is beautiful for sparking new thoughts and ideas and I’m interested in so many things so I like to keep my feed clogged with a messy variety of content.
Do you find stuff out from Instagram?
I get local news from Instagram for sure – I found out about the 2nd Avenue fire last week when a friend posted a picture from the scene. I get updates on people’s projects by following them. On several occasions, people have made book recommendations to me through comments and DMs. The platform is great for making connections, both in my own head and with other people.
What inspires the images you post to Instagram? Do you think about it as a social media profile for your work?
I try to keep a balance between silly, personal posts, photos I have taken for aesthetic reasons, and images from work, like editorials that have just come out. In deciding what to post, when I am most impulsive and true to my instincts (no matter how silly the selfie or serious the content), I feel the best. Sometimes I want to share an intense moment of introspection: a poem I just read or a talk I just heard. In other moments, I want to be goofy. Social media forces us to filter ourselves but I find that if I’m not showing all the (clashing) facets of my personality, I become disenchanted with how hollow and curated our representations can be.
You reference feminism and transactivism on Instagram - do you think that it’s important for people in fashion to be discussing things other than fashion?
I believe 1000% that people in this industry should be discussing issues other than our work. As much as we all live and breathe fashion, we are human beings engaged with an outside world that has a direct impact on us. The job can be insular and bubble-like sometimes, but my best experiences as a model have been moments when I connect with the people I’m working with over favorite books or political passion. My friend Kat Hessen and I get deep into discussions of feminism and gender identity backstage; Emma Oak and I are always comparing reading lists. The industry brings so many diverse perspectives and stories together, there is enormous potential for engagement and understanding between disparate groups. We have endless opportunity to learn from each other – even if that dialogue starts through Instagram comments and likes.
Georgia Hilmer is at Next Management