A talk with:

For the second episode of "A Talk With" we continued our trip through the places that have always characterised the identity and the imagery of VIETTI Shop. Stresa and the Borromeo Islands, gems of the Lake Maggiore not so hidden anymore, have seen over the course of the years prestigious guests and visitors from all over the world, with figures with the likes of Ernest Hemingway. The elegance, the aesthetics and the architectural masterpieces of these typically Italian places are closely connected with VIETTI Shop, that was born exactly here.

The protagonist of this episode is Christina Paik, 28 years old, American with Korean parents, artist, photographer and stylist, who happily divides between New York and Paris, between photography and fashion. Close collaborator of Virgil Abloh, her personal taste mirrors perfectly the blending of high fashion and streetwear, particularly clear in the looks styled by her that mix Celine items (her all-time favourite brand, but only during the Phoebe Philo era) with Alyx and Watanabe pieces. In this interview, Christina told us about her work, her aesthetic and where she finds inspiration.

1) You don’t define yourself as a fashion photographer, but as a portraitist. Then, what is your relationship with fashion?
I enjoy fashion, I love it, but it’s more an accessory to me. The reason why I became a portrait artist is because of Richard Avedon. He’s also the reason why I really like diptychs [?]..

2) Speaking of fashion, what is your favourite brand?
Celine. Phoebe is so amazing, I feel like she mastered the identity of a sophisticated, classy, elegant woman in my eyes. I always looked up to the idea of a woman dressed in Celine by Phoebe (laughs).

3) How do you find inspiration?
I find beauty and inspiration where I least expect it. There is not one specific thing that I find inspiration in. Inspiration is in everything. I create to inspire.

4) As a photographer, what’s your relationship with Instagram?
I try just to share whatever I think it’s visually pleasing, and I hope people like it. Instagram and social media just happened very organically, I never wanted to be this person online, it just happened this way. I really hope that I inspire other people, and especially other girls. Cause I wish I had someone to look up to.

5) What is beauty today?
Especially with social media beauty is lost. Everything is photo shopped, or you don’t know what’s real anymore. Even five years ago when I had models coming in I would tell them not to wear make-up or light make-up, because I don’t do retouching and obviously I shoot in film so I stay true with whatever I’m shooting. I hope that girls can be their natural self and understand that you’re just as beautiful as you are, you don’t have to look like what’s in the magazines, or you have to be this skinny or you have to look like this. I think that’s how I use my Instagram, as an advantage to inspire other girls, and other people as well.

6) How was your project CP born?
CP just happened really naturally, I mean I don’t understand it either, because it’s just my initials. Essentially it just happened because I made merch for my tour and it just did very well I guess. It became something. I just kinda go with the flow, and I think that’s how you have to deal with your life.

7) What was the project that engaged you the most?
So, this year was very important to me because I went on tour with my new self-portrait series, which incorporated fashion which I had never done with my self-portraits before, since it’s more my weird side, more fine art based. Originally when I first started it people were like “It’s a little weird, you’re a weirdo”, but it’s where you find inspiration. The number one thing I tell people is to stick true to yourself and create what you want to create rather than listening to other people. This tour was special to me because I didn’t even show anybody the series, half of the series doesn’t exist online. I decided this because I felt like social media was dragging everybody and people forgetting what art really is and what it means to be in a gallery and not having expectations and not knowing what you’re going to see. So, a lot of people that pulled up were like “Wow, I was not expecting that, that’s not the work you’re known for. But that was the purpose of it. I never settle and I always want more. I feel like when you feel uncomfortable you are on the right path. If you feel comfortable then you are doing something wrong.

8) Do travels have an influence on your work?
I grew up just everywhere, on the East Coast, then we moved to Korea and then back to America. I moved to Paris in 2012. I never knew what the idea of home was and that’s where a lot of my work kinda stand up from. I have a series called ‘Bed’, for me wherever there’s a bed, that’s home.

9) Have your work and your experiences change or influenced your personality?
If you look at my older work I was always hiding, I mean my logo is me in a hat, that’s my signature, right? Growing up I was so shy, and now when I meet somebody shy I understand, and I try to make them more comfortable. That’s also I approach photography as well, cause when I get a sitter that’s very nervous I always ask them questions like “Where are you from, how long are you in town”. Especially with new faces in the modelling world, they’re all quite young and they just come to Paris, they don’t know the language or they’ve been away from their families a long time. People are very important to me and I feel like getting the right or wrong portrait is quite interesting.

10) How did you get to where you are today?
Consistency and persistence and a lot of perfectionism. Some people say that I am difficult to work with but I don’t like to waste time when things aren’t being done right. I’m trying to learn that I can’t control and monitor everything. I’m leading to control my stress levels and not to project my stress on to other people. But with that being said I still will never settle. Striving for perfection is the only way to go.

11) Are there any things you regret about your career?
I like to make mistakes, I think they're beautiful. It's the same thing as never regretting. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for those mistakes and experiences.

12) What’s your ultimate goal in life?
Being happy and making my family proud.

A strong, independent, confident woman, who's not afraid of mixing different styles, only apparently contrasting. This is the VIETTI Shop woman.
Editor: @cecilcaruso
Video: @monsieur_simon
Photography: Elliot Jones

Video - A talk with: CHRISTINA PAIK

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